Japan is one of few destinations that perfectly balances the ultramodern with respected tradition, and there’s perhaps no better place to get a good dose of both than Osaka. As Japan’s second largest city after Tokyo, Osaka is celebrated for its wacky character, tranquil parks, and world-renowned food, making it a must-visit stop within the Land of the Rising Sun.
You can arrange flights from Singapore to Osakaor Kansai International airports. Or make your way to Osaka by bullet train (approx. 2.5 hours) from Tokyo, after flying in via Haneda or Narita airport.
Exploring Osaka’s various neighbourhoods isn’t time-consuming nor expensive, thanks to its sprawling railway system. Here’s a guide to help you decide where to stay in Osaka for your style of travel.
1) Namba (Minami)
Referred to as Minami (or “South”), Namba makes up the eccentric heart of Osaka and the city’s major entertainment hub.
Filled with neon lights hyperactivity, Dotonbori is a shopping and food paradise, with souvenirs like cookies and keychains that can only be found in Osaka, while food market Kuromon Ichiba’s mouth-watering street snacks including takoyaki, okonomiyaki and even blowfish can be enjoyed while walking along the canal.
Den Den Town is a one-stop shop for all things electronic and otaku, from video games, manga and anime, while those looking for cutting-edge clothes and digging through specially curated thrift stores will have a ball at the U.S.-inspired Amerikamura.
Those looking to stay at the centre of the action will find convenience and an abundance of amenities at the Swissotel Nankai Osaka hotel.
Positioned directly above Namba Station, travellers who can’t wait to dive right into shopping and entertainment can drop off their bags at the upmarket hotel before stepping out into the city, while its proximity to the train system also makes it ideal for those who want the utmost ease of getting around Osaka. For lazy days in, local and international tastes are available at the hotel’s numerous restaurants, with the comfort of foreigner-friendly staff.
2) Umeda (Kita)
Also known to as KIta (or “North”), the busy downtown district of Umeda has a slick and polished exterior that contrasts the colourful character of Namba.
More cosmopolitan than quirky, Osaka’s northern district favours luxury shopping and refined dining experiences, while the architectural wonder of the Umeda Sky Building allows travellers to take in breathtaking views of the city that are perfect for romantic sunsets and photography enthusiasts.
Between the towering glass structures, foodies will find restaurants and bars that specialise in upmarket fare and classy cocktail bars within the Kitashinchi nightlife district, while department stores like Hankyu and Daimaru house high-end brands for shoppers who are willing to splurge.
(CC by 2.0 / Kang Min-liu)
Reflecting the sophistication of its surroundings, Hotel Vista Premio Dojima provides guests with luxury lodging and premium service. With each room adopting a clean and minimal aesthetic, while catering to business types with convenient workspaces and free WiFi Internet, guests can look forward to the boutique hotel’s lavish offerings that include premium bedding, down comforters and in-room massages, with an on-site convenience store catering to last-minute needs.
3) Osaka Bayside
For those travelling with families and children, Osaka Bayside has enough attractions to entertain all ages. Situated at the waterfront and impossible to miss for the enormous Tempozan Ferris Wheel, Bayside brings together tourists and locals alike to witness deep sea wonders at Osaka Kaiyukan aquarium and thrilling rides and roller coasters at Universal Studios Japan.
Such all-day activities are sure to work up an appetite, and Naniwa Food Theme Park is just the place to settle rumbling stomachs with an expansive selection of native dishes available within old-fashioned stalls and restaurants. For those who simply can’t get enough takoyaki, the famed street snack is elevated at the Osaka Takoyaki Museum, curating some of the country’s best octopus balls in one place.
Strategically situated just moments away from the Universal CityWalk shopping mall and Osaka Takoyaki Museum, Hotel Universal Port is an ideal choice for those who wish to get the most out of the Bayside attractions. The three-and-a-half-star hotel’s 600 rooms each boast soaking tubs and free WiFi, while serving as a convenient base for families to go to and fro while exploring nearby amusement parks with ease.
4 ) Tennoji
Like London’s SoHo or New York’s Meatpacking District, Tennoji has been redeveloped from a gritty red light district to an increasingly trendy tourist destination. Striking a balance between historic and urbanised, travellers are transported back in time at Shitennoji Temple, Japan’s first and oldest official Buddhist temple, while the lush greenery and serene ponds of Tennoji Park provides a calming respite from shopping at local and independent specialty stores at Abeno Cues Town.
Curious travellers can spend hours exploring Shinsekai (“New World”), where design elements inspired by Paris and Coney Island meet to create an incredibly unique neighbourhood.
Enjoy a deep-fried skewer of kushikatsu while taking in the symbolic Tsutenkaku Tower for a one-of-a-kind experience.
Those who are allured to staying nearby Tennoji’s peaceful parks will have mind, body and soul taken care of at Osaka Marriott Miyako Hotel . Only a stone’s throw away from Shitennoji Temple, guests can expect a completely smoke-free stay while taking advantage of the 24-hour fitness centre before basking in total relaxation. Featuring spacious rooms and awe-inspiring views, guests wishing to take a load off can upgrade their experience with Club Lounge access for a touch of exclusivity.
Those in need of a nearby breather from the bustle of the city can find peace and tranquillity at Kyobashi. Home to a number of parks, museums and temples that transport visitors to bygone eras, nature and history lovers can get a good dose of both only moments away from the business district.
The towering popular Osaka Castle provides insight into Japan’s feudal periods through time-honoured exhibits, while establishments like Fujita Museum and Japan Mint house thousands of artefacts for an injection of culture.
Kema Sakuranomiya Park is perfect for those looking to soak up a leisurely walk between cherry blossom trees before returning to the fast-paced city life.
A three-star hotel that stands right beside Kyobashi station, and only a 15-minute walk from the serene Kema Sakuranomiya Park, is Hotel Keihan Kyobashi GRANDE is ideal for travellers who wish to remain within walking distance of Osaka Castle, while marvelling at its view from the comfort of a guestroom. With services and amenities that include in-room massages and iPod docks, the nearby Kyobashi station, one of the city’s most connected, means that those who are looking for convenient transport within Osaka, and the rest of Japan, needn’t worry about getting from point A to B.
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