Fortunately, there are many ways to experience Japan on a budget. Many of the best attractions are free, while others require you to pay an entrance fee. Entry fees to museums and art galleries typically range from Y=800 to Y=2,000 per person. You can also purchase tickets for organised day trips, which may cost as much as Y10,000 per person.
Given this reputation, you might be surprised to learn that Japan is actually one of the most affordable tourist destinations in Asia. It’s true that Tokyo and Kyoto can be expensive cities to visit, though we’ll get to how to keep your costs down here.
Traveling through Japan on a budget
The best way to travel through Japan on a budget is by train. It’s the most convenient way to get around, and the most popular among tourists. There are several train companies, but JR is the biggest and offers the Japan Rail Pass, which is free for tourists. Another option is taking a bus. Although busses tend to be slower and less comfortable than trains, they can be a great alternative to expensive trains. There are several bus companies operating across Japan, so choosing the right one can save you a lot of money.
You may want to avoid buying tickets for major attractions. While some sites do charge an entrance fee, many are worth the money, and you can also take advantage of 100-Yen stores for daily items and souvenirs. You may also want to sign up for a credit card to earn points for purchases during your trip.
Saving money on accommodations
If you are traveling to Japan, one of the most important considerations is accommodation. Although hotels aren’t exactly cheap, you can often get a good deal if you book early. Another option is to stay in a hostel. Hostels are generally quiet and peaceful, although some are known to have a rowdy atmosphere.
A 3-4 star hotel can cost about $125 a night. You can find cheaper options by looking for a smaller chain or staying outside of the busy tourist districts. Public transit in Japan is great, so you can often take public transportation to your hotel. Of course, there are plenty of name brand hotels throughout the country, but they’re generally double the price of budget hotels.
Getting lost in the old alleyways
Getting lost in the old alleyways of Kyoto can be one of the highlights of your trip to Japan. You can’t miss the public baths at the foot of the stairs, which are equipped with free supplies. These are perfect for rehydrating after a day of walking around the city. In the nearby town of Shirakawa-go, you can see a traditional Japanese village and its renowned gassho-zukuri houses. Many of these houses are still in use, but some have been converted into restaurants and shops. You can even stay in some of these traditional houses if you like.
If you don’t speak Japanese, don’t worry. Fortunately, many signs in Japan are written in English. You can even use your smartphone’s GPS to find your way. You can also read up on basic Japanese phrases to help you get around the country. The good news is that there are even free PDF cheat sheets available for offline reading.
Getting water from tap
While it’s common to see people with bottled water in Japan, tap water is safe to drink. In fact, it’s the preferred beverage in most Japanese restaurants. It’s also cheap and convenient. However, if you’re concerned about mercury levels, consider bringing your own filtered water bottle to Japan.
In general, water hardness in Japan is low, but it varies significantly by area. For instance, the water in the Naha Airport, Okinawa, is only 0.101 mg/L hard. By contrast, a sample in Kamiato highway rest area, Saitama, was 200 mg/L.
Getting around on a budget
There are several ways to get around on a budget in Japan. Depending on your needs, you may want to spend money on tours, but there are also many activities you can do without paying full price. To save money, write down the things on your bucket list and see if you can do them without a tour group.
Getting around on a budget in Japan can be easier than you think. While many of the major attractions cost a lot of money, you can often find some great places to eat for very little money. The price of a meal in a big city can be considerably less than that in a small town, so you may want to bring cash with you to smaller places. It is also a good idea to sign up for a rewards program to earn points on your trip.
Most of the places you want to visit in Japan, like temples and shrines, are free or very cheap. If you’re planning a trip to Japan, don’t be afraid to cut costs by planning activities around events like these. Also take advantage of the country’s excellent public transportation system and discount tickets. An affordable trip is entirely possible if you know where to look!