Is Japan an Expensive Place to Visit?

Is Japan an Expensive Place to Visit?

Japan is without a doubt one of the most exciting places in the world to visit. With so many remarkable things to do, it’s no wonder that travellers rave about their adventures; but they certainly don’t rave about the cost of travelling to Japan! Although Japan has a reputation for being an expensive destination, just like anywhere in the world, it can easily fit within your budget. 

Whether it’s finding the best price for your accommodation, making a daily budget or booking a tour, there are plenty of ways you can save money during your travels to Japan.

Travel to: Japan

How much will it actually cost to visit Japan?

Low to mid-range budget

Travellers wishing to travel to Japan for a low to mid-range budget should aim for a daily spending limit between ¥10,000 and ¥16,000. For example, Lonely Planet suggests that a business hotel can offer guests a double room for ¥10,000 per night.

As for transportation, the subway will be the most cost-effective option. Visitors are able to purchase an all-day Tokyo metro pass for ¥800. This means that pass holders can ride the subway as much as they want for that day, rather than buying a ticket for each ride (which can quickly add up).

Finally, meal costs will vary between most restaurants. The price to expect for a mid-range budget meal will range from ¥1000 to ¥3000.  

Luxury budget

On the other hand, a Japan holiday can become quite luxurious if you are willing to spend some extra money. Lonely Planet estimates that a double room in a nice hotel to cost approximately ¥25,000 per night.

Regarding transport around the city, taxis are an alternative to the subway if your budget allows for it. Taxis typically cost between ¥400 to ¥700 for the first two kilometres of the journey, then an additional ¥80 to ¥90 for every 300 metres travelled.

When dining out for dinner, the sky’s the limit when it comes to incredible dining experiences and the average meal price can vary greatly. Just make sure you keep an eye on your bill; otherwise, those tiny but delicate (and expensive) dishes will quickly add up.

For those wishing to see Japan on a high range budget, expect more than ¥30,000 per day.

Both these daily budgets do not include entrance fee into various Japanese attractions. Japan is home to countless points of interest, some free to travellers whilst others being quite expensive. It is because of this, it’s hard to establish an average price for entrance fees. A list of some popular attractions across the country has been provided below. If wishing to see an attraction that is not on this list, prices can often be very easy to found online.

Entrance fees in Japan for popular attractions:

  • Tokyo Tower – ¥900
  • Sensoji Temple – Free
  • Nikko Tōshō-gū Temple – ¥1300
  • Tokyo Skytree – ¥1540
  • Tokyo Disneyland – ¥4000 to ¥7000
  • Universal Studio Osaka – ¥7900
  • Golden Pavilion – ¥400
  • Kiyomizu-Dera – ¥300
  • Miyajima – ¥300
  • Fushimi Inari-Taisha – Free
  • Arashiyama – ¥550

How to keep the costs down during your trip to Japan

Now that we’ve answered any concerns or queries about how expensive will it be to travel in Japan, by following these tips and tricks will keep you on the right track to enjoy the trip of a lifetime.

1. Think carefully about when you travel

Japan’s peak seasons are dictated by the arrival of the impressive cherry blossom season. These native trees light up the city with their pastel hues and provide a memorable sight for both locals and travellers to admire. Although this experience can be a truly magical experience, your wallet might not feel the same way.

Cherry blossom season takes place typically between March and April, occasionally early May and throughout November. It’s also worth noting in late April, locals receive most of the week off due to a cluster of holidays and is known as ‘Golden Week’. Although this week is loved by the locals, tourist hotspots can get a little bit crowded. It is due to both of these factors that hotels book out quickly, prices can jump without warning and transport options might be difficult to book or might have reduced availability.

The best time to travel to Japan is from mid to late May or early June. This is when accommodation becomes affordable and travellers can skip the rainy season from June – mid-July.

2. Shop around for the best flight deals

So you’ve decided on some dates for your big trip. Now, the cost to get you there may initially seem a bit daunting, but the price can turn in your favour if you do your research.

There is plenty of small booking hacks like switching your browser to ‘incognito mode’ or clearing your browser cookies which can help put money back into your pocket so you can spend it on delicious sushimi instead.

3. Book your accommodation in advance

Accommodation will be the second major hurdle for you and your wallet to overcome, but rest assured, you won’t have to spend the night in a dodgy hotel just to save a dollar. Once again, shop around for the best deal to suit your needs.

Dedicate some time to browsing through hotel booking websites which you’ve come to know and love to snatch up a bargain. In some cases, it is also worth contacting a hotel directly to see if they can offer you a better price for booking direct.

For hungry travellers, keep in mind that booking hotels with an included breakfast can also save a surprising amount of money in the long run. Just remember, your ability to shop around is your greatest weapon in achieving an affordable holiday.

4. Consider booking a tour

Spend money now, to save money later. Half day tours, full day tours and multi-day group tours are all an effective tool to utilise when wanting to save some cash overseas and to help stretch your budget further. Tours vary in their inclusions but will mostly cover the cost of comfortable (stress-free) transportation, a knowledgeable local guide and a few traditional meals plus the bonus of travelling with like-minded individuals across the world.

Some parts of Japan may be more beneficial to travel solo, but of course, it is completely within your power to make your trip to Japan simply unforgettable. Seeing an attraction on your own can sometimes be cheaper, but you won’t be able to enjoy the immersive, once-in-a-lifetime experience that a tour can offer.

5. Set a food budget

If you don’t actively manage your budget the cost of eating out three or four times a day (plus snacks!) can eat away at a huge chunk of your budget if you’re unprepared. Depending on your travel plans, many tours include a variety of meals, and other meals can be covered by booking a hotel with breakfast included.

But, when it comes to exploring on your own with no included meals, it is important not to go overboard. Establish a food budget for yourself and set a daily limit on what you will spend on meals. Aim for $15 breakfasts and lunches, and $30-40 for your evening meal depending on what your personal requirements and budget look like.

Of course, you can do this for less, but if you’ve been saving for all eternity to splash your cash on this trip, you can easily triple or quadruple the suggested food budget above as long as it works for you! Don’t forget to ask around and have a chat with some of the locals for insider tips on cheap, delicious restaurants in the area. You’ll never regret a local’s recommendation.

6. Make the most of cheap thrills

Thoroughly research the many attractions of Japan before you visit to uncover a few of the cheaper or free amusements to enjoy. For example, Shibuya Crossing is an unmissable experience when visiting Tokyo, and it can be enjoyed for free. Takeshita Street is an unworldly, captivating area of Tokyo to thoroughly explore. If stopping by the city of Nara, wander through one of the oldest parks in the country surrounded by hundreds of roaming deer, for free.

Do your research and find some fun, affordable activities to make your vacation truly unforgettable. Once again, tours can often include entry prices into certain sights, saving you even more dough.


7. Research your transport options

When fellow Japan enthusiasts hear you are travelling to the country, the first thing they will recommend is that you get a JR Rail Pass. This pass is issued to non-Japanese citizens and allows travellers access to the country’s bullet train system for one fixed price over a specific period of time. If you are intending on travelling between cities, the bullet train is the way to go.

The pass cannot be purchased in Japan and is only available before your feet touch the ground in Japan. You must activate the pass the day you desire to begin using it.

As for travel within the cities, the subway system is the best option. Much more cost effective than taxis, and surprisingly clean.

Have you been to Japan? Share your best travel tips or money saving tips below. 

Nicholas Hastie is a writer located in Brisbane, Australia. He enjoys documenting his journeys through travel and photography, hoping to inspire others to create unforgettable memories. He has travelled to 9 countries himself, Japan being his favourite. Follow his adventures on Instagram via @NicholasHastie and @WonderfulRoaming

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