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Tesia at Nakasendo Highway


Japan, Thailand & Maldives Specialist

I first visited Japan on a youth exchange program where I spent six weeks on Miyakojima, an island of Okinawa. Later I returned to experience a more 'classic' Japanese trip, visiting Tokyo and Kyoto. My interest in Japan continued to grow and I majored in Communications and East Asian Languages and Cultures at Wake Forest University. After studying abroad in Osaka, and again, experiencing the true warmth of the Japanese people, the amazing food and the beautiful country, I knew I had to live in Japan. Upon graduation I joined the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) program where I spent five years teaching English in Aomori prefecture of northern Japan.

To continue my interest in global travel, I received a Masters in Tourism from The George Washington University School of Business with a concentration in Sustainable Tourism.

While living in Japan I also had the opportunity to travel outside of the country, choosing to explore Southeast Asia. My first trip was to southern Thailand, visiting both Bangkok and some of the country’s many unspoilt beaches. I enjoyed both the food and culture, later returning to travel around the northern region. I’ve been traveling to Thailand for more than 10 years now, recently returning with Audley to gain even more personal knowledge of this rewarding destination.

In 2020 when my plans to attend the 2020 Olympics didn’t pan out, I decided to relax in the Maldives and fell in love. While I wouldn’t consider myself a beach person (as I burn easily and I’m not the strongest swimmer), I’m 100% a Maldives person and can’t wait to return to its incredibly warm and beautiful blue waters.

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Start planning your tailor-made trip with Tesia

I don't know where my next trip will be, but I will not hesitate to use Audley Travel to organize my next adventure.

Japan trip

Joanna Soffa traveled to Japan for 11 days in May 2016, organized by Tesia S

Audley Travel, and in particular our Japan Specialist Tesia, thoughtfully and expertly tailored a 9-day itinerary for me in Japan that served as a fantastic introduction to this special country. Although I am a solo traveler, I never felt alone in preparing for and enjoying the trip; whether it was the useful and organized information and recommendations sent to me before my departure, a welcome card from my Japan Specialist waiting for me at my first hotel, the informative and caring tour guides in Tokyo, Kanazawa, and Kyoto, or the follow-up upon my return. I don't know where my next trip will be, but I will not hesitate to use Audley Travel to organize my next adventure.
Steps to Mt Haguro

I recommend visiting - Tohoku, Japan

A bit off the beaten path, my favorite destination is Aomori, located in the most northern region of Honshu Island known as Tohoku. Aomori is known for their seafood, apple production, high snowfall, their summer festival and natural beauty.

The four seasons in Aomori are great. Aomori winters are long and snowy but that means great powder snow. Mt. Hakkoda has excellent backcountry skiing. Spring is beautiful and Hirosaki Castle is known for some of the best cherry blossom viewing in Japan. Cherry blossoms bloom in May, much later than the rest of Japan. Summer is my favorite season in Aomori, primarily because of the famous Nebuta festival where the city comes alive with huge lit up paper floats, dancers and lively music. Aomori is great for fall foliage and Oirase Gorge and Lake Towada are beautiful at this time of year.

Aomori City has great hot springs, the largest outdoor Buddha, delicious seafood and a charming character that make this place my favorite in Japan.

Reservations required

I recommend staying at - Aburaya Tousen, Japan

First Class

Aburaya Tousen is one of my favorite accommodations in Yudanaka for the beautiful onsens, stylish modern Japanese rooms and the spa amenities. After a day spent walking around the monkey park coming back to relax in the onsens and comfortable rooms here is a real treat. The public baths have amazing views, looking out to snow covered mountains or rows of cherry blossoms depending on the season. The top floor onsen has a range of styles from reclining baths to jetted tubs. If you are looking for other relaxation options, there are a variety of spa treatments including my favorite, ganbanyoku. Ganbanyoku is a stone spa sauna where you lay on a heated rock in a warm room. After a night at Aburaya Tousen you will be well fed, well rested, and fully relaxed.

I'll never forget when…

I enjoy snow and love exploring winter activities, the year I spent my birthday at the Sapporo Snow Festival was a very memorable time for me in Japan. I had seen photos of the large sculptures that are produced at this time, but nothing can compare to actually experiencing the detail and amount of snow that goes into creating these elaborate creations. I had not expected the variety of locations around the city that different festivals, events and sculptures are located! I loved drinking hot whisky in an ice bar, building snowmen with hundreds of others, and viewing the sculptures and events at night. If you love winter and festivals like I do, I would add the Sapporo Snow Festival to your bucket list! 

Photos of Tesia

  • Tesia at Wat Rong Khun (White Temple) in Chiang Rai, Thailand Tesia at Wat Rong Khun (White Temple) in Chiang Rai, Thailand
  • Tesia enjoying a floating breakfast at the Santiburi Koh Samui, Thailand Tesia enjoying a floating breakfast at the Santiburi Koh Samui, Thailand
  • Tesia in the Maldives Tesia in the Maldives
  • Posing with a deer in Miyajima Posing with a deer in Miyajima
  • Tesia at the UNESCO World Heritage Site Shirakawa-go Tesia at the UNESCO World Heritage Site Shirakawa-go
  • Snowboarding at Mt Hakkoda in Aomori Snowboarding at Mt Hakkoda in Aomori
  • Tesia with a samurai at the 'Crow Castle' in Matsumoto Tesia with a samurai at the 'Crow Castle' in Matsumoto