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Saturday, October 15, 2011

How to Travel on a Budget Around Japan

It has been a year since my backpacking trip to Japan.  I was lucky to have visited this lovely country and would have love to back six months later, however, due to unfortunate events, I had to cancel my trip to Japan a week before our scheduled departure when the Tsunami - Nuclear Crisis that hit Japan remained uncertain.  Nevertheless, I just wanted to relive the journey, here's my story:

Traveling around Japan is almost always equated to being expensive.  Generally speaking, yes it is.  But there are ways to cut down your costs, and we did just that when I joined a budget tour operator.  Transportation, food and accommodation comprise the bulk of any travelers' cost.  

Ten hectic days of backpacking Japan can be exhausting, nevertheless, we found ourselves enjoying the experience, roughing it at least once in our lives.  I'm sharing my thoughts and some tips, join Tokidoki in his  journey:

  • If you have time to spare, take the bus and/or subway; instead of bullet trains and taxis.  Plan your trip, plot your stops and make reservations when necessary.   Check out unlimited day passes.
  • While going around in public transport, avoid the rush hour.  It can be so crowded, the locals walk fast in flocks!  Rush hour is between 730 to 900am, 530 to 700pm.
  • Settle in hostels, they are generally clean and wifi is free.
  • Eat to your heart's desire.  Dine in fancy restaurants but you can never go wrong with the many casual diners (go where the locals go) or even the convenience stores or grocery.  Per meal budget: at least 2,500 in a fancy restaurant; 1,000 to 1,500 yen for casual dining; 500 yen for ramen; 110 yen for bottled water.
  • Avoid touring at the height of summer, July to August.  Best time to party under the cherry blossom trees at the end of March to April  or see the burst of colors during autumn from October to early December.
  • Exchange enough yen at the airport, money changers are not readily accessible in the city.
  • Learn a handful of Japanese words ( I hope I got everything right):
    1. wakarimasen - i don't understand
    2. sumimasen - excuse me
    3. toi-le wa - where's the toilet?
    4. iie - no
    5. hai - yes
    6. sakana - fish
    7. buta-niku - pork
    8. gyuu-niku - beef
    9. ebi - shrimp
    10. tori-niku - chicken
    11. gohan - rice
    12. mizu - cold water
    13. oyu - hot water
    14. sha-ke - salmon
    15. "shio" (salt) "shouyu" (soy sauce) or "miso"- for different ramen soup base 
While finishing up my travel journal for Japan, I just got hold of another round trip ticket to Narita courtesy of Mabuhay Miles.  I'll be back in Tokyo, sooner than I thought!  Can't wait to party under those cherry blossom trees :D

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