Top 10 tips for budget travel in Japan

Out budget travel guide has some great tips for cheaply traveling to many places in Japan, but here are our top 10 tips for traveling on a budget in Japan:

Shop in 100 yen shops

They really are everywhere. From little sections at the back of drug stores to mega malls, all selling items for only 100 yen! You can buy almost anything, from envelopes to notebooks to hot drinks.


Don’t pay for drinks!

You can fill up your water bottle for free at many cheap and fast-food restaurants. Have a look in that restaurant you want to visit.  Are there water bottles on the tables?  In all restaurants there is no need to order drinks, as water is usually given for free.


Drink beer in the parks and streets

It is perfectly legal to get a cheap beer and walk on the street or relax in most parks. Police in Japan will never talk to you about it, so rather than drinking in expensive restaurant, go to a local convenience store and grab a drink!


Stay in capsule hotels

In a big city like Tokyo you are never too far away from a capsule hotel. While these pods don’t have much space, you can spend a night for as low as 2500 yen (about 25 dollars).


Get a bento!!

In any town or city in Japan you will be able to find a cheap bento shop. They usually sell bento boxes from as cheap as 399 yen (about 4 dollars) to around 600 yen. Check out our top 5 bento shops guide.


Don’t get the expensive express train from the airport

Instead of getting something like the Narita Express into Tokyo from Narita, just take a local or express train and save on the limited express charges. Most of the time it will only add 10 to 20 minutes to your journey

Use ‘Free passes’

Especially for those with tourist visas, there are some great ‘free passes’ to all sorts of places, offering unlimited bus and/or train use, and usually some discounts at tourist attractions.


Stay in a love hotel

Love hotels offer reasonably cheap accommodation for as little as 4000 yen a night, which is great for a couple that want a private room. They do look a bit sleazy sometimes from the outside, but often make for a great, comfortable stay.


Use highway buses instead of the Shinkansen

For short or overnight jouneys, it’s a great idea to use cheap bus companies like Willer Express. It will save a huge amount of money over taking an expensive bullet train and staying in a hotel room.

Fly with a budget airline rather than Shinkansen trains

While Shinkansen (bullet) trains are super fast, they are also super expensive. If traveling a long distance, LCCs such as Jetstar and Vanilla Air will save you a bunch of money. Check out our flights guide for a list of budget airlines in Japan.



About the Author:

Hi there! はじめまして! I am a writer and designer, and I focus on budget travel in Japan. I have lived in and out of Japan for nearly a decade now and know all the tricks! よろしくお願いします!


  1. Planete Maneki July 21, 2015 at 4:11 am

    Here is another tip: go to a konbini around 7pm and find some discounted food (i.e. bento). It’s a good tip to save money and eat very good food!

    • Matt July 21, 2015 at 11:25 am

      Yer that’s a great tip! Cheers 😀

  2. Michelle September 26, 2015 at 1:37 am

    Fab tip thanks, go to Japan in 13 days. Very excited x

    • Matt October 2, 2015 at 4:38 am

      Many thanks!

  3. Frances K. Simmons November 26, 2015 at 7:28 pm

    This is awesome! Planning to go there sometime. I love the idea of using highway buses.

    • Matt November 27, 2015 at 2:46 am

      Thanks a lot! The Bus Pass is a great idea if you are thinking about highway buses.

  4. Aneesh Raikundalia March 25, 2018 at 5:07 pm

    So if you decide to use buses…should I get the JR Pass or is that not necessary? How do I then travel in Tokyo by train?

    • CocoIchi Daisuki March 25, 2018 at 5:16 pm

      The Japan Rail Pass is for trains, it can’t be used on many buses. The Willer Bus pass is good though 🙂

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