The First-Timer’s Travel Guide to Osaka, Japan


BEST TIME TO VISIT
Unlike Kyoto, the majority of Osaka’s attractions are indoors or within an urban setting so there really is no best time to go. It’s a year-round destination so it all depends on which season you prefer or how tolerant you are to hot and cold weather. If you’d like to see the cherry blossoms, then you need to go in Spring (March-May). If you’re hoping to catch the colors of Autumn, then October-November is the time to go. The weather is mild in Spring and Fall so either season would be an ideal time to visit. Despite its cold winters, food lovers may want to consider visiting Osaka in Winter (December-February) as well. Crab and fugu (blowfish) are quintessential Winter dishes in Japan so the colder months are the best time to have them.

HOW TO GET THERE
If you’re flying in to Japan, then chances are you’ll be arriving at Kansai International Airport (KIX). It’s the main access hub to the Kansai area. From KIX, you can take a train directly to your hotel. You can check hyperdia.com for train schedules.
If you’re already in Japan, then you can take a train to Osaka from wherever you are. You can check hyperdia.com for train routes and schedules. If you’re doing a multi-city tour of Japan, then you may be interested in purchasing a Japan Rail Pass. It will give you unlimited use of all JR national trains in Japan, including Shinkansen bullet trains and the Narita Express, for a consecutive number of days.

WHERE TO STAY: Best Western Hotel Fino Osaka Shinsaibashi
In my opinion, the Shinsaibashi-Dotonbori area is the best place to stay in Osaka. It’s the heart of the city and where you’ll be doing most of your shopping and eating.We got a good deal so we stayed at Best Western on our last trip. It’s a good business hotel just a few minutes walk from Shinsaibashi Shopping Arcade. However, people have informed me that room rates at Best Western tend to fluctuate quite a bit. Sometimes it’s as low as what we paid (around USD 65 a night), but other times it can be 3 times as much! You can try your luck on Booking.com or Agoda. Be sure to check both sites to find the best rate.
No matter which site you wind up booking with, I suggest finding accommodations in the Shinsaibashi-Dotonbori area as it really is the most convenient place to stay.

Sebastian Phua