"Traveling to Japan is expensive": Truth or myth?

Today, we are going to talk about money: Is it expensive to travel to Japan as a tourist? Let's go through some common expenses while traveling in Japan and compare both low and high ends on the price spectrums.  This way you can get a more comprehensive budget idea for your future trip! All prices mentioned in this article are listed in US dollars.

Since most visitors will spend time in Tokyo at some point during their visits, we will use common prices found in Tokyo as a reference point. While these listed prices are accurate representations of general pricing throughout Japan, actual prices may still vary based on different locations, while price inflations may also occur due to surges in demands over special occasions throughout the year.


1. Transportation

The best option for foreign tourists is the Japan Rail Pass. This special train pass is exclusively available for foreign passport holders visiting Japan on temporary tourist visa only, and it is a fantastic package deal that allows for unlimited train rides throughout all of Japan onboard all JR express and bullet trains! A 7-day pass costs $230, while the 14-day and 21-day passes cost $370 and $470 respectively.

For visitors traveling on a budget or not planning to visit any other cities beyond Greater Tokyo, the Tokyo Wide Pass costs around $100 and it is valid for 3 days of unlimited travel onboard JR trains in and around Tokyo. For the ultimate economical option, a single bus ride from Narita Airport to Central Tokyo can cost as little as $10 one-way, while a one-day Tokyo Metro pass runs for $7, allowing unlimited travel within 24 hours through the Metro underground network that will get you through most tourist attractions within Tokyo!

For those looking for private modes of transportation: car rental generally costs around $100-$150 per day. Meanwhile, a taxi ride from Narita Airport to Tokyo costs around $200 for a one-way journey over 70km, and between $20-30 within Central Tokyo.


2. Accommodation

Most visitors stay in business hotels that are usually centrally located, clean and comfortable. The average cost per night runs around $40-80 depending on location.

For budget travelers and backpackers, Tokyo is a sanctuary of high-quality hostels and capsule hotels, costing as little as $10 per night!

For those who are looking for a more luxurious experience, most 4-star hotels start from around $150-$200 per night, while luxurious 5-star hotels such as the Ritz-Carlton and Grand Hyatt start from around $300 per night.


3. Food

On average, lunch in a restaurant costs around $10-$15 per person, while dinner runs between $20-$30 per person.

For visitors on a budget, a typical fast-food meal generally costs around $5-8, while take-home bento box meals can be purchased in supermarkets for as little as $2-3!

For those looking for exquisite dining experiences, Tokyo is the ultimate culinary destination! As far as prices go, the sky's the limit, though advanced reservations are almost always required well ahead of time!


4. Entertainment

Here are some admission charges for the most popular tourist destinations in Tokyo:

  • Tokyo Skytree Observatory: $20
  • Asakusa Sensoji Temple: Free
  • Shibuya Scramble Crossing: Free
  • Imperial Palace: Free
  • Meiji Jingu Shrine: Free
  • Tokyo Tower observatory deck: $20
  • Ueno Park: Free
  • Tokyo Disneyland: $80 regular admission for 1 day


5. Shopping

Sales tax in Japan is 10%, and there are many shops in and around Tokyo offering tax-free shopping for tourists!

Retail prices in Japan are quite similar to mainland US, perhaps even slightly cheaper now that the Japanese yen has been weakened against the dollar!



Visiting Japan does NOT need to be expensive!

For the high-end travelers willing to splurge over luxurious experiences and services, there are plenty of options that will guarantee to impress! However, for most of us that are traveling on slightly more conservative budgets, the typical expenses are generally similar to, or perhaps even less than visiting any cities in the US and Canada. The awesome thing about traveling in Japan is that MOST attractions sites are completely free of charge to visit!

In my past experience, the biggest expenses are usually on food and shopping, and I wholeheartedly blame Japan for it: there are TOO many good food options everywhere you look, and there is always something super cute or cool in stores that you just HAVE to fork over the cash and take home!

Visit Wanderplans and start planning your next trip of a lifetime to Japan: build an itinerary based on your personal interests and preferences using our activity search or find the best day trips out of Tokyo using our distance search!