Many people think that Japan is very expensive, and Tokyo, a heart of Japan, should be extremely expensive, isn’t it? It’s true that Japan is expensive compared to other Asian countries, but it’s pretty normal if you compare the price to European countries. In this article, I will show you how to travel on a budget to Tokyo.
1. Travel in off-peak time
The first tip is to avoid traveling in the peak time.
There are some main vacation periods in Japan such as New Year, Golden Week (late April to early May), and Obon (mid-August). In these periods, Japanese people do not need to go to work or study, which they always do, so they will spend time traveling or shopping.
During these periods, the service price is very expensive. The price of hotels, hostels, or any type of accommodation increase steadily.
Furthermore, there are so many people on the street, or in any popular places, so you will need to wait for hours if you want to enter any places, or even to buy anything. You will be so tired of just waiting and cannot do anything whole day.
Therefore, it’s not a good idea to travel in peak time in Japan. In order to save your money, and save your time, let’s choose another time to enjoy the best of Tokyo.
A normal night in Shibuya, Tokyo
2. Don’t use taxi
Taxi in Japan is crazily expensive. The price for opening the door is around ¥650 to ¥800 ($6.5 to $8) depends on where you go. Also, after the first kilometer, you will be charged more, and you will be totally broke before you reach the destination.
3. Sleep at Internet Cafe
The cheapest way to stay overnight in Japan is staying at Internet Cafe or called as Manga Kissa, which is a place to read comic books. In Manga Kissa, you can find private cubicles, which have 1 armchair, or a couch, or a flat to sleep. I always choose a small flat because it’s more convenient. There are showers (depending on which place, you may need to pay shower fee or not), blanket rental and vending machines for food. Manga Kissa always provides free drink bar, and sometimes with ice-cream too. A ‘night pack’ (for 6 to 12 hours) starts at around ¥1500 ($15) and 2500 ($25), depending which type of private cubicles that you choose.
4. Don’t buy Mobile Data
In many places in Tokyo, you can find free wi-fi. Free wi-fi can be found in restaurants, shops, hotels, and transportation points such as train stations. You can also use free wi-fi in shopping malls as well. Therefore, it is not necessary to pay money for internet if you visit Tokyo. If you get lost, just enjoy it and ask people on the street!
5. Eat at local and budget restaurants
The best thing when traveling is to explore food. You can save money but still eat delicious food by choosing local and cheap restaurants. If you are a big fan of sushi, why don’t you go to ¥100 sushi restaurant? You can choose any type of sushi with a really cheap price!
6. Use public transportation wisely
a) Local train
Public transportation in Tokyo is not expensive. If you want to save money, you can choose local trains, which stop at every stop. It’s also an interesting way to explore the beauty of Tokyo.
If you stay in Tokyo for more than 3 days, I suggest you buy railway pass. It’s really convenient and you can use trains as much as you want.
Going by bus is not a good idea because there are so many people on the street. You may be stuck on the bus for a long time and waste your vacation time.
d) Highway night bus
You can choose this type of bus if you plan to go somewhere further. If you want to go to Osaka from Tokyo, using Highway night bus will be a cheaper option.
7. Visit free place
There are a lot of free and beautiful places to visit in Tokyo. Therefore, let’s check them out before you intend to spend money in some other places. Furthermore, there are a lot of stores (especially department stores) offer tax-free shopping to foreign tourists spending over ¥5000, so ask them before you purchase.
Takeshita Street is a good place to visit for free!
In the summer of 2016, I had a solo trip to Tokyo, without internet, didn’t book any hotel or hostel, just stayed at the Internet cafe. It was one of the best memories in my life.