DAY TRIP: OSAKA
If you have time for a day trip, I would recommend going to Osaka! You can spend a few hours to a day and have a great time regardless. I only had the chance to spend a day here, but here are the top two things I did:
Osaka Castle Park - It's pretty cool to just walk through the park and around the surrounding area - you'll feel a very medieval vibe. If you want to go inside the actual castle and climb all the way to the top, it costs some money but I didn't have the chance to do it!
Dotonbori - This places has so much food to eat it's not even funny - I would recommend just walking up and down the street and looking at what strikes your eye. I would definitely come with an empty stomach! I ended up eating at a revolving sushi place which was pretty tourist-y but I was starving. It was really good and they price by plate, which would still be cheaper than anything you get in the US!
SIDE TRIP: TOKYO DISNEYSEA
If you have the time, I would definitely recommend visiting the Disney Resort in Tokyo. I only had time to go to DisneySea but it was way different from the Disneyland in CA and DisneySea is supposedly a very unique Disney park compared to HK, Paris, etc. (if you had to make a choice, go to DisneySea – I LOVED it)! I would recommend a whole day at each park, and the whole resort is somewhat pretty small – you’re most likely going to get off at the JR Maihama station, and then there’s a Disney Resort Line that takes you to the parks and the hotels in a circular fashion but you could always walk (the Resort Line costs money).
When you're visiting the park, consider these tips:
When you visit, definitely spend some time and just appreciate the architecture/buildings/etc of the park – the detail is impeccable and it’s what makes the park really pretty and special (it's personally my favorite part)! On the day, I would get there at least an hour beforehand because Japanese people are insane and wait in line a few hours before the park opens to be the first one inside. If you go too late in the day, the lines are supposedly very, very long (think Disneyland CA on a weekend during the summer).
When the park finally opens, there is a very orderly stampede rushing towards Toy Story Mania, which is the park’s most popular ride but you’ll want to go get a Fastpass for Toy Story/Tower of Terror and then head to the second tier of most popular rides (10000 Leagues Under the Sea, Finding Nemo, etc). If you do some research online, you can really maximize your day in the part. There’s a lot of articles out there that show you how you can do your visit. Toy Story Mania is supposedly very similar to the Toy Story ride in Disney California Adventure, so if you’ve been on that you can pass on Toy Story.
The food is really good (try the different flavored popcorns, I had the curry one and it was surprisingly tasty)! Take advantage of the Fastpass system – if you’ve been to Disneyland before you probably know this, but read more about this online to maximize your visit.
Lodging at the Disney Resort
If you can find a good deal on one of the official/Disney-affiliated hotels, snatch those up. I got a really good deal on hotels.com at the Tokyo Bay Maihama Hotel Club Resort for around $70-$80 USD for one night. The hotel itself is REALLY nice for the price I got,
My room had two beds, a hot water boiler, pajamas, slippers, a nicely stocked bathroom, outlets near my bed, a heater/AC, and a nice view of the parking lot with the volcano at DisneySea in the distance. The staff was really helpful, I was able to drop off my bags in the morning, go into Tokyo for the day, and then come back at night to pick up my bags and check in. At check in, the guy could clearly see I was struggling with not knowing Japanese so he was super helpful in terms of checking in! In my opinion, the hotel was way nicer than anything I’ve stayed in the US. I cannot recommend this hotel highly enough!