During my stay in Japan, it is kind of unfortunate if I do not use this chance well to explore the beauty of Japan. Because I do not have really much excess money, I usually arrange a low budget itinerary for my trip.
I avoid using travel agency because I think the itinerary is sometimes too expensive for me and the time is not flexible. Moreover, the place I want to visit maybe not be covered by the travel agency.
There are three points that I always consider before making itinerary: how I go, where I should stay, and how I should eat during the trip.
Firstly, let’s discuss about transportation. There are many kind of transportations that we can choose in Japan and all is comfortable. The problem is just depends on your budget and your destination because sometimes there are places that only can be reached by certain transportation. Shinkansen would be too expensive although it is fast therefore the choices would be trains or buses. Bus is cheaper than train yet it takes longer time and it can be very late due to the traffic jams. Train in the other hand is more expensive, but it also depends on which type of train you ride such as local or express or limited express train, and surely train is faster because it does not need to deal with traffic jams. But honestly, I prefer using bus than train because I hate doing norikae or transferring to another train on the way. I usually use night bus since I can just sit and sleep until I arrive without worrying to do norikae. Sometimes day bus is cheaper than night bus, probably because only few people want to spend their productive time on the street.
Photo : Hideyuki KAMON on FlickrYou might have heard also about 18 kippu (juuhacchi kippu) which is a ticket that allows you to ride on local rapid JR trains excluding shinkansen and limited express train. This ticket is only available during school holiday seasons and includes five days travel for 2,370 yen per day. But personally I do not really like using 18 kippu because it takes longer time and I have to do several norikae. Once my friends and I fell asleep during our trip to Osaka using 18 kippu and we almost missed one station to transfer.
Plane looks like expensive but if you can get promo ticket from LCC airlines then using plane is a lot cheaper especially if your destination is far. Some LCC airlines always have promotion periodically so it is better if you can check their websites regularly. I have ever go travelling with car too and car may be a good choice to travel around Japan because it can reach more tourism spots sometimes. It is cheap of you have some people who want to travel with then you can rent the car together and one of you can drive it.
If you are a student in Japan you have one more way to get cheaper transportation, it is by using your student discount. The student discount paper can be printed out in your campus and if you show this paper when you buy bus or train tickets, you will get up to 20% discount from the original price.
There is an easy way to explore the city in one day cheaply if you travel to a big city in Japan. You can use the one day pass ticket for buses or trains. Each city has different regulation about one day pass ticket, sometimes it only covers the trains or only the buses and sometimes it covers both or other type of transportation. The price usually starts from 500 yen to 1000 yen.
Until now, whenever I go travelling in Japan I never stay in the hotels or guest houses so maybe I cannot give some advices how to find a cheap one. Based on my experience, it is better if you have friends in the place where you want to travel so that you can stay in their places, if they do not mind of course. Beside you can visit your friend, you get free lodging and probably free breakfast too! For the cheap hotels, I only know about capsule hotel which I think it is the cheapest hotel. It costs around 2,500 yen per night but probably you can find this type of hotels only in Tokyo and Osaka. Sometimes to save money too, I make my itinerary which made me not have to find any places to stay in particular place by sleeping in the bus or train on the way to my next destination.
Photo : Fougerouse Arnaud on FlickrI am not a type who like doing culinary tour during travelling. I usually only eat “fancy” meal once in one day, for example I eat teishoku or the local food there. And the rest, I can simply buy onigiri or breads or bento in the convenience store. By doing this way, I can save my money a lot during the trip.
Those are the tips that I can share here about travelling in Japan with low budget which are all based on my own experiences. Maybe you have a better one :) Anyway, enjoy your trip in Japan!