Many travellers are afraid of travelling to Japan because of the common notion that it is a very expensive country. But of you actually end up in this country you will be shocked to know that it is a relatively cheap country and actually opposite to what many people think.
Travelling around Japan is actually very affordable and at par with most of the Western European countries. Travelling to Japan need not mean investing a lot of money. Here are a few tips on how to you can travel around Japan on a budget.
The bullet trains or the Shinkansen are very fast, comfortable and a convenient way to travel. They travel at a maximum speed of 320 km/hr and is a beautiful feat of engineering. However, they are very expensive. A journey from Tokyo to Kyoto would cost around 13,710 JPY pp and there are no discounts or promotions at any time of the year.
Thankfully, Japan also has express and regional trains. A local train ride from Kyoto to Tokyo would cost only 8000 JPY BUT the journey will take 9 hours instead of 3 hours and may require several transfers. You may also buy a Japan Rail Pass to further reduce the costs. a 7-day pass would cost 29,110 JPY.
Most of the metro tickets for journeys within the city cost a minimum of 100 JPY for a single journey. The price of the metro tickets actually varies by distance. Fare are within 220 JPY for any travel across Tokyo but it is much less for short distances. You can even buy a day pass that will give you unlimited rides for 24 hours at 800 JPY.
Buses are a good alternative to the train system in Japan but they obviously take more time. A journey from Tokyo to Osaka, for example, would take around 10 hours. The price for such tickets are 4500 JPY but you also need to consider the travel time on buses.
If you are comfortable in travelling by buses then you can opt to buy bus passes that offer unlimited travel at around 10,000 JPY for 3 days of travel (non-consecutive).
Flying has become a great option these days. There are lot of budget airlines that serve Japan these days and a flight search on renowned websites like Skyscanner will reveal the latest fares. But, in general, the cost of a flight ticket is generally at par with a bullet train ticket.
Airlines like ANA, however, do offer special fares of USD 100 at the last-minute. These fares are only available to foreign nationals and are sometimes cheaper when you are availing long routes around the country.
Food is very cheap in Japan and the cost of eating will be low unless you have a sushi addiction! You can actually eat for less than 1500 JPY per day. A western set menu that consists of sandwiches and burger would only cost 1200 JPY.
Living costs in Japan are very high due to the high housing prices. Hostel dorms cost around 1900 JPY per night and hotel rooms starts at 5000 JPY per night. However, there is a secret – the hostels in Japan will let you stay for free if you clean for just a few hours in the day.
For more suggestions on where to travel if you are on a budget or are going solo see this post where we describe 3 great destinations.