Welcome back to one of the last entries in this blog series about my upcoming trip to Tokyo. I might squeeze one or two more in berfore I actualy go. It is less than two months away now. In today’s blog, I go into detail about how I work out my overall cost and daily budget. Some of the values below are estimates and some are definite as I have already paid for the services in advance. Working through this article has helped me to work out roughly how many Japanese Yen I will need to take with me and what my actual daily costs are going to be. Let’s get started.
This cost is a definite value as I paid for my flights months ago. I waited for a Jetstar sale to be available online and worked out the best time to fly to Japan. I am pleased with the cost of the flights. Although the sale price was $470, by the time I added luggage and meals, it was $741. So much for a budget airway. I am talking in Australian dollars.
Transport costs are not too bad in Japan. Especially given the flexibility and usability of the rail networks. The first transport cost is the NEX Narita Express from the Narita airport to Shibuya. It is a ¥4,000 YEN or $51 return ticket.
I already have a Suica that should still be working. I will top this up when I next use Shibuya station with around ¥2,000 Yen or $26. I may or may not need to top it up again during my trip. It just depends on how often I use the trains.
The other transport cost is my return ticket from Shinjuku to Nikko where I am spending one night. This is a special ticket I have to purchase from Shinjuku station. The Nikko Pass World Heritage Area is a ticket that covers the return rail trip plus unlimited use of the tourist bus that travels from the station up to the world heritage sites in the mountains. This will be a further ¥2,000 Yen or $26.
So at this point, my total travel costs are going to be around ¥8,000 Yen or $100.
I am arriving on a Friday night and will be taking the Narita Express train from the airport directly to Shibuya Station. I am spending the first three nights in the same hotel in Shibuya. The hotel cost me $450. This is a little more than I had hoped to spend. However, I would have had to stay further away from the central areas of Tokyo. More train costs and time on trains. I am walking distance from everything this way.
I will be spending one night in the mountain town of Nikko – 2 hours north of Tokyo by rail. This is at the cost of $150. The tourist bus included in my Nikko rail ticket stops right outside my hotel.
After my night in Nikko, I will return to Tokyo for the remainder of my trip, I will be staying in Asakusa. Again I am staying in a hotel with a small but neat and safe room. For the remaining two nights it will cost $226.00.
Total accommodation costs will be $826.00.
If you have not read my recent blog on eating options in Japan, you should be checking it out. In that blog, I wrote about all the possible options from cheap convenience store meals to department store basement delights. Now I may not get to experience all of those options. And I want to stick to a budget. Breakfast is already included in my hotel room rate.
Lunch will more than likely be street food while I am out and about. Or a picnic in Yoyogi Park or Shinjuku Park. Lunch should not exceed much more than ¥1,000 or $13 per day. Dinner will depend on the options I choose. I want to try some different food experiences without breaking the budget. With a couple of drinks, dinner should come in at under ¥2,000 or $25 per day.
Then perhaps add a small budget for snacks and cold drinks during the day of around ¥500 or $6.50. All up, food costs will be ¥3,500 or $44 per day. I am Japan for 6 full days, so that’s about ¥21,000 or $264. Let’s round that up to ¥23,574 or $300.
Other bits and pieces
Soon I will be ordering a Japanese data sim to be delivered to my house here in Australia. That will give me unlimited social media access plus 3GB of additional data. That will cost $50. Some temples, shrines and parks have a small entry fee. Usually under ¥500 or $6. I will put aside ¥2,000 or $24 for that.
Souvenirs and gifts? At this point in time I have nothing on my wish list to purchase while in Japan. I have done that in the past but not this time. I want to focus on the photography opportunities rather than buying things for myself. I may purchase a trinket or two. As for gifts, the kids know that I am going on a budget. But I will still grab them something each. So I can put aside $100 for that part of the trip.
What’s The Damage?
In terms of the cost of the overall trip, including what I have already paid and what I am yet to pay, it comes to around $2,100. Keep in mind I am travelling solo. Out of that, actual cash on hand for food, drinks, transport and any shopping will be a total of $500 to cover six days. That is around $85 per day or ¥6,600.
Cash or Card?
I have mentioned in past blogs that Japan is still a very cash reliant country. However, you don’t see ATMs anywhere on the streets. Most people will withdraw some money from convenience stores, and this is a safe and practical way for you as a tourist to operate also. Some convenience stores will also have international ATMs that allow you to use your Australian Bank and Credit cards to withdraw cash. I have found them in 7/11 and Family Mart.
Some stores and restaurants do accept credit cards, but you always have to consider then the international transaction fee that your bank may hit you with. But don’t be surprised to find that a lot of stores will not take cards at all. Even taxies prefer cash. You can also load up the train SUICA card to use as a tap to pay feature at most vending machines and even in taxies and some convenience stores. So that is another option.
Personally, I will get a travel Visa card from my bank and load that with half of the Yen I will need for the trip. The travel cards are far more convenient, and there are no fees. You can also top them up via BPay, but this can take a few days to go through. The other half of my needed cash I will carry in actual Yen in my wallet. I order this from my bank and that way I am not charged any fees.
The other thing to remember is that as it is a cash reliant society, you will end up with pockets full of change every day. Unlike here where they eradicated 1 and 2 cent pieces and opted for a rounding system years ago. And personally, here in Australia, I don’t carry cash. I use my iPhone to pay for everything. Products in Japan will cost ¥67, or ¥2,351 and so on. I still have a bag of coins from my last trip ready to take back with me.
Some final words on cash. Don’t haggle for a better price. The Japanese believe that they set their prices fairly and they do not take any part in haggling. I would say given their culture, that this could be viewed as an insult. Also, don’t tip. Australia is not a big tipping country anyway. But we sometimes will drop our change in the tip jar when buying a coffee. But in Japan, you do not tip. Again, they feel that your business is all the reward they need and that they have done their very best. At shops, when dealing with cash, it is prefered that you place the cash on the small oblong tray next to the register. Chances are, they will give you your change back on the same tray. So that pretty much covers it. I hope that this has given future travellers a bit of an insight into how to budget a trip but also how to manage your money whilst in Japan. Happy travels.