Japan has an image of being one of the most expensive countries in the world, and if you’re staying in hotels, eating out, and traveling around a lot, then it can really cost you a bomb. It is never going to be as cheap as other destinations and while it may be an expensive country to visit, there are plenty of ways to make this country affordable.
To me, budget travel is value travel. So, I have listed 4 vital points on how you can cut down the costs and make this country affordable:
1.) TRANSPORTATIONTransportation is one of the most expensive aspects of travel in Japan and this will surely eat up your pennies. The bullet train, while awesome, comfortable, and fast, is not cheap at all. Individual rail journey can cost hundreds of dollars when added altogether. So in order to reduce your train costs, get a Japan Rail (JR) pass.I repeat, do get a JAPAN RAIL PASS and here’s my BIG NOTE: You only can buy this pass outside of Japan and only people on a tourist visa can avail this special pass, so purchase this before arriving in Japan or else you will end up spending twice or thrice of its cost. Passes are sold at 7-day, 14-day and 21-day categories, includes all trains (shinkasen, express, local,etc..) and a few highway buses. I purchased the 7-day unli pass even if I was there for 12 days. I regret of not getting the 14 days instead. haha! I bought it at 28,300 yen (377SGD or 13000Php) It’s even expensive than your promo fare flight I guess, and it will make your spending double or triple if you don’t have it.Many people are put off by the high cost of the rail pass, but if you’re going to travel all the way to Japan, it’s best to have a proper budget in place. So getting this Unli pass is a must to help cut down your expenses. In my case, I traveled OSAKA, NARA, KYOTO and TOKYO. So it definitely was a great deal for me and of course to anyone who wish to explore Japan.
2.) FOODThere’s an array of cheap food options in the country, and unless you go out to mid-range or better restaurants, then you may not be able to cut your daily totals down. Sorry, I’m guilty on this. Since It was my first time visiting the country, I went a bit all out when it comes to food. But I never regret that I spent fairly on food than shopping. Oink! haha
Just to give you an idea, roughly 20,000 yen (250Sgd/9000Php) for this meal. Yes, it’s crazy expensive but god! I couldn’t find the right words to describe how tasty it was. All I can remember that time was like, sh*t the beef melted in my mouth. haha! That’s how tender the beef was.
You actually don’t really need to spend much money on food. There are many affordable options you can consider to cut your food spending. And if you are there mainly for the picturesque views, breathtaking scenes and magnificent temples and gardens then cutting on your food budget will definitely help you hang onto your money.
So here’s how you can save money on food:
- Eat at 100-yen shops – There are many 100-yen shops in Japan, where set meals, groceries, water, toiletries, household items, and more are simply 100 yen (1Sgd/35Php). Of course! as a thrifty shopper I did all my shopping at these shops. haha! Their names vary by region, so ask your hotel/hostel reception or Airbnb host where the nearest 100-yen shop is located.
- Eat at Lawson (Japan’s Convenience store) – Max Value, 7-11, Family Mart, and other corner stores have a lot of pre-set meals for 100–300 yen. Additionally, supermarkets have many set meals at similar prices too and I noticed, this was even a popular choice for the locals.
- Cook your food – Apartments that you book from AirBnb and some Hostels have kitchens, where you can cook and cut your food expenses to less than 800 yen (10Sgd/360Php) per day, especially by shopping at the 100-yen stores.
- Get take-away meals from grocery stores – Cheap and fresh bento, take-away sushi, noodles, and udon are just some of the grab-and-go options available at Japanese grocery stores.
Don’t be afraid buying all the ready to eat food as it is prepared fresh daily in Japan. Even in the supermarkets and thus, they want to sell as much of their bento plates and pre-cooked foods by the end of the day. Hence, there are discounts when you buy late night. Sushi plates, salads, tempura and a lot more to try… all fresh and damn delicious!
Finding cheap accommodation is indeed a real pain. Try to stay in Hostels or Ryokans, as Japanese hotel rooms are way too expensive. Ryokans are Japanese-style inns which will give you a more authentic Japanese experience as you sleep on tatami matt floor, futons, and some have onsen steam bath. While Hotel offers you the cookie-cutter experience of a room, a few amenities, and an overpriced minibar. Wouldn’t something different be nice for a change? Hmm. then I personally recommend Airbnb.It was actually my first time using Airbnb.com and honestly I was skeptical about it. But, I managed to try myself and yeah I strongly recommend it after having an awesome stay in Japan. To be exact, stayed for about 4 locations since I explored Osaka, Nara, Kyoto and Tokyo for about 12 days. Airbnb is something of a unique experience since you can find an affordable place to stay while having a home-away-from-home comfort in a new city.Airbnb is a service in which homeowners rent out a room, or sometimes their whole house, to guests through an online profile on Airbnb.com. Both hosts and guests are reviewed and the service works on a rating system to help ensure that you’re not renting to or renting from someone who is completely crazy.Experiences vary though, but generally you’ll be expected to interact with your host a little more than you would a hotel concierge. Some places offer more than just a room; they’ll provide you with breakfast, a drive to or from the station, and gosh! their hospitality is at the fullest, as locals are very warm-hearted that they will take extra mile just to give you a memorable experience. And I can attest because I personally experienced all of those. My Japan travel was made extra special because of my Airbnb hosts. I so love their kindness, they are so helpful and very polite. I couldn’t forget that time when I reached Tokyo around 8 in the evening and my host prepared a sumptuous dinner, thinking that I still haven’t eaten from my trip all the way from Kyoto. Touched! Who wouldn’t be? And here is my one bit of advice if you decide using Airbnb. READ THE REVIEWS! You will never go wrong in booking a certain place If it has nothing but all positive reviews, go with it. Read reviews and room details thoroughly. It’s not always cheaper than a hotel room either, so specify your budget in the search criteria.
There are literally over 1 million listings across the globe so you have tons of unique options that will make your next getaway unforgettable. Lastly, A word of warning – book your accommodation far in advance of your trip, at least a month. The best and cheapest places book up very quickly, especially in blossom season!
4.) RANDOM SPENDING
This is the one area people tend to underestimate or rather not budget for at all. You will shop when travelling; it could be for souvenirs, gifts for family, or things for yourself, so you might as well put some money aside. Also, most people who visit Japan will spend on random things they don’t normally spend, you know why? Simply because Japan offers a variety of bizarre stuff, from unique charms to mouthwatering peculiar Japanese delicacies which you might want to bring home and give to your family and friends. So If you’re the type who likes to shop, you may want to budget a little more.
So here’s my final word for a cheaper Japan travel:
Japan can be done on the cheap, but if you’re going to travel all the way to Japan, it’s best to have a proper budget in place. You don’t want to miss out experiences because you didn’t budget properly. And if you are doing it free and easy then ready yourself from all the trip guides you can read online. Trust me, reading other people’s experience through blog-posts will really help you a lot specially on the budget. Didn’t this post help you? Yay! I pretty hope it did. Comments below are welcome!