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newbie solo traveler! budget traveling Japan for a month

newbie solo traveler! budget traveling Japan for a month

Apr 11th, 2015, 12:45 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2015
Posts: 2
newbie solo traveler! budget traveling Japan for a month

So as the title says, I am a newbie solo traveler. I am a female in my early 20s and will be traveling around Japan for 4ish+ weeks. I want to hit so many places! My top places I am definitely visiting are Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, and Hiroshima. But in addition, Ive heard Nara, Yokohama, Kamakura, Kobe, Nagoya, Hakone, and Shizuoka are wondrous (although I am really not sure what they offer). I am obviously still trying to figure out the exact locations I am going to ^.^" So, I basically have no idea on how much the trip would total. I figured...

flight: ~$2000 round trip (flying into Tokyo from the western US and traveling back to Tokyo to fly out?)
in between travel: ~$800?? (japanese rail pass: ~$400, and then Im adding $400 to be on the safe side of other transportation)
lodging: ~$1800 (decently priced hostels/hotels...about $60 a night Im assuming)
food: ~$1200 (maybe $40/day? I do not drink and am not a heavy eater)
extra spending cash: ??

Does this seem about right? Im actually trying to see the price to travel europe for 3 weeks vs japan for a month (or a bit more). Which would be cheaper?

*if anyone can advise me on what cities shouldn't be missed too, that would be so great!

Thanks to all
travelbug92 is offline  
Apr 11th, 2015, 01:25 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 32,777
Do you have a guide book? That is a good place to start. And the best web guide is

Price out whether a rail pass save you money or if you are better off buying individual tickets. We bought individual tickets.

You should be able to fly to Japan from the Western US for considerably less than $2000. But you may be underestimating lodging costs. Check on open-jaw flights - into one city out of another to save time and travel costs.

You can find lots of inexpensive places to eat.

Hard to compare Japan and Europe prices as the various countries in Europe are so different from each other in price. The good news is that you will have favorable exchange rates with both the yen and the euro.
Kathie is offline  
Apr 11th, 2015, 02:04 PM
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 774
Japan is the cheapest first world country for food and lodging. Stay at Toyoko Inns (or other business chains) for about $50 a night. Join their "Club International" and get 5-20% off, and a free night every 10. Book online and save 300Y, turn down housecleaning and save another 300Y... http://www.toyoko-inn.com/eng/index.html
There's a new one opening in Shinagawa (busy Tokyo suburb) that is under $40 a night for an intro period: http://www.toyoko-inn.com/e_hotel/00246/index.html

Breakfast is included. It is easy to do lunch for about $7 and dinner for $10.

Airfares are under $1,000 right now. Get an open jaw into, say, Tokyo, and out of, say, Fukuoka (from where the routings are often cheaper and faster via Seoul than Tokyo).

The regional train passes are often better deals than a JR pass: http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2357.html

Now as to where to go...you need to do some reading. And think beyond central Honshu.

Remember that the summer climate is unbearable, don't go there Jun-Aug.
someotherguy is offline  
Apr 11th, 2015, 09:24 PM
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 889
You asked some interesting questions, so let me address them separately.

Japan versus Europe: I don't know about Europe, but the dollar is strong against the yen, so it is a great time to go. Also, for me, the fascination with Japan is its cultural isolation. The Japanese politeness and sincerity is truly unique. Since you a very young, this could change over your lifetime, so now would be a good time to go.

Lodging: The good news for solo travelers is that many hotels have single rooms. They are not claustrophobic, and they consist of a bed against a wall, a ledge above the bed for your water, phone, etc., a desk area opposite the bed, and a bathroom. The small square footage keeps the cost down. You can find a room like that for $35 - $55, sometimes including a breakfast buffet, everywhere but Tokyo, where the prices are higher. Another poster mentioned the Toyoko Inns, but I think that there are other hotels that give you more bang for your buck, such as the Dormy Inns. Some hotels even have ladies' floors--they are typically on a high floor, and they put all sorts of cool toiletries in the room.

Rail Pass: As others have said, the JR Pass for foreigners is only good if you are travelling at a rapid pace. Go to the Hyperdia website once you have your itinerary set. I have sent my luggage ahead to the next city twice, for about $15, so I could hop on and off the train. The luggage will appear at your next hotel.

Safety: Japan is perfect for a lone female traveler. Men will never bother you, in fact, they will rarely make eye contact with you. They are very respectful of women. Also, Japan is the only place where I ventured into a dark alley to use a bathroom.

Food: I like to go to a big grocery store and get a big tray of sushi for about $7. They also have tons of other foods, sort of like a Japanese Whole Foods. You can either sit in the store, or take your food to your room. Also, you can drink tap water in Japan.

Total costs: I use mileage awards for my plane tickets, so I don't know the prices. I would suggest going to the website "Kayak" to get an idea of routing, but I would buy the tickets directly from the carrier. I took JAL last time, and it was just ok, even in business class. On my last trip recently, where I traveled alone for three weeks, I averaged $100 per day, not including international air fare. This included train tickets, hotels, and food. I would have spent much less, but I splurged on a three day car rental and pricey resort near Mt. Aso.

Itinerary: This is such a personal decision, but with four weeks, I would suggest spending half the time doing the usual tourist route, and another half going to a more unusual place. I like Kyushu, but your tastes may be different. I like nature, and I like to just walk and walk. One more idea, how about the Shikoku Henro Trail, or at least part of it? I am thinking of doing that next year--you visit 88 temples on foot, and it takes six weeks, but you could just do a segment.

Hope this helps.
CaliforniaLady is offline  
Apr 11th, 2015, 11:24 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 9,220
What a wonderful opportunity, 4 weeks in Japan, that sounds wonderful.

It depends on your personal travel style but I'd suggest not trying to cram too many places in, even with your four weeks, but taking advantage of the opportunity you have to really settle in to some of the places you visit.

You could easily spend 10 days in the Kyoto area, for example. 6 nights in Kyoto plus additionals in Nara, Osaka, Koya-san and an overnight (or 2 night) trip to Hiroshima/ Miyajima. You can also visit places like Kobe, Uji (green tea), Yamazaki (if you like whisky) and more.

Tokyo, again, whilst I usually suggest less time here and more in Kyoto to people who have limited time at their disposal, if you do have time, you could easily spend 5-7 days here, more if you take trips out to Nikko and Hakone.

I haven't been to all the places you mentioned, but did enjoy our two nights in Takayama - our visit coincided with their autumn festival, which we really enjoyed.

We also spent a wonderful 8 days in Kyushu but we self-drove, rather than rely on public transport. I know others here have visited Kyushu using trains / buses so they can better advise on that. We loved Kyushu but a big part of that was the beautiful and mountainous rural scenes we drove through as well as the places we visited.

I'm so excited for you!

p.s. I echo the recommendation to spend as many hours as you can reading japan-guide.com - fantastic resource and a super starting point.
Kavey is offline  
Apr 11th, 2015, 11:26 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 9,220
Here's an example 21 night itinerary from japan-guide.com which gives just one potential starting point for consideration:
Kavey is offline  
Apr 12th, 2015, 07:47 AM
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 2,870
I saw your post on the Europe board as well. I travel often to both Europe and Japan (just got back). I have kids your age who are big travelers as well. Bottom line: Your budget is reasonable for either place. if you're not going in the summer, I would recommend Japan because it's ultimately more life changing. If you do plan to go in the summer, I would do a beach/city Euro trip, focusing on the more affordable places like Greece and Croatia.
crosscheck is offline  
Apr 12th, 2015, 09:42 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,252
>>Does this seem about right?

Your total budget of $5800 is about right, but over on the airfare. You airline ticket should be about $1000, maybe less, but not over $1250 from "western US".
mrwunrfl is offline  
Apr 16th, 2015, 06:29 AM
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 42
Your food budget of $40.00 U.S. per day can be easily met. I spent closer to $30.00 per day and ate really well. I usually ate giant bowls of ramen at shops where you put in a yen coin in a machine, get a ticket and give it to the chef who will cook your meal for you. These places are all over Japan.
takeaway7 is offline  
Apr 17th, 2015, 03:26 AM
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 137
I could not find any good reasons for Shizuoka on your list...

Anyway, this report at the japan-guide on highway buses would be helpful, marking all the seven largest cities in Japan (+ Kyoto) on a single plot.
LuisJp is offline  

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