Prohibitively expensive? Possibly. But there’s plenty of tricks to keep your spending under control. With only the basics and some seriously good meals, daily cost should be less than 60 USD. Of course, it’s insanely easy to spend much more than that. But with some financial savvy and a keen budget, there’s no reason why a week in Japan should cost more than 500 USD.
Dorm Bed: Japan is filled with guesthouses and hostels. And the price, at least by Japan standards, is reasonable. Expect to pay 20-25 per night for a simple, clean dorm bed. Add a little more for hostels in Tokyo. And remember that hostels provide helpful travel guides and frequently serve as a great place to meet fellow travelers.
Intercity Transit: This one is tricky. Buses and trains run everywhere in Japan. And it’s not just one company, either. Instead different train/bus lines often offer slightly different prices arriving at the same destination. Local trains will almost always be the cheapest and best option. Generally, a one hour train (the distance most people travel in any given day) will cost about 10 USD. Bullet trains should be used sparingly. Kyoto to Tokyo for example, a three hour ride, is about 110 USD. Various rail packages are available as well, but really only pay off if they’re used for lots of travel in a few days time.
Standard Meal: You can get a filling meal for 6 USD pretty easily. Meat and rice bowls, along with some solid ramen dishes, are always the best option. The average sushi place (which, let’s be honest, is still pretty good) will cost between 10-12. Want some of that Kobe beef, hahaha, get ready for a 50 plus dinner bill. Beer of course is extra.
Tour: This one too, can vary wildly. Some things are great and free, like sake tasting in Kobe or riding a bike through the back alleys for Nara. Entry to most temples is 4-5 USD, while others are free. A day tour to some hot springs and spa could easily set you back $20 or more. Certainly, there’s no shortage of things to do that are cheap. Temples, bikes, museums, parks and gardens all top the list of some pretty great and (almost) free things to do.
Beer: Hi five, Japan! Your beer is both good and cheap. At the local convenience store at least. Most local brands, aka Asahi, cost about $2.50. Sitting down at a bar will cost you much, much more. Many bars are small and offer only a few seats. While this creates an intimate and uniquely Japanese style of a night out, the costs can seriously add up. Many restaurants charge a “sitting fee” of about 10 USD.