How to Travel in Japan on a Discount: Plane, Train and Metro

Japan is a country full of things to see, do and experience. Despite a reputation for being one of the more expensive destinations in Asia, if you plan carefully you can save time and money while traveling. Whether you are looking to visit thousand-year old temples or shop for the perfect souvenir, there is always a deal to be found. Especially for more spontaneous travelers, learning how to travel in Japan on the cheap is not as difficult as it may seem. Just be sure to bring your phone or tablet with you to take advantage of all the opportunities available.

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How to Travel in Japan with Cheap Train Passes

From Narita to Tokyo

train in japan
Photo by hirotomo t on Flickr

Narita and Haneda airports are the main international destinations for Japan. Both are near Tokyo, and both are connected to the capital by train. Of course, taking the train without straining your wallet is just one part of learning how to travel in Japan!

The N’EX, or Narita Express, will take you to many of the large stations in Tokyo, including Tokyo, Shinjuku and Shibuya. The round-trip ticket from Narita costs only 4,000 yen but lasts 14 days. You can buy it at the airport when you land, just look for a JR EAST Travel service counter after picking up your bags. While in Narita Airport, also consider exchanging currency and renting WiFi directly there for the duration of your trip, to enjoy a complete hassle-free travel experience.

For more information about buses, trains and taxis leaving from Narita Airport, be sure to check our post about transportation options from Narita to Tokyo.

Traveling by Shinkansen

how to travel in japan
Photo by Thilo Hilberer on Flickr

If you are looking to travel further afield then you might want to try the bullet train. These trains are operated by the Japan Railway Company and are covered by the JR Pass. If you are interested in traveling through Japan on local JR lines and using the bullet train, then this pass is usually a sound investment.

7 Day Pass – 29,110 yen
14 Day Pass – 46,390 yen
21 Day Pass – 59,350 yen

This is a great way to travel without worrying about the accumulating cost of individual fares, and you can use these passes to reserve seats on some of the more popular routes. Some bullet train services cannot be used with this pass so you might have to take a slower train, and if you are traveling on local routes it is worth noting that only JR lines are eligible, meaning you have to pay normal fare if you switch over to a non-JR line.

To take advantage of the JR Pass, you must purchase an ‘exchange order,’ from your home country before heading to Japan. This can be exchanged at Narita airport or Tokyo station, and a few other places around Japan.


Using Daily Passes to Ride the Tokyo Metro

tokyo metro
Photo by Tim Adams on Flickr

If you’re wondering how to travel in Japan on a budget, Japan’s clean, fast and cheap subway systems are a great option. Nowhere is this truer than with the Tokyo Metro, which covers most of the city and is a great option whether you are visiting for a day or a week. There are a handful of daily passes that cover the various lines in Tokyo, so always check to see which lines you will be using.

If you are landing at Haneda Airport and want to explore Tokyo, your best option is to purchase a Keikyu Line ticket. This covers every Tokyo Metro and Toei subway line and is valid for up to 3 days. To purchase this ticket, go to the Keikyu Service desk at Haneda airport and show them your passport, no pre-purchase required.

One day – 1,200-yen adult, 600 yen children
Two days – 1,600-yen adult, 800 yen children
Three days – 1,900-yen adult, 950 yen children

Outside of Tokyo there are many more offers to be found, like the Kansai Thru Pass which lets you ride a number of local lines in the Kansai area. 2 and 3-day passes are available, and do not need to be used consecutively if you feel like taking a day off. With so many tourist deals throughout Japan, be sure to check online when you arrive for the most up to date information.


Traveling Through Japan by Plane and Car

plane travel in japan
Photo by byeangel on Flickr

Of course, as traveling around Japan does take time, you may want to consider flying If you want to travel the length and breadth of the country. When you book your international flights you have the option of also purchasing a ‘Welcome to Japan‘ ticket. This lets you fly to 5 additional destinations within Japan and costs less than buying the tickets individually.

Two sectors – 28,080 yen
Three sectors – 41,340 yen
Four sectors – 56,160 yen
Five sectors – 70,200 yen

Car rentals are also available for those with an international driver’s license, and the Tohoku Expressway Pass allows for up to 14 days of travel on toll roads throughout Japan. Prices start at 4,000 yen for 2 days, up to 12,000 yen for 14 days. So whether it’s train, plane, metro or car, there are clearly many options for cheap travel in Japan.


Using the Tourist Information Office

Another excellent resource for how to travel in Japan is the local Tourist Information Office, where you can find current news and information about areas of the country that you might otherwise overlook. With even suggested itineraries, you can see what a typical day of traveling might look like for you. Be sure to stop by after you arrive, it can really help out on a rainy day when your original plan suddenly seems less appealing.


Staying Connected in Japan with Free WiFi, SIM Cards and Pocket WiFi Rental

Many popular tourist spots, parks and train stations now offer free WiFi, but their range is limited. A simple solution is to rent a SIM card or Pocket WiFi for the duration of your trip. Sakura Mobile offers tourist friendly plans that cater to those looking to use the internet while traveling, without spending all the money saved elsewhere.

Planning will go a long way to mitigating the costs of traveling through Japan, but it can also take away some of the spontaneous fun of exploring a new country. Having mobile data at your fingertips is a great way to get the most out of your holiday without worrying about finding the next hotspot. With Sakura Mobile offering easy and cheap data and WiFi rental plans to stay connected, keep mobile, save money, and enjoy your time away! If you are still confused about the differences between SIM Cards or Pocket WiFi, be sure to check our post about Pros & Cons of SIM Cards and Pocket WiFi in Japan.

Sakuramobile SIM Card
Sakuramobile WiFi route

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