Pacific Travel

A member of the ground crew walks through the departures hall at the Hong Kong International Airport in Hong Kong on Jan. 26, 2021. <br>Paul Yeung/Bloomberg

Hong Kong and Singapore set date for long-awaited travel bubble

A quarantine-free air travel bubble between Hong Kong and Singapore is finally slated to get off the ground with a start date of May 26, following setbacks that led to the plan initially being shelved last November.

Farmers in Fukushima plant indigo to help their devastated town recover

Because of radiation released by the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster a decade ago, farmers in nearby Minamisoma weren’t allowed to grow crops for two years.

Why Disney fans have their post-pandemic sights set on Japan

As some families eagerly await COVID-19 vaccinations so they can get their Mickey-loving kids back to the Magic Kingdom, the most passionate Disney fans are looking forward to something else entirely: a trip to Japan.

Hawaii wants tourists. Tourists want Hawaii. But the rules are complicated.

John Derrick has run an online guide to Hawaii travel for nearly 20 years, so he's used to answering questions about the destination. But these days, the questions he gets at GuideofUS Hawaii are a little more complicated.

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  • Facing pandemic economic woes, Nepal reopens to adventurers

    Adventurers looking to scale Nepal’s Himalayan peaks and trek its mountain trails can finally do so for the first time in seven months, as the country reopens to foreigners even as the coronavirus pandemic has left it short of hospital beds.

  • Is Hawaii ready for visitors? Scenes from one reopened island

    Cue the ukuleles. Hawaii is reopening for tourism. But this is a different Hawaii. On these islands, you mask up first, then hang loose.

  • ‘The Japanese Sake Bible’ will turn sake novices into experts

    For 1,000 years, rice brewed and turned into booze has generally been referred to as sake, and for three of those years, Osaka-based author Brian Ashcraft has researched the mysteries of Japan’s national drink.

  • US troops are eligible for Japan’s ‘Go To Eat’ discounts at off-base restaurants

    A Japanese government campaign that kicked off Oct. 1 provides a 25% discount at participating eateries.

  • Cruises from Singapore to nowhere may follow similar air travel trend

    If boarding a flight to nowhere to live out the good old days of travel is not attractive, how about a round-trip cruise sailing to nowhere?

  • US troops may soon qualify for generous travel discounts through Japan’s ‘Go To’ campaign

    U.S. military personnel and their families in Japan may be eligible for half-price deals on bullet train tickets, hotels, meals and other tourist activities starting next month, according to the Japan Tourism Agency.

  • Tokyo’s own Harry Potter theme park slated to open in 2023 on Toshimaen site

    A theme park based on the Harry Potter films is scheduled to open in Tokyo in 2023, companies developing the park announced Monday.

  • Hawaii considers 'resort bubbles' for visitor quarantines

    Three Hawaiian Islands are considering creating "resort bubbles" so that visitors can quarantine with a vacationlike experience at hotel properties.

  • The Maldives is reopening and, yes, even Americans are allowed

    Here’s some good news for those frustrated by the lack of travel options in the Covid-19 era: The Maldives is reopening to international visitors on July 15. And, yes, that includes U.S. citizens.

  • Relive summertime memories with a Coca-Cola Orange Vanilla

    Remember the summer sound of an ice cream truck, a crumbled dollar exchanged for a Creamsicle and the refreshing, mellow flavors of orange and vanilla hitting your taste buds?

  • Virus-era Japan: Karaoke in masks, roller coasters but no screaming

    Singing your heart out at karaoke boxes may never feel the same in Japan in the coronavirus era.

  • Pandemic knocks out large sections of Hawaii’s economy

    In normal times, Roland Chang and his three sons start their day at dawn, picking up tourists in Waikiki and driving them to the ocean for a boat ride to see dolphins and turtles swimming in clear blue waters. Four nights a week, the family’s band performs Hawaiian music and popular songs at a hotel. Their friends call them workaholics. To them, it’s a routine. Or was, until the coronavirus pandemic landed in Hawaii.

  • Thailand’s Phuket beckons when travel resumes

    Phuket, a place I’ve visited more than a dozen times since childhood, is the best of all worlds, somehow squeezed onto a picturesque island that’s just a puddle-hop flight from my home in Bangkok.

  • Eight decades after surprise attack shut down Waikiki Beach, the coronavirus has done the same

    Official measures taken to suppress the spread of the coronavirus have turned this famed tourist destination into a ghost town.

  • Birthday climb in Bali timed to reach summit at sunrise

    I decided for my birthday I would like to hike a volcano. In Bali. In the dark, so I could see the sunrise from the mountaintop. As one does.

  • Dive into the deep tranquility of Tahiti

    This rain — relentless, chilling, downright vengeful — wasn’t in the brochure. I am sitting on the gunwale of a dive boat off the French Polynesian atoll of Fakarava about to back-roll into a tropical sea famous for its abundance of sharks. I’m with two other divers and a guide in Tumakohua Pass, one of the two major breaks in this necklace of coral where the ocean feeds a 37-by-14-mile lagoon.

  • Mother, daughter bond on trip to Japan’s Kyushu Island

    In 1984, the day after I graduated from college, I was itching to get out of my provincial life in Portland, Ore. I left to take a job as an English teacher in a place called Kagoshima, Japan, on the country’s volcano-strewn southernmost main island of Kyushu. Kyushu calls itself the Land of Fire and Water. I’d, however, never heard of it.

  • Shows canceled as virus outbreak spooks Asian entertainers

    Concerts and shows are being canceled, not just in China but across much of Asia, as a virus outbreak that has killed more than 300 people and reached more than 20 countries spooks the entertainment industry.

  • Does Coke’s new seasonal flavor in Japan fizz, or fall flat?

    Japan’s food and beverage industry boasts many seasonal, novelty flavors, whether it’s a cherry pie-flavored drink from Starbucks or chocolate fries from McDonalds, and some can be better than others.

  • Why the Cook Islands should be included on everyone’s vacation bucket list

    The Cook Islands — a cluster of very tiny atolls and reefs in the vast expanse of the South Pacific — have never been on my bucket list of travel destinations. Their image as a tropical island paradise conjures up endless (and therefore boring) white sandy, palm-lined beaches with nothing to do but soak up the sun.

  • Maintaining constant vigilance: How to travel safely amid civil unrest in Hong Kong

    As protests proliferate around the world, more travelers will have to face this tough question: Should you visit a destination experiencing unrest?

  • This restaurant opened by an airline will cater to your secret love of plane food

    Just what everyone thinks when they’re digging into an airline meal: Man, I wish I could order this even when I’m not flying. At least that’s how AirAsia, a low-cost carrier based in Malaysia, hopes its customers feel. This week, the airline opened the first restaurant inspired by its in-flight food offerings at a mall in Kuala Lumpur.

  • You can stay at a Japanese hotel for $1 -- if you live-stream almost everything

    The voyeurs around the world logged onto a YouTube stream on a recent Wednesday, hoping to see a random hotel guest scurry about their room. Instead, the viewers were greeted with an empty manager’s chair and a whiteboard registering mutual disappointment: The guest canceled tonight ... "Life happens," reflected a user named Ruinga, as messages in Turkish, English and Danish mingled with Google Translate-aided Japanese. "A quiet night will have to do."

  • Hiking trail reopens, a year and a half after Kilauea's eruptions and 60,000 quakes

    The popular Kilauea Iki Trail in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park recently fully reopened, a year and a half after Kilauea erupted and more than 60,000 quakes rattled the volcano's summit. The shaking last year damaged much of the park, including the popular four-mile loop from the rim of a crater to its floor. Now visitors will see something new along the way: large boulders that tumbled down during the seismic shaking, a park release says.

  • Staying in a Japanese temple is an extraordinary experience

    A typical visit to Japan for many tourists consists of a few days in Tokyo, a train over to Kyoto, maybe Osaka. You stay in a hotel full of amenities, or, if you’re on a budget, you might be staying in a capsule hotel or hostel.

  • Cuddle Australia’s cutest creatures during your next trip or deployment Down Under

    Before I traveled to Australia, the extent of my knowledge about the land Down Under consisted of koalas and kangaroos. So, I figured, what better way to start a vacation than to meet the beloved creatures at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary near Brisbane?

  • More than just a drink: ‘Japanese Whisky’ takes a deep dive into spirit’s Far East history

    Ashcraft writes that to “truly understand Japanese whisky, you must understand Japanese culture. The country’s whisky tradition is a reflection of everything from national identity and industrialization to art and even religion. It’s more than just a drink.”

  • Singing its praises: Singapore should have been Asia tour’s grand finale, not its first stop

    A 30-foot-long, red and yellow cloth dragon with daggerlike white teeth blocked our way as my wife, Shirin, and I strolled down Singapore’s famed Orchard Road, a tree-lined boulevard known for its upscale stores and hotels. Drums beat rhythmically as a dozen men maneuvered the undulating dragon along the broad sidewalk. This symbol of strength, power and good luck in Chinese culture was part of the lingering festivities following the Chinese New Year 10 days earlier. As we paused to watch the colorful show, I thought to myself, “You have to expect the unexpected in Singapore.”

  • In Japan, tourists are fueling a boom in personal translation devices

    Takehiko Fujita wouldn’t be able to do his job selling eye drops and pain relievers without his pocket translator. Instead of an app, language dictionary, or call-in translation service, the clerk in a Japanese drugstore uses Pocketalk, a 25,000 yen ($230) device made by Sourcenext Corp. that looks like an oval puck. The gadget translates phrases to and from 74 languages, helping Fujita communicate with customers from Sweden, Vietnam and other countries.

  • Finding Fiji (and each other)

    We could never be lonely on Matamanoa Island, in the Mamanuca Archipelago, in the central South Pacific. If we needed company, the resorts’ other guests were on hand, not to mention our family, three generations of us on vacation together.

  • Hawaiian island of Kauai has become a world-class golf destination

    Hawaii has some of the most beautiful and memorable golf courses in the world. And the quiet island of Kauai may have the most picturesque courses on the islands — or anywhere else.

  • Tokyo exhibit in Odaiba demonstrates construction equipment, educates visitors

    An exhibition featuring heavy machinery used at construction sites is being held at the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation in the Odaiba area of Koto Ward, Tokyo.

  • Well-traveled historic section of Japan’s Old Tokaido Road invites visitors to step back in time

    The long history of Japan is told in many historic sites around the country — and at sightseeing spots along Hakone Hachiri in Kanagawa and Shizuoka Prefectures, visitors can step back in time to experience what it was like to travel the country almost 400 years ago.

  • Walking on fire the focus of Buddhist festival in Tokyo

    At a festival near Yokota Air Base, ascetic monks walked barefoot across hot embers to rid themselves of bad luck and evil spirits.

  • How a trip to Japan can provide what’s missing back home

    Whenever I fly a long distance I read a book or two rather than watching the in-flight movies and TV shows. Without realizing it, the two books I brought on my recent trip to Japan, neither of which mentions Japan, helped me understand why I was going there again.

  • Learning to make Nepalese dumplings with help of Backstreet Academy

    Dil Kumari Maharjan looked at my misshapen dumpling and said with a deceptive smile, “You made an American momo.”

  • Discovering hawker food in Singapore, a culture worth preserving — and devouring

    There’s little that can prepare an outsider for the onslaught of food in Singapore. Every stroll through this city shrouded in tropical heat is interrupted by open-air food centers, coffee shops and restaurants vying for your stomach’s attention. Dining out is a way of life in Singapore.

  • Bali an idyllic island struggling to maintain its identity

    Given the situation, I was moving as fast as I could. I was walking cautiously on a foot-wide earthen berm separating water-soaked rice paddies. A big cross-body garbage bag banged against my hip as I clutched a 6-foot pole with a pointed metal tip. Rivulets of sweat ran down my back as I speared yogurt cups, candy wrappers and plastic bags. And then I lost my balance.

  • From war to wonderland: Solomon Islands still whispering secrets 75 years after WWII

    If it weren’t for the potholes, cavernous pits slowing us down on the road to Honiara, in the Solomon Islands, I might have missed the sign, “Dolphin View Cottage.” But Andrew, our guide, knew the road by heart.

  • Seeking the wild side of Maui? Easy; it’s everywhere

    I wanted to find wild Maui — so naturally, I piled my family into a rental car for a five-hour drive on a narrow road with single-lane bridges and curves so sharp that I sometimes lost sight of the pavement.

  • Tattooed bathers in Japan find their way to welcoming sento

    Following an increase in the number of foreigners visiting Japan, operators of bathing facilities throughout the country are facing difficult decisions as to whether they should accept foreign customers who have tattoos.

  • Go to Kobe for the beef, stay for the pork buns and European cityscapes

    Located just one hour by train from Kyoto and just 30 minutes by train from Osaka, Kobe offers the perfect mix of vintage allure and 21st century excitement.

  • Nature nurtures at inn near Hilo, Hawaii

    If you arrive here on a moonless night, you can hear the water before you can see it rushing to seek its lowest point, as water always does. At first, it sounds like a hose that’s been left on, but as you try to track down the source, it begins to sound like a horrendous water main break.

  • How to travel the new, $800 billion Silk Road

    Thanks to more than a trillion dollars of prospective investment, led by China’s $800 billion Belt and Road Initiative linking countries stretching between East Asia and Europe, the Silk Road is rising again.

  • Soaking up an Alaskan adventure, unswayed by the rain

    A torrential downpour lulled me to sleep the night before my all-day kayaking expedition in the waters around Fox Island off Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula. Through the cracked windows of my log cabin, I watched the waves slap the slate beach as rain pounded the roof. I had come to southwestern Alaska with three friends to cap off the summer with an ocean adventure.


    Getting creepy and kooky at Yokota Air Base

    A theater troupe hopes to get folks into the Halloween spirit with a snap of their fingers during free performances of “The Addams Family” musical at the home of U.S. Forces Japan in western Tokyo.

  • Beyond the beach: Take your taste buds on a tour of Kauai

    Floating on the waves and hiking through the jungle are must-do activities on Kauai. But to better commune with the westernmost of the well-populated Hawaiian Islands, I also wanted to taste the local bounty. Fortunately, there are great ways to savor what makes Kauai unique without breaking the bank at gourmet restaurants.

  • New Zealand’s popular Milford Sound extends from mountaintops to the deep sea

    We were on top of the world at the bottom of the world, encircled by a 360-degree panorama of mountain peaks. My husband and I had reached Key Summit, the pinnacle of a half-day hike in New Zealand’s Fiordland National Park. I wanted to lollygag and drink in the views, but the weather had other ideas. The temperature plummeted about 30 degrees and a blustery wind threatened to whisk us away. Andrew and I started back down the path. With bent heads, we pushed through the wind — extreme for us, but weather as usual for a Kiwi.

  • A breathtaking Himalayan journey to ’the rooftop of the world’

    Tibet. Nepal. Bhutan. The names rolled of my tongue like a timeless Himalayan mantra. I was itching to go, but after decades of solo rambling, I was done with handling tricky logistics. Let someone else — preferably an established tour company — arrange flights, guides, hotels, baggage and, most important, assorted visas and travel permits.

  • Okinawa’s Tokashiki Island a snorkeler’s paradise with beautiful beaches

    Just a quick ferry ride from Naha, Tokashiki Island is part of the Kerama archipelago and is famous for its white, sandy beaches and diverse marine life.

  • In Japan, boat tours of fanciful formations

    “Everybody, that is Fukuro [owl] rock. It’s a work of art created by nature,” said pleasure boat guide Yoshiteru Mizuguchi, 79, as he pointed to a rocky area sticking out into a blue sea. Passengers aboard the boat, the “Pearl Queen,” exclaimed, “It’s the spitting image!”

  • Defense Department-owned Hale Koa pumps $14M into its new pool area

    The Hale Koa Hotel’s swimming pool complex on Waikiki Beach, including its popular Barefoot Bar, is getting a $14 million makeover.

  • Waikiki Beach is only two miles of Oahu. The rest is well worth checking out.

    The towers of Waikiki Beach cast such long shadows over Oahu that it seems daunting, in the mind’s eye at least, to escape them when weighing a visit to Hawaii’s most populous island. But it can be done, and we did.

  • Hawaii is about to ban popular sunscreen brands to protect its coral reefs

    From Banana Boat to Coppertone, major sunscreen brands will soon have to revamp their products or stop selling them in Hawaii. State lawmakers passed legislation in May that would ban skin-care companies from selling and distributing sunscreens on the islands that contain two chemicals deemed damaging to coral reefs. The bill is opposed by various companies and business associations and even some dermatologists, who worry that the ban may discourage people from wearing sunscreen at all.

  • All aboard Hello Kitty: Pink bullet train debuts in Japan

    A Hello Kitty-themed “shinkansen” bullet train has debuted in Japan. Adorned with the cartoon icon inside and out, it’s a dream ride for fans of the internationally popular character.

  • Explore an abandoned Chinese village now engulfed by nature

    Blanketed with greenery, the ghost town is perched atop cliffs looking west into sea mists obscuring the horizon. Abandoned homes ravaged by weather and creeping vines stand silent but for the surf, the whine of mosquitos, and birdsong. This is Houtouwan — “Back Bay” in Mandarin — an abandoned fishing village engulfed by nature on the far eastern island of Shengshan, 90 kilometers off the coast of Shanghai.

  • It’s leisure as usual for travelers to Hawaii despite lava flow

    While the photos and videos of the popping, churning, spewing lava from Kilauea volcano look post-apocalyptic, officials with the Island of Hawaii Visitors Bureau say that the danger zones are isolated to private, residential areas and they don’t expect an impact on travelers. "Really, almost 90 percent of the island is unaffected," says Ross Birch, executive director of the Hawaii Island Visitors and Convention Bureau.

  • The Maldives’ new star villa is underwater

    On a recent trip to the Maldives, my itinerary was planned around a single hotel amenity: a bungalow with a two-story waterslide. In the luxury-friendly Maldives, more than anywhere else on Earth, it’s extravagant design features rather than location or good restaurants that make a hotel.

  • Hiking the authentic Great Wall of China, without the crush

    Tires crunch the gravel as our driver turns around and makes his way back down the narrow access road, leaving my fiance, his mother and me alone in front of an empty building. The air is cool and fresh, and a few white clouds move briskly across the blue sky. Beijing, with its more than 20 million inhabitants, gleaming skyscrapers and intermittent layer of smog, is a safe 50 miles to the south. All being well, we’ll see the driver again in about four hours, at our pickup location.

  • Alaskan illuminations

    Where were they? The hour was closer to midnight than noon, and the sky above the small Alaskan town of Talkeetna was as black as a bear’s button nose. Several stars twinkled their encouragement. Before stepping out in the minus-numbing-degree air, I had checked the Aurora Forecast. The rating was a 5, which the Geophysical Institute described as meaning “Auroral activity will be high.” I had even brought along my lucky charm, Aurora Dora. So I ask again: Where were they?

  • Solomon Islands: A deep dive, and WWII artifacts

    If a remote South Pacific destination with lots of World War II artifacts and world-class diving appeals to you, check out the Solomon Islands. This 992-island archipelago sits northeast of Australia, about 6,100 miles southeast of Los Angeles. Most of its 550,000 citizens are Melanesians and almost everyone speaks English.

  • Blossoming cherry trees serve as reminder of allies’ colorful history

    More than 100 years ago, Japan sent more than 3,000 Japanese cherry trees to Washington. In 1982, that symbol grew even greater meaning.

  • Cambodia up close: River cruise on the Mekong makes for immersive experience

    "Life is not staying still," Vuthy spoke softly to me, like a kind older brother. "It is moving from one place to the next." I followed his rhythmic breathing -- in, out -- inhaling the lotus air and untangling my own breath from the outside Cambodian breeze, flowing in through the open temple doors.

  • A wintry windfall in Japan's heavenly ski region

    There are 195 countries in the world, many that can be envisioned before ever stepping foot on foreign soil. And then there's Hokkaido, a destination within a destination that will take every preconceived notion you have about Japan and crumple it into a little ball. In its place will be snow, more snow and the champagne powder that has turned sleepy farm towns into the next big thing since Whistler.

  • A region on New Zealand’s North Island is the Southern Hemisphere’s take on Yellowstone

    I’d been warned about the stink. It hit me the instant I stepped off the plane in Rotorua: a mix of bad egg and warm sewer gas that has earned this city on New Zealand’s North Island the nickname "Sulphur City" -- or, less kindly, "Rotten-Rua." I sucked in a deep breath and smiled. That subterranean scent meant I would soon be soaking in curative hot springs, smothering my body in primeval goo and exploring a land of burping mud pots, prismatic pools, boiling rivers and shooting geysers.

  • Disney family magic wanes in Hong Kong as Macau's lights dazzle

    When Chinese tourists choose a family travel destination, Hong Kong Disneyland would seem like a logical choice. But it's the nearby gambling hub of Macau that has all the momentum.

  • Fiji pride: Where paradise is more than sand and sea

    If Fiji was nothing more than sand and sea, palm fronds and flowers, it wouldn’t matter which South Pacific beach resort you visited. Every vacation would be just another ho-hum adventure. But after 15 years and as many visits to this 333-island nation, I’ve got a pretty good idea why each destination promises a unique experience. What’s the secret? It’s the Fijians themselves, proud to be Fijian and proud to show you their country.

  • Aloha, partner: Riding the Hawaiian range

    Concho wants to gallop. I can tell. He's a horse, after all, a headstrong one, and rippling green hills spread in every direction. Every so often, a break in the clouds reveals the barren summit of Mauna Kea to the south. But galloping is still a little ways outside my skill set, so with a twinge of guilt I pull the reins to keep my mount at a slow trot. He makes his disappointment clear with a snort and a toss of his head. The pace does make it easier to soak in the landscape of the 300-acre Dahana Ranch in the upcountry of Hawaii's Big Island.

  • Beyond the musts: 3 free sites off the beaten path in Maui

    If you’re visiting Maui, a few sites are musts. You must visit Haleakala. You must enjoy the dancing — and the food — at the Old Lahaina Luau. You must walk through the branches of the Banyan Tree in Lahaina. And don’t drive past the Maui Ocean Center, especially if you love turtles. My husband and I had two weeks on the island paradise, so we could afford to indulge in some of the sites less traveled. Once we’d seen the “must” places, we dove deeper into the island’s history and wildlife.

  • Proposal aims to reduce Mt. Fuji climbers by up to 25 percent

    Japan's Yamanashi and Shizuoka prefectures proposed reducing congestion on Mount Fuji by 12 to 25 percent per day during the peak period by lowering the number of climbers using two of the mountain's four trails.

  • After their town was relocated, they found an uneasy truce with the Pyeongchang Games

    One by one Friday, in new living room after new living room, the television sets flicked on in this village of 12 homes, just in time to watch the opening ceremony for an Olympics that had changed everything here. "Live," it said in the upper right corner of Nam Jae-hwan’s television screen, and he sat down with his wife on a linoleum floor.

  • During Japan's tourism boom, try these off-the-grid locations

    Travel to Japan showed double-digit growth in 2017 from 2016, so you’ll want to take advantage of this development and escape the crowds by hitting the stunning countryside.

  • Tokyo studios photograph clients as samurai and courtesans

    Studios where visitors can have themselves dressed and photographed as samurai warriors or high-ranking Japanese courtesans are becoming increasingly popular in Tokyo.

  • Famous Maui road leads to enchanting, rarely visited Kahanu Garden

    Kahanu Garden was to be one of our two stops along the Hana Highway. The site would be the best of all worlds for us — native plants and flowers for me, and history for my husband.

  • Singapore: The world's newest great cocktail capital

    For a place that’s known to be quite conservative, Singapore offers cocktails that have a tendency to make your heart race.

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