Listed City Guide - J
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Kingston Travel Guide

Bustling, squalid and soulful, Kingston is the heart of one of the Caribbean’s most alluring islands and offers visitors a good dose of natural beauty, a dash of urban ugliness, and a rollicking party scene.

A holiday in Kingston is best spent at one of the beach resorts adjacent to the city itself, but no one who visits Jamaica should miss out on exploring the interesting capital city. A Kingston holiday attracts reggae fanatics, Rastafarians, those interested in Caribbean art and music, and many a party animal keen to enjoy the vibey nightlife. The city is nestled in an idyllic tropical landscape with beautiful beaches on its doorstep and the Blue Mountains looming behind, beckoning birders and hikers onto its lush slopes.

Kingston is an enigmatic city, difficult to define, and with a culture that sets it slightly apart from the rest of the island nation. Parts of the inner-city can be dangerous and are best avoided, but generally Kingston is welcoming and captivating, combining the legacy of famous sons like Bob Marley with a forward-looking, modern drive.

Best time to visit Kingston

Holiday in Kingston any time of year and you are assured of sunshine and sultry tropical days and nights. Mountains shelter the city from most of the rain, so even if you travel to Kingston during the Caribbean rainy season (May to November), you are unlikely to have tropical storms spoiling your fun. Having said that, most visitors prefer to avoid the hurricane season in Jamaica (June to November) and tourism peaks in the dry season between mid-December and mid-April.

Read more on Kingston’s Climate and Weather.

What to see in Kingston

– Celebrate Jamaica’s most iconic native son at the Bob Marley Museum.

– Explore Devon House, a wonderful example of Jamaican Georgian architecture.

– Learn about Jamaican art at the National Gallery.

– Admire the historic old buildings of picturesque Spanish Town.

What to do in Kingston

– Hike one of the stunning trails in the Blue Mountains.

– Enjoy a picnic in the tropical beauty of the Hope Botanical Gardens.

– Visit the Jablum Coffee Company and sample their famous Blue Mountain coffee.

– Stroll around the old pirate hangout of Port Royal.

Beyond Kingston

Kingston is most commonly used as a springboard or starting point for travel further afield in Jamaica. Port Antonio, separated from Kingston by the Blue Mountains, is a popular destination, and Ocho Rios is also close by. Two other favourite beach resort destinations are Montego Bay and Negril, and although they are on the other side of the island, Jamaica is small enough to allow for such travel.

Getting there

The main gateway to the beaches and resorts of Jamaica, Norman Manley Kingston International Airport, is located 11 miles (18km) southeast of Kingston. The airport is undergoing an extensive renovation which will only be complete in 2022, but it is a modern and convenient airport, if a little chaotic. There are regular cheap flights to Kingston from the US and the UK.

Get more information on the Airport in Kingston.

Did you know?

– Kingston was founded in 1692, as a refuge for survivors of the earthquake that destroyed Port Royal.

– Traditionally, Queen Elizabeth II is still considered Queen of Jamaica.

– Kingston boasts the world’s seventh largest natural harbour.

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Fukuoka Travel Guide

Fukuoka, the largest city on the southern Japanese island of Kyushu, was the home of the samurai and today is the terminus of the famous Shinkansen Line bullet train from Tokyo, 730 miles (1,168km) away. Originally the town of Hakata was the centre of the region, acting as a gateway to Japan from the rest of Asia, which lies just across a short strait. The feudal town of Fukuoka, however, grew rapidly just across the Nakagawa River, clustered around a castle. In the late 19th century the cities united under the combined name of Fukuoka. The modern city is busy and bustling, with an international flavour and plenty of innovative architectural development.

The Tenjin underground shopping arcade brings the wares of the world to Fukuoka, while a sandbank in the bay has been turned into the largest entertainment district in western Japan, with more than 2,000 eating and drinking establishments congregated under the neon lights. The Naka River promenade and riverfront park make for pleasant strolls, while top class theatres, theme parks and art establishments abound. There are some sightseeing attractions in the city itself, and the surrounding area in Kyushu Island has plenty to offer within easy reach of the city.

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Kyoto Travel Guide

One of the world’s premier cultural destinations, Kyoto is the city that birthed Japan in the international imagination and its traditional gardens, temples and shrines delight visitors searching for an authentic experience of the country’s ancient culture:

Kyoto is like a vast museum, housing a whopping 1,600 Buddhist temples, 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, countless traditional shrines, and the best Zen gardens in Japan. Although the city can’t compete with glittering Tokyo when it comes to nightlife and shopping, it is the ideal destination for culture vultures and the best place to do some historical sightseeing in Japan. Although it may appear to be a concrete jungle at first glance, the city has myriad hidden beauties and is a cultural treasure trove. For Geishas, Kabuki and Zen, Kyoto is unbeatable.

Best time to visit Kyoto

The best time to visit Kyoto is in the mild shoulder seasons of spring (March, April) and autumn (October, November). In spring the city is festooned with the famous cherry blossoms and enjoys pleasant sunny weather, and in late autumn, once the typhoon season has passed, it is warm and boasts the vivid colours of the season. Summer can be uncomfortably hot in the city. Read more on Kyoto’s Climate and Weather.

What to see in Kyoto

– Seek out traditional Geisha in the historic neighbourhood of Gion.

– See the 1,000 golden statues of the Sanjusangen-do temple.

– Watch traditional Japanese dance-drama at the Minamiza Kabuki Theatre.

– Marvel at the famous Golden Pavilion just north of the city.

What to do in Kyoto

– Visit Kiyomizu-dera, one of Japan’s most celebrated temples.

– Take a guided tour of the Kyoto Imperial Palace and its lovely grounds.

– Explore the temple complex of To-ji, which houses the tallest pagoda in Japan.

– Wander through the beautiful gardens of the Katsura Imperial Villa.

Beyond Kyoto

Japan is not a big country and Kyoto is a great base for excursions and daytrips further afield. It is a short train ride from the cities of Hiroshima and Osaka, both popular with tourists, and is even conveniently close to the capital, Tokyo. The historic city of Nara is practically on Kyoto’s doorstep and boasts many ancient attractions.

Getting there

Although the city doesn’t have its own airport, Kyoto’s proximity to a number of other Japanese cities ensures that many airports service the area. International visitors most commonly land at Osaka Kansai International Airport. Get more information on Airports in Kyoto.

Did you know?

– Kyoto was the capital of Japan for more than 1,000 years.

– The fortune cookie is thought to have originated in Kyoto.

– Kyoto’s famous Silver Pavilion has never had a trace of silver on it.

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Osaka Travel Guide

Japan’s third largest city, the industrial metropolis of Osaka lies just 26 miles (42km) south of Kyoto. Osaka is an ancient city, powerful in the days of the feudal lords and samurai. Now the city is a commercial hub, focused on making money and having a good time: it has a reputation in Japan as one of the best places to eat, drink and be merry.

It is worthwhile visiting the city just to see the magnificent Osaka Castle. Osaka’s castle dates back to the 16th century, built by the powerful lord Hideyoshi Toyotomi. It was rebuilt following World War II, renovated in 1997, and is today a national treasure. The city has a number of other attractions, including museums dedicated to science, wood-block printing, peace, and even ramen! There are also a number of beautiful temples, and the famous Bunraku Puppet Theatre. Other attractions in Osaka include an impressive aquarium and Universal Studios Japan, a theme park focusing on the American movie industry.

Osaka offers many of the same hardcore shopping opportunities that Japan’s other major metropolises do, with the most famous shopping district, Shinsaibashi, offering a mixture of department stores, fashionable boutiques, and Western stores. Nipponbashi is the best place to go for electronics.

Osaka has a distinct cuisine, putting its unique stamp on everything from sushi to Okonomiyaki (DIY-style curbside fare). After dinner, head out for some fun in one of the karaoke bars. The liveliest nightlife is found in Dotombori.

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Tokyo Travel Guide

Tokyo is at once a neon-lit modern playground full of skyscrapers, technological wonders and trendy nightclubs, and an ancient stronghold of Japanese culture which offers intriguing attractions for the historical sightseer.

There are a number of reasons why Japan’s capital city, Tokyo, is becoming one of the world’s most exciting travel destinations: it is bursting with excellent restaurants; its nightlife is one of the hottest in the world; the shopping scene purrs day and night; the crime rate is virtually non-existent; there are fascinating ancient sites to be explored; and the public transport is arguably the most efficient in the world. A holiday in Tokyo is definitely not advised for the agoraphobic, but those seeking a sophisticated getaway with a touch of genteel oriental culture will thrive in this seething metropolis, and those in search of some retail therapy will be delighted with a trip to Tokyo.

Best time to visit Tokyo

The seasons in Tokyo can be extreme, so the best time to travel to the city is during the milder seasons of autumn (September and October) or spring (March, April, May). Summers are uncomfortably hot, humid and rainy, and winters can be freezing. The famous Japanese cherry blossoms tend to bloom around March and April making this the most popular time for a holiday in Japan. Read more on Tokyo’s Climate and Weather.

What to see in Tokyo

– Get an overview of Tokyo’s culture and history at the fascinating Edo-Tokyo Museum.

– See Senso-Ji, the city’s oldest temple, founded in 628 AD.

– Admire the profusion of cherry blossoms at Inokashiro Park.

– Marvel at views of the city from high up in the Tokyo Tower.

What to do in Tokyo

– Treat the kids to a day of fun at the Tokyo Disney Resort.

– Explore the electronic wonderland that is Akihabara shopping district.

– Visit the Meiji Jingu shrine and enjoy the museums and lush gardens.

– Stroll around the Tokyo Imperial Palace, the heart of the city.

Beyond Tokyo

Tourists keen to take excursions out of the city will find many worthwhile attractions just beyond Tokyo, including the historic city of Kamakura, with its numerous ancient temples and shrines, and the famous Mount Fuji, which is a delight for hikers. Yokohama, Japan’s second largest city, is also just a quick train ride away.

Getting there

International flights land at either Tokyo International Airport (more commonly known as Haneda Airport), situated less than 12 miles (20km) south of Tokyo, or Tokyo Narita International Airport, located around 45 miles (73km) northeast of Tokyo. Both airports are easily accessible through the city’s impressive public transport network. Get more information on Airports in Tokyo.

Did you know?

– Mount Takao, on the outskirts of Tokyo, is one of Japan’s most visited mountains.

– Tokyo’s restaurants have more Michelin stars than any other city in the world.

– Tokyo’s most haunted landmark is said to be the Akasaka Mansion.

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Amman Travel Guide

Originally spread over seven hills, or jabals, the capital of the Hashemite kingdom now sprawls over 19 hills and is home to over a million people, almost half of Jordan’s population. Known as the White City, the hills are covered in a jumble of light-coloured stone houses, consistently box-like in shape with flat roofs characteristic of a typical desert city. Faded minarets, pavement markets, Arabian sweet shops and the crumbling remains of ancient civilisations contrast wonderfully with the contemporary edifices, fashionable boutiques and international restaurants. This blend of the old and the new combines in the noisy and chaotic downtown area where the city’s extraordinarily friendly residents go about their business.

At the heart of downtown is the Ottoman-style King Hussein Mosque, around which the buzz and bustle is at its most interesting. Even busier at prayer times, the surrounding streets are filled with the essence of Arabia, exotic smells and rows of glittering treasures in the souq (market) amid the noise of frenetic haggling.

Just as overwhelming is Amman’s sense of history, dating back 5,500 years to its position as the ancient capital of the Ammonites, Rabbath-Ammon of the Old Testament, and later as Philadelphia, the Roman city that became part of the Decapolis. Overlooking the city from atop Jabal al-Qala’a is the Citadel, the site of the ancient Rabbath-Ammon, and at its foot lies the impressive Roman amphitheatre that is the most remarkable remnant of ancient Philadelphia.

Amman is one of the oldest, continuously inhabited cities in the world, and today functions as a thriving commercial and administrative centre with modern facilities, historical attractions and a longstanding tradition of hospitality. It is an excellent base from which to explore the surrounds, even the rest of the country as its no more than five hours drive from anywhere, and is surprisingly agreeable for a capital city.

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