Tag Archives: tokyo

Asha and Brock in Asia and Australia

29 Apr

In 2012, Viator sent two teams of two travel videographers around Europe and North America with our Dream Travel Job project. For 60 days each, they traveled, took Viator tours, and filmed.

This year we have Asha from our Europe team and Brock from the North America team back to do it all again in Asia and Australia! Read on to see where they are and what they’re doing on their adventure.

But first…

Meet Asha & Brock

Asha in Europe

Fun Facts about Asha:
– Toured Europe (Italy, Germany, France, Switzerland), Latin America (Chile) and Australia as a musician
– Plays a 7-string electric violin and was the lead violinist for the Trans Siberian Orchestra
– Toured the U.S. with Gnarls Barkley and played at the Grammys
– Breast cancer survivor
– Appeared on several pilots for the Travel Channel and the Food Network
– Skydived in New Zealand, white water rafted down the Grand Canyon and rode her bike across Tuscan


Brock at Niagara Falls

Fun Facts about Brock Groombridge:
– In 2010 he backpacked through 36 countries on 6 continents
– Backpack With Brock is his travel video blog
– He once ate a cobra snake in Vietnam
– He climbed to Mt. Everest Base Camp in Tibet
– He has lived with a Maasai Tribe in Kenya
– Does he look familiar? Maybe you’ve seen him in a TV commercial for Diet Pepsi, Skittles or Subway!


Their Asia & Australia itinerary

After a quick stop in the Viator San Francisco office, Asha and Brock took off on their journey around Asia and Australia! Make sure to follow Viator on Twitter, Facebook, Google , Tumblr, Pinterest, and Instagram for the latest updates.

Here’s their route:

Asia Australia travel route

Check back below for updates from Asha and Brock:

1st Stop: Tokyo

Welcome to Japan - Tokyo airport

Sayonara, San Francisco and Konichiwa, Tokyo! The team has safely landed in Tokyo, where they will spend a week exploring this fascinating city. Read more about their Tokyo itinerary.

Asha and Brock in Asia and Australia

Meet Private Tour Guide Mami Sorimachi in Tokyo

5 Apr

Mami Sorimachi; Tokyo private tour guide

Meet Mami!

As a Tokyo native who has been working in the tourism industry for many years, Mami Sorimachi is the ideal guide for personalized tours around Tokyo and the surrounding region. Professional yet fun, Mami specializes in walking tours around Tokyo, using public transportation to deliver you to the cities historical highlights — a unique approach that allows you to experience Japan’s greatest metropolis through the eyes of a local.

Mami is one of Viator’s top-rated guides, consistently earning five-star rave reviews from travelers. She was even chosen as one of our top ten guides of the year in 2012.

Mami is a wealth of information about Japanese history and traditional culture, but she can also introduce you to the idiosyncrasies of the modern Japanese. Not up-to-date with the pop and anime sub-cultural currents within Japanese society? Mami can fill you in as she guides you around the country.

As a certified tour guide with years of experience, Mami will custom design a Tokyo tour to fit your interests. She can also extend her personalized services to destinations outside of Tokyo, including Mt. Fuji and the Fuji five lakes in Yamanashi Prefecture, Hakone, Kamakura, Yokohama, Nagoya, Kyoto, Nara and Osaka.

Check out Mami Sorimachi’s Viator Private Tour Guide profile for more details of her private Tokyo, Japan tours and further information on how to contact and book with Mami.

Meet Private Tour Guide Mami Sorimachi in Tokyo japan , tokyo

I Heart My City (in the Spring)

29 Mar

Hanami cherry blossoms outside the Tokyo National Museum. (Photograph by Rob Towell, Flickr)

There’s still a chill in the air here in Washington, D.C., but the days are getting longer, the cherry blossoms are starting to pop, and residents are beginning to shed those cumbersome winter coats. Spring is upon us (at least for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere), and we’re embracing it with open arms by highlighting seasonal must-dos from our amazing I Heart My City community.

From ice cream to air shows, palaces to train rides, here are 20 ways to make the most of the next few months in 20 cities around the globe:

Shelly’s Oxford (United Kingdom): Head to nearby Wytham Woods to see the bluebells at their finest.

The Hyangwonjeong Pavilion, on the grounds of Gyeongbokgung Palace. (Photograph by Ncburton, Flickr)

The Hyangwonjeong Pavilion, on the grounds of Gyeongbokgung Palace. (Photograph by Ncburton, Flickr)

Megan Natalie’s Seoul (South Korea): Visit Gyeongbokgung Palace’s gardens to experience a piece of paradise you’d swear couldn’t exist in Seoul (make sure to watch the changing of the guards).

Ewelina’s Krakow (Poland): Take a walk to Krakus Mound at Podgórze; a nice, green hill where you can take a blanket and relax.

Annie Fitzsimmon’s NYC (United States): Celebrate the bounty of post-winter produce and eat anything with ramps on it because they’re only in season for a few weeks! Motorino has a great ramp pizza, and ABC Kitchen never fails with its in-season menu.

Keith Bellow’s Montreal (Canada): Hang around near McGill and Prince Arthur, soaking up the sun and the street life.

Anya’s Istanbul (Turkey): Visit Topkapi Palace. The flowers are in bloom and it’s positively stunning.

Katherine’s Athens (Greece): Take a bus to Cape Sounion, the ancient ruins of Poseidon’s temple. On the short bus ride from Athens, you’ll wind along the coast and enjoy some of my favorite views.

The Boxi-Platz flea market in Berlin. (Photograph by La Citta Vita, Flickr)

Berlin’s Boxhagener Platz flea market is open on Sundays. (Photograph by La Citta Vita, Flickr)

Madeleine’s Annapolis (U.S.): Check out the Blue Angels air show at the United States Naval Academy commencement.

Maja’s Belgrade (Serbia): Go to Zemun in Old Town and have lunch at one of the fish restaurants on the Danube.

Colleen’s Beijing (China): Fly kites by Houhai Lake.

Zain’s Amman (Jordan): Pack a picnic and visit the Hellenistic site known as Iraq Al Amir.

Shannon Switzer’s San Diego (U.S.): Check out the wildflowers in Anza Borrego Desert State Park.

Yvonne’s Berlin (Germany): Explore Berlin’s many flea markets to find great vintage clothes, furniture, books, and local art.

Sylvia’s Tokyo (Japan): Go for hanami (cherry-blossom-viewing parties) in a park with a big group of Japanese friends, some beer, and some sushi.

Jessica’s Barcelona (Spain): Experience a traditional Catalan calçotada which consists of getting together and eating large quantities of local green onions known as calçots along with romenesco sauce, regional wine, and good company.

Vienna's MuseumsQuartier. (Photograph by Photongatherer, Flickr)

Hang out outside Vienna’s MuseumsQuartier. (Photograph by Photongatherer, Flickr)

Jennifer’s Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates): See Abu Dhabi from the water. Hire a dhow (traditional wooden boat) for a tour, charter a speedboat to take you to one of the 200 islands off the main island, or kayak amongst the mangroves.

Karen’s St. John’s, Newfoundland (Canada): Watch the last ice depart from the Atlantic from atop Signal Hill National Historic Site. Check out the on-site gift shop where local music, books, and culinary delights make excellent gifts.

Isabel Eva’s Madrid (Spain): Take a trip on the Tren de la Fresa to Aranjuez. During the 50-minute ride, you will be served fresh strawberries. Once in Aranjuez, you can take a tour of the Museo del Ferrocarril (the railway museum) and the Palacio Real (the royal palace).

Lea’s Vienna (Austria): Do as the locals do and head to the MuseumsQuartier to hang out on one of the over-sized flexible furniture elements called Enzis.

Nat Geo’s Washington, D.C. (U.S.): Check out the National Arboretum and Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens, two of D.C.’s hidden gems.

Wherever you are, what’s your favorite thing about your city in the springtime? Tell us about it in the comment section below.

I Heart My City (in the Spring) Abu Dhabi , annapolis , athens , austria , belgium , Belgrade , California , canada , d.c. , England , France , Ghent , Gouda , Greece , Iceland , Istanbul , japan , krakow , Madrid , maryland , Montreal , netherlands , New York , new york city , oxford , Paris , Poland , Reykjavík , san diego , Seoul , Serbia , South Korea , Spain , St. John’s Newfoundland , tokyo , turkey , United Arab Emirates , United Kingdom , United States , vienna , washington

The Radar: Travel Lately

28 Mar

Sensō-ji is the oldest Buddhist temple in Tokyo. (Photograph by Aapo Haapanen, Flickr)

The Radar – the best of the travel blogosphere – is a regular feature on Intelligent Travel every Wednesday.

Here’s this week’s:

  • Easter Island may be hard to access (after all, it’s the most remote inhabited island in the world). It can also be expensive. But budget options abound for those that seek them in this tiny Chilean outpost. @budgettravelsac
  • Cannes, St. Tropez, and Nice are, well, nice, but you don’t have to keep to the French side of the Riviera while you’re on holiday. Trade your bonjour for buongiorno across the border in San Remo. @easyhiker101
  • Despite making headlines recently as a hotbed of instability, Beirut possesses a charm worthy of praise. And in the Lebanese city’s low-key Mar Mikhael district, old and new converge in the most surprising ways. @Gadling 
  • A bus designed to look like a panda bear whisks visitors around a city, free of charge. As kitschy as it may sound, this “only in Japan” phenomenon proves to be a terrific way to get to know Tokyo. @HuffPostTravel
  • Just 90 miles away from U.S. shores, Cuba exudes the aura of a bygone era. For those bogged down by the grind of modernity, consider this unique Caribbean island your great escape.  @NevEndingVoyage

The Radar: Travel Lately Beirut , budget travel adventures , Cuba , Easter Island , Easy Hiker 101 , gadling , Havana , Huffington Post Travel , Italy , japan , Lebanon , Never Ending Voyage , ngtradar , San Remo , The Radar , tokyo

Event-o-Rama: 12 Must-Dos in March

7 Mar

Holi is also known as the Festival of Colors, for obvious reasons.  (Photograph by Anurag Kumar, My Shot)

There are some amazing events on tap all over the world, all the time. Here’s a taste of what you can see and do in March:

  • As the summer sun sets on the Southern Hemisphere, one Australian beach town isn’t quite ready to bid the season adieu. In Coolangatta, surfing greats like Kelly Slater duke it out on the waves at the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast (March 2-13) competition. While the riders paddle their way toward big cash prizes prize, spectators can keep their toes in the sand with meet and greets, live music, and shopping.
  • Call it a bruja brouhaha. Subscribers to the supernatural flood the streets of Catemaco, Mexico for the annual Noche de Brujas (March 1), a festival that fetes the ancient tradition of Mexican sorcery in a community that claims to be the world capital of witchcraft. Healers and local shamans abound, but if the magic fails, don’t fret. The calming lap of nearby Laguna Catemaco may be just as entrancing.
  • The Gathering Ireland, a yearlong initiative intended to draw the Irish diaspora back to their homeland, takes a literary turn this month at the Ennis Book Club Festival (March 1-3). Acclaimed author Joseph O’Connor will headline the event, but he’s not the only draw. The weekend will be filled with enough readings, seminars, and literary love-ins to appease even the most hardcore bookworms.
    Many women --

    Many women wear traditional dress during Las Fallas. (Photograph by Alexander Rostocki, My Shot)

  • Once a simple feast intended to honor the carpentry of Saint Joseph, today’s Las Fallas (March 15-19) in Valencia, Spain is a veritable ode to pyrotechnic prowess. Watch as local tinkers construct enormous effigies, only to set them ablaze on the festival’s final night. Not all the statues face the stake though. A citywide vote bestows clemency to the crowd favorite.
  • Foodies and oenophiles the world over have been flocking to Sonoma County for decades. Discover why at the California’s Artisan Cheese Festival (March 22-24). Farm tours, cheese making seminars, and pairing demos are all part of the program, but the festival’s location — with Napa Valley, San Francisco, and the Muir Woods just a stone’s throw away — may be the biggest star of all.
  • Music festival season is upon us. From Austin to Glastonbury, large crowds and loud sounds are an inextricable part of spring. This year, take the path less traveled to the principality of Andorra as it hosts its first ever ElectroSnow festival (March 30-April 1). What traveler in their right mind (and with enough scratch in their pocket) could resist a trip to the Pyrenees for a weekend of skiing and electronic music?
  • Savannah, Georgia may be known for its Southern charm and delightful squares decorated with Spanish moss, but it bleeds green on at least one day of the year. The Savannah St. Patrick’s Day Parade(March 16), now in its 189th year, is one the largest in the world, and pays jubilant homage to the city’s unique Irish heritage.
    The National Cherry Blossom Festival commemorates the March 1912 gift of cherry trees from the city of Tokyo to Washington, D.C.  (Photograph by Sachin Nayak, Flickr)

    The National Cherry Blossom Festival commemorates the March 1912 gift of cherry trees from the city of Tokyo to Washington, D.C. (Photograph by Sachin Nayak, Flickr)

  • Baseball hasn’t always hit it out of the park with the International Olympic Committee. After being axed from the summer games in 2012, the international baseball community responded with the World Baseball Classic (March 2-19). With opening games staged in stadiums from Taiwan to San Juan and everywhere in between, the quadrennial event is on pace to become a global institution.
  • Devotees of Krishna the world over descend on Vrindavan, India for Holi. The Hindu holiday celebrates Radha and Krishna’s love bond and the beginning of spring, with each major Krishna temple celebrating on a different day. But the most anticipated event takes place at the Banke Bihari Temple on March 27, where worshippers and visitors alike are doused in brightly colored powder.
  • Washington, D.C. ushers in spring with the National Cherry Blossom Festival (March 20-April 14). Celebrating the end of winter and the enduring friendship between the U.S. and Japan, the beloved festival centers around the willowy sakuras that Nat Geo’s first female board member, Eliza Scidmore, played a vital role in bringing to the capital city.
  • Bali is back. A string of attacks left the island reeling, but tourists are once again flocking to this Indonesian paradise. Discover it for yourself during the Bali Spirit Festival (March 20-24), where music and movement come into perfect balance. By day, festival-goers attend yoga, meditation, and dance classes. When the stars come up, international musicians take the stage.
  • In Birmingham, England mankind celebrates man’s best friend at Crufts (March 7-10), the “largest annual dog show in the world.” Founder Charles Cruft’s first show, staged in 1886, boasted 600 entries. This year, the four-day event — which includes competitions, displays, and a trade show – will play host to more than 25,0o0 four-legged friends.

Event-o-Rama: 12 Must-Dos in March Andorra , Australia , bali , Banke Bihari , Birmingham , California , Catemaco , Coolangatta , ElectroSnow , Ennis , Georgia , Holi , india , Ireland , japan , Laguna Catemaco , Las Fallas , Mexico , Muir Woods , Napa , National Cherry Blossom Festival , Phoenix , Quiksilver Pro , San Francisco , San Juan , Savannah , sonoma , Spain , St. Patrick’s Day , Taiwan , tokyo , USA , Valencia , Vrindavan , Washington D.C. , World Baseball Classic

25 Incredible Ways to Propose Abroad

8 Feb

Forget dropping down on one knee at a glitzy restaurant; these days popping the question requires a little more thought. From drifting along the Venice canal ways on a romantic gondola ride to camping out under the Egyptian stars, or even from the top of the Empire State Building, here are 25 ideas for mind-blowingly romantic proposals.

1. In a private capsule on the London Eye

London Eye

Propose on top of London in the London Eye

Pop the question with a glittering view of London from above by hiring out a private capsule on the London Eye and impressing your loved one with the best views in the city. For a romantic twist, book a  London Eye: Valentine’s Private Capsule where you’ll get champagne, flowers and chocolates to seal the deal.

2. At a private picnic in NYC

For a low-key and intimate proposal, few locations are as idyllic New York’s Central Park and with a Perfect Picnic Delivery to New York City Parks you’ll get a delicious array of gourmet foods delivered directly to your picnic blanket. All you need now is a ring.

3. On a private horse and carriage ride in NYC

Take a fairytale horse and carriage ride around New York’s Central Park where the iconic scenery offers the perfect backdrop, with great views of the Bow Bridge, the Central Park Carousel and Belvedere Castle.

4. On a gondola in Venice

Venice gondola ride

Cozy up on a gondola ride in Venice

Few places in the world do old world romance like Venice, with its historic canal ways, cobblestone plazas and majestic architecture. After experiencing a Venice Gondola Ride and Serenade along the picturesque Grand Canal, the only problem will be how to top it for the honeymoon.

5. At a fairy tale castle in Germany

Neuschwanstein Castle

Neuschwanstein Castle

Make your partner feel like a modern day Cinderella with a trip to the enchanting Neuschwanstein Castle, the real-life inspiration for Disney’s Sleeping Beauty castle, where you can swap the glass slipper for a diamond and propose in style. Top it off with a stroll around the lake and waterfall gorge, and a stop-off at the equally beautiful Hohenschwangau Castle.

6. At the top of the Empire State Building in NYC

Empire State Building

With Manhattan as a backdrop, the Empire State Building is a memorable place to propose

Views don’t come more special than the glittering New York City skyline from the city’s most iconic building – the Empire State Building. Reenact one of the many famous film scenes set on the hugely popular observation deck and create your own piece of movie magic.

7. On a sunset cruise in NYC

Don’t fancy scaling the lofty heights of the Empire State Building for a view of the Big Apple? Get a dazzling view from the water instead, with a New York Dinner Cruise. Much more than a simple dinner date, you’ll be served a 4-course gourmet meal while cruising through Manhattan on the Hudson River with views of the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty.

8. At the happiest place on earth

Disney World might be top of the wish list for family friendly holidays, but whatever your age, the iconic theme park never fails to bring a smile. For the most atmospheric way to experience the park, take in the legendary Illuminations with a spectacular Fireworks Helicopter Tour over Disney’s Epcot Center where you’ll get the ultimate view of the mesmerizing fireworks, laser and water show.

9. While watching a Hawaiian sunset or sunrise

Haleakala sunrise

The magnificent Haleakala sunrise

Get a taste of paradise without leaving the United States, with a romantic sojourn to Hawaii where you can set the scene for the big question on a Mauna Kea Summit and Stars Small Group Adventure Tour or a Spectacular Haleakala Maui Sunrise Tour.

10. Just about anywhere in Paris

What better place to propose than Paris, one of the most famously romantic cities in the world? Take a horse and carriage ride around the City of Lights, enjoy dinner with a view at the top of the Eiffel Tower or admire the glittering city skyline on a Seine River Cruise.

11. At Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls at night

At night, the lights at Niagara Falls make it even more romantic

You might have to shout to be heard over the thundering falls, but few backdrops are as dramatic as the world’s most famous waterfall, Niagara Falls, and there are plenty of options for a romantic sightseeing trip. Take a boat trip beneath the falls, explore behind the falls, enjoy a late night stroll by the illuminated Falls or dine with a view at the Skylon Tower’s revolving restaurant.

12. Toasting with cava in Spain

From fiery flamenco dancers to moonlit walks along the beach, Barcelona knows a thing or two about romance and the city boasts a myriad of ways to say ‘te quiero’. For the best dinner date, couple your tapas with a glass (or several) of local specialty, Cava, or better yet, explore the region known as ‘Cava county’ with a Wine Tasting and Winery Tour.

13. Under the Tuscan sun

Chianti Region Wine Tasting Half-Day Trip from Florence

Propose over wine in the Chianti Region!

The birthplace of the Italian Renaissance and home to the inimitable Leaning Tower of Pisa, there’s plenty to keep you busy in Tuscany. To make the most of the Tuscan sun, sample the Italian high life on a luxury Chianti Region Wine Tasting Half-Day Trip from Florence, where you’ll couple visits to the region’s most renowned wineries with a scenic drive through the spectacular Tuscan countryside.

14. On a deserted island in the Caribbean

Bring your desert island fantasies to life with a San Juan Snorkel and Picnic Cruise to a secret Puerto Rican island, where you can swim in crystal clear waters, sip Pina Colodas on the deck and snorkel amidst colorful corals.  Just don’t forget to pack the engagement ring.

15. In a vineyard in Vienna

Vienna wine tasting bike tour

Go on a Vienna wine tasting bike tour

Explore Austria’s most picturesque wine region with a romantic Wine Tasting Bike Tour departing Vienna where you’ll get to explore the traditional wine taverns in the Wachau Valley and sample some of the country’s finest wines. Take time to pedal through the cobblestone villages and sprawling vineyards, before cooling off with a romantic dip in the Danube River.

16. In California’s wine country

Prefer to stay stateside? Explore the rolling hills and verdant valleys of California with a Napa and Sonoma Wine Country Tour, instead. Home to some of the world’s most renowned wines, there’s something to impress even the most ardent wine connoisseur, with idyllic wineries hidden in the heart of serene Californian countryside.

17. Under the stars in Egypt

What better way to get starry-eyed than stargazing in the Egyptian desert? Spend the day marveling over the vast pyramids, then head into the Sharm desert to dine in a traditional Bedouin encampment and spend the evening spotting star constellations in the night sky with a Private Tour: Egyptian Stars and Bedouin Dinner.

18. On a beach in Bali


Bali is beautiful and romantic

No longer just for hippies, surfers and yoga enthusiasts, beach lovers will find few places as heavenly as Bali. Indonesia’s spiritual hub makes an idyllic spot for a romantic getaway, where you can indulge in luxury spa treatments, cycle around the glistening rice paddies and stroll hand in hand along the white sands.

19. At the Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal

Admire the Taj Mahal together

Looking for an awe-inspiring setting to get down on one knee? Take a break from sightseeing and propose at the famous Princess Diana bench before the magnificent Taj Mahal – the iconic white marble dome and exquisite gardens will make a spectacular backdrop to your holiday snaps.

20. On the Great Wall of China

Great Wall of China in autumn

The Great Wall of China in autumn

A UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the 7 wonders of the world, no travel wish list is complete without a trip to see the epic 8,850km long Great Wall of China. Make your move as you marvel the ancient structure and the views won’t be the only thing taking your breath away!

21. At the top of Mt Fuji

Scale the summit of Japan’s most iconic peak, teetering a heart-racing 3,775 meters over the surrounding Fuji Five Lakes, Mount Fuji offers a sunrise so magical that you’ll understand why the mountain is considered sacred. Huddle together on the summit and whisper sweet nothings as the sun melts over the horizon.

22. Dancing the tango in Buenos Aires

Oozing with Latino charm, Buenos Aires is the self-proclaimed romance capital of South America. Stir up the passion by learning to dance the tango in a traditional milonga (dancehall) or opt to watch the professionals at work with a sultry tango dinner show.

23. Hot air ballooning over Cappadocia

Cappadocia hot air balloon ride

Watch hot air balloons take off in Cappadocia

Float over the otherworldly landscape of Cappadocia on a sunrise Hot Air Balloon flight where you’ll get a bird’s eye view of the region’s famous fairy chimneys, then celebrate with a champagne toast on landing.

24. On an elephant trek in Thailand

Chiang Dao Elephant Camp

Pop the question on an elephant trek

For an adventurous way to mark your engagement, explore the jungle from the back of Thailand’s gentle giants with an elephant ride in Phuket or Chiang Mai. Alternatively, get up close and personal with a visit to an elephant sanctuary, where you’ll get to splash around with the baby elephants as you help with bath time.

25. On safari in South Africa

Pilanesburg Nature Reserve Safari

Zebras at Pilanesburg Nature Reserve

An African safari is sure to top everyone’s bucket list so throw an engagement party to remember with a wildlife adventure in South Africa. Spot the Big 5 from the comfort of a private jeep, gallop across the savannah on a horseback safari or cuddle up in a luxury eco lodge beneath the desert stars.

25 Incredible Ways to Propose Abroad bali , Barcelona , Buenos Aires , Cappadocia , China , Egypt , featured , hawaii , india , London , Munich , napa and sonoma , new york city , Niagara Falls , Paris , Puerto Rico , romantic travel , South Africa , thailand , tokyo , tuscany , venice , Walt Disney World