Home Travel
| Register

Q: We’re headed to the Dominican Republic. Should we bring cash or traveller’s cheques?
Click here for the answer
Ask 2 Experts
Advertise With Us!
Article Index
Hi-Lo Holidays
Exotic Exuma
Miami Vices
Edinburgh Encounter
All Pages
Hi-Lo HolidaysHow to spend like a prince or pauper to live it up in four truly unique destinations.

Asakusa-Jinja shrine in Tokyo


Live Large
Whether it be the spring cherry blossoms, the mesmerizing beauty of Buddhist temples, or the neon jungle of glitzy shops and bars in Shinjuku (the alleged inspiration behind Ridley Scott's 1982 sci-fi classic Blade Runner), Tokyo is like a breathtaking dream. One of the world's most expensive cities, it's also an entertainment and gastronomical playground. This bustling metropolis of almost 13 million is constantly evolving in quirky new directions. But rest assured: There are no hard-and-fast rules about what to do once you're here.

If you want decadence, take your lead from Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson in Sofia Coppola's Oscar-winning Lost in Translation by staying at the five-star Park Hyatt Tokyo. With its phenomenal view of the skyline, every Tokyoite will be quick to recommend the hotel's now-famous bar at New York Grill on the 52nd floor.

For authentic Japanese cuisine, try one of the posh Nadaman restaurants. Keep in mind that Tokyoites are de facto foodies, eager to boast that Japan's culinary prowess doesn't end with sushi, and includes a mind-blowing array of Asia's finest fusion cookery. If you're in the mood for a touch of Versailles, try renowned French chef Joël Robuchon's Château Restaurant--a real, full-sized château!--in the Ebisu district; or China Blue at Hilton's Conrad Hotel, also home to the popular Twenty Eight Bar.

Shinjuku District skyline at nightBesides cuisine, tea ceremonies and electronics, the Japanese have also perfected the art of shopping. If you're looking for the latest fashion trend, plan a pilgrimage to the luxury Isetan Department Store in Shinjuku. Unwind in the afternoon with a traditional onset hot spring bath at LaQua Spa, which is conveniently open 22 hours a day. Using natural thermal springs originating more than a mile underground, a basic onset at LaQua is one of Tokyo's more affordable activities (around $30), but spend extra for access to all five floors of the spa and pamper yourself to the extreme.

For getting around town, metro and taxi should suffice. Then again, you can always book an Excel Air chartered helicopter tour around the city (starting at around $100 for 15 minutes). Seen from above, Tokyo really is like a dream!

Cheap Thrills
at the elegant Hotel Century Southern Tower. Tokyo's accommodation rates can be astronomical, but this is a deal at around $225. Along with spacious rooms and truly spectacular views, you'll be a mere three-minute walk from Shinjuku station, giving you central access to the city's main artery of subway lines.

SEE Senso-ji and Asakusa-Jinja, where Tokyo's oldest Buddhist temple and Shinto shrine stand side by side in spiritual harmony. Admission is free, but bring lots of yen for the souvenir stalls and shops in neighboring Nakamise-dori street. When in the Meguro area, visit the world's only Parasitological Museum for gross-out thrills.

EAT fresh sushi everywhere, including Daiwa Sushi near the famed Tsukiji Fish Market. On non-sushi nights, try Tokyo's best-kept secret, 148 Hiroo. Chef Marcus Yip will lavish your table with his passionate blend of Asian-Australian fusion like Tandori grilled tuna steak and Thai Thai prawns paired with wines from the Outback.

DRINK at one of the many standup Salaryman bars (a Salaryman is a Japanese white-collar businessman) around Shinjuku metro station. You can order Saki, Yebisu beer and grilled munchies while observing Japanese businessmen on their off-hours. Or mingle with young, hip Tokyoites at the popular Frigo, a European-style pub. --Deborah Ostrovsky