Things to do around Fukuoka in 14 days: Nagasaki for the first leg! (Part 1)

Hi all, we recently spent 14 days in Japan, starting our road-trip from Fukuoka and making a loop through Nagasaki, Kumamoto, Beppu and more towns and cities in northern Kyushu. Let me share the attractions and things to do around Fukuoka. 

Peace Statue Nagasaki
Atomic bomb from the sky

Did you know? Kyushu is the third largest island in Japan. This island is known for ramen, active volcanoes, hot spring and lush greenery. Fukuoka – the most populous city on Kyushu island – was where we landed and begun our 2-week road trip in Japan. 

Things to do around Fukuoka by car
One of the best night views in Japan

For info, we travelled as a couple via a rental car. Most of the things we did during this 14-day Fukuoka trip were family-friendly, even if it included hiking and waddling through cave filled with knee-high water. However, some parts of this trip may not be suitable for elderly.

Without any further ado, let me share part 1 of our trip on Kyushu island, starting from Fukuoka Airport.

 


Day 1: Drive from Fukuoka to Nagasaki

Hello, Fukuoka! After a red-eye flight from Singapore via SIA SQ656, we landed in Fukuoka at 8.30am.

Fukuoka Airport
At Fukuoka Airport, waiting to board a shuttle bus to pick up our rental car for the trip.

Collection of our pre-booked rental car was easy – a shuttle bus picked us up from Fukuoka airport and dropped us off at the rental car depot. By 10am, we were ready to drive off and kickstart our 14-day Fukuoka road trip!

INFO: If you prefer not to drive, this JR Kyushu Rail Pass can bring you around Kyushu via train. Many said it’s a must-buy that offers good value. 

Fukuoka Airport Car Rental
At the car rental depot near Fukuoka Airport.

 

First Lunch of Fukuoka Trip in Sasebo City

After a long 3-hour drive, we randomly stopped by a sushi train restaurant – Wakatake Maru – in Sasebo city for lunch. 

TIP: Sasebo city is known for both Sasebo burger and the popular Huis Ten Bosch amusement park, modelled after a 17th-century Dutch town. Try these if you have more time to spend in Sasebo.

Food in Kyushu (Sasebo)

Things to do around Fukuoka

We couldn’t believe how cheap the sushi were, at less than ¥300 even for a pair of Uni Gunkan that are normally quite pricey in Singapore. 

>> RELATED: This is where we had our Best Sea Urchin Rice Bowl in Okinawa 

The drive took longer than expected (on toll-free road)

There were many sights that we had intended to cover along the way from Fukuoka to Nagasaki. But due to the inability to sleep on the plane and the slow traffic, we decided to focus on safety and skipped all the spots we’d marked out earlier.

TIP: Traffic via toll-free road was extremely slow. There were many traffic lights and vehicles were travelling at very slow speed. Speed limit on most roads was around 50km/hr. 

After the grueling long drive on Day 1, we started taking toll roads on other days. They are expensive (e.g. ¥3,000 for a stretch lasting about 2 hours), but we think it’s worth it since toll-free roads are just too slow and time-consuming.

Rent a car in Fukuoka
Our rental car brought us around Kyushu island

Reached Nagasaki City (Things to do around Fukuoka)

Finally, after more than 17 grueling hours since boarding the flight, we reached Nagasaki city, where we would spend 3 nights.

In case you are not aware, this city has strong historical significance, being one of the two unfortunate cities to suffer atomic bombing during World World II. 

We will explore these historical sights tomorrow. As for now, let’s check into our first hotel of the trip. 

Check into Dormy Inn Premium Nagasaki Ekimae

Dormy Inn Premium Nagasaki Ekimae is our favourite hotel of the trip and you’ll see why as you read on. 

Dormy Inn Nagasaki
Dormy Inn Premium Nagasaki Ekimae was our favourite hotel of the trip!

While the room was normal (like most Japanese hotels, i.e. small room), we loved the frills.

First thing I did after checking in was to go for a well-deserved onsen dip (hot spring). I was pretty happy with its onsen setting which has indoor and outdoor pools.

While this can’t compare to those in Ryokans which tend to have bigger onsen with great views, Dormy Inn’s onsen was good enough for me as a business hotel.

Dormy Inn Nagasaki Onsen
Onsen entrance at Dormy Inn Nagasaki

Dormy Inn Nagasaki also offered free flow of quality ice cream at the “recreational area” for guests to cool the body after a hot bath. 

Both of us then took a short nap and woke up at night to enjoy a bowl of free ramen offered by the hotel (9.30pm to 11pm). That’s a tasty bowl of noodles. Now you know why I was impressed with Dormy Inn. But there’s more – read on!

Dormy Inn Free Ramen
Delicious free ramen at Dormy Inn hotel

Izakaya Dinner in Nagasaki City

The piping-hot ramen was great, but the man needed more food. We walked to a nearby Izakaya – “Mekiki-no-Ginji” – and ordered loads of stuff at 10.30pm. 

Things to do around Fukuoka by Car
Enjoying sashimi at a seafood Izakaya
Izakaya in Nagasaki
Decent sashimi, but Izakaya is probably not the best place to eat raw fish.

Izakaya in Nagasaki

 

Izakaya in Nagasaki
Crabmeat fried rice at an Izakaya in Nagasaki

Finally, the man was satisfied – stomach-wise. LOL!

TIP: Expect to pay cover charges at Izakaya (about ¥500 to ¥700 per pax). It may be auto included in your bill. In return, you’ll get a random small dish. 

Map Location for Day 1 Fukuoka Road Trip 

Fukuoka Airport >> Sushi Train restaurant at Wakatake Maru (Sasebo City) >> Dormy Inn Premium Nagasaki Ekimae >> Izakaya Dinner at Mekiki-no-Ginji

 


Day 2: History Sights in Nagasaki 

Today would be an interesting day especially for history buff. Before venturing out, let’s start the day with a hearty breakfast. 

What can I say, I was blown away by the buffet spread offered by Dormy Inn Nagasaki – it was sumptuous and beyond our expectation (especially since this isn’t a 5-star hotel). 

Dormy Inn Nagasaki Breakfast
Good spread of quality breakfast at Dormy Inn Nagasaki Hotel

Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum

We spent the morning at Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum to learn about how the event unfold and the aftermath.

This is definitely worth the time, to learn about the immense sufferings of ordinary people, starting at 11.02am on 9 Aug, 1945. 

Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum
The clock stopped and marked the time of destruction.

Gunkanjima Island (Battleship Island) near Nagasaki

Afternoon was dedicated to visiting offshore Gunkanjima Island. This was our must-go in Nagasaki because we’d watched the Korean movie – Battleship Island and loved the show. 

Getting to the UNESCO site required a 50-minute ferry ride from Nagasaki Port Terminal.

Gunkanjima Island Tour
Queuing to board the ferry at Nagasaki Port Terminal Building.

Sit on the right of the ferry to get a better view enroute to the island, and bring a windbreaker (it would be a cold ride!).

TIP: You can buy ticket to Battleship Island here, which includes admission to Gunkanjima Digital Museum. Do note that a tour guide is compulsory for visit to the island! You can’t walk around freely on the island.

Gunkanjima Island Tour
Gunkanjima island is shaped like a battleship.

Look at the now-deserted island (since 1974). Gunkanjima (also known as Hashima Island) used to be a coal-mining town where over 5,000 people used to live.

Hashima Island
The Hashima Island – a ruin!

Gunkanjima Island (Hashima Island)

Here are 3 interesting facts shared by the tour guide: 

  1. Coal workers on this island earned a salary twice or triple that of normal workers.
  2. All households on the island could afford the 3 luxury items during those times (TV, washing machine and fridge) while only 20% nation-wide could afford them.
  3. One thing the town lacked – burial site. Cremation had to be done at a neighbour island.

Things to do around Fukuoka by car

Lunch at Youme Town Shopping Mall (Yumesaito)

We spent about an hour on Gunkanjima Island and was back at Nagasaki Port Terminal by late afternoon. Near Nagasaki Port Terminal was Youme Town shopping mall where we had a quick late lunch at the food court. 

Check out this Tomato Udon, which we topped with fried squid, chicken and onsen egg – all for about ¥2,200 for two pax (two bowls).

Food in Nagasaki
Tomato Udon

Peace Park Nagasaki & Actual Bomb Site (Nagasaki)

Good thing about Japan is the long daylight hours. At 5pm, we decided to conquer more sights in Nagasaki. First, we visited a Peace Statue with the man pointing to the sky to signify the threat of atomic weapons.

Peace Statue Nagasaki
Looking at his finger

A short walk away was the Fountain of Peace.

Things to do in Nagasaki
Fountain of Peace at Nagasaki.

Walk further and you’ll reach the actual bomb site – Nagasaki Hypocenter Park. A black column – Atomic Bomb Hypocenter Monument – marked the exact spot where the bomb exploded 500m above, killing everyone and destroying everything within 2.5km radius.

Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Hypocenter
This black column marks the spot of massive destruction

Next to it was the wall remnant of Urakami Cathedral.

Urakami Cathedral Wall Remnant
Next to the black column was a wall remnant of Urakami Cathedral

There’s also a Ground Level where you can see the “bombed” ground left in its original state, with debris such as melted glass strewn around. 

Things to do around Fukuoka
Peer through the glass to see exact ground condition at time of blast.

Last stop was a quick visit to Urakami Cathedral which was almost completely destroyed, saved a group of charred stone saints. 

Things to do around Fukuoka
Charred saints outside the cathedral.

Mt Inasayama Observatory (Nagasaki)

Another popular sight in Nagasaki is Mt Inasayama Observatory, which is said to present the top 3 night views in Japan. We had been to the other one at Mt Rokkosan in Kobe. Let’s see which is better.

You can go to Mt Inasayama Observatory by ropeway, car or bus. As we read that carparks were limited, we parked our rental car midway up the mountain and took an interesting “bubble tram” ride at Nagasaki Inasayama Slope Car Chufuku Station (¥500 per pax for round trip).

Nagasaki Slope Car
Bubble tram or Slope Car brings us from mid-point of mountain up to the top!

Nagasaki Slope Car

We were so lucky to catch sunset even though it was not planned.

Mt Inasayama Observatory Day View
Sun was setting at Mount Inasayama
Mt Inasayama Observatory
Sunset viewing at Mt Inasayama Observatory.

What was even better was how we also managed to catch both twilight and night views at Mt Inasayama Observatory.

Mt Inasayama Observatory Twilight View
Twilight view
Mt Inasayama Observatory Night View
Night view at Mt Inasayama Observatory

Personally, I thought day view was better than night. What do you think? I also preferred Mt Rokkosan’s night view, though my partner said he liked Mt Inasayama better. :)

TIP: Bus loads of tourists would descend at night (around 7pm). I struggled to see the night view until these tourists left at around 7.30pm. You may want to come a bit earlier.

Dinner at Yoshinoya (in Nagasaki)

So much was done on Day 2 in Nagasaki. After a simple dinner at Yoshinoya where many locals were seen dining alone, we called it a day. 

Yoshinoya in Japan
Many solo diners at Yoshinoya

 

Map Location for Day 2 of Fukuoka Road Trip 

Dormy Inn Premium Nagasaki Ekimae >> Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum >> Nagasaki Port Terminal >> Gunkanjima Island >> Youme Town Shopping Mall (Yumesaito) >> Peace Park Nagasaki (Peace Statue > Fountain of Peace) >> Nagasaki Hypocenter Park (Atomic Bomb Hypocenter Monument > Ground Level) >> Urakami Cathedral >> Nagasaki Inasayama Slope Car Lower Station >> Mt Inasayama Observatory >> Yoshinoya near Dormy Inn (Nagasaki)

 


Day 3: Nagasaki Shopping & Mount Unzen 

Once again, we had an enjoyable and hearty breakfast at Dormy Inn Nagasaki.

Dormy Inn Nagasaki Breakfast
Sumptuous buffet breakfast at Dormy Inn Nagasaki.

However, the virus that I’d most likely picked up from the office was starting to bring me down – I felt groggy with a funny sensation at the back of the throat.

Took some medicine and was hoping to suppress the symptoms so that my Japan trip would continue to be enjoyable.

Dormy Inn Nagasaki Breakfast
Second round – Took lots of fruits to boost my vitamin C.

Shopping Belt in Nagasaki (Things to do around Fukuoka)

Since we’ve covered so much the day before, there wasn’t any fixed itinerary today – everything was optional.

We first walked to Amu Plaza Nagasaki, a shopping mall near Nagasaki JR Station. As it wasn’t a big mall, we soon found ourselves at the oldest stone-arch bridge in Japan. 

>> RELATED: 25 things to buy in Japan that are loved by locals

Built in 1634, Meganebashi Bridge is also known as spectacles bridge. Can you spot me in the photo below? 

Meganebashi Bridge Nagasaki
Patiently waiting for the ladies to finish their wefie

One thing to do here is to find the heart-shaped stone! It’s located here

Meganebashi Bridge Nagasaki
Can you see the heart-shaped stone?

Next, we continued shopping along Hamamachi Shopping Arcade. If you are looking for Don Quijote, there’s one here (see location). 

Tram-ride Experience in Nagasaki

Electric tram zipped through the city, and we thought we should give it a try. So instead of walking back to the hotel, we took out the handy coins and prep an exact fee which was to be paid when alighting.

TIP: Tram ride is a fixed ¥140 per ride. For latest transport fee, use Google Map which is a super handy tool to guide you on transport schedule and cost. 

Unzen Ropeway for Panoramic View (Things to do around Fukuoka)

We pondered for a long time and finally decided at 2pm, to take a 1 hour 15 minutes drive via our rental car to Mount Unzen. The reason for the indecision was the state of my illness, but I told my partner I could sleep and rest while he drove. 

Unzen Nita Pass
Arrived at Unzen Nita Pass where the ropeway was located.

By 3.30pm, we reached the first stop – Unzen Ropeway. At ¥1,500 per pax for a return ride, we were taken aback by how dated the ropeway was. 

We were even more surprised when we arrived at the other end, because there were only two things to do there – to take in the view at Myoken Observatory, and then climb up a short trail to Myoken Caldera Observatory.

Myoken Caldera Observatory
The view was really spectacular!

Luckily, the almost 360-degree panoramic view was awesome! :) The views would have been even better on a clear day.

Myoken Caldera Observatory

Unzen Jigoku: A Hot Spring Town

Reversing our drive, we stopped by Unzen Jigoku, a hot spring resort in Nagasaki Prefecture.

Unzen Jigoku
Spot me walking through the “steamy” trail.

This “steamy” place has around 30 geothermal fields pumping out natural hot spring from the ground every second. Hence, you know why it’s also known as Unzen Hell. Admission was free, and parking costs ¥500.

Comparing this “hell” with another popular hot spring town (Beppu city), I prefer Unzen Jigoku as it’s more natural and less “touristy and artificial”. Show you the artificial one when I share about what we did on Day 8. 

Unzen Jigoku

Sushi Train Dinner in Nagasaki

On the way back, we stopped by a sushi belt restaurant – Wakataka-Maru Kuyama. It’s the same chain restaurant as the one we had on Day 1. 

Things to do around Fukuoka
Sushi feast again at Wakataka-Maru chained restaurant.

This time around, we were famished and ordered loads of sushi, especially those with Sea Urchin. Damage was just ¥3,200 for two pax.

Sushi Train restaurant (NagasakI)
We ordered more than what you see here. :)
What to eat in Nagasaki
Tuna feast!
Good food in Nagasaki
Salmon & Ikura Gunkan Sushi
Good food in Nagasaki
Sea Urchin & Hotate!
What to eat in Nagasaki
Something new – not seen this in Singapore.

Onsen Indulgence & Ramen

It was lovely to come back to a hotel with onsen facility. I had a relaxing hot spring dip, enjoyed free ice cream and did my laundry. 

Then, we savoured the free ramen offered by the hotel before calling it a day. Thank you, Dormy Inn Nagasaki

 

Map Location for Day 3 of Fukuoka Road Trip 

Dormy Inn Premium Nagasaki Ekimae >> Amu Plaza Nagasaki >> Meganebashi Bridge >> Hamamachi Shopping Arcade >> Mount Unzen Ropeway >> Myoken Observatory >> Myoken Caldera Observatory >> Unzen Jigoku >> Wakataka-Maru Kuyama (Sushi train restaurant)

 


That’s all to the first leg of our trip around Fukuoka. Continue reading Part 2 and you’ll see us cover the most beautiful sights of this trip.

>> MUST-READ: Super-beautiful scenery as we drove towards Kumamoto, Mount Aso & Beyond!

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