Friday, September 22, 2023

GPSmyCity Premium Membership Giveaway

Now that the pandemic has ended, travel has come back in full swing! Woohoo! To celebrate, GPSmyCity is giving away 10 premium yearly memberships! Each membership will allow the member to use the GPSmyCity app on up to two devices for a whole calendar year.

So. What is GPSmyCity? GPSmyCity is an app containing a ton of travel articles and self-guided walking tours written by travelers like you and me. Best of all, it comes with an offline map and GPS routing capability. Searching for things to do, places to see, and food to try has never been so easy!

To claim the free one-year premium membership, all you have to do is:

  1.  Download and install the GPSmyCity app.
  2.  Open the app, and select Account to register.
  3.  Go to More, then select Feedback and send an email to GPSmyCity with the claim code 25840922.
Go on and give GPSmyCity app a try!

Friday, April 14, 2023

Novotel Taipei Taoyuan International Airport

For our almost 19-hour layover in Taoyuan, we opted to stay near the airport since our flight the next day leaves at 755AM. We had two choices: stay at a capsule hotel in Taoyuan International Airport or at Novotel Taipei Taoyuan just two stops on the MRT from Terminal 1 of Taoyuan International Airport. If I were on a solo trip, I would opt for the capsule hotel in the airport, but since I was with my father and my sister's family, capsule hotels were a no-go.

Novotel Taipei Taoyuan International Airport
No. 1-1 Hangzhan South Rd., Dayuan District, Taoyuan City, Taiwan

Location. Novotel Taipei Taoyuan International Airport is right outside Airport Hotel Station, which is two MRT stops from Terminal 1 of Taoyuan International Airport. If you're on a layover and want to go shopping, but the time is too short to be going to Taipei City, the good news is the hotel is just a 13-minute MRT ride to Taoyuan HSR Station where Gloria Outlets is. (Gloria Outlets is an outlet mall with a foodcourt. Bonus: the foodcourt has Hawker Chan, a Michelin-starred hawker stall in Singapore.)

Hawker Chan at the foodcourt of Gloria Outlets

Free Airport Shuttle. The hotel offers free shuttle transfers to/from the airport. Since our flight was very early the next morning, the receptionist booked us seats on the shuttle. (The receptionist also speaks very good English.)

Room. My father and I stayed in a 28 sq. m. room with a king size bed and a single bed. The room also had a TV, desk and chair, refrigerator, air conditioning unit, electric kettle, cups, coffee, tea, and bottles of water. There were power outlets near the bed, and also near the TV. Weighing scale, slippers, and hangers were also provided.

Our room

Photo from

Toilet and Shower. The ensuite toilet and shower was huge, and complete with hair dryer, towels, and toiletries (shampoo, conditioner, soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, comb, razor). The only awkward thing was that the wall between the shower and the bedroom was of opaque glass.

Price. At 4827 NTD and no free breakfast (though they did have free coffee, tea, and bread at the lobby as early as 5AM), it was way too expensive.

Saturday, April 8, 2023

Kansai Airport to Osaka City (Tennoji, Osaka, or Shin-Osaka Station)

There are two railway companies that serve Kansai Airport: Nankai and Japan Railways (JR). On my 2016 trip, I took the Nankai Airport Express to Osaka City's Shin-Imamiya Station. But on my recent trip, since I was staying near Tennoji Station, I took the JR Kansai Airport Express "Haruka" train.

But before doing so, I queued up at the JR West Ticket Office. Although I already had an ICOCA (IC card) and could just add money to it at the machine, tap in at the station gate, and be on my way, it was still worth my time to queue and buy a JR Kansai Airport Express Haruka ticket at the Ticket Office. Why? JR West had a ticket deal wherein if you have an ICOCA, you only pay 1200 JPY for a reserved seat ticket to Tennoji Station instead of 2170 JPY (a non-reserved seat ticket would cost 1840 JPY). The journey takes 33 minutes. Other than Tennoji Station, the Haruka also stops at Osaka Station, and Shin-Osaka Station (the discounted Haruka ticket price is 1600 JPY for either of these two destinations).

My ICOCA (left) which I have had since 2016,
and my father's ICOCA (right) which we bought on this trip.

If you don't have an ICOCA, you can still buy the ICOCA + Haruka ticket at the JR West Ticket Office. The ICOCA would cost 2000 JPY, which already includes 1500 JPY worth of credits. The ICOCA can be used for public transportation (trains, subways, buses, trams), lockers, vending machines, and convenience stores.

Although the website states that you could buy discounted Haruka tickets at other stations, I found it was not so. On our last day in Japan, we were going to buy our discounted Haruka ticket (Kyoto to Kansai Airport Station) at Kyoto Station, but the station staff said it was only for sale at Kansai Airport Station. It was such a bummer to pay 2730 JPY when I knew I could have paid only 1800 JPY had I known it was only for sale at Kansai Airport Station. Argh. So, if you have reached this far, I have one valuable tip for you: make sure to also buy your return ticket at Kansai Airport Station!