Ever wondered how much it costs to travel to Japan? Is Japan expensive? Here is my budget breakdown for our two week trip. Along with some tips on how to do Japan on the cheap.
Japan is known to be one of the more expensive countries to visit in Asia. If you want to make that dream of visiting Japan come true, how much money do you have to save up? Before I travelled to Japan, I had no idea how much this holiday was going to cost me. I just saved up a lot of money, so I wouldn’t have to miss out on any of the amazing experiences, food and comfortable hotels while I was there. After spending just over two weeks (16 days) in Japan, I have a much better idea of how much it costs to visit Japan. To give you a better idea, I’ve broken down all my costs into flights, accommodation, transport, food, souvenirs, attractions and extra costs. Plus some tips on how to budget your money accordingly. So, let’s dive in… Is Japan expensive?
If you’re wondering what we did in Japan, check out my two week Japan itinerary.
£468.57 per person: return flights Amsterdam – Tokyo Hanada
If you’re looking to save money on flights, you need to be prepared to do a little bit of research. Flights to Japan tend to get pretty expensive, but they don’t have to cost you thousands of pounds. We managed to get a return flight to Tokyo for as little as £468.57. Here’s how we got them this cheap:
- Book your flights as early as possible! We booked our flights 8 months before our trip, and we watched prices shoot up afterwards. For the same flight! Just wondering how much more money we could’ve saved if we had booked it even earlier.
- Check prices for different airports. If you’re travelling to different cities in Japan, check how much it would cost to fly to Osaka instead of Tokyo. We saved over £100 by changing our departure airport from Manchester to Amsterdam. Instead, we got a cheap £20 flight with Ryanair to the Netherlands and flew from Amsterdam instead.
- Always check overlay time on extremely cheap flights. We found a return flight for £300- £350 but there was a 16-hour (!!) layover in Frankfurt. Same thing on the way back. That meant we would lose almost two full days in Japan!
- Check for different dates. If you aren’t tied to any dates for your trip, try checking different departure dates. Changes are that flying one or two days before/after your original plan can save you hundreds of pounds.
- Check different websites. Different websites offer different prices – so unfair, I know… When you’ve found the best dates, airports,
andprices on one website, always double-check if another website doesn’t give you that same flight for less money. My favouritesare Cheaptickets, Skyscanner and HolidayPirates.
¥64,008* (£446.55): Five nights in Shinjuku, Tokyo
¥38,772* (£270.49) + ¥1200** (£8.37): Three nights in Kyoto
¥34,400* (£240): Three nights in Osaka
¥44,000* (£306.96): Four nights in Central Tokyo
* Prices we paid for a hotel room with double bed and private bathroom.
** Please note that hotels in Kyoto charge tourist tax since October 2018,
this is paid upon arrival at the hotel. You can find more information
about Kyoto tourist tax here.
When it comes to accommodation, you can go all out or stick to a tight budget. For our trip, we decided not to go cheap on hotels. Japan has been my dream for so many years, no way we were going to cheap out on a good bed and a good shower. If hostels are your thing, good for you! But we decided on spending a little more money on hotel rooms. Here’s how we picked which hotels we stayed in:
- Pick a hotel close to your planned itinerary. After planning what you want to do in each city, you can start looking for accommodation. Why book a cheap hotel/hostel/Airbnb if you’re going to spend hours travelling by metro/train every day. I’d much rather spend that time exploring the city and pay a little extra for a room right in the middle of where the exciting things are happening. I always use Booking.com to book my hotels because it’s so easy to use and you usually don’t pay until you get to the hotel.
- Don’t cheap out on accommodation. In my experience, accommodation can make or break your trip. Having a good room to get back to in the evening to relax and clear your mind is so important. A good bed allows you to fully recharge for the next day, which is crucial when you’re exploring Japan. You don’t have to go on and book 5-star hotels, but don’t be afraid to spend a little more on the right room.
£200 per person: 7-day JR rail pass
¥500 (£3.49) per person: Suica Card
¥8720 (£60.83) per person: Trains/Metro (Suica card top-ups)
Travelling inside Japan can seem a little daunting, especially if you don’t speak the language. But after experiencing it myself, I can say it’s really easy! Everything is super smooth and easy to understand. It’s not even that expensive. Let’s not forget how amazingly accurate train times are in Japan! And let’s be honest, who doesn’t want to ride the shinkansen when in Japan?
- Get a JR Rail Pass if you’re travelling to multiple cities. The JR Rail Pass is a crazy money saver if you’re travelling to more than one city in Japan. This pass allows you to travel on the JR lines for a set amount of days, unlimited at a set price. Considering you can get a 7-day JR Pass for roughly the same price as a return ticket from Tokyo to Kyoto (¥28,000/£196), it’s more than worth looking into! We bought (Please note: you have to buy these passes BEFORE arriving in Japan, they are only for tourists).
- Adjust your itinerary to the JR Pass. You can get a JR Pass for 7, 14 or 21 days. Because a 14 day JR Pass is a lot more expensive than a 7 day JR Pass, it might be worth adjusting your itinerary to this. On my trip, we planned Kyoto, Osaka
andNara into 7 days instead of getting a 14-day pass. This way we saved £119 per person.
- Get a Suica card. One way to make your travel inside the cities a lot easier AND cheaper is to get a Suica card. You can get this card and top it up at any train station (we got ours at the airport). You top it up with money and use it to scan in and out at the stations you use. It automatically takes the correct fee off when scanning it, so you don’t have to worry about paying too much for a ticket or worry about what type of ticket you have to get for each station. For more information about how to get a Suica card, how to top it up and how to use it, click here.
- Use HyperDia for planning your public transport trips. Japanese public transport isn’t too difficult to understand, but using a website called HyperDia made our lives so much easier. Bookmark it on your phone and use it whenever you want to know how to get to your next stop. Fill in your current station and your preferred destination and the website will tell you where to get on, how long it will take and how much it will cost. Super easy! You can find HyperDia here.
Food and Drinks
¥36,332 (£253.47) per person
The Japanese do an amazing job on their food and drinks. Sushi, ramen, tempura, Japanese curry, yakitori and so on. There’s so much good stuff to try in Japan and you don’t wanna hold back! You might wonder, is food expensive in Japan? To my surprise, we didn’t spend that much money on food! Food in Japan is actually quite cheap. There are, of course, some more expensive restaurants, but you can easily eat on a budget. Here are some tips for eating in Japan and saving money while doing so:
- Try everything! There are so many great restaurants in Japan, so many places that do street food, so many crazy looking snacks in the supermarkets. Go and try them all! You’ll be surprised at how many things taste godlike!
- Family Mart is your friend. Even though your home country might not have the best selection of ready-meals in the supermarket, Japan is on another level. Their supermarkets are AMAZING. So many fresh meals, healthy snacks and hot food for oh so cheap. We usually got breakfast at 7/11 or Family Mart for ¥300-¥600 (£2-£4) and we absolutely loved it. They’ll heat up any rice boxes for you, too. On some busy days, we even went to the supermarket to grab a quick dinner (before a concert, for example). Buying breakfast at a convenience store also allows you to save money by not buying overpriced hotel breakfasts.
- Try CoCo curry. Japanese curry turned out to be one of our
favouritemeals while travelling in Japan. CoCo Ichibanya Curry is a chain that does amazing curries, and they are super affordable. We would have our entire dinner for less than ¥1000 each.
- Family restaurants in the back streets. Main street restaurants know they can ask for more money, especially to tourists that aren’t familiar with the city. Try to wander around to find some little family-run restaurants in the less crowded streets. These restaurants often have more authentic dishes, you support a family business and they’re often much cheaper. On our first evening, we stumbled upon a little restaurant and had the best ramen and tempura for only ¥500 each! The owners were incredibly friendly and were so pleased we enjoyed our food. It was the perfect ending for our first day in Japan.
¥40,190 (£280.38) per person
If you’re anything like me, you’re going to spend a ton of money on souvenirs in Japan. From a secondhand Nintendo G
Attractions / Activities
¥24,700 (£172.32) per person
Another segment that you can make as expensive or as cheap as you want. It all depending on what things you want to do. To be honest, we did not really watch our spending as much when it came to activities. We just wanted to make the most of it! Shrines and castles were really cheap to visit. Most were free, some were around ¥400-¥600 per person. The reason we spend this much on activities and entree tickets is that we went to Disney Sea (¥7,400/£51.63 per person), rented a kimono for a day (¥2,500/£17.44) and went to a concert (¥7,000/£48.84). This also includes all the money we spent on arcade games.
- Book in advance when possible. Entree tickets to shrines, castles or museums have to be paid on the spot, but if you’re planning on bigger/more expensive activities you can save some money on buying them in advance. We booked tickets for the concert and the kimono rental before we went to Japan, and it saved us a lot of hassle whilst on holiday.
- Explore the ENTIRE arcade. The first week in Japan, we were slightly disappointed with the arcades, because we only saw the claw machines. Little did we know, the real stuff happens upstairs. All the cool arcade machines are usually found on the first floor onwards. Don’t be like us and waste your money on the claw machines ;)!
- Do your research on what shrines you want to pay for. Japan has so many beautiful shrines, and many of them are free to visit. We only paid to visit a handful, saving us quite a bit of money in the end. Some were perfectly viewable without paying entree price. Make sure not to save too much money though, you’re in Japan! You might as well pay a little extra and see the things you want to see up close.
Pocket Wifi for 16 days
We had one extra cost that I’d like to address because it was worth every penny. Two words: Pocket. Wifi. This little device is a lifesaver. It’s a little box you can put in your bag and gives you wifi anywhere. ANYWHERE! You can connect up to 10 devices to it at once. Simply charge it at night, and you’re good to go for the full day. We got ours at Japan Wireless and I would 100% recommend them. Order it before you go to Japan, pick it up at the airport after arriving and right before you leave, you post it back to them at the airport. It’s super easy and 100% worth your money.
Total Expenses – Is Japan Expensive?
Now let’s add it all up and see how much we spent per person on this 16 day trip to Japan. I’d like to add that we did watch our money when booking the flights, accommodation and some of the things we booked in advance. But while we were in Japan, we didn’t really watch the budget. Japan had been our dream for so many years and we wanted to experience it fully. We tried all the food we wanted to try, bought all the things we wanted to buy and didn’t hold back. If you want to go to Japan as cheap as possible, you can probably knock a couple of hundred pounds off this if you watch your spending.
Accommodation: £636.18 (£1,272 for all hotels, for two people)
Extra: £31.08 (£62.16 in total, split between two people)
TOTAL: £2106.32 per person for 2 weeks in Japan
(Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka and Nara)
As you can see, my trip to Japan didn’t turn out to be as expensive as I thought. I thought I was going to be spending at least £3,000 per person and we ended up spending almost £900 less than that! Hope this post was helpful for those who are also planning to go to Japan. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below or send me a message!