The complete budget guide for a 2 week trip to Japan

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Our 2 week trip to Japan was like a dream come true. We’ve waited for it for a long time, we were worried about the plane tickets, we planned everything carefully and we made mistakes. It’s the way things work for us. But planning the budget for the trip was never a problem.

Not because we have won the lottery (as if…). And even though everyone thinks that living and working in Switzerland automatically links you to a full bank account, we still travel the same as before: budget to mid-level. What does this mean?

It means we’re usually spending around 50$ per hotel night, and we never go to hostels. I did too much of that in college, don’t want to go back. It also means we usually go to local restaurants, and half of our meals are to-go. Still, from time to time, we’ll splurge and invest in a night at a special hotel, or a nicer island in the Maldives, or even a room above average in Indonesia.

And lots of times we hear this question when we come back from a trip: “How much did you spend, overall?”. We usually know roughly how much we spent, but we rarely focus on the details. But, since I’m trying to become a better blogger (or WTH am I doing here anyway), I started keeping a better track of our costs for the trip to Japan.

A visit to a castle in Japan can cost between 200 and 1000 Yen. This may affect you trip budget quite a lot, so be sure to check this out before you get there. Still, I would totally recommend to visit Hiroshima castle, Himeji castle, and maybe even Osaka castle.
I have collected the tickets for lots of places in Japan, so I could write this useful budget guide for you.

What you need to know

First of all, I have to tell you that these numbers are all approximate. Japan is still a cash-based country, so we had to withdraw money from an ATM and spend it like this. And spending cash makes it pretty hard to track what you spent on. I have a rough idea, but please take this information with a grain of salt.

Second, we didn’t visit everything that we wanted, due to lack of time (and sometimes bad planning, because why not?). But we researched a lot before going, and at the end of this post you’ll find a printable sheet with entry fees to all the cool places to visit in Japan, plus our comments and helpful tips.

Third, we were always on the run, so half of our meals were things we bought from grocery stores, not proper restaurant meals. Breakfast was almost always taken either in the room or on a train on the way to the next adventure. I also only had one cup of coffee to go, since I felt guilty about producing so much waste. Since then, I have bought a to-go coffee cup so that I can enjoy my guilty pleasure without the actual guilt.

And the last one: the prices are displayed in Yen, for two persons. We used 2 Revolut cards and one TransferWise to withdraw money (50.000 Yen in total), and we paid everything we could in Yen since this is the best option, so here’s a pro tip for you: while traveling, always, ALWAYS pay in the currency of the country you’re in.

Are you ready?
Good. Let’s start!

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How much to budget for the flights to Japan?

Of course, it depends on where you’re coming from, the season when you’re traveling, if you could find a crappy combination that takes you there cheaper or have miles that take you there free. In our case, we used my benefits, so the price we paid is irrelevant.

But, since this will be a large chunk of your budget, I looked into it a bit. I used Skyscanner for this, and filtered for round trips from Tokyo, in November (using the whole month feature), and verified the prices from the US, Europe, Australia, and Asia. Of course, you can use the same features to search for the flights by yourself, but I’ll attach my findings just to provide an idea.

From the US

  • 900-1.200$, from the West Coast (LA, San Francisco)
  • 1.300-1.500$, from the East Coast (New York, Washington)

From Europe

  • 900 euro from Italy
  • 1.000 euro from Spain or Germany
  • 1.100 euro from France
  • 1.200 euro from Netherlands or Switzerland

From Asia

  • 350$ from Thailand or Hong Kong
  • 550$ from Singapore
  • 650 from India

From Australia

  • 800$

As you can see, the prices are somewhere in the area of 1000-1.200$ for a round trip for 2 people. It’s not as bad as I thought. We paid 1800 euro (about 2000$) for the crappiest flight we ever had, so my standards are not that high.

So, how much does it cost to fly to Japan? About 1200$, I would say. This means 131.527 Yen.

The cost of transportation in Japan will be one of the major downfalls for your budget. You'll spend about a quarter of your budget just to get around Japan, and probably another quarter on the flights that will get you there. So be prepared and buy ahead everything you can, so you don't feel the burden of paying everything at once for transportation in Japan.
Take a big look at this picture. You’re going to see the JRPass and the seat reservation tickets SO much while you’re in Japan.

How much does accommodation in Japan cost for 2 weeks?

This is a tricky one. Of course, it can cost anything from 30$ to 1.000$ a night. And Japan is known to have one of the most expensive accommodation offers in the world. And we’re saying this while we know the prices for accommodation in Switzerland (in short, we need to start crapping money before we take a 2-week vacation in Switzerland).

I’ll give you two views about this. The first one is the options that you have so that you know your options for any budget. The second one will be our exact costs for accommodation, with detailed information about the places, nights and everything you may need.

How expensive can accommodation in Japan be?

  • Hostel – 50-80$
  • Capsule hotel – 30-50$
  • Guesthouse – 80-100$ (but are not very different than hostels, to be honest)
  • Love hotel – 120-130$ (but you can rarely book ahead, usually they’re booked per each night individually)
  • Ryokan (traditional inn) – 50-500$ (no exaggeration, you can find either of these prices and everything in between)
  • Budget hotel – 60-100$
  • Mid-range hotel – 100-250$
  • High-end hotel – 250-1.000$

As a reminder, these are the prices for 2 people per night. Multiply this with the number of nights you’re planning to stay, and you’ll have a good overview. Also, I have to specify that I found these prices using Agoda. This is my favorite toy to use for finding accommodation, and the prices are often better than other competitors, especially in Asia.

What was the cost of accommodation in Japan for us?

OK, now you have an overview. The next prices are the ones that we have paid. Our target budget was to fit, on average, below 100$ per night. And, in my opinion, we nailed it. The prices were good, the places were great, and everything worked out smoothly.

We stayed for a total of 12 nights. The first one was in Hamamatsu, the next 5 in Kyoto, the next in Gero, and the last 5 in Tokyo. For these 12 nights, we paid a total of 116.961 Yen.

Between castles, temples, and shrines, I fully recommend that you visit at least a Japanese garden. It may sound like a bad idea to pay a price to see a park, but it's worth it. These gardens were designed in such a way that they bring you joy and peace of mind, and they're usually in the middle of a crowded city, making it even better. You should invest a part of your budget into visiting a few Japanese gardens while you're there.
Visiting Japanese gardens will not be such a problem for your budget, but it will bring you great joy.

How much does transportation cost in Japan for tourists?

Boy, am I on a roll here or what? So, for transportation, you have two main topics: the JR Pass and the rest. Luckily, I covered this subject in a detailed guide to transportation in Japan, so I am already informed about the subject.

How much does the JR pass cost?

Well, first of all, you have to analyze if you need it. There are lots of ways to do this, and I’ll cover them separately, but a good rule of thumb is that if you’re going to do the Tokyo-Kyoto return trip at least once and a day trip somewhere outside Tokyo or Kyoto, you already need the pass.

The JR pass is quite expensive. We paid 96.417 Yen for the one valid for 14 days. This is around 800$. It hurt, it really did. But, and this is a big one, but it would have been even worse if we wouldn’t have had it. We used it intensively, and I think it paid for itself in the first half of the trip.

And this price is valid if you buy it outside Japan. In the last years, they have enabled an option to buy the JR Pass inside Japan as well, but this will cost you even more than that, about 105.920 Yen. The difference doesn’t seem that much, it’s about 50$, but you can invest this in a better hotel room, a nice souvenir, or a gallon of ice cream. No one’s judging.

How much does transportation in Japan cost, apart from the JR?

And now it’s the challenge. The other transportation has to be paid cash. No matter if you use Suica/Icoca/Pasmo or any other card, you will fill it up with cash. There’s no way to do it by card, and, believe me, we have tried. That’s why it’s challenging.

Out of everything that we paid from the cash amount we took from the ATM (50.000 Yen), my estimations tell me we have spent around 20.000 Yen on transportation. This includes:

  • 500 Yen per each card as a deposit (you get it back when you redeem your card, don’t worry, but you need to provide this amount)
  • a 1.400 Yen trip with a local bus to see a cool cave near Hamamatsu
  • a 4.200 Yen trip with a local bus from Odawara to Hakone
  • a 3.200 Yen round trip by cable car to see Mount Fuji

These expenses are the bigger ones. The rest of them were around 200-250 Yen each, and we also walked a great deal. My Fitbit was so proud of me those two weeks…

So, the total amount spent on transportation in Japan is…(drumrolls)…116.417 Yen. A big chunk, I know.

How much does food in Japan cost?

So, we got to my favorite part. I mean food. Japanese food, on the other hand, is a story for another time. How much did we spend on food? Well, again, it boils down to your spending behavior.

We ate a maximum of one meal per day at a restaurant (main dish, drink and sometimes dessert), and the other meals were gracefully provided by all sorts of grocery stores, pastry shops, random street food isles, and quite a few ice cream stands.

Costs for eating out in Japan

In 12 days, we spent around 33.952 Yen on food in restaurants. We paid by card in most of them, and tipping is not a thing in Japan, so there are no extra charges in this field. One complete meal for two was usually around 35 to 40$, no matter where we ate.

We didn’t eat in fancy restaurants, we tried to find places where we could eat like the locals. No worries, the food is good everywhere and it’s worth it to order based only on pictures. I honestly have no idea what I have eaten in there, but I seem to still be alive so, can’t be that bad, right?

Costs for eating on the go in Japan

In grocery stores, we spent around 16.495 Yen, out of which my estimation is that only 15.000 Yen was food and water. Because, unfortunately, while the tap water IS drinkable in Japan, it tastes too much as chlorine to be actually drinkable.

Some of the grocery shopping visits were influenced by us buying large amounts of fruit, which we missed there, and some others by us randomly taking things just to see what they were. There were some isolated occasions when we paid for food in cash, but it’s an amount not worth mentioning.

So, in total, we spent about 55.952 Yen on keeping our weight as it is. Maybe we added a little bit though…

Visiting temples and shrines in Japan is probably why most of us go there. While some temples are free to visit, some of the others can cost up to 1000 Yen. If your budget is tight, you can visit just the free ones, and make a judgment call on the others. Or you can decide it's worth it and you can temple yourself out as much as possible.
Visiting temples and shrines in Japan won’t be such a burden for your budget, especially if you choose to visit the free ones.

How much did we spend on entry fees?

Well, now you’ve caught me. I lied before, the food is not my favorite part (although you won’t say that based on my figure…). Visiting the stuff is my favorite part. I even create Trello boards for this part of every journey. Kind of explains why people don’t come with us on trips. Anymore.

Because we spent more time moving from one place to the other compared to what we thought we will, and also due to my lack of skills for basic functions like counting days, we missed some of the places we wanted to visit. Also, some of them were free of charge, and no one loves a bargain more than I do.

In the end, we spent about 32.000 Yen on entry fees. This included expensive stuff like the Digital Art Museum in Tokyo (it’s totally worth the 6.400 Yen we spent on it) or a geiko and maiko show in Kyoto, but also some things that didn’t impress us that much (some rebuilt castles, for example), and some totally useless things like the audio guide in Hiroshima.

For each one of us, this price will vary deeply. I didn’t see the point in paying to walk on a bridge in Nikko, for example, when I could see it very well from the bridge next to it. Others will feel templed out after 2-3 temples and shrines, and will invest this money in other things, or will just not spend it altogether.

To help you with this decision, I have prepared a printable PDF with prices for the most important places to see in Japan. I have also added some personal comments to it, which I think will be of great help when it comes to the decision of what to visit in Japan. And yes, I also did the currency exchange for you, you’re welcome.

Enjoying an experience in Japan can cost you quite a bit. A dinner with geisha show can be up to 2000$, a tea ceremony can be around 100-200$ and a private tour can also be very pricey. Still, I fully recommend going to at least one experience. In the end, there's no use of a trip to Japan if you cannot enjoy and meet this outstanding culture. Make use of any budget planning techniques you know and put aside some money for this.
Although expensive, seeing a geisha show is a memory that will follow you forever.

Any other additional costs we should know of?

Of course, not everything comes down to these categories mentioned above. What other things we spent our money on includes, but is not limited to:

  • commissions for ATM withdrawals – 917 Yen
  • a bag to be able to split our luggage, because I packed like crazy and didn’t expect that many stairs – 3.080 Yen
  • a short visit to the pharmacy because I am not only unable to count, but I’m also unable to walk safely – 198 Yen
  • souvenirs – 5.840 Yen (it honestly could have been a lot more)
  • a SIM card that saved our buts SO many times – 3.700 Yen

All of this got to a whopping amount of 15.340 Yen. This is money we don’t have anymore and we’re not exactly sure why. #responsible_adults right? I promise, we didn’t do anything illegal or immoral, we’re too old for this sort of thing.

Key takeaways

Phew, that was a big one. Was it as hard for you to read as it was for me to write it? I hope not, I’m trying to be helpful here. So, how much does a trip to japan cost for 2 weeks, you ask?

In case you’re more of a visual person, I have created a chart for the budget needed for a two week trip to Japan. Because who doesn’t like charts? Right? Right? *awkward silence*

This chart is the best representation for the budget split while on a 2 week trip to Japan. Most of the money went into the flights, accommodation and internal transportation.
The best way to talk about money is with a pie chart, right?
Product or service Estimated cost in dolars
Flights 1215$
Accommodation 1080$
Transportation 1075$
Food 515$
Entry fees 295$
Other 145$
TOTAL 4325$

As you can see, the total budget for this trip went up to 468.197 Yen, which means around 4.300$. It’s not cheap, I know. I feel your pain.

It’s similar to what we paid for the trip to the Maldives. But the Maldives is known as a luxury destination (not how we did it though), and Japan offers so much more than beaches and sunshine.

But, with proper planning, you can do this without feeling it as such a burden. If you split the big money suckers across a whole year, it may feel less stressful.

In any case, now you know everything about how much does it cost to travel to Japan.

Wait, there’s more! You almost forgot your printable PDF with the entry fees to all the important things to visit in Japan.

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2 thoughts on “The complete budget guide for a 2 week trip to Japan”

  1. Wow, about $300 USD a day for 2 people is pretty expensive! Going to Japan is definitely on my bucket list and I love your approach to food and fun but those hotel costs are what always dissuade me from heading to that country! Don’t get me wrong, I have no issue even at 44 years old with staying in a Private Room in a hostel with my wife since we don’t plan on staying in the room beyond sleeping and storage! But dang that is ridiculous with pricing!

    1. Honest Travel Stories

      I know, right? Again, this is pretty similar to what we paid in The Maldives if you catch my drift. But there are two things to keep in mind:
      1. I included the airfare in the price. This can vary widely depending on so many factors and can be quite helpful if you can score a better deal here.
      2. We decided we’re too old for hostels, and my husband didn’t want a capsule hotel experience (you can see which of us is older this way :)) )

      If you can go lower with airfare and accommodation, you can probably score this to about 200 $ per day, which is still not cheap, but might make you decide to go already 🙂

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