travel

Japan, Travel

Top Experiences at Universal Studios Japan


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Located in Osaka, Kansai region of Japan is the official Universal Studios Japan. This Universal Studios theme park is the first in Asia (second one located in the sunny island of Singapore; Universal Studios Singapore). The other two Universal Studios are located in Orlando and Los Angeles. Due to the huge influx of tourists in to Japan, Universal Studios Japan is naturally one of the top favourites regionally and domestically. We had the chance to visit the awesome and highly-raved about theme park during the Christmas period and it most certainly lived up to its reputation! It was my first time among all the Universal Studios theme park. Read on to find out the top experiences to check out!

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Book Universal Studios Japan ticket with KKday.

Skip the lines and scan your QR code to enter the thrilling world of Universal Studios Japan! Go on an adventure to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter or plunge into the Despicable Me Minion Mayhem ride with your USJ ticket!

By doing so, I get a small commission fee that helps to sustain me longer on the road, to continue creating content for my readers.

 

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Step into the world of Harry Potter, enjoy a butter beer at one of the cavern stores or try casting a spell with your new wand at the castle doors or house chimneys. This is one of my favourites because I am a huge Harry Potter fan. The light show on (yes on and not at!) Hogwarts Castle was truly enlightening and it really felt like I had stepped right into Hogwarts and the amazing world of Harry Potter. Don’t miss out the 360-degree magical 4D ride to feel like you’re riding on a broomstick just like the main man himself!

If you are only able to spend one day at Universal Studios Japan, I would strongly advise you to get the Universal Express Pass, which helps you to skip queues and it also covers Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey™. You won’t regret this decision especially after walking past fellow fans to go right to the front of the queue! Check out the list of express rides here.

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Christmas Party Parade

This is exclusive during the Christmas festive season at Universal Studios Japan. We caught our favourite characters here such as Snoopy and the Minions. Cheers and laughter filled the atmosphere and this is where the magical parade came alive. Minion Mayhem indeed! Be sure to catch both the day and night parade!

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Christmas night parade

The Gift of Angels III

Running into its 10th year, this is also the last year for the beautiful performance titled “The Gift of Angels III”. Nothing beats a fairytale night, you need to be in line for this awesome show. This is an award-winning experience and should not be missed.

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The Gift of Angels

Minions and Fluffy Food Stations

There are plenty of food stations around but nothing beats the cute popcorn store featuring minions on a unicorn @ Pop A Nana cart! You can get popcorn filled inside this adorable souvenir! Don’t forget to munch on a Minion strawberry shortcake and a fluffy hot chocolate drink, which were oh so delicious.

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Try the sweet potato corndog, that’s one of my favourite!

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Fluffy Hot Chocolate

Christmas Village Store

If you simply cannot leave Universal Studios Japan without a souvenir, this is the best place to bring the cute characters you’ve seen around the park back to your homes. During the Christmas season, there are several more options apart from the regular ones.

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Don’t forget to pose with all the characters around the park to keep these unforgettable memories!

Book Universal Studios Japan ticket with KKday.

Skip the lines and scan your QR code to enter the thrilling world of Universal Studios Japan! Go on an adventure to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter or plunge into the Despicable Me Minion Mayhem ride with your USJ ticket!

By doing so, I get a small commission fee that helps to sustain me longer on the road, to continue creating content for my readers.

Finland, Travel

HEL-lo SINKI #MyHelsinkiResidence For A Week! Here’s What I Am Excited About!


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#MyHelsinkiResidence is aimed at digital professional/influencers in creating authentic content without any schedule! I was super excited when I got the opportunity to visit Helsinki for a week in the middle of September. What even more amazing is that I get to bring a +1 – just when I was thinking about going Finland for honeymoon. Helsinki Marketing (aka Visit Helsinki) partners with a few other well-known names in the hospitality industry such as Marimekko, Aallonkoti Hotel Apartments (can’t wait to stay in the apartments with beautifully designed Nordic interiors), Visit Finland and Finnair for this amazing media program.

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Photo credits: Jussi Hellsten, My Helsinki

Helsinki in Autumn

They called it “ruska“, predominantly in Lapland but I hope to witness more of it in Helsinki. It will be a phenomenal blend of tree colours that sends photographers scrambling for their gears. Being there in September also means that there will be less tourists than the summer months. The International Grand Market and International Film Festival will be going on during the visit, good time to check it out too.

First-hand Finnish local experience!

Experiencing Helsinki from a local experience might be attractive, but I am more intrigued about the Finnish joke: ‘An introverted Finn looks at his shoes when talking to you; an extroverted Finn looks at your shoes’. The social perception of the Finns is one interesting area to watch if it matches the stereotype.  You can read more about the Finns here. In this trip, I wish to explore the local places to go – not to bring the influx of tourism there but to experience it. Be it biking in the city with vintage looking bicycles or checking out some coffee shop down the street, it feels very dreamy to me. A week is just the right amount of time to explore Helsinki, rather than 3 days or so which can be pretty rushed.

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Photo credits: Lauri Rotko, My Helsinki

Finnish Sauna

Nude sauna is the Finns’ way of life, maybe that is how they do their leisure time rather than going on Facebook. Jumping into a cold pool after a good session of sauna is like dipping nachos in cheese – not sure if I will like it. Wild sauna or electric sauna, I want to try it all. Hello Sinki indeed, I got some kiasu-ness (A Singaporean slang/dialect that means afraid to lose out).

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Photo credits: Eetu Ahanen, My Helsinki

Finnish Food

They have seasonal food, so here I am in autumn to try those speciality according to this guide. Getting ready for a ‘foodplosion’, just like the explosion of leaves colours ‘ruska’.

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Photo credits: Eetu Ahanen, My Helsinki

The Unknown!

The last but not least, a Helsinki Survival Kit will be given to us. It will contain local tips, suggestions on what to see and do and hand-picked local design, food & urban nature experiences and items that are essential for city-dwelling. How exciting is this! Though this travel concept has been commercialised to provide that excitement of not knowing your itinerary, it is still working very well on human’s nature – curiosity.

In a nutshell, I am flying to Helsinki real soon, as soon as good times fly.

 

Inspiration, Travel

This Is Why I Airbnb My Way Around The World, While On My Way To Free $1100 Airbnb Credit


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Image Credit: Airbnb


Airbnb is the current trend that people settle for when it comes to traveling in style. It started off as a home-sharing option in San Francisco in 2008 and then today, we have the opportunity to stay in cozy houses for a reasonable price. We fell for this ideation because Airbnb fits perfectly between the hotels and private long-term lease option. The world is slowly embracing it, even Chinese people is the 2nd largest group to visit Airbnb homes in Singapore. What is even more surprising is that the first spot is taken by Singapore. Singaporeans are filling local Airbnb homes faster than any other foreign travelers, which I attributed that to the staycation trend in the country. This was shared by an Airbnb rep at their downtown office in Singapore.

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This home-sharing concept is fresh and inviting to the younger generations, yet proved to be difficult penetrating the older generations in terms of usage. I am certainly not working for Airbnb, nor an advocate for them. But I have to admit that they have changed the way I travel, or rather the way I choose my accommodation option from Vietnam to New York. Indirectly, by choosing to stay in these homes we are also helping the hosts that are willing to lease out their properties – to make use of empty rooms/apartments to generate income. Just like car-pool and bike-sharing, or even commercial business like Uber, the idea revolves around tweaking private ownership to increase social welfare. This social thing, I am an advocate for that.

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Thanks to my readers who tried or signed up Airbnb first-time through my referral! Slowly but surely to the cap of USD 5,000

 

I worked with brands to help manage my cost of travel and that is in exchange for content creation – something which I love doing. Airbnb’s referral programme is another good opportunity to leverage on as a travel writer. Educating people through my content (authentic and practical experiences) is one of reasons why I started writing. This way, I have ‘inspired’ about 32 people (first-time users and counting) around the globe to try out Airbnb so far. The referral programme works for every Airbnb users out there, you can start referring your family and friends to give them and yourself travel credits! If you have read my post about Iceland itinerary, I have a good amount of users who signed up through that because no one is going to build a hotel in the middle of nowhere where the local population is just 2.3k (as of 2016). This way, Airbnb has opened up the option for hosts to accommodate travelers in these remote areas. We are looking at a travel game-changer here.

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Airbnb cottages in East Iceland

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Image Credit: Airbnb

I like the way new businesses do their marketing nowadays, that is through their new customers’ word of mouth, nothing beats the review coming from an existing customer. This probably explains why traditional marketing is not effective for some brands out there. If we look at Airbnb’s cancellation policy, they left it up to hosts to decide their cancellation policy which in a way, determines the percentage of fee (3% or 5%) they give to Airbnb. This is another reason why I like them, because the percentage is much lesser than branded OTAs out there. The resulting effect is that more money to be spilt between the host and the guest – another social benefit.

Since the inception of Airbnb, I have been staying in Airbnb homes except for the times when I was on a campervan road trip in New Zealand or partnering with accommodation providers. There are humble rooms in the city of Tokyo to luxury villas in Europe top-notch locations. It is an experience that is vastly different from staying in a hotel (sometimes I do miss it). Compare walking out of your apartment surrounding by locals on the street of Okinawa to walking into your Sheraton hotel lobby full of tourists.

Last but not least, this is not a call for my readers to sign up with Airbnb through my link but a pure sharing session. But if you really need it, it is here.

If you are a first time user of Airbnb, use my link to get a USD33 credit which can be used for your bookings. By doing so, I get a credit of USD20 too. It helps to sustain me longer on the road to create content for my readers.