Monday, May 14, 2007

Advice for tourists in Saipan

I came to Saipan on a scuba diving vacation from Korea. I decided to move here on that trip. Saipan is great for a short vacation because once you are here, you are on the beach. If you go to Phuket or Koh Samui or Boracay you need to connect there from Bangkok or Manila. This fact makes Saipan more convenient. Saipan isn't as culturally fascinating as Bali or Thailand, and the beach isn't as nice as Boracay, and it isn't as cheap as any of the three, but it does have history, scenic views, good food, great golf courses, and one World Class dive, and many other good dives -- all with warm water and great visibility. If shopping is your thing, this isn't really the place. The DFS in Garapan has some high end stores, but shopping isn't our strong point. Golf, scuba, history and general relaxation are our things.

I'm going to offer a few tips for our Japanese tourists especially. This isn't designed to be everything, but I live here, and I think I know what is good, and what to look out for, see below.

Things to do:

Visit both CNMI Museums. The Museum in the Park is all about the Battle of Saipan in World War II. It is very well done and brand new with Japanese translations and all sorts of accounts of Saipan in WWII. The CNMI museum on Middle Road is all about Marianas history, and it is fascinating. Especially interesting is the exhibit on the "Castaways of Anatahan Island." These Japanese soldiers whose ship was sunk nearby and escaped to the island didn't believe the war was over until 1951. They lived there off the island and spent time mostly killing each other over the one woman on the island. Read and see everything about it at the CNMI museum.

Dinner Cruise is very nice. I've been on the Jade Lady a few times. This is a very nice evening.

Play Golf at King Fischer or Lau Lau Bay Golf Course. I'm not a golf expert, but I think these are the two nicest courses.

Dive the Grotto and snorkel at Managaha Island. The Grotto is an amazing, amazing place, but respect it, go with someone who knows the area, and be careful crossing over onto the rock. The snorkeling is great, but you might even try camping out at Managaha. Look up at the sky at night, you can see all the stars out here. This is very different from Japan and other places in the region. No place I've been has a sky like Saipan.

Eat at Casa Urashima and Giovanni's at the Hyatt. These are the two best restauarants without a close second. On the subject of food, eat at a place called Spicy Thai Noodle House and the Taste of India. Neither restaurant is in Garapan, so you'll have to leave the tourist area.

Stay at the Hyatt. This is the nicest hotel on island.

Visit the top of Mt. Topachao at sunset.

Visit the Mandi Spa at Mariana Resort. This is a beautiful Balinese Spa with many Japanese customers. I love this place. There is also a go cart track here. There is a horse trail ride here, but that trail ride stinks. There is also a company that offers trekking and biking to various spots. One of the best places is called Forbidden Island. This place can be dangerous also, so it is wise to go with someone who knows the area. This is really a place to see, but it is physically taxing. Read my post about it.

Neighboring Rota, a short plane ride, has a very different feel as compared to Saipan. There are no traffic lights, the people are very friendly. The diving is good. The food is not so good. I wrote about this in greater detail as well.

If you like to gamble, go to the Tinian Dynasty and go to the casino there. This is only a short ferry ride away, or a short flight.

Take the kids to the Wave Jungle at World Resort. This is a nice afternoon for kids. It is slippery in certain places there, so watch out for that.

The best beaches are kind of hard to find. Some require a hike through the jungle, and probably a guide.

Ladies, keep wearing those slinky outfits and smile if you see a short, stocky bald man.

If you are obsessed enough to want English lessons or an English tour on your vacation or other Saipan advice, email me at

Things not to do:

Saipan is a safe place, but there have been some jerks stealing money from tourists. Do not leave large quantities of cash in your car. Do not leave anything valuable in your car. Leave it at your hotel. Only go out with the money you need. Thievery is fairly common here -- much more than Japan, but just don't leave money or valuables in your car and you won't have a problem.

Don't go out without sunscreen. I've seen some Japanese tourists with some incredible sunburn. The sun here is intense.

If this post was helpful, leave a comment and let me know.

1 comment:

ichiro said...

great advice, thanks