questions & answers: itinerary check

best plan for a 2 week holiday?

Best plan for a 2 week holiday?

Hi. We'll be visiting Japan for exactly 2 weeks. Arriving on March 30th (Fri) and departing on April 12th (Thurs). I'm debating whether to get a 7 day or 14 day pass. Here's what we'll need it for:

Train from Narita to Tokyo
Day trip to Kamakura
Possible overnight trip to Hakone
Travel to Nagano and around
Travel to Kyoto/Nara, Osaka and around
Travel to Hiroshima
Travel to Fukuoka
Travel back to Tokyo
Travel back to Narita

Can you give me advice on my itinerary? Does it make sense to stay in Tokyo a few days, do a 7 day pass and try to visit a lot of long distance places, and then come back to Tokyo for a few days? Or is it a better value for time and money to get the 14 day pass and spread the trip out?
Also, wondering if I am planning too many destinations for my time period.
Thanks!

afrome
afrome

Hi there!

Firstly, lets get your costs:

  1. Narita airport terminal 1 > Tokyo: ¥3140, (62mins, 79km)
  2. Tokyo > Kamakura: ¥2100, (47mins, 51km)
  3. Kamakura > Tokyo: ¥2100, (47mins, 51km)
  4. Tokyo > Odawara: ¥3840, (35mins, 83km)
  5. Odawara > Nagano: ¥9530, (160mins, 306km)
  6. Nagano > Kyoto: ¥10930, (228mins, 398km)
  7. Kyoto > Hiroshima: ¥10990, (109mins, 380km)
  8. Hiroshima > Hakata: ¥8900, (138mins, 280km)
  9. Hakata > Tokyo: ¥21920, (367mins, 1174km)
  10. Tokyo > Narita airport terminal 1: ¥3140, (58mins, 79km)

TOTAL: ¥75380 for 10 legs

Can you give me advice on my itinerary?

While Fukuoka is a nice city - unless you have something specific to go for, or are aiming to travel deeper into Kyushu, the tourist experience can be a little limited, especially if it's just one night. Maybe here rather than branching out to Fukuoka I'd recommend travelling to Takayama, or a night at an onsen like Kinosaki Onsen. It's around 3hrs from Osaka, but is a fantastic little town with many Onsen, a great atmosphere and routinely described as the best Onsen town in the area of Hyogo. Here's a good forum post with more, and you can also book many onsen online.

You will have a few travel heavy days, but as long as you're ok with these things, then you're going to see a lot of great things in Japan!

Does it make sense to stay in Tokyo a few days, do a 7 day pass and try to visit a lot of long distance places, and then come back to Tokyo for a few days?

Looking at your itinerary I'd say that you could do a 7 day pass plus a few extras tickets if you wanted to save a little over a 14 day rail pass by using the following itinerary:

  1. Narita Express to Tokyo + prepaid Metro card combo with the N'EX + Suica package (¥5,500 return)
  2. Hakone Freepass, which will give you 2 days of return travel from Shinjuku over the entire Hakone area for ¥5000
  3. Starting the 7 day pass on the trip to Nagano with the following itinerary:

Day 1: to Nagano
Day 2: Nagano + Kyoto travel in evening
Day 3: Kyoto/Nara
Day 4: Osaka/Kyoto/Nara
Day 5: Hiroshima day trip
Day 6: to Kinosaki Onsen
Day 7: to Tokyo

Planning the day trips also means that you can always cut it out if you are feeling too rushed.

This way, your total travel costs will be:

¥28,300 + ¥5,500 + ¥5000 + ¥4300 (kamakura) = ¥43,000 slightly cheaper than a 14 day JR pass, plus you get the added benefits of the free pre-charged Tokyo metro card, and the Hakone freepass benefits while you are in Hakone.

Hope this helps!

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mari
Expert_button_2

Thank you so much! You are very right - I think Fukuoka is unnecessary. I also think we'll skip Kamakura since we're doing Kytoto anyway. And we will skip Nara. And I was just reading about Takayama yesterday and it sounds lovely (but not accessible from Matsumoto?)! Here is what I am thinking might be a better itinerary for us - please let me know your thoughts:

Narita - Tokyo
Tokyo - Kyoto
Kyoto - Hiroshima
Hiroshima - Osaka
Osaka - Takayama
Takayama - Tokyo (via Nagoya?)
Tokyo - Narita

Questions: How many nights do you feel is necessary at each stop?
Do we still have time for the Kirosaki onsen (and how would we get there)?
Is it bad not to go to Nagano/Matsumoto and instead to do Takayama only (would we miss anything significant)?
Would this make a 14 day pass more economical than a 7 day pass?

afrome
afrome

Hi there,

This looks like a really nice itinerary. Here are the costs for the stops you mention:

  1. Narita airport terminal 1 > Tokyo: ¥3140, (62mins, 79km)
  2. Tokyo > Kyoto: ¥13420, (165mins, 513km)
  3. Kyoto > Hiroshima: ¥10990, (109mins, 380km)
  4. Hiroshima > Osaka: ¥10820, (109mins, 345km)
  5. Osaka > Takayama: ¥10610, (223mins, 357km)
  6. Takayama > Tokyo: ¥14600, (273mins, 532km)
  7. Tokyo > Narita airport terminal 1: ¥3140, (58mins, 79km)

TOTAL: ¥66720 for 7 legs

It's possible to do this trip on both a 7 day (¥28,300) and a 14 day pass (¥45,100) and you will make savings with both rail passes over individual tickets - even more if you plan on going to Kinosaki Onsen (access details are here.

For a trip like this, I think that a 14 day pass is perfect, allowing you to really soak in the atmosphere of Japan without being too rushed - it's really good to have full, clear days in a place. You could even extend your trip a little, adding more value to the japan rail pass. How about something like this for an extended itinerary?:

Day 1. Narita - Tokyo
Day 2. Tokyo
Day 3. Tokyo (with optional day trips to Nikko, Kamakura or Nagano/Matsumoto)
Day 4. Tokyo - Kyoto
Day 5. Kyoto (+nara if you want)
Day 6. Kyoto - Hiroshima (early train. Peace park and Miyajima to sleep, taking a daybag and leaving luggage at hiroshima station in locker on arrival)
Day 7. Miyajima - Hiroshima - Kinosaki onsen (11:48 train from Hiroshima)
Day 8. Kinosaki Onsen - Osaka (back to osaka later on)
Day 9. Osaka
Day 10. Osaka - Takayama
Day 11. Takayama
Day 12. Takayama - Tokyo
Day 13. Tokyo
Day 14. Tokyo - Narita

There's the backbone of a really great trip here, with lots of flexibility. Costwise, it would ordinarily cost ¥70,000 in individual tickets, more if you do any of the day trips, so you'd make really good use of the 14 day japan rail pass at ¥45,100.

Hope this helps!

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mari
Expert_button_2

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