Japan may not be one of the cheapest holiday destinations in the world – with our tips and tricks here you can still travel to this wonderful country cheaply!
If you want to travel in a budget-friendly way, you probably don’t necessarily think of a vacation in Japan – but the land of the rising sun can also be visited for little money with a few little tricks. In our article we will tell you how you can stay in Japan as wallet-friendly as possible, travel around, dine and go on exciting excursions and sightseeing trips!
Table Of Contents
Find cheap flights to Japan
If you want to vacation in Japan for as little money as possible, you should first of all take a look at the travel time . As in any other country, there are weeks and months in which both flights and accommodation are more expensive or cheaper.
Some of the main travel times – and thus also the most expensive travel periods – for Japan are, for example, Christmas to New Year, i.e. mid-December to early January, the cherry blossom from mid-March to early April, the golden week in late April or early May, and the O-Bon festival for the full moon in August. Summer holidays are also in Japan from mid-July to mid-August.
If you want to pay as little as possible for travel and hotel, then it is best to avoid these dates and instead fly to Japan, for example between mid-May and early July or between late August and November . Another advantage: While it can get very hot in Japan in July and August – the heat feels even more intense due to the high humidity – it is usually much milder in spring and autumn.
If you are flexible in terms of travel time, you can of course also use our practical “whole month” or “cheapest month” search function and find the cheapest flights for a single month or even for the whole year.
And finally, the time of booking also decides when you can get hold of particularly inexpensive tickets. You can find out more here: The best time to book flights? We have the answer!
Cheap accommodation in Japan
Once you have arrived in Japan, it is important to find cheap accommodation there – and the great thing about it: If you are not demanding, you can really stay in the land of the rising sun at an absolute bargain price, in so-called capsule hotels.
Capsule hotels are exactly what the name suggests: You rent a hostel-like sleeping capsule , which generally offers around 2 to 2.5 cubic meters of space with an area of around 1.2 mx 2 meters. Your luggage is usually stowed in separate lockers or lockers; Showered in shared bathrooms. Depending on the capsule hotel, the sleeping capsules are also more or less luxuriously furnished – with lighting, TVs, radio, alarm function, to lock or just slide closed, etc. The prices here range between around 15 to 50 euros per night – and often in a really good location close to the center of major Japanese cities such as Tokyo or Osaka. In addition, you have the great advantage of privacy compared to hostels – even if your private space is very small.
If you need your accommodation primarily to sleep, want to stay very flexible or travel on every day, there is a second, rather unusual, but very cheap option: Manga or Internet or media cafésthat you can find in all corners of Japan, especially near train stations. While internet cafés here in Europe are primarily thought of as office-like compartments with a computer desk, these special cafés in Japan look more like small, lockable hobby rooms to rent. The usual equipment includes a small table with a computer and internet as well as, depending on the provider and price category, soft floor mats, a comfortable deck chair or even a sofa – all of which are also ideal for sleeping. In addition, you can normally consume unlimited drinks here – from soft drinks to coffee and tea – unlimited surfing in the Internet, you can borrow free films, books / manga or even video games and can buy and consume small dishes such as instant ramen. In other words: You book a small overall package here. Payment is made by the hour with block prices for often less than 25 euros for 12 hours.
If you prefer something a little more spacious, you can of course also rely on traditional hostels and cheap hotels . The golden rule for cheap housing is: the more western, the cheaper. That may sound illogical – after all, you’re in Japan, i.e. in the Far East – but if you come to Japan, you often want to enjoy the traditional Japanese feeling there, and Japanese-style accommodations – so-called ryokans – can be rewarded accordingly.
You can of course see a lot of Japan if you only linger briefly in each city and then travel on to the next exciting place. Here, for example, would be our city guide for a short trip to Osaka !
Cheap travel in Japan
Japan is the land of trains and public transport, and as such offers great, inexpensive ticket options for those who don’t just want to rely on their own legs or rental bikes during their trip. In order to still spend as little money as possible, you should first consider whether you want to just stay in one place during your vacation (for example, only in Tokyo or Osaka and the surrounding area) or go on trips to other cities.
If you want to travel a lot, you should get a general national Japan Rail Pass . This is valid throughout the country and can be purchased for one, two or three weeks. This includes journeys on all Japan Rail modes of transport – from the JR regional and Shinkansen trains to the JR buses to the JR ferries between individual islands in Japan. The prices start at just under 250 euros for a week in third class or just under 390 euros for two weeks and just under 500 euros for three weeks).
However, if you are only traveling in a certain region (for example in and around Tokyo), Rail Japan also offers numerous other regional Rail Pass options for far less money. However, the following applies to all RJ passes: It is best to book online in advance to save money.
Apart from Rail Japan there are other bus providers with whom you can travel between cities very cheaply, but also much more slowly. The site Japanbusonline.com gives you a good overview .
For trips exclusively within the Tokyo metropolitan area, you can make it particularly easy for yourself and purchase a Pasmo or Suica carduse. Both cards are prepaid public transport tickets – similar to the Oyster Card in London – which you check in when you start your journey and which then automatically deduct the cheapest rate – even with a small discount – from your balance at the end of your trip. So you absolutely can’t go wrong with this. In addition to public transport, you can also use the cards for shopping at certain shops, at drinks and vending machines (Japan is full of them!) And for coin lockers. The difference between the two cards lies in the small things: For example, Suica supports virtual IC cards, the minimum top-up amount for Pasmo is 500 yen, for Suica 1500 yen, and both cards can be used for different destinations on the outer periphery of Tokyo (in the center both apply everywhere).
Still not sure what you want to see in Japan? Then get a little inspiration here: The 10 most beautiful cities in Japan
Cheap food in Japan
The catering can also be quite a budget on vacation – and with a few tips you can still get away wonderfully cheap here in Japan.
Anyone in Japan is guaranteed to want to get a taste of the cuisine there, and luckily for you, many of the most delicious things that the Japanese culinary world has to offer are anything but expensive: Fresh, delicious sushi, hearty noodle dishes, such as Ramen, soba or udon, or tasty seafood, are available in countless restaurants for just a few euros. The only important thing here is not necessarily to eat along the main tourist streets , but rather to dive a few meters further into the side streets and look out for smaller establishments that often specialize in just one food, for example ramen bars, yakitori shops ( Grill skewers with poultry and vegetables) or tempura bars (fried delicacies).
For more variety, you should look around for restaurants that offer Bentos or Teishoku – small menus that usually consist of cold and warm starters, main courses and desserts, including side dishes, and give you a great insight into the diversity of Japanese cuisine for little money deliver.
It is even more budget-friendly to simply buy your food in the supermarket . Japan is known for its unusually tasty and at the same time healthy fast food culture – instead of burgers, greasy sandwiches and sugar-laden snacks, you will find delicious rice dishes, including cold dishes, fresh sushi from the cooling shelf, noodle plates and soups that can be easily prepared with hot water , fried delicacies that you can buy hot or cold in the delicatessen, and more.
And then of course there are the countless snack and vending machines in Japan. In larger cities like Tokyo in particular, it is almost impossible to walk for five minutes in a row without seeing at least one of these machines – and the selection of snacks, drinks and other things on offer here is an attraction in itself: Beside Unusual items such as clothing, household items or even prayer cards can be found here as well as extremely tasty dishes, such as warm fish soup, noodle dishes, fresh fruit, sushi and more – all for a few yen.
Japan is a very modern country with very good hygienic conditions – so you can drink tap water there without hesitation or enjoy raw food. However, there are always a few things to keep in mind when eating abroad. Here we give you an overview: Eating out on vacation: What you should definitely pay attention to
Sightseeing in Japan for little money
Finally, during your vacation in Japan, you will of course also want to see some of the sights – and luckily you can go on a discovery tour in all sorts of places very cheaply or even for free.
On the one hand, there are, for example, the shrines of Japan , which you can often visit completely free of charge. The famous Meiji Shrine in Tokyo, for example, only requires entry to visit the inner garden, while the rest of the area is accessible free of charge, and large parts of the unique Itsukushima Shrine on Hiroshima can also be entered free of charge.
Japan is not only famous for its temples and shrines, but also for its wonderful nature – from the landscapes on Mount Fuji to the country’s countless idyllic gardens and parks. And best of all: Most of them can also be enjoyed for free.
Ultimately, of course, the urban wonders of the Land of the Rising Sun are also worth a visit – from the fantastic view from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building (which, by the way, will be known to fans of Final Fantasy XV as the Citadel of Insomnia), or a stroll through the neon-lit buildings Streets of Shibuya, including the famous intersection, to window shopping in Akihabara , Tokyo’s technology and nerd district.