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.

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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).
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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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Part 4 of 7 of our Japan Diary: Osaka Castle and Food trip at Dotonbori

I slept for 8 hours inside the bus. We spent our 3rd night inside a sleeper bus en route to Osaka. If you plan to go to Osaka from Tokyo, you can take the bullet train or the bus. If you are on a budget trip (like me), the best option is to take the sleeper bus. You get to save a night of accommodation and your day itinerary will not be compromised.  Continue reading “Part 4 of 7 of our Japan Diary: Osaka Castle and Food trip at Dotonbori”

Part 3 of 7 of our Japan trip: Tsukiji Fish Market, Senso-ji Temple and En Route to Osaka

LAST DAY IN TOKYO. Three days were not enough to visit Tokyo. There were still a lot of places on our list that we want to visit but we had to limit ourselves due to time and budget constraints (ako lang pala ang may budget constraints lol). For our last day in Tokyo, we went to Tsukiji Fish Market. It is known for its fresh array of seafood and its tuna auction. We skipped the Tuna Auction because (tbh) we won’t wake up early just to see it.  Continue reading “Part 3 of 7 of our Japan trip: Tsukiji Fish Market, Senso-ji Temple and En Route to Osaka”

Tokyo – Osaka – Kyoto in 7 days: An Itinerary

I’ve been asked a couple of times for our Japan itinerary and how I got to fit 40,000Php all-in for this trip. I actually prefer to blog our activities per day, so I can share our day in detail and the breakdown of our expenses. But since you asked for it, I’ll share here our 7 day itinerary.

To those who would like to read our daily activities in Japan, you can check Day 1 Day 2 Day 3. and Day 4. I’m currently working on Day 5.

Continue reading “Tokyo – Osaka – Kyoto in 7 days: An Itinerary”

Part 2 of 7 of our Japan Diary: Gotemba Premium Outlet, Mt. Fuji and Tokyo Tower

YEY! SECOND DAY IN JAPAN! We started the day feeling fresh after a good night sleep. I bet everyone slept well considering how tired we were from all the walking we did on our first day. At least second day in Japan was more comfortable because we didn’t have to worry about our luggages anymore because they were tucked safe at home.  Continue reading “Part 2 of 7 of our Japan Diary: Gotemba Premium Outlet, Mt. Fuji and Tokyo Tower”

Part 1 of 7 of our Japan Diary: Manila to Tokyo. Meiji Shrine, Harajuku and Shibuya

After all the planning and researching, it’s time to make it come to life.

Our flight to Tokyo was through Jetstar, which was stationed at Terminal 1. We left at 12:40AM and arrived at Narita International Airport at 6AM. (Their time is 1 hour ahead).  It was my first time to fly via Jetstar and I’d say we had a smooth sailing flight since I was asleep the entire time. Little did I know, there was a strong turbulence midway that caused our plane to sink a few feet. LITERAL BES! As in, bumagsak daw yung plane at ang mga puso nila. The FAs panicked and instructed everyone to use their seatbelt. And I. WAS. ASLEEP.  When I woke up, we were about to land na. 🙂

Continue reading “Part 1 of 7 of our Japan Diary: Manila to Tokyo. Meiji Shrine, Harajuku and Shibuya”

Japan 2017: How to Apply for Japan Visa

One look at the requirements for Japan visa and you’ll start to think twice about going. But do not get too overwhelmed with the requirements, it’s actually pretty easy to apply for a Japan visa.

First, you need to find an accredited agency who processes Japan visa. In the Embassy of Japan website, they have indicated the following agencies:

For our visa, we went to Rajah Travel Corporation. I have a friend working there and she advised me to wait for the Travel Expo to pay for the visa processing fee because they will give a discounted amount. So we went to the Expo last February and pay for the visa processing fee of P450 instead of the original price of P1,500.

Continue reading “Japan 2017: How to Apply for Japan Visa”

Japan 2017: Pre-planning + P40,000 All-in expense for 7 days.

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

Continue reading “Japan 2017: Pre-planning + P40,000 All-in expense for 7 days.”