The trains are expensive; buses are expensive, hotels and even hostels can be expensive. The food is expensive and basically anything you touch is expensive. Now the question you may ask is; what isn’t expensive in Japan and what do you call expensive, like what are we comparing it to?
Well basically it is not much cheaper than travelling around Australia or Europe as hostel and food prices are comparable. However, compared to the rest of Asia it is far from on par.
If you are a budget traveler (like myself) be aware that your money won’t get you as far as it will in any other Asian country. Although in saying that, Japan makes up for it in beauty and the generosity of the people. Nowhere else in Asia is it as clean as it is in Japan and nowhere else in Asia are the locals as genuinely nice and charitably helpful.
Aside from that though, we want our money to last so that we can travel for as long as we can and as far as we can, so here are a few tips to help visit Japan on a budget.
Capsule hotel I stayed in, Sapporo
Here is the main killer, try and stick to hostels which are between about AUD$20-$30 and sometimes more. If you want to completely cut the accommodation costs out all together, get yourself onto couchsurfing. Or you can do woofing, volunteering for rent/accomm and there are also many other ways.
Another great way to save on accommodation is to be a vampire and travel by night. Well you can leave out the vampire part, but taking the bus to another city or the train overnight cuts a nights cost on accomm and you also save time by travelling while you sleep instead of wasting that time during the day when you could be seeing cool shit.
To find the cheapest hostel, hotels and accomm head to this website or to learn about couchsurfing check out this post here.
Ah haa! The food in japan is deliciously amazing and very satisfying to your taste buds, but it will take a wad of money from your wallet. Although you want to save money to travel longer, treating yourself to some Japanese food really is a must. But this doesn’t mean you have to do it in high class restaurants, you can find delicious sushi, sashimi, okanamiachi and many more favorable dishes in restaurants that won’t leave you penniless. Another way to save big on food is to not eat at restaurants every meal. You should head to the grocery stores to pick up some food and cook yourself. If you have a Tupperware container or plastic lunch box you can pack your lunch to take with you to all the sights you see out and about instead of forking out more of your savings for overpriced tourist food.
The best sushi I have ever eaten
Or what I was doing a lot, which was popping into the convenient stores to pick up some lunches and dinners when I couldn’t be bothered cooking. In these convenient stores such as 7/11 and Lawson’s you can grab cheap bento box meals which are quite healthy if you choose the right ones. There are also some great snack options such as Onigiris (rice triangles with fillings, my fav) and other things there too. So don’t be too cool to check out the convenient stores, they are the bees knees in Japan and are actually really convenient compared to the over priced ones back at home 😉
Hmmm yes, you gotta get about and see Japan but paying too much for it sucks! My tip is, if you have the time take the bus instead of the trains, do so. Instead of using the metro you could walk and this way you will see a lot more of the place you are visiting (this is my preferred option, and it keeps me fit). I also had the pleasure of borrowing a friend’s bike in Kyoto for a few days and that was an awesome option, so as we don’t all have the possibility of borrowing a bike you could hire one which is probably the best idea. The metro in Tokyo can be quite expensive and at times we just need to suck it up and fork out for it, but as I said don’t be silly and use it for just a few stops, get out there on your feet and see the city, you never know what you might stumble across.
Catching trains in Japland
For some busses and trains you will need to pre book your tickets so here are some websites that will help you get that sorted
Booking busses – http://travel.willer.co.jp
Train passes – http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2359.html
Most of the sights are free to visit in Japan, there may be your odd palace or castle where you have to pay to get in and sightsee, although they are worth the low price for the history education you will receive whist being in awe at the sight of it. Sometimes you can pay for a visitor audio guide, which are great, well not the paying for it part, but what you learn. Instead of doing this though, you can use your bad ass google skills to read up about the place you want to visit before you go, so you know what your are looking at, why its there, its age and all that stuff instead of paying for it as you walk around. By doing this you can go at your own pace too.
Depending on where you are visiting I have also got posts about what to see in Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka. Other than that I hope this post was informative and if you have any budget travel tips of your own, please feel free to share them in the comment box below.