Tokyo has been variously described as one of the most exciting, most metropolitan and most futuristic cities in the world. Frankly, we’d have to agree. If you’re planning a trip to Japan, though, it’s worth bearing in mind that the world outside its capital city is absolutely bursting with the sort of culture, nature and history you simply won’t find anywhere else.
Indeed, nearly 100 million souls reside in the 46 Japanese prefectures outside Tokyo — that makes for almost endless opportunities to become more familiar with one of the most oddly unique countries on earth.
Not yet convinced? Keep reading to learn why you should add at least a few outside-Tokyo destinations to your Japanese bucket list.
Slow down and discover the old world spirit of Kyoto
After exploring the bustling modernity of Tokyo, you may be ready for the quiet and almost meditative introspection of Kyoto.
While the rest of Japan seems to be eagerly following Tokyo’s lead into the ultramodern future, Kyoto is the country’s home base for the traditions of old. Indeed, the city of 1.5 million has historically been referred to as the City of Ten Thousand Shrines. Even today, some 2,000 temples and shrines exist within the Kyoto region.
Temple hunters who want the most bang for their sightseeing buck will want to head straight to one of the region’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The ancient collection consists of 13 Buddhist temples, three Shinto shrines and one very large flatland castle.
Especially popular is the famed 600-year-old Temple of the Golden Pavilion, Kinkaku-ji. The Zen Buddhist temple is easily one of the most popular sites in all of Japan, and it’s surrounded by a stunning minimalist garden.
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For beach lovers, Indonesia is a traveler’s paradise — this South Pacific archipelago is made up of over 13,000 islands, spanning across two tropical oceans. This has created a haven for gorgeous soft sand beaches, stunning waves and sunny skies. Whether you’re searching for popular tourist destinations or untouched shoreline, Indonesia’s islands contain beaches to suit any taste. Surfers, snorkelers and avid divers flock to the coastline to immerse themselves in the sparkling waters, ablaze with tropical sea creatures. What’s stopping you from booking your cheap flight to Indonesia? Chances are, you’ll find everything you’re looking for and more from Indonesia’s world-famous beaches.
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Vietnam is full of natural treasures. This Southeast Asian country has many different climates and remarkable landscapes. Get your cheap tickets and then decide what you’d like to explore; maybe you want to view the lush green rice fields in Northern Vietnam or see where the Mekong Delta meets the ocean in the south. This rapidly changing nation has ancient traditions and temples that are rich with history. There’s no shortage of sights to see in the beauty of Vietnam.
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No trip to China is complete without dim sum. Food is a large part of any culture, and China is no exception. Dim sum is a Cantonese style food is known for being prepared into small bite-size portions, normally served in steamer baskets or small plates. Going out for dim sum in Cantonese is often referred to as going to “drink tea,” since tea is normally served with a meal of dim sum. This style of cuisine has gained large global popularity, with dim sum restaurants popping up all over the world, especially in the Chinatown neighborhoods of large North American cities like San Francisco and New York City. However, to get the full experience requires travel to China. So see if you can find one of our cheap flights to China to try this fantastic cuisine.
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A trip to South Korea is one to remember for a lifetime. This dynamic country is home to delicious food, unique culture and a complex history. It can be overwhelming to decide what to experience first. Once you’ve booked your flight to Seoul, you may consider visiting South Korea’s world-class museums to get a taste of their national pride. And you’ll have plenty to choose from — there are over 500 museums and galleries in South Korea, something to suit everyone’s taste! Now’s the time get your cheap tickets to Korea and start exploring.
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No trip to Cambodia is complete without a visit to Angkor. This vast site is considered one of the most important archeological landmarks in Southeast Asia. This complex civilization is made up of temples, structures and travel routes. The most famous feature of Angkor is Angkor Wat, the largest religious monument in the world. It has become an international symbol of the country, appearing proudly on Cambodia’s national flag since 1863. Angkor Wat or “Temple City” draws in global visitors every day that wish to witness its beauty, history and astonishing preservation. About 50% of all Cambodian tourists visit the temple mountain. You can easily spend hours exploring Angkor Wat’s ruins, considered to be some of the beautiful and historic visions of pomp and grandeur. It unrivaled magnificence has made it one of the most famous historic landmarks in the world.
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There’s a reason why wok cooking is so popular. This extremely versatile vessel cooks delicious meals quickly. The wok originated in China and has become one of the most common cooking utensils in Southeast Asia, and is gaining esteem in Western kitchens. The wok is curved with a concave shape, which produces small, hot space that allows for intense heat, perfect for quickly searing food. Woks are used for stir-frying, but also steaming, deep frying, poaching, boiling, braising, searing, making soup and toasting nuts. Its large sloped sides permit for the “ tossing while cooking” technique. Creating yummy, creative and healthy meals is fast and simple with a wok.
Seasoning Your Wok
Just like a cast-iron pan, your iron, steel or carbon steel wok made of porous metals, and needs to be seasoned before cooking. The wok can absorb liquids and can rust over time. Luckily, your wok can also absorb oil, which will repel water and create a protective, non-stick layer, which protects your pan from water or acid exposure. Seasoning your wok will also add more flavor to your food over time.
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For most wine enthusiasts in the Western part of the world, the fermented rice drink known as sake is nothing much more than a slightly exotic alcoholic beverage they tried once at a sushi restaurant.
But in Japan, sake (pronounced “sah-keh,” not “sah-kee”) plays an integral role in the sophisticated world of Japanese cuisine, which for most of us is already confusing enough.
If you’re planning on spending time in Japan, getting familiar with the customs and traditions of sake will go a long way toward helping you to truly understand both the country’s cuisine and its culture.
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There’s a reason Bali is considered paradise. Known for its white-sand beaches, beautiful dives and tropical jungles, this Indonesian island has been luring visitors from across the globe for decades. It’s the perfect place to unwind and commune with nature. Bali is by far Indonesia’s most popular tourist destination, winning Travel and Leisure’s Best Island Award in 2010. And aside from Bali’s environmental beauty, the island has a rich artistic and cultural history worthy of exploration. Plus, locals are famously kind and laid back. As they say in Bali, “seng ken-ken” or “no worries!” The only question is where do you begin your Balinese adventure?
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In the center of the Korean peninsula is the beautiful city of Seoul. Korea’s capital and largest city has one of the fastest growing economies in the world, with the 4th largest GDP. This bustling metropolis has a thriving population of over 10 million, and each year millions more come to explore this megacity. With growing access to cheap flights to Korea, more foreigners than ever are visiting Seoul’s Buddhist temples and rising cityscapes. Visitors come to explore the enormous shopping districts, traditional tea houses and looming skyscrapers that punctuate the city.
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