Budget travel - what's reasonable?

Jul 22nd, 2003, 10:26 PM
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Budget travel - what's reasonable?

My daughter, age 12, would really like to go to Japan. If we go, these would be the specs:

It would be a 10-14 day trip.
We would probably only visit two major locations (say Tokyo and Kyoto, or whatever is most recommended!)
We would stay at hostels, or accommodation in that general price range.

Given these constraints, what would be a reasonable budget, excluding airfare? I'm fairly good at budget travel in Europe and the US, but I suspect that it might be somewhat more difficult to do moneysaving things like make our own meals or look for the cheapest restaurant prices. Also, I think the trains are expensive.

What would you see as a low-moderate budget for such a trip?
WillTravel is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2003, 11:36 PM
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Bonjour Willtravel,

Travelling in Japan is not necessarily very expensive, provided that you're ready to stay in hostels or small inns. See here for addresses all over Japan: http://www.itcj.or.jp/indexwel.html ; in Kyoto http://www.kyotoguide.com/index/index.html

You should consider a railpass if you intend to travel between Tokyo and Kyoto or further (7 days: adult Yen 28,300 Child YEN 14,150, details here http://www.japanrailpass.net/eng/en02.html ), but remember that the pass doesn't cover travel inside cities outside of Tokyo.

Finding cheap but good food is easy since most restaurants ususually have windows displaying menus and prices. In addition, there are many typically Japanese fast food chains and 24 h/day shops that sell good and cheap meals - wait until your daughter discovers "Nikuman" (meat in a steamed bun) in a "Combini" (convenience store, ubiquitous) ;->. Bread, dairy products, and pastries are delicious so that takes care of breakfasts. All in all, I'm used to spend no more than Yen 3000 for food, that on a day I'm feeling like spending much.
Don't miss the opportunity of the odd kaiseki meal, though!

Finally, browse here for more information on travelling on your own http://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/

and don't hesitate to come back on this forum for more informations, suggestions, etc.

Florence is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2003, 11:42 PM
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well japan and budget is an oxymoron(SP) tokyo again is named most expensive citiy in the world this year..

ok hostels/guesthouses are you only chouce but they cost more then "3 star" hotels in most contries..

in kyoto toji-ann hostel is pritty good.. it't a backpacker haven... they have free bread peanut butter and boiled eggs whcih cuts costs big time... sometimes they give out free beer....it is a cool place but the bathrooms are not good and when i was there "mickey mouse" kept on getting snagged in the traps..

another way too cut costs is eating pre made foods from famaly marts and 7-11's

another big big tip.. be verry well prepared and know were you are going gettiing lost will cost you big.. especially if you have too tale a taxi....
orgy7 is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2003, 04:17 AM
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Bonjour Orgy7,

Yes, Tokyo is always rated most expensive city in the world, but for those who actually LIVE there, not for tourists (unless you want only 5* hotels and the finest Kobe beef at every meal).

The hotels, hostels, and inns listed in the Welcome inns website cost generally less than a 2* in Switzerland, food is cheaper than in France.

And with a good map, the business card of your hotel, and a smile, you won't get lost in Japan.
Florence is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2003, 11:50 AM
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if you are staying in toyko most of the trip is a rail pass nessicary (doing one day trip to Nikko and one to Hakone) or would getting a pass still save money?

how do you get around toyko? subway? what does it cost?

addwag is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2003, 02:14 PM
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Thanks for all the responses! This makes me a little less afraid of the budgetary shock issue. What would be the advantages and disadvantages of each of the following time periods:

Winter holidays (around Christmas/New Year's)
Spring break (March)
Summer break (July or August)

Maybe summer is out, since I do not enjoy really hot weather.
WillTravel is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2003, 10:49 PM
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The best way to go to Nikko or Hakone is by private rail company (Odakyu from Shinjuku for Hakone, Tobu from Asakusa for Nikko), so a railpass won't save you anything for moving inside Tokyo. As I wrote previously, you don't need to spend all that much in subway or train inside Tokyo, since most "must see" are located close to stations on the Yamanote line and best explored on foot.


Christmas/New Year is a great season to be in Japan, very festive atmosphere and Tokyo is calmer and less poluted than usual since a great number of its inhabitants will have left to visit their families for the holidays. The downsize is that all administrations and state museums/zoos are closed from approx. Dec 28 to Jan 4. It leaves quite a lot to see, though.

March, especially the end of the month is great: good weather, cool but not cold, and just in time for Hana-Mi, cherry blossom viewing.

July and August can be unbearably hot and humid in Tokyo and make your stay unpleasant. Better spend them in other places where the heat is mitigated by festivals and other pleasant events.
Florence is offline  
Jul 24th, 2003, 01:44 AM
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florence.. actually the servey shown on BBC did include cost for tourists... but it should not matter that much too wildtravel since he/she will be budgeting, but lets not kid ourselves.. you will not get a good bang for the buck there.

I'm just speeking from backpacking in jjapan twice in teh past 5 years... whil

orgy7 is offline  
Jul 24th, 2003, 01:52 AM
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I suppose all depends on what you consider a "good bang for the buck"

Personally, I find London and Geneva much more expensive than Tokyo, but it must have to do with my experience of 20 years of budget travelling in Japan ;-)
Florence is offline  
Jul 24th, 2003, 09:53 AM
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In September 2002 in London, I had a budget that worked out to about 35 pounds per day (so $55-60 US per day) - for hostel accommodation, food, local transport, attractions and entertainment. Is that similarly possible for Japan?
WillTravel is offline  
Jul 24th, 2003, 10:18 AM
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In case I wasn't clear, that was for me alone. So for my daughter and I, would a budget of $120 US per day be reasonable?
WillTravel is offline  
Jul 24th, 2003, 10:55 PM
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WILD you will be fine with that budget no probem...

FLORENCE I consider a good bang for buck in staying in most of the rest of the planet like south america south east asia. the midle east..were for $55 dollers you can stary in a hosltel for a week. eat 2 meals a day for the week and have enough too go clubbing at the end of the week .. .. but you are correct europe is expensive as well helll i had too sleep in the streets more then once.....
orgy7 is offline  
Jul 26th, 2003, 04:52 AM
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The Welcome Inn websites show double rooms for 8000 yen. Food for two, based on Florence's budget, about 4500 yen. Three subway rides for two people would be around $12/day? All that totals about $115 US.

orgy7, you are confusing rock bottom low prices with value. Rail travel in Japan is expensive, for the Japanese. For visitors, who can buy and use JR passes, train travel is a great bargain. The JR pass prices may be high relative to a person's budget, but they are still a great bang for the buck.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Jul 27th, 2003, 07:17 PM
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WillTravel- Japan is not dirt cheap, but you do get a huge bang for your buck. One of the best things is that eating in little restraunts is not only affordable, but you know before you walk in exactly what you will get and at what price, due to the little food models. There is so much to see that is free also...fabulous parks, little temples, people watching are all exotic enough that you don't have to spend big money to enjoy yourselves. My teenage daughters found lots of fun stuff to buy within their tight budgets...one even found several pairs of unique jeans for less than $15! Jeans in the Department stores could cost well over a $100 dollars and western style breakfast in big hotels will set you back plenty, and museums can be very costly if you go to every one you pass. The trick is travel simply and watch your budget. Go with your daughter...I promise you you will have an unforgetable trip!
lcuy is offline  
Jul 30th, 2003, 11:32 PM
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Another question for this helpful group:

I am a reasonably experienced traveller, but I haven't gone to Asia. How intimidating is Japan likely to be for one woman and one 12-year-old girl (or maybe 13 or 14 by the time we get there)? I'm thinking about the stories I've heard of women being groped on the trains and also more mundane things like finding the correct exits at the train stations.

I would hate to put my daughter in a situation that was unpleasant. In terms of difficulty, how would you rate Japan as a travel destination?
WillTravel is offline  
Jul 31st, 2003, 03:42 AM
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Bonjour Will,

The stories about women being groped in trains are real but far between and mostly occur in very crowded trains at rush hour. In more than 20 years of travelling alone in Japan (and at first as an unexperienced and innocent traveller), it has never happened to me or to any friends of mine. My mother remarked last spring on her first trip there that even in crowded places like main stations, you were never in close contact with people and never felt your privacy was invaded as you would in similar circumstances in an European city, and that she was feeling strangely safe at all time everywhere we went (of course, she didn't know I was carrying a big stick ... ;-) ). There is very little street crime and almost never directed at foreign tourists. You will find out that the Japanese are very friendly and love children.

Don't worry about getting lost, since you will always find someone ready to help you find your way as soon as they see you hesitate or draw a map (ask to be sent free maps in advance from your local office of JNTO, addresses at www.jnto.go.jp ). Always carry a business card of your hotel to show to taxi drivers, policemen*, shopowners, or anyone who could help you. Ask hotel clerks or TIC attendents to write down in Japanese the address of places you intend to visit.

*always carry your passport with you, it is required by law and policemen are allowed to ask it anytime. Not having it means an unpleasant time of being lectured at length ...
Florence is offline  
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