I've had the good fortune to travel internationally for my work over the years. Since I live and work inthe US (and hav for a long, long time) I have not had the opportunity to travel in the Philippines. However......
Japan - contrary to Google's experience, I have many fond memories of my trips to Japan. I never had a problem navigating Narita Airport - the ARE signs in English all over the place. Why Google didn't see them, I don't know. My first trip to Japan was all by myself - and I had to not only get through Narita, but also out to Tokyo and to my hotel (via train and taxi), and in the morning, to the office I was visiting. No problems. English EVERYWHERE, including the subway and train stations. I did cheat on the taxi to the office - I asked the concierge to write up the destination in Japanese for the taxi driver, who, to my surprise, spoke English! The Japanese are very courteous and helpful, and there are many who do speak English. The key is to know how to identify them. Your best bet is to approach businessmen or teenagers. Businessmen because they are working on their English so they can do business internationally, teenagers because they are learning English in school and are eager to practice it.
Anyway - a few memorable places in Tokyo......
stand-up noodle shops under the elevated rairoad tracks in the Shinjuku area. On the east side of the (huge!) station, the traks are elevated. Under them are places to get hot noodles (udon, saimin) - and it's cheap! At least for Japan, it's cheap.
Asakusa Temple - great place to visit - take the subway there. Hard to get lost. Great shopping on the side streets, but the main attraction is the temple which is one of the largest in Tokyo.
Akihabara - for the kid and the geek in all of us. More electronic products than you can count, in more electronic stores than you can imagine, all within a 10 block area. From giant multi-story stores to sidewalk vendors with their wares spread out in front of their stores. From resistors and capacitors to giant plasma screens. Take the subway or the Yamanote JR line.
London - stay at the Knightsbridge Green Hotel. Relatively inexpensive, cute and charming, a block from Harrod's. Also walking distance from all the big trousist sites. There's a pub a block down the street that has the best combination of beer/ale selections and pub food I've had in recent times in London.
Paris - there's a small charcuterie/boulangeire (bakery/deli) a block off the main street across from the Louvre. And about 3 blocks from the Seine. Buy your bread and some sliced meat and a bottle of red wine there, walk to the Seine for an al fresco lunch or early dinner. Great view - you can see the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower and (sorta kinda) Notre Dame.
More to come......
From Narita, there are at least 3 ways to get to Tokyo:
By Airport Limousine bus - as you buy a ticket at the counter you tell them where you want to get off or which hotel you'll be staying. Then they tell you which platform you'd have to go to wait for your bus. Slightly more expensive than taking JR Skyliner but more convenient as the bus drops you off straight at your hotel doorstep.
JR Skyliner train - Just follow the signs, buy your ticket and go to the designated platform. Fastest way to get to Tokyo. However, the train stops at Ueno station so from there, you have to walk all the way to where the subway trains are.
Ordinary train - Cheapest way but just like the Skyliner, I don't recommended this for first-timers who are unfamiliar with the Tokyo subway or JR train system.
My Favorite Places: Hibiya Park where the Imperial Palace is. I never miss going there whenever I'm in Tokyo. Very peaceful and beautiful place. I also like going to the Meiji shrine although I don't always go to the shrine itself. The Meiji-jinggumae area used to have a lot of art shops and that's where I go. Also buy my souvenirs there - not the usual "tourist" souvenir stuff but things with value.
Hotel: I always go there for business so I don't know of any budget accomodations. I always stay either at Keio Plaza, Ginza Tokyu, or Ginza Tobu hotels. Ok naman.
Favorite Eating Places: I have a favorite restaurant at the Ginza area I always go to for sushi. Very cozy. Ginza is just a stone's throw away from Tsukiji where the biggest fish market is. Tsukiji is also a good place to go to for sushi but the restaurants there are not really for foreigners so you have to be accompanied by someone who knows Nipponggo. The shops don't have displays of what they serve. For steak lovers: the best steak in the world (para sakin) is served at the Medallion restaurant at Keio Plaza hotel. If you think kobe beef is good, then matsuzakaya beef is even better! Around 200 dollars per order but you really have to taste it at least once in your life. Ilalaban ko ito sa kahit anong steak house sa America. Panis ang Melo's dito.
If you're on a budget: Look for a Yoshinoya shop. Or go to the basement of most big department stores and buy a bento box. Better yet, go to AM/PM or any convenience store and buy your bento box there - they will even microwave it for you free of charge! Fastfood: try Mos Burger or Love Burger - Japanese style hamburgers mas masarap kesa McDonalds.
Entertainment: Nothing beats Roppongi. Although there are other places near the Ueno area. Beware of hustlers who will lure you to get into their shops and tell you you only need to pay X-yen to see a show. There are a lot of hidden charges there! When you enter the bars at Roppongi for the first time, there's a good chance you'd be telling yourself: "Kaya pala nawawala ang mga magaganda sa Pinas, nadito sila lahat". You'll be surprised some of our actresses work there as hostesses. Prepare to spend at least 200,000 yen.
Shopping: What do you want to buy? I usually go to Ueno. There are number of golf stores there selling second hand equipment. Very cheap. Akihabara for electronic items. If you're buying entertainement systems, take note that the channels there are different so you have to look for shops that sell "For Export" products. Laox is a good place. They have a Filipina lady (Grace yata pangalan nya) who can help you.
Other places of interest: Sinabi mo na. Asakusa temple. Recommended for first-timers. I don't go there anymore. Their version of Quiapo. But do check out Hibiya park and Meiji shrine too. Maganda. Tokyo Tower in Roppongi is also supposed to be a tourist attraction but for me, no big deal. Shinjuku park is a nice place to go to during sakura (cherry blossoms) season.
Other notes: I agree with almost all your statements. However please take note that although the Japanese look polite because the bow all the time, once you start learning their language, you will realize kung gaano kababa ang tingin nila sa mga Pilipino. Baka iniinsulto ka na hindi mo pa alam. Some of my Japanese friends also think we stink of garlic.
i have lived in bangkok for nearly a decade. besides the shopping, most tourists, especially the males, make it a point to visit the girlie bars. the three most popular areas in the city are:
patpong (between silom and suriwongse streets) - dozens of bars, night market...this is where the tourists go. touts tug your arm and say "sex show", before flashing a list of "acts" (pussy slicing banana, pussy smoking, pussy cutting paper with blade, among others). every girl in the bar can be taken out. just pay the bar fine plus the fee for the girl. in all about, 2,500 baht ($65). but beware of entering some of the bars because there are hidden charges. even if the tout says no cover charge, there are other charges. i can make recommendations. minsan, may toro sa iilang bars. there is also one bar known by all as the "no hands bar" where you can get a bj while being fed...
soi cowboy (between sukhumvit 21 & 23) - an alley of girlie bars frequented by both tourists and expats. not as wild as patpong and the atmosphere is a bit tamer. there used to be a bar here where all the girls were pinays, pero wala na. there is one bar with a glass ceiling that enables you to see the dancers from below...
soi nana (on sukhumvit 4) - expats prefer this place. wild dito. girls in some bars are completely naked. the atmosphere is raunchier at mas maganda ang mga girls...siguraduhin lang na girl nga if you're planning to pick up someone!
heads up to you guys!,
sbm, magaling, agxo - where the heck are you?
i miss these postings. To continue in this vein:
Tokyo - a new discovery - Shimo-Kitazawa - an entire district of vintage and used clothing shops (well there are some shops that sell new). Paradise for bargain hunters. Back and forth for 3 days there the last time out. From Ginza take JR to Shibuya then train to Shimo, one stop.
Tokyo - the Disk Union shops for vinyl. 6(?) separate builidings each housing different music genres - rock, soul, world, jazz, pop, R&B, soundtracks, everything. Clean vinyls plus you get elbow-to-elbow with fellow vinyl junkies - this just gives such good feelings. wow. Plus when I get hungry there's this tendon resto just beside the Rock building of Disk Union.
Walking through a snow blizzard in downtown Sapporo is just the pure nuts! Nothing compares.
Milan - the Corso Como - beautiful pedestrian district with shops and pizza places reeking pure class and delight. The Duomo - such majesty, plus the Galerie Victor Emmanuel - covered ancient plush shopping place. Walking through Chinatown looking for a vinyl shop - just delightful.
Rome - the Trastevere - the old district - with cobblestone streets and dinky bookshops and rustic eating places plus that shop that sells the best gelato in Rome. You can walk this from St. Peter's actually. The Trastevere was actually where Woody Allen shot that film of his whose setting was in Rome, the one with Alec Baldwin.
Paris - the museums. I particularly love the Musee d' Orsay which specializes in Impressionist art. The Orsay is hugh but it is cozy when compared to the Louvre, plus it has that painting of the old woman (by Whistler?) which at that time of our visit has just been the focal point of a Rowan Atkinson spy spoof film.
Amsterdam - getting high on a "coffeeshop" - cheek to jowl on sidestreets there, plus the compulsary walk through the Red Light /district but what I loved most was just walking alone past the canals on an overcast morning on my way to a record shop.