As part of our clients’ trips to Japan, Global Basecamps nearly always includes one vital piece of equipment. Tokyo’s Pasmo Card is an incredibly diverse tool for travel in the capital; the pass is valid all over the greater Tokyo area’s extensive ground railway and subway systems, can be used to pay for most taxis, and is even accepted at most vending machines and convenience stores. Sounds like an amazing travel tool, right? It just got even better.
Most urban areas in Japan feature similar passes, and as of last month, these passes will now all be valid in each other's cities! That means that with the one card we provide you with for travel in Tokyo, you will be able to travel similarly in Japan’s most popular cities, such as Kyoto, Osaka, Hiroshima and Sapporo! Needless to say, this is a boon for Japan’s domestic and international travelers, especially since the process to use and recharge the cards with yen is easily outlined in multiple languages.
One of the most common questions we get is “why do people need a travel agent these days?” Surely, with the rise of the internet and big self-booking websites, travelers are more empowered than ever to research and organize travel than ever before. But as ever, Global Basecamps stands by its philosophy that booking through a knowledgeable, experienced travel expert with personal relationships to hotels and lodges is always preferable. At the end of the day, booking through a company like Global Basecamps benefits not just the traveler, but the destination!
This month, SFGate.com published an article that we believe outlines the benefits of booking your travel through an agent over a booking site. The article tells the story of the couple who own a hotel in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. After a series of miscommunications, the relationship between the 18-room hotel and the website collapsed. Through what the article calls a “descent into the surreal” the website used its considerable clout in the travel industry to hurt the hotel’s business instead of supplementing it.
Though travelers may find the occasional deal on a booking site, their biggest downside is actually the reason they are so successful. Big booking sites prioritize volume, and the bigger the hotel, the more rooms they can sell. Too often, the smallest hotels in the world don’t garner the attention they deserve from a booking site, and are relegated to a secondary status. Too often, those small hotels are often the world’s best!
In our “24 Hours In” series, we present good ideas of what to do in the featured city over a full day. The destinations we’ll be covering include cities that are often traveled through, but not in on your custom tour. These cities often act as international flight hubs on your way to a destination, and layovers can extend from hours to a full day at times. So if you’re in a city on your way to or from your destination, following are some of our favorite things to do there!
Johannesburg, as ever, is the cultural and economic heart of South Africa. If you are exploring this beautiful country, or any of its neighbors, there is a good chance you will spend at least a layover in this city of 4.4 million people. Regional flights to Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and even Madagascar all pass through its gates multiple times a day. Many Global Basecamps travelers express concern, and even occasional fear, at spending time in what is internationally known as an unsafe city. Though Johannesburg served as a stage for the greater drama of the South African 20th century, the city has striven to improve its international image through urban renewal projects, accelerating these in the run-up to the 2010 World Cup.
We would love to say that the city is completely traveler-friendly and safe, but unfortunately the signs of a turbulent history are still present throughout. Like with any other large urban center in the world though, an easy set of “street smart” rules will help avoid most if not all of these risks. These include not walking alone at night, sticking close to one’s traveling group and being aware of one’s surroundings. All that being said, Johannesburg (aka Joberg or Jozi) is still a vibrant city alive with the constant activity of 4.4 million people living and working together. Twenty four hours can really fly by if you’re not careful!
The Inca Trail leading to the fortress city of Machu Picchu is simply one of the most amazing hikes you will ever experience. This multi-day trek brings tens of thousands of travelers to Peru annually, and is quickly becoming one of the world’s most popular travel destinations. Global Basecamps travelers are a different breed, however! More and more of our clients are returning to Peru for the second and third time. For some, Machu Picchu is not just a once in a lifetime experience, but a twice and thrice! And for others, they’ve realized that Peru has multitudes of activities to offer that don’t involve the Inca Trail.
Along this train of thought, Global Basecamps would like to officially introduce a few trips in Peru that you almost surely have never heard of before.
At Global Basecamps, we talk a lot about “Cultural Japan Tours,” but what does that entail, exactly? Is Japanese culture the ancient, the samurai, the castles, the tea ceremonies, and the ryokans? Or is Japanese culture the modern, the bright billboards, the manga, the bullet trains, and the pod hotels? The answer, of course, is both. But whenever tradition and modernity can meet and become something new, that is what really excites us about culture in Japan.
Few things are more timeless in Japan than fish, and the Tsukiji Fish Market could be described as fish central in Tokyo, as well as one of the biggest fish markets in the world. The market accepts a limited number of casual observers daily, and early risers will find a bustling, vibrant, coordinated dance of fishmongers, restaurant owners and sushi chefs negotiating for the day’s best catch. For Japanese food enthusiasts, this experience is almost like getting a peek behind the curtain, or watching the foundations being laid at a construction site.