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Places in Saipan: The Village of Garapan

Basic Information

  • Name: Garapan
  • Where: Saipan, USA
  • Founded: 1815
  • Population: 3,588
  • More Information: Wikipedia.org

Picture from Mt. Tapochau, Saipan

Narrative

The location that most people stay at when visiting the American island of Saipan is the tourist village of Garapan.  The village is home to most of the major hotels and resorts on the island as well as its best shopping area.  The Hyatt Regency in Garapan is considered one of the best resorts on the island:

Picture from Garapan,Saipan

Right across the street from the Hyatt is the American Memorial Park that commemorates the Battle of Saipan in 1944 that saw the entire village of Garapan destroyed as the US military captured the island from the Imperial Japanese:

Saipan became a Japanese territory in 1920 after taking possession of the Northern Mariana Islands after World War I from Germany.  During this 24 year period of Japanese control Garapan was named the capital of Japan’s South Seas Mandate. Due to its historic ties the island today is a popular destination for Japanese tourists looking for nice beaches, warm weather, shopping and exploring the island’s past.  Downtown Garapan is where most of these tourists go for shopping:

Picture from Garapan,Saipan

Just like in Hawaii and Guam, Saipan as well has plenty of the ubiquitous ABC stores to buy all the tourist stuff anyone could ever want at:

Picture from Garapan,Saipan

There was also plenty of restaurants in Garapan catering to the Japanese diet:

Picture from Garapan,Saipan

I also saw a restaurant that looked like it belonged more in Colorado than Saipan:

Picture from Garapan,Saipan

I even saw a store selling Western wear for those Japanese tourists looking to upgrade their cowboy look:

Picture from Garapan,Saipan

For those that like to look at wax figures Garapan has that covered as well with its very own wax museum:

Picture from Garapan,Saipan

Then for those looking to party like a pharaoh there is a club for you in Garapan:

Picture from Garapan,Saipan

Something else I saw downtown that is one of the few structures to some how survive the Battle of Saipan was the Hoan-den Shrine:

Picture from Garapan,Saipan

The shrine is facing north towards Japan and contains portraits of Imperial Japan’s Emperor and Empress.  This shrine was originally located at a nearby school before being restored and relocated in the tourist district of Garapan.

It was Christmas time when I visited Saipan and thus the shopping district in Garapan was decorated for the season:

Picture from Garapan,Saipan

Here is a closer look at the large Christmas tree that was on display:

Picture from Garapan,Saipan

Considering how hot it was it was, it was hard to feel like it was the Christmas season, but Saipan was trying its best.  One final thing that can be seen from the village is the 1,554 foot Mt. Tapochau which is the highest point on Saipan and a great hike to complete from Garapan:

Picture from Garapan,Saipan

Conclusion

Garapan has everything that is needed for any tourist visiting Saipan.  However, for those that have traveled to Waikiki in Hawaii or Tumon in Guam make sure to have low expectations.  The village is more or less a much smaller and low budget version of both locations.  The many “massage” parlors with old ladies harassing passer byes on the sidewalk gets annoying as well.  Despite the massage parlors the village really isn’t what I would consider a “seedy” neighborhood and is a nice place to stay or visit.

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