Okinawa Travel: Moving Around in Okinawa

In my previous post, I shared about the accommodations that I booked for our upcoming Okinawa Trip. As i continue to research and plan for our trip, I will update and share our plans along the way! Bookmark this page for more update!

Here, I will be sharing about how we are going to move around on the relatively small island slightly bigger than Singapore!

Interesting Facts:

Singapore has a total land area of 719.1 square kilometres (277.6 sq mi). The Singapore area comprises mainland and other islands. The mainland of Singapore measures 50 kilometres (31 mi) from east to west and 27 kilometres (17 mi) from north to south with 193 kilometres (120 mi) of coastline.

Okinawa Island is the largest in the Ryukyus, being about 70 miles (112 km) long and 7 miles (11 km) wide and having an area of 463 square miles (1,199 square km).

Getting Around in Okinawa

In Okinawa where there are many sightseeing spots, so transportation is important. Okinawa doesn’t have any trains, and apart from public transportation such as monorail, bus, and taxi, they also have rental vehicles: cars, motorcycles, and bicycles.

By Monorail

The monorail is called Yui Rail, something like our LRT in Singapore. It starts at Naha Airport Station and travels through Naha city and goes all the way to Shuri Station, the last stop. It is 13km in length and has a total of 15 stations; it travels to many sightseeing spots such as the international street (Kokusai Dori), city center and Shuri Castle. Please visit here for more information for travelling on the Yul Rail.

If you are travelling by the Yul rail for more than 3 times in a day, you can consider buying the 1-day and 2-day tickets for unlimited travel via Yul Rail. It will be convenient to sightsee the city area. Since the Naha Airport Station is connected to the domestic terminal of the airport, the monorail is also used by tourists visiting popular sites around Naha. It also offers a beautiful view of the Naha cityscape through the windows.

Things to take note if you are travelling on the Yul Rail

By Taxi

Okinawa taxis are cheaper compared to ones in mainland Japan and you can ride in groups to make it even cheaper, which is one of the mostly used way of transportation in Okinawa. You can reserve a shuttle taxi that allows you to travel from the airport to your hotel smoothly without having to wait. Also, there are sightseeing taxis with guides. Please visit here for more information for travelling on taxi in Okinawa

Base fare: JPY 530-550 (additional fare: JPY 70) as of 1st of November 2016

Estimated Taxi fare from Airport

By Bus

Many types of buses run in the mainland of Okinawa. There are express buses connecting the airport and main hotels, bus tours with guides that run consistently, and buses that you use to go to work or school. Take advantage of the Airport Limousine Bus that directly links between the airport and your hotel, scheduled tour buses that are popular for visiting popular tourist destinations efficiently, and fixed-route buses that service all regions on the island. You can visit here for more information about the buses.

By Rental Car

It’s a general form of transportation, since many people drive in Okinawa. It's especially convenient for those travelling in groups or with children as you will not be bound by time to freely go to places you’d like! Surprisingly, the car rental rates are very affordable too!

Most rental companies have a shuttle service included, if you reserve your car in advance, the car rental companies will pick you up at the main entrance of the domestic terminal lobby and bring you to their agencies via their shuttle bus service.

Estimated Travel Time from Naha Airport to Tourist Destinations by Car Rental

In order to drive in Japan, you will prepare the below in advance

  1. Your Passport 
  2. An international driving permit based on the Convention on Road Traffic (Geneva Convention). You can walk in to AA Singapore to apply for the IDP and collect it within one hour. The fee is SGD20. 
  3. Your Driver’s license from your respective country

Tips for Self Driving in Okinawa

Make good use of the expressway! 
The expressway in Okinawa is an attractive option because it offers discounted rates! The expressway offers smooth traveling from Naha to the resorts in Central Okinawa compared to local roads that are prone to traffic jams.

Beware of Bus Lanes! 
One of the things to be aware of when driving in Okinawa are the bus lanes. Common vehicles including car rentals are prohibited from driving in these lanes during rush hours in the morning and evening for the purpose of relieving traffic and ensuring that buses remain on schedule. The hours vary by area, so please be sure to check before renting a car.

Choose a Car Rental with ETC 
Toll booths that accept cash may get congested during certain hours when utilizing the expressway, but you can get through smoothly using ETC. ETC is an attractive system, as it also offers discounts during designated hours. Save money on your trip.

For our trip to Okinawa, we have decided to rent a car for 5 days of our trip and we will travel by the Yul Rail for the last two days. Please read our next post for more information on our car rental experience!

Bookmark this page as I will update more about our Okinawa Trip along the way!

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