Please critique my three week itinerary
I'd like to travel for three weeks sometime from late March to early April - I can be somewhat flexible on the exact dates. I get the feeling that I might be spending too much time in Tokyo and Kyoto.What do you think? Should I add some additional nearby destinations, such as Kamakura or Takayma?
First let me share some personal details to help you better put my proposed itinerary in context.
27-year old white male US citizen Will be flying out of San Diego $2000 USD budget (Plus I've got 100,000 rewards points through my Chase Amazon visa, which at the very least I can exchange at a 100:$1 ratio, or I can exchange for various travel perks. Probably going to use this to buy the flight.) Is this budget at all realistic? That gives me about $100 per day. I'm fine with Ramen, Udon, okonomiyaki, etc., and I don't need a luxurious accommodations by any means, but I'd like something more than a bunk bed. Should I increase the budget to $2500? To give you an idea of my experience level, the only international travel I've done before is 5 weeks throughout Europe several years ago. My favorite things to do are visit temples/churches/shrines, visit museums, eat the local cuisine, see breathtaking vistas that can only be seen in a particular destination, and get exposed to the culture
And now for the itinerary:
Days 1 - 4: Fly from San Diego to Tokyo (leave early am on Saturday morning, arrive Sunday afternoon, so the first two days are basically travel days), spend time in and around Tokyo
Thanks for your advice!
I've done my fair share of budget travel in Japan and traveling on 100USD/day should not be too hard. There are basically four main points that require budget. 1.) Accommodation. 2.) Food and drink. 3.) Transport. 4.) Sightseeing.
To start with 1.) Accommodation, when planned well, this does not have to cost a lot in Japan. There's a business culture of traveling within the country and staying short term for single travelers. Business hotels can be found for 4,000yen a night (think a little less than 40USD). I have found that these are more than comfortable and offer all basic amenities a traveler. Hostels are generally also very good in Japan, expect clean rooms and helpful staff but staying at a hostel generally means sharing a room. This is not a bad thing, as you meet new friends and have a much more social environment. Hostels start at about 2,000yen and go up to 3,000yen depending on room type and location.
Transport or 2.) is possible on a budget in Japan too but can also be very expansive. The railway system is the best in the world but it is also normal to buy a 100+USD ticket for a one way Tokyo - Kyoto. There are two types of trains in Japan, local services and high speed ltd. express trains, which also include the bullet trains. Local trains only require a basic fare for distance traveled, while high speed ltd. express trains also include a fare for high speed and comfort, they generally cost about double the price for the same distance on a local service. Looking at your itinerary I would recommend using a Shinkansen from Tokyo - Nagoya (about 10,000yen) but you could use local services to travel from Nagoya to Kyoto to save some money.
3.) Food and drinks, Japan is brilliant when it comes to food. You can eat for a day starting at around 10 USD but can easily make it 1,000USD if you feel like it. There are numerous Japanese chains that serve low cost food. Most notably gyudon stands such as Yoshinoya and Sukiya. Where you can have a bowl of rice with sliced beef on top for as little as 250yen. Other great local food such as Japanese curry, Ramen, Okonomiya can be had starting at around 700yen. Also nice to check out are department store basements, these are generally filled with all kinds of good and Sushi Bento boxes can be found starting at around 500yen.
4.) Sightseeing, Japan has a lot of sightseeing spots. Many are free and you can easily fill a whole holiday without spending money on any entrance. At the same time, the more famous temples, castles, and so on do charge entrance fees. Anywhere from 200 to 1000+yen. Knowing what the entrance fee is beforehand can help you decide what to include and what not.
Looking further at your itinerary, I don't see any problems with it. I would recommend making a plan beforehand on how to visit Fuji and look at transport options. This because there are many areas around Fuji to visit and all kinds of transport that can be used. Also learn about budget travel from Asakusa, Tokyo to Nikko. This can be 1,360 on local trains, while using the Shinkansen can cost more than 5,000yen for one way.
Koya-san can cost about 10,000yen for a nights stay but does include dinner and breakfast.
Hope this helps as a quick introduction and let me know if you have any questions.
Order your Japan Rail Pass Online
Starting from $259.00 for 7 days of unlimited Japan Rail travel