Hi i'm traveling to Japan and China around September and I was wondering if anyone has any tips on places to see, hotels to stay at, places to eat, places to shop, how to travel around there, and if it is better to go on my own or with a tour? Also how much time do you recommend for me to be there?
While not a helpful answer, I'm sure I could spend a lifetime in Japan and not be able to see, eat and do all the things I would want to. That being said, and without knowing your personal interests, here are some quick recommendations:
Hokkaido in the north eastern part of Japan is likely my favorite area...however, if you love Miami heat, this is as polar an opposite as you can get. It's a snowy paradise most of the time and if you go to the Asahiyama Zoo you'll find that it's the people who are "locked up" and penguins and polar bears who roam free outdoors. Once you've eaten enough through Tokyo, you'll also discover that the chefs there revere almost any foodstuff that comes from Hokkaido...and with good reason. My favorite Ice cream shop anywhere is at BARNES which is near Maruyama Park.
In any case, for a first visit, you're most likely to go to Tokyo, and there you'll find all the shopping you could ever ask for. Aside from the depachika (large department stores) and brands you likely already know, I'd also suggest checking out more niche shops. Places like KAPITAL LEGS 六本木店 and ＢＡＤＯＵ−Ｒ are definitely unique takes on shopping. Go to either shop, and ask about their other locations...then go on a mini-scavenger hunt to find them. The other stores might be the same "brand," but each location is unique and rewards explorers. Muji Yurakucho is another icon in shopping, and they have a unique philosophy worth reading up on.
As far as where to stay...I'm sure there are tons of great spots, but I really enjoyed our stay at Hotel The b Akasaka really quaint neighborhood that slightly shelters you from the vastness of Tokyo, great access to transport, and was reasonably priced when we went.
Lastly, if you happen to be tattoo free (unfortunately, tattoos have a strong criminal association for older/traditional Japanese), I would highly suggest a trip to an onsen-ryokan. My favorite happens to be Yagyu-no-Sho It's a short train ride from Tokyo and is a completely unique approach to restoration and relaxation.
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China is very big, and has a lot famous cities and attractions , if this is the first time, you'd better take a tour. If time is limited Shanghai and Beijing you must to visit in China, if you need more detail you can tell me your plan and favorites, also http://orientjourney.com/chinatour.aspx has some itineraries for you as advice.
Hope I can help you.