Budget Travel Japan: How much will it cost me?

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Budget Travel Japan: How much will it cost me?The cost of visiting Japan can be intimidating for many travelers. In reality, visiting Tokyo and Kyoto can be much less expensive than Europe’s premier destinations or a road trip through the United States. People become transfixed with the idea that Japan is going to break the bank, however, with careful planning and a couple sacrifices you can budget less than $100 per day. I am going to highlight your main expenses while visiting Japan and ways that you can save money!

I have broken down the trip into four basic expenses: transportation, accommodations, food, and attractions. Adding these categories together, you can get a realistic idea of cost per day. Add in the cost for a flight and you have a preliminary budget. For comparison’s sake, the cost of visiting Japan is quite similar to backpacking through Europe. The extensive transportation network and availability of hostels can really help you save money.



Budget Travel Japan: Transportation Expense
Photo by Ryan Kilpatrick via Flickr


One of the main reasons to visit Japan is the extensive public transport system. You don’t have to worry about renting or driving a car as most places are easily reached by train or bus. The JR Pass is a perfect option for those who are looking to cover a lot of ground in a short period of time. The cost is around $40 per day (for a 7-day pass) and allows for unlimited use of the bullet train and local Japan Rail lines. For those who are taking the slow and steady approach, night buses allow transportation between cities and provide a night’s worth of accommodation.

Cost Breakdown:

$20 – $30/day for people intending to use intercity buses instead of the bullet train

$35 – $50/day for JR Pass holders 



Budget Travel Japan: Accomodation Expense
Hopefully you don’t mind sleeping on the floor. This is a two person private room.


There are plenty of hostels in Japan that offer a wide selection of dormitories and private rooms. If you’re traveling as a group or couple, splitting the cost of accommodations can be extremely reasonable. For example, private rooms average $80 per night and can be shared between two people. Beds in a dormitory start at $30 and increase depending on the number of people in the room. Do you remember the night bus? For $60 you can get from Tokyo to Kyoto and not have to worry about finding a hostel for the night. This will also mitigate the $150 cost of using the bullet train.

Cost Breakdown:

$30 – $40/day for a single bed in a dorm

$40 – $50/day for couples sharing a private room in a hostel



Budget Travel Japan: Food Expense
A typical meal of beef udon you can buy for $8-$10.


In general, the cost of buying food in Japan is quite reasonable. The cheapest method is to buy groceries and cook in your hostel. In my experience, this can drop costs to around $10 per day while providing better nutrition. For longer trips, it’s important to have a well-balanced diet to prevent getting sick. For people who don’t want to cook, basements in department stores can offer a wide selection of food at a low price. You can piece together some large meals for less than $10 while sampling some of Japan’s most popular food. The cost of eating in a basic restaurant begins at $8 which will get you soup, rice or tempura dishes. Fancier establishments and fresh sushi start at $20.

Cost Breakdown:

$10 – $20/day I’m going to cook almost every meal for myself

$20 – $30/day I’ll eat out once per day and cook the rest of my meals

$30 – $40/day Most of my meals will come from basic restaurants and department stores

+$50/day My intention is to eat at one nice restaurant each day



Budget Travel Japan: Attraction Expense
Walking around Fushimi Inari, one of Japan’s most iconic sights is 100% free!


A lot of the most popular temples in Japan have $5 entrance fees, but many places like Asakusa and Fushimi Inari are free. On average, I was spending $15 and seeing 3-4 big attractions per day. If you plan on visiting cultural sites, plan on spending $10-$20 per day. You can add major activities as a one time expense.

Cost Breakdown:

($10 – $20/day) For the days you’ll be visiting cultural sites such as castle and temples

($X a one-time cost) If you’re planning any extra activities, for example, tickets for Tokyo DisneySea



Now is the time to add all the daily costs together and multiply by a number of days you wish to visit Japan. The next step is to estimate how much a flight will cost to Tokyo and add this to the running total. My daily expense was $110, in my opinion, this is very reasonable compared to visiting other well-developed countries. In addition, it’s within reason to budget $75 per day if you’re planning on cooking for yourself and taking intercity buses instead of the bullet train.



Based on the estimates, how much would your daily cost be?  Comment your number below and be sure to check out my Japan Travel Guide for more tips! Thank you for reading my article on Budget Travel Japan. 


Budget Travel Japan: How much will it cost me?

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