Top 5 Tips for Traveling to Japan on a Budget

Japan budget travel

Photo by noahvoelker on Flickr

Saving money when you travel is always desirable, but when you’re shelling out for an international airline ticket that will take you halfway around the world, you probably want to save as much as possible in other areas. You might think that going to Japan is going to be a very pricy trip, and the truth is that you can certainly find plenty of ways to blow your dough when you visit this island nation if you’re not careful. But with a little planning you can have an amazing trip with tons of amenities and still stick to a budget. So here are just a few ways to cut back on expenses when you visit Japan.

  1. Airline tickets. There’s no getting around the fact that you’ll have to spend quite a bit on reaching your destination, but that doesn’t mean you have to pay top dollar for your airline tickets. There are many ways to save when you decide to travel overseas. Everyone knows that buying tickets early and keeping your dates flexible is the key to getting the best prices, but the trick is to keep an eye on ticket prices, which fluctuate throughout the year, and wait for seasonal sales in order to get the best deals. You might also want to consider all-inclusive vacations, which will allow you to save on multiple travel purchases like airline tickets, lodgings, transportation, and more.
  2. Lodgings. Although you could pay as little as $15-30 per person for each night spent at a youth hostel, shared dorms and bathrooms may not be your style, especially if you’re traveling with a family (ditto on tube hotels). However, for prices starting at about $60 a night you can secure lodgings at a ryokan, or Japanese-style inn (although prices may vary significantly, depending on the size and locale of the inn). You can generally save money by staying outside the city at an establishment that offers some kind of shuttle service. And keep in mind that the price may include certain meals (breakfast and/or dinner). Although some of the best deals to be found are on websites that are all in Japanese, you can also find decent rates on English travel site Rakuten.
  3. Food. When setting a food budget, it’s important to realize that you can save a lot on certain meals so that you might splurge a little here and there in order to flirt with some fancier fare on occasion. So finding lodgings that offer a continental breakfast and then opting for bento boxes (pre-packaged lunches) that you can take on the go while sight-seeing will help you save a ton so that you can arrange for some really nice dinners out.
  4. Entertainment. When it comes to entertaining yourself there are all kinds of options that are going to be cheap or even free. Visiting gardens, museums, and historical sites in your area of travel will save you a ton and deliver some great photo ops. But you might also look for restaurants that offer music and markets that aren’t necessarily geared towards tourists.
  5. Transportation. Okay, so it’s not like you’re planning to take taxis or limousines everywhere you go, but you can’t exactly walk everywhere, either. Buses and trains are a great option, although you should definitely plan out day trips ahead of time to make sure you get on the right lines (and understand the etiquette of riding trains – some have cars that are just for women). You might also want to consider renting a bike if you’re doing day trips within a relatively small area, or looking for hotels that offer free shuttles to and from central areas.

Author Bio


Sarah Danielson is a contributing writer for Noble Transportation & Limousines, where you can view a wide range of cars and limousines that will accommodate travelers on any budget.

7 Responses to “Top 5 Tips for Traveling to Japan on a Budget”

  1. Japan Australia  on July 10th, 2012

    Japan on the cheap can be done and is a very enjoyable experience. We usually stay at budget hotels like the Toyoko Inn chain, at around around USD$70 for a single room and USD$100 for a double. They come with free breakfast, TV, and internet connection in the room. Food can cost you about USD$5-8 a meal if you eat at budget Japanese restaurants like Yoshinoya, Sukiya, and CoCo Ichiban Curry House.

  2. Travis  on July 11th, 2012

    I love all those restaurants you mentioned and tried them all for the first time on our last visit :)

  3. survivingnjapan  on July 15th, 2012

    Regarding the hotels, the English Rakuten site does have some good deals, but there aren’t as many hotels as on the Japanese sites. So these often end up taking advantage of tourists, I’ve found.

    I’d also always suggest to check the hotel’s website if you find something you like on Rakuten or a similar site. Sometimes the website has cheaper rates for the same plan, other times the travel sites do. Always worth looking though – I’ve saved money many times doing this!

    Regarding the breakfast, I’ve had yet to stay at a hotel that offers a decent continental breakfast (unless you’re willing to pay an arm and a leg for it). The free ones are usually just some cheap bread and maybe some fruit, but not much. So I’ve never found them being worth it (the convenience store stuff is better… and that’s saying something). I’m sure there are some hotels with decent continental breakfasts, but definitely varies widely. And when they say “western breakfast” it’s usually the Japanese idea of a western breakfast, just so you’re not surprised! :)

  4. Travis  on July 15th, 2012

    Great tips Ashley! And you’re very correct about the “western breakfast” done Japanese style. It’s almost worth it just to see what they put together :)

  5. Hayley  on December 1st, 2012

    When I went to Japan some of the best things were free: gardens, shrines, and just walking around at night looking at the neon signs. Also, I much preferred the smaller hole in the wall restaurants rather than the tourist traps – they offered much more of a local flavor.

  6. imisskarlie  on January 29th, 2013

    Thanks for all the great trips! Planning a trip to Japan in August/September, but want to be super planned! You have a great site :)

  7. sasksak  on March 26th, 2013

    Thanks imisskarlie! We are glad you are finding the site useful. You’ll have to let us know if you get some tips of your own after your trip!


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