This Pinay’s Fukuoka Itinerary Is Perfect for First-Timers
Created with Cebu Pacific.
Fukuoka may not be the first stop in mind when planning a trip to Japan, but this harbor city on the rise is proving to be a definite must-see in 2019.
Cebu Pacific offers flights direct from Manila to Fukuoka each afternoon, as often as seven times per week. This schedule means that after a roughly three and half hour trip, you get to your destination after dinner -- just in time for a late night bowl of Hakata-style ramen.
After arriving at the Fukuoka airport, follow the signs towards the complimentary shuttle that takes you directly to the Fukuokakuko subway station entrance.
Tip: If you’ve been to Tokyo before, then you’re in luck! You can top up your Suica card and use it to access the subway and buses within the city.
Where to stay
For first-timers in the city, it’s hard to beat the convenience of staying near the Hakata station.
Just two stops away (only six minutes!) on the Kuko Line from the Fukuoka airport, this bustling main station houses an extensive array of Kyushu delicacies and souvenirs and is surrounded by an abundance of local restaurants. Hakata is also a great starting point for any out-of-town trips that you may want to take via the Shinkansen.
There are family-friendly hostels near the river, where both dorm-style and private rooms are available. Some of them feature a cozy communal area where guests can snack on their konbini finds, enjoy complimentary coffee, and nap on bean bags and hammocks.
If you’re looking for a more unusual experience, try booking a few nights at hostels that have interesting decor and themes. There’s one located right by Tenjin Station (5 stops away from the Fukuoka airport via the Kuko line) that recreates your childhood fantasy of sneaking in and sleeping over at the library -- if that library was highly Instagrammable and located on the sixth floor of a Japanese department store.
What to Eat
Tonkotsu (pork-broth) ramen originated in Fukuoka, so it’s hard to walk into any of the ramen shops in the area and be disappointed.
Some shops have a reputation for drawing long lines of customers eager to try their special version of this local dish. Try your luck after your flight (like we did) and you just might be rewarded with an off-hour seat right away. Be warned though -- on especially busy days, the more popular ramen joints have been known to run out of their rich, creamy pork broth by dinner.
Make sure to sample the tonkotsu ramen.
Another must-try specialty is mentaiko (or cod roe), and you can easily find both fresh, ready-to-eat and take-home versions of this delicacy in and around the Hakata station.
If you’re craving a truly distinctive Fukuokan experience, pop into one of the many, no-frills yatai (food stalls) on the streets of Tenjin or clustered around the Nakasu Island river area. Satisfying, authentic, and affordable, a quick meal at one of these streetside stalls is as close to a local dining experience as you’ll find.
Only in Fukuoka
One of the main draws of this city its close proximity nature. Both the sea and the mountains surround the island of Kyushu, and residents of Tokyo have been known to move to Fukuoka for this exact reason.
Day trips from Fukuoka -- both by Shinkansen and by ferry -- are super convenient, so when you’re done exploring the vibrant shopping districts of Tenjin and Daimyo, you can easily slip away for the afternoon.
Just a quick 15-minute ferry ride from Meinohama Port, this nearby island’s stunning, pristine flower gardens extend as far as the eye can see. Buses shuttle visitors to and from the island’s port (where you can grab their locally-grown and bottled blood orange soda) to the Nokonoshima Island Park. In the summer months, you can even picnic and swim in their camping grounds, which lay at the end of a cherry blossom-lined path.
Fields of flowers at Nokonoshima Island.
If you’ve ever found yourself marveling at one of those viral YouTube videos of a Japanese Cat Island, then Ainoshima might be for you. A 20-minute ferry ride from the Shingu Port (which you can reach by taking the train to the Nishitetsu Shingu Station), this tiny fishing village is home to hundreds of local cats. Just as satisfying as spending time at a Japanese cat cafe, visitors can explore this tiny coastal island while enjoying the company of its many furry residents. Do take note, however, that most of Ainoshima’s cats are feral, and should be handled with distance, care, and respect.
Remember to handle the cats with distance, care, and respect.
Called the “Venice of Kyushu,” Yanagawa is known for its cinematic canals and waterways that surround this former castle town. After taking a 50-minute train ride from Tenjin station, slip into the past by hopping onto a quaint donkobune (traditional riverboat) manned by a local boatman who will steer your ride using a wooden pole. Afterwards, end the day with Yanagawa’s local specialty: unagi (steamed eel) with delicately-shredded egg over rice.
Waterways surround this former castle town.