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My PhP 57,000 Japan Solo Trip Budget for 11 days

Japan’s notoriety for being one of the most expensive destinations in the world has greatly affected its potential for tourism growth. But during the last few years, considerable efforts to put an end to this age-old rumor has become more and more palpable. Some of the perks visitors now enjoy include heavily discounted transportation passes, free wifi connection across the country, and generous tax deductions on certain purchases. A budget traveller like myself was even surprised to find out how seemingly affordable everything was during my first visit in autumn of 2014.

My 11-day journey in the land of the rising sun fittingly began in the culinary city of Osaka and ended in the country capital of Tokyo. And in between these two equally interesting destinations, I managed to squeeze in side trips to Kyoto, Hiroshima, Hakone, and Kawaguchiko (for Mt. Fuji) – all within a budget of PhP 57,000 (USD 1,280).

I didn’t intentionally restrain myself from spending just for the sake of proving a point. But I was quite sensible with my spending habits (I wrote a list of all purchases made) to see primarily how far I can stretch my limited resources.

So where exactly did my PhP 57,000 go?

jpan budget

japan budget photo

TRANSPORTATION
A good 1/3 of the general budget went into transportation expenses within Japan, trains for the most part. The biggest chunk of this 1/3 went into the purchase of a 7-day Japan Railways (JR) pass (JPY  29,110 or PhP 11,688). It appears expensive, sure. But this pass gives you unlimited access to all JR-run trains all over Japan, including the bullet trains. If used wisely, the JR pass can give you decent savings on transportation expenses. Besides, riding the Shinkansens, especially on your first Japan trip, is already an experience on its own. The ultra-fast ones require additional fee, though. Also included in this was the sum spent for 3 transportation passes (Kansai Thru Pass, Hakone Free Pass, Kyoto Bus Pass) and an ICOCA card (prepaid travel card) which made riding non-JR trains hassle-free.

FOOD
Now this is the part where I ask you to spare me from your judgment. Hahaha! You know it would be a complete shame not to try one of the world’s finest cuisines and witness the meticulous food preparation of skillful chefs in a restaurant’s open-kitchen display when you are in Japan. The countless ramen hunts, sushi gluttony, and takoyaki stopovers accounted for 17.15% of the total budget. And every bite was worth it! Burp.

ACCOMMODATIONS
For a uniquely Japanese experience (and because there weren’t that many choices for accommodations given my lack of preparation for this trip), I stayed in capsule hotels both in Tokyo and in Osaka and in a well-restored traditional Japanese guest house in Hakone taking up 16.17% of the total budget. I wrote a separate article on how to score cheap accommodation in Japan HERE.

AIRFARE
My open-jaw tickets (Manila-Osaka; Tokyo-Manila) via Cebu Pacific Air cost PhP 7,233 (~USD 163) which could have been significantly cheaper had I booked it during a piso fare offering. Unfortunately, I only came across 50% discount promo airline tickets for my intended dates of travel making airfare the 4th most expensive element of this trip at 12.98%.

SHOPPING
This part gets a little tricky. For this trip, my total pasalubong and personal shopping ate up just a tenth of my total funds. But this can be a potential budget breaker depending on your shopping appetite/ threshold. I mainly stuck with generic pasalubongs (matcha goodies) and some personal purchases from Uniqlo. When you’re there, you will find the countrywide sale of the the ABC Marts (shoe store) and all the display of everything manga in otaku shops very hard, if not impossible, to resist. I mean, how could you say no to a Nike Roshe Run sneakers being sold for just PhP 2,804 (~USD 63)/ pair or that hard to find Funko Pop vinyls you’ve been eyeing for months? 🙂

ENTRANCE FEES
The entrance fees taking up 6.61% were for temples in Kyoto that require payment upon entrance (Nijojo, Kinkakuji, Tenryuji, etc.), a 1-day pass to Disneysea in Tokyo, and all the other paid sites in Osaka and in Kawaguchiko.

GOVERNMENT
Lastly, like most Filipinos, I had to give 3.98% to the government in the form of Philippine travel tax and airport terminal fee. It must be that expensive to maintain NAIA’s status as one of the world’s worst airports, noh?  :p

27 thoughts on “My PhP 57,000 Japan Solo Trip Budget for 11 days

  1. Thanks, Gheline! If you have other questions, just leave a message. Would love to help fellow travelers.
    Safe travels!

    -Chris

  2. Hi Chris,

    Does the JR pass pay off even if you only took one-way Shinkansen? Some advice to purchase the JR pass only when doing a roundtrip (Tokyo to Osaka and vice versa).

    Thanks,
    Dee

    • It won’t pay off if you only take a single Shinkansen ride. Here’s what I did to maximize my 7-day JR Pass:

      Osaka – Hiroshima (JPY 9,710)
      Hiroshima – Odawara [for Hakone] (JPY 17,500)
      Odawara – Tokyo (JPY 3,220)
      Tokyo – Otsuki [for Kawaguchiko/ Mt. Fuji] (JPY 1,490)
      Otsuki – Tokyo (JPY 1,490)
      TOTAL 33, 410 vs JPY 29,110 for a 7-day Ordinary JR Pass

      These are just the major trains transfers that I did on my trip. I’ve also used my pass for short distance train rides in Osaka, Kyoto, and Tokyo. You will rely heavily on your JR Pass once you reach Tokyo as most touristy places are serviced by JR-run trains (i.e., the Yamanote line).

      Another tip: Make sure to RESERVE seats in advance on the Shinkansens. Why?
      1. Reserved seats are more expensive than unreserved ones. You get more value out of your JR Pass! Reservation fees are waived for JR pass holders.
      2. You won’t have to queue to secure train seats. If you’re traveling as a group, reservations guarantee that you’ll be seated together.

      Hope this helps!

      -Chris

      • Thanks for this, Chris!
        Will list down our train routes and see if getting the JR pass will be economical. It might turn out getting a single Shinkansen ticket is better than getting the pass.

        By the way, I am thinking of making revisions on the initial itinerary and might just do the reverse — Osaka to Tokyo instead of Tokyo to Osaka. Will Namba be a good area to book a hotel? I am considering Fraser Residence Nankai for our family of 4. 🙂

        Thanks again,
        Dee

        • You can check train routes within Japan at http://www.hyperdia.com/en. A single Shinkansen ride from Namba to Tokyo costs JPY 13,860 per person.

          Flying (via Jetstar) may be more economical than taking the bullet train. However, if you factor in travel time (to and from the airport), cost of transportation transfers, and the inconvenience (dragging your luggage through transfers), taking the Shinkansen would be the more practical and relatively stress-free option.

          Yes, Dee. Namba’s within walking distance to Dotonbori (food street) and Shinsaibashi (shopping area). Fraser’s received positive reviews on TripAdvisor. That’s a good sign. 🙂

          -Chris

  3. P57,000 is not bad at all for a 11days trip in Japan. I will definitely use this as a guide when I travel to Japan. Thank you for creating a clear and concise guide for travelers

    • I appreciate your comment, Honey! 🙂 It could’ve been a lot less had I devoted more time preparing for this trip. Do send a message if you have specific Japan travel-related questions. Will be happy to help!

      -Chris

    • Bringing your family to Japan in spring makes the experience more special. 🙂 My mom had a grand time having her photos taken with the cherry blossoms last March. All the best on your planned trip. 😀

      -Chris

    • I’ll be waiting for your trip report, Roxy. 🙂 Let’s take advantage of this relaxed visa policy Japan’s currently offering us.

      Safe travels!

      -Chris

  4. “how could you say no to a Nike Roshe Run sneakers being sold for just PhP 2,804 (~USD 63)/ pair”
    Where can 1 find those shop? Thank you! 🙂

    • All over Japan! 🙂 There are stand-alone ABC Marts in touristy cities (Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto). Some are inside the malls. In Shinsaibashi, one store is just a couple of blocks away from another. 😀

  5. Hi Chris! We’ll be going to Japan this coming December 3 to 7, 2015. We’ll be landing in Osaka and vise versa. Given a short number of stay, do you think it’s possible for us to squeeze in going to Tokyo? If yes, what’s the budget-friendly mode of transpo? I heard that taking the bullet train is very expensive. While taking a flight from Osaka to Tokyo would mean the same (I think). So, I’m still thinking whether to skip Tokyo and visit it some other time? Buttt.. My worry is, it would require us another set of bookings again = thousand of pesos will be shed again. Gah. So hard to decide.

    Thanks in advance! And sorry for the very long query.

    • This is too late a reply. But I’m sure you’re already planning your next Japan visit. 😀 Squeezing Tokyo from Osaka is possible, but is not recommended for a short stay. I did Osaka-Tokyo in 11 days but it feels a bit rushed. 🙂

  6. Hello Doctor/Traveler/Blogger 😉

    Thank you for sharing…

    Your Japan Travel trip helpful for me, since were planning to visit it this Christmas season as first timer, can i ask during your travel to Japan, do you hire any tour guide. We have this itinerary Manila-Osaka : Tokyo-Manila for 6 Days only is getting JR Pass for 7 Days is economical for us? This JR Pass can buy only once you arrived in Japan or can buy online?

    • Hmmmm… Hard to tell. It depends on what you’re planning to see in Japan. 🙂 Use Hyperdia and plot all your train routes. That’s the best way of gauging whether purchasing a pass for your intended trip will be worth it.

      -Chris

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