The Phat House Japan Travel Guide has been crafted from years of experience. The crew at The Phat House Hakuba has travelled around the world and if we have learnt anything from the experience it’s best to be prepared to encounter any situation. We’ll take good care of you when you are staying with us in Hakuba but there are things you need to consider while you are travelling and before you depart. Below is a guide of what you should consider before embarking on your journey to Japan.
JAPAN TRAVEL GUIDE: BEFORE YOU GO
It is imperative that you cover yourself and your loved ones with travel insurance. Organising travel insurance is an essential part of preparing for your overseas trip – without it, you (or your family) are liable to cover medical expenses in the event of illness or accident. Before purchasing travel insurance you need to carefully read the policy wording to see what you are and aren’t covered for. Remember, if you’re planning on taking advantage of that famous Japanese Powder by hitting the slopes nearby The Phat House Hakuba, you’ll need to ensure that your policy includes ‘Winter Sports Cover’.
PASSPORTS AND VISAS
It’s safe to assume that you know you need a passport to travel to Japan. But don’t leave it at home before you head off to the airport – the plane won’t wait for you. It is wise to be mindful of the expiry date as when entering Japan, your passport must remain valid for the intended duration of your stay. Travellers visiting Japan for less than 90 days are required to carry their passport on them at all times. Carry extra passport photos with you just in case your passport is lost or stolen and you need to replace it while you’re away.
Remember, it is your responsibility to ensure that you attain the relevant entitlement with regards to immigration for your stay in Japan and in addition, any countries you might be transiting. This is usually in the form of a visa. A visa does not guarantee entry to a foreign country. In most cases, a tourist visa does not allow you to work in a foreign country, including voluntary or unpaid activities. The conditions and expiry dates of visas and entry permits must be strictly adhered to. In some countries, visa overstay can lead to arrest. Visa scams are common. Check the travel advice on Smartraveller.gov.au for official links, or contact the embassy, consulate or high commission of the country you plan to visit.
Here are some useful websites where you can find information regarding this:
CONSULT YOUR AIRLINES
If you’re concerned the airline may question your fitness to fly, we recommend you obtain a letter from your doctor confirming that you’re fit for air travel. If you have a disability, contact your airline to find out about special assistance arrangements that can be made (such as shuttle services, welfare seating and special meals).
If you need to carry needles and syringes with you, obtain a letter from your doctor explaining why you need them and seek early advice from your airline on how to comply with airport and air travel security regulations.
PLAN YOUR ACCOMMODATION
If you’re travelling independently, it’s recommended that you book your accommodation prior to arrival, especially if you’re due to arrive at your destination late at night. It is also useful to research how you will travel safely from the airport to your hotel. If you wish to stay here at The Phat House Hakuba it is recommended to book well in advance as we fill up fast. If you need to know how you can get to us from Tokyo you can check our getting to Hakuba guide out. We can help you arrange transportation to Hakuba – all you need to do is ask us.
THINK ABOUT YOUR PACKING
Protect yourself against loss and theft by carrying minimal items of value. Remember too, your airline ticket will likely stipulate luggage restrictions for both hold and hand luggage. If you exceed your allowance, you’ll likely be charged ‘excess baggage fees’, which in our experience, are never cheap! However there is good news when it comes to your skiing holiday… many airlines have special (and often generous) luggage allowance conditions for passengers carrying Winter Sports equipment. If these are not printed on your ticket, we recommend you get in touch with your airline to enquire as this could make packing for your stay at The Phat House Hakuba, that bit less stressful.
ATM CARDS AND MONEY
The Japanese Yen is the official currency of Japan. The currency code for Yen is JPY and the currency symbol is ¥. Visit www.xe.com for the latest exchange rate.
Organise a variety of ways to access your money whilst in Japan, such as debit, credit and/or travel money cards, traveller’s cheques aswell as cash. This way, when one method fails you, you aren’t stuck without any other options.
Advise your bank in advance of the dates you expect to be travelling, this way they won’t inconveniently apply any blocks to your cards or accounts in an effort to protect you from suspicious activity on your account/s. And while you’re at it, check with your bank that your debit and/or credit cards will work overseas.
ATM machines are few and far between in and around Hakuba but don’t worry because there is one conveniently located at the end of our street and if that is not available we’ll take you to where one is.
COPY YOUR DOCUMENTS
It’s a great idea to make backups of your most important travel documents. Having copies makes it easier to replace documents in the event of loss. It would be wise to have copies on your person and also stored somewhere online for easy access (eg cloud storage or email). Documents to consider copying would include: passport; travel insurance policy; itinerary and tickets; visas; travellers cheques and credit card numbers; driver’s licence and/or international driving permit.
JAPAN TRAVEL GUIDE: WHILE YOU’RE AWAY
SAFETY AND SECURITY
Japan is a very safe country by western standards and as such petty crime that may take place back home shouldn’t in Hakuba. That being said, it is always important to be aware of your surroundings and take precautions where possible. Sadly, in recent years, there has been a spike in petty theft attributed to the boom in tourism that has taken place in Hakuba. It is wise to lock up your belongings when on the mountain and keep all your values safe back at The Phat House.
When you arrive in Hakuba, The Phat House can help you with all your transportation needs but it is important to understand how to get around the rest of Japan if you are sight seeing as well as skiing or snowboarding.
For information about getting to Hakuba and The Phat House, have a read of our getting to Hakuba guide.
Learn about road conditions and traffic culture of the places you plan to visit. If you’re renting a car or motorcycle, make sure it’s roadworthy and that you have a valid licence, otherwise your insurance may not cover you for injury or damage arising from accidents. Before driving in Japan, foreigners should contact the appropriate foreign mission for information on licence requirements. To legally drive a car or ride a motorcycle, Japan requires many internationals to have with them and to carry whenever driving, an International Driving Permit (IDP), in addition to a valid driving licence.
OBEY THE LAW
Always obey the laws of Japan when travelling around, even if they are different from those in your home country. It is always wise to understand the local laws before you go. Pleading ignorance is not a satisfactory defence when it comes to local laws and some of the laws in Japan can seem quite strict compared to those back home.
RESPECT JAPANESE CUSTOMS
One of the most interesting parts of your skiing or boarding holiday at The Phat House Hakuba is observing and respecting the customs and traditions of the local people. Remember, you are a visitor to Japan and while Hakuba and other parts of the country are influenced by foreign culture, it’s still very important to respect the local customs and norms. Japan has some very interesting facets to its culture and also has a long history. Explore and delve into it a little before your trip to the The Phat House, you’ll enjoy it and be able to appreciate your stay that bit more.
Below is a link to some basic Japanese etiquette to get you started:
GETTING HELP OVERSEAS
Most overseas holidays end without disaster, but sometimes difficulties or emergencies do arise. Depending on the nature of your emergency, your best option may be to contact your family, friends, airline, travel agent, bank, tour operator, employer or travel insurance provider in the first instance. Travel insurance companies often have 24-hour call centres that you can contact from anywhere in the world. If you get sick overseas, are a victim of crime or are involved in an emergency, you should contact your travel insurance provider as soon as possible. Make sure you take your travel insurance policy information and contact numbers with you so you can easily contact your insurer from overseas.
You can even register your travel plans with your home countries Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to help them contact you in the event of an emergency.
*Please note, information on html links given were accurate at time of writing but we do not monitor the ongoing accuracy of them.