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How to Plan a Trip to Japan and Thailand

How to Plan a Trip to Japan and Thailand

By Vicky LengUpdated Aug. 23, 2023

For first time travelers to Asia, Japan and Thailand are top destinations on the list. There, you can get close to Eastern culture and enjoy a relaxed holiday atmosphere.

In Japan you can see beautiful geishas in kimonos, spectacular Mount Fuji, stay at a traditional ryokan (inn) with an onsen (hot spring bath) and sample delicious food. In Thailand, you can have a close encounter with elephants, relaxing on the fabulous islands of Phuket, and experience a flourishing floating market.

In this article, we are going to look at how to plan your first tour of Japan and Thailand.

1. What to See in Japan and Thailand?

map of Japan and Thailand

Both Japan and Thailand have fascinating attractions and unique experiences that are suitable for a big trip (family vacation, anniversary, birthday...).

Top Things to Do in Japan:

  • Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka are must-see cities for a first trip to Japan.

1) Experience the perfect blend of history and modernity in Tokyo: visit Sensoji Temple to feel the vibe of the Edo Period (1603–1867), make sushi at a local home, meet your children's interest in anime or spend a happy day in Disneyland, have a close-up visit to the spectacular Mount Fuji, and have a day trip to Hakone for onsen bathing.

Mount Fuji in cherry blossom season in Japan Mount Fuji in Japan

2) Immerse yourself in the strong traditional atmosphere of Kyoto: see beautiful geishas and have an afternoon tea with them, visit shrines with a venerated vibe, try on kimonos for a memorable family photo, stay in ryokan traditional Japanese accommodation, and feed friendly deer in Nara.

geishas in Kyoto Geishas in Kyoto

3) In the prosperous port city of Osaka, you can sample street food like takoyaki (octopus ball), make cup noodles based on your preferences at Cup Noodle Museum and enjoy family time in Universal Studios.

octopus balls in Osaka Street food in Osaka

Suggested reading: How to Plan Your First Time Trip to Japan

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Top Things to Do in Thailand:

  • Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Phuket are top cities for first time trip in Thailand.

1) Feel the combination of Buddhist tradition and lively modern times in Bangkok: explore the vibrant night markets with a tuk-tuk ride, taste delicious Thai food, get an insight into a bygone way of life in the floating markets, take a Chao Phraya River cruise to take in the charming night views, and have a nice romantic meal in a rooftop restaurant.

Floating Market in Bangkok Floating Market in Bangkok, Thailand

2) Chiang Mai is the most popular northern destination in Thailand, where you can have a close encounter with elephants, enjoy the surrounding countryside by bike, and participate in a Thai cooking class with your family. If you visit in November, don't miss the romantic Yi Peng Lantern Festival.

have a close encounter with elephants Have a close encounter with elephants

3) Visit at least one wonderful Thai island: Phuket is loved by families for its exciting activities and family-friendly hotels, while Koh Samui is perfect for couples with its luxury resorts and romantic vibe. It's better to go to the islands during the dry season, so we suggest you visit Koh Samui from January to August and go to Phuket from December to April.

sunset in Phuket Sunset in Phuket

Contact our travel expert who will design a fulfilling, personalized trip based on the length of your holiday, preferences, and interests.

Suggested reading: How to Plan Your First Trip to Thailand

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2. How Much Does It Cost to Tour Japan and Thailand?

Thai food Thai food

A private tour in Thailand is an affordable luxury, about US$200–250 per day per person. The cost in Japan is double than of Thailand. Prices can double again during cherry blossom season and Christmas, so we suggest that you book flights and hotels at least 6 months in advance during this period.

Ryokans are a worth a night's stay to try out traditional Japanese accommodation. They cost around US$300–450 per night, and floating houses in Thailand cost US$150–300 per night.

Direct flights from Tokyo or Osaka to Bangkok takes about six hours and cost between US$400-900.

We promise you a 100% refund of any payments made to Asia Highlights up to 3 weeks before departure (details⇒).

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3. When Is the Best Time to Travel to Japan and Thailand?

cherry blossoms in March in Japan Cherry blossoms in March in Japan

The best time to visit both Japan and Thailand is March, early April and November, when the two countries are at their most comfortable times weatherwise, with less rain and suitable temperatures. Christmas and New Year is the busiest period in both countries, so you're suggested to book flights and hotels at least 6 months in advance for this period.

April to May is a transitional time in both countries. You can see cherry blossoms in Japan as temperatures warm in spring, and have fun at the Water-Sprinkling Festival in Thailand in the mid-April hot time before the wet season comes. >>> How to Plan a Japan Cherry Blossom Trip

It's hot and rainy from June to August, but it needn't affect your trip. In Japan, there are plenty of air-conditioned facilities offering urban/cultural experiences, and rain often falls in the afternoon in Thailand, leaving plenty of opportunity to dodge the rain with touring.

September and October are rainiest, but only when typhoons land, in Japan, which otherwise is pleasantly warm/mild. Meanwhile, the typhoon season also strikes in Thailand, bringing harder but less frequent downpours, while hot/warm conditions prevail.

December to February is the warm, dry season and best time to visit Thailand. In Japan, it's cold, but you can go skiing and see snowy scenery in the north. >>> How to Plan a Family Ski Holiday in Japan

Suggested reading:

Cherry Blossom Tour to Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka at US$3,699 Per Person
In only 10 days, enjoy Thailand’s Lantern Festival celebrations as well as plenty of beach relaxation and culture exploration:
Click here to plan your tailor-made tour now. Your 1:1 travel consultant will reply within 1 working day.

4. How Long to Spend in Japan and Thailand?

making sushi at a local home in Japan Making sushi at a local home in Japan

A memorable trip with all the must-sees in both countries takes at least 2 weeks: 7–9 days in Japan and 7–10 days in Thailand.

We recommend that an ideal route should be from hardest to easiest. Japan is a culturally-rich country that requires more of your engagement, while Thailand is a good place to relax more after Japan. Below is a classic Japan-Thailand itinerary for your inspiration.

  • Days 1–3 Tokyo, Japan (samurai, anime, making sushi, Asakusa old district...)
  • Days 4–6 Kyoto (geisha, ryokan, feed deer in Nara, sample sake...)
  • Day 7 Osaka and fly to Bangkok in Thailand
  • Days 8–10 Bangkok (Wat Pho, Grand Palace, floating market...)
  • Days 11–13 Chiang Mai (Elephant Jungle Sanctuary, Thai cooking class, food tour)
  • Days 14–16 Phuket beach time and departure

Let us help you plan your trip! Contact us and we will create a trip based on your group size, time, budget, interests, and other requirements.

Suggested reading: How Long Should You Spend in Japan

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5. Do I Need a Visa for a Japan and Thailand Trip?

Nationals of many countries are exempt from needing a visa to enter Japan and Thailand, including the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia. Most travelers can stay in Japan without a visa for 90 days and in Thailand for 30 days.

The Japanese government has required all travelers to complete the entry express clearance by filling out the information on the online Visit Japan Web (VJW). It may take you one hour or more to complete the procedure. To save time waiting for customs clearance at the airport, we suggest completing the procedures at least 6 hours to 2 weeks before the scheduled arrival time of the flight in Japan.

Click on Visit Japan Web to fill in the information. One account can be used to fill in the information for up to 10 family members.

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