The budget traveler's guide to Japan

MANILA, Philippines - They say Japan is an expensive place to visit. The capital of Tokyo is notorious for its very high cost of living, and similar tourist destinations in the country aren't too far behind. Prices are roughly twice what they would cost in Manila; if a can of Coke costs P35 here, it costs around P60 there. 

If you're more into Japanese street fashion, these arcades and streets are filled with unique boutiques too. You'll have to save up a bit, though, because a t-shirt would cost around 2,000 yen (P856 or $20), while pants could go up to 6,000 yen (P2569 or $59). Go for the really unique styles if you're really set on buying clothes, because if not, you're better off sticking to shops in the Philippines. 

To give you a clearer idea, stores like Zara, Forever21, H&M, and Uniqlo are the "cheaper" stores in Japan. They cost the same as they would in the Philippines, but compared to local brands, they're the budget options. (Then again, it seems like the Philippines is the only place where these stores aren't the budget options.) 

TAKOYAKI! These savory octopus balls are served piping hot along many Osaka sidestreets.

TAKOYAKI! These savory octopus balls are served piping hot along many Osaka sidestreets.

If food shopping/food tripping is more your thing, prepare to shell out around 400 yen (P171 or $4) for eight pieces of takoyaki, or battered octopus balls, or a box-full of mochi, or glutinous rice cakes. 


Overall, I spent just a little over P30,000 ($685) all told over a week-long stay in two Japanese cities. I had clean, comfortable lodgings; I could easily travel to whichever landmark I wanted to visit; my stomach was always full from rich, delicious meals; and I was still able to buy ample pasalubong and a few items for myself. Pair that with good traveling companions and you have a perfectly lovely vacation in the Land of the Rising Sun! –

Photos by Geline Bawagan and Marguerite de Leon, videos by Marguerite de Leon

Have you ever visited Japan? What are your travel tips? 



Marguerite de Leon

Marguerite Alcazaren de Leon heads Rappler’s Opinion section, and is (happily) wrangled into voice over and hosting work. She has been with Rappler since 2013, and also served as its social media producer for 6 years. She is also a fictionist.