Saturday, August 18, 2007

Visiting Tokyo on a budget

Whenever I ask my friends if they are keen to visit Japan, the same answer would always be "Yes ! but it is so expensive!" Okay, if you're comparing products sold elsewhere, it's probably cheaper elsewhere. But visiting Japan means more than just buying stuff. You come for the culture and things uniquely japanese.

Going on a packaged tour seems like a good deal, especially if you are unfamiliar with the place and language. However, ithe major drawback is that you get to see what they want you to see at their pace. You are left with little choices of your own.

So, is there a way to see Japan without burning a big hole in your pocket? Without going on a packaged tour? Yes !

Here are some of my tips if you want to plan your own free & easy trip to Japan.
  • Make friends with japanese people around you. They 'll be too glad to show you their home towns.
  • Glean information from the internet before you travel. This will save you lots of precious time planning an itinerary.
  • Travel with someone who has already been there before.
  • Travel during low season. This is when discounts abound.
  • Stay in Japanese inns (ryokans) rather than hotels. Alternatively, home stays (minshinku) or temple lodgings provide good alternatives. These can be booked directly through the internet.
  • Eat where the locals eat, e.g. train stations, side walk cafes, pushcarts stalls. These provide good value meals and are much cheaper than restaurants and coffee houses (kissaten)
  • Trains and buses will have Day passes or tourist passes (Tokunai pass, JR Rail Pass, etc). Use these rather than paying per trip tickets
  • Take the free tissues given out on the streets and the food discount coupons.
You can survive Tokyo on less than $50 a day.
Next time you want to go to Japan, call me!

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