17 Ways to Save Money When Visiting Japan

japan travel on a budget

Japan is often perceived as an expensive travel destination, but the reality is quite different. With a little bit of planning and some insider knowledge, you can explore this beautiful country on a budget without breaking the bank. From affordable accommodations to budget-friendly transportation options, and even tips on where to find cheap but delicious food, we’ve got you covered. In this article, we will share 17 ways to save money when visiting Japan.

A Guide to Daily Costs in Japan

To start off, let’s take a look at some average daily costs in Japan:

  • Capsule hotel room: ¥4,000 (US$30)
  • Basic room for two: ¥8,000 (US$60)
  • Self-catering apartment: (including Airbnb) ¥6,000 (US$45)
  • Coffee: ¥400 (US$3.50)
  • Sandwich: ¥300 (US$2.20)
  • Beer/pint at the bar: ¥600 (US$4.50)
  • Dinner for two: ¥5,000 (US$38)
  • Hour of karaoke for two: ¥2,000 (US$15)

Now, let’s dive into the 17 tips to help you save money during your trip to Japan.

1. Consider Staying in a Business Hotel

One of the most cost-effective options for accommodation in Japan is staying in a business hotel. These hotels offer private rooms with en suite facilities at reasonable prices. In cities like Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka, prices may be slightly higher, but you can still find double rooms for as low as ¥8,000 (US$60) and single rooms for as low as ¥6,000. Some business hotels even include a free breakfast buffet, which can save you money on your morning meal.

2. Book Direct at a Guesthouse or Hostel

Guesthouses and hostels in Japan are not only affordable but also often provide clean and well-maintained accommodations. Many of them have English-speaking staff who can offer excellent service. While the rooms may be comparable to a business hotel (with shared facilities), the prices are usually lower. If you book directly with the guesthouse or hostel, you may even get a slightly cheaper rate compared to booking through a third-party website. Just keep in mind that some places charge extra for towel rentals, so it’s a good idea to bring your own.

3. Sleep in a Capsule Hotel in the Cities

If you’re looking for a unique and budget-friendly accommodation experience, consider staying in a capsule hotel. These hotels offer small rooms with enough space for just a bed, providing you with privacy at a lower cost compared to traditional hotels. While you may not want to stay in a capsule hotel every night, it can be a great option in cities where hotels are more expensive.

4. Go Camping in the Summer Months

For nature lovers and budget-conscious travelers, camping is an excellent option in Japan during the summer months. The country has a network of well-maintained campsites in rural and resort areas. Prices range from ¥500 to ¥1,000 per person or tent. Keep in mind that many campsites are only open during the summer season, so plan accordingly.

5. Swap a Night in a Hotel for an Overnight Bus Ride

Long-distance buses, such as those operated by Willer Express, are a cost-effective way to travel around Japan. On longer routes, there are also night buses available, which can save you money on accommodation for one night. Some bus companies even offer bus passes, making this option even more affordable.

6. The Japan Rail Pass is a Great Travel Bargain

If you plan to do a lot of traveling within Japan, consider getting a Japan Rail Pass (JR Pass). Similar to the famous Eurail Pass, the JR Pass allows for unlimited travel on Japan’s nationwide rail system, including the renowned shinkansen (bullet train). It is one of the best ways to explore Japan on a budget. However, do note that there are also more regionally specific train passes available, which may be cheaper depending on your itinerary. You can purchase a pass online or from a travel agent like JTB in your home country.

7. Ride Local Trains for Less with the Seishun 18 Ticket

The Seishun 18 Ticket is another excellent option for budget travelers who enjoy slow travel. This ticket costs ¥12,050 and provides you with five one-day tickets for travel on any regular Japan Railways train (excluding the shinkansen and high-speed limited express trains) during a limited period of a few weeks. The Seishun 18 Ticket is usually available during school holidays and can be purchased from JR ticket windows in Japan. If the timing aligns with your trip, it’s a unique and ultra-cheap way to get around.

8. Consider Renting a Car to Explore Beyond the Cities

While highway tolls and petrol in Japan can be expensive, renting a car can be an economical option if you’re traveling as a group or planning an itinerary that takes you away from major rail hubs. Renting a car allows you the flexibility to explore more remote areas at your own pace.

9. Take Domestic Flights with Low-Cost Airlines

Several low-cost airlines in Japan, such as Peach, Jetstar, and Air Do, offer affordable domestic flights. It’s worth checking their prices, but keep in mind to factor in the time and cost of transportation to and from the airports.

10. Visit Shrines and Temples for Free

Many of Japan’s Shintō shrines and temples do not charge an entrance fee. You can explore the vast majority of Shintō shrines for free, and while some temples may have an entrance fee, the grounds are often open to the public without charge. This allows you to experience the beauty and tranquility of these sacred places without spending a dime.

11. Enjoy Cheap Food and Traditional Festivals

Japan is known for its delicious cuisine, and you can savor the local flavors without breaking your budget. Traditional festivals held at shrines and temples throughout the year offer not only an excellent opportunity to experience Japanese culture but also a chance to indulge in cheap and tasty street food.

12. Opt for Hikes and Walking Tours

Exploring Japan on foot is not only a budget-friendly option but also a great way to immerse yourself in the local culture and natural beauty. Whether it’s hiking through the mountains or taking a leisurely stroll in a charming neighborhood, there are countless opportunities to discover hidden gems and create unforgettable memories.

13. Relax in City Parks

Japan’s urban parks are usually free to enter, providing a peaceful retreat in the bustling cities. You can pack a picnic, sit back, and enjoy people-watching while surrounded by beautiful greenery. If you time your visit right, you might even get to witness the breathtaking beauty of Japan’s cherry blossoms.

14. Shop for Cheaper Goods at Local Markets

Visiting local markets is not only an excellent way to connect with the local culture but also an opportunity to find cheap and fresh food. Many seaside towns have fish markets, while some rural areas have morning markets. Exploring these markets can be an exciting adventure and a chance to try local delicacies without breaking the bank.

15. Choose the Right Dish in the Right Place

When it comes to dining out, Japan offers a wide range of food choices to suit all budgets. You can find affordable meals in shokudō, which are casual restaurants often referred to as Japan’s answer to the greasy spoon. A bowl of delicious ramen can be as inexpensive as ¥600, and stand-and-eat counter joints known as tachigui offer soba and udon noodles for even less. Additionally, many upscale restaurants in Japan offer smaller lunch courses at significantly lower prices compared to dinner, making it a great option for a budget-friendly gourmet experience.

16. Try Bentō as a Budget Alternative

If you’re looking for a quick and affordable meal, consider picking up a bentō from supermarkets. These boxed meals often include a variety of dishes and can be found for under ¥1,000. You can also find gourmet bentō at department store food halls, especially if you visit just before closing time when they may be on sale.

17. Make the Most of Convenience Stores

Convenience stores in Japan are a traveler’s best friend. They offer a variety of affordable options, including sandwiches, rice balls, hot dishes, and even beer. You can assemble these items into a budget-friendly meal. Most accommodations have kettles, allowing you to enjoy instant cup noodles as a quick and inexpensive option.

By following these tips, you can make your yen go further during your visit to Japan. Remember, saving money doesn’t mean sacrificing unique experiences or missing out on the country’s rich culture and stunning landscapes. With a little bit of planning and creativity, you can have an incredible trip that fits your budget.

Related Posts

© 2024 themedipia - WordPress Theme by WPEnjoy