7 Legendary Toy Stores That Even Adults Will Love

It is no secret that kids go crazy for toy stores and planning a vacation with a trip to one always brings smiles. But what about the adults, can they have fun too? There are your run of the mill toy stores and then there are legendary, knock your socks off toy stores that appeal to both kids and adults. Think of towering dinosaurs, interactive play areas; classic toys that take you back to your childhood and more Lego than you have ever imagined. These seven awesome toy stores, located around the world will have both kids and adults leaving with a smile on their face.

7. Hamleys -London, England

Established in 1760, Hamleys is the oldest toy shop in the world and one of the most loved. The flagship store in London is located on Regent Street and features over seven floors that house more than 50,000 toys. It is one of the city’s most visited attractions welcoming more than five million visitors each year. The toy store is divided into separate toy categories; each having their own floor and generally the ground floor is devoted to anything soft from teddy bears to life size giraffes and elephants. It’s not just toys here at this toy store though; throughout the year various events take place including appearances by Father Christmas and his elves and incredible birthday party opportunities. Even Snoopy and Charlie Brown are known to make an appearance every now and then. You will have no trouble finding the perfect toy here, if anything you will come out with much more than you expected!

Photo by: Sharonsree
Photo by: Sharonsree

6. Kiddyland -Tokyo, Japan

This toy store appeals to kids and adults that are looking for anything Japanese, as you won’t find many of these toys anywhere else in the world. A constantly changing inventory makes this shopping experience unique every time you visit. Spread over five floors the atmosphere in the store is playful and relaxed, letting shoppers unwind and find their inner-child. Explore the entire Hello Kitty floor, the Snoopy floor and others that include Pokémon, Star Wars and Lego. Kids will love the variety of toys and figurines while adults will appreciate unique souvenirs such as Star Wars chopsticks. To get shoppers even more in the spirit, Kiddyland has decorated their stairs and elevators with characters. Overwhelming at times, this toy store is a must visit.

Photo by: tokyo.parallellt
Photo by: tokyo.parallellt

5. Playthings Etc. -Pennsylvania, USA

It proclaims to be the “world’s coolest toy store” and looking at the outside we may just have to agree, considering the store is actually shaped like a spaceship. Inside shoppers will find toys and hobbies for all ages, over 3,000 toys to discover. What makes this toy store so awesome is the fact the staff let you try out just about anything, inside or out. There are toy stations set up all over the store, where you can try out classic toys and new futuristic ones you have never seen before. Whether you are looking for old classics, futuristic toys or science experiment toys, you will find it all here. The employees who do demonstrations on unicycles, rockets, pogo sticks, magic and more will also entertain visitors to the store.

Photo by: Playthings Etc. The World's Coolest Toy Store!
Photo by: Playthings Etc. The World’s Coolest Toy Store!

4. Nintendo World -New York, USA

Hop into your very own warp pipe into the Mushroom Kingdom and beyond when you visit this incredible store located in Manhattan’s historic Rockefeller Center. There is over 10,000 square feet of gaming goodness here, spread over two floors, awaiting both news fans and old. This store is definitely not “hands off” as there are gaming stations throughout, with both new and old systems to explore. This is also the place you will find more memorabilia and games than anywhere else in the world when it comes to Nintendo. Don’t miss checking out the awesome Nintendo Museum, which is a part of the store and was recently upgraded and renovated. Events are constantly happening here with new releases of games and systems and it doesn’t seem to matter when you visit, we promise you will leave with a new found appreciation for Nintendo.

Photo by: NintendoNYC
Photo by: NintendoNYC

3. The Lego Store -New York City, USA

Lego has been entertaining kids since 1932, when the brand was developed and clicked with children all over the world. Lego has an impressive amount of stores and it can be hard to narrow down which is the best but the award has to go to New York City. Its two-story Rockefeller Center location boasts over 3,000 square feet of iconic plastic bricks, and all the accessories to go with them. The Pick-A-Brick wall is perhaps the most impressive feature of this store. A structure dressed with 116 bubbles filled with individual Lego pieces, ranging from rare colored bricks to flowers to wheels, fences and more. The Master’s Builder Bar is where you can design your own Lego kit and even play Lego inspired video games. If that wasn’t enough to win you over, how about searching the store for the 50 Lego scenes of the Big Apple that are situated throughout. We aren’t sure who will enjoy this store more, the kids or the adults.

Photo by: TimeOut
Photo by: TimeOut

2. Disney Store -London, England

It wouldn’t be a list of epic toy stores if it didn’t have at least one Disney Store on it and the largest one in Europe gets special mention here. From the outside, the store is impressive in itself featuring a 28 foot high Princess Castle with an animated clock. The Princess makes appearances in the windows while Tinkerbell flies across the walls. Guarding the store are Mickey and Donald Sentries. Inside is where the real magic happens though, featuring 8,200 square feet of toys, games and clothes, all featuring Disney’s iconic characters. Free interactive events constantly happen throughout the year including animation classes, storytelling, trivia quizzes and even full fledged parades. Adults will enjoy the interesting map that shows Disney’s connection to London by pinpointing movie locations such as Big Ben and St. Paul’s Cathedral from movies such as Mary Poppins, Peter Pan, 101 Dalmatians and more.

Disney Store london

1. American Girl Place -Chicago, USA

American Girl Place is the ultimate toy store to visit for any doll fan, whether you are an adult or child. Located at Chicago’s Water Tower Place it is the largest American Girl store in the United States. This shop is home to all of the beloved doll characters including the Girl of the Year and more. It is here where shoppers will find an extensive range of doll accessories, clothing, posters and books. Doll lovers will absolutely love designing their own matching doll and girl t-shirts, appearing on the cover of a souvenir issue of American Girl and watching their doll get their hair done in the Doll Hair Salon. There is even an elegant American Girl Café that is open for brunch, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner, reservations are highly recommended. Special events happen throughout the year here and include private shopping nights, meet and greet with Santa and holiday parties.

Photo by: Flickr/popaitaly
Photo by: Flickr/popaitaly

15 Amazing Hotels Around The World For Under $100

While it is very easy to spend a lot of money when staying at a nice hotel there are some places around the world that have world class service and rooms that easily fit into any budget. With a little searching you can find hotels that offer luxury accommodations, great facilities and locations. Next time you are looking to get away for a weekend getaway, head out on a business trip or even once in a lifetime family trip, you don’t have to settle for a small room in a substandard hotel because you are afraid it might break your budget. Take some of these suggestions for amazing hotels that you can book for under $100 a night.

15. Chatrium Hotel Riverside -Bangkok, Thailand

The Chatrium Hotel Riverside is a multiple award winning hotel located adjacent to the Chao Phraya River, just 30 km from the International Airport in Bangkok, Thailand. A Grand Room with a city view is under $80 and comes with a private balcony. At 60 sq. meters the room comes complete with a kitchenette and dining area, coffee and tea making facilities, bathrobe and slippers. The hotel offers a business center that includes everything necessary if you just can’t leave work behind. A 35 meter infinity pool overlooking the river with an outdoor Jacuzzi awaits along with a fully equipped fitness center. Head to the Nemita spa on the ground floor and get a relaxing massage or do pick up some items in the shops. Also on the premises is a Starbucks Coffee Shop and the Saizen Japanese Restaurant. The hotel also has facilities for meetings and weddings.

Photo by: Chatrium Hotel
Photo by: Chatrium Hotel

14. Sri Bungalows -Ubud, Bali

For under $100 you can book a suite at the Sri Bungalows. The bungalows located in Ubud Bali comes with handsomely appointed suites with a private balcony overlooking the rice terraces. The rooms are stylishly appointed and other facilities include two swimming pools, restaurant and full service spa so you can enjoy a Balinese massage. The bungalows cover two floors and are surrounded by gardens and terraces. The hotel is only a short walk to the Ubud Market and the Monkey Forest. For a relaxing stay in a tropical paradise the price is hard to beat.

Photo by: Sri Bungalows
Photo by: Sri Bungalows

13. Radisson Blu Hotel -Cebu, Philippines

Located in the second largest city in the Philippines, Cebu is a popular destination because of the proximity to beautiful beaches and laid back lifestyle. The number one rated hotel in Cebu can also be had for under $100. The Radisson Blu, located 11 kilometers from the International Airport is conveniently located near all the popular tourist sights. With rooms offering goose feather pillows and duvets the Radisson will surely please. The hotel’s restaurant, Feria, offers both à la carte options and a buffet and with five master chefs the food runs the gamut of Filipino, Chinese, Japanese, Mediterranean and International cuisines. The hotel has a large tropical pool outside along with a fully equipped state of the art fitness center and spa. For those staying in a business class room or suite the business class lounge is open daily. The hotel also has a 180 seat lobby bar a pool bar and a tea bar serving 21 different teas from Sri Lanka, China, Japan and South Africa.

Photo by: Radisson Blu
Photo by: Radisson Blu

12. Riad Viva -Marrakech, Morocco

Located in the city center, 15 minutes from the airport, the Riad Viva Hotel offers visitors a relaxing stay in beautifully appointed rooms. The hotel offers guests a wide range of amenities including free WiFi, 24 hr. room service and airport transfers. With a combination of Moroccan style and luxurious amenities guests can be assured of a royal stay. The hotel has a pool along with a steam room and restaurant. The friendly staff can also help in arranging tours to the Ourika Valley, a Berber village, the magical city of Essaouira or point you to the best shopping in town. You can also check out the cooking classes offered by the hotel so you can learn how to use all those aromatic spices and flavors to impress your friends when you return home.

Photo by: Venere
Photo by: Venere

11. Hilton Anatole -Dallas, Texas

You don’t have to travel half way around the world to get a good hotel deal. The Hilton Anatole in Dallas offers the business traveler or visitor to the city comfortable rooms with all the amenities. A room with a King Size bed can be had for under $90 and has just about everything you need as a traveler. The hotel has a full business center and conference facilities and also offers an ATM, currency exchange, clothing store, onsite convenience store and concierge serve. Feel like getting a little exercise? Head to the Verandah Club with fully equipped fitness center, 25 meter lap pool, cross training and boxing gym or enjoy racquet ball the jogging track or basketball courts. The V Spa is the perfect place to get a relaxing massage or spa treatment. In addition to room service there are 5 dining establishments at the hotel including SĒR Steak + Spirits serving up tender steaks and fresh seafood on the 27th floor.

Photo by: Hilton Hotels
Photo by: Hilton Hotels

10. Hotel Paseo Del Arte -Madrid, Spain

Located just a 100 meters from the Atoche Train Station, the Hotel Paseo Del Arte is a 4 star hotel in the heart of Madrid. Comfortably appointed rooms are tastefully furnished and offer a panoramic view of the interior garden or the city. Complete with desk, free WiFi, flat screen TV with international channels, and marble bathroom guests are in the perfect spot to explore the city. The hotel has a fitness facility, shops, coffee shop and bar. The restaurant serves a breakfast buffet and along with regional and international cuisine. With 260 rooms the hotel is less than 15 km to the airport making it easily accessible. The hotel is located in the area known as the Arts Triangle and within walking distance to several museums, parks, shopping, restaurants and the famous Madrid nightlife.

Photo by: Hotel Paseo Del Arte
Photo by: Hotel Paseo Del Arte

9. Century Plaza Hotel and Spa -Vancouver, B.C.

The Century Plaza Hotel and Spa is a family owned and operated located in the center of downtown Vancouver. The hotel prides itself on providing the best service possible. With a business center, conference facilities and indoor pool, the Century Plaza is the perfect place for business travelers and families visiting the city. Since opening the Absolute Spa at Century Plaza Hotel 12 years ago, the Spa has received over 50 awards and is the favorite of celebrities like Zac Effron, Elle McPherson and Gwyneth Paltrow when in town. With an ozonated swimming pool, eucalyptus steam room and relaxation lounge the Spa is the perfect place to get pampered. The hotel also features the C Prime Italian Steak and Wine Restaurant. Using locally sourced meats, vegetables and seafood Chef Bruce Woods has made the restaurant one of the hottest destinations in Vancouver. A coffee shop, salon and Vancouver’s iconic comedy club The Comedy Mix are also available to guests.

Photo by: Century Plaza Hotel
Photo by: Century Plaza Hotel

8. Sana Hotel -Berlin, Germany

The Sana Hotel is a 4 star Superior Class hotel located on the west side of Berlin. With 203 rooms including suites and apartments the Sana offers a wide choice of accommodations. A double room can be booked for less than $100 and prices go up from there. Facilities include a breakfast room, restaurant serving Portuguese cuisine, two bars, terrace garden, fitness center and massage services. The F8/eight Bar & Lounge seats 50 and guests can relax with fine wines and spirits while listening to live jazz. A smoking bar also exists for those that enjoy a fine cigar. In addition to massage services the wellness area on the 7th floor offers an indoor swimming pool, sauna and Turkish bath. The Sana Hotel is also centrally located for sightseeing with the Brandenburg Gate less than 5 km. away, as well as the zoo, museums and cultural facilities being nearby.

Photo by: Sana Hotel
Photo by: Sana Hotel

7. The Signature at MGM Grand -Las Vegas, Nevada

Located just off the famed Las Vegas Strip, The Signature at MGM Grand offers an elevated level of personalized service. Luxuriously appointed suites start at just under $100 and have all the amenities you might expect in luxury hotels costing much more. With a private pool complete with personal cabana and in suite spa services to the spacious suites with granite and marble bathrooms and kitchenettes the hotel does everything possible to pamper the guests. The hotel concierge will ensure you get tickets to the best shows and hard to get restaurant reservations and has a gourmet delicatessen on the premises. Whether you are hitting the Las Vegas Strip, spending the day golfing or seeing the sights you can relax and unwind in your private suite at night and get the rock star treatment from a dedicated staff that does everything the ensure you have the ultimate Las Vegas experience.

Photo by: Signature at MGM Grand
Photo by: Signature at MGM Grand

6. Golden Tulip Amsterdam West -Amsterdam, Netherlands

Amsterdam is known for offering cheap backpacker accommodations with over 180 hostels in the city. For those not wanting budget sleeping arrangements with noisy neighbors there is an alternative. Conveniently located to Schiphol Airport and the city center the Golden Tulip Amsterdam West makes exploring the city easy. With rates under $100 you can have the comfort of a spacious room with heated floors, a rain shower and free internet access. Comfortably appointed rooms have been designed to be soundproof so guests can get a good night’s sleep uninterrupted by the wild Amsterdam nightlife. The buffet restaurant seats 300 and is open for breakfast and dinner and the modern bar is a great place to relax and have a cocktail, cup of coffee or a slice of homemade pie. The tram stop is a mere 50 meters from the hotel for easy commute to the famous sights such as the Anne Frank House and Van Gogh Museum.

Photo by: Golden Tulip Hotels
Photo by: Golden Tulip Hotels

5. Relais Spa Chessy Residence -Paris, France

Visitors to Paris know hotels and pretty much everything else can be pricey. With a little searching you can find gems such as the Relais Spa Chessy Residence near Disneyland Paris. A premium room with free WiFi, unlimited spa access and shuttle to Disney Land can be scooped up for under $100. The rooms have a small office area and a discreet kitchen with hot plate. Hotel amenities include pool, steam room, sauna, gym and spa treatments. The Franklin Bar makes for a cozy place to relax with friends for a drink while the Brasserie Flo restaurant serves up sophisticated French cuisine. The hotel staff strives to ensure each guest gets the VIP treatment.

Photo by: Realis Spa
Photo by: Realis Spa

4. Chateau Victoria -Victoria, B.C.

Sitting on the location of a former mansion the Chateau Victoria is a boutique hotel offering a touch of opulence to guests. The hotel has a colorful past due to a parrot that inherited the old mansion that previously stood there and some swear they have seen the well-dressed ghost of Victoria Jane, the previous mansion owner, roaming the halls. Whether you see a ghost or not one thing you can be assured of. The hotel goes out of the way to make to feel comfortable and the rooms complete with free WiFi and big comfortable beds await the tired traveler. The hotel’s Vista 18 restaurant offers regional cuisine and has an extensive wine list. The hotel bar, Clive’s Classic Lounge, has been listed as one of the top hotel bars by several publications. The hotel offers in room spa treatments and massages and the hotel has a lap pool, hot tub and fitness center.

Photo by: Trip Advisor
Photo by: Trip Advisor

3. Grand Nikko Tokyo Daiba -Tokyo, Japan

While Tokyo has its share of pod hotels, where you get to sleep in what resembles a submarine torpedo tube, there are other options. One such option is the Grand Nikko Tokyo Diaba Hotel, a 5 star resort located just 20 minutes from Haneda International airport on 15 minutes from downtown Tokyo. A superior Double room can be booked for under $100 during the week and the hotel comes with such amenities as an outdoor terraced swimming pool with fantastic views of Tokyo, a wellness salon, acupuncture center and has a medical clinic on the premises. The hotel fitness center is fully equipped and has trainers on staff and the hotel has several shops on site. There are eight restaurants at the resort including sushi, Chinese and Italian and the Ruy Lopez Bar stocks liquor from around the world along with fine cigars.

Photo by: Jalan
Photo by: Jalan

2. Lancaster House -Bogota, Colombia

Lancaster House in Bogota Colombia is a boutique hotel designed in the art deco style. The 4 star hotel has two bars, restaurant, gym and sauna. Gatsby Restaurant serves traditional Colombian and International food while the more relaxed Bistro 106 is a great place to relax and get a lighter meal or dessert. Relax in the piano bar with a game of billiards or a cocktail before heading up to your luxurious room. The Junior Suite comes equipped with a living and dining area, work space and kitchen. The hotel also offers a mobile spa service so guests can book a massage or just relax in the sauna. Located in an upscale neighborhood close to embassies and near the major shopping areas the Lancaster is centrally located for easy access to all the city has to offer.

Photo by: Lancaster House
Photo by: Lancaster House

1. Kaani Village and Spa -Maldives

The Kaani Village and Spa located in the beautiful Maldives offers guests a pampered option to staying at a discounted beach hotel. With a Double Deluxe room overlooking the pool that comes with a breakfast included the hotel makes a perfect base to enjoy the island. The Sampa Spa at the hotel offers tradition Thai massage as well as aroma massages performed by two masseuses at once. The hotel has a pool and restaurant and the hotel staff can arrange activities such as fishing, dolphin watching, scuba diving, snorkeling or an island tour complete with picnic. Rated number 3 out of 40 small boutique hotels by TripAdvisor the Kaani Village and Spa does everything possible to pamper guests and make your stay memorable.

Photo by: Kaani Village & Spa
Photo by: Kaani Village & Spa

Anthony Bourdain’s 10 Favorite Hotels in the World

Beloved American writer, traveler and culinary curator Anthony Bourdain recently published a list on his Facebook account listing his 10 favorite hotels in the world. He describes himself as a “Hotel Slut” having stayed in so many different places over the years. Certainly his busy lifestyle as a traveling foodie has taken him to some far flung places and required a lot of nights away from home. The star says “A hotel where I know immediately where I am when I open my eyes in the morning is a rare joy.” Here are his favorites:

10. The Murray Hotel -Livingston, Montana

Bouradin says that if you stay at The Murray, make sure you try to book the Peckinpah suite.

Photo by: Panoramio/juan234x
Photo by: Panoramio/juan234x

9. Raffles Grand Hotel D’Angkor -Siem Reap, Cambodia

Grand colonial-area hotels in Asia have a certain spot in Bourdain’s heart and this one in the ancient city of Siem Reap, Cambodia is no exception.

Photo by: Kiwi Collection
Photo by: Kiwi Collection

8. Hotel Metropole -Hanoi, Vietnam

Bourdain says he’s a huge fan of English novelist and author Graham Greene and says if the writer has stayed at a hotel (like The Metropole) chances are he will stay there too.

Photo by: Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi
Photo by: Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi

7. The Edgewater Hotel -Seattle, Washington

The luxury Edgewater Hotel in Seattle’s downtown sits right on the waterfront. Bourdain loves watching ships slide right past your room as you look west over the water.

Photo by: The Edgewater
Photo by: The Edgewater

6. Park Hyatt -Tokyo, Japan

This posh Tokyo hotel was featured in the 2003 film Lost in Translation and as a film geek, Bourdain can’t pass up the opportunity to stay here when he visits the city.

Photo by: Park Hyatt Tokyo
Photo by: Park Hyatt Tokyo

5. Hotel Oloffson -Port au Prince, Haiti

With all his television series, books and other entrepreneurial endeavors, Bourdain can afford to stay pretty much wherever he wants. But the star appreciates more than just 5-star accommodations, ambiance is everything and he describes Hotel Oloffson as “Sagging, creaky and leaky but awesome.”

Photo by: pizzo cipria e bouquet
Photo by: pizzo cipria e bouquet

4. Hotel Continental Saigon -Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Bourdain appreciates history along with his good nights sleep, and for this reason he loves to stay at Hotel Continental Saigon; Vietnam’s very first (and consequently oldest) hotel.

Photo by: Artful Rooms With a View
Photo by: Artful Rooms With a View

3. The Raleigh -Miami, Florida

Bourdain can’t stress it enough; stay at The Raleigh for the best pool in Miami. Period.

Photo by: The Raleigh Hotel
Photo by: The Raleigh Hotel

2. Chiltern Firehouse -London, England

This old Victorian firehouse turned hotel is owned by the same team as Bourdain’s number one pick and he describes the London hotel as “pretty much perfection.”

Photo by: Chiltern Firehouse Hotel
Photo by: Chiltern Firehouse Hotel

1. Chateau Marmont -Los Angeles, California

Bourdain’s love of Chateau Marmot is clear: the author says “if I have to die in a hotel room, let it be here. I will work in LA just to stay at the Chateau.”

Photo by: Chateau Marmont
Photo by: Chateau Marmont

12 Awesome Free Tokyo Experiences

Tokyo, Japan is one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world and continues to dazzle visitors with its bright lights and contrasting traditional culture. What’s even better is that this city is full of awesome experiences that won’t cost you a dime! From testing out the newest products of Sony to paying your respects at a famous shrine to watching the sumo wrestlers in action; here are 12 awesome free experiences in Tokyo.

12. Visit a Photo Gallery

You will be taking plenty of photos in Tokyo but if you feel like putting down the pictures and checking out some professional pictures, there are plenty of opportunities in this city. Fuji, Canon, Nikon and Kodak all have photo showrooms that visitors are welcome to check out. They feature both professional and amateur photographers and most of them even have a small camera museum within them. Most of these galleries are open from Monday to Saturday throughout the day and many feature English guides. In most of these galleries are displays of products as well. As a side note, the Shiseido Gallery also offers free admission that hosts photographic exhibitions.

dimbar76 / Shutterstock.com
dimbar76 / Shutterstock.com

11. Explore the Showrooms

The best showroom in all of Tokyo is Sony as it takes up four floors of the impressive 11-storey Sony Building. On a visit here, you can get your hands on the latest Sony products, some of which aren’t even for sale yet. This is definitely a hands-on showroom with staff encouraging you to try out the latest video cameras, listen to the car stereos, play a little Playstation and marvel at the newest computers. Other awesome showrooms in Tokyo include the Toto flagship showroom where visitors can check out the latest in high-end toilet and bath technology. The “washlet” toilets are always a hit here as the seats are heated; a nozzle squirts you with warm water, dries you with air and uses a remote control. Visitors can also see what a $30,000 bathtub looks like! Other popular showrooms include Panasonic and many of the high end fashion designers.

Photo by: Leonard V Carlson via Wikimedia Commons
Photo by: Leonard V Carlson via Wikimedia Commons

10. Visit a Sumo Stable

Many tourists to Tokyo pay big bucks to visit a sumo stable, but it is in fact a common misconception that these training sessions are off-limits to the public. Many of these sumo stables can actually be visited for free, all it takes it a quick phone call a couple days in advance. There are certain rules that need to be followed though while watching these wrestlers in the early morning training sessions. To start with, there is absolutely no talking while observing the sessions or moving around. Visitors are to remove their shoes and sit with their legs crossed on the traditional cushion. If you happen to speak Japanese or know someone who does, it always helps to bring them along. We suggest asking before you take pictures and bringing a small bottle of sake as a gift. This is your chance to get up close and personal to these amazing athletes and see what it really takes to be a sumo wrestler in Japan.

Photo by: Japan Travel
Photo by: Japan Travel

9. Visit Senso-ji

This is a popular tourist site, for both visitors from Japan and the rest of the world. This ancient Buddhist temple is located in Asakusa, Tokyo and is the oldest and one the most significant temples here. Legend has it that two brothers built this temple in 645 for the goddess of Kannon, the goddess of mercy that kept returning to them in the form of a statue. Today visitors will approach the temple by entering through the Kaminarimon (Thunder Gate) and walk along a shopping street that stretches 200 meters. This street is packed full of souvenirs and local snacks and leads visitors to the temple’s second gate, the Hozomon. Beyond this gate are the temple’s main hall and a five-story pagoda. The Asakusa Shrine built in 1649 stands just to the left of the temple’s main building. All of these structures can be explored for free and the temple is home to many festivals throughout the year.

Photo by:  KENPEI via Wikimedia Commons
Photo by: KENPEI via Wikimedia Commons

8. Attend a festival

Festivals are an important part of Japanese culture and happen throughout the year. Festival themes can range anywhere from flowers to the dead to children to the moon and many more. One of the most popular free festivals is the New Bon Odori festival which takes place every summer. The open-air party is for all ages and celebrates dance, with a dance troupe leading everyone in easy-to-follow choreography. Another popular free festival is the Sanja Festival which attracts almost two million locals and tourists each year and is thought to be one the wildest and loudest of all the festivals. Religious ceremonies and large parades make up this party. Whatever time you decide to visit Tokyo make sure to check out the festivals going on, you won’t be hard pressed to find a free one around you.

Tokyo Festival

7. Go on a Free Guided Tour with a Local

There is no better way to see Tokyo than with a local guiding you around. There are so many sights to see that it can be overwhelming to tourists and that is where the Systematized Goodwill Guide Groups (SGG) comes in handy. These guides are mainly students, housewives and retirees and operate throughout the city. Tours depart from a variety of location at different times throughout the years and cover attractions in Ueno Park, the Imperial Palace and many more. To take a tour is absolutely free; all you have to pay for is the guide’s admissions to attractions. These tours are in English or other languages and can even be booked ahead of time by contacting the SGG groups. What better way to learn more about the city than from someone who lives here.

MAHATHIR MOHD YASIN / Shutterstock.com
MAHATHIR MOHD YASIN / Shutterstock.com

6. Explore Odaiba

The large artificial island of Odaiba is located in Tokyo Bay, just across the Rainbow Bridge from central Tokyo. Walk or take public transit over the 918-metre-long single-span suspension bridge to or from Odaiba where, weather permitting, you can sunbathe on a man-made beach and view a scale copy of the Statue of Liberty. Visitors flock to this area as it offers plenty of shopping, dining and entertainment. Make sure to window shop at Venus Fort, a shopping mall in the style of an 18th century South European Town which features over a hundred shops. The Ferris wheel on this island offers excellent views of Tokyo Bay and Odaiba and is considered one of the world’s largest Ferris Wheels. Whether you want to grab a bite to eat at many of the restaurants, browse the shops or pop into one of the showrooms; it call be done here.

Odaiba, Tokyo

5. Learn Origami

Origami is the pastime of many Japanese children and involves folding paper into the shapes of animals, plants and various household objects. In recent years origami has become more and more popular abroad, but it is here in Tokyo where you can observe and take part in it for free. Visitors will want to head to Origami Kaikan which is a hall that is devoted to the traditional Japanese culture of Origami. On the first floor visitors will have access to an abundance of products that were made in the studio, located on the 4th floor. The studio is open to visitors all the time and here you can witness the process of hand dying the Washi. The third floor is where you will find plenty of paper and origami to purchase as souvenirs. Twice a week the manager of the hall puts on a demonstration of origami and his skills are truly incredible.

Origami

4. Visit Meiji Jengu Shrine

It wouldn’t be a trip to Tokyo without paying respects at one of the shrines. We suggest heading to the impressive Meiji Jengu Shrine to do just so. This most famous shrine is dedicated to the late 19th century emperor who opened Japan to the West. Unlike many other Asian places of worship that are bright and colorful, this shrine feels more serene and composed. The shrine sits in the centre of Tokyo, surrounded by a green oasis of nearly 200 acres. If you want to pay your respects make sure to stop at the cleansing station where you can dip into a communal water tank and purify your hands and mouth before offering a prayer. Another way to pay your respects is to toss some yen into the offering box, bow your head twice, clap your hands twice and bow once more.

Sira Anamwong / Shutterstock.com
Sira Anamwong / Shutterstock.com

3. Visit the ‘Sake Plaza’

If you have ever wanted to know anything about this popular Japanese specialty drink, the Sake Plaza is where you need to head. Anyone is welcome to come inside this learning center and from outside the building, the education begins. Miniature displays in the outside windows take visitors through how sake was made in the olden days. It is inside of the building where it gets impressive though. Hundreds of sake bottles are displayed along a wall, collected from sake buildings across all over Japan. There is also a ton of information via pamphlets in English about Sake. We do recommend spending a bit of money to do the sake tasting here where you can try five different brands for just about 600 yen. The tasting list is in English and will tell you the region, dryness and sweetness and the price of the bottle, just in case you love it so much you want to buy a bottle after.

Photo by: Jon Aslund via Flickr
Photo by: Jon Aslund via Flickr

2. Climb the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office

If you want to take in sweeping views of the city there is no better place to do so than one of the free observation decks here. The tallest building complex in the skyscraper-saturated Shinjuku district, Tokyo’s 48-story city hall opened in 1991. The south observation deck is open from 930 to 530 pm and located on the 45th floor giving visitors views of Mt. Fuji, Tokyo Skytree, Tokyo Tower, Meiji Shine and the Tokyo Dome. If you want to see the skyline and city at night, it is best to head up to the north observation deck which is open from 930 am until 1100 pm. Each observatory features a café and small souvenir shop and is entirely free to visit. Head on down to the second floor of the building which features a tourist information center with plenty of information about Tokyo and the surrounding areas.

Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com

1. Experience Tsukiji Fish Market

It is one of the largest fish markets in the world and is a popular spot, both with locals and tourists, of course only those who are willing to wake up early in the mornings. The market starts off in the wee hours of the morning and sells every kind of sea creature imaginable. The most famous part of this market is the Tuna Auction which happens on a daily basis but only allows the public to witness it on certain days. You will have to get there at 4 am in order to be one of the 120 people allowed in and let us be the first to tell you, the experience is worth the early wake up. Make sure to explore the market after and eat a sushi breakfast, a must for any visitor to Japan. It is important to note that this is a wholesale market and tourists are to stay out of the way of vendors and buyers conducting business.

happystock / Shutterstock.com
happystock / Shutterstock.com

7 of the Coolest Restaurants in Tokyo

The restaurant list across Tokyo is endless, from Michelin rated dining spots to tiny but excellent food stalls. The breadth of choice is absolutely astounding—and a food-lover’s paradise. No matter if you’re peckish or famished, craving something spectacular or ordinary, or if you’re hunting down the best sushi restaurant or most popular burger joint, you’ll find it with a little patience and perseverance. In Tokyo, you’ll also find some genuine curiosities—from exclusive restaurants to places with fun, quirky themes. Tokyo’s urban landscape features some of the coolest food-stops in the world.

7. Ninja Akasaka, Chiyoda

Ninja Akasaka is exactly the kind of place you might find someone like Lady Gaga—yes, she’s been here and so has Stephen Spielberg, two types who you might imagine would appreciate a ninja-themed restaurant. Outside, Ninja Akasaka looks like a clandestine hideout, featuring a jet-black door that’s fairly non-descript. Enter and you’re enveloped by black paneled walls—take a few steps in and black-clad Japanese ninjas appear, they lead you to the hidden entryway and walk you through a labyrinth into “Ninja Village”. This hidden fortress features a waterfall spilling from one side and the semi-separate rooms are Japanese style all the way. Order Japanese, Chinese, or French cuisine from the menu—it’ll be cooked up by chefs with some serious global experience. And your meal? Yup, you guessed it: ninja-shaped food and all the while you’ll be entertained by ninja antics.

Photo by: Ninja Akasaka
Photo by: Ninja Akasaka

6. Aronia de Takazawa, Minato

Aronia de Takazawa is the kind of place Foodies flock to but here, they usually don’t get a seat. Chef Takazawa runs a tight ship at his restaurant, which features only two tables and a stainless steel kitchen. Actually, its austerity is quite captivating and you’ll be wondering why it took you six months to get a reservation, but you’ll fall head over heels once you try the dishes. Find Aronia de Takazawa by looking at door handles, not signs, for the restaurant name is engraved there. Yoshiaki Takazawa is a master chef, a chef so prized people will actually make reservations far in advance—and you should too. Meals are a sensory, arty enterprise gone completely right blended with a serene, traditional Japanese tea ceremony. Akiko, Takazawa’s wife, works by his side, creating astounding, 10 course meals that will teach your palate something new indeed.

Photo by: Joi lto via Flickr
Photo by: Joi lto via Flickr

5. LUXIS Aqua Restaurant and Bar, Shibuya

Sparkling chandeliers and a massive aquarium define LUXIS in Tokyo’s Shibuya area. The restaurant, named for both “luxury” and “oasis”, doles out a lot of each. Set within the trendy Ebisu area, one can imagine that LUXIS draws in the type of people attracted to higher end luxury and sensational backdrops, and that’s just what they get. The seating is comfortable with large chairs and the décor is quite fashionable too, but the central attraction in LUXIS is the aquarium, filled with an array of marine creatures including scores of tropical fish and turtles. Dimply lit with vaulted ceilings, the open space has plenty to look at all around. With Ebisu being such a hotspot for nightlife, LUXIS is often filled with people eating and socializing their way into the night. It’s a great place to relax, enjoy, and order from their extensive menu.

Photo by: Aquarium Architecture
Photo by: Aquarium Architecture

4. Zauo, Shinjuku

In Tokyo’s Shinjuku district is Zauo, a restaurant where you snap up your own fresh fish for dinner. It features a fish tank stocked with sole and seabream that the chef will cook up to your liking. The venue is fashioned after a fishing boat, with seating on deck, where “passengers” enjoy not only catching their own fish but watching others do the same. The vibe is festive and fun, and a great place for a laugh. The experience is a thrill and though you do have to pay for your own bait, it’s rather inexpensive. There’s also an option for ordering fresh seafood off the Zauo menu to add to your meal if you don’t happen to catch something quite large enough. Patience is a virtue here because even though the tank is stocked, it can take some a little while to get a bite.

Photo by: Thierry Draus via Flickr
Photo by: Thierry Draus via Flickr

3. Sukiyabashi Jiro, Chuo

Though there’s nothing that obviously cool about Sukiyabashi Jiro at first glance, the fact that it’s run by a world-renowned, yet surprisingly humble sushi master makes it a definite restaurant to consider. You’ll be splurging here at this three-star Michelin rated restaurant in Ginza, but if you love sushi (and you’ve really got to love sushi to visit) then Jiro Ono will treat you to one of the most incredible meals you’ll have while in Tokyo. If sushi is an art form, it is most certainly seen within Sukiyabashi Jiro. At the bottom level of an office building in Ginza is where you’ll arrive and if you have expectations, you might be a little bit disappointed: the restaurant is a simple ten tables surrounding a large, wooden counter. The best sushi of your life will arrive in form of salmon roe, mantis shrimp, flounder, squid, yellowtail, and other fish varieties.

Photo by: Leon Brocard via Flickr
Photo by: Leon Brocard via Flickr

2. Alice’s Fantasy Restaurant, Shinjuku

Get ready to meet “Alice” at Alice’s Fantasy Restaurant, Tokyo’s most interesting theme restaurants. The front door is book-shaped, and when passing through “Alice” beckons through a whimsical passage, which is both charming and vibrant and filled with characters. The central attraction is the large, heart shaped table in the middle of the restaurant, adorned with blood-red hearts in a shade so very reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland. The menus are heart shaped too, embellished with little keys and the chairs are fairytale-esque—perfect for the setting. The entire costumed staff is pretty cute, adding to the restaurant’s overall character, and the Cheshire Cat is front and center of course with his classic grin, surrounded by full scale murals. The menu—which is reviewed as decent—ranges from western spaghetti ragu to sushi and a slew of desserts…but most don’t go for the food.

Photo by: Alice's Fantasy Dining
Photo by: Alice’s Fantasy Dining

1. Aoyama Flower Market Tea House

Aoyama Flower Market Tea House is one of the prettiest, ethereal, and most unique destinations serving food in Tokyo. The tea house is just that but also a flower market exuding an enchantment that’s hard to pass up. If you happen to stumble across this little gem, you’ll be drawn in just by the look of it: green, lush, and illuminated with tiny little lights across the ceiling, spilling down onto interior columns. Inside, the entire restaurant/florist is lavishly adorned with beautiful flowers of all types and the backdrop hums with soft instrumental music. From Omotesando Station, it’s less than a ten minute walk to Aoyama and a great spot for a light meal on route to nearby attractions. The menu is nothing spectacular—on offer are sandwiches, salads and desserts along with beer, wine, and specialty teas—but it’s the perfect respite from Tokyo’s busy streets with a backdrop that can transport any busy mind to a place where time seems to stand still.

Photo by: Aoyama Flower Market Tea House
Photo by: Aoyama Flower Market Tea House

The 10 Most Popular Destination Cities in Asia/Pacific for 2015

Tourism to the Asia/Pacific region has been on the rise for a while now, as travel becomes increasingly affordable to more people, businesses expand into new countries and cities and as young people become increasingly infatuated with exploring. And why not? With a host of colorful cities, storied history and amazing sightseeing, Asia/Pacific destinations deserve to be on your travel itinerary. Not sure which city to visit first (or next)? Take a look at 2015’s most popular destination cities in the region to help get you started on your next trip.

10. Osaka, Japan

Although less frequented than Tokyo on the travel circuit, Osaka is Japan’s second-largest city, with nearly 19 million inhabitants, and has long been an important center in the country. In fact, Osaka was even declared the capital city during the 8th and 9th centuries. In the Edo years, Osaka maintained its economic importance as a major center of the rice trade. A booming economy led to a burgeoning cultural scene, something that continued to develop during the 19th century as Osaka modernized. Today, Osaka has many attractions that can give Tokyo a run for its money—from amusement parks to kabuki theater, from cuisine to historical monuments, Osaka is a destination that offers a little something for everyone, so it’s little wonder more than 4.5 million people will have visited in 2015. Stop by Shitenno-ji, the oldest Buddhist temple in Japan, or the landmark Osaka Castle.

Osaka, Japan

9. Mumbai, India

Formerly known as Bombay, Mumbai is the most populous city in India. It’s also the most popular city for travelers to visit—nearly five million of them in 2015—which is little surprise as Mumbai is the economic and entertainment capital of India. Mumbai’s cityscape is also impressive, with an eclectic mix of architectural styles documenting the city’s long history. Mumbai has the second-largest number of Art Deco buildings in the world, and skyscrapers now form a major portion of the city’s panorama. Mumbai is the birthplace of Indian cinema and hosts a large number of film festivals; Bollywood and Marathi films can be seen at many cinemas. Mumbai is also home to a well-funded contemporary art movement and has several art museums and galleries. The city functions as a major cultural center and hosts plenty of festivals throughout the year, with Christian, Hindu and Muslim traditions all represented.

Mumbai India

8. Shanghai, China

Perhaps more iconic than even the capital city of Beijing, Shanghai is, for many people, the representative city of China, which is how it attracts nearly six million visitors every year. The largest Chinese city and, in fact, the largest city in the world by some counts, Shanghai originally developed as a major center thanks to its strategic position at the mouth of the Yangtze River. It became an important hub during the colonial period, which helped bolster its international reputation. Today, Shanghai is the economic center of China, with major industrial, commercial and financial sectors operating there. Shanghai has long been multicultural, which is demonstrated by its mix of architectural styles, its religious heritage and even in the history of its most famous garment, the cheongsam. Shanghai is also an important hub for sports, being home to several professional soccer teams and the annual Formula 1 Chinese Grand Prix.

Top Cities 2013 - Shanghai

7. Taipei, Taiwan

As the center of Taiwan, Taipei is an important hub for economic, political and cultural activity, which is probably why more than 6.5 million people will visit the city in 2015. Taipei boasts many architectural and cultural landmarks, including museums, temples and the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall. Taipei is also remarked for its geography, as it lies on an ancient lakebed between 2 small rivers; the nearby natural hot springs are world-renowned. Taipei also hosts many major festivals, such as the New Year’s Lantern Festival, a Dragon Boat Festival and the mid-autumn Moon Festival. The city is home to Taipei 101, a supertall skyscraper that was the tallest building in the world until 2010. Ximending has become famous for its shopping and entertainment. The city is also famed for its many night markets, street markets that operate during the evening, which are popular with citizens and tourists alike.

Taipei 101, Taiwan

6. Tokyo, Japan

Japan’s capital city is one of those destinations that “has it all”. Whether you’re looking for new and exciting fashion, interested in taking in traditional kabuki and noh plays, want to go shopping or just want to eat the freshest sushi in the world, Tokyo is your one-stop shopping destination. Tokyo is a sprawling city with many museums, temples, historic buildings and, yes, districts dedicated to nightlife, fashion subcultures and electronics. Climb Tokyo Skytree to get a new perspective on the urban sprawl or head out of town to climb Mount Fuji. Visit the castle, where the emperor and his family reside, or take a trip to Akihabara to check out the latest in electronics. After a long day, hit up Shibuya and Roppongi for a taste of trendy Tokyo nightlife. No wonder more than eight million people will stop off in this city in 2015.

Tokyo

5. Hong Kong, China

Hong Kong’s deep natural harbor and turbulent history saw it remain a British colony until near the end of the 20th century. In 1997, the city became an autonomous region of the People’s Republic of China. Before that, however, Hong Kong had developed into a global metropolis, functioning as a center for trade and finance from the 1970s on. Today, more than 8.5 million people visit the city each year. Hong Kong has been described as the point where East meets West, with modernization and Western influences blending easily with traditions like feng shui and dim sum. The city is also a hub for the entertainment industry, producing many popular kung-fu action films. It’s renowned for beaches along its rugged coastline and with Mount Kowloon nearby with its extensive network of trails and steep terrain, which is popular among hikers. The city’s skyline contains the most skyscrapers in the world.

Top Cities 2013 - Hong Kong

4. Seoul, South Korea

Seoul will have received more than 10 million visitors in 2015, which make the city the world’s 10th most visited destination. As South Korea’s most populous and capital city, Seoul is the financial, cultural and political heart of the country. Seoul has been a capital city since the 14th century, and so it has a lengthy roster of historically important buildings and UNESCO World Heritages sites, including palaces and temples, as well as the remains of neolithic settlements. Seoul also has many museums and parks which form an important part of the cityscape. Two old residential districts are now preserved as museums to showcase traditional Korean culture and lifeways, including hanok houses. The Kimchi Field Museum is dedicated to traditional Korean cuisine. Seoul is also renowned for its modern architecture and was named World Design Capital in 2010.

Top Cities 2013 - Seoul

3. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

The capital of Malaysia will attract more than 11 million international visitors in 2015; in fact, the city has received at least that many visitors since 2012 and tourism growth shows no signs of slowing down. Tourism and shopping are major drivers of the Malaysian economy and nowhere is that more evident than Kuala Lumpur. Major attractions include the Petronas Towers, the tallest twin towers in the world, the National Palace and the Jamek Mosque. Petaling Street and Kuala Lumpur’s Chinatown is another notable destination for tourists, as well as the annual Thaipusam procession to Batu Caves, a major cultural festival that attracts many visitors each year. The city is a hub for entertainment, art and events, including sports and music festivals. Greenspace is also important in the city, with many parks offering recreational opportunities. The Cultural Crafts Complex demonstrates the traditional processes for textile, ceramic and metal crafting.

Top Cities 2013 - Kuala Lumpur

2. Singapore, Malaysia

With nearly 12 million international visitors set to touch down in 2015, there’s definitely more to Singapore than the infamous Singapore Sling. Singapore is not only a city, it’s a city-state—meaning it’s also its own sovereign nation. Singapore is a global city, with an important financial sector and a busy shipping port. Cuisine is one of the country’s major attractions, with dining said to be a national pastime. Singapore’s multiethnic mix has led to a unique fusion of Indian, Malay and Chinese cuisines—like the Peranakan style of cooking, which blends Chinese and Malay gourmets. Of course, the multicultural tendencies of the country have also led to mixed styles of architecture and religious celebrations in the city-state. Singapore has also earned a reputation for luxury, with gambling and casinos becoming an increasing part of the tourist economy in the last decade.

Singapore city

1. Bangkok, Thailand

Thailand’s capital city is on-track to receive over 18 million foreign tourists in 2015, and it’s not hard to see what makes Bangkok so popular. With a mix of historical sites and buildings, shopping and dining and a dynamic nightlife, Bangkok offers something for everyone to see and do. Another major driver of Bangkok tourism is sex tourism—so much so that Bangkok has been nicknamed the “Sin City of Asia”. Among the notable sites in the city are Wat Phra Kaew, a Buddhist temple in the Grand Palace, and Jim Thompson House, an exemplar of Thai architecture. The city’s National Gallery showcases the development of Thai art. As the seat of the Thai government and the royal family, Bangkok is also a hub for the celebration of major festivals and holidays, such as the annual Songkran celebrations every April.

Top Cities 2013 - Bangkok

The 10 Fastest Growing Destination Cities of 2015

With travel for a variety of reasons—business, pleasure and everything in between—on a seemingly ever-upward trend, it’s little wonder that people (and especially experienced travelers) would begin to seek out new places to explore. While there are some places that will always top bucket lists as must-see locales, 2015 has witnessed some destination cities become increasingly popular with travelers of all stripes. Here are 10 of the fastest-growing destination cities around the globe according to a recent MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index report, each vying for the chance to be your next vacation destination.

10. Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

The capital of Vietnam is experiencing a resurgence in tourism. In recent years, Ho Chi Minh City has become increasingly popular, witnessing an almost 13% growth in the number of tourists since 2009 after long languishing behind other Asian destinations, in part due to the legacy of war and communist dictatorship. Formerly known as Saigon, today’s Ho Chi Minh City is a vibrant, flourishing city that serves as the cultural capital of this oft-overlooked Southeast Asian nation. Without a doubt, some of the increase has been brought about by travelers with Vietnamese roots returning to Vietnamese soil, but it seems as though other travelers are also “discovering” Vietnam’s capital as a destination of international renown. Highlights include the Reunification Palace, the Municipal Theatre and Notre-Dame Cathedral, as well as many museums, a zoo and a botanical garden.

Ho Chi Minh City

9. Lima, Peru

Although Lima is the capital—and largest—city of Peru, it has long been overshadowed by Cusco and the ancient Incan ruins of Machu Picchu. Lima, nonetheless, has a developed tourist industry, as it is a major point of entry to the country. Between 2009 and 2015, tourism grew by almost 14%—and for good reason. The city boasts well-preserved colonial buildings in a variety of styles, from Spanish Baroque to Art Nouveau, and a number of parks. The city is known for its greenspace, and is home to the largest fountain complex in the world, the Magical Circuit of Water. Lima is also home to several performing arts troupes, and hosts many festivals and concerts during the summer months. The city’s beaches are also popular attractions, as is the food—Lima has been called the “Gastronomical Capital of the Americas” for its unique blend of global cuisine.

Lima Peru

8. Tokyo, Japan

Japan’s capital city has always had some allure as a tourist destination, but tourism has recently taken off, growing slightly over 14.5% between 2009 and 2015. Tourism is likely to continue to increase over the next few years as the city ramps up for the 2020 Summer Olympics. Tokyo has many other attractions; it is famous for its electronics district, its shopping districts and its nightlife, to name but a few of the reasons people feel compelled to visit this metropolis. Tokyo is also a central place in Japanese culture and history, and features many monuments and museums. Tokyo is home to the world’s largest fish market, as well as the Japanese emperor and his family. With Mount Fuji forming a spectacular backdrop to urban sprawl, Tokyo is also renowned for its stunning cityscapes, making it one of those destinations that “has it all.”

Tokyo

7. Taipei, Tiaiwan

The capital of the nation of Taiwan has long been overlooked in favor of other tourist meccas in Southeast Asia—Tokyo, Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong have traditionally been destinations for those traveling for business or pleasure. Taipei has emerged from the background, however, to become the 15th most visited city in 2013, and tourism continues to grow; the industry recorded a leap of almost 15% between 2009 and 2015. As the center of Taiwan, Taipei is involved in most major high-tech industries in the country, and is an important hub of economic, political and cultural activity. Taipei boasts many architectural and cultural landmarks, including museums, temples and the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall. Its nearby hot springs are world-renowned. Taipei also hosts many major festivals, such as the Lantern Festival during New Year’s celebrations, a Dragon Boat Festival and the Moon Festival in mid-autumn.

Taipei 101, Taiwan

6. Xi’An, China

Sometimes known as Xi’an, and formerly written as “Sian,” this city is one of China’s oldest and functions as the capital of Shaanxi province, in the northwest. In 2012, it was named as 1 of 13 emerging megapolises in China. While tourism is still dwarfed by other sectors of the city’s economy, the industry grew 16.2% over the 2009–2015 period, and that trend is likely to remain strong as the city continues to grow. While most people visit Xi’An between May and August, the autmn months are actually considered the best time of year to visit. As one of the oldest cities in China, Xi’An is home to many historical sites, including many temples and pagodas, as well as a Ming dynasty city wall. Perhaps Xi’An’s most famous attraction is the tomb of Qin Shi Huang and the world-renowned terra cotta army.

Xi'An China

5. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Riyadh has unassumingly become a top destination for travelers, with the number of annual visitors to the city jumping 18% between 2009 and 2015. Riyadh, which means “the Gardens” in Arabic, is Saudi Arabia’s capital and largest city, home to some 5.7 million people. Long an important center for the country, Riyadh and its surrounding districts contain many examples of vernacular architecture, as well as several historic village sites. The best-known monument is the Masmak Fortress, a clay-and-brick construction dating to 1865, located in the commercial center of the old city. The city is also a center of modern architecture, including the first skyscraper in Saudi Arabia, the Al Faisaliyah Center. The city also has several museums and sports venues. Soccer is the most popular sport in the city, as evidenced by the city’s 4 major clubs.

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

4. Osaka, Japan

Perhaps less well-known than Tokyo, the Japanese city of Osaka has become a popular destination for travelers. Osaka is Japan’s second-largest city, with nearly 19 million inhabitants, and, in addition to being a major economic hub, is also known as Japan’s “kitchen” owing to its role in rice growing and trade, as well as its regional cuisine. The city has long been important, even being declared the capital during the Japanese feudal period. The city underwent rapid industrialization in the 19th century. A consequence is that Osaka has many historic buildings and monuments, such as Osaka castle, with some dating back several centuries. The area also has a rich cultural history, particularly focused on performing arts; kabuki theater in particular is popular. It’s little wonder that travel to Osaka grew by nearly 20% between 2009 and 2015.

Osaka, Japan

3. Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

The UAE’s capital registered 20.4% growth in the number of visitors from 2009 until the present. While business travel has undoubtedly played a part in growing numbers of travelers to the city—especially as the economy continues to diversify—tourism has also been a driving force behind this growth. The UAE has one of the highest per capita GDP’s in the world, and Abu Dhabi has earned a reputation for being something of a “rich person’s” playground. This is reflected in everything from luxury shopping centers to 5-star hotels and some of the world’s most innovative—and expensive—architecture. The Sheikh Zayed Mosque is but one example of the city’s architectural heritage. While the city has often been overshadowed by nearby Dubai, which has also emerged as a global city with economic clout, Abu Dhabi is likely to continue to attract more and more visitors.

Abu Dhabi UAE

2. Chengdu, China

Travel to Chengdu grew at more than 20.5% over the 2009–2015 period, something that’s reflected by Chengdu’s airport being 1 of the 40 most busy airports in the world and the city’s train station being 1 of the 6 largest in China. Situated on the fertile Chengdu plain, the city has long been an important one, and has many historical buildings, including shrines and temples. The city is a bastion of traditional Chinese culture, from mahjong to teahouses. Chengdu is also home to some ancient ruins and at least 3 well-preserved historic towns. Perhaps Chengdu’s biggest draw, however, is that it is home to almost 80% of the world’s remaining giant panda population. Also nearby is Mount Qingcheng, an important Taoist center. Nature, culture, history—Chengdu has it all, so it’s easy to see why more and more people are making a stop in this city.

Chengdu, China

1. Colombo, Sri Lanka

The former capital of Sri Lanka has been getting some serious attention from travelers in the last few years, with the number of visitors growing just over 21% from 2009 to 2015. Colombo is the largest city on the island nation, and has a distinctive mix of multiple ethnicities, which reflects the city’s long history and its importance. Gangaramaya Temple, one of the most important temples in the city, sums up Colombo’s multicultural feel perfectly with its mix of Sri Lankan, Thai, Chinese and Indian architecture. The city also has urban parks, such as Viharamahadevi Park, and a strip of greenspace called Galle Face Green. The city has a large harbor on the Indian Ocean and the 160-acre Beira Lake is located at the heart of the city. In other parts of the city, the legacy of Dutch and British domination remains in the form of colonial-era buildings.

Colombo, Sri Lanka

The 10 Most Amazing Observation Decks in Asia

While skyscrapers and aspiring to reach the heavens have been fundamental fascinations in North American architecture and engineering for decades now, the trend has caught fire in many places in Asia, where towers now eclipse older Western buildings (and each other) on a regular basis. This development affords tourists more opportunity to get above it all and see some of Asia’s most iconic cityscapes from a dizzying new perspective. Representing a mix of old and new, traditional and modern, here are the best observation decks on the rapidly changing Asian landscape today.

10. Seoul Tower, South Korea

A tower with many names, including N Seoul Tower, YTN Seoul Tower and Namsan Tower, this building stands 236 meters high and marks the highest point in Seoul, South Korea’s capital. Located on Namsan Mountain, the tower functions for both telecommunications and observation. Constructed in 1971, it is Korea’s first general radio wave tower. The tower is renowned as a national landmark, and photographers and visitors alike relish the tower for the cityscapes it provides. Every year, thousands of tourists and locals visit the tower, especially during nighttime light displays such as the “Reeds of Light” and “Showers of Light,” which are created with LED technology. In addition to the four observation decks, the tower has developed into a full-scale tourist attraction, with museums, cafes and gift shops. One of the observatories is a digital display that showcases Korea’s history. Visitors can ride the Namsan cable car to the tower.

Guitar photographer / Shutterstock.com
Guitar photographer / Shutterstock.com

9. National Monument, Indonesia

This tower stand 433-feet tall (132-meter), situated in Merdeka Square isn’t just another skyscraper built to have a claim to fame. The obelisk monument symbolizes the fight for Indonesian independence. After independence was finally granted from Dutch colonial powers in 1950, the Indonesian government contemplated building a commemorative monument outside the presidential palace in Jakarta. Finished in 1975, the national monument achieved exactly that, as it was topped with a gold-foiled flame. Today, the Monument is open to the public every day between 8 am and 3 pm. Long lines build quickly, so it’s best to go early. Ride the lift to the observation deck, 115 meters above the ground, and view the cityscape of the Indonesian capital sprawling in all directions. Afterwards, visit the National History Museum and the associated dioramas about Indonesian history and independence.

National Monument, Indonesia

8. Ushiku Daibutsu, Japan

This observation deck is a bit of an oddity on a list that includes mostly communications towers and skyscrapers, but that’s part of the reason Ushiku Daibutsu is one of Asia’s best observation decks. Rather than another spire or office building, Ushiku Daibutsu is a 390-foot (120-meter) tall statue of Amitabha Buddha, built to commemorate Shinran, the founder of Pure Land Buddhism in Japan. The observation deck is located at 279 feet (85 meters), on the fourth floor of the statue. Visitors can look out over the adjacent flower garden and animal park. The three floors below the observation deck feature golden Buddha statues, scriptural studies and smoking incense, serving as a kind of museum. For almost 10 years, between 1993 and 2002, it was the world’s tallest statue; today, only two other statues surpass its height.

Ushiku Daibutsu, Japan

7. International Commerce Center, China

Built on top of Kowloon Station in Hong Kong, this development is part of the Union Square project. In 2014, it was the world’s eighth tallest building by height and the tallest building in Hong Kong. The observatory, called Sky100, is located on the hundredth floor of the building. It opened in 2011 and is currently the highest observation deck in Hong Kong, at 1,289 feet (393 meters) above the ground. Two high-speed elevators take visitors to the observation deck at 100 feet per second, making the trip about 13 seconds long. An advanced telescope provides visitors with pre-recorded views, including “sunny days,” “night view” and “fireworks.” On-screen indicators direct attention to landmarks such as Hong Kong Island, the Kowloon Peninsula and Tai Mo Shan, the highest peak in Hong Kong. Just above the 100th floor, visitors will find a café serving snacks and refreshments, as well as a restaurant.

International Commerce Center, China

6. Skybridge at Petronas Towers, Malaysia

Located in the Malaysian capital, the Petronas Towers held the record for world’s tallest buildings between 1998 and 2004, and they remain the tallest twin towers in the world today. Rising a staggering 1,483 feet (452 meters), the towers dominate the skyline of Kuala Lumpur. One of the main features of the buildings is the double-decker Skybridge, the highest two story bridge in the world. Connecting the 41st and 42nd floors between the two towers, it floats 558 feet above the ground, providing structural support to the towers. Visitors are limited to 1,000 people per day, and tickets must be purchased. Visitors can opt to visit just the Skybridge or to purchase a package that includes a visit to the 86th floor of the tower. As prominent landmarks, the towers have featured in many movies and TV shows and, of course, provide a stunning view of Kuala Lumpur.

littlewormy / Shutterstock.com
littlewormy / Shutterstock.com

5. Bitexco Financial Tower Skydeck, Vietnam

Sometimes called the Saigon Skydeck or simply Skydeck, this observation deck occupies the 49th floor of the Bitexco Financial Tower in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. The building is mixed-use shopping, office and restaurant space, and was once the tallest building in Vietnam, although it has since been displaced. It stands at 861 feet (around 263 meters) and is said to have been inspired by the lotus, Vietnam’s national flower. The Skydeck opened in 2011 and a ticket costs around $10. Currently the tallest skyscraper in Ho Chi Minh City, it provides unparalleled views of the cityscape. The deck itself is glass-enclosed and the building’s helipad serves as the roof. Nonetheless, you’ll still want to go on a clear day to get the best visibility or to see a fantastic sunset. Restaurants in the building offer a spot to check out some authentic Vietnamese cuisine.

Photo by: Bitexco Financial Tower
Photo by: Bitexco Financial Tower

4. Oriental Pearl Tower, China

Located at the tip of Lujiazui in Shanghai’s Pudong district, on the banks of the Huangpu River, the Oriental Pearl Tower has become both a landmark and major tourist attraction in the area. Between 1994 and 2007, it was the tallest building in China, measuring 1,535 feet in height (468 meters) from bottom to the tip of its antenna spire. The tower serves telecommunications purposes, but it also has a shopping mall, a hotel, a restaurant and not just one observation deck, but three. The highest observation deck is the Space Module, located at 350 meters and has an outdoor viewing area. The building is lit up with LED displays at night, which highlight its unique construction, featuring 11 spheres, the largest of which have diameters of 50 and 45 meters, respectively. This tower isn’t just an observation deck; it’s an experience in and of itself!

toiletroom / Shutterstock.com
toiletroom / Shutterstock.com

3. Marina Bay Sands Skypark, Singapore

Billed as the best view in Singapore, the Skypark is part of the Marina Bay Sands resort on the island. Developed by Las Vegas Sands, it forms part of the integrated resort, which boasts a shopping center, a hotel, restaurants and a casino as well. The SkyPark is a one hectare terrace that sits atop the three hotel towers and features several restaurants and the world’s longest elevated swimming pool. The observation deck itself is open to the public (although you need to purchase a ticket) and sits on a cantilever. It provides a stunning 360-degree view of the Singapore skyline, which is spectacular at night and during the day. Because of the awe-inspiring view it provides, some consider Skypark a compulsory activity if you visit Singapore. A popular tip: for just a few dollars more, skip the ticket, visit the bar and enjoy a drink as you gaze out over the cityscape.

Filipe Frazao / Shutterstock.com
Filipe Frazao / Shutterstock.com

2. Tokyo Skytree, Japan

While it’s not as iconic as Tokyo Tower, Tokyo Skytree is the landmark tower’s successor. Proclaimed the tallest building in Japan in 2010, the tower serves as the primary television and radio broadcast site for the Kanto region, replacing Tokyo Tower. It is also the tallest tower in the world and the second tallest building, with only Burj Khalifa rising higher. It stands 2,080 feet (634 meters) high, towering over all other buildings in Tokyo. The tower uses LED illumination at night and has two alternating patterns, called Iki and Miyabi. Skytree now provides the single-best point of view for panoramas of Tokyo. The tower has two observation decks, one at 1,150 feet and the other at 1,480 feet. The upper observatory features a spiral skywalk and a section of glass flooring that gives downward views of the streets directly below.

Tokyo Skytree, Japan

1. Taipei 101, Taiwan

Formerly known as the Taipei World Financial Center, this supertall skyscraper had the distinction of being the world’s tallest building between 2004 and 2010, when it was surpassed by Burj Khalifa in Dubai. Today, this 1,671 foot tall (509 meter) building is the tallest and greenest building in the world. It was the first building to break the half-kilometer mark. Its new name is derived from its 101 floors and its location in Taipei, Taiwan. Observation decks are located on the 88th, 89th and 91st floors; the 91st floor is an outdoor deck, while the lower floors are indoor. At 1,285 feet above the ground, the 91st floor is the highest platform in Taiwan and the second highest observation deck ever found in a skyscraper. That means Taipei 101 provides an unparalleled 360-degree view of the city skyline. Tickets can be purchased at the mall located in the building.

Taipei 101, Taiwan

The 15 Best Airports For a Layover

Passengers who fly a lot often or even just once in a while dread having a layover in a strange airport within a strange city. But flyers need not worry if they are flying through one of these remarkable airports. Some of these airports are futuristic, others are friendly and many of them offer extraordinary amenities and close access to visit cities. What they all offer is a unique and easy way to enjoy a short or long layover, with free showers, movie theaters and even a full 9-hole golf course. Discover the best of the best in airports around the world for layovers.

15. Keflavík International Airport, Iceland

This airport is modern, compact and recently went through a renovation that makes it easier to navigate and has added many shops and dining options that please passengers who are stuck here. Like most places in Iceland the airport offers free WiFi, a welcome amenity to those travelers from many of the US airports that charge. But perhaps the best part about having a layover here is the location. Located just half an hour from the famous Blue Lagoon, passengers on a layover here will have the chance to leave the airport and soak their troubles away in the warm, geothermal waters. Spread across the landscape of black lava mounds, visitors can soak in the 100-degree water for a few hours before returning back via shuttle, taxi or bus. This is one airport you will want to seek out for a long layover and take advantage of this awesome experience.

Photo by: Keflavik International Airport
Photo by: Keflavik International Airport

14. Helsinki International Airport, Finland

Despite this being a relatively small airport, the Helsinki airport offers up plenty of uncrowded space, amenities and a calming presence. It is one of the most relaxing airports on this list and travelers can experience the Finnish culture through the cinema area that features Finish films and large sculptures that adorn the terminal. For avid readers there is a book exchange that features a cozy nook where you can get lost for hours reading and swapping titles. A scenic terrace lets visitors watch the incoming and outgoing planes during the summer months. The best part about this airport may be the free relaxation area that features foldable beds, comfy chairs and plugs for all of your electronics. Plenty of shopping and authentic dining options, as well as the option to leave the airport and tour the city makes this airport an excellent layover destination.

Sorbis / Shutterstock.com
Sorbis / Shutterstock.com

13. Tokyo Haneda International Airport, Japan

There is lots to do if you are stuck in the Tokyo airport on a layover and being only 9 miles from the downtown area gives passengers plenty of options. Free WiFi, a barber, hair salon, oxygen bar, health clinic and duty free shops are all scattered throughout the terminals for passenger convenience. Sleeping here on a layover can also be quite pleasant. The seats and benches are comfortable, the lights are dimmed and there are no loud announcements over the speakers. The huge panoramic terrace on the roof offers amazing views of the planes landing and taking off. Lounges can be assessed for as little as $8 US and offer comfortable seats, electrical outlets, refreshments and showers. Many layover passengers enjoy these amenities without having to shell out big bucks.

cowardlion / Shutterstock.com
cowardlion / Shutterstock.com

12. Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Malaysia

This airport may not be the most modern on the list but the rain forest-like feel coupled with free WiFi, plenty of dining options and the friendliness of the Malaysian people makes it one of the best airports to have a layover. The upper level of the airport boasts four different areas where passengers can curl up and watch TV. In the middle of the terminal is a small tropical garden and on the 5th level is an area just for children, complete with activities and slides. If you are looking to leave the airport and experience the city you will need about a six to seven hour layover. The KLIA express train takes you right into the capitol in just thirty minutes. Whether you want to sit and enjoy the tropical feel of the airport with its free WiFi and showers or venture out into the city; this is a great airport to have a layover.

Sorbis / Shutterstock.com
Sorbis / Shutterstock.com

11. San Francisco International Airport, California, USA

It is the only airport located in the United States to make this list and travelers who spend a layover here will be pleasantly surprised by the amenities offered throughout. Standard amenities range from free WiFi, rapid charging stations, XpressSpas offering massages, facials, manicures/pedicures, etc and art exhibits spread throughout. The Aviation Museum and Library is open to the public and free admission makes this a great place to kill some time. For those with little ones, hanging out at the airport has never been easier with different kids play areas and a scavenger hunt with prizes. Free yoga rooms, relaxation rooms and hydration stations are offered throughout. Eating and drinking at the airport is truly a culinary experience with an emphasis on locally crafted food, beer and wine. If you do want to leave the airport during your layover, the city center is a quick 25 minute ride away on the train.

Kenishirotie / Shutterstock.com
Kenishirotie / Shutterstock.com

10. Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, Taiwan

For those passengers who face a layover at the Taiwan Taoyuan Airport, there is an abundance of free activities and entertaining things to do while you wait, beginning with free hot showers. Large couches and comfortable seating areas allow for passengers to relax and even catch a sleep while they wait for their next flight. Exploring the terminals is a great way to pass the time here as this airport offers 30 plus themed lounges ranging from Hello Kitty to a sports themed lounge. Cultural art galleries are scattered throughout as well as numerous kids’ areas that feature gaming stations. The free library offers books, tablets, computers and e-books, as well as mobile charging stations and comfortable seating. There are free massage chairs, numerous prayer rooms and cloud-based reading areas where comfortable chairs and computers are provided. One thing for sure, you won’t need a reason to leave this airport on your layover.

outcast85 / Shutterstock.com
outcast85 / Shutterstock.com

9. Vancouver International Airport, Vancouver, Canada

This International airport is home to First Nations art, 5,000 marine animals and a nature inspired creek that runs through it; amongst many more things. If you are going to have a layover in Canada, this would be the place to do it. One of the most impressive ways to spend time in this airport is to head to the international terminal where an 114,000 liter aquarium sits as a permanent exhibit. A jellyfish aquarium also sits up on the fourth floor. There is no shortage of comfortable seating at this airport, rows of chairs complete with headrests and footrests are at each gate as well as removable cushioned chairs with no armrests, letting passengers create mini sleeping areas. Mini TV watching stations are available, complete with three different channels, comfortable theater style chairs and a kid’s play area nearby. Although the city is just a short train trip away, you may find yourself wanting to stay here and explore this awesome airport.

 Lissandra Melo / Shutterstock.com
Lissandra Melo / Shutterstock.com

8. London Heathrow

It’s one of the busiest airports in the world and provides a ton of dining, shopping and entertainment venues to keep passengers occupied during a layover. It’s one of the only airports in the world that offers personal shoppers to the passengers to help pick out gifts, travel wardrobes, etc. Shoppers will delight in duty free stores and high end retail like Burberry. There’s also something for foodies who will delight in over 100 restaurants throughout the terminals. Passengers can wander through the cultural exhibition showcasing British sculptors, painters, and photographers. Sleeping isn’t great at this airport as it is busy, but there is so many nooks and crannies to discover throughout the huge terminals so patience in finding a place to snooze is a must. If you feel like leaving the airport, the city is only about 15 miles away and can easily be accessed through underground, train or taxi.

Milosz_M / Shutterstock.com
Milosz_M / Shutterstock.com

7. Dubai International Airport, Dubai

Like everything else in Dubai, this airport is over the top, extravagant and truly unforgettable. This is one airport where having a layover is actually an incredible experience. Shopaholics will go crazy for the world’s largest duty-free shop at 58,000 square feet and other high-end shops. Passengers can walk through open-air gardens complete with mist machines or choose to use the G-Force gym; open 24/7, with a pool and showers. The immaculate inside of the airport offers such things as shopping stands where you can purchase actual gold bars. If you are looking to sleep, the Dubai airport offers Snoozecubes; soundproof units with a bed, touch screen TV and music for a minimal price available by the hour. This airport is expanding at a rapid rate and expects to be able to handle 90 million passengers by 2018, which means even more amazing amenities coming here.

Sorbis / Shutterstock.com
Sorbis / Shutterstock.com

6. Munich International Airport, Germany

You won’t have any problems finding a beer in this airport, which is often the perfect way to pass some time during a layover. Everyone heads to Airbräu, a Bavarian-style tavern complete with its own beer garden, live music and on-site brewery, where beer enthusiasts can watch the brewmaster in action. Passengers will find free showers, a beautiful courtyard that connects the terminals and plenty of relaxation centers with reclining seats and electrical outlets. The visitor’s park is truly an amazing feature of this airport and offers free showings of aviation movies, mini-golf, a viewing platform and historical aircrafts. Passengers on a layover should head to terminal two which features ultra-modern touches such as nap pods complete with iPhone and USB ports. There is free coffee, tea and hot chocolate throughout, a skating rink in the winter months and access to free WiFi makes Munich the perfect layover airport.

Luisa Fumi / Shutterstock.com
Luisa Fumi / Shutterstock.com

5. Zurich Airport, Switzerland

An extensive renovation to this airport back in 2011 improved this already well-liked airport with the likes of two rooftop terraces with observation points and an awesome kids area complete with a mini-plane and tower to explore. There are plenty of ways to rest and freshen up in this airport. Free showers are available along with plenty of communal rest areas with comfy reclining chairs. If you are looking for a little more privacy, simple furnished rooms are available to rent that come complete with beds, TV and an individual wash basin. Plenty of duty-free shops and restaurants line this airport, including ones with the famous Swiss chocolate. For those looking to get a little exercise between flights, in-line skates and bikes are available to rent right from the airport.

MR. INTERIOR / Shutterstock.com
MR. INTERIOR / Shutterstock.com

4. Amsterdam Schiphol, The Netherlands

This one terminal airport has been in the same location for 100 years and pleasing passengers from the get go. The Rijksmuseum Amsterdam Museum is housed here and offers free admission, letting passengers take in the permanent and temporary art exhibits by Dutch artists. The world’s first airport library also provides a great way for passengers to pass the time and offers e-books and print books in 29 different languages. Having a layover here means access to over 75 shops and many dining options such as the Bubbles Seafood & Wine Bar where you can dine around a saltwater aquarium with a glass of champagne and fresh seafood. For those travelers looking to relax there is free WiFi, numerous spas and showers. Massage chairs, casinos and numerous lounges round out this airport experience.

Bokstaz / Shutterstock.com
Bokstaz / Shutterstock.com

3. Hong Kong International Airport, Hong Kong

This futuristic airport offers endless entertainment for passengers stuck on layovers here. The endless charging stations, business centers and beautiful lounges will suit the business travelers, but the guests who really benefit from having a layover here are those looking to have some fun between flights. The outdoor nine-hole golf course is open 24/7 to passengers looking to squeeze in a round or two. The world’s first airport IMAX Theater shows both 2D and 3D films and sports lover can head up to the iSports simulator for car racing, basketball and soccer. High end shops and Michelin star restaurants are located throughout the airport. The Aviation Discovery Centre which tracks aviation history in Hong Kong through themed exhibits and attractions including the SkyDeck, and Cockpit Simulator keep passengers occupied throughout flight times.

TungCheung / Shutterstock.com
TungCheung / Shutterstock.com

2. Incheon International Airport, South Korea

This airport is a favorite among travelers, especially among the ones who get stuck here for a few hours. There are a ton of free amenities that will make weary travelers happy including WiFi, use of laptops and free showers. More importantly though this airport offers lots of fun for layover passengers including two movie theaters playing Korean and Hollywood Hits, an ice skating rink and an 18-hole putting course. The culture center offers experiences such as learning traditional Korean paper handicraft and taking in harp performances. There are seven gardens throughout the airport that are perfect for the ultimate relaxation, or hit up the spa and sauna. If passengers want to leave the airport there are many tours that leave directly from it and take visitors to temples, historic sites and newer attractions. Did we mention that this airport offers over 90 different duty free shops and looks more like a sparkling clean mall, rather than an airport?

Tanjala Gica / Shutterstock.com
Tanjala Gica / Shutterstock.com

1. Changi International Airport, Singapore

This airport is truly the best in the world and there is nowhere else in the world that you should want to have a layover than here. The Changi Airport in Singapore has won over 400 awards and continues to add to its impressive list of features. For passengers who are stuck here on a layover, there are hundreds of things to discover. Take a walk through one of five gardens, including the live butterfly garden boasting more than a 1000 butterflies. Take a ride down the 40-foot swirling slide, refresh in the rooftop Balinese-themed swimming or catch a free flick at the movie theater. Entertainment areas featuring Xbox, Playstations and other electronics are scattered throughout as well as art sculptures and waterfalls. Business travelers will be happy with the 200 iPad-wielding agents, hundreds of free Internet terminals, plus airport-wide free WiFi and hundreds of USB ports and power sockets.

joyfull / Shutterstock.com
joyfull / Shutterstock.com

11 of the World’s Smallest Hotel Rooms

Hotel rooms come in all shapes and sizes and depending on how much you’re willing to spend, they can range from teeny tiny spaces all the way up to massive luxury suites. Many hotels in major cities are looking to space-saving alternatives to the traditional full size hotel room and more and more travelers are looking for the cheapest night’s stay they can get. If you’re budget is geared towards deals or if you just appreciate unique hotel experiences, get ready because today we’re taking a look at some of the smallest hotel rooms around the world.

1. CityHub -Amsterdam

CityHub is a totally new kind of travel accommodation experience, created by 2 University buddies from Amsterdam who love travel and meeting people. CityHub offers affordable sleeping accommodations for travelers who enjoy joining in and learning about local city life. With Rates starting at €59 (about $64 USD) you can stay in your own sleeping ‘Hub’, equipped with a roomy 2 person bed, Ipod docking station and color-changing mood lighting. Toilets and showers are shared with other travelers but you’ll have a tiny space to call your own.

Photo by: Cityhub
Photo by: Cityhub

2. Das Park Hotel -Germany

At first the thought of staying in a cement pipe might not tickle your fancy, but hear us out because it’s definitely a unique ‘hotel’ experience! Das Park Hotel opened their original location in Rodlpark in Ottensheim but recently expanded to a second location in Bernepark, Bottrop. Both locations offer travelers the chance to stay in their very own re-purposed drainage pipe equipped with comfy double bed, storage, light, power outlet, blanket and linens. The surrounding public spaces offer the other essentials like toilets, showers, café and minibar. One of the coolest things about Das Park Hotel is that they operate on a ‘pay what you can system’ making it affordable and accessible for everyone.

Photo by: Das park hotel
Photo by: Das park hotel

3. The Pod Hotel -New York City

If you’ve ever tried to book a hotel in New York City you what kinds of high prices and sketchy accommodations are out there. The Pod Hotel was created for the savvy traveler who wants to stay in the heart of the city, see it all but not spend it all. With 2 locations in Midtown and Midtown East (Pod 39 and Pod 51) there are plenty of rooms to meet your needs. The original single pod includes a twin bed, Ipod dock, WiFi, flat screen tv, shared bathroom, closet and your own tiny workstation. If you’re traveling with a buddy there’s also slightly bigger options to suit your needs like a bunk pod, queen pod and even a studio pod.

Photo by: The Pod Hotel
Photo by: The Pod Hotel

4. Yotel -Heathrow Airport, London

The Yotel brand was inspired by first class air travel and was created as a small but luxurious ‘cabin’ space. Yotel is aiming their offerings at busy international travelers by setting up shop at a few major European airports. The Yotel at London’s Heathrow airport is located in the public side of terminal 4 and provides travelers with luxury ‘cabins’ to rest their weary heads without even leaving the airport. The standard cabin measures 3.47m by 2.55m (11 ft x 8 ft) and has 2 bunk beds, small work space, flat screen tv, monsoon shower, sink and toilet. Yotel certainly packs a lot into these small, ‘smart’ spaces.

Photo by: Yotel
Photo by: Yotel

5. Green Plaza Shinjuku -Tokyo

Japan is famous for developing the micro-sized ‘capsule hotel’ for those that literally just need a place to sleep (and that’s all you’ll be able to do in it). The city of Tokyo has many of these accommodations but the Green Plaza Shinjuku Hotel is perhaps the most famous. It offers sleep capsules and massage services for those who may be too intoxicated to get home safely or need a cheap place to stay for work during the week. For rates usually around $20-40 USD per night you’ll be assigned a comfy little capsule with television, bedding, wireless internet and power outlet. This type of hotel is probably not for those travelers who tend to get claustrophobic!

Photo by: Green Plaza Shinjuku
Photo by: Green Plaza Shinjuku

6. Capsule Inn -Osaka, Japan

The Capsule Inn located in Osaka Japan is actually the world’s first capsule style hotel, having opened in 1979. As a leader in the capsule hotel industry, their aim is to provide a first class experience at a great value. Once you’re checked in, you’re assigned a wristband key with your changing room and capsule number and a robe. You then head to the change room and leave your clothes and belongings in your assigned locker, don your robe and make yourself comfortable. The Capsule Inn also features free access to their sauna and spa facilities with your standard stay.

capsule Inn
Photo by: Capsule Inn/Flickr

7. EasyHotel –London, England

“Simple comfort and great value” that’s the backbone of the easyHotel brand who currently operates 20 easyHotels throughout the UK, Switzerland, Netherlands, Germany, Hungary, UAE and Bulgaria. One of the brands most popular destinations is London, with 9 locations throughout the city, including one at Heathrow airport. The easyHotel London Luton offers 3 types of rooms; small, standard and twin and range in size from 7-11.5 square meters (75-123 sq ft). Each room is equipped with bed, television, climate control, WiFi and en-suite bathroom.

Photo by: easyHotel
Photo by: easyHotel

8. NiteNite –Birmingham, England

The nitenite hotel in Birmingham England offers budget accommodations in a boutique hotel with free WiFi and 24 hour check in desk. Dubbed as ‘city rooms’ nitnite’s range of sleep cabins have no windows to look upon the outside world but instead feature a 42-inch plasma screen television which shows a live view of the city. That’s just as good as a real window right? The range of double, single and standard rooms offer travelers an affordable and comfortable hotel option all packed within 6.8 or 13 square meters depending on room type.

Photo by: Nitenite Hotel
Photo by: Nitenite Hotel

9. Hongkong Kaiteki Hotel –Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

The Kaiteki Hotel in Vietnam has taken the capsule concept from Japan and brought it to the backpacker paradise of Ho Chi Minh City. Each 1-person capsule comes with ear plugs to block outside noise, a curtain to cut off outside light, climate control, television and USB, wifi and earphone connections for all your entertainment needs. Shared bathroom and shower facilities are located outside your capsule. Save space and save money; at 2.5 square meters (27 sq ft), the rooms at Hongkong Kaiteki Hotel may very well be the smallest on this list.

Photo by: Hongkong Kaiteki Hotel
Photo by: Hongkong Kaiteki Hotel

10. Tubohotel -Tepoztlan, Mexico

The Tubohotel in Tepoztlan, Morelos, Mexico was designed for good times and meeting new friends. Not unlike the Das Park Hotel in Germany, Tubohotel offers rooms made from cement tubes, with some even stacked on top of each other in a fun tube-room pyramid. Each tube room has a queen size bed, desk, light, fan, storage, towels and bedding. Showers and toilets are available and shared by guests (but don’t worry, showers are private) and there’s even an infinity pool right outside the tubes. Rates start at 600 MXN (about $40 USD) per night, so if you want a great deal and don’t mind small cylindrical spaces the Tubohotel might be for you!

Tubohotel junio 2012 5
Photo by: Tubohotel

11. Sleepbox Hotel -Moscow, Russia

Another example of the sleep pod concept, the Sleepbox Hotel in Moscow is Russia’s first compact hotel. These capsules offer a little more space than the lay-down only rooms seen in Japan but they’re definitely still considered small. The hotel features 50 windowless sleep pods, some of which can sleep up to 3 people. Each one has a bed, shelf, desk, lamp and small wardrobe. Bathrooms and showers are located outside the sleep pods and are shared by guests. Rates are reported to start around $50 USD per night so one thing you’re guaranteed at the Sleepbox Hotel is a great deal.

Photo by: Sleepbox Hotel
Photo by: Sleepbox Hotel