Friday, 22 September 2017

Travel tips : How much money do you need to travel to Japan?

In the last 'Travel tips' post, I gave you 10 reasons why you must go to Japan. I know most of you would be more than ready to plan a trip there. But the most important thing which one has to worry about before planning such a trip, is the finance part. I haven't been on too many foreign trips to be honest, but I had been to Japan in April 2017, and I can give you a fair estimate on what the budget needs to be for such a trip. What I will do is give you a breakdown of how much each activity will cost you (approximately). For ease, I will divide the expenses into two categories; things which you will have to spend on, and second, things which you might end up spending on. Please note again that the expenses mentioned here are estimates. They are not be taken as definite values.

So let us start with things you will definitely have to spend on


The golden rule is to book your tickets about 4-6 months in advance, and I think that rings true for any foreign trip. If you do that, then going by today's standards, you should be able to procure round trip tickets from New Delhi, Mumbai, or Bangalore, for around INR 38,000 per person in a Malaysian or a Sri Lankan airline flight.


A visa for Japan preferably should be applied 2-3 weeks before the start of your journey. It normally costs you around INR 400, but because we were traveling in a group of 17, we approached a travel agent for this, and it nearly cost us twice that amount.


Again, it is advisable to book your accommodation online about a month before you travel. You can put up in a hotel or an Airbnb, but my suggestion would be to look for hostels. They are much cheaper than hotels and are really tidy and luxurious. We traveled in a group like I already mentioned, so we might have got better deals. But I am sure that if you look properly, you can find something for under INR 1500 per night per person.


An important piece of information to be noted is that Japan does not have access to wifi in public places. You will only get wifi in hostels/hotels, and nowhere else. So it is imperative to either get a simcard or a wifi device with you. I read mixed reviews about sim cards, and some people faced this issue where their cards did not get activated when they reached. If you find out that your card is not activated after you reach Japan, you can't really do much about it. I thought the safer option was to get a wifi device, which works pretty well. There are 2-3 variations which you can get depending on your requirements. Check out Japan wireless for more info. And let me also tell you that you need to place an order for this device at least 3-4 days before you leave.

Coming to its cost, it depends on the type of device you will opt for, the number of days you will get it for and the number of people you will share it with. But just to give you an approximation, if you take a premium wifi device, with insurance for 10 days, it will cost you around INR 4500 (JPY 7150) per device.


There are two types of underground rail in Japan. One is the local subway, operating within a particular city, and second, the JR line, which is more like an intercity network. I'll come to the local network in a bit.

If you travel to Japan and need to go from say Tokyo to Osaka, you have to take the JR line. Now a one way ticket for a journey like I mentioned above costs a bomb, approximately INR 8200 or JPY 14,200. That is why I highly recommend that you apply for a JR pass when you haven't even left for Japan. You get 7, 14 and 28 day passes. Plan your itinerary and take the pass only from the time you plan to use the JR line, such that say, even though your trip to Japan is 10 day long, but you plan to stay in Tokyo for 3 days, you can take the pass from the 4th day to the 10th only. That way, you don't have to go for a 14 day pass and a 7 day pass will work out just fine for you. The costs for each are

7 day ordinary pass - INR 16,850 (JPY 29,110)
14 day ordinary pass - INR 26,850 (JPY 46,390)
28 day ordinary pass - INR 34,350 (JPY 59,350)


The local bus and subway networks are relatively much cheaper. In Tokyo, the subway is very well connected and you can opt for 1 day, 2 day and 3 day subway passes. Their costs

1 DAY PASS - INR 465 (JPY 800)
2 DAY PASS - INR 695 (JPY 1200)
3 DAY PASS - INR 870 (JPY 1500)

I discovered that in Kyoto, and I assume it is the case with the other smaller cities as well, buses connect the city better. You can opt for a 1 day bus pass for INR 290 (JPY 500)

When I was in Osaka, I had a valid JR pass, so I think I used that to travel around, and you can do the same in Tokyo also as JR trains ply within the city as well. But I think a 1 day subway pass in Osaka is around the same as the one in Tokyo, which is INR 465 (JPY 800)


Food is not as expensive in Japan as some of the other things, if you know what to eat. If you would like to keep it low profile and eat just to survive, you will get a decent meal for about INR 200 (JPY 350). Don't ever buy fruits though, because buying a car might be cheaper! Keeping it simple, you should manage to survive a day with about INR 750 (JPY 1300)


Most of us overlook the expense of reaching the airport, and going back home once you land. Even more of us overlook the expense of food in the airport, because this being an international journey, the wait at the airports tend to be never ending. Also, if it is Malaysian airline or Sri Lankan, a long halt at the Kuala Lampur or Colombo airports respectively, is inevitable. And if you have to eat there, you will need either USD, LKR (Sri Lanka) or RM (Kuala Lampur) to buy food. If you haven't carried that currency, you will need to exchange the money, and exchanging will always leave your pockets lighter than before. Anyway, consider this expense too, if you are on a tight budget, say, INR 1500?


And like I mentioned above, exchanging first to a foreign currency and then converting all that back once you are back home, will eat up a small, usually neglected, amount of money. It might be a small amount, and even I don't know how much I lost in that, but let us consider that 5% of the total budget shall we? When we total up in the end, we will add this too and see how much of a factor it is.

Now, these were the things in which spending money is inevitable. Even though completing a trip with just this much is highly impractical, let us still add it up and come close to a 'minimum budget'. I will consider the trip to be 10 day long, and a JR pass of 7 days. If you are planning to add more days or otherwise, just add/remove the cost for per day food, per day accommodation and 1 day passes.

JR PASS - INR 16,850
FOOD - INR 7,500

TOTAL  - INR 85,850/-


This is a basic expense on paper. There are a thousand other ways to spend more without even realizing. This, of course, is very subjective, I will try and come up with few things that most of us usually spend on, apart from the basic ones mentioned above


Japan has many unique, beautiful and weird things which you can buy. I can't mention all of them but once you go there, you will want to buy everything. Things are not that cheap though, so I suggest you keep aside a minimum of INR 10,000 for this only. I kept telling myself 'when am I ever going to come back' and I kept buying everything. If you are on a budget, don't tell yourself that!


Most of the places in Japan have free entry, but you might have to pay in a few rare places, like Edo Tokyo museum (INR 350/ JPY 600) and Okochi sanso garden (INR 580/ JPY 1000) just to name a few. There might be other places which I didn't go to, and there might be an entrance fee there. So keep around INR 2000 that.


Not many places will scam you, but if you go for dinner in Shinjuku, you will end up paying a dynamite. Keep INR 1500 more, just in case.


I know I already mentioned food in the previous category, but that was just the bare minimum. If you are a foodie, and a non vegetarian (no offence to vegetarians, but veg food is very rare in Japan), you will find a lot of unique foodstuff to eat there. If 750 is the budget for basic food, keep INR 2000 for awesome and experimental food per day, which is INR 1,250 more than basic


This category is too subjective, so I will not add it to the grand total, but let me just mention what could be. Karaoke is apparently a must-do when in Japan, something which I missed out on sadly. That doesn't cost too much, probably around INR 250 per half an hour (JPY 430). I did not go clubbing as well, but my friends did. If you plan to go for a night out, you will end up spending just a little higher than what you would spend in a club in Bangalore. But if you decide to come back home in a taxi because the metro closed down for the day, you will end up spending a lot. I cannot tell you specifically, but just to give you an idea, a 6-7 kilometer ride might cost you around INR 1,500-2000. There is something called the Robot cafe in Tokyo, and is a huge tourist attraction. You need to pre-book and go, and that might cost you around INR 4,000.

These are all the factors I could think of to be taken in consideration. Keeping clubbing aside, let us add all the factors

FOOD - INR 12,500

TOTAL - INR 27,300

Adding it to the basic expenses

GRAND TOTAL - INR 1,13,150

I believe that if you decide to go for a trip, you must have a minimum of 20% of the total budget as spare money, in case something goes wrong, or you overshoot the budget. So for a 10 day visit to Japan, our total budget is around

(*drum rolls*)


Every individual/ group likes to spend their vacation in their own way, with their own set of priorities to make it a trip to be cherished. While somebody might manage with 90k, another individual might choose to spend 5 lac in a single trip. So this list is far from conclusive. Either way, it is more important to have a trip to remember and trust me guys, Japan is one place you must travel to one day. If it means you have to save money for it, I say start today and make it happen. To help you out, I will have another post out by next Friday stating 'everything you need to do before you land in Japan'. Visit again, keep traveling and have a great week.

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