Japan is 9 hours ahead of Greenwich Meantime (GMT) and does not observe Daylight Saving.
Standard voltage is 100 volts. Primary sockets generally require flat 2-pin plugs, similar to those in North America. We recommend that you pack a universal travel adaptor.
The official currency in Japan is the Japanese Yen.
Euro, British Pounds, US Dollars and other major currencies can be exchanged at the airport, post office, banks or major hotels. While credit cards are becoming increasingly popular in Japan, they are not commonly used for making purchases as in western countries so you are best to pay in cash where possible. Avoid cash machines at banks as these do not normally accept foreign-issued cards. Instead use the Post Office cash machines from which you will be able to take out money using Visa cards, MasterCard, Cirrus or Maestro. Note that Post Offices may only be open during office hours Mon to Fri. Convenience store chain 7-Eleven will have ATMs in almost all of its stores which will accept most foreign-issued credit and debit cards. It's advisable to request bank notes in smaller denominations, as it can sometimes be hard to get change from large notes and smaller notes are handy for smaller purchases and gratuities.
Traveller's Cheques are not recommended as they're often difficult to exchange and incur high fees.
You should seek medical advice before travelling to Vietnam from your local health practitioner and ensure that you receive all of the appropriate vaccinations. As a guide Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Tetanus and Japanese B Encephalitis are recommended.
The tap water in Japan is generally considered safe to drink, but as a precaution against stomach upsets you may want to drink bottled mineral water, which is readily available from shops, hotels and restaurants.
One of the best things about visiting any country is sampling its cuisine and during your stay in Japan you’ll probably be wishing to do just that. Many Japanese restaurants specialise in one particular type of food. Sushi is of course the most famous dish, but Japanese food does not stop with raw fish; other specialties include teriyaki (marinated beef/chicken/fish seared on a hot plate), sukiyaki (thin slices of beef, bean curd and vegetables cooked in soy sauce and then dipped in egg), and tempura (deep fried sea-food and vegetables).
If everything so far sounds a bit meat and fish orientated don't be alarmed - there are vegetarian options in Japan. Try the wonderful zaru soba (buck-wheat noodles served cold), a bowl of Udon (thicker noodles) in a mountain vegetable soup, tofu steak or a vegetable okonomiyaki (savoury pancake). If you are feeling adventurous you could try natto, this is a sticky and slightly smelly concoction made of fermented soya beans.
If you want a more general selection, then the best place to go is an Izakaya (Japanese pub) where you will find an extensive and pretty cheap choice of food and drink. Izakaya often offer tabehodai or nomihodai - for a set price you get an hour or two to eat or drink as much as you like. Choosing exactly what to eat is made easier by well illustrated menus or plastic food displays at the doorway – just point and see what you get. In major cities you will also find plenty of Western-style restaurants.
Each region of Japan also has its own specialty foods, unique to or particularly famous in that one area of the country. These are nearly always made from locally produced ingredients.
Many hotels in Japan offer a luggage forwarding service to save the hassle of having to lug all your luggage on and off public transport. Details of the luggage forwarding service offered at most hotels is as follows:
The service can only be booked once you have arrived to Japan. You'll need to ask at the hotel front deck and complete a form. You'll then leave your luggage at the front desk and the courier service picks them up. It does take 24 hours to reach the next destination so it is not a same day service. You could choose to send your larger bags to your next hotel and then travel with just a small overnight bag. Each bag will cost approximately USD15 - USD26 per bag, dependent upon size and weight.
The service is very reliable and used by many Japanese to deliver bags and souviners to relatives. We provide further information on luggage forwarding services and recommendations on when best to send bags ahead in our information book, given upon arrival to Japan.