Japan ranks high in tourism appeal, and unfortunately, the prices are ranked even higher. As one of the most expensive destinations in the world, it’s common for travelers to wonder exactly how much a Japan vacation costs!
This guide will not only educate you about your typical vacation costs like accommodation and transportation, it will also inform you what the average cost of living is in Japan. With this knowledge, you’ll get an idea of what a Japan vacation costs so you can budget accordingly!
All prices are estimated averages quoted in USD. Note that prices during shoulder or low season may be lower. Also, keep in mind that average prices fluctuate between locations (i.e. Tokyo is generally more expensive than Kyoto).
Japan Vacation Costs: A Breakdown by Category
Accommodation in Japan is notoriously pricy, but if you’re a backpacker, you definitely have access to some deals. If you’re traveling with a group, AirBnBs are also abundant and pretty affordable. Hotels on the other hand are generally expensive, even for your average 3-star hotel.
- Hostels: $25- $45
- AirBnB: $50- $90
- 3-Star Hotel: $80-$150
- 5-Star Hotel: $400 & up
The flight to get to the tiny island of Japan is usually incredibly pricy (depending on where you’re coming from). However, it’s public transportation system is remarkably affordable and efficient. That being said, it’s very easy to budget in Japan when it comes to transportation!
- Kyoto: ~$1 per minute
- Tokyo: ~$2 per minute
- Single Ride: $1.70-$3.50 (depending on region/distance)
- Day Pass: $10
- Bus: Same as the metro
- From City to City:
- Bus: $35 (From Kyoto to Tokyo)
- Train/Bullet Train (Shinkansen): $100-$150
- Flights: Usually $200 range
At one end of the spectrum, activities in Japan are completely free of charge. So many of its cities’ landmarks and landscapes (like Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo and Bamboo Forest in Kyoto) are sights on their own, meaning you can often sight-see for free. However, the activities that come at a cost are usually priced very high compared to other countries. This shouldn’t be an issue though…just pick and choose what caters most to your interests! Listed below are some highlights in Tokyo and Kyoto…
- Temples and Zen Gardens: Either free OR $7-$18 entrance fees
- Arcades:– ~$1/game
- Onsens (popular Japanese spas): $10-$30
- Tokyo Shows (like the Robot Show): ~$60-$100
- Geisha Dinners: $200-$1000
- Nara Deer Park: Free!
- Monkey Park: $5.50
- Specialty cafes (Bunny and Hedgehog cafes): $10-$13 per person
- Spas/Massages: $50-$200 (Depending on the level of luxury. Some spas function more as a physical therapy service than a luxury treatment)
- Shopping: Moderate to expensive range. You won’t find cheap shopping here!
Food & Drinks
Similar to Japan’s activities, there is a wide spectrum when it comes to its food and drink prices. You can easily budget by researching cheap eats and buying supermarket sushi and beer (and it’s surprisingly better than you’d think!). But, you can also throw down hundreds for the best meal of your life! Depending on how big of a foodie you are and how much money you have, I recommend finding a balance between the two dining experiences.
- Yakitori (Skewers): $1-$5 for 3 skewers (Head to “Piss Alley” in Tokyo for great yakitori & cheap prices!)
- Ramen: $7-$12
- Sushi: $10-$25 for budget to mid-range places
- Omokase at nice restaurant: $150 and up
- Omokase at the famous Tsukiji fish market: $40 at Sushi Dai– prepare to wait in line for hours though!
- Tempura: $8-$15
- Tonkatsu (popular fried pork cutlet): $8-$15
- Gyoza: $3-$5
- Supermarket Sushi: $1.50-$5
- Beer: $5-$7
- Sake Glass: $5-$8
- Cocktails: $10 & up
- Water: Free at restaurants & ~$1.20 for bottled
Average Overall Daily Costs
These estimates of overall daily costs are based on solo traveler prices. If you’re traveling in a group, note that prices may lower (espcially if splitting an AirBnB and groceries). Also, keep in mind that these are just estimates and not definite. Extra budgeting can easily be done to lower your everyday spending, although probably not lower than the minimum price listed below.
- Minimum (hostel, budget restaurants/supermarket meals, bus/metro transportation, free activities): $50 per day & $350 per week
- Standard (3- star hotel or AirBnB, mid-range and budget restaurants, bus/metro & 1 taxi ride, mix of free and average-priced activities): $120 per day & $840 per week
- *Standard price could drop to $90/day if splitting accommodation with a travel buddy, and even lower if cooking your own meals
- Maximum (5-star hotel, expensive restaurants, taxis only, pricey activities and tours): $750/day & $5,250/week
Still Wondering Where Your Budget Fits In?
As you can see from the overall Japan vacation costs, the budget gap is extremely wide. If you’re a budget traveller or backpacker, still prepare to spend a little more than usual. As well, even if money is no object to you, still prepare to throw down more than usual! Japan is very expensive, so even though you can budget when it comes to food and transportation, accommodation still comes at a relatively high price compared to other tourist destinations.
Still nervous about staying within your budget? Try out these money-saving hacks:
- Drinking alcohol in public is legal in Japan. Skip the $10 beers and cocktails at bars and buy drinks at your local Lawson’s supermarket instead.
- Look online for discounted activity prices. For example, I payed $80 in person for the famous Tokyo Robot Show, then found discounted tickets online after for $60.
- Don’t be afraid of supermarket sushi (that come in triangle or cylinders where you wrap the seaweed yourself). It’s SO cheap and surprisingly better than a lot of the sushi you’ll find at home
- Avoid cabs at all costs. The metro in Tokyo is very cheap, easy to use, and connects the city better than any other place I’ve ever traveled to! Same goes for the bus lines in Kyoto.
- If you’re traveling in a group, you can save hundreds by renting an AirBnB and cooking your own food.
- Do your research about cheap restaurants. Some of the best meals I had were also some of the cheapest! I even had Michelin-star ramen for $10!
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I hope this posts helps you plan your next trip to Japan! Did I forget any major costs? Did your Japan vacation costs differ from mine? I’d love to hear any thoughts or additions in the comments below! ?