Japan on a budget part 1

Japan on a budget part 1

Recently a lot of people asked me how much I am spending for a Asia trip or a trip to Japan.

First of all; Japan is an affordable country, cheaper than Germany. Food, accommodation and travel expenses are very affordable.

The problem is, that a lot of people are just to going to the travel agencies or do not spent enough effort and time for the preparation of the trip.

I think it is ok to spent more if you don’t want to spent time and effort. But be prepared to pay for it. You need to realize that the people who are spending this time for you want to be payed. So of course its more expensive if you want to save time.

Booking and planning by yourself may save you money but be aware that in Japan nearly no one speaks English. Even in the 4 star hotels. If you want English speaking people I would recommend Hostels, because they are used to foreigners.

Also be aware that no one will help you if you have problems with hotels etc.. Because there is no travel agency involved you also cannot expect service.

This time I ve been in Asia for 5 weeks, 2 weeks in Japan.

My flight (without stay in Dubai) would be about 560 Euro. I payed for Hotel and long distance traffic (night bus) 422 Euro.

So the trip was about 982 Euro for long distance traffic, flight and Hotel.

I want to note that we stayed several nights in a 3 star Hotel, 1 night in a 4 star hotel incl. expensive traditional dinner and breakfast course. We only stayed 2 nights at a Hostel.

So you can guess that you can cut more expenses if you don’t need a 3 star hotel.

We also visited 6 different cities (not next to each other…). If you decide to stay in just 2-3 cities you also can cut travel expenses.

The most important thing is to book early. I normally book the hotels a year before and just check every two weeks if there are cheaper and better hotels on 5-6 different websites in the internet. Of course this only works if you can cancel for free.

If you can speak and read Japanese you have bigger chances to get cheaper accommodations. Also traveling with a friend can save you money, because you are paying mostly the same price even if you are staying alone in a double room.


When I am looking for flights I use different websites to find the cheapest and best flight. If you are paying more than 600 Euro for a flight (notable airline, normal transfer time) you should wait a bit or just over think your traveling time. The cheapest flights are usally going on Wednesday /Tuesday in the afternoon.

I don’t like to use websites to compare the flights because they don’t show all notable airlines. I like to check the flights directly at the airlines website and book it there. The flights might be cheaper on other websites but they often charge you a large service or paying fee.

I recommend Emirates, cheap and very good.

You can also check in as much baggage as you want until 30 KG. So if you like to buy figures in Japan you don’t have a problem with the volume of your baggage.

Ryokan in Kanazawa for 28 Euro per night/ person incl. breakfast



Normally I am paying for a 2 star hotel in the center of the city, next to a public transport hub 50 Euro for a double room (60 incl. breakfast). Of course it depends on the currency exchange.

If you don’t care about an own bathroom you can also use a Hostel. Japan is a very clean and service orientated country, so even if you are staying cheap it is still good. We stayed in Kyoto (one of the most expensive cities regarding to accommodation in Japan) in a very beautiful and clean Hostel for just 14 Euro a night/ pers. (private room). It was cheap but we got a 4 star service and English speaking staff!
If you like to eat a lot for breakfast I recommend to book a Hotel including breakfast. You can cut food expenses because the breakfast you get is mostly buffet style. Just be prepared that you might get fish, rice and miso soup instead of bread.

Travel expenses (long distance):

A lot of people are using the Shinkansen or Japan Rail way pass. Be aware that you cannot use every bus, train etc with the JR pass. If you are unlucky you can only use this pass for the Shinkansen but have to pay additional for the public transport.

Even in Tokyo the most lines are not run by the JR but by other private companies.

If you want to use the Shinkansen a lot or don’t want to travel by bus, a JR pass might be right option. Just be aware that you are paying a huge sum for comfort.

If you can sleep in a bus (not normal busses; night busses with extra leg space and special designed seats) I recommend using the nightbus.

We payed for Kyoto to Tokyo about 31 Euro (one trip). If you are taking the Shinkansen you would pay about 100 Euro (without seat reservation).

Because you are taking the night bus, you are saving one night in a Hotel and don’t lose precious daytime for sightseeing.

If you are going by Shinkansen it is of course faster but you are loosing 3-4 hours of the day, need to book an additional Hotel and are maybe paying an additional fee for a seat.

Bus -> 31 Euro/ Shinkansen-> 100 Euro plus 25 Euro for a Hotel

-> 94 Euro difference

Of course If you cannot sleep in a bus, Shinkansen is still the best option. Because if you are tired, you cannot enjoy your trip. And using your limited time to the fullest is in my opinion the most important thing.

I hope that this guide might help you a bit for your next trip to Japan.

If you are interested I also can write about saving food and public transport expenses in Japan.

If you have further questions don’t hesitate to ask.