AskDrei #1: Should I buy a JR Pass?

I started a new segment in my blog dedicated for frequently asked questions. I also invite and encourage you to use my Ask Drei button for any question you might have about me or the blog posts I have written and I will try to answer them.

For the first question, I was asked by friends and received questions from readers who will be traveling to Japan…

Should I buy a JR Pass?
Is it necessary to buy JR Pass if I will go to Japan?

Japan Rail Pass (JR Pass), as defined by Japan Guide, is a very cost effective rail pass for long distance train travel in Japan. It can be used by foreign tourists only, and offers unlimited use of JR trains for one, two or three weeks at a cost that residents of Japan can only dream of. The pass comes in two types: ordinary and green car. The latter is valid on green cars (first class cars) that offer more spacious seats than ordinary cars.

DSCF2466

When planning and researching for your trip to Japan, you will read tourists used JR Pass for their transportation, you think ‘it’s cool, sure I should also get a JR Pass’ until you see how much it costs. For a 1 week unlimited pass, you’ll have to pay 38,880 JPY (17,000+ PHP). WHAT!? THAT’S ALMOST MY POCKET MONEY, you say. And then you’ll think how expensive it is to visit Japan.

Before you make any conclusion, let me answer the two questions raised earlier.

 

SHOULD I BUY A JR PASS?

  • The answer depends on your itinerary. If you will be staying in one prefecture (example: Tokyo), then my answer is No. Don’t buy a JR Pass. As defined above, the JR Pass is suited for long distance train travel.
  • But it doesn’t necessarily mean that if you will be going to multiple prefecture then it is worth it to buy a JR Pass.
    • Example, you are planning to visit Tokyo – Osaka – Kyoto – Nara. It seems like it is a good idea to buy a JR Pass.
    • What I do is, I check out my go-to calculator to see if it is indeed worth it to buy a JR Pass.JR Pass
    • In the above example, I came to Japan via Narita Aiport and left Japan via Kansai Airport. But if for example, after Nara, I plan on going back to Tokyo then…JRpass
  • But of course, if you are after the convenience and you don’t like traveling for long hours, then by all means, buy a JR Pass. You can also enjoy unlimited JR train rides.

 

IS IT NECESSARY TO BUY A JR PASS?

  • As mentioned above, it can be a good idea to buy a JR Pass, but it is not necessary all the time.
  • Aside from JR trains, there are subways that you can ride within the prefecture.
  • For our 7-day trip to Japan, we did not buy a JR Pass, and we only took a JR train once, when we went to Universal Studios Japan. And also when we took the bullet train to Nagoya (just to experience riding a bullet train).
DSCF2462
Shin-Osaka: Bullet train to Nagoya

So there, I hope I was able to help you weigh the pros and cons of whether to buy a JR Pass or not. If you have any questions, feel to send me a message 🙂

 

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