Osaka is one Japanese city that fulfils all travellers’ expectations, and not only because it’s a large metropolis that has everything one can expect, but also because much of its offerings can be had on the cheap. Experienced backpackers will already know which Osaka hostels to track down and how, but this short article should serve as a guide for any and all travellers looking to make the experience affordable.
The first thing you’ll have to find is cheap accommodation. Osaka, like any global-class city, has plenty of international backpacker hostels. You can find the typical experience at J-Hoppers Hostel, or find something that boasts a more local flare, like the Bonsai Guesthouse. Umeda Dormitory is a super cheap option that offers travellers all the bare necessities in a location that’s surprisingly central. There are plenty more hostels and guesthouses to choose from, but these should get you started.
Osaka has tons of things to do and see, and as a frugal backpacker you’re in for a treat. After you’ve scoped out the Osaka Castle, which is actually a pleasant museum-like reconstruction, you can relax at the Naniwa Palace Site Park. Later, backpackers will appreciate the free entry to the Japan Mint, which will also surprise them if they were expecting such a building in Tokyo. If it’s museums you’re after, expect to spend from 500 to 600 yen. The Open Air Museum of Old Farmhouses is just that, and offers a welcome change to the norm. Kamigata Ukiyoe Museum displays traditional woodblock prints, another desirable shift from the expected history museum. Top it all off with a visit to the Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum.
Since backpackers are usually out for fun, this guide should highlight a few of Osaka musts. You could gaze in at high-end shops at Shinsaibashi, but a cheaper option and much more interesting will land you in the 2.6 kilometre-long Tenjinbashi-suji shopping arcade, one of the longest in the country. There are many things to do in town, and walking around is one of the most rewarding. Hop on the metro and see how the locals commute. You could save up for something more grand, such as the Kaiyukan Aquarium, Universal Japan or a Sumo match.
As a backpacker, when it comes to food you should definitely stick to street food. In Osaka there’s no lack of options. Try the Okonomiyaki cabbage cakes, or the Kushikatsu kebabs. The Battera sushi is recognizable for is square shape, and you can find it to-go all over the place.
As for nightlife, Osaka has a few popular districts. Backpackers might steer clear of Kitashinchi since it’s all high-class, but Dotonbori has more affordable joints. Look out for Matsuri festivals popular in Japan, which fill the streets with people and festivities. Also, strawberry picking in nearby farms has been turned into several events in the warmer months that backpackers might like to take advantage of, to get that one rare experience.
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