Our Japan trip is by far the most special trip I’ve been on. I knew everything by heart because I carefully planned and researched our itinerary and budget.
They say traveling to Japan is expensive but with thorough planning I would say it is not as expensive as other people think. We were a group of 6 who traveled to 3 cities: Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto (plus Nagoya, because that’s where we flew out of Japan) for just a little over P40,000 each.
My budget was divided into pre-trip expenses and actual trip expenses. The pre-trip expenses include airfare, travel tax, accommodation, and pre-booked tickets. Actual trip expenses cover food, transportation, shopping, and sightseeing in Japan.
To get a Japanese visa, you have to submit your requirements to an accredited travel agency. (You can check the list here.) In our case, we chose Rajah Travel Corporation. Visa processing costs P1,200 and takes about 3 to 5 business days, but in our case, it only cost us P450 because we paid for our visa processing fee at a travel expo.
Tip: Pay for the visa processing fee during travel expos and travel fairs, where agencies offer a discounted price.
This is the most expensive portion of my pre-trip expense. If you are good at snagging seat sales then you can make your budget less than P40,000.
We never planned on going to Japan. We were actually thinking of going to Korea or Bali but during a Jetstar seat sale in December 2016, I noticed a super cheap fare from Manila to Japan. I immediately booked a one-way ticket. I didn’t have any idea how long we’d want to stay in Japan and where we would want to go, so I kept my return flight options open and did not purchase a return ticket. Wrong move. For months, I’ve had to check the Jetstar website for a cheap return flight. We ended up getting a flight from Nagoya to Manila just a month before we were set to go, because it was the cheapest ticket we could find.
Regarding luggage, I don’t normally give much importance to adding luggage space. I often pick the smallest baggage allowance. So when I booked the flight, I only alloted 20 kilograms (kg) each for my mom, sister, and I; and 15 kg for my 3 friends. With teamwork and strategic planning, we were able to fit everything in the allotted weight allowance, mostly thanks to the 7-kg hand-carry allowance! Yay!
We also paid P1,620 travel tax per person at the airport.
Tip: If you really want to go to Japan, decide early on if you want to go to multiple cities or focus on one area only.
Manila to Tokyo: P3,500
Nagoya to Manila: P6,373
There are plenty of accommodations to choose from in Japan. There are hotels, capsule hostels, and Airbnb. Choose depending on the people you are with. In my case, I was with my mom and so I opted for an entire room in Airbnb. But if I were alone or with a friend, maybe I’d try the capsule hostels.
It was my first time to try Airbnb. Though I usually book through Agoda or Booking.com, I was happy with my experience using Airbnb. There were many room options and you can get to chat with the host of the place before booking.
Initially, we booked one night in Tokyo and 3 nights in Osaka, but after we booked our roundtrip ticket, we adjusted it to two nights in Tokyo and 3 nights in Osaka. I wanted to book a ryokan (a traditional Japanese inn) in Kyoto, but I realized it would be too much of a hassle to transfer from one place to another with our luggage.
In Tokyo, I booked a room in Shibuya. It was walking distance from the Shibuya Crossing and there were convenience stores, restaurants, and shopping centers nearby. The cost is P1,976 per head
In Osaka, our main agenda was to visit Universal Studios Japan and to explore the Dotonbori. So we booked a room near the Dotonbori area. We each paid P2,927 for accommodations there.
I found our accommodations during our entire stay in Japan pretty cheap though those who opt for Airbnb should note that check in time is usually at 3 pm.
Tip: Book a place near the subway or near the tourist sites, depending on your itinerary. Example: Shibuya, Shinjuku, Asakusa.
Tokyo to Osaka transfer
There are 3 ways to get to Osaka from Tokyo: by airplane, shinkansen (bullet train), bus.
Since I wanted this trip to be as cheap as possible, I considered a sleeper bus. Why? You get to save one night of accommodation. The only catch is that travel time is 9 to 10 hours. If you’ll think about it, though, you wouldn’t even notice the time because you’re sleeping. I actually slept through the entire bus ride.
From several options, I narrowed down my choices based on my preferences – it must be a sleeper bus with a toilet and reclining seat. Finally, I found Eagle Bus. We departed from Shinjuku Expressway bus terminal at 10:10 pm and arrived in Osaka at 7:30 am the following day.
Total: *¥6,000 (P2,637)
Universal Studios Japan
If Universal Studios Japan is one of the reasons you want to go to Japan, make sure you book a ticket beforehand. This will save you a lot of time queueing. Even if you have already have a ticket, however, you still have to go there early because there is a line going inside the amusement park.
I booked our USJ admission ticket via Klook, my trusty travel app. I was advised to buy two tickets – the admission ticket, for entry into USJ; and an Express Pass which lets you skip the lines for the rides.
I only bought the admission ticket since I’m not an amusement park enthusiast. I don’t ride rollercoasters. I don’t see myself riding all the rides in USJ. My main purpose in visiting USJ was the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
During our stay in USJ, we went to WWOHP, rode Jaws, and Jurassic Park: The Ride, while my sister and our friends tried the Flying Dinosaur.
Because I’ve been a user of Klook since December 2016, I was able to earn quite a number of credits and promo codes. So when we booked our USJ tickets, we used those credits and promos. Plus, I took advantage of Klook’s summer promo where I got an extra P1,500 off.
Tip: If you want to try as many rides as you can, you should buy an Express Pass, especially if your visit falls on weekends or holidays.
In this digital age, I cannot imagine myself not having internet access. During my past travels, I would rely mostly on free wi-fi or as ask people for directions if I get lost. But I really wanted to be prepared for our Japan trip. I reserved a wi-fi router so that as soon as we got to Japan, we could easily find our way using navigation apps and use the internet whenever we needed it.
We booked our wi-fi router through Flytpack and the router was delivered to us two days before our departure. Another option would be 3G/4G SIM cards you can purchase through Klook or in Japanese airports.
Our Flytpack router also acts as a powerbank, which was helpful because I don’t usually carry a powerbank. Also, it was fast even if there were 5 of us connected to it. The only issue was that it had a limit of 1GB per day.
One router costs P1,960 but there is a deposit of P2,800, which will be refunded upon returning the unit.
Total: P327/head (deposit not included)
After I booked all the neccessities for the trip, I had to plan how much money I would bring with me. My total pocket money was P18,000, which came up to ¥40,000 when I had my pesos changed into yen at the Nikko Money Exchange in Malate.
Next, I allotted a daily food allowance of ¥1,750 (P780). Was it enough? It was more than enough for me; I did not starve myself, mind you. I actually ate a lot in Japan. Most of the food found in the convenience stores are around ¥150 to ¥500, and we normally paid less than a ¥1,000 at the restaurants we went to.
My food expenses totaled P5,460.
Another consideration was our transportation budget. We took advantage of the one-day passes because it offered unlimited subway rides. Also, we wanted to experience the bullet train. It was quite expensive, but we made it part of our budget.
Tokyo Shuttle + 3-day pass: ¥2,400 (P1,080)
Bullet train (non-reserved seat): ¥5,830 (P2,623.50)
Kyoto one-day pass: ¥1,200 (P540)
Estimate for Osaka transportation: ¥2,000 (P600)
Total: ¥11,430 (P5,143.50)
I also considered possible entrance fees at tourist sites that we will visit, especially in Kyoto. I read that there were some temples that charged admission fees. To be safe, I allotted ¥2,000 (P600) for this.
I also had to set a ¥2,475 (P5,500) budget for my souvenirs. The remaining amount – ¥11,845 (P5,330) – was my contingency fund:
The allocation of my pocket money didn’t go exactly as planned. There were times I only spent ¥1,500 for food, and we didn’t pay ¥2,000 for entrance fees as I had anticipated. The important thing was not to exceed my limit of ¥40,000.
Visa processing: P450
Travel tax: P1,620
Bus from Tokyo to Osaka: P2,637
Universal Studios: P3,175
Pocket money (food, transportation, sightseeing, souvenirs): P18,000
Next time, I’ll share detailed information on our trip, and our daily activities in Japan. – Rappler.com
*¥1 = P0.45
Andrea is a travel blogger who believes that travel should not be expensive. She constantly looks for ways to travel on a budget. She enjoys making itineraries and researching for her next adventures. She’s a full time corporate worker but she knows that her heart belongs to wandering and writing.
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