Budget Travels: Tokyo

Want to make the best of your trip to Tokyo? This post might help you spend less than what you expect. While Tokyo was once dubbed as one of the top cities with a high cost of living, we can never deny that traveling there may exhaust our budget and come home with an empty pocket.

Here are the things to consider for a perfect budget travel:

Transportation

1. Traveling within Japan 

  • Local Bus : Japan Bus Line | Willer Express
    • If you are away from the airport access, traveling through the local bus is the best choice. The downside of this option is you have to sit for a long period of time (to prevent this always get out of the bus on every stops).
  • Shinkansen: Japanican
    • Shinkansen ticket prices are known to be expensive as it obviously gets you faster to your destination, but Japanican’s website displays discounts for a trip with the shinkansen and hotel combined.
  • Plane: Jetstar
    • Jetstar has always been our choice when going to Kyushu. It is one of the airlines with the cheapest airfare within Japan destinations.

2. Traveling from another country

  • Cheap Flights / Promo Seats
    • Your local airlines may offer flight promos, so be sure to subscribe to them for promo alerts or regularly check their website for discounts!
  • JR Pass
    • After arriving in Japan, the JR Pass offers discounted tickets or unlimited rides for foreigners passport holders and/or temporary visitors.

Train Passes

Getting train passes for your travel will save you from the hassle of buying tickets in the station’s ticket machine. Just keep in mind not to travel during rush hours because you will be completely stuck inside the train.


Hotel Accommodations

1. Booking.com

  • Recommending this to you because I have already booked three times here and everything went smoothly. Just remember to print the pdf after checking your reservation details as it will serve as your entry ticket to the hotel.

2. Airbnb

  • I booked here once when my mom and I traveled to Osaka. It was a fair agreement as I was able to ask the host if we could check-in for as early as 10am. She is cool about it because she is a fellow Filipino. Before deciding to book, look for reviews, the total cost of your stay, and contact the host to make sure your stay will be as comfortable as you expect it to be. (Get $31 to travel on Airbnb!)

3. Couchsurfing

  • What I read about Couchsurfing is it is completely free, but of course you need to return the favor of letting you stay in their place. If you’re willing to meet nomadic people like you then give Couchsurfing a try! (Make sure to do safety measurements first before contacting the host, although the stay it’s free, it can never guarantee your safety.)

Things to ask when booking a hotel:

  • Is it near the train stations?
    • Staying near the Yamanote loop line is probably the most convenient because the line stops at some of the most famous spots in Tokyo – Shinjuku, Shibuya, Harajuku, etc. Also, if you miss your station, you can just continue riding on the loop until you arrive again at your destination! (It’s time-consuming though).
  • Are there convenient stores/ restaurants around or inside the hotel?
    • Some hotels will have restaurants inside, it may be a little bit pricey so you can resort to convenience stores or cheap dining around.
  • Is it quiet during nighttime?
    • If you want a livelier atmosphere at night, stay around Shinjuku. Otherwise, it is best to stay in Ueno for a calm, relaxing nightlife.
  • Is it safe?
    • Make sure to stay away from suspicious areas. Reading the hotels reviews will inform you about the safety of the area.
  • Can the host/ staff understand English?
    • Considering that you will stay in Tokyo, most hotel staff may be able to communicate with you in simple English.

Food

The best experience in traveling is when you taste the local specialty foods. You can ask the hotel staff where the famous local restaurants are.


My Hostel Recommendation

When I traveled to Tokyo, I stayed in Oak Hotel which is located in Ueno. The hotel is well-situated because it is very close to the convenience stores, a few restaurants can be reached within short distance. Ueno is a complete opposite of Asakusa even though the two cities are adjacent. The area is very peaceful at night, businessmen walk their way towards home, a few tourists would commute on their way back to their hotels.

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The girl who leapt through time

 

What’s not to miss during the trip to Takayama is the open-air museum located west of the train station, Hida Folk Village (Hida no sato). Because of the vast space of this exhibit, it is quite isolated from the other sightseeing places around Takayama. Albeit being secluded from the main attractions in Takayama, Hida No Sato boasts the replicas of the village head’s house, huts, storehouses and farmhouses during the Edo Period.

The entire village is open for exploration and over 30 well-preserved cultural structures are scattered around the village.

The main houses across the Goami Pond (Goami-ike) near the entrance.

Koi Fishes and Ducks in the Goami Pond (You can feed them for 50 yen!)

Aside from the picturesque landscape the village offers, visitors can try some of the classic Japanese outdoor games (I wasn’t able to try all of those though because I was already distracted with my original plan: take a lot of instagram-worthy photos! -I semi-failed with this though ><)

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Traditional water gun target
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Playing with giant stilts. Being able to walk with these is not an easy task ><;

The gassho-zukuri houses (hands joined in prayer) unique with its thatched and steep roof.

Another type of house during the Edo Period uses a Kurebuki roof which, just like the thatched roof, can sustain the heavy amount of snowfall.

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Oh look! A wishing bell!

Sitting next to Hozumi’s house, the sight of this huge bell intrigued me of its purpose. The bell was supposed to grant wishes to anyone who followed the instructions written in front of the wooden fence: First is to make a bow, then Strike the bell once and finally make a wish during the echo. Despite my exposure to the rituals in the temple/shrines where bells are also rung, this significant artifact definitely piqued my interest as it echoed throughout the village.

Moving further inside the village, we found a wood crafting house. Aside from the woodcrafting house, the neighbor houses also have its own crafting specialty, too bad we aren’t able to try because nobody was tending the area. Nevertheless the woodcrafter’s sole existence in the world of arts and crafts satisfied us.

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Neko-chan souvenir!

The woodcrafter demonstrated his skills when we arrived in his niche. Inisde his abode are several masks made from wood, keychains, home decor, etc. Glad I was able to buy the cute little cat as a way to support the artisan.