Maximise Your 2-Day Osaka Pass With Free/Discounted Activities (Where to Go & What to Do)

This article was first published in UOB Travel Insider on August 2017.

It is impossible to conquer this enormous city in two days. There is bound to be an attraction (or a dish) that matches and resonates with every facet of your personality in Osaka. But if you’re going to try, hands down the best way to do it is with the 2-Day Osaka Amazing Pass.

At 3,300 yen (about SGD 42), the 2-Day Osaka Amazing Pass, which grants you access to about 35 free tourist attractions, as well as unlimited train and bus rides, is quite possibly the most worthwhile tool to grab.

Maximise the ground you can cover of this sprawling city with the Osaka Pass for a fixed cost while you explore the historical Tennoji, modern Kita, and the area around the iconic Osaka Castle.


Day 1: Kita Region

1. HEP FIVE Ferris Wheel

One of the Kita region’s most recognisable attractions is an enormous red Ferris Wheel that sits on the roof of the hip HEP Five shopping mall. Throughout the 15-minute ride, you will be able to take in the hustle and bustle of Osaka City, the beautiful Osaka harbour, and even a glimpse of the magnificent Mount Ikoma. Each carriage also has a portable speaker for you to plug in and chill out to your favourite tunes.

Price: 500 yen (FREE with 2-Day Osaka Pass)

Address: 〒530-0017 HEP-FIVE, 5-15 Kakuda-cho, Kita-ku, Osaka City

Opening Hours:
11.00am to 11.00pm daily (Last admission at 10.45pm)

*Protip: Enjoy additional 200 yen off when you use 2 TOKU coupons that come with the Osaka Pass when you purchase the HEP FIVE Ferris Wheel Souvenir Photo Service (U.P. 1,100 yen).


2. Umeda Sky Building Floating Garden Observatory

 

The 19th-tallest building in Osaka, the Umeda Sky Building features two massive skyscrapers that are joined at the two highest floors to form a garden rooftop observatory with a splendid view of the whole of Osaka (and even the distant Awaji Island) 170 metres off the ground.

There is also an indoor air-conditioned observatory that offers similar breathtaking views through its windows. It is also equipped with some couple chairs, creating quite the perfect site for a romantic date at sunset.

Price: 1000 yen (FREE with 2-Day Osaka Pass)

Address: 〒531-0076 1-1-88 Oyodo-naka, Kita-ku, Osaka City

Opening Hours:
9.30am to 10.30pm daily (Last admission at 10.00pm)

*Protip: The best (and most romantic) time to visit the Umeda Sky Building is at sundown. Do keep in mind to arrive slightly before 5.00pm to secure a comfortable couple chair in the indoor observatory gallery.


3. Umeda Joypolis Wild Ride


Image Credit: Japan Osaka Amazing Pass

Opened in 1994, Joypolis is one of Japan’s leading amusement and entertainment centres. To date, there are several centres featuring the ever-popular (and highly nostalgic) SEGA games in Japan and China. You can also find one inside HEP Five shopping mall in Umeda as well.

Here, you can immerse yourself in virtual reality rides and old school gaming consoles. Take a leap of faith at the Umeda Joypolis Wild River attraction where you get to experience coursing through a vigorous river with stunning visuals and effects.

 

Price: 600 yen (FREE with 2-Day Osaka Pass)

Address: 〒530-0017 HEP-FIVE, 5-15 Kakuda-cho, Kita-ku, Osaka City

Opening Hours: 11.00am to 11.00pm daily (Last admission 10.15pm)

*Protip: Hailing from Japan, PABLO Cheese Tarts has a cult following everywhere. Simply flash your pass and get a free ‘PABLO Original Sweets’ when you purchase a PABLO Cheese Tart from the PABLO Umeda HEP FIVE Store.

*Protip: If you have been to the Claw Machine Arcade in Dotonbori, you will be glad to know that Joypolis also offers them, but at a cheaper rate.


 Day 1: Osaka Castle Area

4. Osaka Castle Museum 

One of Japan’s most iconic landmarks, the Osaka Castle played an important role in the unification of Japan in the 16th century. Once the home and sanctuary of shoguns and warlords, the castle has since gone through countless wars (it was even razed once), and is now a modern museum attracting tons of tourists and locals.

Sate your inner culture vulture as you learn about the castle’s rich history and Toyotomi Hideyoshi, also known as Japan’s second “great unifier”, while ascending up the castle.  Finally, let your breath be taken away as you relish in the gorgeous views surrounding the castle.

 

Price: 600 yen (FREE with 2-Day Osaka Pass)

Address: 1-1 Osakajo, Chuo, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture 540-0002, Japan

Opening Hours:
9.00am to 5.00pm daily (last admission at 4.30pm)
Closed from 28 December to 1 January

*Protip: Head up the summit first and revel in the view before embarking a top-down approach of the Osaka Castle. Of course, it’s always good to beat the crowd by reaching early.

 


5. Osaka Castle Nishinomaru Garden


Image credit: The Backpackers

If the crowd at Osaka Castle has worn you out, seek respite at the Nishinomaru Garden, which is a peaceful (and semi-hidden) spot just 200m from the Osaka Castle.

Take a rejuvenating stroll or have a picnic in the Nishinomaru Garden, while witnessing the splendour of fallen autumn leaves, the lush azalea leaves in summer, and the beautiful cherry blossoms in spring – all while having the grand Osaka Castle as the perfect photo backdrop.

 

Price: 200 yen (FREE with 2-Day Osaka Pass)

Address: 〒540-0002 Osaka-jo, Chuo-ku, Osaka City

Opening Hours:
9.00am – 5.00pm daily
November – February: 9.00am to 4.30pm daily
Cherry Blossom Season: 9.00am – 9.00pm daily
Closed on Mondays (or following day if Monday is a National Holiday) and New Year Holidays


6. Osaka-jo Gozabune Boat

Just when you thought you’ve seen all the different sides of the Osaka Castle, hop on the Osaka Castle Gozabune and be amazed as you embark on a 20-minute journey in the Golden Wasen (a form of Japanese boat). It is bound to give you a new perspective of the castle and its rumoured impenetrable castle walls as you view it from the surrounding moat.

Price: 1500 yen (FREE with 2-Day Osaka Pass)

Address: 〒540-0002 Osaka-jo, Chuo-ku, Osaka City

Opening Hours:
10.00am to 5.00pm daily (Last boat departs at 4.30pm)
Closed on 28 December to 3 January

*Protip: Arrive early and book your preferred timing as most time slots are sold out before 3.00pm.


Day 2: Tennoji Area

7. Tsutenkaku Tower


Image credit: Insurance Post 

With looks that almost resemble Paris’s Eiffel Tower, the Tsutenkaku Tower stands 103m in height and is one of the most iconic landmarks in Shinseikai (also known as ‘New World’).

With more than three floors of entertainment outlets and restaurants, the Tsutenkaku Tower today also features two observatory floors where you can feast your eyes on a panoramic view of the city. In fact, one of them houses the shrine of Billiken, the Good Luck God, so you might find your fortune improving after visiting.

Price: 700 yen (FREE with 2-Day Osaka Pass)

Address: 〒556-0002 1-18-6 Ebisuhigashi, Naniwa-ku, Osaka City

Opening Hours:
9.00am to 9.00pm daily (Last admission at 8.30pm)


8. Osaka Tennoji Zoo


Image credit: Japan Info Swap 

Opened in 1915 as the third zoo in Japan, Osaka Tennoji Zoo houses more than 1,000 animals of more than 200 species. Here, efforts are put in place to meticulously mimic and emulate the animals’ natural habitats, one of which is the African Savanna Zone, which now brings together both carnivores and herbivores in a single environment.

 

Price: 500 yen (FREE with 2-Day Osaka Pass)

Address: 〒543-0063 1-108 Chausuyama-cho, Tennoji-ku, Osaka City

Opening Hours:
Mondays – Fridays: 9.00am to 5.00pm (Last admission at 4.00pm)
Saturdays, Sundays and May and September holidays: 9.30am to 6.00pm (Last admission at 5.00pm)
Closed on Mondays (Tuesday, if Monday is a holiday): 29 December to 1 January


9. Shitennoji Temple


Image credit: Muza-Chan.net

One of the oldest temples in Japan, the Shitennoji Temple was founded by Prince Shotoku who supported the introduction of Buddhism in Japan. Inside, it features the ‘Shitennoji-style Garan Disposition’, where the main halls are arranged in a north-south straight line. You will also find a treasure house within the temple grounds displaying paintings and scriptures.

Japan’s temples are known to invoke a mysterious sense of inner peace and quiet, so who knows – you may even find yourself getting some form of profound revelation while taking a stroll here.

 

Price: 300 yen (FREE with 2-Day Osaka Pass)

Address: 〒543-0051 1-11-18 Shitennoji,Tennoji-ku,Osaka City

Opening Hours:
April – September: 8.30am to 4.30pm daily
October – March: 8.30am to 4.00pm daily


Getting Around

Train Guide

 

The 2-Day Osaka Amazing Pass offers free travel on their subway, railway, and city buses. You may find the attached translated subway map helpful while you plan your trip.

 


Some Places to Stay

1. Fraser Residence Nankai Osaka


Image credit: Fraser Residence Nankai, Osaka

Imagine waking up in serenity high above the hustle and bustle of Osaka City. Fraser Residence Nankai Osaka prides itself for its award-winning hospitality, modern facilities, and stellar view of the city. Just a 10-minute walk from Dotonbori and right across Namba Nankai station, you’re minutes away from Osaka’s nightlife, immersive shopping malls and scrumptious cuisines.

 

Price: Starting from S$148

Address: 1-17-11, Nambanaka, Naniwa-ku, Osaka 556-0011, Japan

Check-in: 2.00pm

Check-out: 12.00pm

 


2. Guesthouse U-en


Image credit: Guesthouse U-en

Enrich your life and grab the chance to stay at this 100-year-old townhouse tucked in the inconspicuous but highly accessible district of Central Osaka.  Guesthouse U-en has since undergone restoration, but retains much of its olden charms. This hostel is quite perfect for independent travellers or backpackers.

 

Price: Starting from S$35

Address: 2-9-23, Fukushima, Fukushima-ku, Osaka, Japan

Check-in: 3.00pm – 10.00pm

 


 

With a plethora of activities to do and places to visit, one will never get bored while travelling in Osaka. Scenes of crowded streets with bright, confounding visuals will never cease to mesmerise in Tokyo, and the same can be said of the laidback and enthralling life of the locals in Hokkaido. But Osaka seems to manage a good balance between the excitement and awe of a large bustling city, with the authentic connection with warm friendly locals.

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