How to Visit Japan on a Budget
Japan is one of the most expensive countries in the world, but don't let the cost put you off - this is one of the most interesting destinations you will ever experience and the price you pay is worth it.
There are lots though of ways to travel on the cheap and below you can view our top tips for how to travel to Japan without breaking your bank.
Getting to Japan
Japan is a long way from most countries but you can get some great deals throughout the year. We recommend using Skyscanner to find the cheapest flights to Japan.
Skyscanner allows you to compare flights from different airlines and find the lowest rates. You can also use the search function to compare prices across a whole month to find the cheapest time to book.
1. Peach Airways
Japan has launched its first low cost carrier named Peach Airways. This has changed the value of travelling the country significantly. Forget the bullet train and its pricey tickets; look into Peach Airways which can get you across the country with EasyJet style prices. A lot of Japan group tours now use Peach Airways too.
2. Willer Express
Another cheap way to travel Japan is by Willer Express. This company is a bus service which travels throughout Japan. Although the journeys are long, they are usually empty and very cheap. Also, Willer run a lot of overnight trips where the seats recline into quite comfortable beds.
Accommodation in Japan is expensive and this is likely to be your biggest cost when visiting the country. Hostels and guesthouses are usually a lot cheaper than hotels. Try to book well in advance to get the best deals and use comparison websites like Booking.com.
You might also want to consider staying in a capsule hotel. When you book a stay at a ‘capsule’ hotel you get a pod style space with a bed which is wide as your laying down and as high as you sitting up. Although you don't get the space of a whole hotel room, this is a cheap way to stay especially if you are planning to travel solo in Japan.
4. Manga Cafes
There are a variety of hostels in Japan, and you may be surprised by how reasonable the prices are but if you’re still wanting to cut down on your budget even more then look for manga cafés.
A manga café allows you to book a private computer booth so you can play games and read comics. But these booths come with very comfortable chairs, and usually communal showers. Book by the hour and save what you might spend in a hostel.
Izakayas are small bars which advertise their 280yen drinks (roughly €3). They can be found in the big cities, usually in the busy areas so they aren’t too hard to miss. There is no catch to these places, just a small bar with cheap beer.
If you are looking for things to do in Tokyo and the other main tourism destinations you can find lots of cheap places to eat.
Nomihodais and Tabihodais are buffet restaurants, but with food AND drink. Usually time allocated so a good idea to visit if you’re wanting a big night. You’re looking at about 3000yen for 2-3 hours of non-stop drinking.
7. Convenience Stores
Convenience stores are easy to come by in Japan and they can offer you a range of reasonably priced snacks/small meals to suit a lunch or small dinner. For example buy a few onigiris (different flavoured rice and seaweed snacks) or a bento box (lunchbox) which are fresh, cheap and very popular amongst the Japanese.
8. Noodle Bars
Throughout Japan (especially near train stations) you will find noodle bars and huts which provide a delicious section of noodles, with rice balls and tempura as added extras. These can be quite cheap and can definitely fill you up. For more recognisable places look out for the chains of Yoshinoya, Matsuya and Coco Ichiban.
A lot of the sightseeing in Japan can be done from the outside. For example in Tokyo the great places to visit are the Imperial Palace, Harajuku, Shinjuku and Asakusa, all places which are free.
Some of the top places to visit in Kyoto (another city you must add to your intinerary) are also totally free or low cost.
Many temples and shrines can charge in Japan, but usually they only charge if you want to go inside the temple, which honestly is pretty much an empty room. Japan is better explored from the outside with a lot to say without spending a penny.
Before going try to learn some basic Japanese travel phrases which will make sightseeing a bit easier.
10. Living/Working in Japan
Whether you’re an English teacher or working in a ski resort, you’ll find you can probably find a job in Japan quite easily , therefore making it much easier to travel here with a few more pennies in the pocket.
For a unique experience, have a look at the number of different ski resorts which are always looking for English speakers. You usually get accommodation, food and a lift pass for the season in with your wage, therefore allowing a free ski trip in one of the most expensive destinations in the world.
You might also want to consider applying to teach English in Japan which can a structured way to experience living in Japan.
Finally... Buy Travel Insurance
It is really important to buy travel insurance before travelling or taking a gap year in Japan. Yes this is an added expense but it is so vital to have and can save you a lot of money if you encounter any problems.
If you get sick, injured or even get any belongings lost or stolen, travel insurance can protect you from a big financial hit. We recommend getting insured with World Nomads who offer affordable cover for trips to Japan.
By Becky Wood