Date published : 24 March 2022
Date updated : 24 March 2022
To start with, I have to make it clear that it really depends on what your purpose is, what you want to do and buy, and what types of service standard you are looking for. And the targetted readers of this article is not the ones who don't even think of how much their budget should be, but ordinary people who want to enjoy their trip as much as possible within limited budgets less than 2,000 dollars per head except for the flight costs.
Basically, your estimatd costs would be divided into the categories below.
3. Food and drinks
4. Leisure, sightseeing, and souvenirs
5. Daily necessities
It depends on you on what you want to weigh in among those five categories, but usually what costs the most is #2〔Lodging〕and #1〔transportation〕. If you want to stay at luxury hotels, your piled up lodging bills would soon amount to tens of thousands of dollars, and the reason you're coming to Japan might not be spending most of your day in those hotels. Being a big food and beer lover myself, I personally weigh in on #3〔Food and drinks〕 and #4〔Leisure, sightseeing, and souvenirs〕, and I recommend others who share the value to save the costs in the first two categories and invest more in #3 & 4 to fully enjoy your trip!
In Tokyo, you have bunches of ways to travel a short distance including using railways or subways, getting on a bus, using a taxi, or even on foot! In general, the most economical way is to take a train or a subway. Getting on a bus is a little more complicated, but it offers you a lot more complicated routes than trains, and it often gives you a wonderful short-cut. Also, depending on the distance and the number of people in your group, catching a taxi can be both cheaper and faster than using trains. If you're with an experienced guide not only savvy in sightseeing info but also in comprehensive Tokyo life, he or she would save your time and money by making right decisions suited to the occasion.
If you are planning to travel by trains, this is how you can search for transits and the transportation costs.
Using local trains for traveling a short to middle distance is probably the best way both cost-wise and time-wise. However, when it comes to a long distance, it takes forever to get to your destination, and you have to sacrifise your important day-time for sightseeing and fun activities, and this is where Shinkansen comes in. It is the best way to shorten your traveling time, and the cost can be easily calculated using Japan Transit Planner.
To enjoy your vacation to the full extent, saving your time is as important as saving some of those transportation costs. While Shinkansen travels very fast, it is quite costy. It might be fun to use it once or twice for your special experience, but I wouldn't recommend you to use it too often. Instead, consider saving your time by traveling under the moonlight!
Overnight highway buses usually depart around Midnight and arrive at your destination early in the morning, and it is usually surprisingly cheaper than using trains or other transportations.
If you want to travel by those overnight highway buses, check the cost using Japan Expressway Bus Net.
It's not really for those who have a chronic back pain, since you need to sleep on the bus keeping the same posture for a long time. Also, if you don't feel comfortable to sit next to a stranger, this could be possibly the worse choice as well. And keep in mind that the seat is pretty compact that sumo-wrestlers or basketball players wouldn't fit in. Don't get mad at the driver, because you don't want to risk your life on the express way.
Cost-wise, keep in mind that a long distance traveling costs aren't all. You need to pay each and every time you move from one place to another, so make sure to have some extra cash with you anytime.
Lastly, you can ask us for our support, too! We are well-trained and experienced in guiding people in Tokyo, and we can let you know things you should definitely do while staying here! We also own a bus with 27 seats, and our community members, including international members on free-membership (join us now!), can not only join our planned tour but also request your own custom tour! We are not a transportation company but a friendship community for travel lovers, so we will take you around from place to place and guide you into Japanese culture by translating or interpreting whatever is necessary. And the price? We are confident in making the best deal for you, T-CAT friends!
After all, it's a matter of what you prioritize. Now that you are better informed about several ways to cut your transportation cost, at least you wouldn't blindly lose your money on it!
Choosing your lodging is important both to experience the best of Japan and not to spend too much on it. It's a matter of balance, but you surely want to secure a comfy sleep at night!
First, let's take a look at some booking sites!
Domestically, those hotels advertisement sites are most widely used: Rakuten Travel; Jalan. However, they are originally targeted at Japanese that many of their reviews are from Japanese.
For non-Japanese, Japanican run by JTB, one of the largest travel agency in Japan, might be helpful because all the reviews are from international guests and most of them were written in English.
However, my recommendation is: KAYAK. They get reviews and booking info from various international hotel booking sites, so the number of options you'll get is rich, and it's a friendly site to tourists!
If you are looking for high-end Onsen Ryokans (hotspring hotels), this website might be helpful: SELECTED ONSEN RYOKAN
If you want to save your lodging cost, Japan Youth Hostels Guide will give you cheap range options from around 25 USD to 40 USD.
In addition, you have a secret option called LOVE HOTELs that are unattendedly managed 24 hours. They are original intended for young couples, but anyone can basically use their service. There are two types of service, "rest" and "stay." Choose "stay" for a stay longer than 3 hours, and the rest is up to you. Since the original purpose of this hotel is to give a sweet time for a couple, you cannot leave the room after you checked in until you check out next morning, so make sure to finish all the activities before you check in. What you do is to choose a room you want to stay on a digital panel, and get the room key without seeing or talking to anyone. They sometimes have a karaoke machine or a luxurious bath, but the price per room, not per head, is around 6,000 yen to 9,000 yen per night. You cannot make a booking, but good news is that regular tourists, even Japanese, wouldn't use them for a regular trip, so they tend to be available even when other hotels are occupied. Keep in mind for your last resort!
And for those who truly want to know how Japanese homeless people take a shower (half kidding, half serious), let me add one more. Staying at a comic cafe is pretty Japanese thing to do. Except for having endless shelves of comics and magazines you would never finish reading, they serve free drinks, food menus, shower room, coin laundry, and some places even have karaoke booths or fitness gym! Taking a shower within 30 minutes costs you only less than 300 yen, and staying in a booth for 8-9 hours costs you only about 2,300 to 3,000 yen. You have to show your ID and register as a member, but your passport would do.
Other than those, there are some capsule hotels or spas with resting area open 24 hours suited for buckpackers. These are a kind of info your travel agency would never tell you, but your trip to Japan now seems to be a lot cost-saving than you thought, right?
In addition, you can ask us for a friendly home-stay around Tokyo area. We also have two guesthoouses available for exceptionally reasonable costs!
For food and drinks, average lunch cost is somewhere around 6-8 USD, and drinking at an ordinary pub costs about 25-35 USD per head (Of course it all depends on how much you eat and drink, though!). If it goes over 15 USD for lunch and 45 USD, it is considered relatively high, and a lunch course over 40 USD and a dinner course over 100 USD are basically for a special occasion.
The cheapest range for a meal in Japan starts at less than 4 dollars: Chain gyudon restaurants and some chain noodle restaurants. If you are interested in Japanese food culture, try some of those extremely cheap meals at least once, just as you go to Taco-Bell or In-n-out to grab your favorite food!
In addition, I would recommend you to try going to a supermarket to get some delis and bentos! Those are daily food local working mothers or single workers may pick up to enjoy with a can of beer in their apartment room at the end of the day. If you go to a supermarket after 7 pm or 8 pm, they usually give a big discount like 50% off!
Dining at a restaurant for sightseeing tourist everyday would probably make you feel a little overwhelmed, so I recommend you to mix different types of dining options during your stay to get yourself soaked into Japanese culture even more deeply!
Things that are expensive are always expensive, but it doesn't necessarily mean that you're getting the best of Japan through your spending. For instance, going to a theatre to see a kind of show you can enjoy out of Japan isn't a good idea, but visiting an old shrine with a local guide or interpreter, and maybe tossing a coin into a charity box after enjoying their organized gardens would be a good idea to feel Japan closer and respect its culture.
Count on us about your sightseeing plan, because we have vast knowledge about places you are definitely going to enjoy! We can also give you a briefing about the place you're visiting before your coming to Japan.
For your leisure, I would recommend you to do some activities together with our local members. We have a list of activities available, so feel free to ask for a plan to organize a fun event!
You probably don't need to think about your daily necessities because Japan is pretty ready to offer anything anywhere. Their convenience stores would be enough to find things you need, but those petty costs would be ignoreable compared to other four costs above.