Saipan Trip Notes – Vital Information at your fingertips
Congratulations!! You have convinced your family or friends to travel with you for the once-in-a-lifetime trip to Saipan, the largest island within the Northern Marinas group between Japan and Guam in the Pacific. You have blocked the travel dates and confirmed the airline tickets. The next thing on the list is to obtain information on all the other aspects, so essential for an anticipated trip to Saipan to be termed a success. We present below all those tiny bits of information, to save you time and effort in searching a wide set of web links (some of them with outdated updates).
Visa Requirements – If you are a US Citizen, you can skip this section. Northern Marinas territories come under the US Government administration, so travelling to Saipan is as straight forward as travelling to Texas for holders of the coveted US passport. Similarly, 37 countries (NATO countries and few rich Asian countries), which participate in the Visa Waiver program with the USA are exempted from requiring a visa stamp before landing at Marinas International Airport, Saipan. Countries, which have no such agreement, will need to queue up for a visa at the various local US Embassies or Consulates, which handle administrative issues for the Northern Marinas.
Vaccination – No special vaccination procedures required when coming to Saipan. If you are a finicky traveler, who prefers to be safe than sorry, it would be a good idea to take the flu jab before you leave. You can also visit the USA CDC (Communicable Disease Center) to get any latest updates or advisory pertaining to Saipan.
Where to Stay – Important, easy-to-read facts about the more popular Saipan hotels are listed below with the no of $ signs indicating if budget (within $75), middle-tier ($75 to $125) or high-end ($125++).
If you are looking at a longer duration of stay, you could check out the Saipan online classifieds, and rent an apartment.
- Pacific Island Club (PAC) ($$$) – is a typical Las Vegas style resort, family-friendly with water-parks, beachside, 2 popular buffet restaurants and spa. Definitely a lock-in, if you want the best for your family.
- Saipan World Resort ($$$) – Bang on Susupe beach, with the popular Wave Jungle water-park is another of the luxurious family-friendly resorts which enhances Saipan’s image as a popular gateway for kids.
- Hyatt Regency ($$$) – is a trusted reputed brand name. Expect same Hyatt treatment you find worldwide with great restaurants and facilities.
- Mariana Resort & Spa ($$$) – is popular for its Mandi Asian Spa & proximity to the Mariana Golf Country Club as well as children theme recreations. It is located on the more secluded Wing Beach.
- Hafa Adai Beach Hotel ($$) – is centrally located in Garappan (Saipan’s main town) and is very popular with Japanese / Korean tour-groups. If you do not want spas or kid-theme entertainment in the hotel, this is a highly recommended choice.
- Aquarius Beach Towers ($$) – caters more for people with longer-term stay plans and offers a variety of nicely done rooms including in-built kitchen facilities. Wireless and free shuttle to airport is available, but eating choices are less.
- Kanoa Resort ($$$) – is popular for its landscaped swimming pool, Japanese restaurant and beachside BBQ. Club-V nightclub gets those with good dance moves shaking their legs at night.
- Himawari Hotel ($) – is among the budget hotels, which still get decent reviews. Its decent room decor should get you a good night’s sleep after a lot of trekking around Saipan.
- Aqua Resort Club ($$$) – the wide spacious lobby is an indicator of the comfy interiors, wide dining options, on-site spa services and the other luxuries one is used to when checking into a top-end island hotel.
- Saipan Ocean View Hotel ($) – is another budget hotel decent enough for even a family with kids to check-in. It has a pool, but it is the beach and other Saipan attractions, where you would be spending more time.
Where to Eat – Saipan definitely will not let the hungry tourist go hungry after an enjoyable day out, but the choice of restaurants are more catering to the tourist palate with less variety of local Marinas food available.
- Revolving Restaurant 360 at Susupe – is definitely worth an experience, especially if you have kids. The continental buffet complements the gentle 360 degree turn in the restaurant perfectly.
- Japanese / Korean cuisine – is very popular in Saipan, due to the heavy influx of honeymooners and tourist groups from these Asian countries. The more popular ones are Himawari (good value for money) , Casa Urushima, Furusato and Miyako (in Hyatt Regency)
- Italian / Continental cuisine – has a few popular, recommended restaurants in Saipan which include Capricciosa, Tony Roma’s and Giovanni
- Buffet-style – are the more popular restaurants, thanks to the variety of food and the type of tourist drawn to Saipan. The Magellan and the San Antonio Sea-side Grill (in the PAC hotel) and Dining Deck (in Lao Lao Golf Resort) are the recommended ones.
- Cafe’s – Local cafe joints, which also serve Western-style food are more popular with the budget-conscious. Shirley’s Coffee Shop, Java Joe’s, Bobby Cadillac are the crowded ones, indicating that is where you will be satisfied with both the food and the ambience. There is a joint called Esko’s, which you can get local Chamorro (indigenous Saipan inhabitants) food, but it is hard to find. To know more about Chamorro cuisine, you can visit – http://www.chamorrofood.net/
What to Do – You may have already planned what to do in Saipan, but we will just quickly touch up on a few key things, so you can look up on them, if they are not on your list already. They are
- Suicide Cliff / Banzai Cliff / WW2 Museums / Sherman Tank on beach
- The Grotto / Bird Island / Forbidden Island / Sugar King Park
- Managha island day-trip
- Beaches in Garappan / Susupe
Tips on Car Renting – There is no public transportation on Saipan, so if you are not travelling on a tour package, you are left very much on your own in moving about this island. Taxis are available, but quite expensive even if you try to hire illegal taxis run by illegal immigrants. As Saipan is administered by USA, most of the standard American car-rental companies (Hertz, Budget, Alamo, National, Avis, Thrifty) are available in Saipan, many of them in the Airport itself.
Click Here to find cheap rental cars at over 6000 locations worldwide. The Saipan Airport rental has a website of its own, so you can take a look at the cars available. Thrifty has a website dedicated to Guam / Saipan, so you could inquire directly, if they offer better deals depending on your length of stay. You can get better deals at local car rental companies, but you won’t find them in the airport. Click Here to find cheap rental cars at over 6000 locations worldwide.
American War Memorial on Saipan Beach Enjoy the beach with nostalgia – copyright user staffus shared on Commons.wikimedia