If you ask for suggestions on where to go for a fun night out in Tokyo, it’s likely that many people will tell you to head to Golden Gai in Shinjuku. This well-known area of Tokyo is famous for its nightlife. You’ll find 6 parallel alleyways with tiny bars crammed everywhere (there’s said to be over 200 bars). Many tourists come here for a bit of bar hopping (if you manage to find a seat), though there are a handful of bars that cater to a “Japanese-speaking only” crowd. While I can’t say I loved Golden Gai, I thought it was a unique experience that is worth checking out.
The Shinjuku district of Tokyo is a bustling, hectic, and very modern part of the city, however, there are a few spots only steps away from the busy main streets that offer visitors a glimpse into the old Tokyo. One such place is Memory Lane (translated from Omoide Yokocho, but also known as “Piss Alley”). Here you’ll find an assortment of tiny shops that serve up yakitori, soba noodles, and (of course) plenty of drinks. Aside from just being really cool to walk through thanks to its narrow alleyways, cramped bars with people laughing, eating, and drinking, and Japanese decor strung throughout, this is where I found the best bowl of soba noodles.
Fuunji Tokyo was said to serve up some of the best tsukemen in the city, and since I had never tried that type of ramen before (I know, I know) I was looking forward to trying it. The shop is a popular spot for both locals and tourists, so be sure to arrive early or go late, otherwise you should expect a queue (we went just after it opened and we still didn’t get a seat right away). There are only two things on the menu: ramen or dipping noodles (tsukemen), but the vast majority come for the latter. And trust me, it doesn’t disappoint.
There are so many fantastic restaurants in Tokyo that planning where to eat during your stay can be a bit overwhelming. Many well-established restaurants begin taking reservations upwards of a month in advance, so if you’re not in the know, you’ll likely miss out on an opportunity to have a fantastic meal. While many of these restaurants tend to be quite fancy, I discovered a hidden gem that I want to share with you: Narukiyo Tokyo. This restaurant only serves an omakase menu (meaning there is no menu), has insanely fun vibes (sit around the kitchen counter for added entertainment while enjoying the chef’s playlist and the awkward yet hilarious phallic objects scattered about the restaurant), and is basically guaranteed to be one of the best nights you’ll have in Tokyo.
When I was planning my trip to Tokyo, there was no thought in my mind that I would be eating anything other than all the delicious Japanese food my greedy stomach could handle. That was until the friend I was travelling with told me she had read about a shop called Kuumba du Falafel in Shibuya and how their sandwiches were insanely good. I’ve never been a big fan of falafels, so I was slightly hesitant at first. However, after doing a quick Google search and reading only positive reviews, I was quickly persuaded. Conclusion: the falafel sandwich I had at Kuumba du Falafel Tokyo was hands-down the best falafel sandwich I’ve ever had.
One of the things Japan is known for is their food: from the time and effort spent preparing a dish, to the quality ingredients used. Finding a “good” restaurant in Japan isn’t difficult. You could walk into any little place and know that whether you’re spending ¥1000 or ¥5000, you’ll have a great meal. Despite the ease of dining out, I wanted to try my hand at the Kaiseki Cooking Class Tokyo at Cooking Sun studio. Kaiseki is a traditional Japanese meal involving many small courses. Since I was only in Tokyo for five days, Flight Centre Hong Kong arranged the cooking class in Shibuya before I landed (nothing beats a little less stress while traveling!).
Sydney is a city known for its cafe culture; from pouring incredible flat whites to avocado and feta on sourdough, the cafes here will forever change your standards on brunch. Since there are endless cafes scattered throughout the city, you may be slightly overwhelmed with choice. Below is a list of my favourite cafes in Sydney after eating my way through the city for two weeks.
Bondi is arguably Australia’s most popular, well-known beach, so paying a visit to this long stretch of golden sand and crystal blue water is a given when in Sydney. While spending the day basking in the sun on Bondi would be a day well spent, putting your walking shoes on and doing the Bondi coastal walk to Coogee should not be missed. This scenic walk takes you along the coast, past six beautiful beaches, and a number of other Instagram-worthy viewpoints. I did the Bondi coastal walk twice while in Sydney and would have done it again if I’d had the time.
The Spit to Manly hike is a well-known route to any Sydney local and is the perfect day outing if you’re looking for something similar to the Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk, but less touristy and crowded. The walk is a relatively easy 10 km and should take about 3 hours, depending on whether you stop at some of the beaches. As you go on your hike, you’ll walk past over six beautiful beaches, some of which are quite secluded, that you can go for a quick dip to cool off before continuing the hike. This was one of the highlights of my time in Sydney and I would highly recommend it if you have the time.
The Blue Mountains of Sydney is a world heritage area and natural park, consequently making it a very popular tourist destination. Located about 1.5 hours from central Sydney, it’s relatively easy to get to and, once there, you can spend the night in one of the many Blue Mountains hotels, go hiking, explore caves, ride a cable car, see The Three Sisters, and much more. Though I didn’t exactly find the Blue Mountains to be overly impressive (perhaps because, as a Canadian, I’ve grown up surrounded by vast greenery), it was a nice day trip to get out of the city center and explore the outlying areas of Sydney.