Whenever you mention Japan, the first thought that comes to mind is that it is EXPENSIVE. I am guilty of one of those stereotypes. But hey! I’ve put it to test and Japan is NOT expensive!
So how much do you really need to visit the land of the rising sun?
Read on and see how much you would need to explore and experience the culture, well organized crowd, food and sceneries of Japan!
What is your preferred accommodation?
Hostel: Starting with 25USD/night – I found this on the expensive side for a hostel. Personally, I did not book in any hostel or capsules.
Airbnb: Starting from 14 USD/night – For those who are looking for a cheaper option of hostel/hotel.
Manga Café: Starting from 14 USD for 8 hours – Manga Café’s can be found in almost every corner of the street and they are the most affordable with easy access! You can go in and out whenever you please. There isn’t a set time for check in or check out and they don’t need prior reservation either!
Camping: 4USD/night with your own tent OR 13USD/night to rent a tent. There are over 2,000 camping grounds across Japan and all of them have the clean facilities that you need! You can find out from here on the list of camping grounds
Couchsurf: Your time and personality – Perfect place to meet a local who speaks English that could share some knowledge on Japan. I found it quite rare to find an English speaking local in Japan.
My recommendation: Mix them up! On the days where you plan to be out late and leave early the next morning, stay in a Manga! They have packages by the hours. Why would you pay for an entire day when you will only put your head down for a couple of hours and you are out again!? Make sense? I hope I am! and if you plan on visiting Miyajima Island, camp at their camping site! You have everything that you need to see around you. From the beach, shrine, trails, deers, sceneries and many more! Just make sure the weather is right and rent a bike to go around the island.
Convenience Store: 10 USD for 3 meals/day – I kid you not, my favourite food/snack is from the convenience store! IT’S SO GOOD AND CHEAP! My favorite breakfast is Salmon Onigiri! It costs only 1 USD and fills you up!
Restaurants: 25 USD for 3 meals/day OR 10 to 20 USD for an All You Can Eat!
Let’s face it. Food in Japan is spectacular! The only way to enjoy this is by compensating a certain budget for a great meal because life is full of choices! And to enjoy a mouth-watering meal that will leave you with a happy belly without breaking your bank might require a compromise or skip other meals and have one great meal.
My recommendation: Again, mix them up! Have your 1$ breakfast from a convenience store and have a great all you can eat sushi lunch/dinner for 13$! Trust me, an all you can eat meal will fill you up to the next day!
Also, if you walk around the small streets of Shibuya or Shinjuku, you can find a conveyer belt sushi with less than a dollar for a plate!
How to get around?! Get the all mighty JR Pass! This pass is the most cost effective thing to have ever existed for travellers! The JR Pass is designed for travellers which locals cannot enjoy with the same discounted price we get!
The railway system is so extensive that you need not to worry about transportation.
JR Pass: 7 Days: 258 USD / 14 Days: 412 USD / 21 Days: 527 USD
In case you need to hop on a bus, you could get a suica card which can also be used in convenience stores. The remaining amount at the end of your trip can be refunded.
I did not get a suica card because I walked the distance and hopped on the next closest JR Line. The road condition and streets of Japan are pedestrian and bicycle friendly. I hopped on the bus only few times when the distance is really far and paid in cash.
Bus: 7 USD/ride
Still making budget as an excuse to not visit the great Japan?! I hope not!
Please note that this is only to show how low you could go in terms of budget.
I spent 8 days in Japan with only 215 USD + 7 days JR Pass.
I’d be happy to answer your questions on how to plan a budgeted trip to Japan!