Going to Fukuoka, or considering Fukuoka as your next destination? You’ve come to the right place. Here, I’ll make it simple for you and tell you directly where you should stay, eat, and go. Easy!
WHERE TO STAY
Unlike Tokyo, Fukuoka is easy. If you’re travelling around Japan with Fukuoka being just 1 of your destinations, then stay in the vicinity of Hakata Station. This is where the Shinkansen stops in Fukuoka, and the Fukuoka Airport is just a short 5 minutes train ride away. No kidding! That being said, I’m not encouraging you to stay in the outskirts. If you haven’t seen the map (which you should), Fukuoka Airport is actually in the city itself – so convenient & perfect! By staying there, you could plan a day without the need to take many public transport because so many attractions are around the area. More on that below!
During my trip, we stayed nearer to Gion Station (1 stop from Hakata), but it’s still a walkable distance to Hakata Station. On the last day, we walked over to take the Shinkansen to Osaka and it was all good.
WHERE TO VISIT
If you’re there during the Sakura season like I did, then head to the parks – Maizuru Park and Ōhori Park are great because they’re next to each other, within the city centre, and big enough for you to see the blooms all over.
For other FREE attractions to check out:
1. Kushida Shrine – it’s small yet so pretty and quaint
2. Tōchōji Temple – to see the largest wooden Buddha in the world (& a surprisingly huge sakura tree)
3. Fukuoka Akarenga Cultural Center – if you like architecture & buildings, you gotta see this
4. ACROS Fukuoka – same reason as above
5. Tenjin area – where all the major malls congregate, including a huge underground shopping
6. Kawabata Shopping Arcade – if you love shopping
7. Seaside Momochi – a view of Fukuoka’s waterfront on their manmade beach
8. Hakata Station Viewing Terrace – view of Fukuoka from above
For paying attractions that’s worth the yen:
8. Fukuoka Tower – catch the sunset from above
9. Owl Cafe – because Tokyo’s gonna be more crowded anyway
And everything listed above, can be covered in 2 full days. 1 – 6 above, including 8, are actually walkable if you stay around Hakata to Gion.
WHERE TO EAT
When in Hakata, eat everything Hakata, and by that I mean Hakata ramen, Hakata udon, and lots of mentaiko. You’ll be surprised that Ichiran – the mother of all ramen – actually came from Hakata and not Tokyo. And so is Ippudo! I’ve written a full list of it here where you’ll find the recommendations and addresses.
HOW TO GET AROUND
If you’ve been to Japan before and have kept the transport IC card, you’ll probably be able to use it in Fukuoka as well. I’ve kept my Pasmo card from Tokyo and have used this throughout my Japan trip from Fukuoka to Tokyo. If it’s your first time or you don’t have one, just purchase directly from the station – easy! There are 3 kinds in Fukuoka, but works the same anyway. For more detailed instructions of each, you can check out this guide.
Also, to make full use of one full day of travelling, especially if you would want to go from Hakata Station to the 2 parks and then the Fukuoka Tower, it’s more value for money to purchase the 1 Day Tourist City Pass for 820 yen (valid for foreigners on a short term tourist visa only). Do a quick math (tip: Google maps tells you the transport cost from one point to the next) for your one day’s itinerary and see if it’s more than 820 yen first, as 820 yen is not exactly cheap.
WHAT TO NOTE
When in Fukuoka, you’ll soon realise that many of the locals you meet there won’t be able to converse in English, and some places have no English signs/instructions at all. So before heading there, be sure to learn some simple Japanese phrases like “sumimasen” (excuse me/ sorry/ pardon me), “eigo o wakarimasen ka” (do you understand English?), and “ikura desu ka” (how much?) to help you get by. And of course, don’t forget to brush up on your gestures and sign language as well! 😉