Judy emailed me that she and DH are coming to Japan for a visit. Unfortunately she will be here when the cherry blossoms are out and I will not be here to show her around. She asked if I had any tips for doing Japan cheaply as she posted in another blog and the only comment she got was "Japan ain't cheap"
That person is right Judy. Japan isn't a cheap vacation. If you want cheap, right now some of the best places to go are Vietnam and China. Both places are great places to visit, and both can be done on a budget.
But there are some tricks to keeping prices down in Japan also.
1) The Bullet Train is the best way to get around Japan and you can get a two week pass and go just about anywhere with it for a bargain price. Make sure you get the pass outside of Japan cause it isn't available here in country. Japanese are good about helping and much is written in English. Just remember, they leave on time. Period.
2) There are youth hostels just about all over, and elder hostels also. While I have never stayed in one, I have seen the one here in town and it is in a beautiful park like area and quiet.
3) Food in Japan is expensive, but you can get some great meals from places like Family Mart and 7-11. They sell bento boxes for 3 to 5 dollars, juice boxes, soft drinks, coffee, etc. Bakery's sell delicious baked goods but be careful, some might have bean paste or potato or even bacon and egg or cheese. Also the fast food restaurants are a good deal and they are just about in every big town. Don't expect to get hamburgers, you'll more than likely get a rice bowl with meat, or noodles (Ramen) Dont eat in hotel restaurants, they are very expensive unless you get breakfast with your room rent.
4) Hotels are expensive so go online and spend some time looking around. If you only have a week
5) If you only have a week or so, fly into Osaka and take the local train to Kyoto. It is the best, most beautiful city with both history and lots to see and do.
6) We stayed at the New Kyoto Hotel or Hotel New Kyoto, something like that. It cost about $123 for two nights, and the room as a twin bed, table, chair, TV (All Japan TVs have pay porn, so if you think its a movie channel, think again. Its porn) bath, shower and they have slippers and a robe for you to wear. The robes are not to leave the hotel so don't think they are gifts.
In the lobby of the hotel you can get a daily bus pass for 500 yen. Its a bargain and you will soon find the tourist buses. When you have see all that Kyoto has to offer, check on some of the outlining areas for more great things.
The golden pavillion is a must. Nijo Castle with its nightengale floors is worth the price, great museams, craft stores, and the Ginza is not to be missed.
Anyway, Judy girl, you can do Japan on a dime , well lots of dimes maybe. But you will come back with a smile on your face.