How to Plan a Trip to Japan on a Budget
A trip to Japan costs an average of $1455 per week, excluding flights.
Obviously, not everyone can spend that amount of money on a one-week trip. However, it doesn’t have to be like that.
If Japan is your dream destination but the budget has always been too tight, you can start thinking about what you’re going to pack.
With this guide, you’ll find out how you can go on your trip to Japan without spending a fortune by following simple traveling tips.
Public transportation is one of the things that costs more in Japan.
But since the country is so big, you’ll have no choice but to spend some bucks on it.
The first thing you should know is that taxis and Uber are a no-no. They are both too expensive. You should take the train, metro and/or buses instead.
Another useful tip: Unless you speak Japanese, buy your tickets online. Many machines at the stations don’t have an English translation.
Book Your Flight for the Low Season
You might be tempted to book your flight for Spring or Autumn when cherry blossoms appear and you get to see Japan just like you’ve always seen it in movies.
Don’t fall into the temptation and book it for June. It’s the rainy season (which makes it the low season), but you’ll see that it doesn’t really rain that much.
Get a Japan Rail Pass
A 7-day Japan Rail Pass costs ¥29,110 (~$269).
It’s a lot, we know, but trust us when we say that getting this pass is simply a no-brainer.
Since the individual tickets for most public transportation are so expensive, you’ll make up that $269 dollars in no time and, in the end, you’ll end up saving money.
Plus, this pass allows you to travel across the entire country, so you won’t need any extra tickets.
We don’t mean between cities, of course.
But in each city, you can save up a lot if you simply walk around. Plus, you get to see a lot more, stop whenever and wherever you want, and get some extra exercise during your trip.
So turn on Google Maps and go on your walking adventure.
Any sushi aficionado who goes to Japan needs to try the real thing. It’s a must.
But apart from that one moment of indulgence, Japanese food doesn’t have to be expensive. You just have to know where to go.
Eat at Fast Food Restaurants
Forget what you know about fast food.
In Japan, fast food restaurants serve miso soup, dumplings, bowls of noodles, tea, and other delicious treats.
You can eat for as cheap as ¥130 (~$1.20) or for ¥600 (~$5,50) if you’re feeling a bit fancy.
Eat at “Sushi Kaiten”
A “Sushi Kaiten” is a sushi train restaurant.
Plates of sushi go around and each plate has a specific color according to the price. Some plates cost a mere ¥100 (~$0,90), so this is definitely an affordable option.
Get Takeaway from Grocery Stores
Another cheap option is to buy bento boxes at grocery stores. This might not sound that appealing but one look at these boxes and you’ll change your mind instantly.
Whether you’re a sushi person or you prefer a nice bowl of noodles, you’ll find freshly made takeaway food for as cheap as ¥130 (~$1.20).
Mosts Japanese hostels have a kitchen, so if you have the chance, cook some of your meals.
Buying ingredients at the convenience store isn’t expensive, except for fresh fruits and vegetables, so you might have to stay away from those for a while.
Japanese hotels are expensive, so you can cross them off the list for this budget-friendly trip.
The good news is that there are a lot of other options for accommodation. Some are even free!
Work for Accommodation
Some hostels in Japan let you stay for free in exchange for a few hours of work (usually cleaning).
If you’re staying for a long time – like two or three months – this is an excellent choice, since you’ll still have plenty of time to explore.
Stay at a Capsule Hotel
If you don’t mind staying in a small place, capsule hotels are a great accommodation option. You’ll have an outlet, a light and sometimes a TV in your capsule and the average price per night is ¥2,700 (~$25).
The bathroom and common areas are shared.
Some internet cafés also have private cubicles where you can spend the night and they’re even cheaper than hotels.
Couchsurfing is one of the most wallet-friendly options no matter where you’re going.
If you’re okay with staying at someone else’s place, you’ll spend $0 on accommodation. And there’s another plus: if you stay with a local you’ll get to experience the culture in a whole different level.
A lot of museums, temples, and other attractions are very cheap and some are even free to visit.
So you shouldn’t need to spend that much money on the cultural part of your trip to start with. However, we do have one tip to make this cheap aspect even cheaper.
Get a Grutt Pass
The Tokyo Museum Grutt Pass 2019 costs ¥2,200 (~$20,33) and it gives you free entry and discounts to 95 touristic attractions: 46 art galleries, 39 museums, 6 gardens, 3 zoos, and 1 aquarium.
It’s valid for 2 months starting on the day you buy it and it can only be used once on each facility.
You can buy this pass at any of the 95 facilities it includes.
Enjoy Your Trip to Japan!
See? With some flexibility, Japan can become a perfectly affordable destination.
You don’t need to have a luxury trip in order to experience the amazing Japanese culture. So follow these tips, book your trip to Japan and cross it from your bucket list of places to visit.
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