Every year, several millions of people from all over the world go to Japan to experience the unique culture and traditions, ancient world heritage sites and attractions, and mouthwatering dishes it has to offer.
If you are thinking of spending your next vacation in Japan, you should do some research beforehand to make your trip go as smooth-sailing and stress-free as possible.
Below are tips that should help you get started:
Airfare costs to Japan vary depending on the time of the year. They tend to be more expensive during peak tourist times, such as during the cherry blossom season, which typically occurs around early April; the autumn foliage season, which usually falls around mid-November; and national holidays and festival days.
If you are traveling on a budget, you should travel off-peak, such as towards the end of the spring season, at the end of the autumn season, or the middle of winter, as plane ticket prices usually drop during these times of the year. You should also sign up for discounted or promo airfare alerts to avail of cheap flights.
Just like plane tickets, the costs of hotels, hostels, inns, and other lodging options in Japan vary per season. They also depend on the location, i.e. proximity to a major train station, city center, or tourist spots, facilities, room types, and other factors.
If you want to splurge, Japan has a good selection of five-star luxury hotels and high-end traditional ryokan or Japanese-style inns. If you want to only spend a few thousand yen a night, there are also business hotels, capsule hotels, and hostels with dormitory rooms.
While there is an increasing number of business establishments in Japan that are starting to accept credit cards as a mode of payment, there are still many places that only take cash.
With a credit card, you should have no problem paying for goods and services at many malls and department stores, hotels, restaurants, museums, theme parks, and other large establishments. However, you still have to have cash with you at all times as a lot of small temples, shrines, food stalls, souvenir shops, and others only accept cash.
Before you leave your country, you should try to purchase Japanese yen from your bank. You can also exchange your local currency for Japanese yen at currency exchange offices once you arrive in Japan, or withdraw Japanese yen from ATMs in Japan.
The kinds of clothes that you need to pack for your Japan trip depends on what time of the year and which part of the country you are going.
During the summer months, Japan is hot and humid, with temperatures in the 30s in Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, and others. Therefore, you should pack thin and breathable clothes to avoid heat stroke. In the spring and autumn seasons, in the Kanto and Kansai regions, for examples, days are cool and usually dry, so a light jacket should suffice while viewing the cherry blossoms and autumn foliage. In winter, if you are going to Hokkaido, heavy winter jackets and sweaters, snow boots, and scarves and gloves, are a must as temperatures can drop below 0 degrees Celsius.
Japan has an excellent network of public transportation, so getting around should be quite easy.
For traveling within cities, it is common to use the subways, metro, and buses. For instance, in Tokyo, you can go from one area of the metropolis to another via its more than 150 rail lines. And, in Kyoto, a combination of metro/subway and buses should allow you to explore the city’s many world heritage sites.
For traveling from one region to another, the Shinkansen or the Japanese bullet train is highly recommended. It can take you from Tokyo to Osaka, for example, in just two hours and 30 minutes.
Are you worried that you would not be able to find your way to your hotel from the airport? What is the fastest way to get from this one shrine to that castle? Would it be more expensive to take the bus than to take the subway?
Figuring out how to get around Japan can be overwhelming at first especially in the big cities like Tokyo where there seem to be millions of train lines. Fortunately, by using apps like Google Maps (Android | iOS), Hyperdia (Android | iOS), and Navitime (Android | iOS), you should be able get to your destination in one piece.
It is totally possible to have a good time in Japan with zero Japanese language skills. As soon as you land at an airport, you will find English signages everywhere, telling you where the trains, buses, tourist information center, and others are.
At the big cities and major tourist areas, restaurants and other businesses usually have English translations of their menus and services. On buses, subways, metro, and the Shinkansen, the monitors and audio announcements typically have English translations too.
However, in the smaller towns and rural areas, English may not be as common. This is when translation, dictionary, and phrasebook apps will come in handy. Before your trip, try to download any of the following:
- Google Translate – Android | iOS
- Learn Japanese – iOS
- Japanese Translator Offline – iOS
- Waygo Translator and Dictionary – iOS | Android
- Akebi – Android
Japan has a wide and diverse cuisine that is praised globally. It is impossible to go hungry whichever part of the country you are in.
Depending on your preference and budget, you can try dining at the Michelin restaurants, yatai or Japanese food stalls, izakaya, ramen shops, sushi bars, and others. You can also go convenience store hopping and try the cheap and affordable sandwiches, onigiri, rice meals, bento, and others available.
Get a Japan SIM Card
Make sure you do your research and find the perfect Japan SIM cards for your individual needs. Purchasing a Japan SIM Card will help you navigate the streets of Japan as well as help with the language barrier through the useful Apps listed above.
Take a look at our handy comparison table to help you decide on the best option for you. You can choose to have your SIM card delivered to you before you travel; or, pick it up when you arrive at the airport.