Will you be able to survive 8 days in Tokyo with a tight budget?
‘Japan is an expensive place. You need to save up a lot if you plan to travel there’, has almost always been the narrative from people we know when they heard we were traveling to Japan.
After our brief stay in Japan, our friends could have attached a Polygraph (aka ‘lie-detector’), when we told them how much we spent during our stay.
‘Japan is an expensive place’ – Myth Debunked. Well, it is not ‘third world country’ cheap, but it is also not as expensive as one might think, thanks to cheap Vendo food and AirBNB accommodations.
Here is the breakdown on how we survived 8 days in Tokyo with a ₱15,000 per person.
Not included on the breakdown are Airfare and airport fees and your typical budget for souvenirs or ‘pasalubongs’. We got a really good deal for our airfare as we only spent roughly ₱3,000 for a two-way ticket for Tokyo and back with Cebu Pacific’s airfare promos.
Accomodation (around ¥8,000 or ₱3,200++)
Wipe your eyes. You are not dreaming. There a number of really cheap accommodation choices in Tokyo and you can scour them via Agoda, Booking.com, AirBNB and others.
There are a number of hostels in Japan, but oddly enough, they were still pricey for us. We searched every corner of Agoda and Booking.com but just couldn’t find the accommodation that we were looking for until we tried & saw one in AirBnB.
The house that we rented was just a few meters from Hiro-o Station (Hibiya Line). The place was cheap but neat, had really good reviews, and the owner spoke really fluent English which was a big factor.
Since it is basically a house, it had a stove, washing machine, fridge and all the necessities that we needed. The room we rented was a family room good for 4 (2 double decker beds) as 2 of my sisters, plus her daughter was with us during the trip and it was spacious enough to fit 4 adults and 2 kids.
Food (around ¥16,000 or ₱6,400++)
There are lots of food choices you can try when in Tokyo. The cheapest full meal we have seen in Tokyo would be the Japanese Curry Rice which would range from ¥300 to ¥650 while Japanese Bento could range from ¥450 to ¥900. Ramen is priced around ¥600 to $1000. Sushi, depending on the shop is priced around ¥100 per serving.
Your food budget would definitely depend on your appetite. Our breakfast was either Bento/bread we bought the night before or cup noodles. We tried our best not to skip any meal and we ate what we saw was interesting during our walks, like this Taiyaki (Fish-Shaped Japanese Sweets) that we saw on the sidewalk while strolling in Akihabara.
Transportation ( ¥7,200 or ₱2,900++)
Although pricey, Japan has really effective mass transport system which will get you anywhere you want in the Metro. The subway stations are well laid-out that not by any chance did we take a cab during our stay. We only used the bus once from Narita Airport to Tokyo Subway Station and have always used the train no matter where we headed to.
Almost all tourist spots are near subway stations too, so you will most likely use the subway compared to the other mode of transportation.
¥1,000 Bus Narita Airport to Tokyo Station
¥ 500 Purchase/Deposit of PASMO Card (IC Card for train tickets and other transactions like vendo machine)
¥4,500 Estimated Top-ups Spent on PASMO Card mainly used on train rides.
¥1,200 Ueno Station to Narita Airport
¥7200 spent on transportation or around ₱2900
This was the biggest factor why our expenses were actually low. Most people who visit Japan actually has ‘multiple cities’ on their mind on their itinerary, Tokyo-Osaka-Kyoto as the most popular choice. We actually considered that route, but since it was the first time that we were traveling with our baby, we wanted to take a slower pace so we just opted to stay in Tokyo for the whole duration of our trip.
Bullet trains from Tokyo to Osaka/Kyoto has a hefty price tag. If you have the money to spare, you’d be more than welcome to try that. For us, this gives us all the more reasons to come visit Japan again as we have only tried Tokyo and would love to explore other places like Kyoto and Osaka among others.
Adventures/Miscellaneous (around ¥6,200 or ₱2,500)
Well-preserved Temples and shrines and beautifully-landscaped gardens inside a buzzing metropolis, is how I’ll describe Tokyo from the top of my head. Majority of the tourist spots in Tokyo are free, but there are quite a few spots where you have to dole out an amount.
A big chunk of the miscellaneous expense was actually spent on touristy things like souvenir pictures, rides in Tokyo Dome City & gate fees to a few tourist spots.
We had 2 kids during this trip, so a visit to a zoo (Ueno) and an amusement park (Tokyo Dome City) had to be done.
Tokyo Disneyland and Sanrio Puroland was considered but it was the least prioritized as I know it’s expensive and our baby, 7 months old during the trip, would most likely not remember anything about it.
The budget for souvenirs was not included on the above breakdown as this will certainly depend on what you want to buy. Before the trip, I have already started a new hobby building Gundam, and yes, it was a mission for me to buy one from Japan during the trip. I ended up buying 3 Gundams, all of different grades and some tools for the build and I also bought a Canon photo printer and a G-Shock, all of which are priced almost double if bought in the Philippines. For these stuffs plus some, I spent around ₱14,000 more or less (yes, that Gundam was expensive).
Sheena, on the other hand, spent his ‘souvenir budget’ shopping for dresses for her and for our baby and it only cost her around ₱5,000. If you are a big fan of brands like Forever21, H&M, Uniqlo to name a few, you’re going to have your money’s worth as these brands are really cheap. Example, shirts that may cost around ₱1,000 in the Philippines may only be sold at ¥1,000. We have a good feeling these brands only replace ¥ to ₱ when selling their items in the Philippines.
So there you have it. We survived 8 days in Tokyo for just 15,000 which means traveling cheap in Japan is indeed possible.