48 Hours in Fukuoka

Check out the Fukuoka Travel Guide! Go to Japan once, and you’ll always think of returning. If you’ve already explored Tokyo and Osaka and want a new Japanese city to explore, Fukuoka is the perfect weekend destination. A flight from HKG to FUK takes only 3 hours; 1 hour quicker than flying to Tokyo.

48 hours in Fukuoka – Fukuoka Travel Guide

Acros Fukuoka
Acros Fukuoka. Photo by Kenta Mabuchi

Booking your flights and hotels

Fukuoka is getting increasingly popular as more low cost carriers launch routes there. Roundtrip fares from Hong Kong can be as low as $150 USD. Cheap, low cost flights to Fukuoka can be found year-round. In order to find these flights, you’ll need to head over to SkyScanner, Expedia, or Ctrip if you’re in Hong Kong.


Ideally, low cost carriers will be in the following range of cost for a roundtrip ticket:

  • Normal: $180
  • On Sale: $140
  • Deep Discount: $50

For your first visit to Fukuoka, staying in Hakata or Tenjin area is ideal.

Getting from Fukuoka Airport to Hakata/ Tenjin Station

Fukuoka Airport Bus
Fukuoka Airport Bus lohastersu

Because Fukuoka airport is located relatively close to the urban area, there are three ways of getting to and from the airport. All of them are around 20-30 minutes.

From Fukuoka Airport by Bus

Fukuoka Airport Bus
Airport Shuttle Bus. Photo by Nomad Cavalier

Traveling by bus might be the slowest way but if you catch the bus at the right time, it’ll save you from carrying your luggage up and down multiple flights of stairs. Once you’re out of the airport, you’ll see a series of bus stops, head for the one to Hakata Station (travel time: 18 minutes)/ Tenjin Station(travel time: 30 minutes). The buses run every 30mins, 8am – 9.30pm.

From Fukuoka Airport by Train

Fukuoka Train Map
I prefer the train more than bus as they are more frequent – every 4-8mins, and they run from 5:30 am to 12:25 am. Since the train station is located under the domestic terminal, you’ll need to take the shuttle bus. It’s a free ride. There is only one line that runs to and from the airport. The K-line (Orange). Five minutes to Hakata Station and 11 minutes to Tenjin Station. Easy!

Getting around Fukuoka

Fukuoka City Street
Fukuoka is easily explored on foot. Most of the attractions, malls, restaurants, and museums are located in the main urban area. You’ll be taking the train often, with small connections via the bus system. You’ll need an IC card – if you’ve been to any other Japanese city, you most likely already have one. These cards work all over Japan. Not only it can get you on the trains and buses, it also works in various shops, restaurants, supermarkets, and vending machines. There’s no need to count coins!

What to eat, see, and do

Fukuoka Strawberry
Fukuoka Strawberry. Photo by Toomore Chiang

Just like the rest of Japan, Fukuoka has amazing food

It may sound crazy to put this on the top of the list, but you need to visit the food section in a Japanese department store. You can find all kinds of amazing quality food, not to mention a huge maze of  Japanese sweets and snacks brands. The department store I highly recommend is Mitsukoshi; simply because it has the best fruit selection that I’ve ever seen. Fukuoka is known for its produce, more specifically, citrus fruits and ‘Amaou’ strawberries, an acronym of amai (sweet), marui (round), ōkii (big) and umai (delicious).

Fukuoka Yanagibashi Market
Yanagibashi Market

If you want to seek out a local market, Yanagibashi Market in Hakata area gives you a different experience, and the food there is a bit cheaper. At night time, Yatai (small food tents) are spread around the city.

As for food that’s prepared for you, these are the foods that Fukuoka is known for:

Hakata-style ramen: thin ramen noodles served in milky, rich soup (the birthplace of Ganso Nagahama, Ichiran & Ippudo)

Mentaiko: Pollock Roe, usually served with rice (Mentaiko Mayo is something you can only find in Fukuoka)

Mentaiko Onigiri
Mentaiko Onigiri. Photo by Yuya Tamai

Motsu Nabe: a hearty Fukuoka-style stew, the beef/ pork intestines, and garlic chives are slowly cooked in the soup which results as a rich, delicious broth

Matsu Nabe
Matsu Nabe. Photo by Froschmann

Experience a traditional setting in Fukuoka

Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine
Ceremony in Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine. Photo by Mitch Huang

Dazaifu Tenmangu is the must-go shrine in Fukuoka. For locals, it’s a place where you make a wish on your academic success. For the rest of us, it’s great to visit this heritage and its garden. The structure is beautifully preserved and the backdrop view is stunning all year round. This place is surrounded by 6,000 plum trees which make plum blossoms the symbol of this area. Daizaifu is a well-developed tourist area with plenty to eat and see for a day. It’s less than an hour away from the city by train and bus. If you have time, it’s highly recommended. If not, the Kushida Shrine in Hakata would be an alternative.

Dazaifu Garden
Autumn view in Dazaifu Garden. Photo by gtknj

You will turn into a shopaholic in the city center

Like most other Japanese cities, you’ll never run out things to do in Fukuoka. Tenjin and Hakata are the places to be with plenty of department stores and underground shopping alleys with countless of boutiques. The Tenjin underground shopping street is connected to Tenjin Station and most of the surrounding department stores. You’ll likely only have time to visit one or two. I suggest you look up the stores on a map if you are looking to get certain items. This will save time in the long run.

Mitsukoshi Department Store. Photo by Hal Yamagucci

Major Department Stores:

Among those, Tokyu Hands is easily my favorite because of its creative lifestyle products. Besides that, Kitte Hakata impressed with its vast collection of upscale street food and snacks on the ground floor. It’s your destination when you need a break from non-stop shopping.

Nearby the Tenjin shopping area, Imazumi is a hipster neighborhood with a unique collection of small boutique shops, cafe, bars, and restaurants.

Hidden Gem: Shibata Umbrella Store

Shibata Umbrella Shop Fukuoka
Shibata Umbrella Shops co,Ltd. (しばた洋傘店)
Address: 2-8-132 Fukuoka-shi, Fukuoka, Japan

This umbrella store unexpectedly is one of the highlights of a Fukuoka trip. It has redefined my concept of umbrella stores. I was first attracted by their variety and selection of patterns; then blown away by the high quality, handmade umbrella frames. You will be amazed at how attentive the Japanese are while making and taking care of umbrellas. In this store, you can find abundance in selection. They teach the customers from start to finish. What to look for, how to choose, and the best way to care for an umbrella. Shibata even offers free engraving by hand. They’ve been in business since 1906.

When is your next visit to Fukuoka?

Beppu City View Fukuoka
Beppu city view with hot spring. Seiko Tomono

Fukuoka is very accessible from other parts of Asia and is much more affordable than the big Japanese cities. I highly recommend this place for anyone that is looking for a quick weekend trip in Japan. If you can stay longerFukuoka Prefecture has more places to explore besides its capital city, Oita, Beppu, Saga, and Kumamoto are the most popular.



The First-Timer’s Guide to Tokyo

Tokyo is a magical place to visit. If you’re not already from a big city like New York, Hong Kong, London, or Paris, etc.. The feeling you get as soon as you step foot out of the station is unlike any other. There’s a buzz in the air, something for every sense, it’s sensory overload in the best way possible.

And even if you’ve traveled to a big city, Tokyo is still on another level.

The Travel Bits

If you already bought your ticket, the hardest part is done. Japan has visa-free travel for most major countries: US, UK, Canada, EU, Hong Kong, Australia, etc. There’s nothing else else you need to do for getting to Japan.

If you’re still searching for flights – Expedia often has package deals to Tokyo – bringing your overall cost down. Haneda is the recommended airport as it’s in the heart of Tokyo City. Search for flights and hotels on Priceline and Travelocity.


I always recommend staying in a hotel for your first trip to Tokyo. The basic level of service in Japan is steps above any other country. You’ll best experience Japanese hospitality in a hotel, rather than in an AirBNB.

The result of leaving a bag of trash nearby the garbage bin.

Once you land in Japan – there’s plenty of transportation options to get into town.


What to Do: The Basics

Let’s get it out of the way – it’s impossible to see and experience all of Tokyo in one trip, let alone your first trip.

1. Get a Suica, Pasmo, or other transit card

There are a few different ones, but every person has a least one in Japan. They are all more or less the same. Get one as soon as you land at the Airport, at the train ticket office. You can reload it at any 7-11, Family Mart, and other convenience stores. As well as in any station.

Suica and Pasmo

Just like the Hong Kong Octopus, Seoul T-Money, and Taipei EasyCard, you can use your Japanese card to pay for train rides, pay for food and purchases in stores, and buy things in any station.

2. Dedicate a day to at most 3 neighborhoods.

Tokyo is made up of 47 neighborhoods. Each one with it’s own unique feel and personality. The well known ones are massive, and you could spend a couple days there and never be bored of what you’ll find. Bring comfy shoes, and be prepared to walk.

Tokyo Neighborhoods
47 Areas of Tokyo

Japan-Talk has a comprehensive guide on the 47 neighborhoods of Tokyo. It’s recommended that you explore the major ones; Shibuya, Shinjuku, Ginza, Roppongi, Asakusa, etc., and also pick a few smaller ones to check out.

3. Eat with an open mind

If there is one thing to be said about food in Japan, is that it is the perfection of the ingredient. Everything that is prepared has been done in a way that best allows the main ingredient to shine. Eating all of your food, and leaving nothing behind (yes, rice included), is a sign of respect to the food, and the chef.

Takashi Ono Preparing Ebi
Takashi Ono Preparing Ebi

I have been to Sukiyabashi Jiro, where a tourist elected to not try Tako (Octopus), because she had a bad experience with the texture previously. Not only was this a surprise to the staff there, she later tried it and was delighted to say the least. Don’t let your past experience of Japanese food in your home country affect your experience of Japanese food in Japan.

Come with an open mind, and empty stomach.

4. Try the Japanese toilet

Something that is inherently Japanese – the bidet seat. A lot of foreigners I know are put off by this invention, a toilet that sprays water at your rear-end.

Toilet controls on an ANA 787-8
Toilet controls on an ANA 787-8

These have gained so much popularity in Japan, that they’ve started to install them on Airplanes. If you do some reading on them, they’re much more hygienic than they seem. They self clean multiple times during your session and get you way cleaner than any tissue can.

5. Visit some tiny bars

Shibuya Drunkard's Alley
Shibuya Drunkard’s Alley


There are things you won’t know about until you seek them out. Tiny 4-5 seat bars are no exception. There are two notable bar areas for these; Golden Gai in Shinjuku is larger, more popular, but also more high key. Drunkard’s Alley in Shibuya is smaller, but a lot quieter. Either way, you’ll want to check it out.

6. Visit at least one shrine

Tori Gates

Shrines and temples are everywhere in Japan. Coming in all shapes and sizes, you’re bound to find at least one. Visit one, and buy an Omamori – a luck charm, as a token from your visit.


Where to see the Tokyo from above

Having researched sky decks, viewing platforms, and viewing towers, I’ve come to conclude that there are two that can be easily recommended. One for a nominal fee, and one free to the public.

Free: Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building

The view from Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building
The view from Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building

Located in Shinjuku, this is open to the public for free. Like most of the sky views in Tokyo, you’re behind glass, and you’ll have an almost 360 degree view of Tokyo City.

Paid: Mori Tower

The view from Mori Tower
The view from Mori Tower

In order to go to the sky deck of Mori Tower in Roppongi, you need to purchase a ticket to the museum. The outdoor sky deck is a small additional fee. But this is the only place where you can get an unadulterated view of Tokyo. You’re outside on the roof of a building, with no glass between you and the city.

Leaving Tokyo

You’re going to want to go back as soon as you get on the train to the airport. You’ll be back, guaranteed.

48 Hours in Seoul – From Hong Kong to Korea

Seoul is one of the easiest destinations to travel to in Asia. You can get by with knowing little to no Korean. Most people in Seoul either spoke some English or Mandarin Chinese. In fact – it was surprising to me that there were so many Koreans that spoke Chinese!

It’s also a city where getting around is insanely easy. The subway metro system connects the whole city together, Taxis are abundant, and everything is affordable.

One of the benefits to Inter-Asia travel is the vast amount of culture you can experience from a 5-hour flight. Hong Kong is one of the most central locations you can pick as your origin city. A 5-hour flight gets you to Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Mainland China, and all of Southeast Asia.

And thus, Seoul is one of the premier destinations as it is extremely tourist friendly, without tourist traps and gotchas.

Booking your flight and hotel

Although I flew Hong Kong Express for this trip, I cannot recommend it as it’s not the most comfortable budget airline. Deals can be found usually starting 1-2 months before your expected travel date. I really recommend looking for package deals on Ctrip, or package deals on Expedia.

Though both sites have the same choice of hotels, the airlines are different. I found more major carriers such as Asiana and Korean Air on Expedia, while finding more local airlines such as Dragonair, Hong Kong Express, and Hong Kong Airlines Ctrip.

View from Four Points Sheraton Namsan Seoul
View from Four Points Sheraton Namsan Seoul

The best areas to stay in are near train stations with more than one line – Seoul Station, Dongdaemun, Chungmuro, and most places in downtown Seoul, north of the river.

Seoul Subway Map
Seoul Subway Map

Getting to Seoul from Incheon Airport

Like most major Asian cities, Seoul has an airport that is a bit of distance from the city center. The most convenient way to get into the city is taking the KTX airport train, which costs 12,500 KRW, or roughly $12.50 USD. However, if you arrive after 11:45pm or so, you’ll be taking the late night bus.

Incheon Airport will have signs in English and Chinese to guide you to the right transportation after you leave customs.

Outside Seoul Incheon Airport
Outside Seoul Incheon Airport

Getting around Seoul

Immediately after arriving at Incheon Airport, you’ll find a CU convenience store that’s open 24-hours. Buy a T-Money card and load it up with enough to get you into the city. The T-Money card is the single tap-to-pay card for public transportation and certain merchants.

With this, you’ll have access to buses, trains, and even taxis. It’s really a must have.

What to eat, see, and do

You’re probably no stranger to Korean food. Kim chi, Korean BBQ, spicy tofu soup, and bulgogi are probably all things you’ve heard of before. In Seoul, you’ll find all of that. Here are a few snippets of food, tourist attractions, and places to visit.

Hyundai Department Store

If you’ve been to Japan, you’re familiar with the multi-level department stores that have everything from furniture, electronics, to clothes, food, and beyond. Well this is the Korean version. ranging anywhere from 8-12 floors of non-stop shopping. You’ll find amazing everything at the Hyundai Department Store (Yes, THAT Hyundai). They have locations all over Seoul.

N Seoul Tower

Formally called Namsan Tower – This is the best skydeck view of Seoul. There are many ways of getting up to the top, including a paved hiking trail. The recommended way is to take a taxi from Seoul Station to the Namsan Cable Car. From there – you can take the tram if the line is not long. And if it is – just walk up. It only takes 30 minutes.

At the top, you’ll see a plethora of love locks, food, and drink. Visit the ticket office to buy a pass to go up.

Majang-dong Alley and Meat Market

Here you’ll find the highest quality of Korean meats, and a selection of the best Korean BBQ restaurants that focus on the quality of meat. Definitely do not miss it. Here’s how to find it.

Dongdaemun Market and Myeong-dong Shopping

Go to Dongdaemun for traditional Korean street food. And Myeong-dong to get your shopping on.


Yeah! You should be! Click through to find package deals on Ctrip, or package deals on Expedia, and get over to Seoul!

12 Days in Hong Kong on a Budget

Hong Kong is one of those cities that can appear expensive on the surface. However, dig a little deeper, and it can be done on a slim budget easier than you would think. The overwhelming choice of hotels and high competition for flights make the biggest cost of your Hong Kong trip more affordable than Europe, Japan, and even many US destinations. It is entirely possible to do 12 days in Hong Kong on a budget.

Make a free visit to the Chi Lin Nunnery.
Make a free visit to the Chi Lin Nunnery.

Flights from the US

On the West Coast, the two US airlines with flights to Hong Kong are United and Delta. United flies out of San Francisco, and  Delta out of Seattle. If you’d like to fly on an Asian airline, EVA flies to the West Coast, with a transfer in Taipei.

All flights out of the West Coast are normally $800-900 roundtrip. Anything under $600 is a great deal. Recently, there was a price war between United and Delta, with flights edging under $400.

United Flights from Seattle to Hong Kong
United Flights from Seattle to Hong Kong

United has flights out of Chicago, and Newark for slightly more. For alerts on flight sales, create a deal alert on SkyScanner and subscribe to our newsletter on the top-right side.

To book flights, head on over to SkyScanner to start searching for your travel dates.

Hotels in Hong Kong

We recommend staying in Hotels over AirBNB for Hong Kong. Our preferred choice for Hong Kong is IBIS in Sheung Wan. It’s a short walk away from everything. They’re also part of the Accor Hotels family.

Stretch your budget with the extended stay rate.
Stretch your budget with the extended stay rate.

The Extended Stay rate offered by IBIS makes it a great choice for a 12 day trip. A comparable AirBNB costs approximately $400 more.

To take advantage of the extended stay rate, you’ll need to book a minimum of 11 nights and at least 10 days before your arrival. Go to the Accor Hotels website to start your reservation.

Transportation in Hong Kong

The cost of getting around in Hong Kong is amongst the cheapest in all developed cities. Before leaving Hong Kong International Airport, make a visit to the MTR counter to purchase your round trip Airport Express ticket for $180, and an Octopus card. For a 12 day trip, around $500 HKD will be enough. You can always add value later in any MTR station.

After taking the Airport Express to Hong Kong Station – there are free hotel shuttles every 15 minutes.

Budgeting for Food and Activities.

Take the Peak Tram up to Victoria Peak for US$10
Take the Peak Tram up to Victoria Peak for US$10

One of the amazing things about Hong Kong is the quality of meal for $5 USD. Budget for $20-30 USD per day for food. OpenRice is the recommended way to find local restaurants in Hong Kong. There’s also iOS and Android apps.

There are many things to see in Hong Kong, most of them are free or for a few dollars US. Check out this guide and also check out LonelyPlanet for their Hong Kong travel guide.


  • Flight: $400-$600
  • Hotel: $1250
  • Transportation: $80
  • Food: $200
  • Activities: $200

Total: $2180-2380

Hong Kong is not as expensive as you think.

14 Days in Iceland and keeping it under $3,500 USD

Iceland is a dream for many photographers, it almost feels like cheating when you’re photographing the beautiful landscapes. Iceland however is not a cheap destination. Luckily, there are some way to reduce the cost of the trip. Here’s how I cut about $2,000 from my trip to Iceland. At the time, I couldn’t transfer American Express Membership Rewards or Starwood points to Iceland Air. In fact, until recently it was impossible to book Iceland Air using points. That has since changed, Iceland Air is a partner with Alaska Airlines and you can book using Alaska miles. The value isn’t great and there’s surcharges making it a mediocre value, at best.

Skógafoss Waterfall in Iceland
Skógafoss Waterfall in Iceland – Click to see the full gallery (External Site)

I booked a round trip flight from SFO to KEF for only $103.10 and 60,000 American Airlines miles. The routing was SFO, ORD, DUS and KEF. I didn’t mind spending a full day in Germany, considering I have a friend to show me around Dusseldorf. The way I acquired these miles was pretty simple: sign up bonuses. Credit card sign up bonuses make it really easy to have thousands of miles with little effort. Citi sent me a generous offer for one of their American Airlines co-branded credit cards: spend $500 in 3 months and receive 30,000 AA miles. With the 30,000 AA miles I had generated with very little spend, I transferred an additional 25,000 SPG points to American. Transferring Starwood points in 20,000 points increments to American adds a 5,000 point bonus, totaling 30,000 miles. This is how I reduced the cost of my trip by about $2,000.


The Road Trip of a Lifetime


Fields in Iceland

If you are visiting Iceland, renting a car is a must. Public transportation is available but it’s only available in the city and it’s impossible to do the ring road via train. I rented a Toyota Yaris from BlueCarRental for 12 days, totaling somewhere in the range of $750 USD. To save money on insurance, I suggest reviewing the car rental coverage your credit card offers and go with that. American Express and Chase offer car rental insurance. After renting the car, I started driving to a super market to pick up peanuts and mandarins. Food in Iceland is expensive. Any stop at a restaurant usually reached $20 USD with very little effort. Picking up snacks was essential in keeping this trip relatively affordable.

Iceland Panorama
Click through to see the Iceland Story at RicardoDelToro.me

The next biggest expense, apart from accommodation is fuel. Fuel in Iceland is expensive, specially for an American and that’s coming from someone living in California. At the time, I remember paying 192 ISK per liter. In gallons, it was reaching about $6.00 USD per gallon. There’s petrol stations all throughout the country and they all take credit cards. Most take American Express, but some don’t. This applies to the entire country: everyone will take your credit card. I didn’t withdraw any Icelandic Kronar at the airport. I just used credit card to pay for things and didn’t need cash throughout the trip. If you use an Amex card, carry a Visa or MasterCard in case Amex isn’t accepted.



Accommodation in Iceland is not cheap and I suggest you book ahead of time. I used Booking to find accommodation and booked directly with the hotel, when possible. Each night was at least $100.00 USD, usually with breakfast included and free really fast Wi-Fi.  Prices ranged between $100 and $170 per night. These prices generally get you something pretty nice in most parts of the world but Iceland is not really about luxury. Hotels in Iceland are small with very little luxury.


My Final Thoughts

Iceland is incredible and I cannot wait to go back. Iceland is expensive but it’s not impossible to do, specially if you go with a partner and split the cost of the trip. I would definitely recommend you visit and explore the country. I spent 14 days in Iceland and took a lot of photos. You can see the rest of my trip at: Ricardodeltoro.me.