Traveling with a 3-year old to a different country entails a great amount of compromise. We’ve learned that one sure way for all of us to enjoy the trip and keep sane is to keep to our daughter’s typical day as much as possible. We were mindful of her nap time. We also looked out for places where she could play and run.
We were able to secure our promo plane ticket for August, and I must admit – it’s just not as fun to go exploring when the weather is as hot and humid as Manila. It can feel more draining, especially since we tend to take public transportation and walk a lot during trips.
See outdoor spots late in the afternoon
With that, try to schedule seeing outdoor spots like shrines and parks late in the afternoon. Sunblock is a must, as well as 2 to 3 extra shirts for the little one on hand, especially if he or she is the active type. I would also say pack a hat for your child, except that we did, and she left it somewhere and it got lost. Do be mindful. ☺
Go for light, loose clothes and a hat
The women here, I noticed, tend to prefer loose, light clothing like wide legged pants. They also wear hats a lot, which I think is a great idea.
Speaking of fashion, while packing my trusty Uniqlo shorts was a good idea for this trip, I made a huge mistake with sandals. My mom gave me this black and white pair from Charles & Keith that I just packed for the trip thinking they’d match the rest of my outfits well, and sandals equals comfort, right?
Dead wrong. Day 1 of wearing them and walking the whole day turned my feet into some kind of blister tree. The Band-Aids wouldn’t stick to my toes with all the chaffing from the walking. Do road test your footwear before entrusting your vacation to them!
So while the sandals were a disaster, I also want to give a little shoutout to Beabi for the cute camouflage bag that we used for this trip. I usually use it as a workout bag, but it also makes a sensible travel bag with its assortment of pockets and compartments, and the option to use it as a tote or as a backpack. The design is also sensibly unisex. The only drawback is it gets bulky and ugly when it’s filled up too much. Otherwise, it’s a great bag.
Budget dining is a pleasure in Fukuoka
When it comes to dining, there’s no shortage of quality options in Fukuoka (or Japan in general, anyway). We may not have been as daring – live squid sashimi is a specialty in Hakata – but it doesn’t mean that we were less satisfied.
The beauty of visiting Japan is that even its cheapest food options are bound to impress. And you’ll never worry about running out of kid-friendly meals.
We were on a budget on this trip, so we tried little neighbourhood restaurants and also some fast food.
Yoshinoya was a block away from our Airbnb apartment, and it was nice to know that what we have in the Philippines doesn’t taste far off from the original at all!
We also ended up at a Curry House CoCo Ichibanya after my daughter had a fun morning at Kid-O-Kid. It was our first time to try this restaurant – a good discovery. You can request for the level of spiciness for the curry, and they were the ones who suggested to just have the curry on the side for our kid’s meal since she doesn’t like it.
We have to try this restaurant again soon, especially since it has 7 branches in Manila already!
And then there’s our second favorite meal of all in Fukuoka, next to Ippudo ramen. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get its name…
Our Airbnb was 4 blocks away from Ohorikoen station, and this was one of the restaurants nearby.
It may have been a ramen house. It was full of diners, and the food to me was pure Japanese comfort food. It was satisfying, and it filled us up, especially since we came from an entire day at Anpanman Museum.
Do explore and support local neighborhood eateries! The food tends to be exceptional and the experience truly memorable. After we ate the chef came out of the kitchen, bowed and said thank you (as they all tend to, God bless the Japanese) as we were leaving.
Japan is a coffee drinker’s haven
The husband and I absolutely require coffee at least 2 times a day. A cup with breakfast, and another in the afternoon – preferably with snacks. In Fukuoka, we observed that most cafes and restaurants typically open at 11 am, which is late for us already. Our daughter is a bit of a morning person – ready for breakfast at 7 am – and if the husband isn’t too tired from work, they make a great breakfast pair.
There’s Lawson near our Airbnb, and we’d stock up on these:
As well as our requisite bread and cheese, plus other unique konbini finds like gourmet cocktail sausages.
The Japanese got it good. In cafes, we’ve consistently had good coffee.
When I decided to stop by a random coffee bar in Tenjin (and rest my dying feet), I felt like I had one of the best iced coffees of my life for 700 yen (USD 5.83).
The place was spotless and the staff were meticulous. They roast their own beans on the spot.
Fukuoka is perfect for families
The vibe in Fukuoka is laid back and chill. This is southern Japan, and a far cry from the mad rush of major cities like Tokyo or Osaka. What we were most pleasantly surprised to discover is that it’s such a family-friendly destination.
I love how uniquely Japanese places like Anpanman Museum and Kid-O-Kid are. I also love how this city still has a lot of big open spaces and green parks, even if some of them are on the rooftops of huge mall complexes.
Funny enough though, visiting these kiddie destinations weren’t even our daughter’s favorite part from our first trip to Fukuoka.
Her happiest moments were spent feeding the turtles in Ohori Park, staring at the fish and squid tanks of restaurants in Kawabata Shopping Arcade, and getting to bathe in this tiny-for-adults bathtub everyday.
Fukuoka is a reminder that kids find value and happiness in simple things, and how she would fondly recall moments from this trip even now that she’s 5 years old makes me happier.
There is so much value in traveling together as a family, and discovering the world together. Give Fukuoka, Japan a try on your next vacation and rediscover joy in the simple things in life.