Tumon Stories and Tips

$pending Money in Tumon

A Tourist Trap! Photo, Tumon, Guam

Being stationed in Okinawa, Japan with the US Air Force, my husband and I had heard many people talking about vacationing in Guam - just a short flight southeast. It seemed to be a relatively popular vacation destination amont the military here, so we decided to check it out.

Once we pushed our way through the hordes of Japanese tourists on holiday, we decided to venture out in town. Enter: STICKER SHOCK. Needless to say, nobody warned us exactly how expensive Guam was! A shopper's paradise, Tumon Bay is chock full of duty-free shops and malls. Many tourists enjoy the "Duty-free" aspect of shopping and save a lot of money this way. However, as a young couple on a budget (as many young couples are), we quickly realized this kind of shopping was not for us. Stores such as Gucci, Fendi, Luis Vuitton, and the likes lined the streets with billboards to be seen by all. These seemed to be the majority of stores along "The Main Strip", only to be outnumbered by the begrudgingly tourist-y "ABC Mart"; a franchise of shops (seemingly more numerous than Starbucks in Seattle!) that sell knick-knack souveniers, snacks, and toiletries that travellers may have forgotten.

Completely put-off by the $2000 handbags presented to us at every other store, my husband and I decided to check out the other nooks and crannies of Tumon. We found a handful of indoor pistol ranges, which mostly cater to the fanatical amount of Japanese tourists - most of which have never seen a gun, let alone shoot one. Left with few other options, we decided to try one out. OUCH. $90 and 10 minutes later, we had shot a .45 revolver and a Baby Desert Eagle. My wallet weeped as my brain recalled the same amount of money lasting me about 3 hours (and a healthy supply of ammo) earlier in the year at a pistol range in my home state of Michigan.

Not to be discouraged, we decided to get find some water activities. As an avid SCUBA diver, I found SCUBA-Co through a tour agency in town. I thought my poor wallet was going to crumble to dust after I forked over $100 for a 1-tank boat dive scheduled for the next day. (I regularly go on boat dives here in Okinawa for about $60 for a 2-tank boat dive).

Potential tourists; beware! How I wish somebody had warned me beforehand! So here, my friends, is your warning. Guam is an "OK" place to visit if you absolutely need to get out of town. HOWEVER, be warned that the majority of the tourists there are Japanese, who are accustomed to paying higher prices and have an affinity for all things designer. Therefore, many of the prices you'll find are quite a bit higher than one would see in the states, because many activities/items/foods are "novelty" to the majority of the tourists. K-Mart is nearly unbearable as it is chock-full of more Japanese tourists (Large stores like K-Mart and Wal-Mart are almost non-existant in Japan), as well as many US Military personnel stationed on the island pushing through the masses, just trying to get a few things.

Don't say you haven't been warned! If you are like my husband and I - looking for a nice vacation on a budget - you may want to think twice about Guam.

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