Additional Information About Travel to Japan
TippingAt the conclusion of your tour, it is customary to offer your tour guide and driver a gratuity. Your WEST tour coordinator will collect the gratuity at any point during the tour (many travelers like to pay ahead of time to get it out of the way). Although it is not required, your driver and tour guides rely on these tips, and work hard to ensure you an unforgettable experience. We recommend tipping the equivalence of $3 USD/CAD per person per day for your driver and $6 USD/CAD to $9 USD/CAD per person per day for your tour guide. If applicable, we also recommend the equivalency of $2 USD/CAD per local guide, payable following the local tour. Tips can only be paid in cash. Please keep current local currency exchange rates in mind when tipping.
In order to enter Japan, U.S. citizens need a valid passport. The expiration date must extend at least six months beyond the date of your return to the United States. No visa is required for U.S. and Canadian citizens. If you are not a U.S. or Canadian citizen, you must contact the Japanese consulate for your specific entry requirements.
Airlines have varying weight restrictions on luggage. Please contact your airline directly for more information on your airline’s baggage allowance. Bear in mind that your luggage will probably weigh more on your return trip due to souvenir shopping. We allow only one suitcase per person. Some airlines may impose additional charges if you choose to check any baggage. Please contact your airline or refer to its website for detailed information regarding your airline’s checked baggage policies. One carry-on bag is also permitted, provided that it does not exceed 45 inches (length + width + height). There may be select times when you will have to handle your own bags, and you’ll find that lightweight luggage provides a distinct advantage. Make sure you label your baggage and carry valuables, medication and documents in your carry-on luggage. Please note: On internal flights included on tour, you may be charged for any baggage over 20 kilograms (44 pounds).
Transportation on the Highlights of Japan is conducted by private motor coach and train. When traveling by train there may be times when you will have to handle your own luggage, and you’ll find that lightweight luggage provides a distinct advantage. For some included visits and optional excursions, be prepared for some more walking through elaborate monuments and museums, with steps.
There are no health risks associated with traveling in Japan. Sushi and sashimi is not a risk, although eating kuma (raw bear) and botan (raw wild boar) is not recommended. No vaccinations are required for entry into Japan, but it is a good idea to check with your doctor or health official at least six weeks before
Water available in the restaurants is absolutely safe. However, for precautionary measures, it is advised that one carries mineral water. During Japan’s cherry blossom season, “Hanami,” attend one of the many cherry-blossom viewing parties to see the beautiful white and pink flowers up close.
We recommend wearing light, loose-fitting casual attire. It’s a good idea to bring a sweater, as it will be helpful in an overly air-conditioned building in the summer. Comfortable footwear that is easily removed is a good idea, as you will be required to remove shoes frequently.
CurrencyThe yen is the currency you will be use on tour. Normal banking hours are 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, although currency is generally exchanged after 10 a.m. Better rates of exchange are usually available in Japan, but it is worth ordering some currency from your local bank to use when you first arrive. As ATMs are not always readily available, we advise that you take a combination of U.S. currency and traveler’s checks, which can be exchanged for cash at local banks or at your hotel. Credit cards can be used at larger stores and restaurants, but many shops and markets will only accept cash. We suggest that you inform your credit card company of your plans, so that your international purchases won’t be mistaken for fraudulent charges.