Japan is definitely one of the best countries I’ve been so far. I’m sure a lot of people dream to go here too because of its anime-themed lands, good-mannered people, and heaven-tasting food. Good news is you can go here in a limited budget and still enjoy everything Japan has to offer!
The first time I visited this country was last 2014. During that time, since we have limited days, we just stayed in Kanto region and spent $260 for nearly 5 days (check my post here). After the trip, I told to myself that I need to go back and bring my whole family as well. This dream came true 9 months after -product of my pisofare booking skills(astounding 4500 pesos roundtrip per person promo fare with baggage), and hardwork for our travel budget. The caveat is the duration of the trip is 10 days, plus it arrives and departs in same airport (Kansai) because the dates and choices are very limited with the consideration of promo fares. It’s quite longer than my original plan which means more budget needed. After several nights of planning and decision-making ( JR pass or overnight bus, etc), I was finally able to complete our itinerary for an epic Japan trip.
Without further a do, I’m sharing with you our 10-day Japan Budget Travel itinerary (Interprefecture). We only spent a total of 42,700 php (~$900) per person, All-in ( no hidden charges 🙂 inclusive of promo airfare, hotel, food, transportation, and entrance fees).
The good thing about here too is that I designed the whole trip with the consideration of comfort. If it’s budget, it doesn’t mean that you need to sacrifice the comfort of having your own room, a good bed and own bathroom. It’s one of the travel mantras of The Madaldal Kid. I won’t really push for the cheapest ever expenditure. It’s always the right balance between cost and comfort.
Notes/Disclaimers: (a) Itinerary is quite conservative since I traveled with my parents so it’s not that jampacked so they won’t be tired. (b) We didn’t go to Disneyland nor Disney Sea since we’re not that fond of theme parks. (c) We stayed in not-so budget hotels but more of business hotels ( Hotel Chuo Oasis & Hotel Chuo Selene in Osaka area, and Hotel Horidome Villa in Tokyo) that are cheap. (d) the train fares are not mentioned since I bundled them in the Icoca/Suica card loads, and during the 7-day JR Pass, we didn’t spend much on fares given that JR pass covers most JR and local trains ( aside from Rinkai). (e) Some other itineraries can be cheaper but check if it includes a Kanto (Tokyo, Chiba, etc) to Kansai trip (Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, etc). Travel between these 2 areas can add up to some costs as well.
You can also download the numbers file here (just convert it to excel if you are a windows user): (click here to get a copy of Budget Travel Itinerary for 10 days)
Some of my travel notes / FAQ about the itinerary as well that you might make use of in your own budget trip:
- What’s the best way to travel to and fro Osaka/Kyoto/Nara to Tokyo – Purchase JR Pass or just use the overnight bus?
- Personally, I prefer JR Pass. You can only make value out of it if you are going to have at least 2 trips between Osaka/Nara/Kyoto to Tokyo, otherwise, it might not be worth it to purchase.
- It’s true indeed that overnight bus might cost half or lesser than a 7 day JR Pass for 29,000 JPY. However, if you are not a fan of long land travels (10 hours or more) plus the discomfort and fatigue after the trip, then better not take this option. I just realized that even if I can save an overnight hotel for the 10 hr overnight trip, the next day, I might not feel good and just waste one of my precious days in Tokyo.
- Riding a shinkansen is definitely an experience you should try. It’s even better than riding a good airline!
- Last reason- if you are traveling with your parents or other elders, do not take the bus option. Even if they say they will be ok for the long land travel, the truth is they might not feel good too that next day. They deserve the best 🙂
- Should I rent a separate hotel in Kyoto and Nara or just stay in Osaka?
- Unless you’ll be staying in Kyoto or Nara for 2 days or more, I recommend to just stay in Osaka. It’s the center of the Kyoto-Osaka-Nara area, and train fares between Osaka – Kyoto, or Osaka-Nara are just around 1000 yen roundtrip (380 php) quite manageable. In all of my Japan trips, I always book Hotel Chuo Selene or Hotel Chuo Oasis because their rooms are clean, and the hostel is very accessible to JR Osaka loop line.
- Hostels in Kyoto are more expensive since it entices more tourists. During our November trip, I can’t find any cheaper options already even 3 months before the trip, that’s why we ended up trying the Capsule Ryokan Kyoto.
- You budgeted 500 yen for some of the meals? Will I be eating in a convenience store with that budget?
- No. I keep on telling this to folks who haven’t visited Japan yet – food in Japan is cheap for its price and quality. A 390 yen can buy you a good udon in a local shop in train station (airconditioned and clean). You can buy a big beef bowl from Yoshinoya with your 500 yen ( way better taste than the one we have here in PH). These are definitely great but cheap options right?
- Where should I purchase Japanese yen here in Philippines?
- I buy mine from Czarina Forex. It has branches in Makati and Alabang. I just make sure to call first before going in their store. Usually, they have Japanese yen in the afternoon after some Japanese also sell these to them. So far, I always feel that they have a better rate than banks and Philippine airport. I don’t really prefer changing all of my money when I arrive in Japan since it entails double forex- PHP to USD to JPY, and when I try to compute the difference, it’s usually breakeven or even less. It depends per person, but these are my personal recommendations
- Is it easy to apply for Japan Tourist Visa? Should I apply first before purchasing a ticket?
- Yes! As long as you have legal and complete documents, you won’t have problems. You can check my detailed post about how to apply for a Japan Tourist Visa here.
- For me, I always buy promofare ticket first. Very good deals are hard to find so I always grab the opportunity, then I apply for the visa. If you feel that you have legal set of requirements for visa applications (COE, ITR, Bank statement, or even Affidavit of support), then don’t be scared. If you apply for visa first, then you aren’t able to find a promofare in time, you might end up being forced to buy an expensive plane ticket, or worse- not use your visa at all (which might be questionable on your next visa application).
Where is the best / recommended place to stay in Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto area?
- In Osaka, you can stay anywhere near the stations of Osaka Loop Line. This line is basically the heart of Osaka’s train system and it will bring you near to any destination. My personal choice is Hotel Chuo Oasis or Hotel Chuo Selene very near Shin-imamiya station. It’s cheap , very clean, and very accessible (1 min away from Osaka loop line and 2 other local Osaka lines) . I always stay here whenever I go to Osaka/Kyoto area.
- In Tokyo, stay in Shibuya or Shinjuku area. Both of these places have very good stores to visit even at late night (shopping, restaurants, crossing). There are tons of Airbnb places here, so just try to check. While it’s true that there are cheaper places in Asakusa area, I don’t really like the quiet night vibes in that area, and it’s quite far (around 30-40 mins by train) from Shibuya (other side) where most of the attractions are. (Shibuya crossing, Hachiko, Harajuku, Shinjuku, Odaiba, Meiji Shrine, Hamamatsucho, Kawaii stores in Shibuya like One Piece, Disney, Loft, etc). Reason too is, I’m a big fan of the lively vibes of Shibuya – seeing a LOT of people crossing the street with their own personalities, a LOT of shops here an there especially my top 2 favorites- Loft and Tokyu Hands). When we visited during the Autumn of Nov 2014, we stayed in Hotel Horidome Villa (near Tokyo station).
- In Kyoto, we just stayed near Kyoto train station since trains and buses all originate from there. We booked last minute so we cannot find any cheaper alternative, and decided instead to experience a high-tech way of staying in Japan via Capsule Ryokan Kyoto. Overall, I was very happy of the good service of this place, very clean, hight-technology and efficient rooms.
How can I make my trip even cheaper? 42,000 pesos all-in still sounds too expensive for me.
- First option: Stay in a dorm/shared room + bathroom. Overnight rates for these places are around 600 pesos per night only as compared to the daily rates of the places I’ve stayed for around 1200 pesos/night. I personally didn’t opt for this since I’m quite meticulous with bathrooms and dubious room smells. I prefer to have my own private space when traveling. Though I’ve stayed in dorms in the past, I’ll just try it again for super extreme budget situations. (but no.. i’ll just work hard to earn the extra money needed. haha)
- Second option: Take overnight bus from Osaka to Tokyo and vice versa. Honestly though, this will not help you save a lot. ( *fares to be mentioned are the normal costs without pass based from Hyperdia) -Remember, we used the JR Pass (worth 29,000 yen) to cover the following:
- (1) Osaka-Tokyo-Kyoto roundtrip shinkansen <7000 yen roundtrip if overnight bus>
- (2) train expenses for the 7 days of activation of pass <approx. 5000 yen>
- (3) Nikko roundtrip from Tokyo <approx. 6000 yen roundtrip>
- (4) Tachikawa roundtrip from Tokyo <approx. 2000 yen roundtrip>
- TOTAL without JR Pass: 20,000 yen.
- SAVINGS: 9,000 Yen – around 3,400 pesos (in exchange for some comfort in traveling plus shinkansen experience)
- Third option (but not recommended): Just stay in one prefecture – either in Kansai (Osaka/Nara/Kyoto), or Kanto (Tokyo/Chiba/ etc).
Read more about my Budget Travel Osaka Adventure:
- Part 1- Japan Travel like a Ninja for only 12,000 pesos – Personal Tips and Notes
- Part 2- Day 1-Japan Travel Like a Ninja for only 12,000 pesos – Arashiyama Bamboo Groves, Tenryu-Ji Temple, and Umeda Sky Building
- Part 3- Day 2-Japan Travel Like a Ninja for only 12,000 pesos – Osaka castle, Tenma, Pokemon Center Osaka, Dotonbori
- Part 4- Day 3-Japan Travel Like a Ninja for only 12,000 pesos – Kyoto, Kinkakuji Temple, Botanical Garden, Osaka Castle, Denden Town
- Part 5- Day 4-Japan Travel Like a Ninja for only 12,000 pesos -Namba, Dotonbori, Ichiran,Shinsaibashi
- Part 6-Japan Travel Like a Ninja for only 12,000 pesos-Itinerary and Budget
- Japan Travel in a Budget:Osaka-Nikko-Kyoto-Tokyo Autumn Highlights
- The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Universal Studios Japan Experience
Tokyo/Kanto Budget Travel posts:
- Budget Travel Itinerary for Japan 10 days- Osaka-Kyoto-Tokyo-Nikko
- Hitachi Seaside Park – Japan’s Best Autumn Spot
- Chureito Pagoda, Shimo-yoshida- Great View of Mt. Fuji
- Fujiko Museum (Doraemon) in Kawasaki Japan Experience
- Aoyama Flower Market – Tea House Relaxing Afternoon snack
Going to Japan soon but don’t know where to start? Try to avail of my customized budget itinerary to learn and be able to tour Japan alone! Just click here.