If you have been longing to travel to Japan but were put off by having to be on a package tour, start planning your itineraries as the country will abolish a slew of Covid-19 border controls from Oct 11.
The moves include allowing individual visitors to enter, and reinstating visa waivers.
This will be the country’s latest round of easing travel restrictions. Earlier this year, it reopened its borders to leisure travellers on guided and non-guided tour packages.
Now that you can enjoy Japan with more freedom, here are some ideas about what you can see and do there.
1. Step into video game at Super Nintendo World, heart-stopping sky observatory in Osaka
Want to be surrounded by buildings created in the likeness of those in the Super Mario game such as Princess Peach’s castle and Yoshi’s house?
Head to Super Nintendo World of Universal Studios Japan in Osaka.
There are human-size pipes, reward blocks, piranha plants all in the hyper-saturated hues of the original game. It makes even fully grown, sensible adult visitors feel like jumping in the air just like the main characters Mario and Luigi.
2. Take a trip back in time in Shizuoka with waterfalls, yakisoba feasts
While Shizuoka is home to places on the global tourist radar such as the Gotemba Premium Outlets for shopping and the Atami hot springs resort town, it is also well regarded for its beautiful treks.
Shizuoka, located between the major cities of Tokyo and Nagoya, is home to both Japan’s highest peak and lowest point. Mount Fuji rises from the country’s deepest point in Suruga Bay, a trough that is 2,500m deep.
It also is home to one of Japan’s most beautiful villages. Travel via winding mountain roads to Kawane Honcho.
3. Zipline into a Godzilla statue: Attractions from Hokkaido to Okinawa
You can now do that in an anime theme park on the island of Awaji near Kobe in western Japan.
The Tokyo metropolitan area may usually get most of the attention from visitors, but other regions from Hokkaido to Okinawa have attractions worth checking out.
What to see and do on ‘extra days’ of Taiwan vacation with Covid-19 quarantine rule due to end
Taiwan aims to end its mandatory Covid-19 quarantine for arrivals from around Oct 13 and will ease other restrictions from next week as it continues to reopen to the outside world.
Visa-free entry would be resumed for citizens of all countries that previously had that status. This includes Singapore.
Taiwan has kept some of its entry and quarantine rules in place as large parts of Asia have relaxed or lifted them completely.
Now that you have more days with which to enjoy your holiday there, here are the extra activities you can consider packing into your itinerary.
1. Matsu Islands cluster is a foggy, tranquil hideaway in Taiwan that runs on its own time
Most Taiwanese have never been to the Matsu Islands, and have never even considered taking a trip there until the Covid-19 pandemic made it a domestic destination as international travel became impossible.
The cluster of 36 islands is named for the benevolent goddess Mazu.
It is best to plan for at least four days in Matsu so you can visit at least three islands. But set aside five or six days if you like to take things slow and easy – which Matsu is perfect for.
2. Exploring Taipei on two wheels
While Taipei’s Metro is the most convenient way to zip around the city, cycling can be a far more interesting way to explore and see some of the city’s lesser known sights.
Taipei City has grown around the three major waterways that run through it - Keelung, Xindian and Tamsui. The Taipei City Government has cleaned up the rivers and built riverside parks, which are connected by cycling paths, making them safer alternative routes for cyclists who would rather not brave the madness of Taipei’s scooter-filled streets.
Intrepid explorers can cycle through the mangrove forests of the Waziwei Nature Reserve, or visit the unusually-shaped Shihsanhang Archaeological Museum where you can see artefacts found in the Shihsanhang district dating back to the first settlers in the area over 1,800 years ago.