japan on a budget 10 day itinerary


Probably the biggest reason that is keeping you from visiting Japan is its reputation for being a really expensive city. It is true, BUT, Japan is NOT more expensive than any other big metropolitan city in the world, like NYC or Amsterdam or London or Paris. and if you are a savvy traveller, you can do it on a budget too!

A little context before I tell you my itinerary and costs for this trip; I went with my husband, but he had to return on day 8 because of work and I returned on Day 11, because, well I wanted to see more. Therefore our trip was divided into 3 chunks. 4 days in Tokyo, 3 in Kyoto (after which he left), 1 more day in Kyoto & 2 more in Tokyo (which I did solo).

And as you will see in the itinerary, that the last 3 days I did solo, I did not go to more new places, infact I returned to the same ones I visited with husband. Why? Because there is so much to absorb and see in each of the key neighbourhoods, I did not feel inclined to check off more places, instead return to same ones, because of their vibe!

What My Trip Was Like

  • Day 1: Landed in Tokyo, checked in and explored the neighborhood, visited Tokyo Met Building for night view
  • Day 2: Headed for a day trip to Mt. Fuji area, spent the night in Asakusa area (Tokyo)
  • Day 3: Visited two famous neighborhoods, Harajuku and Shibuya
  • Day4: Visited Tsujki fish market and Akihabra neighborhood, explored Shinjuku nightlife
  • Day 5: Checked out and took a bullet train to Kyoto, explored Kyoto station and night illuminations at a temple in the city
  • Day 6: Visited Bamboo forest, Ginkakuji Temple and Arashiyama Shrine, spent the night socialising and playing mario in the hostel
  • Day 7: Visited Kinkakuji Temple, walked on Philosophers Path, roamed in downtown Kyoto
  • Day 8: Shopping in Kyoto, exploring downtown during day time, ramen dinner at Kyoto Station
  • Day 9: Took bullet train to Tokyo, had Steak dinner, roamed in Shinjuku
  • Day 10: One more day in Harajuku area, last day shopping and dinner in Golden Gai
  • Day 11: Took Narita express to airport.

Here’s how much this itinerary costed me..

Visa: $0

Transport (Flights/Buses/Ferries):  $1000

  • Karachi-Tokyo return flight: $627 (PIA)
  • Bullet Train 7-day pass: $300
    • Journey from Tokyo-Kyoto and back is covered
    • Journey from Tokyo-Mt. Fuji and back is covered
    • Journey of Narita express to airport is covered
    • Some metro journeys/routes in Tokyo & Kyoto are also covered
  • Narita express: from aiport to tokyo city $30 (3000 Yen)
  • Suica Card: $28 (3000 Yen)

You can buy it and top it up at any station or airport. The cost of card is 500 Yen, which is refundable (minus some service fee) when you return the card at the airport. Average journey from one place to another is about 200 Yen.

  • Kyoto bus day passes: $21 (2230 Yen)

One day-pass in Kyoto costs 500 Yen and gives you unlimited bus rides. If you buy a single journey bus ticket, it costs 230 Yen. All key parts of Kyoto are accessible by bus, not the metro.

Stay: $425 (per person, 10 nights)

Whenever you receive the advice that everything in Tokyo is tiny; do not take it lightly. They have mastered the art of utilising every inch of space. So may be the hostel/apartment room might look expensive to you in terms of price, but comparing it to places in similar price in other parts of the world, they will be tiny.

But, the best part is the aesthetics and amenities. The space may be tiny, but it will be clean and minimalistic most of the times and amenities will be top-notch. My stay is broken into so many places because I wanted to experience hostels and capsules. At least 2 night stay in capsule hotel is recommended!

Overall, accommodation is the most expensive part in Japan trip, but staying in hostels/capsules/guesthouses will bring your cost down.

  • Tokyo, 2 Nights @ Apartment Hotel Shinjuku: $117
  • Tokyo, 2 Nights @ 9 Hours Capsule Hotel: $92
  • Kyoto, 3 Nights @ Origami Guesthouse: $113
  • Kyoto, 1 Night @ Piece Hostel: $33
  • Tokyo, 2 Nights @ Imano Hostel: $70

Activities: $120

In Japan, you will realize that only sightseeing, people-watching and aimless roaming is so entertaining on its own, that there is not need to have much “activities” or “tours” in your itinerary. The weird and bizarre will be all around you to absorb and be immersed in, for free, and that is quintessential Japan. That’s why towards the end of the trip I figured I have not spent much money and still saw and experienced a lot. The beautiful temples and gardens in Kyoto, many of them are free! Kyoto station itself is so beautiful, you can spend hours there, at no cost except may be grabbing a coffee or lunch.

Robot Show: $75 (8000 Yen)
Karaoke: $9 (1000 Yen)
Purikura: $4 (400 Yen)

Mt. Fuji
Onsen (Outdoor hot spring bath): $14 (1500 Yen)

Temple Kinkakuji: $4 (400 Yen)
Temple Ginkakuji: $5 (500 Yen)
Okachi Sanso villa: $9 (1000 Yen)

Food, Beverages, Snacks: $263

Food is not cheap in Japan. But there are ways to keep it under budget. Mostly I went for Japanese fast food or the burgers from local chains, which kept my average meal cost at about 800-1000 Yen. Some of the days I had late breakfast, and I skipped lunch altogether, and then had early dinner . And splurged on barely two of my meals during 10 days. I learnt that the cheaper way to have breakfast is to go to Family mart, grab a coffee and some baked goodie from their bakery section, which had huge amount of variety.

Overall, in this cost I had 3 sushi lunches, a steak dinner, a horse meat & artisan miso soup lunch, ramen dinner, avocado burger @ japanese fast food chain, yakitori dinner, japanese curry dinner.

Latte: 150 Yen from 7-Eleven or Family mart or 330 Yen from Starbucks
Bread/croissant: 100-300 Yen from Family mart
Onigri: 140-170 Yen
Boiled Egg: 70-90 yen
Bottle of water: 100 Yen
Fast-food lunch: 500-700 Yen (Mc Donalds, KFC, Mos Burger, Freshness Burger)
Japanese fast food/Ramen: 800-1100 Yen
Sushi Lunch: 800-1000 Yen
Wagyu (premium beaf): 2500 Yen onwards

Simm: $35

This is expensive. And there is no way around it. But the pre-loaded data in this 35$ simm lasted me for entire ten days, my only usage being Google Maps while I was on the go, and sometimes, using Instagram, Facebook, Whatsapp.

Souvenirs: $36

Total for 10 days it costed me: Approx. $1900

If you have more questions, write below in comments and I’d be happy to answer.