My family of 5 just had a great 10 day self-drive holiday in Kyushu and I wanted to share our experience with others who are planning similar vacations. My family was very happy with the itinerary, good mix of views, temples, natural wonders, history, activities, food and shopping.
Day 3 – Kokonoe Suspension Bridge, Skiing at Kuju Forest Ski Park (accommodation at Ryokan Sanga)
Day 6 – Kumamoto explore (kumamoto castle, Sakura no Baba Jousaien, Shimotori Malls, Museum)
Day 7 – Ferry to Shimabara, Nita Pass, Unzen Ropeway, Unzen Jikogu, Oura Church, Glover Garden Dejima, Mt Inasa Nagasaki (accommodation Airbnb) – (we squeezed quite a bit this day because weather forecasted rain the next day)
Day 11 – Fly home
Because it was winter, we planned on average 3-4 attractions in a day. Kyushu is beautiful and we spent slightly longer time in each location just soaking in the beauty and also taking lots of photos. Also, most of the driving was not on expressways so it did take time traveling from one location to the other. (also we didn’t want to rush so we decided to cover only northern Kyushu)
Favorite attractions (too many to choose from)
Daikanbo – the view is just magnificent. It’s impossible to capture it on photo. Getting there was a little bit of a challenge. The telephone number on the web led us somewhere different but it was a good thing we spotted road signs pointing us to the right direction. (While I was there a google-map the souvenir shop –0967-32-3856 – hope it works)
Yunotsubo Kaido – such a quaint street filled with Japanese food and souvenirs. Yes it is touristy but nevertheless it was fun walking down the street window shopping and snacking on Japanese food. While you are there please do look out for MILCH which sells oozy cheesecake in a cup. They won awards for this dessert. Luckily the queue was short when we were there. Super yums
Yutoku Inazi Shrine – beautiful temple and also they have a small stretch of tori gates (like those found in Kyoto Fushimi Inari Shrine). It was early when we arrived and got the temple all to ourselves. the view when you get to the top is also very pretty. Surprisingly, this attraction is not really featured much when I was doing my research but I stumbled on it on tripadvisor forum and very happy for it
All the ropeways and views at top (esp Mt Tsurumi and Unzen)
Yamashiroya Ryokan – very warm friendly owners of this small ryokan, about 20 mins away from yufuin. The rooms were very comfortable; the onsens was very nice and had good view and the food… the food was sooooo good.
Sand Bath in Beppu – This was sooo relaxing – nearly fell asleep – we went to the one in Takegawara spa which is I believe the oldest in Beppu… so the facility was old… maybe we should have tried the one by the beach (with a view of the water)
Rowing the boat in Takachiho Gorge – A must-do. The boat is not easy to row. We look back now with laughter on how we bad we were. The view of the gorge from the boat is very different
Mt Aso Ropeway - Unfortunately we could not take the ropeway to the Nakadate crater at Mt Aso as it was still not in operation while we were there (hopefully you will hae beter luck
Nagahama Fish Market – we went too late. By the time we were there all the action was over. we were there about 9am... I think we should have gone much earlier like 6am. However we did have a very good sushi breakfast… one of the best I had.
I like to thank “jp-local-life.com” the post was so detailed with photos .. We just followed step by step…. jp-local-life.com/nagahama-fish-market-fresh…
GPS is so easy to use. Just key in the telephone number of the place you want to go – no need to key in address – and you are on your way. We had a list of all the attractions and telephone numbers printed in advance so it was super easy to get from one place to another
We rented an SUV with snow tires (it was snowing a few days while we were there).
We also got the ETC card which made traveling on the expressways a breeze.
Lastly, there is the matter of KEP (Kyushu expressway pass) – there is toll if you travel on the expressways. Depending on your route, you may not need to have the KEP for the full length of your holiday. I shared my itinerary with the rental car company and they helped me figure out how many days and when to get pass vs just paying the toll. (so have your itinerary handy so that they can help you too… put the days and date…because there is a 30% discount on toll fees during the weekend so depending on route, you may not even need to get the pass)
I would like to thank all the contributors on Forum who helped me put this together esp ETFlyer who provided very good advise on attractions, itinerary etc. Definitely hope we get the opportunity to come back again to visit the rest of Kyushu…