The Cost of Travel in Japan: My 2024 Budget Breakdown

7 day trip to japan cost

It took me six years to finally make my way to Japan. The high cost of train passes and expensive hotels always deterred me from visiting, making me choose other destinations instead. But after hearing countless stories from my travel writer friends about the beauty and worth of a trip to Japan, I decided to take the plunge. And to my surprise, Japan wasn’t as expensive as I had anticipated.

Upon arriving in Japan, I expected it to be one of the most expensive countries I had ever been to. However, I soon discovered that it was more on par with Western Europe or North America, and even cheaper than Australia. It was way more affordable than some of the other destinations I had visited in the past, such as Namibia or the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

In this article, I will break down the cost of travel in Japan based on my 16-day itinerary. From accommodation and transportation to activities and food, I will give you a detailed breakdown of my expenses to help you plan your own budget-friendly trip to Japan.

My 16-Day Japan Itinerary

Here is a brief overview of the places I visited during my 16 days in Japan. This itinerary is perfect for first-time travelers to Japan:

  • Tokyo: 4 nights
  • Hakone: 1 night
  • Yudanaka: 1 night
  • Kanazawa: 2 nights
  • Takayama: 1 night
  • Kyoto: 3 nights
  • Hiroshima: 1 night
  • Osaka: 3 nights

What’s Included in This Post

This budget breakdown covers the expenses I incurred for accommodation, transportation, activities, food, and miscellaneous items during my time in Japan. Please note that I have not included the cost of flights as it varies depending on your location. However, I did manage to find a return flight from Rome to Tokyo for $320 through a flight deals website called Secret Flying.

Now, let’s delve into the details of my expenses.

The Cheapest Accommodation Options in Japan

Like many countries in the world, prices in Japan have increased after the pandemic. However, travel in Japan is still relatively affordable compared to most Western countries.

If you’re willing to put in some effort, you can even find free accommodation options. Couchsurfing is available in Japan and allows you to stay with a local for free. Though it might not be the most comfortable option, it’s worth reaching out to hosts and exploring this opportunity to save some money.

Another option is housesitting, which is more suitable for mid-range and luxury travelers. Housesitting involves taking care of someone’s house for free while they’re away. It’s a great way to cut down on expenses and experience life as a local. Trusted Housesitters is a popular platform for finding housesitting opportunities.

For those who prefer a clean and comfortable room, there are plenty of budget options available. Hostels are widespread throughout Japan and offer affordable accommodations. You can expect to pay around $25 per night for a dorm bed in a well-reviewed hostel. Private rooms in hostels typically cost around $50 per night.

If you prefer more privacy, you can also consider hotels. There are various types of accommodations in Japan, ranging from capsule hotels to traditional ryokans. Prices vary depending on the location and amenities.

During my trip, I stayed at a mix of accommodations, including a ryokan in Yudanaka ($105 per night), a guesthouse in Kanazawa ($65 per night), and a hotel in Tokyo ($135 per night). In total, I spent an average of $97 per day on accommodation.

The Cost of Transportation in Japan

Transportation in Japan can be a significant expense, but it’s essential to explore the country’s beautiful sights. The most popular option used to be the Japan Rail Pass, which offers unlimited train rides over a specific period. However, the price of the Japan Rail Pass has significantly increased since October 2023, making it less cost-effective for most travelers.

While the Japan Rail Pass can still be useful for first-time visitors or those taking extensive rail journeys, it may not be worth it for others. As an alternative, purchasing individual train tickets can be more budget-friendly. The JR West website allows you to book train tickets online and reserve seats in advance.

For my 16-day itinerary, I paid a total of $381 for rail tickets. The trains in Japan are well-maintained and comfortable, providing a luxurious travel experience.

If you’d like to save even more money, buses are a cheaper alternative. While they are slower and less comfortable than trains, they can be a cost-effective option. Unfortunately, bus routes may not be available for all destinations. The cost of bus tickets for my itinerary would have been approximately $212.

Within cities, I found walking to be a convenient and affordable way to get around. Metro systems are also available in major cities like Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto. During my trip, I spent $6 on the metro in Tokyo, $7 on the metro in Osaka, and $2 on the metro in Kyoto.

The Cost of Activities and Entrance Fees in Japan

The cost of activities and entrance fees in Japan is generally reasonable. Most temples, museums, and gardens charge less than $5 for admission. Some notable expenses during my trip included the entrance fee for a hedgehog cafe in Tokyo ($13), admission to the Snow Monkey Park ($7), and entrance to Kenroku-en gardens in Kanazawa ($3).

In total, I spent an average of $2 per day on activities and entrance fees.

The Cost of Food in Japan

Japanese cuisine is renowned worldwide, and experiencing it is a significant part of any trip to Japan. Fortunately, meals in Japan can be affordable, especially if you avoid fancy restaurants. A bowl of ramen typically costs less than $9, while street snacks like takoyaki can be as cheap as $4.50.

For a special dining experience, I splurged on a kaiseki meal at a guesthouse in Yudanaka, which cost $36. Sushi in Kanazawa was another indulgence, priced at $18.

Whether you’re on a budget or looking to treat yourself, finding delicious food in Japan is easy. Even convenience stores like 7-Eleven offer surprisingly decent options.

On average, I spent $23.20 per day on food during my trip.

Miscellaneous Expenses in Japan

Aside from the major expenses, there were some miscellaneous items I needed to budget for during my trip:

  • Local SIM card: $14
  • Insight Guides guidebook to Japan: $10
  • Luggage storage at Snow Monkey Park: $4.50
  • Travel insurance for 16 days: $60

To keep track of my expenses, I diligently recorded everything I spent using Xero accounting software. This allowed me to easily calculate my total travel costs.

How Much Does it Cost to Travel in Japan?

Based on my expenses, the average amount I spent in Japan was $151 per day. Considering Japan’s reputation for being expensive, I was pleasantly surprised by how affordable my trip turned out to be.

Traveling in Japan doesn’t have to break the bank. With careful planning and budgeting, you can experience the country’s rich culture and breathtaking landscapes without draining your wallet.

So, how about you? Were you expecting a trip to Japan to be expensive? Don’t let the cost deter you from exploring this incredible country.

Related Articles on Japan:

  • What’s it Like to Travel in Japan?
  • How to Spend Two Weeks in Japan: An Itinerary for First-Time Visitors
  • 15 Weird and Wonderful Things to Eat in Japan
  • 23 Incredible Things to Do in Osaka, Japan
  • 21 Spectacular Things to Do in Tokyo, Japan
  • Hipster Harajuku: The Coolest Neighbourhood in Tokyo
  • Should You Go to a Hedgehog Cafe? My Experience in Japan
  • Why Seeing the Snow Monkeys in Japan Sucked

The Cost of Travel in Japan: My 2024 Budget Breakdown

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