9 Days All In Korea Deluxe Tour by Hong Thai Travel

Annyeong Haseyo! I’m back from Korea! ^__^

I must say that this is my BEST VACATION ever. Prior to this, I’d vote Gold Coast being the best among all the places that I’ve visited – Taiwan, China (Shanghai, Nanjing, Suzhou, Wuxi, Hangzhou), Australia (Perth), Hong Kong, Indonesia, Thailand, Japan (Tokyo, Osaka) and Malaysia. But now, Korea is certainly my #1. I want to be back again real soon.

This was the first time we joined Hong Thai Travel (also my first time to Korea), and thankfully, they never disappoint. In terms of itinerary, price and tour guide, I’ve absolutely no complaint. In fact, I’d rate it 9/10. I deduct 1 point for the food – not that they are lousy, but eating kimchi 5 days in a row made me a grumpy ajumma. Will share more about that later.

The main reason why we chose Hong Thai is because they are the only agency (among all the tour agencies that we called) that offer morning flight. This means we get an extra night of sleep at the hotel before we start our tour on the second day. To me, having ample quality sleep before a tour starts is very important.

Back in 2014 when we joined the Japan tour with ASA Holidays, we took the night flight. We reached Tokyo in the morning and our tour started right away. I only had 5 minutes to brush my teeth in the airport toilet before boarding the tour bus to our first destination (with my face totally unwashed). I vowed not to repeat that again.

The second reason is that we have a free-and-easy day. We could go out on our own to places that we want. Thirdly, the itinerary is well-balanced with theme park activities, shopping and scenic sight-seeing. Last but not least, their prices are on the lower end as compared to other tour agencies. Therefore, we signed and paid our deposit on our first appointment.

Our itinerary looks something like this:

9 Days All In Korea Deluxe Tour by Hong Thai Travel

Day 1: Singapore > Incheon (via Korean Air)

Day 2: Dongdaemun, Gimpo > Jeju | Mysterious Road, Ice Museum & Trick Art Gallery
Accommodation: Jeju Oriental Hotel

Day 3: Jeju | O’Sulloc Green Tea Museum, Glass Castle, Hello Kitty Island, Jeju Orange Chocolate Factory, Seongeup Folk Village, Songan Sunrise Peaks, Dragon Head Rock
Accommodation: Jeju Oriental Hotel

Day 4: Jeju > Gimpo | Everland, Yong Pyong Resort
Accommodation: Yong Pyong All Seasons Resort

Day 5: Yong Pyong Resort, Mount Sorak National Park, Hanwha Waterpia Hotspring
Accommodation: Hanwha Hotspring Resort

Day 6: Nami Island, Lotte World
Accommodation: Grand Hilton, Seoul

Day 7: Ginseng Specialty Shop, Seaweed Roll DIY + Hanbok Photo Shoot, Namdaemun, Myeongdong, Cosmetic Shop, JUMP Martial Arts Performance Show
Accommodation: Koreana Hotel

Day 8: Free & Easy
Accommodation: Koreana Hotel

Day 9: Local Products Shop, Mapo Market, Incheon > Singapore

Seeing my idol Song Joong Ki every day when I was in Korea makes me very very happy. Whenever Edison sees one, he goes, “Mama, look! It’s Captain Yoo!” Haha, he has seen me watching Descendants of the Sun and he knows who are the characters.

Basically, I tried the hite beer, went to Doota Duty Free Mall, ate lots of Baskin Robbins ice-cream, bought the Forencos mask sheets, and almost bought the Cuchen Rice Cooker (but hubby stopped me). Sadly, I didn’t get a chance to eat Domino’s Pizza. Else, I’d bring the empty pizza box back to Singapore.

Doota Duty FreeDoota Duty Free store at Doosan Tower in Dongdaemun
Baskin RobbinsTook a photo with SJK every time we saw him

Subway

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Expensive face mask, but who cares as long as you can see his face on it. Lol.

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Nearly bought that rice cooker! #whine

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I missed the pizza! #cry

I’m itching to lay my hands on every product that he has lent his boyish charms to. 🙂

Will share more about our trip soon.

 

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8 Things We Love About Shangri-La’s Rasa Sentosa Resort & Spa

Continued from last post

We enjoyed our staycation at Rasa Sentosa so much that we want to make it an annual vacation. Here are EIGHT things that we truly love about this resort.

1. Huge, beautiful and comfortable guestroom

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As shared with you in my last post, the guestroom in Rasa Sentosa is very spacious, beautiful, and comfortably furnished with fine amenities, as well as complimentary mini-bar.

Little Edison was giggling over the bathtub. To him, bathtub is a must in every hotel. I love the balcony, and I really enjoyed the natural outdoor surroundings. During the day, the pool is bursting with activities, and at night, it looks so serene.

2. Sumptuous buffet spread at Silver Shell Café

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The buffet breakfast was sumptuous, and we also tried the outdoor breakfast by the beach. The breakfast selection is amazing, from American, Japanese to Chinese, and the usual cereals, fruits and drinks.

The highlight of the restaurant is their Kids Corner, with a variety of kids-friendly food items, plastic plates and cutleries, and at a level that is comfortable within their reach. Edison was truly excited, he felt like a big boy being able to select and pick-up his own food.

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Have I mentioned about the colourful marshmallows, yummy cupcakes and tempting gummy bears that are available during the buffet lunch and dinner? And we left the resort feeling well-rested and well-fed!

3. Not just kids-friendly, but also baby-friendly

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Rasa Sentosa is not just kids-friendly, but also very baby-friendly. If you’re travelling with a baby or infant, you’ll be delighted to hear this. Baby Zone, the latest addition at the resort, provides complimentary baby food for different stages of infancy during lunch and dinner.

Other items such as milk bottle sterilisers, hot water, a microwave and baby dining utensils, complete with baby wipes and diapers, provide a hassle-free experience for travelling parents who are in search of essential baby care.

Now, who said you can’t travel because you have a baby? 🙂

4. Amazing facilities at the children’s club Cool Zone

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Most of the time when we travel, we end up spending more time to tend to our children rather than enjoying a full holiday experience. I’m glad that Rasa Sentosa recognizes this fact, and a range of recreational facilities are thus provided to address our need.

Children aged 5 to 12 can enjoy a full day of fun at the Cool Zone. Spanning 100 square metres over two storeys, the Cool Zone encompasses a Game Zone, Craft Zone and a Toots Club. It’s also the largest children’s club provided by a hotel in Singapore.

Cool Zone, the children's club
Picture Credit: Shangri-La’s Press Kit

The highlight of the Cool Zone is the giant tree house slide, which winds all the way down from level three of the resort into a pool of colourful balls on level one.

Full-day children’s activity programs inclusive of lunch and dinner are also available. There are at least 10 activities daily from building sandcastles, collecting seashells, kayaking to having fun with pedal boats, splash pad, treasure hunt and costume making. In the evening, there are movie nights or play time with Wii and Xbox 360.

The Flying Trapeze
Picture Credit: Shangri-La’s Press Kit

Children also get a go on the Flying Trapeze – the first of its kind in Singapore – and try their hands at being acrobats. The Mini Toots Club, on the other hand, caters to children aged 4 and below who are accompanied by their guardians or parents. There is also a playground with slides amidst the resort’s landscaped gardens.

5. Chilling out at the outdoor swimming pool and water slides

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Love the line-up of frog water fountains!

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Children's pool and slides
Picture Credit: Shangri-La’s Press Kit

Children can splash around at the water slides and children’s pool under a canopy, or the fun splash pad. A water management system is installed to keep the water in the pools in its natural state, where only a minimum amount of chlorine is added to minimise the risks of allergic reaction, eye irritation and respiratory problems triggered by chlorine.

6. Going the extra mile to ensure guests’ comfort during their stay

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Rasa Sentosa is like a little paradise to me. They’ve certainly gone the extra mile to ensure guests’ comfort through all seasons. Whatever you can think of or need, they’ll have them prepared for you.

Wet laundry? No problem. There is a 24-hour self-operating wash-and-dry machine that you can use to wash your clothes at a very small fee. This is on-top of the usual laundry service that is provided by the resort.

Need some ice? There is an ice and water dispenser machine at every floor. Need an exercise? They have a well-equipped gym surrounded by nice greeneries here.

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If you checked-in early and your room is not ready, or you’re waiting for your flight after you’ve checked-out, you can relax at the lounge that is furnished with coffee machine, internet stations, books, newspapers and TV. You can also take a shower in the Refresh Room.

Awesome, isn’t it?

7. CHI, The spa, is every woman’s dream come true

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Apart from all the above fun-filled experiences at Rasa Sentosa, a good body massage is good in many ways. Try their signature Singapore Massage (only available at Rasa Sentosa) which incorporates different massage methods from Singapore’s three main cultures – Chinese, Malay and Indian – to deliver a tension-relieving and relaxing experience.

Singapore Massage
Picture Credit: Shangri-La’s Press Kit

8. Trapizza, the alfresco dining on the beach

Trapizza
Picture Credit: Shangri-La’s Press Kit

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I love cosy dining in an outdoor setting while overlooking the beachfront. It’s very relaxing and romantic. Trapizza provides a selection of traditional thin-crust wood-fired pizzas, pastas, salads and desserts in addition to a children’s menu. There is also a children’s playground by the beach.

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Thank you Rasa Sentosa for the memorable stay and fun-filled weekend.

Shangri-La’s Rasa Sentosa Resort & Spa
101 Siloso Road, Sentosa, 098970, Singapore
Tel: (65) 6275 0100
Website: http://www.shangri-la.com/singapore/rasasentosaresort/

 

Read more about our staycation!

A Weekend Staycation at Grand Park City Hall

Travelling is one of the best ways to relax our body and soul, as well as to reconnect with our family. But if travelling is not an option due to time constraint, budget, etc, staycation is always a good alternative.

Two weeks ago, we went on a staycation at Grand Park City Hall. Strategically located in Singapore’s Civic District and a short five minutes’ drive from the CBD, Grand Park City Hall is an architectural gem with a harmonious integration of conservation shophouses in a modern architectural style.

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This 333-room hotel has won the hearts of countless guests with its impeccable service, refurbished guestrooms, spacious meeting spaces, gourmet cuisine and pampering spa therapies. Its unique architectural style has also earned itself a prestigious Architectural Heritage Award.

The moment we stepped into our room, we were wow-ed by the spacious connecting rooms and unique children-friendly design. Little Edison giggled with delight the moment he saw the colourful bed sheets and furniture in the room. He even has his own children bathrobe!

The hotel is so thoughtful to provide complimentary activity sheets, toys and books to keep him occupied in his room.

Our cosily-designed room, on the other hand, features the classic tones of brown and gold wood with a huge executive work desk and high-speed Internet access.

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Both connecting rooms have their own marble clad bathrooms with combined standing shower, bath tub and quality toiletries.

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Beautiful City View from our Room

As part of the benefits under the ‘Staycate Plus’ package, we were given a complimentary upgrade to Crystal Club Deluxe Room.

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Crystal Club Lounge

Crystal Club is Park Hotel Group’s executive club which offers exclusive indulgences for the most discerning leisure, and it’s exclusively located at the top floors. Some of the Crystal Club benefits include private check-in and check-out at the Crystal Club Lounge, complimentary breakfast and all-day light refreshments, complimentary evening cocktails and business support services.

Now, let’s check out the hotel’s pool. This is the main outdoor swimming pool, and it has a small heated Jacuzzi tucked away in the green foliage. A soak in the heated Jacuzzi instantly melt away my tiredness and stress from a long work week.

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After spending an hour at the pool, we were ready to enjoy a sumptuous buffet dinner at Indulge at Park. Set in an atrium with a waterfall backdrop, Indulge at Park has spacious and comfortable seatings for its guests.

Watch That Fire! BBQ Dinner Buffet

Dinner

In their weekend BBQ dinner buffet, guests can enjoy the freshest selection of meats and seafood infused with a snazzy array of BBQ rubs, spice blends, marinades and brines. The highlights include BBQ Pork Loin with Sweet Miso Rub and Sichuan Pepper Coat, BBQ Beef Rib Eye with Guinness Marinade, and BBQ Chicken with Tunisian Harissa Spice.

While I was busy at the BBQ section, V was more than impressed with the huge selection of fresh seafood including crabs, ocean prawns, fresh oysters in half shell, crayfish and sashimi.

This buffet dinner is available every Friday and Saturday from 6.30pm to 10.30pm. It’s priced at $58++ (Adult) and $29++ (Child).

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The next day, we woke up to a beautiful Sunday and kicked start our morning with a hearty breakfast at Indulge at Park that serves a mix of continental and international spreads.

A staycation will never be complete without a pampering spa treatment (or at least for the ladies!). I went to experience the best of Asian full body massage at Spa Park Asia. After a 60-min session of aromatherapy body massage, I felt instantly refreshed and rejuvenated.

It’s a Carnivore Carnival! Sunday Buffet Lunch

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Meat lovers will definitely enjoy this buffet lunch. Even if you’re not a meat lover, you will find the softly marbled cuts of tender meats and innovative meat creations too hard to resist.

There are more than 50 types of meat dishes to choose from, complete with fresh seafood on ice, various Asian and Western delights that are carefully crafted to whet your appetite. The must-try includes Whole Baby NZ Lamb Carcass marinated with fresh herbs and spices, Braised Australian Wagyu MS 8-9 Chuck Roll with Truffle Jus and Slow Roasted Baby Spanish Suckling Pig.

This buffet lunch is available every Sunday from 12 noon till 3pm. It’s priced at $50++ (Adult) and $25++ (Child).

In summary, Grand Park City Hall is ideal for families to take a short break without going too far. The Family Moments room package completes the whole staycation experience with affordable prices. Late check-out till 3pm, complimentary upgrade, impeccable service, wonderful spa therapy, and exceptional cuisine – I simply couldn’t ask for more.

Thanks Grand Park City Hall for the awesome staycation experience!

Booking App

For promotions and special offers, please click HERE. From now till 31 Jul 2014, visit staycate.sg and have a shake at the little hourglass. You’ll win prizes to complete your staycation at Park Hotel Group.

GRAND PARK CITY HALL
10 Coleman Street
Singapore 179809
Tel: (65) 6336 3456
Website: http://www.parkhotelgroup.com/cityhall/

Disclosure: This is an invited media stay. All opinions are honest and are my own.

 

Read more about our staycation!

Japan Day 2: Tokyo Disneyland

Today was supposed to be the most exciting day of our trip because we will be going to the happiest place on earth – yes, the Disneyland!

Unfortunately, it turned out to be the WORST because of the weather (it rained all day) and the insane crowd. I felt so sorry for our boy because he couldn’t enjoy the theme park to the fullest.

The morning started off pretty well. We had a good night sleep and managed to recover from the exhaustion of taking night flight on our first day. After breakfast, we left our hotel with full enthusiasm only to be dampened by the rainy weather.

The rain wasn’t heavy, but it drizzled the whole day. And never stop at all! We had to walk around with raincoats. It’s more convenient to use a raincoat rather than umbrella because we don’t need to fold and unfold, and we can free up our hands from holding something.

Tokyo Disneyland was the first Disney theme park built outside the United States, opening in 1983. However, the park closed for a month in 2011 after the devastating earthquake and tsunami that crippled power supplies and transit routes in most areas in Japan.

Fortunately, there was no obvious sign of damage or disruption at Tokyo Disneyland, and today, it remains as one of the top theme park destinations in the world. Tokyo Disneyland is also the most successful theme park built outside of the United States to-date.

There are seven themed areas in the park – four classic Disney lands (Adventureland, Westernland, Fantasyland and Tomorrowland), two mini lands (Critter Country and Mickey’s Toontown), and lastly, the World Bazaar (main shopping area).

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The very beautiful castle
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Blooming flowers are everywhere

The moment you enter Tokyo Disneyland, you’ll be amazed by its layout. It’s so spacious, clean and organized, the castle is a beauty, the flowers are blooming, and all your favourite rides are just a magical land away.

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Minnie Mouse’s House

My favourite part is Toontown where the major Disney characters live. The pink Minnie Mouse house in Toontown Square is so cute and lovely. The magnificent fireworks that were set to music and lasted for more than thirty minutes made the day-pass totally worthwhile.

Not everything is about rides here in Tokyo Disneyland. This theme park has some pretty unique desserts that will leave you pondering until the end of time if you don’t indulge in at least one of them.

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Our boy carrying the red Mickey Mouse popcorn bucket

My favourite is the flavoured popcorn – something which Tokyo Disneyland is famous for. From odd flavours like black pepper and curry popcorn, to more traditional delights such as salted, caramel and honey popcorn, you’ll be intrigued by the interesting flavours of this magical park.

You can buy these popcorns in beautifully-designed Disney buckets. Almost all the kids are carrying these Disney buckets and eating popcorns as they walk around. You can top it up anywhere in the park.

Shopping in Tokyo Disneyland is so much fun too. While some of the merchandises are identical to those in other Disney theme parks, Tokyo Disneyland does offer its unique and impressive selections of Disney products.

I didn’t take many pictures in Tokyo Disneyland, say to say, because my camera is not water-proof. And wearing that rain coat is a tad too uncomfortable for me to ditch out my camera as and when I need. Here are a few pictures that I took.

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Our lunch – cute Mickey shaped burger
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Rain, rain, go away!
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Tom Sawyer Island
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Pirates of the Caribbean

In addition, the crowd was too overwhelming (it was a Saturday). In my opinion, it’s even more crowded than HK Disneyland, Universal Studios Singapore and Legoland in Malaysia. So if you’re planning a trip to Tokyo Disneyland, please avoid weekend at all cost. And avoid the rainy season too.

 

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Japan Day 1: Tokyo City Tour & Sanrio Puroland

Most of the time after I came back from a holiday, I’ll be too busy and too lazy to blog about the trip. If you’re doing an office job, you sure know how it feels after taking a long break. Works piled up, mailbox is full, and you need at least a week to get back on track.

By then, you heaved a sigh of relief and started to rest and recharge – yes, holiday can be really tiring. When the third week came, some of the details of the trip were lost in the memory and you have difficulty putting them into words.

This cycle seems to happen to me very often.

But I know that I’ll regret in future if I don’t pen down this trip before it’s completely forgotten. So, here I go …

This was the first time we travelled in a group tour with Little Edison. So, I was a bit anxious because group tour is usually very rush and the schedule is packed. V likes to take him own sweet time to take pictures, and on the other hand, Edison also takes his own sweet time to eat. I can imagine myself screaming at them to hurry up.

Luckily, it all turned out well. The boy didn’t fuss over long bus ride, he ate whatever we ate, he followed instructions, no toilet emergencies, and he can actually sleep well on the plane. The 7 hours flight just passed by in a blink of an eye for him.

He is a fantastic traveller, isn’t he?

We flew to Tokyo on SQ 638, arriving at 6:30am. As we won’t get to check-in to our hotel until evening, we brushed our teeth and freshen-up on the plane just before we land.

Our first destination was Senso-ji Temple (also known as Asakusa Kannon Temple). It is one of Tokyo’s most colourful and popular temples. Completed in year 645, this is Tokyo’s oldest temple with a history of more than 1,300 year.

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There is a shopping street of over 200 meters called Nakamise outside the temple. Alongside typical Japanese souvenirs such as yukata and folding fans, various traditional local snacks from the Asakusa area are also sold here. This shopping street also has a history of several centuries.

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Next stop was the Metropolitan Government Building. It has observation decks at the 45th level which provide good panoramic views of Tokyo and beyond.

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With favourable weather conditions, famous landmarks such as Mount Fuji, the Tokyo Skytree, Tokyo Tower, Meiji Shrine and the Tokyo Dome can be seen from the observatories. But unfortunately, it was a rainy day – thus we didn’t catch a very good view of the city.

Our third stop was something that I really look forward – The Sanrio Puroland! It was a kingdom of cuteness for me, but to V, he was more than pleased to find a shelter under the rain.

It was raining the whole day, sad to say, making our trip so inconvenient. Although it wasn’t heavy rain, but moving around with umbrella wasn’t very pleasant either. And I didn’t manage to take pictures from the outside of the building due to the rain. *tsk*

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Sanrio Puroland is an indoor theme park – run by the Sanrio company. It hosts various musicals, restaurants, attractions, and theme rides using popular characters such as Hello Kitty, My Melody, Cinnamoroll, Jewelpet and many more. It has the biggest and most extensive gift shop selling Sanrio character merchandises.

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Can you spot the Hello Kitty character playing with the children at the inflatable playground?

The theme park is not very big; you can spend half a day to get a good experience of it. We had our buffet lunch here. The food was just ordinary, but all the guests were delighted with Hello Kitty character meet-and-greet as well as performances.

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All I have to say is – a trip to this unique theme park is really a MUST for all Hello Kitty fans!

After a wholesome of cuteness, we embarked on a Tokyo Bay Cruise to Odaiba Park. Along the cruise (still raining), we saw the Fuji TV Station Tower, Rainbow Bridge, Tokyo Tower and the Statue of Liberty guarding the Tokyo Bay.

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Odaiba is a popular shopping and entertainment district on a man-made island in Tokyo Bay. The Rainbow Bridge connects Odaiba to the rest of Tokyo. This two-storey bridge is an iconic symbol of the bay and is especially beautiful during its nightly illumination. The bridge supports an expressway, a regular road, the Yurikamome train line and pedestrian walkways along both sides.

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Our last stop, before our legs totally broke down, we had a quick shopping trip and dinner at DiverCity Tokyo Plaza before we check-in to our hotel.

All in all, it was a pretty long and packed day. The itinerary was great; we managed to catch some sleep on the bus and that really kept us going the whole day.

 

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