Guide to planning your cheap trip to Japan

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Yes, it is possible to travel to Japan and not go broke trying! As everywhere else, if you want to spend money, of course you can spend as much as you want in the Land of the Rising Sun, but at Hostelworld we assure you that if backpacking is your thing, this country will surprise you in a very positive way. Here are our tips for you to save money during your trip.

Sleep in a ryokan or capsule hotel

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If you want a 100% Japanese experience, we recommend spending one or more nights in a ryokan, which are Japanese-style inns that usually include breakfast and are much more affordable than Western-style hotels. These are Japanese-style guesthouses that usually include breakfast and are much more affordable than Western-style hotels – we assure you that the experience of sleeping on a futon on a traditional tatami mat and enjoying a traditional Japanese breakfast is priceless! In addition, in most cases, ryokan provide a pair of yukata (or sleeping dressing gown) and a tea set for you to make your own tea – all very Japanese!

On the other hand, if you don’t mind small spaces and you don’t want to spend more than 15 or 20 euros per night, another must-do in Japanese culture is to sleep in a capsule hotel. At Hostelworld we have a long list of both types of accommodation, so go ahead and find yours here!

If you’re travelling to Kyoto, don’t hesitate to stay at Nagomi-Ryokan Yuu (pictured above)

Eat well… for very little!

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Contrary to what most travellers might think, eating in Japan is very cheap and the quantities are usually generous. Many of the Japanese themselves choose not to shop at the supermarket and eat in a restaurant because… it doesn’t pay! In addition, there is a wide variety of delicious dishes and flavours on offer, most of which are very healthy. Two good places to eat a good bowl of noodles or a gyudon with eel and miso soup are the low-cost Sukiya or Yoshinoya chain restaurants, a sort of Japanese-style McDonald’s but with unparalleled quality, variety and quantity, and for only 500-600 yen (about 5 euros)! For this reason, it is very common to find salary men and ordinary people eating there at any time of day or night. Another advantage: water is always free with the meal. You will notice that it has a light and pleasant ginger flavour – highly recommended!

Use the JR Pass and the Hyperdia website to get around the country

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don’t panic, getting around the Land of the Rising Sun is easier than it looks! To plan your low-cost trip, here are two tips: first of all, get the well-known Japan Rail Pass, a customisable pass that allows you to travel as much as you want on the shinkansen (or bullet train) around the country or the regions you are interested in, for the days that best suit your trip and budget (book at We can assure you it’s well worth it, as a single round trip between Tokyo and Kyoto… costs more than a 7-day JR Pass! In addition, the pass also includes the most important urban JR lines, such as the Yamanote line (Tokyo’s circle line), so you’ll save a lot on the underground!

Once you have your JR Pass, the second tool we suggest is the Hyperdia website (available at or as a mobile app), where you will have at your fingertips all the train schedules and lines in the country. Remember that Japan is one of the most punctual countries in the world, so don’t be late for your train!

Buy your ticket well in advance

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it doesn’t have to be a year in advance! The important thing is that you have two or three months in advance and try to avoid the busiest months, such as June, July or August. We have done the test and found return flights between Madrid and Tokyo for less than 400 euros. If you have some flexibility of dates, we recommend apps like Skyscanner, which will help you find the best flight according to your budget. What are you waiting for?

now you have no excuse not to travel to the Land of the Rising Sun!

Thanks to Laura Núñez, author of the article, and to Andrés Nieto for his fantastic image on Flickr.

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