Traveling is not cheap, and a huge part of the cost comes from accommodation. Sure, you don’t have to stay in a fancy hotel as business hotels are more affordable, and you can save even more by passing the night at a hostel or capsule hotel. However, some of us (hello!) want to save as much as possible so we can splurge our budget on other parts of the trip, such as trying out all the high quality local cuisines. So let’s put comfortability aside for just a bit, here are 5 cheaper options that perhaps you can work into your next travel plan in Japan!
Photo by DesignStudio on Wikimedia Commons.Not really a hotel, but it comes with the basic facilities even if they are often shared. You can find rooms (or bed spaces in share-houses) for around 3000 JPY per person or cheaper if you aren’t holding high expectations. It might involve a bit of searching and luck to find a good one, so I’ll put this at #5 and move on to even better ideas.
4. Night Bus
Long distance travelers in Japan often take the Shinkansen to their destination, reach their hotel, then start their explorations from the next day. My preferred method is to book a midnight highway bus instead, explore city A until 11pm-ish before hopping onto the bus (and they will bring your luggage too, of course), have a good night sleep on the bus, wake up the next morning and get off to start checking out city B. Considering the buses cost around 60% of the price of the bullet trains (around 6000 JPY from Nagoya to Tokyo, for instance) and saves you from paying for a hotel, it can be a life-saver especially when you are visiting several cities.
When you need a place to stay and it’s late already, consider staying over at a karaoke joint by going for the ‘free-time night plans’. For about 2500yen per person, you can sing (or sleep) from night until early next morning. Turn the lights off, turn up the air-conditioning, and you’re good for some Z’s. If you want to spend some time singing (and maybe drinking) with your friends, consider spending the night there too.
Just make sure you bring some earplugs to block out the party a room over if you are staying at a nigh-life-heavy district.
2. Manga/net café
Yes, the karaoke option isn’t the most comfortable when you only have long (though soft) benches, so what’s even better is a manga/internet café. They have the ‘flat bed’ space and that is basically laying on a thin mattress, and the 8-hours night plan would cost merely around 2200 JPY. Grab a couple extra cushions and blankets and you have yourself a little comfortable private space. Drinks and entertainment are available, but the best has to be the option of using the shower room, which might be included with your night plan or often 300 JPY otherwise, so you can end or start your day refreshed.
1. Your Rental Car
This is my latest ‘discovery’ and it made my recent Hokkaido trip absolutely unforgettable (in a good way). If you are renting a car to travel somewhere more rural, look up websites where travelers with similar minds share intel on which park or road-side rest areas you can park your car at for a good night rest. I used syachuhaku.fxtec.info for my recent Hokkaido trip and we learned about the noise levels, water source, washroom abilities (and how clean they are), and even travel tips. Best part? Free, and no reservations necessary. You can find a public bath (also from the same website) to clean up between nights. We rented a little Hondo Fit for about 3000 JPY a day (for two people, mind you!) and packed a couple of blankets and left a little window gap at night, and the rest of our summer trip budget went into enjoying all the amazing Hokkaido food. Again, if you’re traveling rural and renting a car anyway, definitely keep this option in mind.
These ideas aren’t for those looking for a vacation with maximized relaxation, but for people like me whose wallet is never maximized, these ideas can turn trips from future plans into reality.