Travel Tip: Experience Asia on one journey

If there’s one thing Washingtonians love — and so do many travelers — it’s culture. It takes a bit of getting to know to understand what makes Asia tick (and think of this while eating tureens of fried fish every weekend). So take a trip that embraces these global markers of culture — from D.C.-Asia Nights to Tokyo’s Shibuya Cinema to Ho Chi Minh City’s Circle Line — and travel time goes out the window.

“We hope people experience the physical and cultural wonders of some of the world’s most fascinating cities,” says Sue Hoover, president of Asia Travel Advisors, an industry group focused on the Asia-Pacific region.

Here’s what Hoover, who has led myriad group-travel trips, recommends from her favorite combination of two or more cities on one itinerary. “Any of these opportunities to go on a big, multi-destination trip, you can say you took it all in Asia,” she says. “I have taken many different two-week trips, and then the memory of going to two or three places in one trip doesn’t float my boat as much.”

A three-day focus: Kyoto, Osaka, Tokyo

“I have definitely done over 200 U.S.-Asia trips, but they always include Fuji Rock [in Japan] and Sun Yat-sen [in China] on one of my trips. There is so much to see in Japan and so much to do all over the country, but when you’re on a trip [like the one with] a Fuji Rock theme, you can go to Kyoto and spend a lot of time [there]. It’s not like a typical Japanese vacation — you spend a lot of time on the train. But you don’t want to be up all night wandering the streets; it is a fairly solitary trip. In Kyoto, we had a designated area of town where we went to arrange with a layover hotel. We had a fun time on the trip. The surroundings are very picturesque and fun to walk around.” • $2,795

Trips run from June to October; see the group’s website for tickets.

A two-day focus: Kyoto, Osaka, Tokyo

“I enjoy taking a trip that covers Japan all in two days. It makes the whole trip a true taste of Japan. Once you get into Japan, the [destination] becomes like a tour bus, where you see the city almost a dozen times a day. The major part of the trip is the Japan Day celebration, which takes place on the first Saturday of every month. In Japan, they have a pretty fancy flag parade that lasts about five hours. Then, there is food, hanami [a boisterous, traditional outdoor food-and-picture-watching event where large crowds gather] and the top of the Fuji Rock Rocks in Shibuya. The hanami area will usually have anywhere from 20,000 to 25,000 people, and you can eat all sorts of foods at a time for a reasonable price, eat around one chef, and get to see how they make the things we eat everyday. You get to taste everything. Then there are hundreds of restaurants in Shibuya where you can buy a cup of tea and coffee. A lot of the small stores around have their own food court, and you can get whatever you want for a reasonable price — whether it is for dinner or breakfast. You don’t want to sit at a big restaurant for eight hours.” • $2,799

Book online by visiting

A two-day focus: Kyoto, Osaka, Tokyo

“This is a smaller, one- to two-day trip. But if you’re on a smaller trip, like this, you don’t want to have to leave the hotel, sit at a restaurant for eight hours, and drink a ton of coffee. You can go hiking, take a bus to a destination. This is a fun, action-packed, all-inclusive itinerary where you can go hiking for a couple of hours, snorkel with dolphins, swim with blue whales, and have a bunch of interesting activities to do on your own or with a group.” • $1,299

Book online at

Asia Travel Advisors runs a list of local agency partners for every destination on their itinerary. Ask them what itinerary they’re offering, and they can help you find a travel agency that can provide it.

“One of the best ways to go, and most people probably don’t do, is to work with an agency that has a solid partner relations bureau in

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