No matter where in the world you are just now there are 10 things that you should definitely do to get the most out of your time there. Make it the best experience imaginable.
Don't look back after some time saying "I wish I had done this and that".
For this reason, we have created a checklist of things to do for an in debt look at customs and culture.
Here is our list of 10 things to do at every destination.
Let's go into detail. We will use Tokyo as an example!
Of course, this doesn't mean you have to become fluent in all the languages of the countries you visit. Just enough to make a connection with the locals.
Learn to say hello and thank you. Maybe learn how to introduce yourself and how to order a beer (or anything else).
You will see the local people will open up to you if you make an effort of communicating in their native language.
Sometimes the local people don't speak English, and communication can be quite challenging. In that case here are some tips for better communication.
The restaurants at tourist destinations are often overpriced and have all kinds of food on the menu just not the real deal. To really get to know the local food culture you have to visit a restaurant that the locals would go to. A place where the menu might not be written in English. I can promise it will be a great experience.
In Tokyo, I would like to recommend a restaurant called Funachu that is exactly like I just described. It is always filled with local people. The food is real Japanese and the atmosphere of the place is authentic.
Learn more about it and our neighbourhood here.
Go where the locals go to buy their groceries. Look at all the things that might be different from what is sold in your country.
To get to know a city use public transportation that the locals also use. Like busses or Tuk-Tuks or the Metro. You will have the opportunity to learn how locals move about their city and in many cases navigating a city by yourself helps you get to know the place better.
Sometimes using public transport can be scary at first, but I promise it will be a worthwhile experience.
The public transport in Tokyo is mainly subway and trains (there are taxies but they are very expensive). It is quite complicated to navigate the network of train and subway lines but it really is an experience in itself.
And then, of course, there are the famous Shinkansen bullet trains, connecting the big cities of Japan. If you have the chance ride one! Like we always do between Tokyo and Kyoto.
At every destination, you visit there are religious sites, and to get to know the culture of a place a little better you should definitely visit at least one. It can be a temple, or a church, a shrine or even religious pilgrimage sites.
In Tokyo, there are many beautiful Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples to visit. The biggest Shinto shrine is Meiji Shrine, and it is definitely worth a short visit.
If you have the chance definitely participate in anything the locals do. It can be anything from dancing to ceremonies like the tea ceremony in Japan. Or meditation, yoga, other kinds of local sports. But also cultural festivals will give you a glimpse into the culture and traditions of a place. Don't miss out!
In Tokyo, there are many summer festivals to visit, but also tea ceremonies. The picture is from the Bon dance held every August in many places.
If you only visit the tourist sites, I am sure that will be a fun trip. But don't miss out! Ask around! The locals will know what kind of places are really worth a visit, and what places might not be.
As I am a local in Tokyo now, I have to tell you. Do a day trip to Kamakura it will be worth it. A lot of culture, temples, a big Buddha, beaches and good food. It is technically also a tourist spot, so expect crowds.
One of the best things you can do to really get to know a place is to walk around and just see where your feet take you. If you only go from tourist attraction to tourist attraction you will miss the most important part: The people living in the place you are currently visiting.
An additional bonus: It's completely free! Walking around is one of the best and cheapest ways to get to know a place.
In Tokyo, you should also definitely take the side streets. The main roads are all filled with people, but you never know what you might find if you chose the road less traveled.
Around the corner of our house, there is a small shrine, just one street away from the main street. Many locals go there to pray on their way to or from work.
Don't miss out.
Not only will you have a perfect reason to start a conversation with a local, you will also probably learn something about the culture of the place in the process. Just ask your host or any random person you meet in a bar or on the streets.
Want to know about the daily routine of a typical Japanese guy?
Taka gets up at 7:45, starts working at 9:00 has lunch with his colleagues at around 12:00 and then continues working until 8:00 or 9:00 or 11:00. On some days he goes drinking with his colleagues after work and comes home late. On other days he comes home, eats a very late dinner and watches TV for a couple of hours before going to sleep.
Yep, live as a Japanese guy is tough.
We write a blog about our experiences, but you don't have to. You could just write a diary, or use an App. Or fill a scrapbook.
If you do these 10 things at every destination, your trips will be awesome!
What other things should people do at a destination?
Tell us in the comments!
If you would like to take this Destination Bucket List with 10 things to do at every destination with you on your next trip I have a printable for you. Just sign up to my mailing list below and you will be receive this and other printables directly to your inbox.