One of the drawbacks that comes up the most when talking about traveling to Japan is that such a trip costs a lot of money. I’ve always wanted to prove that with a little common sense and preparation, everyone can experience his/her own Japan tour for a very reasonable budget, without cutting back on the travel experience.
Today I’m going to show you we can do a great trip in Japan for two weeks, with only $2,300 all inclusive! It is quite far from the price asked for tours organized by specialized travel agencies.
Here is the trip we’re talking about:
- a return flight to Japan
- 7 nights in Tokyo to explore the Japanese capital and its surroundings
- 7 nights in Kyoto to explore this beautiful city and the incredible Kansai region
- live and eat as Japanese people, view stunning landscapes, explore a lot of excellent spots
Airline tickets: $600
No need to spend hours on searching, Liligo does it for you. This meta-engine compares more than 250 websites and offers at any time the best deals on airline tickets to Japan. Avoiding the summer period, saturdays and some holidays (including Christmas season), direct flights to Tokyo can be found from $750. With stopovers, it is not uncommon to find prices from $600 or even less, with a stopover, depending on the airline. On my Facebook and Twitter accounts, I regularly post promotions and special offers.
There’s no way you’re staying in a hotel room during your two weeks in Japan, and with this budget you won’t easily find nice ryokans. Let’s focus on house rental, ideal with friends or families with children. This provides unmatched freedom and privacy in a warm and vast environment.
- Tokyo Ikebukuro house: $230 / night for four people or $402 per week per person
- Kyoto Kurodani house: $142 / night for four people or $248 per week per person
That gives us an average of $43 per night for a quality of life and an experience you won’t regret!
Note that these examples are given for 4 people traveling together, but it’s also possible to get good rates for a couple by booking a smaller house.
For those of you who still prefer to stay in a hotel, check hotels.com.
For the first week, I propose to stay in and around Tokyo. Buy a rechargeable card at the airport, called Suica, with which you can easily track your train expenses during the week. By crediting it with $75, you will be able to ride the subway as you want, and also spend a beautiful day in Kamakura / Enoshima, and even half a day to Mitaka to visit the Ghibli Museum.
In Tokyo, plan your visits by neighborhood proximity. For example, start in the morning with Shibuya, then walk northwards through Harajuku, Yoyogi, Kabukicho until Shinjuku, all of them on the same day. With these ten to twenty minute walks, you will avoid taking the subway just for one or two stations.
On the second week, use the essential Japan Rail Pass. Buy the 7-days version for $360 (the fee can fluctuate depending on the Japanese Yen) and you won’t have to pay for any JR train you’ll take! Your round trip between Tokyo and Kyoto is free, as well as all your travels to Osaka, Himeji, Nara, Inari, etc. The bonus is Hiroshima / Miyajima, which may be a little further, but the journey is fully covered by the JR Pass (even the ferry). Keep a few dollars for your bus travels inside Kyoto, unless you prefer to go for bike rental.
In Japan, eating is pretty cheap : approximately ¥2000 a day for three meals. So on average $25 x 14 days.
Of course, food expenditures depend on your appetite; some will need a bigger budget, while others won’t use all of it. But overall it’s easy to find good and cheap restaurants, by quickly comparing prices. You will often find small restaurants around railway stations.
Visits and souvenirs: $250
Of course, you will visit temples, shrines, Japanese gardens and museums. In general, it takes between ¥200 and 600 to enter. Beware of movie theatres: seats are expensive (between ¥1,600 and 1,800).
A good place for cheap souvenirs and gifts, it is the ’100Yen Shop’. Some will tell you that it’s stingy, but there are a lot of fun and cute little gifts at a price, of course, very affordable: origami, key chains, bento boxes, fans, original utensils for everyday life, kawaii stickers, etc.
Total for the whole trip: $2,300!
And here we are! With this budget, you can make a beautiful tour in Japan without depriving yourself.
If you enjoyed this article, I encourage you to navigate the site via the menu at the top. You will find a lot of information on Japan, starting with travel guides, my trip diaries and numerous photos and videos.
Please feel free to ask questions in comments below.
Enjoy your trip to Japan!