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Tips for travelling free and easy in Japan

10:33 PM claire 0 Comments

So I recently took a week long solo trip to Tokyo on impulse and here are some tips I have to share about planning free and easy trips to Japan! This wasn't my first trip to Japan so I (finally) decided to consolidate all the things you should look out for into one post since many of you have been requesting it :) Can't wait to share pictures and travelogue of my trip soon so look out for it!!

Cherry blossoms in Spring. Striking this off my bucket list!

Without further ado, tips on travelling free and easy in Japan:

1. Get an internet connection


Although I didn't get a data connection during my trip, I regretted it every day. I was lucky to be with my Japanese friends most of the time so they could tell me which trains to catch, which stop to get off at, timings for the last train etc, but when I was alone I often sought refuge at Starbucks as they provide free wireless access. Gets in handy when you're lost.

If you're travelling in a group, I recommend www.japan-wireless.com to rent a Wifi router and share with your friends. For prepaid sims though, there is a cheaper and better alternative on b-mobile which you can pre-order and collect at the airport when you arrive. For more information, check out http://www.bmobile.ne.jp/english/ , depending on how much you intend to use, you can pick between 1gig or unlimited data for the same price, the only difference is the speed.

Don't take an internet connection for granted in Japan, because one platform has many trains alighting passengers and they all go to different destinations. Knowing what time your train is slated to arrive helps so you don't get on the wrong train!!

2. Save money on transportation with a JR Pass


A JR Pass essentially gives you unlimited train rides under the JR company (which includes shinkansens aka inter-city fast trains) for a period of time. Whether this saves you money or not depends on how many cities you're going to. If you're just going to one city and back, it might not be worth the whole amount so be sure to do your calculations first! Shinkansen tickets can be bought online so you can use that to estimate the price. If you know you're going to use the JR line intra-city, then take that into consideration as well.

Important!!! You MUST purchase the pass OUTSIDE of Japan, aka before your trip! You can't get a JR Pass in Japan.

3. Check the weather forecast everyday before you head out


The weather in Japan is reaaally unpredictable. It could be hot and sunny one moment, then stormy and rainy the next. The true Japanese citizen will always check the weather forecast before going out, and bring an umbrella when required. Was caught in the rain once, don't let that happen to you. Even though umbrellas are cheap at convenience stores, you might not even make it to a convenience store when it pours!

4. Get an app to help you translate

Not every menu has pictures 

It is hard to survive in Japan without knowing Japanese, and I was really lucky to have Japanese friends who translated most of the things I didn't understand (eg menu) into English! However if you're going to Japan on a free and easy trip, you might want to download the Google Translate app  which is also available offline, and best of all, FREE!

5. Make space for an onsen trip


If you can, please please set aside a day (and a night preferably), to check out Japan's amazing onsens!! There isn't anything better than a complete relaxation soaking in prickly hot water while admiring the picturesque view that Japan has to offer. If you go in winter, your body feels hot while your face and ears feel cold. Pure bliss. If you stay for a night, you get a feast of a dinner and breakfast, and though it's more pricey, it's definitely worthwhile. 

Oh, and if you're travelling to Tokyo, do note that flying to/fro Haneda Airport is nearer (and cheaper!) than Narita! Also taking an express bus may not necessarily be faster than taking the normal train. The only huge advantage is that you probably don't have to carry your luggage up and down the stairs as not every train station has escalators or lifts. 

That's it for now! Do let me know if you have any suggestions or comments you would like me to add on to this list, etc. 

Have a safe trip and don't forget to buy insurance!


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