Riding a shinkansen going almost 200 miles per hour with a green tea from the vending machine and a curry pastry from the a train station bakery is one of the many small yet unique experiences that you can have only in Japan. This summer, I traveled by myself to visit my best friend who was interning in Japan. This was my first time traveling internationally alone. While Japan may seem overwhelming and expensive, it’s surprisingly doable on a budget! These are some of my insider tips to getting the most out of your experience in Japan while being frugal.
Japan Rail Pass
Purchase a Japan Rail Pass in order to see the entire country, which is surprisingly doable! The Japan Rail Pass is a one to three-week pass to travel by trains and shinkansens (bullet trains) nationwide. We took advantage of this and went from eastern to western to northern Japan. Transportation is expensive in Japan, so buying this pass will save you lots of money in the long run if you plan on traveling around nationwide. They also have similar passes for region-exclusive travel.
Japan is well-known for its food, which lives up to the hype! It doesn’t have to be expensive. Search in random neighborhoods and alleyways to find hidden gems. The best way to eat out is to take advantage of combination meals. You can often find a wide array of food in a bento-style box or platter for under $10.
Get to know fast food chains, grocery and convenience stores. These have incredible fast and filling food for an unbeatable price. I literally went to a “konbini” or convenience store every day. They’re everywhere and have some of the best food you will ever try.
Tokyo Disneyland Resort (Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea)
A surprisingly cheap excursion to go to in Japan versus the United States is Japan’s Disney Parks. A one day pass is 7400 yen, equivalent to around $66.85. A one day pass to the U.S. Disneyland park ranges from $104 to $149. That’s a huge difference! Tokyo DisneySea is also the only one of its kind in the world with a sea-theme, unique characters and attractions.
Despite being a broke college student traveling solo around Japan, I made it work and thrived on a budget. Do not miss out on those small yet meaningful moments that the country offers. What are you waiting for? Book your ticket to Japan! Make sure to do your research and use sites like Skyscanner and Google Flights to find the best deals and times to fly.