Welcome to our pre trip report. Here you’ll find out all about our trip to Hong Kong, Japan and Shanghai. You’ll find out how we booked, where we are staying and our daily plan. Now get yourself comfy cause it’s gonna be a long one!
First up, how the heck did we book all of this?
Well, I have to say I’ve never researched any holiday as much as I have for this one. The hours upon hours of planning, researching & reading I have done doesn’t even bear thinking about! I can plan a Walt Disney World trip in my sleep, this however was very daunting. I tried to find blogs online to read to help me with the plan but there aren’t a huge amount of them out there, so hopefully this will help if you’re thinking about a trip to see the Asia Disney parks.
We are going for just over 2 weeks, we depart Friday the 15th November and arrive home Monday the 2nd of December. We chose to do two weeks instead of three because I was slightly terrified of being away so long in different cultures and language, however looking back I would definitely stretch this out to 3 weeks as there’s just so much to see and do that we can’t fit in.
We had some Virgin Atlantic rewards available due to our credit cards, sadly Virgin don’t currently fly into Japan so it made our decision to fly into Hong Kong and out of Shanghai to be able to use our rewards. All we had to pay were the taxes (used miles for the premium seats – everything I read suggests I’ll be glad of the luggage allowance coming home!).
Why November? Simply because that’s when we could get reward seats, however it turns out that we happened to choose the 2nd best time to visit Japan (1st being cherry blossom season). This does come with its drawbacks however as hotels are busier and more expensive! But we get to visit in the autumn with the beautiful foliage so it’s a win. Plus we get to see the Disney parks dressed for Christmas.
This meant we needed flights between HK and Japan and then Japan to Shanghai. These weren’t cheap at all, actually cost us a fair bit more than we had anticipated (not sure what we were basing our assumptions on? Maybe flying within Europe?).
We are flying HK to Osaka with HK Express – they don’t get great reviews but they were the only affordable option, the price between this airline and others was about £500! You can’t take any food or drink onto the flight, not even a bottle of water! But it’s a short 4 hour flight so I’m sure we will be fine.
We are then flying with All Nippon Airways from Tokyo to Shanghai. They do at least get a better review however they cost more than double our HK Express flight.
We found Hong Kong and Shanghai fairly easy to book hotels. We watched a few vlogs about the different hotels and hotel rooms and went with our favourites – which just happen to be the cheapest ha!
In Hong Kong we are staying in the Hollywood hotel. We just fell in love with the vibe of this hotel, it kinda reminded us of Hollywood studios, with that old school, vintage glamour.
For our Shanghai hotel, really it could only be the Toy Story hotel! Simon did want to try out the Disneyland hotel but the Toy Story hotel is so unique, I twisted his arm…
We needed 3 different hotels for Japan. One for Disneyland, one in Tokyo and one in Kyoto.
We decided to stay in a partner hotel for Disneyland mainly due to the crazy price of the Disney hotels. We booked 2 hotels to secure prices and then cancelled one when the prices came down nearer to our holiday. So that left us with the Hilton Tokyo bay (having cancelled the Sheraton). The hotel looks great, Tim and Jen Tracker did a great vlog around the hotel which helped make our minds up. If we could have stayed in Disney we would have gone for the Ambassador as it has the same feel as the Hollywood hotel in HK (Which is another reason we didn’t mind skipping it as it was so similar).
Kyoto. It was quite difficult to choose where to stay in Kyoto, and with it being November and the second busiest time of year to go we were quickly running out of options as hotels were becoming fully booked. In the end we chose a hotel based inside of the main train station because it would be super easy to get to everything and easy when we arrive and leave by train. We settled on the Hotel Granvia Kyoto in a superior room as all of the standard rooms were sold out.
Tokyo. We REALLY struggled choosing where to stay in Tokyo. We really spent far too long deliberating on the areas and hotels. In the end we mapped out exactly what we wanted to see and do while we were there and chose an area based on that. Shunjuku/Shibuya was where we decided on. Then came the tough part of deciding which hotel, as with most cities there are abundance of hotels for different budgets and tastes. We knew we wanted something nice without blowing the budget (hotels in Tokyo are pricey!). We ended up getting an amazing deal on a brand-new hotel that opens the day we arrive. Are we mad or crazy you ask? Possibly. However it is a part of a chain of hotels so we figure if it’s not ready they can move us to one of their other hotels. From what I read about Japan though they pretty much do stick to timescales. We are staying at the Mitsui Garden hotel Jingugaien.
We will be getting from Osaka to Kyoto on the bullet train and then again from Kyoto to Tokyo. Absolutely cannot wait for this!
Money. We are taking our overseas credit cards and plan to withdraw on those but also taking £100 of each currency with us. We have both a Horizon and Halifax Clarity (we take both just in case!). Most 7-11 stores in Japan have atm’s that accept overseas cards. From what I read, lots of places only take cash in Japan.
Weather. The word is ‘layers’. Hong Kong should be pretty warm so will be taking some lighter weight stuff for those few days, more like our typical Florida attire. Japan and Shanghai however are cooler. From what I understand it will be cold in the early morning and evenings but pleasant during the day. So we will be travelling with layers that way we can take them off in the middle of the day and put them on when the temperature drops. It can be 17’C (62F) during the day with it dropping to 5’C (40F) at night. November is a pretty dry month all around so we are hoping for little rain – we will have umbrellas just in case but hopefully we won’t need to use them much.
We have 4 nights with 3 full days in HK. 2 days of Disney and 1 day to explore the city with Simon’s friend who lives there and has offered to show us around!
We arrive in the afternoon of Saturday, our plan for that evening is just to get to our hotel explore a bit, eat and then sleep. We plan on getting a taxi straight to the hotel from the airport.
Sunday will be full on Disney!
Monday we are spending the day exploring. We plan to cable car up to the big Buddha, go up the tram to Victoria peak and do a harbour cruise at night. We may well have time for more and will let Esther show us around to other beautiful places.
Tuesday we are back to Disney with a special dim sum meal booked at lunchtime in the Disneyland hotel. Can’t wait for this!
Wednesday we will be up and at the airport for about 7am via a taxi.
We only have 1 full day here with one evening and one morning.
We will arrive into Osaka in the afternoon and get the train straight to Kyoto. We will check into the hotel and then head to Gion at night to hopefully see a Maiko show at the Hyatt regency and then have dinner with our friends Jane and Mike (who are also in Japan the same time as us!).
Thursday we hope to ride the romantic steam train (really they do call it the romantic train lol) to see the beautiful foliage, and then visit Tenryu-ji Temple and the Arashiyama bamboo forest. With the evening spent at the Eikando Temple to see the fall illuminations. We will be spending most of the day with our friends.
Friday are heading out early to see the Fushimi Shrine as it gets very busy. We then come back to grab our bags and hop on the bullet train to Tokyo!
We have 1 evening, 1 morning and 2 full days here to explore the city before heading to Disney for 3 full days and 1 evening.
The train takes about 2&1/2 hours (in comparison it takes over five hours to drive). We’ve had some real horror stories about the trains around Tokyo with luggage so we’ve decided to get a taxi or Uber from Tokyo station to our hotel. There are some luggage forwarding services in Japan which are amazing however the cost of two suitcases is the price of an Uber (according to my app) so we figured we may as well do that, plus with the service you also have to be prepared to not have your suitcase for one night.
After we check into our hotel the plan is to head to the Shinjuku area for a wander around.
Saturday plan has us shopping and exploring the Takashita street after a visit to Meiji garden. I also want to try to get Purikura photo – they are all the rage with teenagers in Japan. It’s like an airbrushed photo – think Instagram filter. They look so funny we totally need to get one! We also plan to eat loads of quirky street food, and when I say ‘we’ I really mean I’m going to make Simon try lots of stuff and tell me whether I will like it before I try it hahaha!! In the evening we will head to Rikugien for their illuminations.
Sunday we are off to view more foliage at the Koishikawa korakuen gardens and if we have time the Imperial palace gardens. We also want to visit the Shibuya crossing & Disney store if we didn’t get around to it the day before. The evening we have something very exciting planned, our friends arrive in Tokyo and we are all going around Tokyo in go karts in the style of mario kart! We had to pick up international driving permit to be able to do this so if you think it’s something you’d like to do make sure you have these. Afterwards we are heading up the sky tree at night for gorgeous views over the city. Today we will send our cases ahead to our Disney hotel so we don’t have to lug them around Tokyo tomorrow.
Monday. I am so excited for this day for two reasons the first being we check into our Disney partner hotel, the second we are visiting TeamLab Borderless. This is a digital art museum that I’ve seen shared on Facebook for years and it’s always been somewhere I really wanted to go see – so I am super excited!! after a few hours inside we will head to Disney! We can’t decide whether to spend the afternoon and evening exploring the hotel and eating or whether to get an evening pass for Disneyland (as they do this in Japan!). Realistically I think the best thing to do would be to see how we feel on the day, if we need to rest we can make sure we are properly rested up for our next three busy days in Disney but if we are too excited we can pick some tickets up and head inside.
Tuesday. Disneyland! I’m so excited to finally be visiting Tokyo Disneyland! Our plan of the day is eat as many amazing snacks and ride as many unique rides as possible.
Wednesday. Disney Sea. Our friends are joining us for this day, slowly I’ve been dragging Jane to Disneyland’s all over the world so this is no exception ha! She says she’s not a huge Disney person but I’m slowly rubbing off on her I think. so far I’ve taken her to Walt Disney World and Disneyland in California (she’s also been to Disneyland Paris). I think this is Mike’s first taste of a Disney park, he said he’s excited to do it with such diehard Disney fans so I hope we can give him the best day! We will also be joined by Jane’s brother for part of the day but I’m not sure how much he wants to hang around with us or how much he wants to do on his own. This is the last day we will see our friends boohoo! Well that is till we are home – they live about 30 seconds drive or 7 min walk from our house.
Thursday. We will have a park hopper for this day so will try to go back and do all of the things we missed on the previous two days.
Friday. We check out of our hotel and get on the airport limo (bus really) to the airport which is about an hour away. Our flight is at 1:45pm.
I feel we are doing Shanghai a little bit of a disservice as we aren’t seeing any part of the city at all here. We are grabbing a taxi from the airport to our hotel and we don’t leave Disney until it’s time to fly home.
Friday evening, check into hotel and then go to downtown Disney for dinner.
Saturday. Up early and head to Disneyland. Ride tron and pirates over and over.
Sunday. Our last day. Spend the day in Disneyland again.
Monday. Taxi to the airport early. Flight home leaves at 11:50. Arriving back in the UK local time of 4:30.
So that’s our daily plan! Sounds a bit daunting right? Certainly feels it! But it’s a lot easier now than when we first started, we were completely clueless and had no idea where to even begin. We’ve read our guide books cover to cover over and over and it’s slowly all starting to make a bit more sense.
Seems like we skipped over the Disney parks a little there doesn’t it? And we all know that’s what you came for (it’s certainly what we came for!!) I think I should break out my detailed Disney plan for you… What do ya think?! This is our list of must sees, must rides and must eats!
Grizzly mountain (closed 17th)
Iron man (Simon)
Hyperspace mountain (Simon)
Tarzan tree house
Meet iron man
Paint the night parade
Wheel of Mickey
Mickey and the Wondrous Book
Disney in the stars fireworks
Explorer’s club quick service
Crystal Lotus (for Dim Sum)
Afternoon tea at Main Street corner cafe
Mango dole whip (TSL)
Mickey waffles Main Street market
Pooh’s honey hunt (ride this first)
Monsters inc (FP) (run to first for FP)
Splash mountain (FP)
Big thunder mountain (FP)
It’s a small world
Western river railroad
Cinderella’s fairytale hall
Haunted mansion (FP)
Peter Pans flight
Buzz lightyear (FP)
Space mountain (FP)
Dreaming up parade
Electrical parade (dreamlights)
Let’s party gras (lottery)
One mans dream (lottery)
Indiana Jones (FP)
Mermaid theatre lagoon (FP)
Tower of terror (FP) first
20,000 leagues (FP)
Magic lamp theatre (FP)
Nemo searider (FP) sicky
Disney light the night fireworks
Colours of Christmas
Hello, New York
It’s Christmas time
Big band beat (lottery)
Song of mirage (lottery)
Alien mochi near Toy story (DS)
Hungry bear for Katsu curry (DL)
Gyoza Bun next to 20,000 leagues (DS)
Chandu chicken Curry Bun Sultans Oasis (DS)
Sea Salt Monaka ice cream cart (DS)
Pizza spring rolls Toontown (DL)
Melon bread, curry bread & the Jack Skellington Set (beef) (DL)
Mickey glove chicken bao sandwich at Plazma Ray’s Diner
Chicken and waffle sandwich at Camp Woodchuck Kitchen (TDL)
Eat in queen of hearts
Voyage to crystal grotto
Peter pans flight
Alice in wonderland maze
Once upon a time adventure
Honey pot spin
Garden of 12 friends
Ignite the dream
Mickey’s storybook express
Golden fairytale fanfare
Happy Holidays, Mickey show
When We’re Together” Castle Tree Lighting Ceremony
Remy’s Patisserie: Duffy and friends-shaped Panna Cotta
Shanghainese Pork Bun
Toy Box Café: Toy Story drinks with the collectible tumblers, Lotso Bubble Waffle
Il Paperino: Donald’s Waffle & Soft Serve
Pinocchio Village Kitchen (Pizza)
Barbossa’s Bounty (BBQ ribs)
Wandering Moon Restaurant (Chinese cuisine)
Toy Box Café (Western options & cute desserts)
Tangled Tavern (Western and Asian cuisine)
Mickey & Pals Market Café
Phew that’s a lot of information to take at one time! We might not get to see and do all that’s on the Disney list but least we have a starting point!
Thanks for reading along with our pre trip report. If you have any questions please drop us a message below and we will try to answer as best we can. Or if you want to leave us a comment that would also be amazing!
Thanks for reading,