Japan is well known to be quite an expensive place to visit. In June of 2012 the BBC reported that Tokyo regained the top spot as the most expensive city in the world. As a result of this, many people put off visiting this wonderful country because they think they cannot afford it. Surprisingly, you can actually visit Japan “on the cheap”, stay in nice hotels, and have a good time while you’re at it.
There are quite a few things you can do to cut costs and stick to a reasonable budget while you are exploring the country.
Transportation How to spend a cheap Japan holiday can be one of the largest drains on your bank account. The Bullet trains are fat and comfortable, but a single journey ticket can easily cost more than 100 Euros. The trick here is to arrange a Japan Rail Pass. For around 400 Euro, you can get a 14 day unlimited pass to the trains, both for inter-city trains and for any JR trains within the cities. This may look expensive on the surface, but just a couple of days of touring around Tokyo, and you will have recouped the price of the Pass and then some.
Eating on a budget
Food is pretty reasonably priced throughout Japan, especially if you can convince yourself to stay away from fancy restaurants and “western” food; eat local dishes instead. If you are really on a budget, track down a “100 Yen” shop – ask at the hotel, and they will direct you to the closest shop. Everything in the shop is priced at 100 Yen or roughly 1 Euro, including set meals, basic groceries and toiletries. If you want something a bit more substantial, find a local grocery and purchase your food there. A tip I usually follow is to avoid fresh fruit when buying my food. Fruit is really amazingly expensive throughout most of the country.
Hotels in Japan can range from thousands of Euros per night down to pocket change depending on what you expect and require for a place to sleep. Each city has a range of pretty much very hotel type you can imagine from capsule hotels and hostels up to opulent luxury. You can find something in the middle for prices that are very affordable. Poke around in HRS.com and you will find places like the Horidome Villa in Tokyo, the Best Western in Osaka or the Comfort Hotel in Hiroshima, all at a very reasonable price per night.
Entertaining the crew
You can’t visit an amazing country like Japan without taking in the sights. Check with the local Tourist Office (you can usually find them in the main train stations) to see if the city you are visiting has a tourist pass. Most cities have day passes which, for a fixed price, give you unlimited access to all of the temples and major local attractions.
So as you can see, with a little forethought and some careful planning you can actually make it on the cheap in Japan and have a nice time while you’re at it. So… what are you waiting for?