Itinerary – Oceania & Asia – 2023

By rosannau / On

#RoverlyFriendshipTour

98 days, 8 countries, 38 cities, 25 flights, 4 car rentals & endless amounts of buses/trains rides.

This trip was called the RoverlyFriendshipTour as we indeed met friends along the way in every country minus New Zealand.

My last big trip was Sept-Oct 2019. I am so grateful I was able to do it because no one knew what the following 2.5 years would encompass due to the pandemic. This trip had been in the works for such a long time.

This is the most ambitious and longest trip I have planned extensively. My friend Beverly, who is a teacher, had said to me a few years back “Hey Ro, I don’t know where I’m going but you are coming with me on a big trip one day”. That day was now; present day 2023.

I had asked Beverly where she wanted to go as this was her once-in-a-lifetime trip and she started naming places – Australia, New Zealand & Japan were top contenders. I normally wouldn’t try to put expensive countries together but for this trip, we sure did. Luckily, with my friend Winnie, who I went to Europe with back in 2019, we had made an alternate itinerary for a potential 3-month Australia & New Zealand trip if we just so happened to catch a flight deal (which we did not hence we went to Europe instead). I used this 3-month itinerary as my starting point.

The only section I didn’t plan was Philippines and Bali, Indonesia.

With semi-budget in mind and comfort as a top priority as well as compromise, this trip was planned and booked. I started working on this itinerary as early as March 2022 with it coming to fruition as of October 2022 when we booked our main one-way flight to Auckland. Lots of trial and errors but hey, we did it.

If you didn’t already know, when I travel, I don’t go away for a laid-back vacation but rather to absorb and experience as much as I can in a reasonable timeframe. This one, was a whirlwind.

To begin with, the countries we went to: New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, Philippines, Indonesia, Taiwan, Japan & I added on South Korea (my friend Jenn joined for this leg) for myself with a stopover in Vancouver before heading back to Toronto. 81 days for Beverly and 98 days for myself.

I have previously been to New Zealand, Australia & Japan (parts of it) so I wanted to make sure Bev & her partner Eric (who joined for Japan) were able to experience the quintessential things the first timers should experience but also expansive to the things I wanted to see and do that I have been intrigued with and never accomplished in my past travels.

We booked and paid for majority of the trip before we left for the trip. This definitely made it less stressful to not be planning and booking things during our trip. Especially being such an intricate trip with so many countries, it had to be planned ahead of time. Biggest pet peeve is wasting time while travelling trying to figure out what to do during the trip.

Tours

Majority of the tours booked were through Klook. A Hong Kong based online booking platform connecting travellers to local operators. The perks of using Klook is there are usually discount codes floating around so you can purchase your booking cheaper than booking directly sometimes. You also accrue credits for future bookings.

We also used Viator for many of our Tours in Oceania. If you can find the tour companies on your own, you might actually find a better deal directly.

This is a long section but here is info I gathered for each country I went to. I hope this helps your planning!

The itinerary will be below all of this. Good luck.

New Zealand – NZD

Visa – Download the NZeTa app and apply for your NZ Visa – cheaper via the app as opposed to applying online. – 17NZD + 35NZD tourism levy

-Credit card over cash but cash is still accepted

-Tipping is not common – Tour guides – 5% or $5 if you do decide to

-Need to go up to the register to pay for meals

-They are all about being more sustainable/eco/green although their garbage system isn’t as advanced in public – we saw general waste or glass bottles but not compost nor paper products.

-Roundabouts > stop signs

-Uber is available

-Aurora Australis – Best spots

-Besides downtown Auckland, there weren’t many places where we saw high rises. Basements aren’t a thing there. Insulation doesn’t really exist either as the weather fluctuates a lot but you also don’t want to trap the heat in as the sun is no joke.

-Homes don’t really have “yards” as space is more utilized with homes being built closer together and one in front of the other type of deal. You also won’t find basements here.

Driving – Left side of the road.

Australia – AUD

-Download Australian Eta App – apply for your Visa – 20AUD

-Opal Card – Sydney Transit – but you can also pay with credit card. Perks of Opal card is for seniors and it will tell you your transit history. The final total gets adjusted every few weeks.

-Credit Card over cash but cash is still accepted at majority of places.

-Sydney – If you are eating out on a weekend or a public holiday – there is an additional charge. There are also extra surcharges when using credit card.

-Tipping is not common

-Need to go up to the register to pay for meal

-You can scuba dive however it is called a Discovery Dive

-Driving – Left side of the road. you can go 5-10KM over speed limit but that’s about it. If driving on the highways, there are cameras that will calculate your average speed from point A & B so be careful and don’t speed!

-Roundabouts > stop signs

-Uber is available

-Aurora Australis – Best spots

– Insulation doesn’t really exist (double brick build with no insulation + metal roofs – great advantage to have solar panels) as the weather fluctuates a lot but you also don’t want to trap the heat in as the sun is no joke. You also won’t find basements here.

-Perth was a dry heat but no humidity.

-Hobart was cooler than I thought it would be but ranged from 8-25C.

-Sydney came in hot with humidity and high rises in the city.

Singapore – SGD

SGArrivalCard – free and can apply online 72 hours before arriving to Singapore.

-EZ Card – Metro card – max a day for rides is 2-3SGD – top up at convenience stores but only with CASH

-No Uber in Singapore – Download Grab or Gojek

-Credit card over cash (BUT cash for smaller food stalls/local vendors especially hawker stalls)

-Tipping is not common as (10% service charge + 7% GST is automatically included)

-Cheers!

Philippines – PHP

-Cash over card – credit card can be used in certain places but the infrastructure isn’t the best for it.

-Tipping – If you do decide to, between 50-100 pesos. If you are tipping a specific service provider, tip directly. 10% to Taxi drivers, restaurants (check if SC appears; if it does service charge is added), tour guides.

-Cheers! – Mabuhay!

Indonesia – IDR

-Visa – On arrival – $35USD

Use this QR code for faster customs

-Download Grab and/or Gojek – scooter rides will be cheaper and faster to get around if you are in a rush.

-Cash over card in smaller areas (local vendors/food stalls); in more touristy areas card is better.

-If bringing cash to do currency exchange with, USD & AUD will get you the best exchange rate. Trying to exchange smaller bills like $1-5, they will charge you a lower rate.

-Stay away from Semenyak as it’s over run by foreigners. Canggu (Chang-goo) is still the “hidden” spot and great surf spot. Ubud (oo-bood) is more central in the island and where yoga enthusiasts can retreat to.

Taiwan – TWD

-Easy Card – you can order online via Klook for Airport pick-up – you can add TWD on it as well, TWD400 for a week is a good start to gauge – must pick up before 11PM!

-Easy Card – Can also purchase card from convenience stores but top up only with CASH

-Uber is available

-You can also purchase via Klook a Train ticket from TPE Airport to Taipei Main Station for a discounted price – you can purchase one way or round trip – You will receive a purple plastic chip as your token to tap for the train – Must pick up before 11PM

-Bring cash – especially for many of the food establishments

-Easy to withdraw money from ATM’s – we found we didn’t get charged foreign exchange fees.

-Tipping is not common. Tour Guides – 10%.

-Cheers! 乾杯! (kan poe/pe!) 呼乾啦! (ho͘ ta là!)

Japan – YEN – JPN

-Haneda Airport is closer to the city than Narita. From the airport you can take the JR train into the city which is the cheaper option.

-You need your Passport on you if you are using the JR Pass OR at least a photocopy / digital copy including your visitor visa stamp

-Keeping your Passport on you while in Japan is great for Tourist discounts. Spending $50CAD or over for tax free.

-When purchasing items, it will show you the price before tax but also in brackets price with tax included.

-There are tons of smoking rooms/areas as people still smoke cigarettes.

-Garbages are hard to find – should not eat and walk around.

-It is rainy season in June & September – try to avoid these times to visit

-Cheers! – 乾杯 Kanpai -Japan Travel by Navitime – Use the app to figure out train times although I found Google Maps to work better overall for navigation.

-JR Pass – If you are planning on purchasing a JR Pass, you should purchase before leaving your home country – maximum 3 months prior to your trip. It can only be purchased by non-Japanese citizens. You can purchase 7, 14 or 21 day passes. it takes a bit a time to get the passes delivered and must be activated within the 3 months. You can calculate the fares per trip and figure it out if the JR Pass is worth it for your travels. There are 2 versions of the JR Pass – Ordinary & Green Class Premium. Purchasing in Toronto, for pick-up or delivery – JTB & Kintetsu. I found Klook to the be the cheapest option. *As of October 2023 the price of the JR Pass will increase 77%*.

-Reserving JR Shinkansen seats – individual/group. You can reserve one of your tickets at the desk where you got it activated. Otherwise, you can goto the Shinkansen ticket machines and reserve seats there if you want to reserve. You will need to know your passport number every time you reserve a ticket. At the machine, press english then bottom left will say JR Pass Rail. Then it will ask how many ppl you are travelling with. Click how many – this saves you time from individually trying to book the same train if multiple people. Just know what JR stops you want to start and end at.

-To use the JR lines/Shinkansen, you will need to insert your JR Pass into the gate. If you have reserved a seat, when you go through, put both your ticket and JR pass in together. The ticket for the ride will disappear after the ride is complete. REMEMBER TO GRAB YOUR JR PASS after going through the gate.

-If you do decide to take the shinkansen bullet trains, those are the only trains you can technically eat on. make sure to leave some time to explore the station and grab an ekiben (meals that you can take onto the train to eat and they are usually made to highlight local regional ingredients.

-There are plenty of luggage lockers at the train stations to store your luggage for the day or a few hours. Comes in S, M & L sizes.

-Suica / Pasmo Card – Can be used for transportation but also used to pay for other things – luggage lockers, convenience stores – top up with CASH only

-Public Transit – If you are buying individual tickets, look at the big map above the ticket machines and wherever the stop is that you want, there will be a number with it and that is the cost to get there

-Each station in Tokyo will have a letter and number indicated the stop. the number under it when you are on the train if you see 2,4,6 is the amount of time it will take to get to it. A plus is that the trains announce each stop in Japanese and English. sometimes mandarin.

South Korea – KRW – WON

-Credit card can be used in majority of places however cash is key for markets and smaller food establishments as well as topping up your metro card

-Google Maps doesn’t really work in Korea – You will need to use/download Naver Maps

-Uber doesn’t really exist in Korea however you can download Kakao T.
-Korea’s transportation system is good and offer fee Wi-Fi. The Metro system is the fastest and most affordable way to get around Seoul. Subway fares start at W1350/ride and rates go up after the first 9.97KM. You are allowed up to 4 transfer to another subway line or a bus for free within 30 minutes.

-T-Money card – W2500 and can add W1000, W5000 or W10,000 – can be used for trains & buses but also used for taxis across Korea. – If you don’t want to keep your T-Money card, you can get refunded for your card at Incheon International Airport when you leave the country. Top up at convenience stores/Metro stations but only with CASH

-Tipping is not common

-Cheers! – 건배 [乾杯] (geonbae)

Congrats, you’ve made it all the way to the itinerary. If you thought that info above was a lot then hold on to your seats as I’ve been told my actual itinerary is very overwhelming to look at.

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