Our Japan trip, which happened last June 6 – 12, is by far the most special trip I’ve had. I knew everything by heart because I carefully planned and researched our itinerary and budget. They say travelling to Japan is expensive, but with thorough planning I would say it is not as expensive as other people think. If you are in my page because you also want to go to Japan without having to burn your wallet, you’ve come to the right page. We are a group of 6 who travelled to 3 cities: Tokyo – Osaka – Kyoto (well, plus Nagoya because that’s where we flew out of Japan) for P40,000 and some change. Below I will share how I planned our trip.
Before I start, I just want to share that my budget was divided into two. Pre-trip expenses and During trip expenses. The Pre-trip expenses include airfare, accommodation and booked tickets. Basically, anything that has to be pre-booked was under Pre-trip expenses. During trip expenses cover food and transportation within Japan. In other terms, this is my ‘pocket money’.
Alright, so let’s begin. Below would be an overview of my expenses and I will create a separate post to further discuss each.
*For conversion purposes: 1JPY = 0.45PHP
In order to obtain a Japan visa, you have to submit your requirements to an accredited agency. For the list of agencies, you can check it here. In our case, we went to Rajah Travel Corporation. They have a branch in Makati and Manila. Visa processing costs P1500. And the turnaround time is 3-5 business days.
Tip: Pay for the visa processing fee during Travel Expo. Agencies offer a discounted price. We paid P450 for the visa processing.
Budget allotted: P450
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.
A little back story… We never planned on going to Japan. We were actually thinking of Korea or Bali. But during one seat sale of Jetstar last December 2016. I noticed a super cheap fare from Manila to Japan. Immediately, I booked a one-way ticket MNL to JPN. I didn’t have any plans then on how long we’d want to stay in Japan and where we want to go, so I kept my options open and did not purchase a return ticket. WRONG MOVE. For months, I have to check Jetstar website to see if there’s a cheap flight from Japan to Manila. We ended up buying Nagoya to Manila, because that’s the cheapest ticket we can find. (Note: we were able to buy the return ticket 1 month before our trip. Hassle!)
Tip: If you really want to go to Japan, decide early if you want to go on multiple cities or focus on one area only. This will give you a non-hassle booking experience.
Regarding baggages, I don’t normally give much importance to adding a baggage. Often I would pick the smallest baggage allowance. So when I booked the MNL to JPN flight, I only alloted 20kg for my mom, sister and I. And 15kg for my 3 friends. With teamwork and strategic planning, we were able to fit everything in the allotted baggage allowance. Thanks to the 7kg hand carry allowance! Yay!
Manila to Tokyo: P3,500
Nagoya to Manila: P6,373
Budget Allotted: P9,873
There are plenty of accommodation to choose from in Japan. There are hotels, capsule hostels and AirBnB rooms. 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.
Anyway, it was my first time to try AirBnB. I usually book through Agoda or Booking.com. I was happy with my experience with AirBnB. There were many options and you can get to chat with the host of the place. I will create a separate entry for the two AirBnBs that we rented.
Initially, we booked 1 night in Tokyo and 3 nights in Osaka. But after we booked our roundtrip ticket, we adjusted it to 2 nights in Tokyo and 3 nights in Osaka. I wanted to book ryokan (ancient type of house in Japan) in Kyoto, but I realized it would be hassle to transfer from one place to another with our luggages.
Tip: Book a place near the subway and probably near the tourist sites. Example: Shibuya, Shinjuku, Asakusa. Book a place depending on your itinerary.
In Tokyo, I booked a room in Shibuya. It was walking distance from Shibuya Crossing and there were convenience stores, restaurants and shopping centers around.
In Osaka, our main agenda was to visit USJ and to explore Dotonbori. So we booked a room near Dotonbori.
I find our accommodation cheap for our entire stay in Japan.
Note: Check in time is usually 3PM.
Budget Allotted: P4,903
TOKYO TO OSAKA TRANSFER
There are 3 ways to get to Osaka from Tokyo.
- Shinkansen (bullet train)
- Highway Bus
Since I wanted this trip to be as cheap as possible, I considered a sleeper bus. Why? You get to save 1 night of accommodation. The only catch is, travel time is 9-10 hours. But if you’ll think about it, you wouldn’t even notice the time because you are sleeping. I actually slept the entire bus ride.
From several options, I narrowed down my choices based on my preferences: must be a sleeper bus with a comfort room and reclining seat. Finally, I found Eagle Bus. It has 3 seats in one row separated by aisles. We also have our own curtain for privacy. There was also an outlet for charger and an overhead bin for our handcarry bags. We departed from Shinjuku Expressway Bus terminal at 10:10PM and arrived at Osaka 7:30AM.
Budget allotted: P2,637 (6000 JPY)
UNIVERSAL STUDIOS JAPAN
If Universal Studios 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 from queueing. Though, even if you have a ticket 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 ever trusted travel app. Despite being advised of buying two tickets: Admission ticket and Express pass, I only bought the admission ticket.
Admission ticket – is the ticket for you to get in USJ
Express Pass – is a ticket you show to skip the lines to the rides
I am not an amusement park enthusiast. I don’t ride rollercoasters. I don’t see myself riding all the rides in USJ. Basically my main purpose in visiting USJ was the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. So, with that in mind, I did not buy an Express Pass.
Tip: If you like rides and you want to try as many rides as you can, you should buy an Express Pass, especially if your visit will fall on weekends or holidays.
During our stay in USJ, we went to WWOHP, rode Jaws and Jurassic Park – The Ride and my sister and friends tried the Flying Dinosaur.
Because I was 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. Plus, I took advantage of Klook’s summer promo where I got P1,500 off.
Budget allotted: P3,175
In this digital era, I cannot imagine myself not having an internet. For my past travels, I would rely mostly on free wi-fi or as ask people for directions if I get lost. But I really want to be prepared for our Japan trip. There’s no room for us to get lost. So I booked us a wi-fi router so that as soon as we get to Japan we can easily navigate around and use the internet if ever we need to.
We booked our wi-fi router through Flytpack. It was delivered to us 2 days before our departure. Another option would be 3G/4G sim cards you can purchase through Klook or in Japan airports.
Our Flytpack router also acts as a powerbank, which was helpful because I don’t have a powerbank. Also, it was fast even if there were 5 of us connected to it. It has a limit of 1GB per day.
One router costs P1,960 but there is a deposit of P2,800, which will be refunded once we return the unit.
Budget allotted: P327 (deposit not included)
After I booked all the neccessities, I have to plan how much I would have to carry with me. Total pocket money was P18,000 (40,000 JPY) converted at Nikko Money Exchange, Malate)
The travel tax was excluded from the P18,000 pocket money. We paid P1,620/person at the airport.
Next, I allotted a daily food allowance, which was 1,750JPY or P780. Was it enough? Yes, it was more than enough for me. I did not starve myself. I actually ate a lot in Japan. Most food in the convenience stores are around 150JPY to 500JPY. And the restaurants we have eaten, we’ve normally pay less than a thousand yen.
Allotted budget: 12,250 JPY (1,750 x 7 days)
Another one I considered was the transportation budget. We took advantage of the 1 day passes because it offers 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 JPY
Bullet train (non-reserved seat) = 5,830 JPY
Kyoto 1 day pass = 1,200 JPY
Estimate for Osaka transportation = 2,000 JPY
Allotted budget: 11,430 JPY
I also considered possible entrance fees at other tourist sites that we will visit, especially in Kyoto. I read that there were some temples that has admission fee. To be safe, I allotted 2,000 JPY.
Of course I also had to set a budget for my souvenirs which was P5,500 or 2,475 JPY.
And the remaining from P18,000 was Contingency funds: 11,845 JPY or P5,330
Total pocket money: 40,000 JPY or P18,000
Note: The allocation of the pocket money didn’t go exactly as planned. Like, there were times I only spent 1500 JPY for food. And we didn’t pay 2,000 JPY for entrance fees. This was my anticipated budget allocation before our trip. The important thing is I did not exceed my limit of 40,000 JPY.
Visa processing – P450
Airfare – P9873
Accommodation – P4,903
Bus from Tokyo to Osaka – P2,637
Universal Studios – P3,175
Flytpack – P327
Travel tax – P1,620
Pocket Money – P18,000
Note: You can spend less than 40,000 PhP if you can get a lower airfare and if you will not take the bullet train.
That’s it! Watch out for my next posts. I will share detailed information about the topics above. As well as our daily activities in Japan.