Budget Travel

Japan on a budget: get more for the yen with our tips for a low-cost visit

Japan has a reputation being an expensive spot to visit, but it is a picture that does not hold up on the floor. After some strategy, a trip can be quite reasonable – budget-friendly, even. Most of the country's top sights, for example, is free of charge and free festivals occur year-round.

Some accommodations tend to be more budget than others

Consider a company hotel

These economical (and also to be truthful, rather utilitarian) hotels offer the best prices for private rooms with en suite facilities: it's possible to find double rooms for as little as yen8000 (and single rooms as low as yen6000), though these will be a a bit more expensive in cities like Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka. Search for locations that include a free breakfast buffet – they can be substantial enough to help keep you opting for hours.

Book a tried-and-true guesthouse or hostel

Japan has fantastic guesthouses and hostels throughout; they are not only generally clean and well-maintained, friendly English-speaking staff are often available to offer near concierge-level service. A double or single room resembles a company hotel (but usually has shared facilities); dorm beds cost around yen3000 (US$25). Some places do charge extra for towel rentals, so you can save several yen by bringing your personal. Note that rates are often slightly cheaper should you book directly instead of through a booking site.

Sleep in a capsule hotel for the ultimate Japan experience

Capsule hotels, which offer small rooms with sufficient space for just a bed, give a budget-friendly spot to spend the night time. A capsule berth costs slightly more than a dorm bed in a hostel (yen4000 every night), however, you have more privacy. You probably wouldn't wish to stay every evening in a capsule, but they're good for saving money in cities where hotels are pricier.

Go camping

If you want to do Japan inexpensively, you can depend on its network of well-maintained campsites in rural or resort areas; prices begin with yen500 to yen1000 per person or tent. Observe that many sites are only open in the summer.

Look carefully at transport choices to traverse Japan inexpensively

The Japan Rail Pass is a great travel bargain

Like the famous Eurail Pass, this really is among the world's great travel bargains and it is the best way to see a lot of Japan on a tight budget. It enables unlimited travel on Japan's brilliant nationwide rail system, such as the lightning-fast shinkansen (bullet train). There are also more regionally specific train passes which are cheaper, so examine your itinerary carefully before deciding. Buy a pass online or from a travel agent like JTB in your home country.

Ride local trains for less with the Seishun 18 Ticket

Another great deal, but with very specific conditions: for yen12,050 (US$105), you get five one-day tickets good for travel on any regular Japan Railways train (meaning not the shinkansen or any high-speed limited express trains) during a limited duration of a few weeks; the Seishun 18 Ticket is just offered at certain times during the year – during summer break (the ticket is designed for students, but there's no age cap) – and can simply be purchased from JR ticket windows in Japan. If the timing works, and you are a fan of slow travel, this can be a unique, ultra-cheap method of getting around in Japan.

Swap an evening inside a hotel for an overnight bus ride

Long-distance buses, like those operated by Willer Express, are the cheapest way to get around and longer routes have night buses, which saves a night on accommodation. There's also bus passes, that make this an even cheaper method of getting around.

Consider renting a car if you are skipping the cities

Highway tolls and petrol in Japan are expensive; however, renting a car can be economical if you're traveling like a group or family, or are plotting an itinerary that can take you from major rail hubs.

Look into discount flights

Japan has lots of budget carriers, like Peach, Jetstar and Air Do, that offer bus-like pricing on some routes – be sure that you element in the time and price of going to/from manchester international.

Many sights and activities are completely free

Japan's fascinating, photogenic shrines and temples are free to visit

The vast majority of Shintō shrines in Japan is free of charge to go in. Likewise, the causes of numerous temples could be toured for free (often, you simply have to pay to go in the halls or perhaps a walled garden).

Join the locals in a traditional festival

Throughout the entire year, festivals occur at shrines and temples and through city streets. They're free, a very good way to see traditional culture come alive, and therefore are well attended by cheap food vendors.

Stretch your legs as well as your budget with walks and hikes

Going on the hike or a trek is free and can be probably the most rewarding part of your trip: explore an up-and-coming city neighborhood, walk old pilgrimage trails or rural lanes, or wake up in to the mountains in a single of Japan's nature.

Take advantage of free city parks

Urban parks are generally free to enter (and some gardens are, too) and therefore are well-liked by locals on weekends; pack an open-air picnic and get ready to have an afternoon of people-watching.

Chart your personal architecture tour

Japan's cities, especially Tokyo, have some fantastic buildings created by most of the big names in Japanese architecture. This one usually takes some planning – ask at a tourist information center or perhaps your accommodation for suggestions.

Shop for cheaper goods in a local market

Many seaside towns have fish markets, some rural spots have morning markets and some cities still have their old-fashioned open-air markets – a terrific way to interact with local culture, and frequently a resource of cheap, fresh food.

Find budget foods and cheaper places to eat

Eat in shokudō: Japan's answer to the greasy spoon

You could possibly get a good, filling meal in these all-round Japanese eateries for under yen1000 (US$8.50). As is the situation with all of restaurants in Japan, tea and water are free and there is no tipping required.

Bentō are a budget option to a meal out

These "boxed meals", which include a number of dishes, can be acquired for less than yen1000 at supermarkets. Department store food halls sell gourmet ones for a short time more; visit right before closing to buy them on markdown.

Discover why noodles are so popular in Japan

You can get a steaming bowl of tasty ramen as little as yen600 (US$5). Tachigui (stand-and-eat counter joints) sell soba (buckwheat noodles) and udon (thick white wheat noodles) for even less – beginning from yen350 per bowl.

Have a larger meal at lunchtime

If you need to splurge, get it done at lunch when many upscale restaurants provide a smaller course for significantly less than their dinner course.

Get all you need and more in the convenience store

The best friend to any or all budget travelers, convenience stores stock sandwiches, rice balls, hot dishes, and beer, all of which you can assemble right into a very economical (if not exactly healthy) meal. Accommodations also have kettles so cup noodles will always be a choice.

A guide to daily costs in Japan

Capsule hotel room: yen4000 (US$35)
Basic room for two: yen8000 (US$70)
Self-catering apartment: (including Airbnb) yen6000 (US$52)
Public transport ticket: yen170 (US$1.50)
Coffee: yen400 (US$3.50)
Sandwich: yen300 (US$2.60)
Dinner for 2: yen5000 (US$43)
Beer/pint in the bar: yen800 (US$7)
Hour of karaoke for 2: yen2000 (US$17)

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