How to Travel to Tokyo During the Cherry Blossom Season under P30,000
Whenever I hear people say they don’t want to travel to Japan because they don’t have the budget, I would recall the time when I used to think that way. But in all of my travels to Japan, there was never a time I thought that this first world country was too expensive. In fact, I think Japanese food is way cheaper (and more delicious) than fast food courts in Makati, where I feel like I didn’t get my money’s worth.
So yes! You can travel to Tokyo even during peak seasons like the Cherry Blossoms or the Autumn Foliage in a shoestring budget. It just takes the guts to do so and a huge leap of faith to travel to Tokyo.
There are many, many ways you can save, but here are some tips on how to travel to Tokyo during the cherry blossom season under P30,000.
1. Book cheap airfare using Hopper and Skyscanner
In this era of budget travel, many of you are already accustomed to seat sales and discount coupons. In fact, it’s already becoming a habit to check out Cebu Pacific’s latest seat sale promos! Some are discouraged to look for travel fares because traveling during the Cherry Blossom season is usually expensive. But plan ahead so you can score better travel deals.
Forget signing up for tours at a travel agency because these agencies usually pad a hell lot of fees that will only benefit them. Download the Hopper app (Google Play | iTunes) to know the best dates to travel and the Skyscanner app (Google Play | iTunes) to compare the airlines that fly to Japan.
When flying to Tokyo, always choose to land at Narita Airport as this is cheaper than the Haneda route.
I would also recommend to stick to exploring Tokyo only, and resist the temptation to board the train and travel all the way to Osaka. When you cram two cities in one itinerary, not only will you spend more money but you waste a lot of precious time. Get to know each city at your own pace and you’ll find that’s more enjoyable than cramming.
2. Stay in Capsule Hotels
Capsule Hotels are tad better than backpacker hostels because they provide the comfort you need after a day’s travel without sacrificing safety and cleanliness. You just need to pay attention to some who only allow men to stay. For an average of $30 or 2000 yen a night, Capsule Hotels are usually equipped with a public bathroom, so for those who are painted with tattoos, you’ll have to cover them with a plaster or bandaid. Tattoos are commonly attributed to yakuza in Japan. Also, you will need to keep in mind the hotel’s policies regarding check out as some capsule hotels require you to check out every day. Capsule Hotels are not really for long term use.
Booking.com has a Book Now, Pay Later scheme that will allow you to secure a reservation without having to pay for it yet. This is great, as some capsule hotels employ a free cancellation policy that is useful especially if you find cheaper deals right after your first booking!
3. Skip the JR Pass
If you’re not traveling outside of Tokyo, I don’t recommend getting a JR Pass. In fact, many are enticed with the idea of unlimited train travel using JR Pass thinking that this will help them save money, but in fact, the JR Pass will cost you more than your budget airfare. The rule of thumb is “three time-use”. If you won’t be embarking on JR’s Nozomi train for more than three times, don’t bother getting one.
4. Avail of SoftBank’s Free Wi-Fi passport
Travelers, rejoice! While I highly recommend the renting a pocket Wi-Fi in Japan, SoftBank has a cheaper alternative for you to still remain connected in the Land of the Rising Sun. SoftBank’s Free Wi-Fi passport allows you to connect to public WLAN spots so you can still be able to navigate the trains and fun sightseeing spots, and Instagram your wonderful memories.
All you have to do is to dial *8180 on your mobile and follow the instructions to connect to the SSID. Remember that your mobile network partner should be a roaming partner of SoftBank in order for this to work.
5. Visit Tokyo Disneyland for only a third of the admission ticket price
Night admission passes, or visiting after 6:00pm to Tokyo Disneyland are sold for only 4,200 yen (Price at the time of writing). This is only one-third of the regular admission price for adults, so if you feel like experiencing Tokyo Disneyland at such a magical night and still be able to ride its attractions without queue, this is the ultimate deal.
6. Buy cheap omiyage at Daiso and Don Quijote
Who doesn’t love Don Quijote? Aside from the fact this fun shopping mall surprisingly sells Christian Louboutins’ red soles, you can find everything in Don Quijote tax-free, from all kinds of KitKat flavor to Japanese snacks that you can bring home with you for your friends and relatives. Keep in mind if you want to consume the things you have bought in Don Quijote, you can’t avail of a tax-free option.
7. Skip the trains and walk.
Riding trains in Japan can slowly eat your budget, and all the more reason to avoid riding taxi’s! I recommend walking to take in Tokyo’s beautiful spots without having to spend around ~230 yen per stop. Start at the Shibuya ward and take a photo with Hachiko. Head towards Yoyogi Park on a Sunday afternoon and spot Cosplayers lounging at the grass. Just nearby is Harajuku where you can experience teenage culture in Japan, and a stone’s throw is the area of Omotesando, which is one of my favorite places in Tokyo. Afterwards, visit the neighboring Shinto Shrine Meiji Jingu and perform a temizu. If your feet still permits you, the Shinjuku Gyoen Garden is very near Meiji Jingu, where you can spot beautiful cherry blossoms.
8. Tokyo is full of free tourist spots.
While mainstream places such as Shinjuku Gyoen Garden are paid tourist spots to visit, entrance to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building in Tokyo is actually free, and on lucky days, you might be able to spot Mount Fuji from its observation deck.
The Asakusa Senso-ji Temple and the Nakamise shopping street are also free tourist spots decorated with beautiful cherry blossom trees.
You also don’t need to pay to be able to witness the world’s largest intersection at Shibuya crossing, or snap a selfie with Hachiko.
The Imperial Palace, Nijubashi Bridge and the Tokyo Marunouchi Brick Building are beautiful places to visit without having to spend yen.
9. Think Matsuya, Sukiya and Yoshinoya.
Boy, if I can only take home the entire Matsuya restaurant. We badly need these.
Photo Credits: Japan Times
Vendo Machine restaurants in Japan not only help you save time, but money as well. A Gyudon bowl at the 24/7 Matsuya only costs around 280 yen per bowl. Yoshinoya and Sukiya chains also offer cheap deals without having to feel hungry.
Of course, you can’t leave Japan without eating sushi. Conveyor belt sushi spots offer around 130 yen per plate plus tax. Konbini stores such as Family Mart, Lawson and 7-Eleven can keep your tastebuds alive with their packed bento meals and Onigiri (~103 yen) for breakfast.
You can also rely on train stations for cheap eats. Stores sell bento boxes for less than 500 yen and are an affordable choice not only for tourists but even for salarymen as well.
Contrary to popular belief, McDonald’s, Lotteria, and MOS Burger chains are slightly more expensive than Matsuya, but you can definitely afford a cup of coffee at McDonald’s for only 100 yen.
When in Tokyo, you must visit Depachikas in basement floors of popular malls such as Takashimaya, Daimaru, and Hankyu. You can build your own bento for well below 1000 yen if you know how to choose carefully, as long as you stay away from Kushikatsu’s, or fried foods. A piece of tempura costs around 300 yen, which in my opinion, is not worth your buck. Also, depachika’s go on sale an hour before closing time, so this is the best time to catch good deals.
But it’s possible to not feel left out of Japan’s delicious cuisine by exploring the Izakayas and ramen shops at nooks and crannies of the streets. Fujisoba, CoCo Ichibanya, and Yaro Ramen are some cheap places to eat without breaking the bank, and can score you cheap curry plates below 500 yen and ramen-chahan set meals for only 700 yen.
As for drinking water, tap water in Japan is potable, although bottled water in 7-Eleven stores is incredibly cheap.
10. Try not to shop for clothes.
While Uniqlo and GU are two apparel stores that will tempt you to splurge because of their cheap prices, doing so will break your P30,000 budget.
Keeping your budget within P30,000 for traveling to Tokyo in 5 days isn’t that far-fetched with these travel tips. Now, Tokyo doesn’t have to be out of your reach! Enjoy Japan!
Make the most out of your travel to Tokyo with these stories.
From Hanami to Watering Holes, Here’s How to Spend 24 Hours in Shinjuku
Ultimate Guide to the Best Pocket Wifi Rental in Japan
Spend 7 Days of Summer in Tokyo
Things to Do Before Going to Tokyo (And Avoid Getting Lost)
15 Practical Tips Before Going to Tokyo
Where to Eat at Narita International Airport