Now, it’s something of an accepted fact that Japanese companies expect their staff to work hard and put in a lot of overtime. Long hours are the norm, and it can be difficult to get time off from work when resources are already stretched thin and doing so could very well mean making your coworkers’ lives harder. The truth is, with the exception of the New Year’s holiday and the obon period in summer, the majority of Japanese workers don’t take time off unless they absolutely have to. So it can be a bit tricky if you want to take an overseas vacation.
But how far would you be willing to go to take a trip abroad? Would you be prepared to take a trip so short that you’re at your destination for just 12 hours? Well, that’s exactly what our reporter Meg from our Japanese sister site did. Read on to find out what it was like to travel to, enjoy, and fly back from a foreign destination in the space of 24 hours, and whether she thought it was worth making the trip!
When you’re planning an ultra-short trip, you of course need to pay careful attention to the flight schedule you choose and how many hours you can spend at your destination as a result. In this case, our reporter Meg planned a one-day trip to Hong Kong where she would be staying for a period of just 12 hours.
This is what her actual itinerary looked like:
09:35 Depart from Narita Airport, Japan
13:20 Arrive in Hong Kong, travel into the city
15:00 Visit Hong Kong’s celebrity cat Brother Cream, then take a walk to the Chungking Mansions
16:00 Visit the famous ‘Myosho Sushi’ shop in Sham Shui Po, nicknamed ‘killer sushi’, and enjoy (as well as be shocked by) the offerings.
20:00 Visit the area around the Avenue of Stars and see the Symphony of Lights show
21:00 Move to Central District and take a break at the retro Bing Sutt-style Starbucks on Duddell Street
23:00 Arrive at the airport early to do some shopping — Hong Kong editions of the Demae Iccho instant noodles in particular
01:00 (Next day) Depart Hong Kong
06:25 Arrive in Narita
See, isn’t it amazing how much you can get done in one day? Now you have no excuse for not imbibing a little foreign culture!
Here are some photos from Meg’s trip:
▼Meg arrives at the airport ready to make her one-day trip to Hong Kong!
▼This is all she took on our trip. Naturally, you can travel very light when you don’t need to bring a change of clothes!
▼She had so little baggage, in fact, that it may even have looked suspicious!
▼For this trip, Meg used the advance check-in system, so she only needed to go through the departures gate about an hour before her flight. Plus, she didn’t need to wait in that line at the airline counter!
▼Ready to board!
▼A short flight later, she arrived in Hong Kong.
▼To get to the city from the airport, the airport Express is fast and convenient. The train takes you into the city in about 30 minutes. But if you’re going to be in Hong Kong for only one day, make sure you buy the “Same Day Return Ticket”. It costs the same as the single journey (one way) ticket, so if you’re going back to the airport the same day, you only have to pay the price for a one-way trip.
▼Meg first headed to Tsim Sha Tsui East to see Brother Cream, the cat who became a Hong Kong celebrity when he disappeared (believed stolen) in July of 2012 and was found again about a month later.
▼She unfortunately wasn’t able to see Brother Cream, but she did get to see his partner, Sister Cream.
▼She’s clearly used to the attention by now.
▼And we did get to see pictures of Brother Cream posted at the convenience store where he lives.
▼Near Tsim Sha Tsui Station is the Chungking Mansions building, known as one of the cheapest places to stay in Hong Kong. Weirdly, the area seemed to have a whiff of durian and sweat to it.
▼Meg was captivated by this giant panda that she saw in a shopping mall near the Chungking Mansions. We can kind of see why!
▼And here she is at Myosho Sushi, the legendary shop known as “killer sushi”. The shop Meg went to was the one at 58 Yen Chow Street, Sham Shui Po.
▼Yup, the sushi was definitely different to regular Japanese sushi. Here’s what Meg thought may have been squid in a sweet chili sauce.
▼Now this one looked more like conventional sushi, most likely sea bream, but when she ate it, in truth, it didn’t really taste like fish.
▼Trying the raw prawns was a bit of an adventure …
▼And this was the fried shishamo smelt — while it’s not the kind of sushi she’s used to seeing, Meg actually thought this was quite good. Myosho Sushi really is in a league of its own!
▼How does the sea bream taste, Meg? Well, “a bit like mold and stones, actually…”
▼The tea was surprisingly good, though.
▼Here are some scenes from around Sham Shui Po Station. It’s an area crowded with people, buildings and shops.
▼Meg then moved on to the area near the Avenue of Stars, where you can come face to face with the statue of none other than martial arts legend Bruce Lee and also enjoy the famous million-dollar night view as well. Meg tried to catch the Symphony of Lights show, but unfortunately couldn’t see much because of the clouds.
▼But she did see the handprints belonging to actor Sammo Hung, who is also very famous in Japan.
▼Meg then went on to the Central District, where she visited a unique Bing Sutt-style Starbucks, modeled after a traditional Hong Kong coffee-house.
▼The shop has a very retro feel.
▼One of the posters in the shop was advertising their pineapple buns, a popular treat in Hong Kong.
▼Well, of course our girl had to try one! The bun came with an ample serving of butter sandwiched in between.
▼The subway map shows that the areas Meg visited are located relatively close to each other. One of the reasons a one-day Hong Kong trip is feasible is probably that the city is not spread over a very wide area. Also, if you’re a visitor and not familiar with the subway MTR system, we definitely recommend you download the official MTR app. You can easily search routes, fees and exits from the subway map even if you’re not sure of the exact names of stations, so it can save you a lot of time.
All in all, Meg had quite a full day! Let’s break her experience down:
After returning to Japan, Meg calculated the total expense for her trip as follows:
- Air tickets (including fuel and taxes): 35,730 yen (US$350)
- Local transport costs in Hong Kong: HK$104.50 ($13.50)
- All other costs: HK$216.20 ($28)
So, the total amount of money our reporter spent on her one-day trip came to approximately $391.50. Meg remarked that she was actually surprised that she’d spent less than $400 — it felt like she had spent far more, but after going over her expenses several times, she found that it really was that little. We’re certainly impressed, but then of course she didn’t stay overnight in Hong Kong, which meant no accommodation costs, so the only major expenditure in this case was the air tickets, which Meg picked up for a little less than normal after some hunting around.
Here’s what Meg thought were the pros of taking an ultra-short overseas trip:
- You can travel overseas even if you can’t take time off from work! This has to be the biggest appeal of planning a very short trip, especially for workaholic Japanese. The tight schedule may be a bit tiring, but it’s refreshing to be able to enjoy the sense of freedom that comes from spending vacation time in a foreign country.
- Even though it’s a very short trip, you can get more done than you might expect. When you think of it as a one-day trip, it may seem very short, but even if you were to spend the night, you can only really fit in between eight and 12 hours of activity in a day anyway. If you look at it that way, the schedule actually doesn’t seem too unreasonable.
- You can travel very light. You only need what you need for the day, so you’re not weighed down with luggage, and there’s no hassle of packing and unpacking. And you don’t need to wait for your checked-in luggage to come out at the baggage claim, so you can start moving very quickly once you reach your destination.
- It can be done for a relatively reasonable price. As mentioned above, the trip didn’t turn out as expensive as expected. It’s not like we compared the average price per hour for various trips, but it felt like Meg’s trip in this case wasn’t a bad deal in terms of cost performance.
There were only a few drawbacks to going on such a short trip :
- You can’t travel too far away from the airport or city you arrived in. If you’re staying in a major city with a good transportation system like Hong Kong, Taipei, Shanghai or Seoul, you won’t have a problem finding plenty to do visiting various sites in the city, but if you find yourself in a place without many attractions or activities, you won’t have the time to wander away from your original destination in search of something more interesting.
- You can’t engage in activities that are too time-consuming, such as waiting in line at a popular shop or restaurant or seeing a movie or long show. Sure, you could devote your time to a few select activities, but it tends to be human nature to want to do as many things as possible.
Our reporter’s verdict? Sure, the ideal may be to be able to take a long enough break and spend plenty of time at your travel destination, but seeing as that is often not possible for workers in Japan, if you’re feeling stressed and you need to get away from it all, it could actually be a good idea to take off on a very short trip. In fact, it could be a very good idea! And if you’re really pressed for time, you could even arrive back in Japan early in the morning, take a shower at the airport and go straight to work! How’s that for time management?
So, based on Meg’s recent visit to Hong Kong, we think ultra-short trips are certainly worth considering, provided you plan them out and depending on the schedule and price of air tickets available. But regardless of whether they’re long or short, we hope all your vacations are safe and enjoyable!
Check out this link:
Extreme vacationing: How to enjoy a trip to Hong Kong in just 12 hours