Tasty, unpretentious vegetarian cooking in the pricey but laid-back Azabu-Juban neighbourhood, with a good wine and beer selection to boot.
A stand-out even in such a foodie city.
No need to extol to Guardian readers the virtues of hummus, but this small New York chain might turn it into your favourite food.
The sheer variety of cheap, nourishing and delicious meals that they make out of the gloopy stuff is incredible. Plus, the restaurants tend to be in trendy places so you won't be short of fun things to do after dinner.
Japan has a justly bad reputation for over-engineering its rivers - but sometimes the results are spectacular, like this underground concrete cathedral used for storing floodwater. It's a spectacular photo opportunity but you would never know was there, under rice paddies in the outskirts of Tokyo.
Bring good shoes and a Japanese-speaker for the tour.
720 Kamikanasaki, Kasukabe city, Saitama 344-0111
Google map: tinyurl.com/3263c35
Walk straight past the shrine and the revisionist war museum next door, and head for the transportingly beautiful garden at the back. Staring down at the rocks and the koi you can forget you were ever in a city.
3-1-1 Kudankita, Chiyoda-Ku, Tokyo-To, 102-0073
Google map: tinyurl.com/3abxuft
Apart from department stores and the Metropolitan Art Space, Ikebukuro isn't really on the tourist map, but the (free) earthquake simulator is worth a visit. Escape a smoke-filled room, learn how to use a fire extinguisher, and experience a seven-point earthquake (higher if the guide likes you) - and then watch a videotape of how you got on.
Lots in Japanese, though, so bring a friend or guide if you can.
The Wonka factory for tech fans.
Sure, you can buy your camera on Amazon these days but nothing beats talking to an expert on the technology, as you raid the shop's bowls of delicious sweets and marvel at the constantly-busy conveyor belts of merchandise above your head.
While you're at it why not pick up a clapper board, or a dive light, or maybe a green screen?
The owners are very orthodox Jews, so the store (and its website) will shut on Saturdays and Jewish holidays.
It sounds like insanity, standing for three hours - but you get comfy armrests to lean on, your own surtitles, and a surprisingly good view at the back of the stalls. You're first out to the bar at the interval. And it's very cheap.
It's a bit redundant mentioning Yelo since it's appearing in all sorts of guides, but it really deserves the praise.
Pop in for tea, a massage, and a nap in one of their custom-made sleep pods. You'll leave feeling 10ft tall.
The best restaurant on the one-road town centre in Elk, overlooking breathtaking cliffs, surf and driftwood. Great service and often live music too.
The 'inn' itself looked good, though we didn't stay.
Lugano is a beautiful city but it's hard to do it justice if you're not on a banker's salary.
One surprisingly cheap option is to hire one of the boats on the waterfront and explore the lake. The views are wonderful and you can make it over to restaurants on the other side.
Just walk along the main waterfront, the hire places are easy to spot.
Very friendly hostel in a former squat, with basic but clean rooms and a lovely cafe/bar and garden.
Our scruffy group of six was greeted with tea and a chat by the manager bloke, who also rents out bikes to explore the city.
Boothstraat 8, 3512 BW Utrecht
If you're thoroughly exhausted from zorbing or jetboating or drinking the bars of Cuba Street dry, may I suggest the library for a bit of downtime?
Lovely staff, great cafe, and an amazing collection. It even stocks zines!
57 Victoria St, Wellington 6011 (five minutes' walk from Te Papa Tongarewa)
I picked DCX at random from a huge number of surf schools and was hugely impressed. Erik Lillmars (plus dog) is a patient, thorough teacher, a grizzled surfing (and music industry) veteran who spends a lot of time ashore before taking you out. I was standing up within an hour though, and had a blast. If you're not a confident swimmer that's fine, just let him know. I can't recommend Erik highly enough.
Sparse but immaculate rooms with powerful aircon and amazing views. Friendly staff and fellow travellers. A truly stunning roof terrace. Walking distance from the Long Bar at Raffles without the high prices; right next to an art gallery too. Ace.
The spiced crab is to die for. Good job, given the quantity of fat used in its preparation - the English pun on the name may be a happy accident but it's accurate all the same. It's quite cheap, too.
1, Lorong Awan 6, Kuala Ampang, Selangor
Google map: tinyurl.com/3a987pq
A Buddhist-run vegetarian restaurant, this is a lot more fun than it sounds. Stunningly good fake burgers, stir fry etc.
It's tricky to find but so, so worth it.
Unit 19-LG1, Level B1 Block D Jaya One,
No. 72A Jalan University,
46200 Petaling Jaya,
Tel: +603 7968 1818
Google map: tinyurl.com/366mmhc
It's in a dining 'complex', downstairs by the car park.
If you're stuck for things to do in KL (besides eating well), a fun thing to do is go out to Kuala Selangor and watch fireflies on the river. Kids will enjoy the rickety boats, and maybe the nature too.
Hire a car or take bus 141 from Puduraya Bus Station in KL.
Google map: tinyurl.com/373dqbp
If you don't fancy the crowds at Badaling or the slopes at Simitai, why not try Huanghua. Lovely, a bit run down, I went on a foggy day in 2009 and it was deserted. Pay the cafe owner to let you onto the wall.
You can get a taxi all the way from Beijing, if you haggle, otherwise take a bus to Huairou and get a bus or taxi from there.
Google map: tinyurl.com/37gcezz
It's not the Taj, but it's spotless, comfortable, quiet (a blessing!) and very close to the airport. If you have an early morning flight, check in here the night before rather than drive to the airport for three hours on your last day. Good breakfast, too.
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