Inexpensive travel to Japan: How to reduce your outlay?
Plan an inexpensive trip to Japan
Tips and advice to reduce costs
When it comes to travel to Japan, one adjective often comes up: expensive. If this was true in the past, it is no longer the case today. It is quite possible to afford a trip to Japan at a reduced price. Tips for a cheap trip to Japan!
Currently, the average cost of a 14-day trip to Japan is 2000€ per person, which is relatively affordable for a distant destination. There are several elements which can have a great effect on your budget.
Japan Experience provides you with assistance in preparing your stay. Whether you want to go on a tour with a guide or independently, simply rent accommodation, reserve your plane tickets or find activities, make the most of our useful advice for organizing a trip to Japan which is inexpensive but which fulfils your wishes.
Prepare a trip to Japan that suits you, with total peace of mind!
Japan: a destination too expensive?
Japan is a destination which has a reputation for being expensive. But this received wisdom does not stand up to the facts, and here is why.
In the 1980s and 1990s, an economic bubble existed in Japan. This had important repercussions on the cost of living, making the archipelago a relatively unaffordable holiday destination. However, things have changed over the last twenty years or so. Prices in yen have not changed in 25 years, while in Europe living standards have risen considerably, particularly in terms of wages.
We can also note that the price of air travel has fallen sharply, and the same can be said for the cost of accommodation and other forms of transport. This is not necessarily something that most people know about, and the prohibitive prices charged by certain travel agencies only serve to reinforce this misleading impression. These agencies often work alongside many intermediaries, and the partnerships they form with service providers tend to increase the price of trips to Japan. Yet it is entirely possible to organize an inexpensive trip to Japan, as long as you make the right choices.
How to find cheap plane tickets to Japan?
As for all such trips, it is possible to reduce the cost of plane tickets by booking them well in advance. Choosing a flight with a stopover often provides an opportunity to make extra economies.
The most affordable return flights are often available from Asiana Airlines, Alitalia, Qatar Airways, Air China, Cathay Pacific or Turkish Airlines. Prices with Air France, Japan Airlines or All Nippon Airways are often higher, but this goes hand in hand with the direct flights they provide. To travel to Japan at lower cost and to enjoy lower prices for direct flights, make sure that you keep an eye out for special offers throughout the year.
As a guideline, here are the average prices for Paris-Tokyo flights:
- Flight to Japan for one person: lowest prices 530-650€ and around 700-800€ with Air France or Japan Airlines.
- Flight to Japan for two people: 1160€ with the least expensive airlines and 1500-1600€ with Air France and Japan Airlines.
- Flight to Japan for a family (2 adults, 2 children): around 2000€ minimum and 2800-3000€ with Air France and Japan Airlines.
Useful tip: Travelling in off-peak season, i.e. not during the French or Japanese school holidays, means that you will be able to benefit from the most attractive prices.
Reducing your travel costs in Japan
If you are planning to move between cities during your trip, the train is the best way of getting around at a lower cost. In order to optimize the costs of your train travel, the Japan Rail Pass is a must today. Each of these train tickets is issued for a specific person; they are aimed at tourists, allowing unlimited travel over the 20 000km of the JR (Japan Railway) network. You will thereby pay less than if you buy your train tickets for each journey separately. For 7 days, the cost is around 209€ for an adult, 418€ for two people and 628€ for a family of two adults and two children. The JR Pass is also available for 14- and 21-day periods.
For local travel, for example, the Suica card allows you to monitor every yen that your metro, local train and bus travel costs. This practical virtual wallet can also be used in konbini as well as in selected restaurants.
If you wish to travel to the countryside, you will need to go by car. You can find rental deals for less than 100€ per day.
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- Unlimited travel
- On the North side, the JR Osaka-Tokyo Hokuriku Arch Pass will allow you to cover a good part of the Japanese Alps region, from Tokyo to Osaka via Kyoto and Kanazawa.
- On the south side, the JR Takayama Hokuriku Arch Pass covers the Nagoya - Kanazawa tourist route via Takayama and the typical village of Shirakawago, accessible by bus. The line from Kanazawa to Osaka via Kyoto is also included.
Japan Regional Rail Passes
Order your regional Japan Rail Pass!
Please select a region
Discover the regions of Japan at your own pace!
While the Japan Rail Pass is the most popular pass among travellers in Japan, there are other passes which are sometimes more advantageous, especially if you are only visiting one region in Japan.
Discover the different passes available below.
Kyoto and the Kansai region
The Kansai Pass (1, 2, 3 or 4 days) is useful to reach Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe, Nara and even Himeji and its famous castle!
The Kansai Wide Area Pass (5 days) will allow you to push the boundaries of the Kansai region! Explore the beaches of Wakayama, the great sanctuary of Ise, the famous garden of Okayama, not to mention the hot springs of Kinosaki Onsen by the Sea of Japan.
Mount Fuji and North Tokyo
Eastern Japan's extensive rail network, with many Shinkansen, makes this region an easy place to explore. The various JR East Passes will allow you to discover this region from Tokyo:
Hokkaido: the wild island of the North
From Sapporo Snow Festival in winter, to spectacular lavender fields in bloom in spring, use your Hokkaido Pass (5 or 7 days) to explore the archipelago's northernmost island and its unique surroundings.
JR Hokkaido trains cover the entire region: ideal for enjoying the merchant city of Hakodate, the volcanoes of Lake Akan or Wakkanai, the northernmost point of Japan!
Kyushu: the southern volcanoes
Thanks to the all-new Kyushu Shinkansen or the scenic Hisatsu JR train line, Kyushu regional passes allow full access to Japan's southernmost island. You have the choice between:
The Hiroshima region, east of Kyoto
Immersion in Japanese history guaranteed by taking the train with your JR West Pass. It allows you to go from Kyoto to Fukuoka, passing through Hiroshima, the Tottori dunes, the fabulous Matsue region or even Takamatsu, the gateway to Shikoku island.
Shikoku: the fourth island of Japan
Use the JR All Shikoku Pass to explore in depth the many faces of this incredible island: Takamatsu and its fabulous garden, the spa town of Matsuyama - Dogo Onsen or even Kinashi, the village of bonsai.
With this pass, you can also approach the scenic Iya Valley by train or be part of the famous 88 Temples of Shikoku Tour.
Central Japan: Northern Kyoto and the Japanese Alps
From Kyoto to Tokyo, discover central Japan with one of the JR Central Passes: Kanazawa, the Sea of Japan, and the Japanese Alps.
2 passes available for a trip to the Japanese Alps:
2 more "local" passes to explore exceptional places in central Japan:
Order your Regional Japan Rail Pass !
Discover the treasures of Japan with unlimited travel
How to find cheap accommodation in Japan?
An inexpensive trip to Japan also involves choosing accommodation wisely. Much like the plane tickets, the earlier you make your bookings, the more choice you will have, as well as the possibility of benefiting from lower prices. In terms of accommodation, everyone has their own preferences. You will be able to choose between:
- Youth hostels, which are always the least expensive choice of accommodation,
- Capsule hotels, which are inexpensive but cramped for space and only an option for people travelling alone,
- Hotels, which are often Western in style and available at variable prices,
- Ryokan, traditional Japanese hostels which are generally more expensive, but which provide you with an exceptional experience,
- Rental of Japanese houses, the most economical alternative when you are travelling in a group. They also allow you to live like a local during your stay.
Group house rental: travel to Japan with friends or family
Japan Experience offers a Japanese house rental service, an economical solution if you are traveling with friends or family. They can accommodate up to six travelers and they allow you to enjoy a comfortable stay as well as providing an experience of the Japanese lifestyle.
For an even more pleasant stay, Travel Angels welcome you on your arrival and assist you according to your needs during your stay. The best addresses in the district, explanations about habits and customs, modes of travel, use of household equipment: make the most of their useful advice and ask any questions you may have.
Discover the housing offer of Japan Experience
Cheap tours for Japan
Japan Experience offers a variety of tours which are adapted to different travelers and different budgets. Whether you set off alone or in the company of one of our guides who specialize in all things Japan, by train or by car, take a tour of one or several of the archipelago’s regions, all for a fixed budget.
Tips for traveling in Japan at a low price
Food: how to eat for cheap in Japan?
In Japon, you can eat well without spending a vast amount of money – indeed 11 € per person and per day is sufficient on average. Of course, this average can be higher, depending on how many treats you allow yourself (be aware that if you are travelling with children or if you are a gourmet, there are temptations absolutely everywhere in Japan).
To eat for less money, head to small restaurants and stalls which charge low prices, as well as chains which can be found everywhere. You can also make use of the 100 Yen shops which sell a wide range of products including food for less than a Euro, as well as supermarkets. The latter provide excellent special offers at certain times of the day.
Money: exchange yen before or after your arrival to Japan?
In order to economize on fees, make sure that you change your currency before you set. Avoid doing so at the airport, where the exchange rates are often highly dissuasive.
Make sure that you exchange enough money because most of the transactions you undertake in Japan will require cash and any withdrawals you make will probably involve you paying banks fees.
Shopping on a budget: where to shop in Japan?
Everyone will have a different budget for shopping, but you can make savings on any presents you may wish to buy by making a few purchases in the 100 Yen shops.
There are many other ways of reducing the cost of your trip to Japan. You can, for example, choose to travel in the off-peak season. Apart from the fact that plane tickets will be cheaper (see above), you will also be able to find cheaper accommodation if you set off during the second fortnight in May (after Golden Week), the first fortnight in October or alternatively during the winter.
- 5 Reasons to Travel to Japan in Winter
- The Grutt Pass
- Free wifi
- Visiting Japan by Bus
- Travel by night bus