How to Travel Cheap to Japan: 10 Money Saving Tips

Published on March 20, 2018 by Chris

10 tips on how to travel to Japan without breaking your wallet! Many people think Japan is an expensive destination, but that is totally not true! It is very easy to travel to Japan for cheap. Tips include: Cheap flights to Japan, cheap trains in Japan, and of course: Cheap Eats in Japan. So how cheap am I talking about? Staying in a hostel, buying a rail pass, eating relatively cheap food, and visiting a few attractions will cost around $100 USD per day

1 – Travel off peak: Cherry blossom and autumn foliage times (usually around early April and mid-November, respectively) are peak season for Japanese travelers, meaning peak hotel rates. Watch out for Japan-Only Holidays: Golden Week and Obon (April 29 to May 5 and around mid-August, respectively

2 – Airports: Fly in to some place other than Tokyo. Osaka — flights to Osaka are often $200 cheaper than flights to Tokyo. And it’s right next to Kyoto. And go to Nara to feed the deer! Nagoya (home of Toyota) often has really cheap flights too (Like $450/round trip)

3 – Getting to the city from the airport: Don’t take a taxi. It can be like $200 from Narita to Tokyo. Take a Limousine bus or NEX for about 3,000 Yen, or the Keisei Line from Narita for about 1300 Yen (slower equals cheaper). Buy a combination ticket, NEX plus Suica card. Similar combos in Osaka.

4- Getting around
Tokyo subways starts at 160 Yen, or about $1.50 US. Many cities often sell day passes for 600-1000 Yen.

JR Pass: 7-Day is 29,110 Yen. Good for Tokyo to Kyoto/Osaka round trip. Osaka to Tokyo each way is about 14,000 Yen. Buy online before you go, save about 20%.

Look for local JR Passes for a particular region or special offers like the Seishun 18 for only 11,850 for 5 days. Seishun 18 allows unlimited rides on local and rapid JR trains (excluding reserved seats) throughout Japan from Hokkaido in the north to Kyushu in the south. Although the Seishun 18 is not valid on Shinkansens and limited express trains, it is a great way to enjoy travel at a more leisurely pace. This ticket package includes five days worth of travel for only 2,370 yen per day. One person can enjoy the Seishun 18 for five days, or it can be split for use by up to five people.

Get the Kansai Through Pass if you are in Osaka/Kyoto, 5,200 yen for 3 days unlimited transit.

Long distance buses: Overnight buses will be slower than the Shinkansen, but can save quite a bit. Particularly if you can sleep on them. Tokyo to Osaka by bus is 10 hours, and 4,500 Yen.

Willer Express Bus offers a ¥10,000 3-trip pass and a ¥15,000 5-trip pass (~$100 and $150 USD respectively). These 3 and 5 travel trips (referred to as “days” on the site) can be used anytime, non-consecutively within a 2-month window

6 – Bicycle: Many cities have metropolitan bike rental programs. Takamatsu city rents bikes for 200 yen per day! 2,000 yen for a whole month.

7 – Shopping
Tax-Free Shopping: 8% refund for purchases over 5,000 yen at the same store. Refund at the store.

100 Yen Shops: Like Daiso. Cheap gifts!

8 – Hotels:
Business Hotels (Toyoko Inn, 7,500 Yen a night in Shinjuku)
[Stay more nights get a discount]
[Book in advance get a discount]
Capsule Hotels (3,000 Yen for a night, sometimes only men)
Hostels (2,000 a night — but maybe free if you clean for a few hours)
Love Hotels (8000 Yen a night.. Stay at a business hotel instead)
Manga Cafes (100 yen for 30 minutes, 900-1500 yen for three hours and 1,600-3,000 yen for 7- to 12-hour packages)
Mcdonalds (the price of a meal)

Onsen/Hotspring: Use a public bathhouse — Often 500 Yen.

9 – Food: Watch my cheap eats in Tokyo video. Osaka Ohsho for Gyoza. Yoshinoya for beef bowls. Mos Burger for burgers. Sushi at rotating sushi places.

Visit high-end restaurants at lunch for lunch specials. No tipping.

10 – Attractions: Multi-attraction passes, sometimes combined with transportation cost
Visit temples for free
Rooftop observation decks (Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building in Shinjuku)

Bonus: Money Exchange: At an ATM — 7-11.


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