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Need help to set up itinerary for trip to Japan in August 2019

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Jan 5th, 2019, 07:47 AM
  #1
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Need help to set up itinerary for trip to Japan in August 2019

I am 65 years old but a travelling enthusiast and love to visit new places, see their culture. I am planning a 2 week vacation to Japan and would like to be a budgeted traveller $200 per day. Is it doable? I just like to travel at my pace and just see 2 to 3 cities but don’t want to miss important sites of that city. I would appreciate if someone could help in my travels, places to stay etc. I am US citizen and travelling alone and still lot of places to see on my bucket list!
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Jan 5th, 2019, 08:36 AM
  #2
kja
 
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Perhaps the single best source of information on travel in Japan in japan-guide.com -- spend LOTS of time with it!

With two weeks you can see Kyoto and Nara (perhaps 6 days for the two), Tokyo (3 to 6 days, depending on your interests there), and maybe one other place for just a couple of days.

Hope that helps!
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Jan 5th, 2019, 12:41 PM
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Thanks
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Jan 5th, 2019, 09:46 PM
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tt7
 
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Exciting!

First question - is your timing flexible? Weather-wise, the optimum time to visit Japan is probably mid-March to May and mid-September to November. Summer, particularly July and August, are hot and humid so most people try to avoid that period.

For a first-time two week visitor, the usual suggestion would be some sort of ‘loop’ involving Tokyo and Kyoto, either Tokyo and then Kyoto and back to Tokyo or perhaps Tokyo - Kyoto - Kanazawa - Tokyo. Tokyo is modern Japan writ large, Kyoto is the historical and cultural heart of Japan.

If you fly in to Tokyo, there are two airports - Narita (NRT) and Haneda (HND). Haneda is usually ‘preferred’, simply as it’s closer to the city but it’s not critical. Depending on what airline you’re planning on using, you may also consider flying into or out of Kyoto’s airport (KIX... Kansai International) which is the other side of Osaka but easily reached by train. Japanese trains are quick, efficient and a superb way to travel, though they are not necessarily cheap. The fares are the same no matter when you travel or buy the ticket; Tokyo to Kyoto on the Shinkansn is ¥13,910 (about US$130).

A budget of $200/day is tight but doable (assuming it doesn’t include airfare and long distance trains). Japan has a number of ‘business’ hotel chains which may suit you - rooms will be small and simple but they cater to the (usually single) business (or tourist) traveler. We usually reckon on ¥10,000/day for two of us (excluding airfares, accommodation and long distance travel) to cover food, snacks, drinks, coffee, entrance fees (temples and museums etc.), local transportation etc. There are many restaurant chains, hole-in-the-wall places, ramen noodle restaurants etc. etc. where you can eat well for ¥500 - ¥1,500 / meal. Also, “konbini” - convenience stores — 7-Eleven, Family Mart and Lawson being the main players — have an excellent range of snacks, takeaway foods etc. and are widely patronised in Japan. Obviously, there are lots of high-end/expensive hotels and restaurants but (like us) they are probably not of interest to you.

Questions? Ask away.....
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Jan 5th, 2019, 10:47 PM
  #5
kja
 
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Originally Posted by tt7 View Post
For a first-time two week visitor, the usual suggestion would be some sort of ‘loop’ involving Tokyo and Kyoto, either Tokyo and then Kyoto and back to Tokyo or perhaps Tokyo - Kyoto - Kanazawa - Tokyo. .
tt7 has offered some excellent advice, but I'll quibble with two things:
- Depending on the OP's final wish-list, I would strongly urge flying into Tokyo and out of Kyoto or vice versa (rather than a loop).
- With only two weeks, I'm not sure that Kanazawa would be the best city to add to Kyoto/Nara and Tokyo. You might want to consider Hiroshima / Miyajima, or Hakone / Fuji, or Koyasan....

But no right or wrong answers here -- just ideas for your consideration.
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Jan 6th, 2019, 11:30 AM
  #6
 
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Japan has a rich culture, traditional and modern, and unique customs. There is a lot to see and do. What is most interesting, to me, are the Japanese people. What are your interests?

Lodging is your biggest expense and the cost is higher in Tokyo and Kyoto. Those two cities are typical for a first time itinerary to Japan. Kanazawa was mentioned. Hiroshima, Takayama, and Hakone are other popular destinations.
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Jan 6th, 2019, 01:57 PM
  #7
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Originally Posted by tt7 View Post
Exciting!

First question - is your timing flexible? Weather-wise, the optimum time to visit Japan is probably mid-March to May and mid-September to November. Summer, particularly July and August, are hot and humid so most people try to avoid that period.

For a first-time two week visitor, the usual suggestion would be some sort of ‘loop’ involving Tokyo and Kyoto, either Tokyo and then Kyoto and back to Tokyo or perhaps Tokyo - Kyoto - Kanazawa - Tokyo. Tokyo is modern Japan writ large, Kyoto is the historical and cultural heart of Japan.

If you fly in to Tokyo, there are two airports - Narita (NRT) and Haneda (HND). Haneda is usually ‘preferred’, simply as it’s closer to the city but it’s not critical. Depending on what airline you’re planning on using, you may also consider flying into or out of Kyoto’s airport (KIX... Kansai International) which is the other side of Osaka but easily reached by train. Japanese trains are quick, efficient and a superb way to travel, though they are not necessarily cheap. The fares are the same no matter when you travel or buy the ticket; Tokyo to Kyoto on the Shinkansn is ¥13,910 (about US$130).

A budget of $200/day is tight but doable (assuming it doesn’t include airfare and long distance trains). Japan has a number of ‘business’ hotel chains which may suit you - rooms will be small and simple but they cater to the (usually single) business (or tourist) traveler. We usually reckon on ¥10,000/day for two of us (excluding airfares, accommodation and long distance travel) to cover food, snacks, drinks, coffee, entrance fees (temples and museums etc.), local transportation etc. There are many restaurant chains, hole-in-the-wall places, ramen noodle restaurants etc. etc. where you can eat well for ¥500 - ¥1,500 / meal. Also, “konbini” - convenience stores — 7-Eleven, Family Mart and Lawson being the main players — have an excellent range of snacks, takeaway foods etc. and are widely patronised in Japan. Obviously, there are lots of high-end/expensive hotels and restaurants but (like us) they are probably not of interest to you.

Questions? Ask away.....
Thanks. I think very good advice. I am flexible and can go in September and will be in touch with you as I go along. Thanks so much. It is my first trip to Japan and hopefully language is not an issue. If you don’t mind can I ask you directly if I have questions.

Regards
Anand
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Jan 6th, 2019, 02:17 PM
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kja
 
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Language shouldn't be a problem, but it would be considered a nice thing to learn a few civilities (particularly thank you).
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Jan 6th, 2019, 08:27 PM
  #9
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Originally Posted by anandkohli View Post
If you don’t mind can I ask you directly if I have questions.
No problem - I've sent you a private message.
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Jan 7th, 2019, 06:13 AM
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In 2016 I spent five weeks in Japan (my second trip) and my expenses came in at 175 USD/day, not counting airfare to/from Japan but including everything else - accommodation, food, travel, sights. I travel solo. and slept in a mixture of singles and doubles (so did not benefit from splitting the cost of a room with a travel companion). All my accommodation was en-suite with AC and wifi. I traveled almost entirely by train, with one budget flight from Fukuoka to Narita, and one day trip by public bus.

Hotels - I highly recommend staying in Toyoko or Dormy Inns. However, booking for foreigners doesn't open very far out (don't remember the exact time, but I think it is on the Toyoko website). One night in a ryokan would be great for the experience and the food, but is expensive, and it is almost impossible to find a ryokan that will take a single foreigner traveler. This trip I stayed in a couple of Mitsui Garden hotels which were a bit more expensive. https://www.toyoko-inn.com/eng https://www.hotespa.net/dormyinn/english/ https://www.gardenhotels.co.jp/eng/

Trains - I traveled too slowly for a JR pass to be cost effective, but I did use a JR West pass. You should price individual train tickets and then compare them to the cost of the pass. Use HyperDia | Timetable and Route Search in Japan. and don't forget to include the reservation fee.

Food - train stations and the basements of department stores are good place to look for take out. Stations and department stores often have restaurants as well, ranging from budget to (in Kyoto especially) good.

Places - I am not a fan of Tokyo, but I suppose that on a first trip you should include it. This trip I stayed in Nara as well as Kyoto and thought the time well spent. I recommend doing some research to decide where you would like to visit besides Tokyo and Kyoto which will be more expensive and crowded.

I am happy to answer questions, but please ask them here so that others can benefit from/dispute (lol) my answers.
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Jan 7th, 2019, 05:46 PM
  #11
kja
 
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Originally Posted by thursdaysd View Post
I am happy to answer questions, but please ask them here so that others can benefit from/dispute (lol) my answers.
I so agree! tt7 was, IMO, generous in offering to be a personal trip consultant, but one of the great advantages of this forum is that posters get many ideas from people with different interests, preferences, and experiences.
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Jan 7th, 2019, 09:12 PM
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Originally Posted by kja View Post
tt7 has offered some excellent advice, but I'll quibble with two things:
- Depending on the OP's final wish-list, I would strongly urge flying into Tokyo and out of Kyoto or vice versa (rather than a loop).
- With only two weeks, I'm not sure that Kanazawa would be the best city to add to Kyoto/Nara and Tokyo. You might want to consider Hiroshima / Miyajima, or Hakone / Fuji, or Koyasan....

But no right or wrong answers here -- just ideas for your consideration.

Osaka, not Kyoto. There's no airport in Kyoto.

Happy Travels!
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Jan 7th, 2019, 09:25 PM
  #13
kja
 
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Originally Posted by Guenmai View Post
Osaka, not Kyoto. There's no airport in Kyoto.
Indeed, the airport(s) nearest to Kyoto are in Osaka. Osaka's main international airport, Kansai, is easily accessed from Kyoto. A million apologies for any confusion.

Last edited by kja; Jan 7th, 2019 at 09:38 PM.
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Jan 8th, 2019, 01:06 AM
  #14
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Originally Posted by allaboutplumbingnc View Post
There are lots of travel agents online. They will guide you best.
I respectfully disagree!
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Jan 8th, 2019, 06:25 AM
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There are lots of travel agents online. They will guide you best.
Nonsense. They are not in the business of giving advice.
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