Saturday, October 25, 2008

Japan Travel Myths

There are many myths about traveling to Japan, which really scared me a lot before my trip. Now that I am back in Singapore from a pleasant trip to Japan, I must say many myths are simply untrue.

First, traveling to Japan is expensive. If you are going for the top-end stuff, then wherever you go, it is going to be expensive, but if you plan well and go for the ordinary Japanese stuff, then it is not any more expensive than living in Singapore.

Just to share with everybody the various costs of my trip to Japan, I have listed down my costs:

1. Air ticket: I took the Cathay Pacific promotion of SGD$850 (including taxes & fuel surcharge) to Tokyo with transit in Hong Kong. The timing is not exactly perfect. The flight to Tokyo is at 10.15am, and the return flight is at 9.45am. Basically I wasted about 2 days flying. But cheap tickets, what to do?

2. 7-Day Japan Rail Pass: 28,300 yen. It covers most of my transportation needs in Japan. Below is a break-down of all the travel costs related to the Japan Railway:

a) Narita Airport -> Shin Osaka: 16,250 yen
b) Shin Osaka -> Kyoto: 2,730 yen
c) Kyoto -> Himeji: 5,130 yen
d) Himeji -> Tokyo: 15,210 yen
e) JR trains in Tokyo: 160 yen(ave)/trip x 3 = 480 yen
Total: 39,800 yen

So I basically got back what money's worth of the 7-day JR pass. However, please don't have the false impression that traveling by train in Japan is this expensive. In my case, as I have the JR pass, which covers the use of Shinkansen (Bullet train) except NOZOMI, I always traveled in Shinkansen from city to city, and I had seats reserved, which is more expensive. If you don't have the JR pass, and don't want to spend too much money on trains, you have other cheaper options. For example, travel from Shin Osaka to Kyoto, you can take a local train at the cost of 540 yen, but it takes 28 mins. In comparison, Shinkansen will cost you 2730 yen (with reserved seats) and it takes 14 mins.

For food, logding, admission, and other transport needs not covered by the JR pass, the total cost is 80,000 yen.

So in total, the cost of my trip is SGD$850 + 108,300 yen. Based on SGD$1=66 yen, the total cost in Singapore dollar terms is SGD$2491.00 for a 10-day trip to Japan, covering Tokyo, Kyoto, Himeji & Osaka.

Second, you must know Japanese or have a Japanese friend to show you around. This is not exactly true. No doubt Japanese in general don't speak English well, most of them don't speak English at all. It is really a challenge to people who know neither Japanese or Chinese. However, if you have some knowledge in Chinese, it really a lot. Look at the Tokyo subway map, everything is actually in Chinese, although strictly speaking, it is in Japanese Kanji, which is a variation of Chinese characters. Many maps in Japanese have Chinese indications. If you are ethnic Chinese yet you can't read Chinese characters, shame on you!

Ok, I will just stop here today. Tomorrow, I will share with you the accommodations I had in Japan. All of them are decent and nice, and don't cost a bomb.


  1. Thank you for sharing these interesting and useful information. Look forward to more posts on your Japan trip! :)

  2. thanks alot for your info. Really helpful.