your Holiday/Vacation tips for LA, SF, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Tokyo

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by LouisBlack, Apr 15, 2008.

  1. LouisBlack macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2007
    Location:
    Balham, London
    #1
    Hey. This summer my girlfriend and I are doing a bit of an epic trip. We're flying to Los Angeles (1 week), then bussing it up to San Francisco(1 weeks). From there we fly to Auckland where we will be renting a car and exploring the North Island of New Zealand for 2 weeks. We then fly to Tokyo for 2 weeks before finishing up in Hong Kong for 2 weeks.

    What do I need to see in these cities? We've researched a lot so we know about the big tourist stuff but what about lesser known gems? We won't have a load of money, we are trying to do it on a budget so cheap stuff would be perfect.
     
  2. Antares macrumors 68000

    Antares

    #2
    Hmm...while you are in LA, go to my favorite restaurant in the city: The Hungry Cat. You'll also want to do at least one studio tour. I recommend the WB (Warner Bros.). It's really up close and personal and not very touristry. One of the times I was in LA, I just drove around in the hills and got myself lost...looking at all the fancy homes. That's a fun thing to do (but I had GPS to get me "unlost" later on, when I needed to get back). If you love music, go to Amoeba Music. It's an incredibly large music store (an it's not too far from the Hungry Cat). There are a lot of tourist traps. The Chinese Theater is overrated.

    San Francisco: Well, the original Amoeba store is located there (Berkley). It's not as impressive as the LA store but worth checking out if you didn't in LA. The first time I was in SF, I just walked around and looked at the buildings and hilly streets. It's enjoyable to stroll through those neighborhoods...though, mostly residential. If you like sea life, I would recommend that you visit Monterey. Otherwise, it's some of the artisty things that I like in SF. I'm not sure if you guys would be into that. A lot of things also depend on if you're getting a car (for LA too). San Francisco, I could almost do without....but LA...you need a car.
     
  3. Surely Guest

    Surely

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2007
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    #3
    I hope that you guys are renting a car for LA, otherwise be prepared for long bus rides or expensive cabs.

    I can help you out with Los Angeles advice. I'm sure you've already researched some of these places, but hopefully I can add to your info:

    Check out:
    -Venice Beach (park in the lot that's right on the beach at the end of Venice Blvd- only $7 all day)
    -Santa Monica Pier and the 3rd Street Promenade (park in the underground lot that is off of Santa Monica Blvd at the corner with Ocean Ave $7-9).
    -The Getty Center (free to get in, $8 for parking)- an art gallery in the hills. A very cool place to spend an afternoon
    -Runyon Canyon- (free) 5 minutes from Hollywood, an amazing place for hiking and for views of the city. Afterwards you can drive through the hills and see the houses
    -Hollywood- Gromann's Chinese Theatre, the stars on the sidewalks, the Hollywood sign. Find street parking on Hollywood
    -Beverly Hills- Rodeo Drive (although it's not as impressive as you may think) There is meter parking in a garage at the top of the street. If you go on Beverly Drive, south of Wilshire, there are some nice coffee shops (Check out Urth Cafe) stores and restaurants along the street
    -The Grove and Farmer's Market (have lunch or dinner here, there is so many places to choose from, and the food is great) If you eat at Farmer's Market, make sure you park at Farmer's Market so you can get your parking validated
    -Westwood Village- go see a movie in one of the old theatres, have dinner in the Village. A good place to go- it caters to UCLA, so there are a lot of good cheap places to eat.
    -Melrose (park just east of Melrose and Fairfax and walk east)- cool shops

    I haven't been to the theme parks for years, but you should expect those to be very expensive.

    Hopefully that is helpful. Let me know if you have any questions....
     
  4. Gasu E. macrumors 601

    Gasu E.

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2004
    Location:
    Not far from Boston, MA.
    #4
    Let me suggest a slight variation. Do rent a car in LA (an absolute must), but cut your LA leg short by a day or two and take a SLOW drive up the incredible Pacific Coast Hwy. Take 2-3 days to make the drive and make pit stops, at a minimum, at Hearst Castle, Big Sur and Monterey (there are a few other nice places like Sta Barbara if you like to take your time). When you get into SF, check into your hotel, keep the car one more day and drive up to the Muir Woods to see the ancient Redwood forest in the AM, then to Napa for a few winery tours in the PM. Return to SF, ditch the car, and enjoy the city the rest of the time by public transit or on foot.

    BTW: the first time I was in LA for an extended period, we had a very hot, bad smog day (which, hopefully, are rare these days) which by afternoon had made me and my companion physically ill. So we decided to drive a couple of hours east into the desert to Joshua Tree in time to catch the sunset, stayed in a cheap motel and drove through the park the following morning. Definitely a win!
     
  5. LouisBlack thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2007
    Location:
    Balham, London
    #5
    Hey. Thanks for the suggestions. All very helpful.

    I'm hearing more and more that we'll need a car in L.A. so it'll definitely be something I'll look into. I suppose I've just heard horror stories of people being stuck on the freeways for hours in the heat... It might be good to grab one for a couple of days and then spend a few days just relaxing on the beach before heading to wintery New Zealand...

    We've already booked tickets on the ol' Greyhound bus to get to SF so we can't drive there - hopefully they'll take the ocean road anyway.
     
  6. Eraserhead macrumors G4

    Eraserhead

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2005
    Location:
    UK
    #6
    It might be worth changing the thread title to the places you are going ;).

    Do so in Edit Post>Advanced.

    It'd be nice, but its not going to happen, they'll go on the I-5 motorway.

    2 weeks in Hong Kong also seems rather a lot, I suggest you either take the train into China (visa required), or fly to somewhere else in SE Asia for a bit. AirAsia flies from Hong Kong, and Tiger Airways flies from Macau. They both charge about £30/plane/person.
     
  7. Gasu E. macrumors 601

    Gasu E.

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2004
    Location:
    Not far from Boston, MA.
    #7
    I was so engrossed in the USA part that I failed to notice the above. OK, 2 weeks is a long time for Tokyo or Hong Kong. They are both fun/enjoyable cities but neither has 2 weeks worth of sightseeing. You are probably stuck with 2 weeks in HK, which is probably the more fun place if you are English speaking anyway.

    HK is a unique mix of east and west. Two weeks will give you plenty of time to explore nearly every inch of Kowloon and HK island on foot. Those are the most interesting parts-- there is also the New Territories, which I did not visit, but I understand is mostly industrial. Make a point of the taking a boat trip to one or two of the small outlying islands such as Lantau, which are relatively primitive. Take the tram on HK Island to Victoria Peak some evening, but also go up the funiculars and explore some of the street markets on the island. Kowloon is the part of the geographic mainland near HKI, and is full of interesting shops and restaurants. You will be accosted on the street by people trying to sell you cheap stuff, from high quality hand-tailored suits (one day turnaround) to knock-off Swiss watches. HK in general is famous for dim sum, plus there are some dishes that do not make it into western chinese reataurants (if you have a strong stomach, go into a restaurant with a picture menu and look at a picture of "squab". Yum!:p) Bear in mind that HK is quite congested, cluttered, dirty and dingy (except for the financial area, which is gleaming). Oh right, do visit some of the office towers on HKI--very impressive architecture.

    But you can easily do HK in a week, so if you can get a side trip into Macau or China-- do it.

    As for Tokyo-- a huge metropolis that has many interesting neighborhoods and smaller municipalities, although I warn you-- after 2 weeks it will all start to run together. I would heartily suggest that you find 3 days in your schedule and take the bullet train to Kyoto. Spend 2-3 days there and in neighboring Nara. This is old Japan-- something absolutely unique you will see nowhere else.

    I can't recommend much in Tokyo as I've always been there with an English speaking guide and can't remember the names of much of anything. Certainly the fantastic shopping districts like Ginzu and shinjuku are worth a stop. I do remember a youth district where thousands of young people would turn up in custom each weekend (either Sat or Sunday, can't recall). A few nice parks and shrines. Millions of restaurants and great (often tiny) bars. However, Tokyo, although immaculately clean and with a suburd transit system, is not tourist friendly. Shockingly few people in restaurants, bars, hotels, or other services speak any useful English. Fortunately you will never starve as middle-priced restaurants typically have picture menus or plastic food. But expect little help getting around. Get yourself a good guide book.

    True, cause it's the only way to get around. Try to avoid rush hour and it will be much better.
     
  8. Surely Guest

    Surely

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2007
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    #8
    Not true. The freeways are not the only way to get around in LA. I hardly use the freeways unless I'm going to the Valley (very rare) or downtown (once ever, who knows when again). True, the traffic here is horrendous, but if you learn the map of the city, you can easily get around on main streets and side streets without using the freeways. Study the map, make sure you know your route before you leave.

    A GPS is key- either rent a car that has one, or bring one with you (borrow one if you have to). I use it for route planning, but don't fully follow it because it tends to direct you to the freeways. I just follow it generally and avoid freeways during high traffic times.
    Another big help has been the Traffic feature in the Google Maps App on my iPhone. It tells me the traffic situation on the freeways, and if there is a lot of yellow or some red, I stay away. Also, 980AM has traffic reports every 10 minutes I think.

    LA is an awesome city. Oh, see if you can get tickets to a live taping of a show (ie The Tonight Show, Jimmy Kimmel Live) before you get here. The tickets are usually free....
     
  9. Gasu E. macrumors 601

    Gasu E.

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2004
    Location:
    Not far from Boston, MA.
    #9
    Hey, great advice! GPS was not an option the last time I drove around LA. Next time... the point I was really trying to make is that you need to get a car but it helps to plan a little bit when you use it. Your planning advice is better!
     
  10. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2002
    Location:
    Location Location Location
    #10
    HK is more convenient for English speakers, yes, but not a better city to visit. There's just not much there. I already listed a few places in the other thread, but HK and shopping go hand-in-hand. You can do things like:

    - the new Disney (would be interesting to see a Chinese Disney, I guess), and the rest of Lan Tau island.
    - Ocean Park
    - Victoria Peak (walk it, don't tram it.....I used to do it in the morning with my cousin's dog)
    - the light show at the harbour between the harbour on Hong Kong Island, and Kowloon). There's a light show every night, and Hong Kong has the best city skyline in the world, IMO.
    - and maybe take a tour of the New Territories.
    - Shop. Shop in Tsim Sha Tsui (TST), or anywhere in Kowloon, for that matter. Go to Central on Hong Kong Island and window-shop. :p I like HK Island better, as I'm more familiar with it, but meh.

    You need 5 days. That's it. Anymore time than that, and you really are wasting your time. If you're stuck in HK for 2 weeks, you may as well take the train to China (which requires a separate Tourist Visa, I think), maybe Guangdong/Guangzhou, and even Shanghai or something. Whatever. You have so much time. Or how about a quick visit to Taiwan.

    In Tokyo, there's just so much stuff for a tourist to do. It's not as easy to get around, but whatever. You can also travel 45 - 60 minutes to Kamakura to see the big Buddha statue there. That area also has a beach, so if you're keen, go for a swim. ;) If you're done with Tokyo, go to Fujinomiya (where you'd go to start your climb to the top of Mt. Fuji). If you're done there, go to Kyoto. Then go to Nara. Get a 7 day Japan Rail Pass, and you can just go from Tokyo to Hiroshima. It takes around 7 total hours by Shinkansen. ;) I did it. I had to get to a Christmas party in Tokyo with around 14 friends I hadn't seen in around 2 or 3 years. ;)


    And why oh why would you go to the North Island in New Zealand for 2 weeks.

    1. You picked the wrong island to take such a road trip.
    2. Change your plans. :p
    3. Change your plans, but maybe add a short 3 day trip to Melbourne as well. The Little Penguins are an incredible sight to see. Just the cutest little things ever.
     
  11. Eraserhead macrumors G4

    Eraserhead

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2005
    Location:
    UK
    #11
    There are overnight trains all over China including to Shanghai, see seat61.com/China.htm for more information.

    As a UK citizen you definitely need a visa for China (but not Hong Kong), I'm looking to go travelling to China next year, and I've recently looked into it. For more information see the Chinese Embassy website.
     
  12. LouisBlack thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2007
    Location:
    Balham, London
    #12
    I know what you guys mean about having a bit too long in Hong Kong and Tokyo and I would definitely like to travel out into Japan. We're already going to the Studio Ghibli museum which is in Mitaka... still in the tokyo area, but a bit further out. Also, isn't Tokyo huge? There must be loads to see and do!

    However, I'm not too worried about just hanging around. I'm a big fan or interesting architecture so I enjoy just looking at things and I imagine it's going to be waay too hot to do too much walking. I'm also just happy to take in everything in each city.


    @Abstract

    We had no choice in going to the North Island of New Zealand. Our flight had to go in and out of Auckland. I'm currently trying to persuade my girlfriend to let me go be nerdy and go to Hobbiton...
     
  13. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2002
    Location:
    Location Location Location
    #13
    You could easily get to the south island, though. It wouldn't have been that hard to set up. You could drive the length of the South Island in less than a day if you wanted to, and the North Island in far less than that. ;)

    Anyway, you're going to enjoy it. Mt. Doom is also in the North Island. Oh, and don't take any LOTR tours if you drive to the southern half of the south island. They're all quite bad, I hear.
     
  14. alexiajeorge macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2008
    #14
    my wife to Egypt for a tour.

    Hi, it is our 6th anniversary and I would like to take my wife to Egypt for a tour. Can anyone recommend a good tour company to visit Egypt? Has anyone had a good experience with a particular tour company to Egypt they could share? Also, if you recommend a tour company, can you recommend the particular tour you enjoyed and why you enjoyed it? Please help me. Thanks.
     

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