Japan is famous for its ability to balance tradition with technical innovation. For a student traveler, the choices between old and new are never-ending, with accommodation options ranging from buddhist monasteries to capsule hotels.
Many international students in Tokyo experience the hardship of exploring the country while they try to save money. According to CNN, Tokyo ranked ninth among the 2018 World’s most expensive cities. Ranking number one in the world for most three-star Michelin restaurants and having endless entertainment options, life in Tokyo can be very expensive.
Despite these accolades, Tokyo can be quite an affordable place to live in depending on one’s lifestyle. If properly researched, there are many ways for those on a budget to experience all that Japan has to offer.
The three basic travel expenses are accommodation, transportation and food. While there are also a number of secondary expenses such as museum admissions, souvenirs If basic travel costs are carefully planned, there may be more room for secondary expenses, and thus it is important to understand how to achieve that.
Accommodation : Japan has a strong hostel culture. Hostels are the cheapest solution for students traveling solo or with friends. The Hostel atmosphere provides visitors with many chances to meet new people, especially other students.
In Kyoto, for example, hostels can be booked from ¥1500 per night, which is considerably cheaper than any other accommodation type. Similar rates can be found in Tokyo as well.
Another cheap solution is CouchSurfing, a hospitality social network founded in 2003, with over 31,000 hosts in Tokyo, and around 3,400 in Kyoto. Guests can be hosted by local residents throughout Japan, and occasionally the hosts will show them around, give valuable tips and make the overall stay more enjoyable.
Transportation : Transportation in Japan can be expensive, especially taxis. Public transportation, such as trains and buses, are almost always on time, and are considered the most convenient way of getting around. However, Japan’s famous bullet trains can be very expensive. A two-way bullet train ticket from Tokyo to Kyoto costs around ¥26,000, while at the same time traveling by night bus will get you there and back for around ¥6,000 while only taking a few extra hours to get there.
Alternatively, the Japan Bus Pass allows students to travel anywhere in Japan by bus for a cheap fare ; the three-day unlimited travel pass can be used Monday to Thursday costs ¥10,000, while the seven-day unlimited travel pass that can be used Monday to Thursday costs ¥15,000.
Food : No matter where you’re traveling to, Japan has a wide selection of food choices. Whether you’re going to convenience stores, street food stalls or larger restaurants, most offer lunch and dinner deals, which allows traveling students to enjoy good food and manage their travel budgets at the same time.
As for secondary costs, there is a surprisingly vast amount of free activities, including parks, museums, and guided tours. Although Japan is not the cheapest travel destination, there are ways to save money, just as shown in this article.