Niigata Airport is a sometimes convenient way to come to or leave Niigata for other destinations.
There are regular flights to Korea from which you can travel onto multiple destinations throughout the world.
Niigata Airport flies to other areas in Japan including but not limited to Hokkaido and Okinawa.
And there is a regular flight to Guam.
Niigata Airport also has occasional flights to Hawaii and Russia.
And for many foreigners Niigata Airport is where you will have to go to process Visas and Residence cards.
Some staff speak English at the Airport but many don't.
Travel by Scooter
One of the best ways to get around Niigata on the cheap and convenient side of things is to buy a scooter. Granted, this is more ideal for those who are going to be here for more than just a few months. But, as things are, some foreigners come for about a year or two. A scooter is a relatively cheap and good way to get around for these reasons:
1) You can park almost anywhere.
2) You can get from place to place easily without tiring.
3) I think it's safer than a bicycle (which I ride, too) as long as you obey traffic laws. In contrast, when I ride my bicycle on the street (which is what you are supposed to do... the sidewalks are for pedestrians), the cars sometimes get way too close. With a scooter I can safely hog my lane right in the center of it (I mean the left lane). They can go around me using the right lane. Not to mention, if I get bumped by a car on a bicycle I am going to fly in a bad way.
4) It's fun.
5) It's less likely to be stolen than a bicycle.
6) It's cheaper to use than the cost of the buses, trains and especially the taxis.
7) Unlike car ownership, there is no yearly tax and there is no shaken (pronounced shaw-ken), a kind of oil check/pollution inspection/safety inspection requirement for cars in Japan.
8) Whereas a car will waste a heck of a lot of your money every year, you are most down only the iniatial costs of the scooter and maintenance is not so expensive.
What you shouldn't do is drive your scooter too fast. Actually, the speed limit is only 30 kph, but
it's enough to get you through the city and that's pretty fast going through the back streets.
As my many students whom are dentists have told me, they have seen many patients injured from bicycle accidents, a very small number from scooter accidents, but almost rarely any from motorcycle accidents (those ones usually wind up dead). There is a risk in driving a scooter, but having been in a number of bicycle accidents in my life already, I believe my bicycle is more dangerous for me than my scooter. Plus, my scooter helmit is just way more solid.
(Photos coming soon.. in a few days)
- Budget Travel
- Road Trip
To Niigata by Shinakansen
THE BEST WAY TO NIIGATA is by SHINKANSEN
The Shinkansen (Bullet Train) travels to and from here everyday of the year. As it is, now all the cars on the Shinkansen cars are non-smoking. So now, at least passengers travelling to or from Niigata won't have to put up with eduring 2 hours of a smoked filled car (I used to hate it!)
A trip from Tokyo to Niigata costs about 10,000 yen and takes an average of 2 hours.
You can get an express train that travels directly to Niigata with no sceduled stops and thus, it gets here even faster.
Getting Around in Niigata City
One of the most commonly used methods for getting around in Niigata City is by bus. Some of the bus lines are easy to read because they come with a number (such as Bus #11, #12, or 12 A). However, many of the buses have no numbers at all and only use signs in Kanji (very foreign unfriendly if you ask me). Thus, we foreigners (using the Japanese way of talking about the problem) are forced to use and memorize the Kanji for what it means and symbolizes. This isn't really a bad thing for those who'll be here a long time. But, it's absolutely impractical for foreigners who are tourists. The buses come a little too fast to have time to discipher. So, when in doubt use the following Japanese with the driver, right away before he takes you too far:
Sumimasen, kono busu wa ____________ e ikimasuka. (put the name of the Japanese place you want to go to on the blank.
If he says, "Hai, ikimasu." then no problem.
Whoever if he says, "Ie. Chigaimasu." then you best get off of the bus real soon.
The next thing about riding buses in Niigata (and other places in Japan) is that when you first get on you are supposed to take a ticket. When you depart you pay for the price of your ride as indicated by your ticket number and whatever the screen at the front of the bus says for that ticket number. The average cost for a 10 to 15 minute ride in Niigata is 180 yen (as of now).
When you are reaching a location you'd like to get off at, push one of the red buttons on the side between one of the windows.
- Budget Travel
From Niigata to SADO ISLAND and back
One of the best ways to get to Sado is by ferry. In Niigata city, you can go from the port of Niigata by either ferry or hydrofoil.
By ferry is cheaper, but if you wish to have better accomodations on board you can pay a higher ticket price (for a private room or for a little cheaper a bunkbed with a curtain). The ferry will take about 2 hours to get to Sado Island from Niigata City. Going by ferry can be fun as you can stand on the deck and enjoy the weather if it's nice enough. The cool thing is seagulls will fly along side of the ferry hoping to get something for their troubles.
By hydrofoil, the ride costs about double what it would cost you to go by ferry, but the ride is absolutely smooth... something like flying over the water. I've only done this once, however it will save you time and will only take an hour to get there.
- Budget Travel
BUSES IN NIIGATA
Niigata has a good bus service around the city. Outside the JR Station there is a tourist information office and also a bus center where maps and information can be obtained. I walked around most of the central city quite easily and found most things to be about 30 mins max. distance.
- Road Trip
Niigata has an airport with flights connecting it with Sapporo, Hakodate, Nagoya, Fukuoka, Okinawa, Osaka and Sado Island domestically.
Aeroflot runs a service to Vladivostok, Irkutsk and Khabarovsk in Russia
Korean Air has flights to Seoul
China Northwest Airlines has flights to Shanghai and Xi'an.
- Work Abroad
- Study Abroad
- School Holidays
TRAIN TRAVEL IN JAPAN
There is a Shinkansen line that runs directly from Tokyo to Niigata city
The Shinkansen is by far the most convenient way to travel around Japan. Unfortunately it isn't very cheap! Luckily there is a Japan JR Rail Pass available to foreign travellers. See the JR East website for details:
It must be bought abroad and stamped in Japan before you can use it. There are several options including one week (unlimited JR travel except for the super fast Nozomi service), two week, JR East and JR West passes. Check with your local travel agent for the best option or click on the link to see for yourself!
Here is a link to a very cool page that lets you see the routing between cities/stations/ports within Japan. It will tell you the route and includes the cost and time. http://www.jorudan.co.jp/english/norikae/.
Niigata has a good network of bus routes, easy to negotiate even for a non Japanese speaker too! Take a ticket as you get on the bus at the back and put it in the machine at the front when you get off to pay......no problem!
Niigata is around 3 hours by Shinkansen from Tokyo, an interesting ride right across the country, on the worlds most expensive to build line apparently - looking at the scenery on the way it's easy to see why. Anyway the JR station is pretty close to the city centre and bus station too
Rent a bicycle at Niigata Station
This is a good way to get around Niigata city center for a few hours. It only costs a few hundred yen. The bicycle rental area is located on the Bandai exit side of Niigata Station near the bus terminals.
Warning: Make sure to always lock your bicycle. Bicycle theft is common.
I live in Nagano city. The fastest and cheapest way to get to Niigata city from Nagano is to take a Highway bus. One way this cost 3,060 Yen and took just over 3 hours.
- Road Trip
- School Holidays
You can get there by car ferry...
You can get there by car ferry in about three hours, if you choose jet foil ferry, a hour faster than car ferry. I saw dolphins swimming around my ferry.
You may have to execise before...
You may have to execise before come to there, because its road runs only up and down, up and down...spectacle view attract my eyes but hard riding.
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