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How to Plan Your Trip to Asia and its Theme Parks

If you’re here, you’ve probably decided to plan your next trip to Asia and visit its wonderful theme parks such as Tokyo Disney Resort, Universal Studios Japan, Hong Kong Disneyland, and Shanghai Disneyland. Questions like “When is the best time to visit?” or “What hotel should I stay at” or even “What’s the best way to get to where I need from the airport?” have started popping up in your mind, and you may be overwhelmed. So that begs the question, how do you even start planning?

There’s a lot to plan for, but I’ve made it easy for you to begin your planning with our quick start guide to Asia. I’ll show you our best content, my personal recommendations, and give you peace of mind to help you plan your trip. Click or tap on where you’re travelling to and let me do the rest.

Japan | Hong Kong | Mainland China

Travel Resources

The Park Front Hotel at Universal Studios Japan

The Park Front Hotel at Universal Studios Japan

Before we start, here’s a list of my favourite resources to use while travelling to help you find cheap flights, accommodations, and insurance for your trip.

World Nomad Travel Insurance – Whenever travelling, you need to have travel insurance. If something were to happen, you want the peace of mind that you won’t have a huge medical bill to pay. I always use World Nomads when travelling abroad as the coverage is good at a decent rate. Get your quote here.

Find Cheap Flights to Japan – I frequently use Google Flights to help plan my air travel. It’s simple and intuitive to use. I also recommend you sign up for Scott’s Cheap Flights to have cheap flights sent right to you. I’ve had flights as cheap as US$538 from the East Coast of the US to Tokyo sent my way!

Find a Hotel – There are a ton of places to stay in Japan. I recommend you book through or Agoda to find deals on accommodations. Another popular option is also Airbnb!

Book Activities – Always book what you know you want to do in advance. This includes theme park tickets, museums, and other things like the Robot Restaurant in Tokyo. The services I recommend are Voyagin and Klook.

  • Use code TDRxVOYAGIN to save US$6 on orders over US$100 through Voyagin
  • Use code KLKTDREX to save US$4 on your first order with Klook

Dream Vacation Itinerary – If you’re planning a trip to all the Disney Parks in Asia plus Universal Studios Japan, then you’ll want to read our itinerary. It’ll teach you how to visit all these places in 2 weeks!

Japan ??

Fushimi Inari Taisha in Kyoto

Fushimi Inari Taisha in Kyoto

In recent years, Japan has become a popular tourist destination. With over 31 million visitors in 2018, the number of visits looks like they’ll continue to climb with the upcoming Summer Olympics in 2020. After living in Japan for over 5 years, I’ve only scratched the surface of what there is to experience in this wonderful country. Let us help you plan!

Tokyo Disney Resort ?

Tokyo DisneySea 2019

The marvellous Mount Prometheus at Tokyo DisneySea

Chances are you’re here because you’re a theme park fan (much like myself). Both Tokyo Disneyland & Tokyo DisneySea are a must-visit destination if you’re travelling to Japan (it may even be the reason why you’re visiting!) Here’s how to start planning your trip to Tokyo Disney Resort.

The TDR Explorer Guide to Tokyo Disney Resort – Our premium travel guide is the easiest way to plan your trip. Throw out everything you know out about Disney Parks, as most of it doesn’t apply to the Parks in Japan. Our guide covers when to visit, what hotel to choose, how to plan your day in the Parks, and tons more with over 200+ pages. It’s a wise investment to save yourself time, money, and sanity. Get your copy today and save it to any of your devices in PDF format!

TDRExplorer Guide to Tokyo Disney Resort 2020 Edition

Study our most popular articles on Tokyo Disney Resort – I’ve been writing about Disney Parks in Japan since 2010, and there’s quite a lot to cover. But here are the most popular articles to get you started. For a full list, visit here.

There’s a lot to learn about the Disney Parks in Japan. In addition to our premium travel guide above, I also have a free travel guide to help get you started (once you’re done reading, you’ll really want to invest in our premium guide). After you’re done at Tokyo Disneyland, there’s plenty of other excellent places to experience in Japan!

Tokyo ?

Shibuya Crossing 2019 in Tokyo

Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo. The busiest intersection in the world.

Tokyo is my absolute favourite city in the world. There’s so much to do and I feel as if I’ve barely scratched the surface. In the morning you can climb an ancient mountain, then in the afternoon visit a pig cafe, and finish your day by devouring delicious food under the neon lights of Shinjuku. Here’s how you can plan for this electrifying city!

Ultimate Guide to Tokyo – Learn how to navigate the city that I’ve called home for over 5 years. I give you recommendations on what to do, eat, see, and even how to use the train systems (it looks scary, but it’s not once you’ve done it!)

What to do in Tokyo – I have a long list of things that I love to do in Tokyo. Use this to help you decide what you’d like to do while you’re here!

Practical Japan Travel Tips – Japan is a country like no other and things are done differently here. Toilets have a million buttons, not every shop accepts credit cards, and you should know how to use chopsticks without offending locals. There’s a lot to know. I break it down for you in 50+ practical travel tips for Japan.

Tokyo Tours – Leave the planning of your time in Tokyo with our recommended tour guide, Maction Planet. With over 200 five-star reviews ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️, rest assured this is the guy you want you to show you the best of this dynamic city. Get in touch with him today (He books up quickly).

If you plan on any extensive travel within Japan, then I recommend the JR Rail Pass. This allows you to travel as much as you want on local and bullet trains (shinkansen). Read all about that in our full guide. There’s much more to Japan than just the Tokyo area, let’s see where else you’re able to explore!

Universal Studios Japan ?

Universal Studios Japan Minion Popcorn Bucket

IT’S SO FLUFFY (not really it’s hard plastic but you get the idea). How adorable is this popcorn bucket? Universal Studios Japan kicks it up a notch.

With over 14 million visitors in 2018, Universal Studios Japan is the 5th most-visited theme park in the world. It’s a dream come true for fans of Japanese and Western pop culture. From the Wizarding World of Harry Potter to Sailor Moon, there are lots of reasons to visit this park in Osaka (near Kyoto). With Super Nintendo World opening in 2020 (no official date), this park only gets better. Here’s how to plan your trip.

The TDR Explorer Guide to Universal Studios Japan – Our premium guide to Universal Studios Japan is the simplest way to make your trip a reality. You’ll learn how to buy tickets, what hotel to stay at, how to ride everything, what to eat, and have custom professionally crafted maps to study! There are even chapters dedicated on what to do in the city of Osaka and Kyoto!

TDR Explorer Guide to Universal Studios Japan Cover

Study our most popular Universal Studios Japan articles – While this is only one park, there’s a lot to cover, and you’ll want to know how to navigate this Park effectively. These articles help you get started. Once you’re done, you’ll want to invest in our premium guide above!

Osaka & Kyoto Tours – Our friend Maction Planet also does tours in Osaka and Kyoto! Book him to show you not only Tokyo but take you on a culinary adventure through Osaka (known as Japan’s Kitchen) and the ancient city of Kyoto.

Other Theme Parks in Japan

Okinawa World in Okinawa Japan

Even in the southern part of Japan, there are theme parks to explore such as Okinawa World! Who lives in a pineapple under the sea? Me apparently.

Tokyo Disney Resort and Universal Studios Japan aren’t the only theme parks in Japan. Here are a few that I recommend:

There are endless places to visit in Japan outside of Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto. A few of my favourite places to visit are Yokohama, Sapporo, Nikko, Hakone, and Okinawa. For historical reasons, I believe everyone should visit the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, too.

I’m a huge fan of Japan Guide for researching different areas of the country. It serves practical advice that’s missed in a lot of travel blogs.

Japan Travel Resources

Ninja Wi-Fi Japan

Make your trip to Japan easier with my recommended resources and services. These are things I’ve personally used and vouch for. Some of these links are affiliates and when you buy something through a link (at no extra cost to you) it helps support us! See our disclosure.

Mobal Sim Card – If you have an unlocked device, then a sim card is the easiest way to stay connected while travelling through Japan. The best part is you have the option to get it delivered before you leave on your trip.

Wi-Fi Hotspot – Share the internet with multiple devices on this device from Ninja Wi-Fi (save 15% by using our affiliate link). Pick it up at the airport and get connected instantly. This is ideal for those travelling in a group or family.

Lonely Planet Japan – I’m a fan of physical books to reference. While the information in these guide books is rather dry, it’s still excellent nonetheless. If you want city-specific guides, then Lonely Planet Tokyo and Lonely Planet Osaka & Kyoto are excellent.

Japanese Phrase Book – I don’t enjoy fumbling for my phone if I am anxious. Having a small phrasebook makes it easier to communicate. It’s also a great way to learn the pleasantries (locals love that).

Hong Kong ??

View from the Ngong Ping 360 in Hong Kong

View from the Ngong Ping 360 in Hong Kong

Hong Kong is a city that’s near and dear to my heart. With its iconic skyline, mouth-watering food, and natural beauty, Hong Kong is a must-visit destination. It doesn’t hurt that the city is home to Hong Kong Disneyland Resort. Let us help you plan your trip to Hong Kong!

Hong Kong Disneyland ?

Tai Chi Master Goofy at the Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel

Only at Hong Kong Disneyland are you able to meet Tai Chi Master Goofy!

Nestled on the lush, green Lantau Island is Hong Kong Disneyland Resort. This charming Disney Park packs a punch with offerings and experiences you’ll only find in Hong Kong. I mean, experiencing Mystic Manor is worth the long flight alone. I’ll warn you now, you’ll fall in love with Albert the monkey. But enough about that lovable monkey, let’s get to the trip planning!

Ultimate Hong Kong Disneyland Trip Planning Guide – Our free travel guide helps you get the most out of your stay at Hong Kong Disneyland Resort, including how to choose which hotel (spoiler: it’s the Disney Explorers Lodge), what attractions to experience, what to eat, when to visit, and lots more.

Study our most popular Hong Kong Disneyland articles –  Start your planning quick with a list of our most popular articles! For a full list, visit here.

When you’re done at Hong Kong Disneyland, you’ll want to head into the city of Hong Kong. I love this city and I can’t get enough of it (or the Dim Sum). Here’s how to plan for your time in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong ?

Man Mo Temple Hong Kong

Man Mo Temple in Hong Kong is a must-visit.

After countless visits to Hong Kong, I’m still discovering things to experience. Get yourself the Lonely Planet guide and start thumbing through to get an idea of what there is in the city. Here are a few excellent articles and resources to get you started.

Since I’m a big theme park fan — if you couldn’t tell from the vast majority of the content on our website — I suggest you make the effort to visit Ocean Park for a day (get your tickets here). The Ocean Park Halloween Bash event is intense and immensely popular.

Hong Kong Travel Resources

Hong Kong Travel Sim Card

Get yourself a cheap Hong Kong Travel Sim at the Airport to stay connected.

Make your trip to Hong Kong stress-free with my recommended resources and services. These are services I’ve personally used and vouch for. Some of these links are affiliates and when you buy something through a link (at no extra cost to you) it helps support us! See our disclosure.

Hong Kong Sim Card – If you have an unlocked device, then this is the easiest way to stay connected. Buy it through Amazon and voila, you’re set! The best part is if you’re travelling to Mainland China (such as Shanghai), it’ll work there and get around “The Great Firewall of China.”

Wi-Fi Device – Don’t worry if you don’t have an unlocked phone. Get this personal wi-fi hotspot and pick it up at the airport. You’re able to connect multiple devices to it, too!

Explore Metro Hong Kong – Get this app to navigate the metro system in Hong Kong. It’s my favourite metro app and it’s simple to use.

Now, what about Mainland China? Glad you asked. Let’s see how you’re able to plan a trip to China!

Mainland China ??

The Bund at Night in Shanghai

The Bund at Night in Shanghai

China is one of the most ancient civilizations in the world. With over 1 billion people and the size of the US and Europe combined, there’s no shortage of places to discover. Let’s start planning your trip to China!

Important: Read up on what travel visa you’re able to get to visit Mainland China. Unlike Hong Kong & Japan (where most are able to get a travel visa on arrival), China has different rules. Please read about travel visas before travelling.

Shanghai Disney Resort ?

Mulan at Shanghai Disneyland

Mulan in Mickey’s Storybook Express parade at Shanghai Disneyland

Shanghai Disney Resort is the newest Disney Resort, which opened on June 16, 2016. If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you’re interested in visiting this gigantic park (yeah, it’s huge) in Shanghai. Let’s get on with the planning, shall we?

Ultimate Shanghai Disneyland Trip Planning Guide – Our free travel guide has what you need to know to visit Shanghai Disneyland, from when to visit, how to access the internet, what hotel to choose, and how to get to the Resort from the airport.

Study our most popular Shanghai Disneyland articles –  Start your planning quick with a list of our most popular articles! For a full list, click here.

After you’re finished experiencing the wonders of Shanghai Disneyland, you’ll want to head into the city to explore.

Shanghai ?

Oriental Pearl TV Tower in Shanghai

Oriental Pearl TV Tower in Shanghai.

I’ll admit visiting Shanghai wasn’t high on my list. After my first visit, I couldn’t have been more wrong. This international city should have been higher on my list. The dizzying skyscrapers, gorgeous skyline, and an intriguing mixture of Western culture and Chinese traditions make for a memorable time. Here are a few of my favourite resources for planning a trip.

My personal favourites in the city are The Bund, Zhujiajiao Water Town, and the World Financial Center.

Mainland China Travel Resources

Shanghai Maglev

Download the Explore Metro Shanghai app to figure out the metro with ease!

Make your trip to Mainland China stress-free with my recommended resources and services. These are services I’ve personally used and vouch for. Some of these links are affiliates and when you buy something through a link (at no extra cost to you) it helps support us! See our disclosure.

Hong Kong / Mainland China Sim Card – This is the same sim card you’re able to use in Hong Kong. The reason I recommend this for unlocked devices is you’re able to get around The Great Firewall of China. That means you’re able to access blocked websites and apps such as Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. Order it through Amazon to have it ready before your trip!

Wi-Fi Device – You’re able to pick up this wi-fi device right at the Pudong International Airport. The only problem is the internet is filtered by The Great Firewall of China. I recommend using ExpressVPN to help get around these filters.

Explore Metro Shanghai – Get this app to navigate the metro system in Shanghai. It’s my favourite metro app and it’s simple to use.

While I only cover Shanghai Disneyland & Shanghai in this guide, there are many more things to experience in China. I recommend getting the Lonely Planet China travel guide and also visit the China Highlights website.

How to plan your trip to Asia and its theme parks

Attendance numbers provided by 2018 TEA/AECOM Theme Index and Museum Index – Official – English v.1.2.