By Laura House For Daily Mail Australia
21:59 01 Jan 2024, updated 22:01 01 Jan 2024
- Virgin Australia’s new route is from Cairns to Tokyo
- Some are using the opportunity to have a two-in-one holiday on a budget
- The flights cost as little as $699 return
- READ MORE: Inside the Virgin Voyages adults-only cruise
Australians in the know are making the most of a newly launched Cairns to Tokyo flight by enjoying a hybrid holiday that gives them the best of both worlds.
However, many are choosing to extend their layover and enjoy a holiday in paradise for a few nights before continuing on to Japan, which was named the most desirable destination for 2023/24.
By doing so, you can pay as little as $699 return for flights (depending on the time of year) and essentially score the ultimate two-in-one holiday: a tropical, poolside jaunt in the southern hemisphere and a cultural foodie getaway with the added buzz of city life in the north.
The daily service offers 2,000 seats a week between Australia and Japan, which was named the top trending spot for Aussies. Osaka, Sapporo and Tokyo had the biggest year-on-year increase in searches on Skyscanner.
It’s worth noting that the deals on the route are best scored on the Book Early page and by scouring the Happy Hour flash deals on Thursdays between 4-11pm. Booking mid-week will also snag you a bargain.
It’s been performing extremely well, with strong demand from both Japanese and Australian travellers flying both directions.
So if a hybrid holiday appeals in the current financial climate, FEMAIL has rounded up the ultimate itinerary ideas for both destinations.
One of the most well-known yet often vastly under-explored destinations in Australia, Cairns is ideal for couples, families and solo travellers looking for an escape from city life.
The Crystalbrook hotels have brought some serious flare to the Cairns strip. Sitting in a prime location at the northern end of the iconic waterfront, Riley features 311 stylish rooms and suites and is the most family-friendly of the three with a huge resort pool.
It also has a variety of restaurant and bar options including modern Asian cuisine at Paper Crane or Mediterranean cuisine at Cairns highest rooftop bar, Rocco. The specialist rum and seafood bar, Calypso Club, has also just opened in time for summer.
Sat on the Cairns Esplanade, Flynn has 311 rooms and suites, a gorgeous day spa, Eléme, a 24-hour gym, glass swimming pools and is has a more arty, grown-up vibe than Riley down the road.
The hotel has three levels of restaurants and bars offering Italian cuisine at Flynn’s Italian, market-style food and drinks at Boardwalk Social and a boutique Australian whiskey bar.
Alamanda Palm Cove by Lancemore
Nestled amongst swaying coconut palms and coastal deco, this luxe yet laidback escape is perfect for couples or families
25 minutes outside of Cairns city, this gorgeous hideaway offers direct beach access, a picture-perfect view of the Coral Sea, an adults-only pool, the mouthwatering Nu Nu restaurant and a renowned day spa.
DINING & BARS
Whiskey & Wine Bar
Tucked inside Crystalbrook Flynn, this oceanview hub is one of the best whiskey and wine bars in Cairns with amazing food, a team of impossibly talented bartenders and chic brass and gold decor.
Perfect for a chilled afternoon by the water, this heritage listed spot is ocated at the Cruise Liner Terminal in Cairns with views across Trinity Inlet. It offers great freshly brewed beer, an epic menu and various seating options both indoors with views to the brewery, and outdoors, with sea views.
Dreamtime Dive & Snorkel Catamaran Tour
The team at Dreamtime promises one of Cairns’ most unique and exclusive tours complete with marine biologists, a reef selection based on the best conditions and a brilliant guide who is committed to sustainability and authenticity. Sites include Milln, Flynn, Hastings, Saxon, Norman or Thetford Reef.
These iconic markets tick every box – fresh fruit and veggies straight from the farmers, seasonal produce, eclectic rare foods, clothing, musicians, cheese, soaps and all kinds of jewellery and homewares. They run 5am-6pm Saturday and 5am-3pm on Sunday on Sheridan Street in the centre of Cairns city and are described as ‘one of the rare public domains that still exists where an eclectic range of people mix and mingle’.
Japan’s capital has to be one of the most rewarding, playful and welcoming holiday spots thanks to its culture-soaked streets, museums, progressive technology, buzzing nightlife, temples, gorgeous parkland and seriously special food. It is the perfect place to balance out a tropical getaway.
Part of IHG Hotels & Resorts’ luxury & lifestyle collection, the 272-room Hotel Indigo Tokyo Shibuya opened on August 29, 2023. The striking, thoughtfully designed hideaway draws its inspiration from the dynamic urban jungle of the iconic Shibuya Scramble Crossing which some guests can see from their rooms.
‘Kaleidoscopic Urban Jungle’ sets the scene for the hotel’s design with striking, fashion-led artworks throughout the 12th floor reception area while vinyl records line the guest room walls paying homage to Shibuya’s music culture.
The dining is just as fabulous, with a flawless execution of traditional Japanese cuisine, fresh fruits, pastries, an unbelievable a la carte menu and an in-house cafe, Shibrewya, which serves up coffee and waffles shaped like Hachiko, Shibuya’s famous and beloved Akita dog.
Kimpton Shinjuku Tokyo
This sophisticated boutique hotel is inspired by New York’s art and fashion scene and is described as ‘soaking up the energy from the bustling Shinjuku district’. This hotel offers a slice of calm despite being in the heart of the city, with a chic terrace bar, luxurious rooms and a nightly social hour.
Kimpton also has in-room yoga mats, rain showers, deep relaxing baths, and fast WiFi, as well as a 24-hour fitness centre and three spots to eat and drink: The Jones Cafe and Bar, District Brasserie and the 86 Rooftop Bar.
DINING & BARS
About as cheap a modern ‘sushi train’ as you can get, this tasty hub is described as a ‘best kept secret’ by locals who rave about the fresh, locally-sourced sashimi, pole bowls and udon.
In true Japanese style, you order the mouthwatering morsels on a little computer screen and they come shooting out on a speedy robotic conveyor belt shortly afterwards, freshly maid. A ‘must’ if you’re in the city.
Tofuya Ukai Saginuma
This restaurant offers premium Japanese dining at its finest. In the heart of Saginuma, Tofuya Ukai is committed to serving homemade tofu crafted with high quality soy beans and an eye-popping accompanying menu to guests in quiet private rooms.
The location is outstanding with deep red walls, ponds, stone paths, garden lanterns and swaying trees in a traditional Japanese garden.
Notable menu items include deep fried tofu with sweet miso, fried pufferfish, hot pots with king crab and fish cake, and premium fish (‘kue’ – longtooth grouper).
Meiji Shinto Shrine
The perfect way to start your day in Tokyo is with a trip to the Meiji Shinto Shrine. It is dedicated to Emperor Meiki and his consort, Empress Shoken; Meiki was the first emperor of modern Japan and is famed for modernising the country.
The main complex is a 10-minute walk from the main entrance, which is marked by a large torii gate. Guests can walk in silence through the 100,000-tree Meiji Jingu forest and enjoy making offerings in the main hall and observing the many donated gifts and charms scattered throughout.
Described as ‘Tokyo’s coolest neighbourhood’, this trendy area is home to countless high-end fashion boutiques, edgy book stores, art galleries that double as cocktail bars, vintage shops and speakeasies.
While there, be sure to visit the Former Asakura Residence, the T-Site for some amazing tea-tasting and art displays and Tsutaya Books for some top tier shopping opportunities.