Okinawa of Japan is a city out of attention for Thai people. Sometimes, Okinawa doesn't give you a full feeling of Japan, I think, it looks rather like Koh Samui in Thailand. But, it is a Japanese cute style of Koh Samui, cute and unique.
Let's imagine this, 15,000 THB could take you further from the AEC. There's a direct flight from Bankok to Okinawa daily by peachair. The fare is cheaper than flying to Koh Samui. We can get to sleep well, eat good food like tender beef, enjoy a cafe time, ice cream, walk around the largest aquarium in Asia, drive around the island with a blue sky and sea view, it truly is a relax trip. Let's say we get to enjoy Okinawa in the same expense you would pay for Koh Samui and the services is Japan level, let's get it started.
Get to know Okinawa
Okinawa is the southernmost island of Japan. It has a total of more than 160 islands of which 46 are inhabited. The weather and geography is much like southern Thailand. The terrain is not different from Koh Samui or Phuket. Yet, the cultural order of people is still clearly Japanese. Most of the places that we go to will focus on chilliness, it is not meant to cover all attractions. Therefore, it will focus on eating, sitting, drinking, chilling and again, eating. These 8 recommended locations start from the lower zone of Okinawa for the chill people as follow.
Okinawa 001 : Sengajima Umikaji Terrace
It is a hub for restaurants and chic cafes and not far from the airport. We can sit and watch the plane take off and landing from here. There are many styles of food and cafes. The building is all white and nicely contrasts with with the blue sea. Indeed, the shops here are really cute. We can come to rest at the cafe for the sea view or lunch.
Okinawa 002 : American village
It is Okinawa's large entertainment center decorated in American style. There are large swing and many restaurants, cafes, cinemas, and shopping malls (similar to Asiatique in Thailand). The back of the village is the sea.There are so many beautiful sea view restaurants. It is suggested to come here in the evening because the sunset is exceptionally beautiful.
Okinawa 003 : Kokusai Street
It is the biggest shopping center in Okinawa. Okinawa rarely sells a brand name, but focusing on local brands. It is lively from early morning until late night. It is recommended to buy souvenir from here because the airport hardly sells anything.
Okinawa 004 : kuori island
Kuori island is a small island extending from the main island again. There are roads and bridges to go to the island. Above all, I have to say that on the way to the sea is very beautiful :) The island has a beach called Ikei beach that allows people to play. The water is so crystal clear, just like Phi Phi Island ten years ago. There are a variety of rides to choose from as well as lots of activities for adventurous lovers. For the chiller, we can simply sit and enjoy the beach (tables and chairs can be rented).
** Note: The beach entrance fee is 400 JPY.
Okinawa 005 : Nakagusuku Castle
Here is the UNESCO World Heritage site. It is one of the castles built around Okinawa Island during the Ryukyu Kingdom (so as people said). Currently, only the ruins of the castle are well preserved. Here is quite similar to Phanom Rung Historical Park :) I think it is suitable as a viewpoint because we can see the sea below in a 360 degrees.
** Note: The entrance fee is 400 JPY, the golf cart service is available on the way up and we have to walk ourselves on the way down.
Okinawa 006 : Cape Zanpa
Cape Zanpa is a such a beautiful sunset spot for me. Most areas are high rocks and cliffs. The ground is brown grass and there are also grass fields and rocky piles with drought and moisture. Enjoying cool wind while looking at the sunset coloring the blue sky that gradually changed into orange and darker is such a fun time. I however, didn't get to look at it so much as I was busying taking photos because it's so breathtakingly beautiful (this cape viewpoint is similar to Phromthep Cape of Phuket and Ko Lanta lighthouse).
Okinawa 007 : Manzamo
Here is the famous landmark of Okinawa, a cliff that has been eroded into a trunk shaped by the ocean waves. It is one of Okinawa's beautiful seaside photography spots. This landmark is very popular for Japanese and Korean. I used to watch Korean series and remembered the heroine dreams to visit Okinawa once :) It is said that sunset here is very beautiful. If you have time to plan well to sit and watch the sunset, please don't forgot to share with me some of its beautiful moments. For me, I can't stand the heat, so I didn't wait until the sunset time:)
Okinawa 008 : Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium
It is the largest aquarium in Japan, full of fish and tropical animals. There is a huge aquarium with whale sharks and stingrays that are the highlight of this place. I think that is definitely the place to come if you were coming to Okinawa. It makes me feel like 14 again. I also got so excited seeing whale sharks.
Okinawa 009 : On the way
I think the charm of Okinawa rests on the way. The sea in Okinawa is still crystal clear, we can enjoy the blue sea without having to take the boat out but simply while driving and eating. By driving around the island is already given us a big pleasure and not necessarily making any particular stop.
What to eat at OKINAWA
The recommended food of Okinawa from the review include
fried eggs with bitter gourd(I don't like the bitter gourd as it's bitter so it's a pass for this menu), sea grapes (I'm from Krabi and can eat it anytime, so it's a pass too), pineapple (my mom is planting them, so a pass too), so what is left now is beef and ice cream which is worth a try. Oh well, since we are already here, let's try both recommended menus and ones that are yet recommended.
Okinawa food 001 : KEMURI - YAKINIKU
Okinawa is famous for steak meat rather than Yakiniku. There are many European style steak shops. But I love Thai style BBQ more, so the Japanese steak has been chosen from home.
Kenuri is a cute little shop where regular customers are 100% Japanese. And we are the only customer who keep crying "Oishi" and we order so much that the chef was shocked :) Oh well, it is so delicious that we cannot resist and it is a once in a while chance. I mean grilled beef plus beer and kimchi is the best thing god has created.
Location: Kokusai street has several branches, simply go to the nearest one.
Prices: The starting price for the beef is 390 JPY each dish (pork is cheaper but I didn't' try although it looks very yummy too).
Recommended menu: The tongue and every beef menu :)
Rating: 5/5, good for the taste and price.
Okinawa foods 002 : Traditional food
Now, let's go see what local people are eating. This menu is easily found everywhere just like fried basil dish in Thailand.
Bitter gourd is bitter gourd regardless of where they are from, yes, it's bitter (and I don't like the taste of it).
Location: First Makishi Public Market
Simple fried fish, the taste is general, eatable.
Location: First Makishi Public Market
Price : N/A
Rating : 3/5
It is also a recommended menu. It is a side dish that comes with a food set. Oh well, in fact, it is a cold tasteless tofu and topped with small fish. At first, I thought this fish would be crispy but no, it is a good fermented soft fish.
Location : First Makishi Public Market
Price: A side dish coming along in a food set
The sea grape food set. This menu comes with Japanese food topped with sea graph, sea urchin eggs, and some soft and stretchy white thing. When eating it, a sour sauce is recommended. It is served with miso soup and the sea grape ice cream (just by the name is already very fishy and I don't want to describe its taste).
Location: On the way, cannot explain in details but it is a recommended shop on the Trip Advisor, Okinawa people love it so much that every table would order one.
Price : N/A
Rating : 2/5
The pork is so soft and delicious.
Location : It is widely available everywhere
Okinawa food 003 : Blue Seal
Blue Seal looks like Foremost logo in Thailand. Mainly, it sells ice cream. In the big shop, it also sells crepe, pearl milk tea, and icy desserts. This menu fits so well with the weather in Okinawa. I eat it everyday with different flavors and all are yummy (my favorite one is blue color and if I remember it correctly, it is a blue wave flavor, a very refreshing taste).
In addition to Blue Seal, my favorite ice cream, Cremia, is also available in Okinawa :) And the taste is yummy, just like usual.
Location : It is available everywhere, walk to any shop as you wish
Price: 300 JPY + +
Rating : 5/5
Okinawa cafe 004 : HAMMOCK CAFE LA ISLA
Here comes my favorite shop :) It has hammocks for us to enjoy the sea, both indoor and outdoor zone. When the wind is gently blown, the hammock is slowly swung, and a cup of cold drink, I can't even manage to get up even after half a day rest.
Location: Sengajima Umikaji Terrace
Price : 400 JPY + +
Okinawa cafe 005 : on the beach Cafe
There're a lot of this kind of near the sea cafes. It is a cafe that focuses on soda-themed drinks rather than coffee. The restaurant is adjacent to the sea and offers panoramic sea views so that we can enjoy the sea without having to sit under the heat :)
Location: About 15 mins away from the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium
Price : 400 JPY + +
Rating : 4/5
Okinawa food 006 : oHacorte cafe
This is one of my favorite cafes in Japan. The shop is really cute and the cake is very delicious.
Price : 400 JPY + +
Rating : 5/5
Okinawa food 007 : The Junglila café
This is a cafe that I really wanted to visit but I go on the last day and the shop happens to be closed so I can only take a photo from outside. It is close to American village with a sea view atmosphere.
Peach air flies on time. The aircraft is new and airy. The flight is at late night, so we can sleep a bit and wake up again when reaching Okinawa. The flight time is very good as it allows us to have a full day for travel (there's one flight each day). The round trip airfare is on promotion so you should book it now if you have a plan to visit. I expected soon, when Okinawa becomes more popular, the airfare would be increased too. So grab it while you can :)
Right before the flight is landing, I'd like you guys to wake up and enjoy the view outside the window. You can see several islands of Okinawa, small and big, very beautiful. At some point, when our plane is really close to the sea, it's like we are riding a boat and that our wing will touch the sea, so exciting moment it is.
Peach air is in the Okinawa Terminal 2 airport, located in the shipping area. It is probably the smallest airport we travel to. The airport is like having no air conditioner (or perhaps we just didn't feel it T_T). When picking up the bag, there will be a barrier placed behind it from the immigration officers. And there is a staff to check when we are taking our bag, very cute :)
A tip for checking out from Okinawa-Bangkok, it is a bit different than our normal practices back home :)
Queuing up 1 - Self check in at the check-in kiosk (if you don't have a bag to load, you can simply go for immigration check).
Queuing up 2 - Take the bag that we wish to load to scan in a machine
Queuing up 3 - To load the luggage with the staff at the counter
You need to queue up 3 times to finish the check in process :)
Note 1: The airport has a WiFi with Japanese standard. After registering, you can starting using the internet. I recommended not to go inside the gate too quickly as it's really small and narrow, almost no seats at all. Passengers have to sit on the floor while waiting to board, including us.
Note 2: The airport is very strict with liquid items on board. All liquids must be packed in another bag, anything outside the bag will be thrown away by the staff. ะ
Well, it's a seaside city so the weather has to be hot, and actually, it is extremely hot (I travel in July). But good thing is that the sky is crystal clear and so is the sea. So the heat is acceptable and we just have to bring enough sunscreen protection things.
There are many car rental companies in Okinawa. We choose to rent at OTS because there are many branches and many cars to choose from, small to big. We can book it directly at the website: https://www.otsinternational.jp There, we just need to fill in details of the time and location for picking up and returning, vehicle type and number of travelers. Then we will receive an email confirming the reservation upon the booking is complete.
On the travel day, you just need to print out the confirmation email from the OTS and give it to the staff at the airport counter, then they will take you to the headquarter of the OTS.
Note: OTS frequently gives out a discounted code. Please check at the website before booking. I also got a summer promotion discount for 1,500 JPY (or about 500 THB, lucky me, I have more money for ice cream now).
I think there's no need to prepare anything as everything is very similar to Thailand. It also drives in the same side with Thailand. Let's say, prepare to have a fun mind, fit body, and money for eating, and then enjoying photo time. I think that will do.
There're several types of accommodations in Okinawa and the price is quite expensive. We chose to stay 1 night at the hostel in the Kokusai street area because we wanted to enjoy the nightlife and make new friends to exchange cultures. For another 2 nights, we chose to sleep at a house from Airbnb. We got the whole house at a cheaper price than a hostel.
Airbnb is my first choice when traveling in a group because it's cheap, comfortable, convenient and able to really experience the Japanese way of life.
Here is the link that we use to book our house https://goo.gl/LuaHWX In fact, this place can accommodate people up to 11, but there're only 4 of us. So we get to fully use the space comfortably. This house is located in Japanese village and in the middle area of Okinawa Island (if you are interested, please contact me in private as you can get more discount when receiving a link to book from me.)
The advantages of staying at Airbnb is that most accommodations provide complete set of toiletries, kitchenware, and even a washing machine. Then, late night dinner is a norm for us. Another paradise for a beef lover here is to cook beef ourselves (and great thing about Japanese beef is that it doesn't require much cooking skills, just by simply grilling is already very delicious.)
*Budget varies according to each person's travel style. The cost of living in Okinawa is not as expensive as Japan in general so we can reduce the food cost more than this as well :)
When time is ready, money is ready, let's go travel to Okinawa.
GOANYWHERE X PEACHAIR x AIRBNB