Travel: Osaka, Kyoto and Nara with Kids during the Golden Week

I’ve always been somewhat of an impromptu traveller, but this was the first time that I embarked on a trip with blanks in my itinerary – there were a few days where we decided on the place on the day itself by looking at Tripadvisor! When I told my friends that we were going to Osaka, their responses were mixed. They felt that there was “only shopping and eating” in Osaka. Before going there, I was a bit worried but it turned out that my worries were unfounded, because the places of interest differ for people with and without children. Neither of us spoke Japanese, but we got through as the people there were polite and helpful. 

We brought along our two children aged 3.5 years old and 1.5 years old. 

Getting There

We flew to Osaka on Singapore Airlines on promotional fare. It was a 6-hour direct flight to Kansai Airport (KIX) and the inflight entertainment and service helped to make things slightly easier. On arrival, we purchased the ICOCA card which could be used for the airport express into the city as well as on all the trains we took. The ICOCA card can also be used at convenience stores, much like the T-Money in Korea or EZ-Link here.

My friend passed us a data SIM card with unlimited data that we used during the trip. It was much more convenient than using a WIFI router. 

Accommodation

Being budget-conscious, I booked an AirBNB apartment located a minute away from Kishinosato station which is a few stations away from Osaka Metro Namba station and seven minutes away from Tengachaya, an interchange station that the Airport Express trains stop at. The space was clean, spacious, newly built and had all the necessary facilities like a kitchen, washing machine and bathtub. It was a small apartment complex with one apartment on each floor.

However, it seems like most apartments have rather late check-in and early check-out times. In addition, we had to register at a tourist cafe before we were allowed to check in as part of the regulations. It seems to be only for our host, so it depends.

Our first day was ruined because we took a red-eye flight and reached Osaka very early in the morning yet could only check in at 4pm. That said, we liked the neighbourhood. There was a takoyaki booth, old-school supermarket, convenience stores and the kids loved that there was a fire station nearby.

Getting Around

Taxis are scarily expensive in Japan and it was not considered as one of our modes of travel. There is Uber in Osaka if you are in a desperate situation, but otherwise, the trains served us just fine. As we had two children, we borrowed a travel stroller from a friend and had a baby carrier. Most stations we were at had elevators. In Osaka, the train lines have different operators, so you have to be careful which line you get on to. There are signs in English with corresponding platform numbers and departure times. Trains in Osaka are extremely accurate, efficient and punctual. 

I’d downloaded a few travel applications but in the end, nothing beat Google Maps. 

Places of Interest

Kids Plaza Osaka

Directions: 1 minute away from Ogimachi station

Kids loved this place. Start from level 5 where the main exhibits are. It’s a large space with so many things for kids to do! There are live reptile and fishes, a bubble station, a large ball run, news studio, percussion instruments, a “world exhibit” where children can put on costumes from other countries, train station mock-up and in the middle there’s a slide for kids above 120cm (?) to slide down to level 4. There’s also a long netted bridge suspended in the air for kids to venture to the lower floors. 

On level 4, there’s the Kids Town with some interesting features such as the supermarket. Kids can choose their groceries, scan them and get a printed receipt of their “purchases”! There are little kiosks for kids to play pretend – a cake stand, bread shop, sushi kiosk and the takoyaki booth has to be the most fun of all. There isn’t much else to do in the other parts of the towns, but the kids can play postmen by delivering letters to the right postboxes. The Kids Town portion is nowhere as interactive as Kidzania but it will entertain young kids. 

Level 3 is the “IT zone” and where the craft workshops are held. 

Ogimachi Park

Directions: Right outside Ogimachi station

This is just a small park with slides and there’s no pressing reason to visit this place other than the fact that it’s near Kids Plaza. This was where I had an accident on the slide which left me with a huge bruise on my eye for the entire trip. Let’s just say that adults should not go on slides that are meant for children. 

Nara Park

Directions: Take the Kintetsu-Nara train from Osaka Namba station or follow this guide. The park is about a 10 minute stroll from the station. 

It’s that ~famous~ place populated with wild deer. We heard of news that the deer were starting to become more aggressive, but decided to go anyway because I believe animals don’t attack for no reason. 

There are pushcarts selling packs of deer crackers, or senbei for 150¥. The deer have a keen sense of smell and we had a deer stick its nose in my bag where the senbei were hidden. Some deer follow you if they want more. Some deer have been overfed and don’t budge even if there’s a cracker in front of their faces. Some deer can bow to say thanks. 

Walk beyond the main feeding area and there’s Todaiji temple and a beautiful green grassy patch for the kids to run around, albeit scattered with round deer droppings. These pellets are everywhere, there’s no use trying to avoid them. A long, slow trek brought us up to a shrine and medieval forest. It was sunset and we were the only ones along the stretch. The musky scent of forest trees and fresh cool air was refreshing. 

View this post on Instagram

#bibimbubsinosaka Day 3 Nara Park is listed as one of the must-go places with children. We met up again with @childrenlovetoplay and took a train ride to Kintetsu Nara station which was a short walk from the start of the park. We'd heard about the deer being aggressive and there were warning signs stating that the deer bite, kick and headbutt but we went ahead to buy the deer crackers. The deer are smart and can sense when you have food and will come running over. Some will prod you for more crackers. Some deer have learnt how to bow to say "thank you". Further up ahead was a large green field with loads of deer droppings but with a "couple tree" and the best scenery! The kids loved running and making us swing them around. The entire park is large and we took a stroll up to the shrines which were closed by the time we reached. The walk down was serene and quiet. #osakajapan #osaka #kidstravel

A post shared by Bibimbubs (@bibimbubs) on

Tsurimi Ryokuchi / Flower Expo Memorial Park 

Directions: Outside Tsurimi Ryokuchi station

This place is large, and we probably didn’t manage to see it in its entirety. We went around the areas that were modelled after various countries (no Singapore pavilion, we’re too insignificant). If you like flowers, this is where you should go. The colours are so relaxing to the eyes. The main feature of the  

View this post on Instagram

#bibimbubsinosaka Day 5 We woke up early and set off for Tsurimi Ryokuchi, a flower park with features dedicated to various countries of the world. The kids discovered dandelions, hunted spiders and watched ducks swim in front of a manmade waterfall. After that, we met @childrenlovetoplay at Osaka Aquarium. I purchased tickets at @klooktravel_sg to beat the queue. Being at the #2 attraction in Osaka in the Golden Week meant that the popular exhibits like the Penguins and Dolphins were utterly crowded. The aquarium starts from the 7th floor and goes in a downward spiral to the 3rd floor. The kids managed to squeeze themselves inside and the crowd thinned as we went downwards. Then it started pouring after, but we got on the Tempozan Ferris Wheel anyway. It being a rainy day meant that the view was disrupted, but it helped allay my fear of heights. #travel #travelwithkids #osaka

A post shared by Bibimbubs (@bibimbubs) on

Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan

View this post on Instagram

#bibimbubsinosaka Day 5 On this day, the whole family somehow woke up extremely early. We had breakfast in our apartment instead of spending an hour at the eatery and were out by 10am. We decided to go to the Flower Expo Park, also known as Tsurumi Ryokuchi. There are mini versions of the attractions in various countries. The highlight of this park is a large windmill with a field of flowers in front. The kids seemed to enjoy the Canada attraction with the waterfall where the ducks were more. After the Flower Expo Park, we went down to the Osaka Aquarium. We entered at about 4pm, but the aquarium opened until 8pm. Elise loved taking photos with her tiny kid's camera. I'll have to download them into my com first. #travelwithkids #osaka #japan #sgmum #sgkids #sg50 #sg52

A post shared by Bibimbubs (@bibimbubs) on

Kyoto: Yasaka Shrine, Maruyama Park, Gion Street

Directions from Osaka: Hankyu Umeda Station -> Limited Express train to Kyoto or use this link

View this post on Instagram

#bibimbubsinosaka Day 6 & 7 It's actually #bibimbubsinkyoto, because we took day trips out on both days. All you need to do is hop on a Limited Express train from Hankyu Umeda station. The journey only takes 40 minutes! . . Kyoto is indeed scenic, but there are mostly temples and shrines which may not keep the kids entertained. There is a railway museum, aquarium as well as other smaller museums which could be suitable for younger children. . . On the first day, we headed to Maruyama Park and Yasaka shrine. We traversed through Gion and caught a glimpse of Kinomizudera Temple. The second day was horrible. We queued up to enter Nijo Castle but it was a complete waste of time. We didn't appreciate walking past rooms of murals and should have toured the castle grounds instead. It was also horrible because we had a disagreement and sulked the entire day away. The saving grace was when we found this quaint place called Maeda Coffee, a cafe/restaurant that grinds and roasts their own coffee and serves the best hashed rice and katsukare. . . #japan #maruyamapark #kyoto #yasakashrine #gion #sg50 #sg52 #travelwithkids #travelgram

A post shared by Bibimbubs (@bibimbubs) on

Osaka Castle

Directions: Morinomiya station

Kodomonia 

Directions: Namba Parks Level 5, near Namba station

Referral Links

Gain credits by using my referral links to book your trip! Shopback can be used on top of promotional codes to book your accommodation through AirBNB or other hotel sites!

Lodging/Apartment: AirBNB
Attractions:
Klook
Cashback: Shopback

Expenses

Airfare, accommodation and travel insurance totalled S$3,211 and I changed S$2,000 to Japanese yen (164,000¥) and brought along an additional S$500 (41,000¥) as emergency money. In total, we spent S$5,011 for 9 days. 

Airfare

We managed to secure promotional fares through Singapore Airlines for S$2,438 (2 adults, 1 child, 1 infant). This included S$200 in change fees for rescheduling our flight. 

AirBNB

The AirBNB apartment cost me S$710 for 8 nights inclusive of cleaning fees. I booked the apartment from An, a Superhost

Transport

Most of our money seemed to go towards transport. Each time we topped up the card, we used about 4,000¥ for two. We must have spent about S$200 on transport alone.

Food

Decent food can be had for about 2000¥ (~S$25) per meal for 2 adults and 2 young children. Due to our children’s preferences for gyudon, we mainly had our breakfast meals at Sukiya and Matsuya. These are just chain restaurants with standard fare. One of the more memorable meals we had was at Maeda Coffee in Kyoto, which my husband stumbled upon after a huge argument. It happened to be a highly recommended place in the end, which alleviated our moods. 

Otherwise, food is abundant in Osaka, from kaitenzushis to ikazayas, chain eateries and restaurants, you’ll never go hungry. Even the convenience stores offer tasty options like oden and bento. 

[Korea Summer 2016] Travelling with an Infant on SQ (Singapore <-> Seoul)

We’re back home safely after visiting our second home in Korea!

It was our first time travelling overseas with Elise so my first choice was Singapore Airlines. It turned out to be the most affordable option at S$1,660 for 2 adults and 1 infant (S$767.50 per adult, S$122.40 for an infant), even cheaper than what the budget airlines quoted!

SQ has a 30kg baggage limit per adult and 10kg per infant with no limit on the number of bags. We brought two empty 28″ luggage bags, 2 backpacks and a diaper bag and brought home the same items, stuffed to the brim plus an extra bag of clothes. 

For better rates, purchase their promotional fares if you usually plan your trips a few months in advance or see if your credit cards allow you to redeem mileage points.

Tip: When planning your holiday, check if the dates coincide with national holidays in that country e.g. We spent Chuseok there, where major malls and supermarkets were closed for the holidays. 

Flight Timing

It takes 6h 10min to fly from Singapore to Seoul. Many parents prefer night flights because it’s when their babies will be naturally sleepy. We took an outbound afternoon flight and inbound midnight flight. 

Bassinet

After making payment, I logged in to reserve bassinet seats for both ways. The bassinet seats are also close to the exits and are spacious enough to stretch your legs out fully! 

In-flight Meals

I selected Child Meal for Infant for Elise because it’s more filling and closest to what she’s currently eating. Remember to reserve meals beforehand! 
Baby Meal (BBML) Suitable for infants less than 1 year old, this meal consists of 3 jars (approximately 80g/3oz to 110g/4oz per jar) of baby food – main course, vegetables and dessert.
Post-Weaning Meal (PWMLM) Suitable for infants between 1 and 2 years old, this meal is more substantial than a Baby Meal. Food items are easy to bite, chew and digest.
Child Meal for Infant (CHMLI) Suitable for infants less than 2 years old, this meal is more substantial than a Post-Weaning Meal (PWMLM) or Baby Meal (BBML). Food items are easy to bite (soft) type of food items with lighter-based sauces.
Singapore to Seoul: Mashed Sweet Potato, Minced chicken patty, Potato patty, Milk jelly & Milk

This meal was surprisingly flavourful and Elise had quite a few mouthfuls. 

Seoul to Singapore: Omurice with cocktail sausages, spinach, fruit, cookies, a muffin, bread bun and fruit juice
This meal was served as breakfast at 3am and I didn’t want to wake up a snoring baby. Just as well, because the omurice was dry and the sauce was spread around the omurice instead so it was like a plain rice omelette. I kept the snacks for myself! The snacks don’t seem very healthy for children. 

Preparing for the Flight

Some babies cry incessantly on flights because they’re just not used to the environment. It also depends on your baby’s temperament. If it’s due to the pressure in the airplane, let your child suck on something – a boob, a pacifier or a bottle.
I stuffed her rice crackers into Hegen storage containers as well as nesting cups, a light-up bear, a bib, infant cutlery and a milk bottle for water. All these fit nicely into the Jujube Fuel Cell. I brought along her favourite “臭臭” pillow in my carry on bag for her to hug (which I left at her grandmothers’ place ;;)

You may want to use noise-cancelling earmuffs if your baby is a light sleeper. 


Baby Items For Flight
– 2 spare sets of clothes
– 4 diapers
– Baby snacks
– Small toys/books
– Bib
– Bottles

SQ frequently gives out toys or books to young children on its flights as well! They also have wet wipes, diapers and other baby essentials but it’s still safer to prepare your own. 

The covers are inter-lockable and the square based design maximizes storage! 

Before the Flight

Our flight was scheduled to depart at 3pm and we arrived unfashionably early because it is no fun to run to the gate last minute, much less with a baby and all the bags. We had enough time to do some shopping and have lunch before boarding. 

I’m bored. When can we fly?

The Flight

I did some research and was determined to latch her during takeoff and landing to ease the pressure on her ears. I faced her towards me and fastened the infant seatbelt before latching her. I’m not sure if it worked, but she didn’t appear uncomfortable or afraid when the plane took off. 
“Here, put them on!”

She had snacks, played with the crew and entertained herself with her toys before dozing off for the rest of the flight. GREAT JOB ELISE! I even got to watch Me before You and Zootopia! I haven’t been to the theatre since she was born! 🙁 


Wrong example over here – the bassinet is supposed to be zipped up when the infant is inside.

There was some turbulence so we had to remove her from the bassinet and onto my lap. This happened about 3 to 4 times and she whined a bit, but didn’t make too much of a fuss. When the plane shook, scary thoughts and “what-ifs” crossed my mind. I just hugged my baby tight and tried to focus on other thoughts. 

After two movies and a meal, the plane landed at our destination!