I traveled to Japan in October 2018, because I love the autumn foliage at that time of the year. In this practical travel guide to Japan, I will share some useful tips that may help you with planning. You can take a look at my itinerary here.
I spent around USD 85/day on an average. This included accommodation, food, transport and tickets to sites within Japan. This does not include the international flight tickets to and from Japan.
The sooner you book, the higher are your chances of securing a decent place at a reasonable price.
How to book online
I stayed in hostels in all places.
- Booking.com : I booked all hostels through booking.com.
- Agoda.com: I have heard that this website offers the cheapest prices when booking in Asia.
- Hostelworld.com: You can get discount on some of the hostels across the world if they are a part of hostelworld. Other listimgs are usually a bit more expensive.
- Airbnb: You can find rooms in local guesthouses for much cheaper as compared to hotel rooms. It also serves as cultural exchange.
- Couchsurfing: I have never used this website for staying at someone’s place but it connects travelers across the world who host other travelers for free.
One tip I would like to include in this practical travel guide to Japan is that the earlier you book the hostels, the cheaper they would be and you will find better options, however, if you like to keep your options open, be aware of any long weekends or particular events. I ended up paying thrice the amount for last two nights in Kyoto as compared to the first two nights due to the long weekend in Japan. I had not made any reservation on time.
You can typically travel by airplanes, trains or buses within Japan. To read more on transportation in Japan and if you should buy a JR pass, read my blog post transportation in Japan here.
For transportation within cities, buses and metro are the most reasonable. You can hire cabs as well. If you are fond of exploring on foot, you can trust Google maps to take you to the destination, something you can’s in South Korea. Read about apps that will use your life easier in South Korea here.
The entrance ticket for sights is typically ¥500. My favorite sites in Japan were the Japanese gardens and nature. Some sites such as Sensoji temple in Tokyo Fushimi Inari shrine in Kyoto, Yoshikien garden in Nara and Moerenuma Park in Sapporo are free for visitors.
Food in restaurant is more expensive and fun option, however, some food joints are quite reasonable. Curry house Coco is one such franchise where you can eat to your heart’s content in a restaurant setting for a decent price of about ¥1000.
Other restaurants where enjoyed my meals were: Genki Sushi (the food is delivered on conveyor belt), Shinjuku, Tokyo and an amazing place called Daikisuisan near Osaka tower in Osaka.
These offer a number of options to choose from- sandwiches, onigiri(several different varieties of rice balls to choose from), curry patties, sushi, pasta and a number of other dishes which you can heat in the microwave. The best part is that the food is fresh and I didn’t come across a single person who complained of food poisoning from convenience store products. You can easily have a meal in less than ¥500.
I purchased a sim card valid for 2 weeks from the airport. The sim card comes with a sheet of instructions that are easy to follow. I bought SKT sim card from Osaka airport for ¥3300, valid for 2 weeks.
Cash withdrawal fees
The cash withdrawal fee is a standard ¥ 108 on withdrawal of ¥ 10K. ATM are easily available, mostly at the back of seven-eleven stores. International cards don’t work at every ATM so don’t leave withdrawing until the last moment.
Japan is a safe country and I felt safe the entire time. I still recommend that you follow the usual precautions that you would irrespective of where you are traveling to.