Things to do in Japan and Thailand?

Sometime in the next few weeks, my wife and I are going to take a trip to Japan and Thailand. Our tenth wedding anniversary flew by in January 2010, and now we’re taking the chance to celebrate and explore some new places.

I’m really excited because I’ve never been to Asia before (!). We’ve got our trip mostly planned out, but I wanted to ask for suggestions on things to do, places to eat, or cool things that aren’t in the tour books. Let me know if there are “can’t miss” things that you’d recommend in Japan or Thailand — thanks!

P.S. This is strictly a for-fun trip with my wife, so I apologize in advance that I won’t have a chance to meet up with any webmasters or SEOs on the trip. :)

150 Responses to Things to do in Japan and Thailand? (Leave a comment)

  1. Mike

    If you go to Bangkok (and why wouldn’t you?), take the boat along the river, and see the Royal palace and siting Buddha, and then catch the ferry across and see Wat Arun: http://images.google.com/images?q=wat%20arun I love Wat Arun. I climbed that with the worst hangover of my life, and the view made me pleased I got out of bed.

    Oh, and I’d eat food from a street vendor. Nothong beats Pad Thai on the streets of Bangkok :)

    I’d also go to Siem Reap in Cambodia (it is like a US$50 flight) and see Angkhor Wat. That place is so amazing, and three days, two nights is plenty of time to see it all.

  2. Great! Thailand is famous for its temples and sexy tours. In April you can join Songran festivals!
    Check it here: http://www.tripadvisor.com/Travel-g293916-s408/Bangkok:Thailand:Events.And.Festivals.html

    I wish you once visit Vietnam and I would be the first to be off for days just to take you to some good places! ;-)

  3. Ian

    Enjoy your trip. You will love Thailand. If you need some information, here is a link to my blog, Thai Holiday Tips.

  4. If heading to Phuket, hope you can find time to read some of my Phuket Blog (http://jamie-monk.blogspot.com) – I have been here in Phuket for 10 years, and the blog has been up for 4 years. The last 2 posts in particular I would say are unmissables – a trip around Phang Nga Bay close to Phuket including “James Bond Island” and Koh Panyee village. Enjoy Thailand!

    Cheers
    Jamie
    Phuket, Thailand

  5. john andrews

    Sailing charter in Gulf of Thailand, between islands/beach stops. It’s the perfect season for it.

  6. Where in Thailand? Bangkok? Phuket? Chiang Mai?

    Diving in the Similans is world class. Phuket Simon Cabaret show is no secret, but pretty surprising. Phuket Fantasea is a bit kitschy, but a quality show, maybe worth an evening.

  7. Hi Matt,

    Saw your tweet – I lived in Japan a few years back and loved it.

    If you visit Tokyo and love Hayao Miyazaki (“Spirited Away” etc.) I wouldn’t miss his Studio Ghibli in the suburb of Mitaka. Fabulously imaginative.

    Here’s a day-long trip: the older section of Tokyo called Asakusa, with the Kannon Temple, is great for wandering (buy the restaurant plastic display food on nearby Kappabashi Dori) then take the water taxi (Suijo-bus) down the Sumida River to Odaiba for great views and a much more modern experience (find manga at the mall’s Jump Shop there.) Then cross the Rainbow Bridge at night on the Yurikamome monorail back to the Shiodome subway station. Very “Blade Runner”-ish view. Last time I checked all these things were still in place, but make sure first.

    Vending machines are everywhere and totally rock for when you’re thirsty. Drinks above the blue stripe are cold, above the red are hot. The oddly named Calpis (called “Cow Piss”) is just a sort of Gatorade. :)

    To get out of Tokyo, I like Yokohama – do NOT miss the Shin-Yokohama Raumen Museum for old shitamachi Tokyo atmosphere and a bunch of different ramen restaurants. If you like jazz there’s Motion Blue (a Blue Note venue) there.

    The Great Buddha at Kamakura is another nice day trip – combine it with the local beach scene at Zushi.

    Learn how to deal with squat toilets (more for your wife than you.) There are Western toilets available (often called handicapped) but when you gotta go….

    My favorite guidebook is TimeOut Tokyo.

    Have a terrific time!

  8. Dan

    In Japan, I know the Kansai region the best, so I can recommend a couple of things there.

    In Kyoto, there’s Kiyomizu Temple, which is awesome all year round, but particularly good now during the Cherry Blossom season.

    In Osaka, Osaka Castle (Osaka Jo Koen) has some cool gardens around the main temple.

    If you’re travelling a long distance, I’d definitely recommend taking the bullet train (shinkansen).

    And, you’ve probably heard of Ahikhabara in Tokyo. Definately go there if you want to geek out on tech, manga, etc.

  9. @Matt Cutts:

    That’s easy, go check out K1 fighting. It’s huge in Japan. Not to mention, you need to go and see traditional Japanese mounted horse archery. Insane!

  10. Matt, go to Phuket and book a day trip on a speed boat. They will take you to James Bond Island and many other places where you can snorkel/Canoe in clear water. Nightlife in Phuket is a riot with the lady/men.

  11. Shraddha

    If you are going to Thailand, the Phuket is a must. Snorkeling, scuba diving and stupendous natural beauty would only leave you wanting for more. Its a fun place with vibrant streets that you could enjoy in the evening. Highly Recommended. Despite my honeymoon there, I am going there again for my 2nd anniversary :)

  12. For Japan, you’ll need $BAGS$ of money. THE most expensive Country for outsiders to holiday. Cost of living is not too bad IF you work there, but for outsiders it is VERY EXPENSIVE!

  13. Welcome to Japan, Matt. :)

    I met you at SES San Jose last summer. I remember you told me your wife wanted to take you to Japan at that time. I wish if I could guide you around my country. Are you going to Akihabara? It’s the place where a lot of computer geeks and anime geeks(they are called Otaku) are gathering. I think you will like the town, though I myself seldom go there. Have a nice trip and enjoy Japan!

  14. Hi Matt,
    I have never been to Japan but I love Thailand. My wife’s family is from there. Ayutthaya is a interesting place to visit and to ride the elephants etc.

    Tip: Take bathroom tissue with you when traveling out of the main cities. The gas station pit-stops only have a bucket of water for your after business :

    Have a great trip you and your wife will love it. :)

  15. oarvoodoo

    Phuket – Pearl of Andaman

  16. David Weinraub, right now it’s looking like Bangkok and Chiang Mai.

    Sheila Scarborough, thanks for the great ideas!

    suzukik, great to hear from you. I’m finally following through; my wife has wanted to see Japan for a while (I have too). And we’ll definitely try to check out Akihabara — it sounds like heaven for a geek like me. :)

    Brett, good advice to keep in mind, so thanks for that. Thanks everyone for the suggestions!

  17. Japan: Plan ahead because NOBODY speaks English there.

    Thailand: English is pretty prevalent, so no need to sweat the language barrier. I’m speaking in “generalities” because my wife was born in Thailand, so she does the talking when we’re in Thailand :)
    Bangkok:
    * Don’t make jokes about the King…jailable offense in Thailand.
    * Don’t drink the tap water or you’ll spend your time in Thailand on “the throne”
    * Take a water taxi in Bangkok…lotta fun.
    * Take a tuk-tuk (three wheeled taxi)…again, lotta fun.
    * Try some of the street food…there’s a pad thai place near the Royal Palace that will knock your socks off…ask around and someone will point you to it.
    * At the Royal Thai Palace, make sure you bring a pair of pants to change into, as they’ve got a dress code there. Check the dress code for women, too.
    * If you’re going around the middle of the city, take the BTS (Bangkok’s BART-equivalent)…it’s a lot faster than a taxi, tuk-tuk, or walking.
    * Pan-Tip mall is where you’ll see the most insane illicit software distribution anywhere in the world.
    * Check w/ the concierge at the hotel for the best dim sum…what was good a few months ago might change, as the chefs move around.
    * Go to the floating market, the snake farm, alligator farm, and the elephant farm
    * Go to Ayutthaya–King’s summer palace. Absolutely gorgeous and serene.
    * There’s a flea market on the weekends called “Jetta Jah” that’s pretty cool. Haggle on EVERYTHING targetting half price.

    Phuket: Don’t be alarmed by the Muslim population there, as they know their bread is buttered by tourists. That being said, don’t stray too far off the beaten path there.
    * Bahn Rim Pah–you MUST go to this restaurant. All the recipes are taken from the Royal Thai Household–very good food to be had there. It’s on the edge of a cliff, they’ve got cigars, scotch, and some awesome lobster from the Andaman Sea…Andaman lobsters don’t have the big claws we’re accustomed to in the states.
    * Rent a van and have it drive you around…there’s a huge wage differential between the U.S. and there, so you could probably get something for $50/day w/ an air conditioned van waiting for you everywhere.
    * Rent a jet ski…tons of fun. A half hour doesn’t sound like a lot of time, but jet skiiing on the ocean is physically draining.

    Koh Samet: Nice little island that’s ~45 minute boat ride from Rayong (which, in turn is ~1.5 hr drive from Bangkok). There’s a single dirt road that goes around the island and there’s a pickup truck with a bench on the back for you to get around on.
    * There’s a restaurant on a pier in a lagoon. When you go there, the cab will drop you off and you have to ring a bell. A guy on a raft will come across and pick you up and take you to the pier. The tables have glass tops and sit at coffee table height off the ground. There’s a hole cut in the floor underneath the tables, you’re seated on triangular pads w/ your feet dangling over the water. They keep the fish in a net in the ocean…guaranteed to be the freshest fish you’ll ever eat.

    Chiang Mai: Not the most touristy town, but rent a bus and have him drive you around.
    * There are some cool temples, monkey farms, and snake farms to see.
    * Ask around on restaurants, too because the really good ones don’t show up in the tourist guides.
    * There’s a “native tribes” village or something like that…when you see the chicks with brass rings around their necks in NatGeo, chances are they’re from there. I went there, but I felt kinda sad when I left because it felt more like a human zoo–not sure how much of that was my perception from not speaking the language…something to see once.

  18. Eric Clemmons

    If you hit up Chiang Mai, my wife & I’s favorite thing was river rafting on a bamboo raft. It’s mostly calm, rippling mountain streams to give you a gorgeous view of the mountain as you cut through. Very relaxing & fun at the same time.

    For me, I got tired of seeing temples over & over again. Once you see one, you’ve really seen them all. Experience the country and some of the culture. Thai’s steeped in Buddhist beliefs, so it’s hard to do things besides see gold idols everywhere.

  19. Jas

    matt i cant believe you havent been to asia. you will have a great time im sure, you seem like a person who is open to new cultures. are the cats coming? keep them safe :)

    chiang mai is one of my favorites, go elephant trekking. personally i also recommend taking the 3rd class train from bangkok to ayuttha to see the ruins. i wrote up about my experiences on my blog http://www.pogostick.co.nz/about-pogostick-web-services/se-asia-travel-tips/

    congrats to you guys on 10 years, thats a real milestone these days. my wife and i are wondering what to do when we hit ten years next july. we’d love to go back to new york! (were from new zealand).

  20. Have a good time! next time choose China, dinners on me~

  21. Get Shanghaied to the Shanghai 2010 World Expo! Discover Shanghai with Vayama’s cheap international tickets. http://bit.ly/aVoFaE. Also regarding what to do,you can check the etiquette page of http://www.vayama.com/japan-etiquette & http://www.vayama.com/thailand-etiquette

  22. Hi Matt,

    I am based in Bangkok. Any information or advice, please contact me at the address in my profile.
    For your Thailand trip, I would recommend you to:

    1. Visit Wat Arun, Wat Pho, Wat Prakheo, Teak Wood mansion, Jim Thomson House
    2. Do a boat tour inside the Klongs (along the Chao Praya river)
    3. Take a drink on top of State Tower (63rd floor, State Tower, Silom road)
    4. If you are shopaholic: go to Siam Discovery (Siam BTS) Paragon (Siam BTS) and Emporium (Prom Pong BTS)
    for GEEKS: go to MBK shopping center (Siam, BTS national stadium)
    5. If you are there during a week-end, go to Jatujak Market (enormous market @ BTS Mochit)
    6. Do a great MASSAGE at Silom Bodyworks (Silom road, probably the best massage in Bangkok)
    7. Eat at Baan Kanita, Curry and more, Mali Restaurant, etc (easy to Google)
    You can find great Thai, Japanese and Indian food in Bangkok
    8. If you are looking for accommodation in Bangkok and Chiang Mai, go to the website I put in my profile (Moveandstay.com) our friendly staffs will make sure you are VERY well treated :)

  23. Get a http://www.japanrailpass.net/eng/en001.html – not sure if that’s the best place to buy!
    Spend at least one night at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ryokan_(Japanese_inn)
    Accommodation at the low end is surprisingly cheap, clean and decent. http://wikitravel.org/en/Japan#Sleep
    Food is one of the best parts. Try as many noodles as possible as the same quality is hard to find outside Japan: http://wikitravel.org/en/Japan#Noodles

  24. RE: David Weinraub, right now it’s looking like Bangkok and Chiang Mai

    You’ll hate Bangkok, go to Phuket instead. Bangkok is just another smelly over populated big City with NO beauty at all.

  25. It will probably be a bit out of the way of the usual sights, but you really should check out Tarutao National Park. I’ve traveled around asia for snorkeling and diving, and I’ve never experienced water as clear as at Tarutao National Park. People usually recommend Phuket but it’s so commercialized that the waters and sea-life get damaged by the high tourism traffic. Hope you enjoy Asia!

  26. Hi matt,
    We found Japan amazing! You’ll love it!

    Someone else mentioned Kyoto and I’d have to recommend that…beautiful.

    Note that in Japan many streets are NOT numbered numerically….they are numbered in the order they were built :)

    Also, if you can master the ticket machines for the tube/underground (I think Osaka was the best/worst) then you are doing well!

    Joel

  27. Litso

    It’s definitely in the tourguides so not very original, but when in the jungle in the north of Thailand do a “Flight of the Gibbons”. Flying on a zip-line between treetops 50 feet above the ground, very exciting.

    Also Chiang Mai (in the north) is the most peaceful city I have ever been to.

  28. In Bangkok, the Jim Thomson house is a good introduction to understand the Thai way of life.

  29. Litso

    @Dave (Original)

    I partly agree. Bangkok was wonderful to see for the first time, I’d never been in a bigger city than Paris before and Bangkok is huuuge. But you easily tire of the smell and the tourism, after which Chiang Mai was a huge refreshment. Still it’s amazing to see a city like that, I wouldn’t skip it.
    The snake farm in Bangkok is quite interesting, and for just hanging out chillin’ Lumpini Park can be quite lovely. Watch out for the huge f’ing lizards though :D

  30. Litso, if you haven’t guessed, I loath holidaying in big cities (Hong Kong excluded) :)

  31. Hi,

    My favorite place in Bangkok was J. Thompson house, go there by boat along the canal, its great experience and the house is like a living museum at only 5mn from National Stadium subway. Furthermore the visit is made by funny guides.

    In Japan many places are nice too but one of my best souvenir was to see deers living in freedom in front of the biggest wooden sitting buddha.

    As you will see hundreds of Buddhas i wish you a peacefull trip :)

  32. Detail missing for the Japan section: Deers are in Nara :)

  33. Hi Matt,

    Phuket is my winter home and I encourage you to visit Phang Nga National Park for limestones and great sea-views. And of course visit Patong for extreme nightlife experience :)

    Margus

  34. jojo

    @Matt I’m sure it’s on your priority list of visits already but when you visit Google Japan Headquarters in Tokyo maybe you can post some pics. I hear Google Japan HQ is moving to another building in Tokyo to accommodate for larger space by the end of this year since Google’s Japanese division is growing so fast.

  35. Hi Matt,

    If you go to Phuket you definately want to try out the ATV Phuket (driving on a quad through forests and between elephants). Also someone above mentioned getting on a speedboat and they show various islands (definately want to do that and go for the one that offers Phi Phi island)….Often for a little more you get to do an elephant ride on the way back which is worth it.

    Don’t visit the FantaSea Elephant Show as it’s really weird. Thailand is quite famous for their lady boy cabaret shows and it’s actually pretty good – Google for Phuket Simon Cabaret Show.

    Some nice temples to visit too. Thailand is also famous for its massages – at all ends of the spectrum (lol).

  36. Well if you change your mind about fun-only trip and feel like meeting webmasters, then Barcamp Bangkok would be the best place to do so. http://groups.google.com/group/barcamp-thailand/browse_thread/thread/da07d7ed370c3318/4c4d7fab3432e6cc (date is confirmed May 22 & 23! ). Participants come from all over South-East Asia.

    When are you reaching Thailand? Songkran Festival (13th Apr – 15th Apr 2010) is definitely one of the things to experience..

  37. Hope you enjoy your trip! me and my husband currently live in Malaysia,If you can visit here also we will be glad to meet you both.

  38. and there is a water festival event in Thai I will ask for detail next time for you :D

  39. Conal Doyle

    Hey Matt, unfortunately I have never been to either of those places so can’t help you there.
    I have a question which i will not be holding my breath for an answer but i will be bold and ask anyway..why do you think that Google Sky has parts of our sky blacked out? Hmm
    Sooo enjoy your trip!!
    Ciao for now
    Conal

  40. RE: why do you think that Google Sky has parts of our sky blacked out?

    Only over China ;)

  41. Denis

    You definitely will NOT hate Bankok. Whoever says that has no idea.

    The food is probably some of the best in the world…not just Asian. So definitely take some time to sample some of the restaurants here. a fantastic river restaurant (Thai and some inter food) that you wont find in any tourist guide is this one here:
    http://bkmagazine.com/place/buri-tara

    Another place not in tourist books but very popular among locals for food and drinks is this noe here, called Pla Dip (close on all Mondays):
    http://www.bangkokrecorder.com/pla-dip-fusion-food-restaurant

    From 12-16 April is Thai New Year for a week….which mean its gonna be wet and chaotic. If you dont like it, dont come during that time. It is something you can only see here though:
    http://images.google.com/images?q=songkran&oe=utf-8&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&hl=en&tab=wi

    a river cruise is always nice….but definitely touristy..so if you wanna stay away from all the very touristy things, maybe better you stay away from that.

    a drink at the bar of “Sirocco” is a must as the view simply fantastic:
    http://www.gingerasia.com/HtmlAreaImages/bangkok%20sirocco.jpg

  42. Conal Doyle

    Ahhh, thanks for clearing that up for me Dave!

  43. James

    Hi Mat.. Havent been to Thailand but I have been to Japan. I stayed in Ikebukuro which is a good spot: Close enough to everything. I travelled to Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto.

    Places and things and other stuff I can recommend:

    Railway: Get a rail pass! Japan’s rail system is amazing and there’s plenty to see. Whats Japan without experiencing the shinkansen? (bullet train) The rail system is sorta confusing at first but easy enough after you are there for a few days and a great way to get around Japan. Note: The Rail pass doesn’t cover some lines so you may have to pay extra.

    Places:

    Karmakura – (not far from Tokyo) is a good small town if you want something a bit low key compared to the city areas.

    Osaka – Great city to visit. Plenty of shopping and interesting places to see. Osaka castle etc.

    Tokyo – Ginza and Akihabara

    Temples and Shrines anywhere in Japan are always great places to visit.

    Other Reccomendations:

    Bring some gifts that are unique to your country or area where you live. In my experience, Japanese people appreciate this.

    Check out the local food/eating spots. Theres plenty of small places in any city. Slurping when eating ramen or noodles shows your appreciation for the food – may be seen as “bad table manners” in other parts of the world.

    Your’e welcome to email me if you have any other questions.

  44. I think you might find Bangkok is worth seeing once, but not worth hanging around in. Don’t take tuk tuks – dangerous vehciles. Taxis cost the same, and you get A/C. Just make sure whenever you sit in a taxi that they turn on meter. If driver doesn’t don’t be afraid to tell him to pull in and get out. Lots of nice boutique hotels in Bangkok, especially in Sukhumvit area. Great shopping malls also if that tickles any fancies. If you stay in Sukhumvit use the SkyTrain as traffic generally in Bangkok is crazy. Bangkok is a truly massive city, so take care when booking your stay that you’re near to whatever you want to see. Taxis are cheap, but getting around can take a lot of time during rush hours.

    Chiang Mai is a wonderful place, and apart from the smog I cant fault it. The temple up in the mountains is very calming, and there are literally 100′s of beautiful temples all around the city, some of which are very old. Hire a tuk tuk (Chiang Mai is a relatively safe place for motoring) for a few hours to drive you around. 1-2 hrs should cost only about 500Baht. Night market in Chiang Mai is also very famous. Le Meridian Chiang Mai is right next to night bazaar, and I found the rooms exceptionally comfortable and staff very good. Some of the flower expos are great also (they are very big into flowers in Chiang Mai), and the local handy crafts are amazing. If you’re into getting into outdoors there’s loads of great things to do from white water rafting to sensory meditation retreats and everything in between. Chiang Mai is a great place to visit.

    Biggest thing to watch out for in Thailand is tourist traps – sadly there are many, just don’t be afraid to say no at any time while here. Take care of any taxis, tuk tuks offering to take you to see things as these are generally always traps of some kind or another. Inflated pricing and pressure selling to the max…

    As a bonus – if you like the sea then Phuket is a nice place to visit, but avoid Patong as it’s not so nice (IMO). The great thing is that there are internal flights now from Chiang Mai to Phuket (~2.5hrs) which makes getting around easy. If you can mix things up a little I’d spend no more than 2-3 days in Bangkok (you’ll regret it if you stay longer), jump on a flight to Chiang Mai for 3/4 days, then a flight down to Phuket for a while and take in the most fantastic islands and scenery anywhere. I think you’d really miss out if you don’t visit the islands as they are truly beautiful places to see.

    Comms stuff in Thailand: don’t really have proper 3G here yet, but in BKK you can likely get something on 2100 band. Chiang Mai might also have some 3G coverage. Otherwise it will be EDGE which will work for all but streaming video and the like. Nexus One works well here ;-)

  45. Hi Matt and your wife,

    Conglatulations 10th wedding aniversary!

    Now’s the time we have Sakura(Cheyry Bloosm) are blooming over Japan. Sakura(Cherry Bloosm) has a very short period while blooming and Sakura is our Nations’s flower.

    “CHIDORIGAFUCHI” locates the centeral Tokyo, this place is very famous for lots of Sakura flowers in Japan.

    Please enjoy a happy trip to Japan!

    Hide

  46. Kevin

    Me and my wife just got back from our 10th trip to Thailand. “Nancy Chandlers map of Bangkok” is a really cool resource written by an expat local. Chiang Mai is lovely, I would walk around and explore it on foot, I remember some great restaurants on the river up there.

  47. On the food front, get some Maki / Sushi in Japan. And some Green Papaya Salad in Thailand (a little spicy – if you like that sort of thing).

    And stay away from any flying ping-pong balls you see whizzing about…..

    Darren.

  48. Hi Matt,

    First of all, I’m very jealous! I used to live in Thailand a few years ago and loved it.

    If you have no definitive plan re where to go then my recommendation would be to spend a few days in Bangkok before heading off to Chiang Mai. If you have enough time it would be good to finish up by going to one of the Islands, such as Samui (though it’s a bit touristy), so you can chill out on the beach.

    Bangkok is great for both shopping and partying. Be careful when you come out of the airport to get a metered taxi & insist that they put the meter on! There are loads of street markets to go to and eat at. Some highlights are the weekend market (it’s enormous!) called Chatuchak market and the night markets. One of the night markets (Suan Lum) is behind Lumpini boxing stadium. I’d strongly recommend that you spend one evening watching the boxing as it’s great fun & all the Thais are shouting & betting. Finally, another thing to do in Bangkok is to go to one of the red light districts. Strange as this may sound, the fact is that many westerners go there to drink and have fun and it does seem to come part and parcel with Bangkok. Look out for baby elephants in the street though!

    Chiang Mai is where I used to live and, I think, the best place to go in Thailand! It has fantastic greenery, a slower pace of life and really friendly people. There is a night market area here also that is smaller and more manageable than in BKK. From Chiang Mai you can go on treks into the mountains to meet with some of the hill tribe people and see waterfalls. A good friend of mine is a trekker guide from the Karen tribe and he speaks excellent English, so please feel free to contact me if you want me to pass on his details for a trek. In terms of places to go that are near to town, try the Zoo where you can see the Panda’s, then head up to Wat Pho temple. I think if you go further up the mountain there is a palace that’s supposed to be beautiful but I’m afraid I never made it up that far. You should do the Zoo, temple & palace in one day as they’re in the same area.

    Things to watch out for:
    1) Unscrupulous tuk tuk & red bus (songthaew) drivers – always agree a price first and if it seems too low check you’re not going to be taken to endless number of jewellery shops or temples (avg price for short journey’s range between 20-50 baht in Bkk & Chiang Mai)
    2) Don’t touch or tap anyone’s head, particularly anyone older than you
    3) Don’t put your feet up on tables etc as showing the soles of your feet is disrespectful
    4) Remember to take your shoes off if going into temples or anyone’s apartments

    Most importantly, have a great time and enjoy!

    Could go on forever but won’t bore you further. If you need any more info then just shout :)

  49. Chadwick

    A ‘must do’ in Japan is Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea. They are both great fun.

  50. Sawatdee Khrab! ( hello in Thai )If your flying into Bangkok , Check the Bridge over the river and the floating market , khaosan road is the party street but proably not wife material however MBK Shopping center will be!

    You got to try some chilli ants and deep fried crickets , food vendors are the best , just make sure they are busy so the turnover is high for food , try the Islands out on the west or the east , you can take a cheap 50 buck flight to Phuket or Samui and live like a king for little!

    Enjoy the Beer Changs!

  51. Matt:
    How dare you take your wife on a much-needed, romantic anniversary trip, and not meet up with the search engine curious! But seriously, have an awesome trip – no need to apologize. BTW: I’d be really interested to hear the strangest place and circumstance of which someone went out of their way (or put you out of yours) to answer a question.

  52. Phuket – sounds like the perfect place to forget your cares. Enjoy!

  53. Hi Matt,

    Here are a few things you might enjoy in Bangkok:

    The Jim Thompson house is worth a visit:

    http://www.jimthompsonhouse.com/

    Very accessible by sky train or canal boat (and you should definitely travel by both during your time in the city).

    Escape from the heat with a stroll around the MBK shopping mall:

    http://www.mbk-center.co.th/en/

    Or walk through a rare piece of green belt at Lumphini Park:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lumphini_Park

    Come to think of it, the sky train will take you to all three of these places, so very handy for a quick visit.

  54. Matt,

    A good friend of mine from grad school maintains a blog focused on Japanese culture, with many posts about worth destinations in Japan. Check out his blog at travisbelrose[dot]blogspot[dot]com.

    Hope this helps,

    Frank Gullo

  55. MAS

    While in Chiang Mai do the full day elephant training class. This is different that the normal tour. It was a blast.

    http://criticalmas.com/2009/11/elephant-training-in-chiang-mai-thailand/

  56. Anthony

    i am surprised nobody mentioned NaNa plaza ! Send your wife to a spa for one night and check it out.

  57. Land in Bangkok, but don’t “visit” it, next thing you’ll realize is you’ll be doing Google work there figuring out how to solve the traffic issues :)

    PeiPei islands are great (Heaven on earth) If you like crystal clear water and mellow life that’s the place to be.

    Japan – Tokyo is good for a day..ooh..ahh..tall buildings and crowds will be good for a day, then it will start to bug you. Go Northern Japan, countryside is beautiful (Don’t forget to take the bullet train there and anywhere else to travel inside Japan, don’t fly)

  58. Matt,
    I spent a half semester in Thailand in Hua Hin on the beach and I must admit that while there is some culture shock, it is an amazing place to go. I would definitely say to ride an elephant (there are many places to do this but there is one outside of Hua Hin – btw that is a nice place to get away if you don’t want to go to an island but you still want a beach), go to Koa Tao (better than Koa Samui) which is a beautiful island, and ride a Tuk Tuk (a little motorcycle with a carriage attached – just like a taxi). If you do these things and enjoy the beaches and some awesome spicy curry (if you like that), you will have a great time.
    Have fun,
    Brent
    P.S. – The original red bull is from here and it is really really good too. No carbonation but still tastes the same. If you like beer – Chang is the best!

  59. Sounds great Matt! Which part of Thailand that you’ll be going? I had been to Bangkok in Thailand before, a great place and full of shopping complex, I’m sure your wife will love it! If you and your wife love beach, then Phuket will be a good place for you.

    Anyway, enjoy the trip Matt!

    Regards,
    Lee

  60. Hi Matt, Thailand is wonderful like his people; Bangkok worth not only a day of visit, don’t miss the best school of massage (real one, for you and your wife) in the Wat Pho complex temple near Grand Palace, the Chatuchak Weekend Market for shop and more, the Chinese streets with a loooong, tight, twisting road inside (forgot the name…), the old all teak Jim Thompson’s House for the best “original” silk in the city and many more…hope can help, have a nice days!

  61. If you are in Osaka, go to Namba and Shinsekai for street food dinner. Don’t plan to go to any particular restaurant but just eat what looks good. It’ll be a fun culinary experience. Just go into any small stall and order what your neighbor is having.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/travel/2008/feb/16/top100foodbreaks.streetfood

  62. TC

    Three words: Tokyo Fish Market. Truly the best sushi you will ever eat and it’s just an all round amazing place. Get there early!

  63. Ejovi Nuwere

    Check out http://tokyo.japantimes.co.jp to get an idea of what locals in Tokyo are doing. You might receive some inspiration to visit a small local spot.

  64. Matt, I’m sure you’ve already spotted this, but the PM in Thailand just declared a state of emergency in Bangkok

  65. Make sure you try the real food, not in fancy restaurants but where the locals eat. You both have to try a Thai Massage (I don’t mean the X rated), for a few bucks they can make you feel 15 again.

  66. Hi Matt, long time, no see! (I think it’s been almost 24 hours now. :) Here are my recommendations for Japan:

    1. A 2 or 3 hour Ikebana class is a lot of fun. The school will provide the flowers. The instructor will speak English but it feels super Japanese.
    http://www.frommers.com/destinations/tokyo/0085022061.html

    2. Watch a baseball game. They cheer so much differently than Americans. There are bento boxes at the concession stands and you have to see who sells the beer in the bleachers.
    http://www.tokyo-dome.co.jp/cgi-bin/schedule/User/dome/schedule-english.cgi

    3. In Kyoto, on your first day, you may want to take a “walking lecture.” I enjoyed it, and it provided a better understanding of the city for when I later explored alone.
    http://www.kyotosightsandnights.com/walking.html

    4. Staying in a ryokan, and dining in a Buddhist temple garden (fyi, it’s a vegetarian meal), is also really special. Though it can be pricey, I’d try to find a really good place for the vegetarian dinner. It’s so worth it. The atmosphere and the food is super interesting — it just feels cleansing.

    5. You might want to stay a few nights in a small town. I stopped in Takayama on my way from Tokyo to Kyoto. Rented bikes there one day. Watched the daily life of the locals. Slept in a ryokan. Would go back in a heartbeat.

    Please tell your wife I said “konnichiwa” (or is it konnichiha? it’s written one way but said another, or something). We’ll miss you in the office, but of course, have the trip of a lifetime!

  67. Some things you might want to see in or near bangkok.

    1.The wholesale flower market.
    2. Wat Pho-Temple of the reclining Buddha.
    3. The Royal boat museum.
    4. Chatuchak weekend market….thousands of merchants selling everything under the sun.
    5. Chinatown.
    6. Nong Nooch Gardens…about an hour and a half outside Bangkok…Beautiful
    7. The Sanctuary of Truth…Huge artistic temple 2 hours outside Bangkok
    8. Joe Louis Puppet Theater…beautiful cultural show
    9. Muang Boran…open air museum that is on 350 acres…laid out to resemble the country.
    10. The Royal Elephant Museum.
    11. Vimanek Mansion….once a royal residence now open to tours…completely made of teak and beautiful.
    12. Wat Suthat.
    13. Bangkok Butterfly Garden & Insectarium.
    14. Make sure to get a great oil massage.

  68. You will probably land in Narita airport in Japan. The small town of Nara is close by: don’t speed on without looking in. Japan is a multi-layered country and stopping in Nara and soaking up the place will give you a lovely introduction to the country. Just don’t boggle at the price of fruit in the shops…

    And the coast, just driving the coast – it is beautiful, and unspoiled.

  69. Joe

    Rent some scooters for about $10 per day and cruise them up to Paay from Chiang Mai. It’s kind of a long drive but the scenery is fantastic and it’s pretty exotic. You can stop all along the way at waterfalls, hotsprings, and even the Lion Kingdom. Stay over night in Paay and then cruise back the next day. Just got back from Thailand 2 months ago and this was the coolest thing. Snorkling in Krabii was awesome too but sounds like you’re not headed down south.

    Also, if you can I would try to be in Chang Mai anytime between April 13 and the 20th. Songkran (thai new year water festival) is outrageous in Thailand!! You wouldn’t want to miss it.

  70. Peter

    If you want to see one of the places where Thais spend their holidays, visit Chantaburi. No overcrowded Tourist Place. No Sex-Tourist, no Animal-Tourist-Attractions. I would say…nearly the real Thailand.

  71. Jay

    “Plan ahead because NOBODY speaks English there” couldn’t be farther from the truth. after visiting Japan (Kansai & Kanto regions) I advised my friends who don’t speak a word of Japanese to visit. They did… for 2 weeks and LOVED it. They had no trouble going from Tokyo to Kyoto to Nara and beyond. Unless you’re far into the countryside, you won’t have any problems. Install a dictionary or take a small one w/you if you are concerned (but you probably won’t need ‘em).

    Hopefully you’ll utilize this awesome search engine known as Google to find those thousands of great online resources that helped me plan my trips to Japan. ;-)

    (I didn’t have twitter back then but try following @tokyotopia & @visit_Japan among others; many great Twitter resources!)

  72. Terrry

    Mutt, I’m living in Tokyo and happy to hear you will visit Japan.
    If you and your wife are interested in relaxation, I recommend Oedoonsen. This is Japanese style hotspring in Tokyo. In Ooedoonsen, you change the costume into Japanese traditional yukata, and will also enjoy many hotspring including foot spa. http://www.ooedoonsen.jp/higaeri/english/ http://bit.ly/d3g91y

    I think Asakusa is also great (http://wikitravel.org/en/Tokyo/Asakusa ). It is not far from Akihabara. (just 10minutes by train) http://www.jorudan.co.jp/english/ If you visit Asakusa, you can take Tokyo Cruise Ship. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tokyo_Cruise_Ship

    Of couse, there are so many exciting places in Tokyo that I could not recommend all for you in this!
    I could show you more if I know what you want to do in Tokyo!

  73. I’m headed to Japan and Thailand too this year in the Middle of June.

    Went to Thailand 2 years ago and loved it. There’s a tour that lets you ride elephants through the jungle that is pretty sick. Also, I’ve heard nothing but good things about tubing down the river in Cambodia which is just a short hop away; I’ll be doing that this year.

  74. You should check out travel planning websites like TravelMuse, which are really helpful in planning out vacations. They offer tons of ideas on things to e.g. http://www.travelmuse.com/destinations/JP/00-japan/_attractions and http://www.travelmuse.com/destinations/TH/00-thailand/_attractions but they also allow you to bookmark all your points of interests, reservations, etc. into one place where you can even build an itinerary of what you plan to do day-by-day. It’s really cool for people who like to plan their trips in detail.

  75. I would like to recommend you to go Akihabara, Tokyo Japan.
    That place you can see the Japanese pop culture ex Cartoon and “Kawaii” means Cute dressed boys and girls. I hope you enjoy the cerebration tour ;-)
    AKIHABRA BLOG

    MISAKO AOKI (Who is Japanese pop culture embassader)

  76. If you’re in some city in Japan at the same time that the Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra is, they’re a very good band to see live. I’m not sure I’d want to figure out how to attend a music show w/out help, but I bet a city’s Tourist Information Center would help. http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=ja&u=http://www.tokyoska.net/schedule/1004.html&ei=oFm9S9OQD6W4tgOTvdi3Ag&sa=X&oi=translate&ved=0CAcQ7gEwAA

    The ferry ride from Hiroshima to Matsuyama was gorgeous.

    Like other folks, I enjoyed spending time in Akihabara. You might, too.

  77. Hello, my name is Takuya.

    I follow your blogs all the time.

    This is what i like in Japan:

    ■$1 sushi train
    We love this cheap but delicious sushi shops in Japan:
    http://www.akindo-sushiro.co.jp/

    ■Depachika (Department underground shops)
    This is Huge in Japan and you can get popular foods from all over the place in japan. I am sure your wife love these places.
    My wife loves these places by the way…..
    http://www.depachika.com/photonews/archives/

    ■Soccer game

    Urawa Reds is a biggest soccer club in Japan,
    Their home game attracts 60,000 people!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HJY_pXnMJCY&hd=1
    http://www.urawa-reds.co.jp/index_en.html

    Hope you enjoy your stay in Japan!

    Takuya

  78. In Japan, you MUST go to Beppu. It is a partially collapsed volcano (from long ago) that has hundreds of steaming hot springs sprouting out the ground. They have TONS of hot spas (they call them “hells”) including a big spa open to the general public (divided into men and women, but it didn’t stop couples from going to the men’s side) and they also have an alligator zoo and certain “hells” have specific characteristics like the “blood red hell” which is filled with bright red rust. It is a place where the Japanese go when they visit via cruise ship but not many know of it outside Japan. Not far from there by car is Mt. Aso which has the “Grand Canyon of Japan” with some active volcanoes. I hope you like the smell of sulfur and the rejuvenative powers of hot springs because this little trip to one of Japan’s southern islands is really well-worth-it.

    Of course there are many, many places to go in Japan and depending on the time of year you go it can really make a difference. During cherry blossom festival in Tsuwano (happening very soon I think) they have an 800-year-old tradition where samurai on horseback shoot targets with giant bows and arrows; the horses are HUGE and the Japanese are small, but it’s beautiful because the contest is held among the cherry blossom trees. Everyone is in ceremonial outfits and the scene looks like it’s hundreds of years old except for the cameras and cellphones.

    If you are doing this trip in Japan by car there are so many places to go! I lived there for a year and saw a lot of it.

  79. are you sure you want to come to Thailand? the political situaition here ? haha I’m just kidding you are welcome here and there is no problem for tourist around Bangkok and the best thing you can get from Thailand other than bars and clubs are the beaches. It has got some of the most romantic places in the world and I would recommend you places like Koh Samet, Koh samui, Phuket, Krabi, Hua Hin. These are my favourites and if you need more info in Thailand I will be glad to help you.

    Have fun in your trip.

  80. Sue

    In Thailand, Koh Lanta is a beautiful island to visit. The same sort of scenery as Koh Phi Phi without the crowds. My husband and I spent our first Christmas there and loved it!

    Also, in Bangkok, there is a roof-top restaurant at The Banyan Tree called Vertigo. It’s one of the most incredible restaurants I’ve ever seen. A perfect place to celebrate 10 years together :)

    Enjoy your trip. I absolutely love Asia. It’s my favourite place to travel

  81. Hate to hijack a thread, but as a resident of Phuket, I find this comment rather odd:

    “Phuket: Don’t be alarmed by the Muslim population there, as they know their bread is buttered by tourists. That being said, don’t stray too far off the beaten path there.”

    Why would anyone be alarmed by the Muslim people in Phuket? And YES, get off the beaten path if you want to see more than just other tourists! Some of my favourite places in Phuket are in Muslim areas, and actually I find the people in these more out of the way areas to be the friendliest in Phuket. Oh, and Jet Skis = Bad idea. Well documented how they try to get money from people for damage that was already on the machine. If you want to get out on the water, there’s sailing, diving, or speedboats for hire or kayaking trips… Well, wherever you may end up in Thailand, be sure to wear a shirt that is not red or yellow :)

  82. Welcome to thailand , if you come to bangkok or pattaya , don’t forget to call me I’m working in pattaya hospital and thailand travel assistant . call 081-6521851 in Thai , speak fluent and well known for business owner all across pattaya. Any help and assist for 24 hour. Don’t hesitate to call because I am you big fan and please don’t mind to be a guest at my house (see all of Matts Cutts video hxxp://www.thaihealth.net/blog/)
    Thai seo (my site ) :)

  83. Phantacid

    Onsens – Any Hotel will be able recommend a decent one wherever you end up. Chilled and soul enhancing to the extreme. In door and out door types to suit the weather and your mood. Work hard, chill hard in Japan! And expect old Japanese men to pass comment on your western willy (for girls it’s breasts so my wife tells me).
    Pachinko – Any big city will have 100s. Blasting Euro pop, chain-smoking drunks, Glassy eyed teens and monumental levels of noise – Truly Japanese. No need to go in, just have a nose from the window or entrance.
    Food – I’ve traveled or lived in over 30 countries and Japan is simply the best place on the planet for food. Sushi is obvious but you’ll also find some of the world’s best Italian, Korean, Chinese, Thia and many other foreign restaurants throughout Japan. Don’t be shy to do non-Japanese things. Japan lives and breaths other cultures as part of it’s own identity.

    And my personal favorite thing to do – Have an all nighter wondering around and drinking in grotty underbelly of Tokyo. Sublime times to be had simply hanging out with some of the weirdest and friendliest nutballs you’ll ever meet. Record shopping at 2am, sex shop service adverts that read like restaurant menus, noise, lights, taxis, bars and corner shops, stand up restaurants and street food. Simply superb but maybe not everyone’s cup of tea. Have a good one Matt

  84. Never been to Asia? I thought you Google guys go around all the time! well, maybe a better question would be what NOT to do in Thailand! No, really, I suggest you to leave the resort and city(ies) at least for one day and go a bit around the country side. Because typical Asia – that’s noisy 24/7 living neon lit cities AND rural areas with lifestyle we are not able to witness anywhere else…
    Have fun and take care!

  85. If are moving to Asain Country then take out free time and visit Incredible India.
    India is Wonderful country. You will love it.

  86. JC

    Hi Matt,

    Any trip to / around Thailand should definitely include a beach / island visit. I highly recommend the islands in the east, near Cambodia. Rates are much friendlier than in the much more crowded / well esthablished tourist destinations like Phuket, Koh Samui, Hua Hin and Pattaya. Especially Koh Kood is still what you’d expect from a tropical island destination: crystal clear water, beautiful waterfall (depending on season, obviously), hardly any cars, laid back fisherman mentality and excellent snorkeling, even right in front of many of the resorts there. We just spend the 2nd part of our own 10 year anniversary there. Also quite convenient if you intend to visit Angkor Wat in Cambodia, which everyone should do at least once in their life.

  87. Kerry

    I lived and worked in Thailand for a year. Krabi is hands down my favorite place in the whole country! You can give Bangkok a skip in my opinion (lived in the city for the year… don’t miss it) though if you do get stuck there, it’s best at night, and I would agree that it’s best seen from the river AT NIGHT. Get Traditional Thai massage every chance you get. And don’t be afraid to eat food from the street vendors, they and their food are awesome!

    Have a great trip!

  88. Ian M

    Try Google Places Directory? :)

    Also, try looking for a fruit called a mangosteen – very tasty!

  89. I’d recommend the Gulf Islands more than the West Coast Islands (much less touristy – although beautiful, Phi Phi reminded me of Spain in that people literally fight for a space on the beach to put their towel!). Koh tao is beautiful, not so geared up for Westerners (i.e. no McDonalds, Ben & Jerry’s etc. found here YET) and has the most amazing diving.

    I know a lot of people seem to love Bangkok, but i’m definitely not one of them. Busy, polluted and sleazy (i guess that’s why some people love it!). I tend to prefer the quieter, more cultural areas. That said, if you’re on Pha Ngan around a full moon, definitely worth going to!

  90. oscar

    Most impressive temple after Sagrada Familia:
    Wat Rong Khun (a.k.a the white temple)

  91. Hi,

    here is my site where you can quikly have a great overwiev of both of the contries and destinations. If you want to do something different then most of the people, just dont obey those travel tips:)

    http://www.happytellus.com/japan
    http://www.happytellus.com/thailand

    P.S. You could have interesting time now in Thailand since there has been declared a State of Emergency.

    Have a Happy Journey!

    With Happy Regards, Tapsa

  92. Thailand: If you’re interested in Thai architecture/history, just south of Bangkok you can go to the Ancient Siam and see life-size replicas of most of the country’s ancient cities in one day.

  93. If you’ve got the time then spend a week taking your time to explore Angkor Wat in nearby Cambodia (just fly straight there from Bangkok). Rent a shaded tuktuk (with driver) for the day for $20 and see things at your own pace.

    In Bangkok, definitely eat the street food. Seriously. It’s probably safer than restaurant food. Get the book “Thai Hawker Food” that has illustrations and details about what you’re actually buying. Also, get Nancy Chandlers’ illustrated map of Bangkok for what to see and do. Don’t rely on Lonely Planet. Make sure to ride TukTuks everywhere. Taxi cabs are too cushy.

    Also, go see a movie. The seats are always reserved and before every movie everybody stands up and respects the king by watching a multimedia tribute to him.

    Take an overnight, air conditioned train (fairly rustic) to Chiang Mai and go visit the temple on the hill at sunset. Then take some cooking classes there (everyone does it but I still cook from those lessons).

  94. Jimmy

    Hey Matt,

    I lived in Japan for a few years and have a few recommendations.

    Tokyo
    – Odaiba – it’s a man-made island with an imported beach, miniature Statue of Liberty, and tons of futuristic buildings.
    – Shibuya – the intersection in front of the train station is iconic and it’s just fun to meander the streets. Harujuku isn’t bad either (on Sundays all the cosplay people come and hang out). :)
    – Akihabara – more to just people-watch than find good deals
    – Tokyo Metropolitan Building in Shinjuku – free observation tower from the 40th or so floor, great view over downtown Tokyo

    I recommend taking the shinkansen over to Kyoto and Osaka. Kyoto will be a nice change of pace and you could literally spend a week there checking out all the temples (Kiyomizu, Ryoanji, etc.). Osaka as a whole is grittier than Tokyo with excellent food in the Dotonbori area (I suggest you try Kamakura Ramen). And, if you’re in the Osaka region, you might as well hit-up Himeji to check out the castle (it’s used as the backdrop for many a samurai movie).

    Have fun!

  95. I also recommend the Tokyo Fish Market. That was one of the highlights of my first visit to Japan!

    Have a great trip, Matt.

  96. Jeff

    In Thailand, if you only do 1 thing it should be Flight of the Gibbon Zipline Tours (http://www.treetopasia.com)

  97. Francesca

    Eat where the locals eat! Go where the lines are the longest! (Excellent words of advice from travel experts Anthony Bourdain and Andrew Zimmern). Also, Bringing gifts from the U.S. is a great idea. They are a gift oriented culture. Have fun!!!

  98. Lots of good advice has already been said in the comments above, so I will only add that it would be beneficial to know a little bit of the language – you don’t have to be fluent in japanese, but knowing a few words and sentences to exchange pleasantries is very helpful.

    Have fun in Japan and have a safe trip.
    Yamato

  99. Peter (IMC)

    Matt,

    Everything planned out is great, but never forget about the non planned part. That is at least what I like to do. Rent a car, and just start driving and see where you end up. When I went to Italy with my wife we did this. We left from the Netherlands, where I still lived at that time and the basic plan was to go through Germany and Switzerland to get to Italy, making 1 stop in Switzerland. We didn’t plan hotels but the basic rule was to start looking for a hotel at around 4 to 5 pm.

    The second day in Switzerland we got near the main tunnel (forgot the name) to get to the other side of the Alps when I noticed an exit with a sign that indicated an alternative route I think it was.

    This was interesting. It was a route over the mountains and we ended up above the tree line which puts you in a surreal landscape. No trees, no houses, no nothing, just grass and rocks and a perfect asfalted road to the other side with small waterfalls everywhere. And it was almost freezing, 39 F. (when we entered Italy a couple of hours later it was 107 F.)

    These things you can not plan, and it’s a lot of fun.

    Later that vacation we were in pompei and after visiting the old pompei I was like: Let’s see how close we can get to the vesuvius volcano. That’s pretty easy because as long as you keep the volcano somewhere in the front of you and you keep going up, you end up in a place where the road simply ends. Then we found we could actually walk up all the way to the top of the vesuvius. That was something we could have planned but since we didn’t, it was all the more fun.

    Basically the only thing we planned were the cities we wanted to visit. It was a great vacation. We also visited the city where the great grand father of my wife was born. A very interesting experience as the old town still exists today.

    Until now I never made it any further east than Kuwait (business trip) so on asia I can’t really give you any suggestions other than to do some things you didn’t plan.

  100. idont

    In Bangkok do not miss this place (amazing) for a drink or a romantic dinner: http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=skybar%20bangkok&w=all

  101. * Kusatsu – very nice hot springs and the atmosphere is very interesting.
    * Himeji Castle – the only old castle. Osaka castle was rebuilt this century.
    * Kobe beef at train station in Kobe (guide books recommend it and i liked it)
    * Try Whale meat! There is a place in Asakusa in Tokyo, in a covered market close to the temple. Sorry, don’t know the name.
    * Stay in a love hotel. Pick a themed one by walking around one of the night life areas near busy train station. They are walk in only. Good place to crash if you didn’t book a hotel in advance too.

  102. Matt, the list of comments above probably would be more than enough for your trip.
    Bangkok is a nice place, but please do a search of ‘Bangkok scams’ on Google.
    Other than that, I’m sure you’re going to enjoy every single bit while you’re there.
    Have fun and congrats to you and your wife! :)

  103. Hey Matt. Here’s a GREAT list for Japan from my site. http://lunch.com/t/13s5 This was created by one of members Sharrie. I’ve known her for a long time and i trust her when it comes to travel. You should be in good shape with this. Have fun!!

  104. Matt,

    It’s not true that you’ll find few English speakers in Japan. That’s silly. If you’re in little side alley restaurants or small cities, yes. Tokyo has plenty of English speakers.

    If you have time, I really encourage taking the shinkansen to Kyoto. Kiyomizu-dera is a wonderful temple there but there are many in Kyoto. If you like old Japanese cinema, Yasujiro Ozu is the master and either Tokyo Story or Late Spring (both available on Netflix/Criterion) are wonderful. Kiyomizu-dera shows up in the end of Late Spring.

    Near Kyoto (one hour train) is Nara. There’s a huge park there with tame deer and the largest freestanding wood building in the world with a massive Buddha in it.

    The Ginza is Tokyo’s Rodeo Drive and weekends it is closed to all but foot traffic, which is nice if you want to mingle with tens of thousands of Japanese.

    I stayed two nights in a ryokan (traditional inn) on Miyajima. This island is one of the three most beautiful places in Japan. Wonderful experience. Requires a train ride from Hiroshima and then a short boat ride to the island. If you have a Japan Rail pass, it covers both.

    Japan is a wonderful country with some lovely people. Don’t be at all intimidated by the Tokyo underground. It’s extremely efficient to use and easy too.

    Have a great time!

  105. I have always wanted to visit Thailand, beaches look like they are beautiful. Have fun and be safe.

  106. Japan is my favorite country – I call it a different planet because well, it is ! Tokyo and Kyoto rock. You must go to Shinjuku station and just observe the way this city leaves and breathes and moves….the food is divine, you cannot get bad food in Japan. The temples and shrines bring so much peace to the chaotic streets, and are all free to visit. I think Harajuku is a fun place to visit in Tokyo too….and the subway is the most efficient and advanced in all of the world’s metro systems – worth at least a hop! Enjoy!

  107. I second Nara, but I saw a recommendation on the Ginza and aside from fancy shops , I don’t care for it. You must however visit a depachika and if you want reasons, I have written up a post just on why they are the world’s best kept secret…..

  108. Hi Matt,

    I’m very happy to hear you get a chance to visit both Japan and Thailand!

    In Japan Asakusa and the “Kaminarimon” ‘Lightning Gate’ is a great place for both tourists and Japanese people to enjoy the traditional Japanese culture. Try the “Amazake” ‘Sweet Sake’ a traditional Sake with some “Dango” ‘Japanese dessert’ and stroll around the temple ^_^ Then a planned trip to Ryogoku to watch the national sport Sumo is a great experience.

    In Thailand, there are so many things you can do one trip is definitely not enough ^_^
    But be sure to get a chance to eat as much variety of the exotic foods we have here. Ranging from the famous “Pad Thai”, “Tom Yum”, to inexpensive and delicious Seafood to a more humble “Kao Man Gai” ‘Chicken Rice’ and “Guwitiao” ‘Rice Noodle’ flat, skinny or thin sizes in soup or dry.

    Wish you both a safe and fun trip!

    Eric

  109. Welcome to Thailand :)

    Unfortunately we have politics-conflict problem in Bangkok. Some road are off. You may have problem some time if you have trip around here (But If possible you must see “Wat pra keaw” or “King palace” it’s old style Thai – arts and culture)

    by the way if you like to see old art style building of Thailand, You could go to “Ayudhaya province” It was old metropolitan of Thailand. / Not far from bangkok

    For other province, I suggest you to see

    Chiangmai – culture trip : 12 april to 16 april have songkran festival // Keep your digital gadget at hotel or cover it with some waterproof bag, Songkran festival mean : you could wet all time when you walk along the road.

    Phuket , Nice beach : Patong beach, Kata beach, Karon beach. And do not missed to go to “Promthep cape” at 17.00-18.00 oclock it’s best sunset view of Thailand. I think it’s good to see with your wife :)

  110. Google it Matts, i know you can do it.. ^.^ The most famous place in Bangkok is the Grand Palace and many other things you can see around BKK.

    Welcome to Thailand !

  111. I’ve been living in Tokyo for over 7 years. You’ve gotta check out the Piano Bar (probably not in the tourist books). It’s down a tiny little alley near Shibuya station with bars jam packed next to each other. Tiny little 2 story room with red velvet walls and tonnes of art and chandeliers crammed onto the walls.

    review/access:
    http://www.sunnypages.jp/travel_guide/tokyo_nightlife/bars/Bar+Piano/1332
    pic:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/angryrobot17/534420961/

    There’s also Golden Gai in Shinjuku, which is a bunch of alleys full of tiny bars. The Blue Dragon there is pretty cool.

    About the fish markets – I read they’re closing them to tourists coz they were touching the fish and overcrowding the place, so you might want to double check that before going.

    I’d also check out Minato Mirai/Sakuragicho in Yokohama. World’s largest ferris wheel (+ weird little amusement park), Japan’s tallest building (Landmark tower) and there’s a big sento (public bath house) there too. You can get a ferry down to China town too. It’s only 25 minutes from Shibuya on the Toyoko super express.

    My usual friends/family touristy circuit is: Asakusa (big shrine / souvenirs), Meijijingu (big shrine / park / nature), Shibuya/Shinjuku (neon / shopping / bars / clubs), Akihabara (maid cafes / electronics / anime / weirdness) and a little bit out of Tokyo, but Kamakura is also nice (massive buddha statue and lots of shrines)

    If you do have time to get out of Tokyo, Kyoto is a few hours on the bullet train. Yeah it’s touristy, but well worth it. Try and stay in a ryokan (traditional guest house).

    Enjoy your trip!!

  112. Arm

    Hi Matt
    If you com to Thailand soon It’s summer so you’d go to enjoy our beautyfull sea beach and have some dive trip. I suggest Krabi or Phuket these is most popular place for tourist.
    dont miss Thai food you will love it. Pad thai and Tom yum kung

    have a great trip in Thailand

  113. Matt

    In Japan I would definitely reccomend going to the monkey bar in Utsunomiya (Kayabukiya Tavern). The owner has a couple of monkeys that run around and hand out towels etc.. It’s awesome! Also, they’ve just had baby monkeys – my finace spent the entire night cradling them. It’s about an hour from Tokyo on the train and you can easily make it there and back in a night. It’s a small place though so you would definitely want to get yout hotel to call up and make a reservation. The owners dont speak much english but they are very friendly!

    I would also reccommend heading down to Kobe for some kobe beef – there’s an excellent resteraunt in the mall by the train stations. I forget it’s name but it’s the pick in the lonely planet japan guide.

    It’s also worth making the trip down to hiroshima if you have the time – beautiful place with a lot of history (obviously!). Plus it’s filled with hundreds of school children running round asking tourists questions – it’s quite sweet!

    -

    As for thailand, if you’re looking for a place to stay in bangkok we love the Lebua. Pricing seems to varying dramatically but you can sometimes get a good deal (ours was about £50 a night). Amazing breakfasts (everything from freshly cooked bread, omlets and pancakes to sushi alongside all of the traditional thai breakfast fare) and the suite was bigger than my london flat! There’s also a resteraunt nearby that we’re big fans of called Thanying – about a 5 minute walk from the lebua.

    When deciding which beaches to head down to, check the weather first! We got caught in a monsoon on one of the islands which in itself was quite fun, but the boat ride there was not! Again if you’re looking for places to stay on the islands off the east coast (koh samui, ko pangang etc..) then you should definitely check out Santhiya – and go for the speed boat option to get there, otherwise the ride is a little bumpy!

    If you venture up to northern thailand, chang mai has baby pandas! And check out one of the elephant sancuaries, we had difficulty leaving that place!

    Have fun!

  114. Hello Matt,

    A wunderful time to stay with the hole family is Want Thong.
    It is an elephant project, you can be very close with the elephants.
    It is a pleasure for young and old.

    Have a lot of fun..

    greetings
    marco

  115. Hey Matt, have fun on your trip. I have never been to Thailand, but I loved Japan.

    When I was in Japan I had a hard time getting money from ATM machines… In Tokyo it was easy enough to go to a 7-11, but in Kyoto I could not get my ATM card to work anywhere (including the 7-11s) except for the Post Office. All of us from the US had the issue in Kyoto.

    In smaller cities it is supposed to be hard as well. I am not sure if it is the type card I was using, but we all had issues. So I would recommend carrying a stockpile of cash with you once you leave Tokyo.

    Here is a bit more advice on it: http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2208.html

    Also not sure if you looked into it, but you can get a JR rail pass which will allow you to travel pretty much anywhere between cities on JR Rail. You can get a pass for 7, 14 or 21 days. You need to get it BEFORE you enter Japan though. http://www.japanrailpass.net/eng/en002.html

    It does not work on the subways or anything though, but those are easy enough to use, and will blow your mind how quick and easy it is to get from point a to point b, even if it is across the city.

  116. Hi guys,

    Matt congratulations to you and your wife on your 10th year anniversary. Enjoy your trip and be safe.

    Kind regards,

    Sam
    X

  117. Arjun Anand

    Matt,

    In Thailand you must go the Pat Pong to see the night market, also feel free to walk into any of the amazing bars but DO NOT go for any of the sex shows. To start with they are disgusting and more importantly you don’t know what will happen to you once you are inside.

    Go to the temple of tiger in thailand, its really amazing http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g297924-d942775-Reviews-Tiger_Temple_Thailand-Kanchanaburi.html

    Eat Frog Legs
    Eat at http://www.baan-khanitha.com/
    Eat at Saffron at the Banyan Tree http://www.bangkok.com/banyantree/dining.htm
    East at Vertigo at the banyan tree
    Drink lots of coconut water & eat a lot of fruits (especially Rose Apple)

    If you are going to Kyoto, stay at the Tawaraya Ryokan, never been there but heard great things.

    Check out the Fugu http://japanesefood.about.com/cs/seafoodfish/a/fugublowfish.htm

    Have fun, you should also plan to visit India soon.

    AJ

  118. Whatever you’ll end up doing, you’ll have so fantastic times in these two countries. Asia is a totally different world. You’ll come back with great memories.

  119. Cool/fun things to do in/around Tokyo (some already covered above)

    Akihabara
    Lothlorien for geeks (“The heart of geekdom on Earth”). Need I say more? Ok, perhaps just a little: it’s about 1 square mile of electronic stores of all shapes and sizes, from 11 floors of gadgets and restaurants (Yodobashi Camera main store, just behind the train station, occupies a whole city block) to tiny stalls selling just about anything you can imagine. Try diving into the little covered alleys tucked away under the station itself – there are several floors of specialist shops, often selling just 1-2 types of products e.g. just diodes, just spy gadgets, just transformers etc. It’s a maze – and amazing!

    Rubbing shoulders with the electronics stores are game stores and maid cafes (note that photos are sadly almost always strictly prohibited in the latter, but you can always snap a picture of a “maid” handing out leaflets on one of the street corners. There are dozens out in fine weather, and a few even on foul weather days.

    BONUS: If you like meat, you’ll want to visit the restaurant I nicknamed the “meat tower”. Officially called “Niku No Mansei”, it’s a 10 storey restaurant dedicated to red meat. Some floors specialise in steaks, some in yakiniku (sliced beef and vegetables that you cook on braziers) and some in shabu-shabu and sukiyaki. It’s just across the bridge from the main Akihabara intersection.

    Shibuya
    Hachiko crossing is iconic, the busiest intersection in the world (featured in various films, including Fast and Furious 3: Tokyo Drift). Pop into the “109″ building to see the craziest teen fashions (check out what the shop attendants are wearing – it will take an hour for your eyeballs to return to their sockets). Wander down “Center Gai” (the main pedestrianised street diagonally across from the station) for lots more weird and wonderful shops and a taste of bustling streetlife.

    Harajuku
    A short (15 minute) walk from Shibuya, on a fine day. Try walking down “Cat Street” if you like bohemian/artistic/boutique stores, or down Meiji Dori (Dori=street) to head straight for Harajuku proper. Takeshita Dori is where the young set go – the outfits there are even more outlandish than in Shibuya, and on Sundays from about midday onwards high-school kids go to the bridge near the station (between Harajuku station and the entrance to Meiji Shrine – also worth a visit btw) and dress up in “cosplay” outfits, goth gear and all sorts of things. Almost directly opposite the entrance to Takeshita Dori is the Godiva Cafe, which serves various chocolate shakes and hot chocolate drinks. Make sure you take a quick peek at LaForet on the corner, as it’s an iconic building filled with fashion boutiques (the more “outlandish” boutiques are in the lowest basement).

    Omotesando
    At right-angles to Harajuku is Omotesando Dori, which is like a younger Ginza in that it has lots of “world” and local fashion brands, catering mainly to the 20-40 crowd. Ralph Lauren has a huge store there, and Omotesando Hills is a multi-floor shopping complex packed with brand stores. If you go into O.H. I recommend that you go to the top floor via the escalators and then spiral downwards – you can go all the way to the basement in an unbroken route that winds its way around and around the building, and you’ll get to see all the stores en route.

    BONUS: If you’re hankering for a burger, “Goros Diner” on the top floor serves really good gourmet ones. In a back street off Omotesando Dori is “Maisen”, a famous restaurant that serves breaded pork dishes (tonkatsu) and has been doing so for over half a century.

    If the weather plays along, you can wander up from Shibuya to Harajuku, loop around Takeshita Dori and back to La Foret, then go up Omotesando Dori before turning right at Omotesando crossing and heading back to Shibuya. The whole walk might take about an hour and a bit of actual walking time – plus as much time as you like to soak in all the sights.

    Shinjuku
    Head over to the Tokyo Government office – two massive tower buildings – to get a great view from the twin observatories. Separate elevators will take you up each of the towers. Pop into the NS Building to see one of the largest enclosed atriums in the world, as well as the massive pendulum clock on the wall. For shopping, Takashimaya Times Square is pretty good, and the Kinokuniya bookstore attached to it has a whole floor of foreign books and magazines if you want to top up on your reading material.

    Odaiba
    Various things to see/do on an artificial island serviced by an automated trade (Yurikamome line) and also by a train from Shibuya/Shinjuku (if you take the latter, you’ll probably want to get off at Tokyo Teleport station). Decks is a shopping complex that has a “fake old Japan” floor – it’s a bit plasticky, but has been made up to look like a typical shopping/residential district would have 50 or so years ago, and they have retro food available there too. Also in the same complex is Muscle Park, a kind of “strength” theme park, where you get to try your hand at all kinds of feats of strength and dexterity. Next door is Aquacity, a large shopping centre, and at the end of Aquacity is Joypolis, an indoor themepark operated by Sega, with massive sit-in rides including a virtual bobsleigh that lets you do a full 720 twist! Next door again is Mediage, with a huge multiplex cinema. Elsewhere in Odaiba, there’s a science museum, a maritime museum, and Venus Fort, a shopping/eating complex.

    Yokohama
    The next city to Tokyo, and accessible via a number of routes. A bit quieter and less frantic, and the Minato Mirai area (built over the course of the last 20 years on reclaimed land) includes the Landmark Tower (Japan’s tallest building; there’s an observation level at the top from where you can see Mt Fuji on a clear day – try and get there near dusk to watch the sun setting over the mountains) as well as the Landmark Shopping Centre and next door Queens Square (more shops, and a Hard Rock Cafe if you need a break from “local” food) There’s also an entertainment complex with rides, a couple of small rollercoasters and a massive Ferris wheel.

    BONUS: Take the “Sea Bass” ferry to cross the harbour. It goes from the Minato Mirai area to Yamashita Koen (park) where the Hikawamaru is tied up (Japan’s last remaining old-style cruise ship, long since decommissioned) You’ll also be only a short wander from Yokohama’s Chinatown area, with a choice of over 100 restaurants.

    Kamakura
    Lots of old temples and shrines, and a giant bronze buddha that is large enough to go inside (via a cramped claustrophobic staircase). If you can, try and ride the “Enoden” railway, a 100 year old tiny streetcar that will take you through mountains, past beaches and close enough to nearby houses (at certain points of the winding route) that you could almost touch them if you could only reach out of the windows. The shrines and temples sell all kinds of lucky charms, protecting their owners from all sorts of problems (health, exam stress, safe driving, etc.) which also make great – and affordable – souvenirs.

    BONUS: A little way from Kamakura proper, there’s a restaurant right next to Kencho-ji Temple that serves “Shojinryori” (literally “monks food”) that is, food made entirely out of tofu and vegetables. They have various “course menus” with more or fewer dishes. If you look at Street View it’s the place with the red wooden sign just to the right of the main entrance to the temple complex.

    Only in Japan experiences
    - Stand outside any major department store just before opening time to get “bowed in” by the staff. If you stroll briskly enough around the store as the doors open, you can ride a wave of bowing all the way to the back as the staff in each boutique are in position to welcome the first customers of the day.
    - If you have a strong constitution, try taking a ride out of Shinjuku just before rush hour – go about half a dozen stops out on one of the major lines, such as the Odakyu line (make sure you stop at a stop that the Express trains will stop at) and then watch the station attendants JAM people into the train carriages heading the other way. You’d think it’s a gentle push, but it’s more like a rugby scrumdown with sometimes 2-3 station attendants ganging up on one doors’ worth of people. BONUS: now get on one of the trains going back into Tokyo!
    - Eat Okonomiyaki (a dish with cabbage, egg and various toppings such as pork, squid, bacon, mochi rice cakes, etc.) – you get to cook it for yourself on a hot plate built into the middle of the table
    - Get your wife to try on a kimono (if you Google it, various places cater to tourists with English-speaking staff etc., for a small fee)
    - Go to a festival at a shrine or temple (check out some of the events calendars to see what’s going to be happening around the time you’re over). You may see people parading “mikoshi” (portable shrines) through the nearby streets, and you’ll get a chance to sample all kinds of “street food” from the brightly coloured stalls that seem inevitably to spring up at such events.

    That’s just the barest 30,000ft glimpse of some of the things that Tokyo has to offer. I’ve been here 15 years, and I seem to come across something new almost daily!

  120. I worked in Japan back in the mid-1990s. There is so much to experience and absorb there but I can single out a visit to the Toyota factory as particularly worthwhile. It’s near Nagoya and a bit out of the way but you if you are travelling between Tokyo and Kyoto you can hop off the bullet train for a few hours and do it.

  121. Fran

    Thailand – Take a local boat from Krabi to Railay bay, south of Phuket in Thailand. Head over to Tonsai bay, a short walk through huts and trees to the other side of a long thin strip of Karst limestone, jungle and beaches. The sandy beach is towered by immense limestone cliffs and at the right end of the bay just above a cave you’ll see a tree pointing upwards to a couple of high level caves that look like foreboding eyes from the ground – of course there are great places to stay, cafes, fire dances and banana pancakes here too. Worth a look – entertainment from local reptiles, monkeys and climbers
    Japan – Sushi from the fish market in Tokyo, tiny appartment 2nd floor cafe in Harijuku…

  122. M Faris Ashraf

    Hey instead of checking out Thailand, check out Malaysia. Its the country south of Thailand. It’s just as interesting. Cheaper too. Just givin my 2cents

  123. I feel really glad that you will visit Thailand, my home country.

    If you come visit Thailand, you can either visit

    * Bangkok and vicinities – several ancient cities, temples, and definitely street food in Bangkok are the must. Several food street vendors in China Town (Yao Warat) are pretty good too. Check out the politic news before coming. There are violence mobs in Bangkok right now which it can be there for a while.

    * Southern Thailand (Phuket /pu-get/, Phi Phi /pee-pee/, Samui, Hua Hin) You will absolutely love the beaches here. Don’t forget to watch out the rainy season if you come after June. Street food in downtown Hua Hin night market is awesome too (the market starts around 7pm until morning). Seafood here is much better than I tasted those in the USA (seriously).

    * Northern Thailand (Chiang Mai, Mae Hong Son, etc) If you like the mountains, this is the place for you. Mountains, old cities, temples are the interestingness here. You can do something else like sipping beer while riding elephant too. If you come to Chiang Mai before June (my school starts) I can be your tour guide :D

    By the way, it is really hot during the summer here, The temperature is about 100-110 F during day time and 90-100 F during night time.

  124. Go to Chiang Mai during Loi Krathong. It is the most magical thing i have experienced.

    1000′s of lanterns fill the sky above chiang mai.
    See more here:
    http://www.google.com/images?q=loi+krathong&um=1&ie=UTF-8&ei=WwzGS7D8HIGglAfd5uGADA&sa=X&oi=image_result_group&ct=title&resnum=4&ved=0CCcQsAQwAw

  125. david

    Hi Matt, I travel to Thailand a faid bit and used too livethere so my suggestions are,
    Bangkok,
    Chatuchak Market Satudays get the Sky Train
    Lemongrass Restaurant great Thai food 5/1 Soi 24, Sukhumvit Road

    Chiang Mai: Chiang Mai Cooking School great for both of you, Great 5 hours with yummy food

    Phuket: try and stay out of Patong each very non Thailand, Kata or Karon also try and get to Raleigh Beach

    My wife and myself will be in Kata Beach from the 25 th April to the 2nd of May if you are up for a cocktail or 2 and NO work!!!!

    Hope this helps and have a great time :)

  126. hey Matt… i hope the trip is going great! This Thailand list of things to do was just posted… thought you’d dig it. http://www.lunch.com/lifeinthailand/Lists-139-2116-Travel_Thailand_Top_Experiences.html

  127. david

    Hi Matt, just thought of a few other things you may like,
    Amazing Bars in Bangkok
    Sky Bar at the Lebua
    Moon Bar – Banyan Tree Hotel

    Must see and eat at,
    Seafood Market and Restaurant, 89 Sukhumvit Soi 34, Klongtoey, Bangkok

    Produce Markets
    If you are foodies and like produce and aren’t squirmish try Klong Toey Market in Bangkok

    Travel well!

  128. Jim

    Hi Matt,

    Bangkok is a great place, I’m watching the sunset there right now. Most people that hate the place have never gone more than a block from the tourist zones – it’s a giant city with plenty of places to go that you will remember for a long time.

    Taking the public boats are great at cheap (50c), as is the Skytrain.
    http://www.bts.co.th/en/map.asp

    Food here is justly famous. Try a Tom Yum Kung (spicy shrimp soup) in a restaurant by the river. The streetside Som Tam (papaya salad) is healthy and cheap.

    There’s plenty of good stuff to shop for in Bangkok, some great clothes and carvings. My personal favorite for quality Thai-made clothes is Molecule shorts:
    http://www.molecule.asia/shorts

    I’m kinda surprised no-one has mentioned the political situation here yet. Last Saturday 21 people were shot dead and 900 injured in some large political protest that has been ongoing for a month (or years depending on your point of view). There were about 100,000 people in the streets, that’s now reduced, but is expected to increase again Monday. Right now they are camped out next to the 3 major shopping malls (Siam Paragon, Siam Central World, Siam Discovery), with the result that all 3 are closed. Actually, it’s not a biggie – just get a taxi to another Central mall (there’s a bunch) or check out one of the large markets if you need to do some shopping. MBK and Phanthip are both open at the moment.

    With the protests, as a tourist, as long as you don’t wear any red or yellow you will generally be seen as no threat or target to either side. It’s actually fairly safe to wander around the protestors during the day, but bear in mind at least one foreigner has been shot dead.

    Outside of bangkok, wearing red is probably not a good idea in the south, and likewise for yellow in the north… Don’t be put off by these protests, but do stay aware of where they are, and what is going on around you. It is really an amazing country and an amazing city.

  129. Matt in Chiang Mai

    Wat Rong Khun Temple in Chiang Rai is about a 2 hour scenic drive outside Chiang Mai but it is without a doubt the most interesting temple in Thailand. The temple looks like it’s covered in white frosting, especially spectacular at sunset. The mural inside is not to be missed. It takes the traditional buddist murals of yesteryear and brings the artform into the 21st century with a lot of interesting, if not terrifying pop culture references. Truly a must see on the road from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wat_Rong_Khun

  130. Jim

    A quick tip for bangkok, if you’re there on a weekend, head on the MRT to Kamphaeng Phet station before sunset. It’s a good entry to the Chatuchak market, a nice vibe with lots of great food and shops, and a cool young local vibe.

  131. Imtiaz Hami

    Dear Matt,

    I am from India.

    I say, since this is your first trip to Asia and you are in the neighbourhood, Thailand isnt much far from India, how about dropping in to visit the Taj Mahal in Agra.

    What better way to enjoy your Tenth Wedding Anniversary than in the arms of the Monument of Love.

    Wouldnt this be a perfect gift for your wife.

    What say.

    Cheers.

    Imtiaz Hami

  132. I am visiting Thailand next week..and have taken many tips from here….thanks..

  133. Koh Tao in Thailand is spectacular and not to be missed.

  134. Matt
    You received many great suggestion for Japan. Some others are

    Edo Museum in Tokyo
    John Lennon Museum (outside of Tokyo)
    Kabukukicho district in Tokyo. Not about Kabuki, huge adult special entertainment area
    Sumida river cruise
    Meiji Shrine

    Have a great trip. I used to live in Tokyo and have been back over 25 times. An amazing city and country!

  135. You might have already left on your trip by now (I don’t believe that you specified), but I was in Tokyo, Japan and a few cities in South Korea last May and wanted to offer one really essential recommendation. You absolutely must go to the Ghibli Museum, which showcases the animated works of Hayao Miyazaki (director of Spirited Away, Ponyo, My Neighbour Totoro, etc). You’ve been married for 10 years, but this museum will open you up to your inner kid. :)

  136. Hey Matt, try a Pocari Sweat sports drink in Japan, (just for the name!) and there is a GREAT Japanese Milk chocolate bar, called Ghana, red bar.

    Have fun… as a Canadian now living in Spain I figure that Spain is another culture. Japan is another planet.

  137. We just came back from there!!- started in Kuala Lumpur (Sky Bar is awesome- you sit just in the front of the Petronas Towers(!!), drinking nice wine and see all city in the front of you), then we flew to Bangkok (bars, pubs, but also Golden Temple and then river boat trip- beautiful, you also really have to try the tuk-tuk ride- crazy!!- we sent the video link from YouTube to our parents and they were absolutely shocked:)), from Bangkok we went to Khao Sok – one of the oldest jungles in the world (hasn’t been covered by the ice during Ice age, so the plants and the animals are really weird out there:) You can do elephant trekking in the jungle too!! We spent a great time in a awesome place run by the Spanish guy- we felt like home there! We also went for a boat trip to Chieow Laan Lake- amazing!
    After that we went to the islands and again we travelled from one to another. Phi Phi Island is very touristic, however there is a hidden bay with a lovely bungalow accommodation, in the front of the sea, so you wake up in the morning with the sounds of waves:). The sea colour changes from light blue to almost white. I couldn’t believe that those kinds of places really exist! It was only 2.5 weeks, but it was the most incredible time of my life. It was my first time in Asia too. I heard that it is amazing, but for me (I live in London) it is like a different world! I am already jealous that you are going there not me, but I am sure you will have an amazing time. Have fun!

  138. Re: Matt Ledding – Maybe it’s just me, but when I was in Japan and Korea, I tried to avoid Pocari Sweat like it was the plague. (I’m exaggerating of course, but nevertheless, if a name of a beverage implies the drinking of sweat, you can rest assured that I won’t be interested.) This despite the fact that I KNOW it’s the same as gatorade or other sports drinks sold in North America.

    On a side (but related) note, I told a Japanese friend of mine (one who had lived in Canada for 7 years, but has been back to Tokyo since 2005) that I thought the name Pocari Sweat was gross. He, of course, being used to the name, asked why. When I told him the reason, he laughed, saying that sometimes Japanese people want to use English words so badly that they often don’t realize how it would sound to an English native speaker. He said that when he returned to Tokyo, he noticed with embarrasment, that one of the banks was named after a casual word for a male body part. I didn’t see it for myself, thought I wish I had. :)

  139. Roy

    I visited thailand a view times so my “insider” non-standard tourist tips:
    - Do a morning bike ride (because of the heat) with “co van kessel” bicycle tours, you will definitely not regret it:
    http://www.covankessel.com/
    - Visit Grand palace (Go by taxi and walk straight to the entrance! They will try to offer you the Tuk-Tuk ride scam).
    - In the evening visit “Siam paragon” shopping center ($$$ for Thai) and watch a 3D movie in the IMAX theatre at the top floor. Or you can watch a movie in the Nokia VIP theatre.

    Transport in Thailand is pretty good. Do not travel with Tuk-Tuks, but take a taxi (on meter). And DON’T forget to ask your hotel for the hotel address in THAI. If the driver can’t read you can call the hotel an let them explain how he can reach the hotel. You can buy a pre-paid simcard (with data-bundel) for your phone in the 7-eleven shops.

    If you go to chiang mai from Bangkok you can go by plain or train. If you go by train book a 1st class private coach (cheap). There are a couple of low-budget flight operators of which Nokair is a good choice or you can fly with bangkok airways.

    Have fun!

  140. Matt, if you and your wife are into it, I found that the most fun thing to do in Thailand is to travel the road not taken. The north-eastern part of Thailand (Isan) is often neglected, but it’s this fact that makes traveling more enjoyable. Really though, if you even remotely think you’d enjoy taking a satellite trip via rented motorbike, I’d highly recommend it! Easily the best times I ever had in Thailand.

  141. Make sure you go to Pantip Plaza, it’s the biggest computer shopping centre in Thailand

  142. Come to China! Come to Shanghai! You definitely will have a lot of funs in Shanghai, esp at Expo time. Probably you can learn a lot from Shanghai man on how to offer a best service to their wife.

  143. Some of the most amazing waterfalls i have ever seen are in Kanchanaburi (Erawan National park). Definitely worth a visit if you have time.

  144. In thailand there are some very nice places… If you like to walk and explore.
    Thailand is one of my favorite country but outside Bangkok and tourists places. There are a few of very nice places where you can see amazing view and people.

    An advice for next readers: explore!

  145. Have you seen movie “Lost in Translation” you might know the view of New York Bar in Tokiyo’s Hottel..It’s really spectacular scene from 750 from sky, the immensity of Tokiyo is sight to behold, especiallly when the city is lit up a night, full of red blinking lights that make it seems as if the city was breathing.

  146. I lived in Thailand (Pattaya and Bangkok) a few month and loved this country for this time..
    Can recommend Nong Nuch garden in Pattaya and Khao Kheo zoo. In Bangkok greatest shopping centers, many Buddha images, Siam ocean world and more..
    Sorry for my english :)

  147. kk

    http://www.siamtrip.com/20things/

    20 things to do in Thailand

    1. The Grand Palace – Relish a Regal and Religious Experience
    2. Khaosan Road – Come Down to the Crossroads
    3. Chatuchak Weekend Market – Break Your Budget at this Mammoth Bazaar
    4. Khon, Hun Lakhon Lek and Siam Niramit
    5. Pak Khlong Talad & Yaowarat – Let Yourself Bloom
    6. Floating Market & Khlong Tour – Cruising the Canals, Rolling on the River
    7. Gulf of Thailand – Make a Big Splash in the Gulf of Thailand
    8. Relaxing in Pai – Call of the Wild
    9. Muai Thai – Jump in the Ring
    10. Biking Tour in World Heritage Sites – Time Traveling on a Bicycle
    11. Elephant Trekking – Riding a Jumbo
    12. Abseiling in Khao Yai – On Top of Thailand
    13. Diving at Similan & Surin Islands – Explore Sunken Treasures
    14. Andaman Coast – Be Adventurous Like James Bond
    15. Meditation – Find Some Peace of Mind
    16. Beauty Spa & Thai Massage – Take a Dose of Healthy Tourism
    17. Tom Yum Kung, Phat Thai, & Cooking – Savour the True Spices of Thai Life
    18. Songkran & Loi Krathong Festival – Make Memories at Amazing Festivals
    19. Golfing – Tee Off on Tropical Greens
    20. Travel by Rail – Ride the Rails in Splendour and Comfort

    Hope that’s help.

  148. How was Thailand? Did you enjoy your stay and you are going back?

    I would go to Phuket and/or Pattaya. Beautiful beaches and both are a little touristy in my opinion. I’m working on my websites and blogs with hopes that I can get enough Adsense income to live there. Maybe I can make it happen sometime next year unless Google decides to keep dropping my ranking without any warning.

  149. Hey Matt,

    Thanks for visiting India. One of my friend was lucky to take a picture with you at Taj Mahal. He is really excited about this surprise. Well, I was not so lucky.

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