It is a common misconception that a trip to Japan has to be expensive. And yes, if you plan on catching a last-minute flight to Tokyo and staying in a five-star hotel, you will need to spend a decent amount of money. But, know that you can enjoy Japan in its full glory even with a limited budget. In this article, we will cover seven different tips for visiting Japan on a budget.
Visiting Japan on a Budget
If you were to have a Japanese host guide you around Japan, you would likely be astounded at how budget-friendly it can be. Mind you – this is not because your host has some tremendous negotiating skills or natural charisma. It is because they are familiar with the local culture and prices and can help you avoid the typical tourist traps. Therefore, the only thing that’s stopping you from having a budget-friendly trip is research. Regardless of where you plan on going, the more research you do, the better off you’ll be. So, let’s take a look at some of the most effective ways to lower the cost of your Japan trip.
Get a JR Rail Pass
You can forgo this tip if you only plan to visit a single large city (like Tokyo or Hamamatsu). But, if you genuinely plan on visiting Japan, and not just one city in it, you will need to get a Japan Rail Pass. With 30 625km of rail, Japan is quite well covered by trains. And if you plan on visiting multiple places, they will be your go-to opton. A 14-day JR Rail Pass is ￥72 310 which is around $542 USD. Compared to other available types of transport, this is both cost-effective and more efficient.
On the other hand, if you wish to travel short distances, we suggest you opt for buses. There are also metros you can take and cabs to hire. But the Japanese bus system is the preferred option for tourists. Not only are you sightseeing while you travel, but you are also saving your money by using the cheapest transport system. You’d be happy to learn that Japanese buses are not only cheap when compared to western countries, but also clean and punctual. So, essentially, there is no downside to using them.
Avoid Peak Tourist Season
When visiting tourist areas, you want to avoid common tourist seasons. During these seasons the accommodation prices can easily double. But, if you travel during the off-season, you will avoid not only needless expenses but also crowds. Anytime between late fall and March is a great time to travel to Japan, as most people prefer summer and late spring.
Consider a Capsule Hotel
Capsule hotels are not only a cheap way to lodge while travelling, but also a unique experience to have. As the name suggests, capsule hotels (or pod hotels) are essentially hotels where instead of a room, you get a capsule. Here you have just enough room to sleep. You will get a locker to store your items, and you will get a power outlet to charge your devices. There are also communal shower rooms. All that you need to relax and continue your trip. And seeing that the price is between ￥2000 and ￥5000 per night, you’ll hardly find a more cost-effective option.
Opt for Local Donburi Restaurants
Donburi is a Japanese dish made up of rice, beef, onion and mild soy sauce. And when it comes to eating healthily and cheaply in Japan, you will hardly find a better option. What you’ll soon learn in Japan is that street food doesn’t have to be fried or baked. This bowl of stewed meat and vegetables will quickly become your favourite as there are many different types to try, like Gyudon and Oyakodon. We recommend that you look for local, family-run Donburi restaurants with a decent reputation.
In such restaurants, you won’t only find a great meal, but you might also learn more about local culture and get advice on what to explore. In fact, if you end up liking Japanese living, you may decide to move here. And if you consider staying here for good, we are sure that Donburi is going to become a part of your everyday diet.
Focus on Sightseeing
A common mistake people make during their visits to Japan is to focus on museums, galleries, and high-end restaurants. While these are all great, know that it isn’t all Japan has to offer. Not by a long shot. We would argue that the best things you can see in Japan are completely free. Almost every town has at least one cultural centre that you can visit for free. You can learn more about the place you are visiting and appreciate the history that made it so.
Ideally, you would research the location on your own accord and enjoy your sightseeings much more. Also, always visit the local Tourist Information Centre. You can get all the necessary information on where you are and what you can explore.
Look for 100 Yen Shops
Finally, if you are staying in Japan for an extended period of time, you might need to get certain items. In this instance, we would advise you to look for local ￥100 shops. You’d be surprised at how many useful things you can find in these shops. Will they be branded and top-quality? Probably not. But they will get the job done. And for ￥100, what more could you ask for?
The Final Piece of Advice
Whether or not you are visiting Japan on a budget, it is improbable that you can see it all. After all, people spend their entire lives in Japan and don’t even explore half of its rich culture and history. Therefore, the last piece of advice we have for you is not to rush things. Instead of trying to see as many sights as possible, try to focus on doing one thing and gain a deeper understanding of its cultural significance. We would also advise you to watch Japanese movies and read books from Japanese authors. That way, you will get a better feel for the Japanese culture and hopefully fall in love with it as we have.
Need more advice for your next trip to Japan? Book a phone call with our local experts!
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