Saturday, June 9, 2018

Okinawa (Japan) Free & Easy Self-drive Trip with Children 6D5N Itinerary

Okinawa, the southern most prefecture of Japan, is quite different from other parts of Japan. It is influenced by Chinese and American, and it has a special culture of its own. After spending 6 days in Okinawa, I would say that it is a nice place for family with children to visit! 

Here is our 6D5N free and easy self-driving itinerary for our Okinawa trip in June 2016:

Day 1

The first thing that we did when we arrived at Naha International Airport was to find these! They are free travel magazines with many discount coupons! You can get them at the Visitor Information counter at the Arrival Hall.

From Naha International Airport, we walked a short distance to the domestic airport where is linked to Yui Rail - the one and only one monorail system in Okinawa!

Yui Rail is similar to LRT in Singapore. We find it more convenient to travel in Naha area with Yui Rail as compared to driving. In addition, the parking fee is very expensive in this area!

If you are travelling via Yui Rail at least 3 times within a day, getting a one-day pass (700 yen for adult, 350 yen for child) would be value for money.

The first hotel that we checked in was located near Omoromachi station. Then we had our dinner at Apple Cooper Town, which was just a few minutes walk away from the hotel. I was stuffed with the lobster with sea urchin meal, and Blue Seal ice-cream! And I began to lose my voice after that... 

Just opposite the hotel is a big shopping mall called Naha Main Place, where we bought the sliders from Daiso, to prepare for our trip to the playground with long slide!

Day 2

One of the most memorable experiences that we had in Okinawa - slide down a 90-meter slide at Urasoe Park!

Whenever I was behind the wheel, we would get lost! After we had great fun at the park, I drove double the distance to reach our lunch place even with the aid of GPS in the car and Google Map on my smartphone! 

The children had their first experience to visiting a Japanese shrine - Futenma Shrine, and it was our first time visiting a lava cave! We only needed to travel to one place to see two things!

AEON Rycom is a new shopping mall in Okinawa. One reason for visiting a shopping mall was that it was raining heavily, we had to skip some other outdoor places that we planned. Another reason for visiting this shopping mall is this melon bread with ice-cream!

Day 3

It was our relaxation day - just stay in the hotel! I was too sick to move around, but the children had great fun in the indoor swimming pool and children playground!

Day 4

Rizzan Sea-Park Hotel Tancha-Bay is thoughtful that the breakfast coupons can be used for lunch instead! So we could relax in the morning and have lunch before we checked-out.

We were thankful that the rain stopped for a while when we reached Cape Manza, so that we could take some photos. It started to rain heavily when we walked back to the car park.

Our plan for the day had to be changed because of the rain! We wanted to visit Busena Marine Park, where we could look at the sea creatures at the underwater observatory and glass-bottom boat, but the park was closed due to the strong wind! What a pity! So we decided to drive up to the north to visit Okinawa Aquarium and Ocean Expo Park.

The weather was really weird. It was very windy and was raining when we reached Ocean Expo Park, but the sun appeared when the dolphin show started!

The children enjoyed watching the whale sharks swimming in the big tank!

Day 5

The weather was weird again, it rained heavily as I drove to Yohena Ajisai (Hygrangea) Garden, but it stopped when we reached the place! I was totally amazed by the sea of flowers, and I thought I was the only person in the family who enjoyed this place so much.

The rain came intermittently as we drove further north to Kouri-jima. Sigh, we didn't get to witness the clear blue sky with the turquoise sea. We only managed to look at the Heart Rocks and had lunch on the island.

Poor DaDi had to drive more than 90 km to head back to the south, as the other driver (that's me) was too sick to drive, and the children were against the idea of me behind the wheel as I keep losing our way even with the aid of GPS and Google Maps!

Before we returned our car, we stopped by Urasoe to do some shopping. The children's grandparents asked us to help them buy some health products from Phiten. Initially I have no idea what it is all about, until now then I know that the products are almost half the price in Japan as compared to Singapore (ok, nothing new...)!

Day 6
  • Kokusai-dori
  • Pick up luggage at Toyoko Inn Naha Omoromachi
  • Naha International Airport - Transit at Hong Kong - Singapore

We took Yui Rail to Makishi station, where the famous shopping street Kokusai-dori is located. Our first stop was the post office!

The postcards look so nice!

There were some cute rubber stamps at the counter, and I was thick-skinned enough to borrow the stamps.

I personally feel that Kokusai-dori was not really a good place to get the souvenirs, as the price is higher than supermarkets. Even the the products at the famous Don Quijote - a 4-level shop -  are not the cheapest in town. So in conclusion, if you are getting food as souvenirs for family, friends and colleagues, go to the supermarket!

We had some food at Pablo, First Makishi Public Market and Calbee Plus, before we took Yui Rail back to the hotel to pick up our luggage.

Our Expenditure for 6D5N (2 Adults + 2 Children)

If you ask me, is it expensive to visit Okinawa? I would say that it depends on your preference, for example, it would be more costly to stay at seaside resorts as compared to budget hotels. As you can see from the breakdown of our expenditure below, 1 night at seaside hotel = 2 nights at budget hotel! When it comes to food, I personally don't mind to spend a little more to enjoy nice food!

Cathay Pacific air tickets for 2 adults and 2 children = about SGD2500
Toyoko Inn (2 nights) = 8640 yen x 2 =  about SGD220
Okinawa Grand Mer Resort (1 night) = 16830 yen = about SGD210
Rizzan Sea-Park Tancha Bay Hotel (1 night) = 23132 yen = about SGD290
Yugaf Inn Okinawa (1 night) = 12600 yen = about SGD160
Car rental including insurance & petrol (4 days) = 23985 yen = about SGD300
Toll fee (1 way from North to South) = 960 yen = about SGD12
Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium admission tickets = 3010 yen = about SGD38
Car park at Rizza Sea-Park Tancha Bay Hotel for 1 day = 500 yen = about SGD6
Wi-fi router rental = 2000 yen = about SGD25
Shopping, food and miscellaneous = about SGD660
Total damage = about SGD4420

[Note: This is based on the conversion rate of 100 yen = SGD1.25 in June 2016]

Our Post-trip Reflection

Mission accomplished! We survived from our first self-drive trip, and the children survived from their first visit to Japan!

Self-driving provides the convenience to travel from one place to another, and the flexibility to stop wherever you can find car parks, and we do not need to check the transport schedule at all! But it can be quite tiring for the driver(s) to drive over long distance, thanks to DaDi who made the trip successful as the poor MaMi fell sick!

It was a pity that I was sick throughout the trip, and it had been raining. Perhaps this gives us the reason to visit Okinawa again!

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