Let’s not kid ourselves; A trip to Tokyo, Japan can be quite expensive. Especially if you didn’t do much forward planning. If you want to travel cheaply in Japan, you can use these awesome tips to budget your money and experience everything Tokyo has to offer.
Spending your holiday on a tight budget in Tokyo is possible. Masaru Okamoto, my Airbnb host who’s born and raised in Japan shared some helpful tips to enjoy a luxury Tokyo getaway for budget travelers. Here are 5 insider tips on how to save money while traveling in Tokyo.
1. Travel during off-season
According to Mr. Okamoto, if you want to get a cheap rate for hotels or Airbnb, then you should book during late autumn through March (except of course for the New Year’s holiday season). During the winter season, hotel rates are way cheaper compared to a summer season. Winter in Tokyo is mild to chilly. I would personally prefer to stay there when it’s not hot and humid because I already experienced Tokyo’s hot weather. Trust me, you don’t wanna be all sweaty.
2. Eat at budget restaurants
Japan is known for its best food in the world, but did you know that you can also buy mouthwatering sushi for an affordable price? Japanese people are very professional and they take so much pride in culinary service. For as low as 500 yen ($4.39), you can eat like a local and find a delicious meal at fast food outlets. Fast food in Japan has great quality unlike in other countries where they serve unhealthy food.
Head to Tokyo Station and dine in at inexpensive fast-casual restaurants they offer. Look for local ramen shops, izakaya (bars), bakeries, or 7-11. They all serve great quality food without emptying your wallet.
3. Take the subway
If you’re used to taking Uber or taxi back home, get out of your comfort zone and try Tokyo’s public transportation. Tokyo trains are fast, inexpensive, clean, and very easy to navigate. Just purchase a Suica or Pasmo transport card at the train station so it’s easier to get around and see all of the city’s major areas and attractions.
It’s 500 yen for the deposit of Suica transport card, then you will get a refund once you return the card. It’s very convenient because you don’t have to bring coins.
4. Go to free attractions
The best things in life are free! Just like in Tokyo, most of the tourist attractions in the city are either free of charge or with a minimal fee (less than $10). If you like scenic views, head to Ueno and Asakusa area where you can see Ueno zoo, Japanese garden, Sensoji temple, and the famous Meiji Shrine.
You can spend one whole day taking the city tour. But if you’re like me who likes to chill and take my time, maybe 3-4 days would be enough to explore Tokyo.
5. Tax-free shopping
Most major shops in Japan offer tax-free shopping for international tourists. As a rule; always bring your passport with you when you go shopping. The top 3 things most people buy when they go to Tokyo are electronics, cosmetics, and geeky toys.
Akihabara is the best area to shop in Tokyo. It’s popular for gamers, gadget lovers, coffee lovers, and cosplayers.
Is Tokyo expensive to visit? Yes, if you’re going to compare it to other Asian countries. But not compared to Western countries like US or UK. One thing I know for sure is that Japan is an amazing country to visit and I can’t wait to go back there soon.
Have you been to Tokyo, Japan? Please share some budget tips down below. Thank you! 🙂