Can You Travel Inexpensively in Japan?
Japan is a country that holds many wonders for travelers all over the world through its history, culture, lifestyle, and art. Millions of people visit Japan each year to indulge in the country’s bustling cityscapes or find inspiration in its beautiful countryside.
The Japanese government has recently introduced the Japan eVisa aimed at boosting tourism in the country. International travelers from 68 countries and territories can apply online for the Japan eVisa to visit the island-nation.
Many people decide to put off their trip to Japan because they worry that it may be too expensive to visit. Traveling to Japan doesn’t have to be expensive if you know a few travel tips that you can stick to.
When to Travel to Japan
Japan is a country known for its extreme temperatures, most people consider March-May and September-November to be the best months to visit Japan as the temperatures are milder compared to other times of the year.
However, these are also the times of the year where many people decide to visit Japan because of favorable weather conditions, which may mean that it may be hard to find bargains on airline tickets during these times.
For globetrotters who are not concerned with favorable weather conditions or prefer cheaper airfares can definitely visit Japan during the off-seasons in summer (June- October) or in the wintertime (December-February).
There is plenty to do during the off-season in Japan and much fewer crowds except on ski resorts. Travelers will also find the temperatures to be milder in cities like Tokyo and Osaka during the winter months, but if you’re planning to visit Mount Fiji, it’s bound to get really cold up there.
How to Inexpensively Travel in Japan
It’s actually a good idea to think about saving money on your daily costs for your trip to Japan. Unless you’re someone who has money to throw away, chances are you’re going to need to budget your way through the trip while getting the most out of it.
One of your major expenses is going to accommodation. Depending on how long you plan to be in the country, you can decide how much you want to spend each day on your trip and book accommodations accordingly.
Hotels: In Japan hotels are normally referred to as “Business Hotels” where you can get a nice private double room for about $75-$120 or JPY7800-JPY12481. In keeping with Japan’s minimalistic traditions, the rooms aren’t that large, but they are clean and have a private bathroom. Most of these business hotels are located in cities.
Pods: If you don’t mind sleeping in a tiny space and don’t have a lot of luggage you’re traveling with, renting pods for the night may be a better option for you. They usually come equipped with a reading light, outlets, a small TV, and even your own slippers in some cases all while sleeping in relative privacy. They usually cost around $25-50 per night.
Hostels: They are usually a great way to meet fellow wanderers if you don’t mind sleeping in a dorm or on a bunk bed. These will usually cost you around $20 per night. You will share bathrooms and common areas with other travelers so you can expect a little less privacy in hostels than with the pods.
Ryokans: For a culturally immersive experience and slightly higher cost, visitors can expect to stay in a traditional Japanese Inn for about $140 -$250 per night.
Couchsurfing: It is free! but it isn’t easy to find a host in Japanese cities. If you are lucky enough to find one you can stay for free during your entire trip and enjoy a cultural exchange with the host. So, it might be worth a shot especially if you’re traveling on a backpacker budget.
Transportation is going to be your next biggest expense after lodgings if you’re planning to travel to different Japanese cities during your stay. For multi-city travel, it is recommended to invest in purchasing a Japanese Rail Pass, which will seem significant at first but will actually end up saving you money compared to purchasing passes for individual trips.
The Japanese Rail Pass is only available for foreign tourists and can be purchased for periods of 7, 14, or 21 days of unlimited riding. The cost of the Japanese Rail Pass is between $425-$600 but it’s definitely worthwhile for multi-city travel in Japan as it saves you money.
One of the best things that you will find also is that not only does Japan have an extensive train system, it’s also one of the cleanest and most reliable means of transportation.
While JR pass allows riders to use the high-speed Japanese bullet trains to travel between cities, travelers can also opt to go with other transportation options such as local trains, buses, or rail lines. The only downside is that they might be slower and will require more planning.
Taxis tend to be more expensive in Japan than in other parts of the world, so when you can, opt to travel by metro. Metro rides will typically cost around $2-3 one way and riders do have the option of purchasing multi-day passes for the metro to save on transportation costs.
Renting a car is also expensive in japan and so is buying fuel and paying exorbitant toll fees. So, car rentals are a big no-no if you’re planning to travel on a budget.
Of all the travel costs, food is definitely not going to be one that breaks your budget. Food is of high-quality in Japan and is very inexpensive if you’re not looking to choose fine- dining every night of your stay.
There are plenty of inexpensive food options in Japan from cheap lunch deals to sushi trains, Japanese fast food, western menu, ramen, and tempura dishes, traveling food enthusiasts can eat hearty meals cheaply while enjoying the country.
Having said that, there are still ways travelers can save on the daily cost of food by choosing the right places to eat. There are 100-yen shops where people can pick up essential supplies but also get some quality food all for JPY100 which is equal to $1.
Konbini is a convenience store that is also a good place to find healthy food on a budget and it’s honestly much better tasting than you’d expect. Some examples of Konbinis in Japan include, 7-11, FamilyMart, Seicomart etc. A typical prepared meal box at one of these places will cost you around JPY500 which is about $5.
Similarly, you can expect to spend between $5-10 per meal on sushi trains, curry, donburi, ramen during your stay and even have an occasional fancy meal without going over-budget on your food costs.
One rule to stick by though is to avoid buying fresh fruit and vegetables as they are super expensive in Japan.
Most attractions are free in Japan or cost between $5-10 but they can easily add up depending on how many you end up visiting. It’s actually makes more sense to purchase passes for the museum, temples and other attractions you plan on visiting as they can provide more value for less money.
So, yes! it is possible to travel inexpensively in Japan. It will just require some budgeting and due diligence to stick to the plan. A lot of the time visitors come back saying, they can’t believe how easy it was to travel so inexpensively in Japan.