Tokyo: Travel Budget Guide

Blog post

Last March, I boarded my first international trip abroad on the country I’ve wanted to visit since I was a kid, the land of the rising sun: Japan. This has been more than a year in the making (especially on the savings side) but obstacles were just a spec of dust compared to the passion and persistence on making a dream come true.

So this post if for the dreamers out there, like me, the ones who have the courage to pursue their dreams and to the ones who are doubtful but willing to take the leap.

I’m sharing to you my itinerary; how I ENJOYED Tokyo in 4 days for less than Php 20,000.00 / JPY 40,000 / $400. The 20K does not include AIR FARE and SOUVENIRS, because they vary.

But the budget does include

  1. Travel Agency fees for the Visa
  2. Travel Tax and Terminal Fee
  3. Food and Transportation
  4. Accommodation
  5. Paid attractions you might want to try.

You might think that 20K is too small that I’m probably eating at convenience store everyday or walking or only visiting free attractions just to avoid expenses. That’s a big NO! I’ve came up with the ABCDE formula = A balance of Budget, Comfort, Dining and Experience – where that 20K included eating different kinds of Japanese food (see food pictures), riding almost all types vehicles (except motorbikes, taxis or bullet trains) and made me enter places I’ve been planning to spend on.

Please also note that I traveled solo, so if you’re a pair or a group; you’d probably spend less especially on food and accommodation.

Where to stay and what to use in booking?

People suggested either staying near Tokyo Station, at Shinjuku, Shibuya, Ginza, or Asakusa.

I stayed at Asakusa and it was a great choice, the Keisei Skyliner Access has a train from Narita Airport to Asakusa station. I got to walk to my hotel and passed by Sensoji Temple at night and it was absolutely gorgeous.

I also used the following in my Japan Trip:

* Hotel Booking Sites e.g. Agoda I found cheap budget hotels here which cost less than Php 1,000, $ 20 or JPY 2,000 per night. Plus you can book without paying yet and your booking can be sent with your visa application and can be shown to the immigration staff. Try to choose a cancellable option for on-the-spot ideas.

* AirBnB – If you’re a group or a family or If you’re a solo traveler or If you want to stay somewhere but hotels are quite expensive (e.g. Tokyo Disney). I suggest this! If you don’t have an account register here for a discount on your first stay.

* Couch Surfing – this is good for solo travelers. This is about locals opening their homes to travelers who want a place to stay.
I stayed with a great couple near Kojimachi Station. I got lucky my hosts were so accommodating, they treated me to a Museum and we cooked dinner together. I was there for three nights: the cost is Php 0.00, yep I paid nothing.

Tokyo Budget Travel Guide Accomodation


If you want to experience all vehicles in Japan except the taxi because it’s too expensive. Here’s what to use.

  • Tokyo Metro or the Toei Subway – ultimately the best way to get around Tokyo, especially if you’re sight seeing and the places are far away. It’s complicated at first, but I got the hang of it on my second day. You got to experience lining for the car, running so that the doors won’t get closed on you, sitting in the car or standing freely or pressed on to a sea of strangers.

Travel Tip: Buy a Tokyo Subway Pass (JPY 1,500 for 72 hours + JPY 800 for 24 hours) = good for four days. I actually spent about JPY 5,000 yen because I only got a 24 subway ticket on my 3rd day.

Tokyo Budget Travel Guide Transportation

Budget Tip: Buy Tokyo Subway Pass here. This will only cost you less and will be more convenient since not all stations sells Subway Pass.

  • Bike – on my first day I rented a bike at Asakusa for only JPY 300 (whole day rate). Which saved me about JPY 500 subway expenses

I went biking from Asakusa to Tokyo Sky Tree to Ueno to Asakusa. The perks? You’ll appreciate the Japanese culture more and how the traffic is so much different in their country and ours.

  • JR Trains – if subways are underground, most JR trains are above. They can also get you to some parts of Tokyo. I prefer JR trains when going to far places that do not have a subway station.

Travel Tip: Buy a Suica card, load it a few thousand yen and use it while getting in trains or buying food or water from vending machines.

  • Bus – they go where stations don’t pass. I used this when we went to Ghibili museum or from Tokyo Disney to my place. You either pay with coins or tap with your card. I tried both and I think using the card is easier because you need to pay the exact change.
  • Water Bus – the 40 minute ferry ride, well most people skip this, but I suggest you try this for experience and a great view of the City. I rode a ferry from Sumida Park to Hinode Pier
    – JPY 780.

What to EAT?

Honestly, the food is pretty expensive since one dinner could afford a buffet in the Philippines. But eating in convenience stores, which are budget friendly, may hinder your experience in Japanese culinary.

How to spend less in FOOD.

Try budgeting at least JPY 1500 – JPY 2,500 for your food on one day.

I pretty much ate cheap Onigiris (costing less than JPY 150) or a bento (JPY 380) for breakfast.

Budget Tip: They have discount at night, so buy them on the evenings and eat them for breakfast tomorrow

Now the next thing you’ll do is juggle what is left to lunch or dinner. If you have a JPY 300 breakfast, JPY 800 lunch, fit your dinner within the budget you chose.

Budget tip: If you’re hungry, go for set meals, if you’re not skip it and save some yen. They always offer free water so don’t bother ordering sodas. There’s also different sizes on meals, try to buy what you can finish.

Japanese servings are big; I had a hard time finishing the food because somehow it could feed two persons.

Try eating this: Tsukemen / Ramen, Donburi, Karaage, Sushi (Conveyor Belt Style), Curry, Onigiri, Bento, Tempura, Crepes, Bread Pan, Yakitori, Dango and Mochi.

Where to Go?

The following are the popular places in Tokyo. It is recommended to visit at least 2 of them per day in Tokyo to get the experience. If you are on a tight schedule you might want to choose your top 3 picks.

  • Akihabara (Anime and Electronics)
  • Asakusa (Sensoji Temple)
  • Ginza (Shopping District)
  • Harajuku (Between Shibuya and Shinjuku – Fashion and Shopping)
  • Odaiba (Man Made Island)
  • Roppongi (Tokyo Tower and Roppongi Hills)
  • Shibuya (Crossing and Hachiko)
  • Shinjuku (Metropolitan Government Building)
  • Sumida (Tokyo Sky Tree)
  • Tokyo Imperial Palace and Tokyo Station
  • Tsukiji (Fish Market)
  • Ueno (Ueno Park, Zoo, Museum)
Tokyo Budget Travel Guide Itinerary

This has been my four day itinerary in Tokyo.

Day 1

Asakusa (Asakusa Ext 1)
Sensoji Temple, Five-Storied Pagoda, Hozomon Gate, Demboin Temple, Asakusa Shrine, Nakamise-Dori, Kaminarimon Gate (Admission is Free)
Sumida Park and Sumida River

Sumida (Tokyo Sky Tree Station)
Tokyo Sky Tree
Observatories (Same day ticket JPY 2060 (350th floor) + 1030 (450th floor) / Fast ticket (for international visitors) JPY 3000 (350th) + 1000 (450th)
Tokyo Solamachi– a shopping mall filled souvenir / specialty shops (I found Hello Kitty Goods here) and restaurants.

Tokyo Budget Travel Guide Day 1

Ueno (Ueno Sta. Park Exit)
Ueno Park (Free)
Toshogu Shrine, Hanaono Inari-jinja Shrine (with red tori gates just like Kyoto’s), Gojoten-jinja Shrine, Benzaiten Temple (Free)
Tokyo National Museum (JPY 620 except on special exhibits) / The University Art Museum (varies per exhibition) / Shitamachi Museum (JPY 300)
Ueno Zoological Gardens (JPY 600 / Senior 300 / Students 200 / Children 12 below Free)

Odaiba (Daiba Station)
Aquacity Odaiba, Statue of Liberty / Rainbow Bridge, Palette Town (Tokyo Big Wheel), Venus Fort (Free)

Day 2

Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building (Tochomae Station)
Observation deck on the 45th floor is free for all if you want to have a view of Tokyo

Harajuku (JR Harajuku Station)
Harajuku, Takeshita Dori, Ometasando
Meiji Shrine (Free)
Takeshita Dori is a shopping district and can go pretty crowded especially on Saturdays and Sundays (T_T I didn’t went through because even though it’s Friday there were too many people)

Tokyo Budget Travel Guide Day 2

Shibuya (Shibuya Station Hachiko Exit)
Shibuya Crossing, Hachiko
Travel tip: If you want a better view of Shibuya Crossing, go to Starbucks at Tatsuya, you can skip ordering the drinks and go directly to the second floor (many tourists are there too!)

Day 3

Mitaka (Mitaka Station)
Ghibili Museum (JPY 1000)
Famous Movies: Totoro, Sento (Spirited Away), Arriety, Howl’s Moving Castle, this is a three-story building and has a restaurant outside. No picture taking allowed inside the building. But it’s a very magical place and a great experience if you’re a fan.
Tickets are not sold at the museum, they are usually sold on the a month before (e.g. My ticket was on March 30, it was bought on February 10 – reserved by a Japanese resident). If you want to go there are travel agencies – JTB – who sells the tickets

Tokyo Budget Travel Guide Day 3

Tokyo Station

Imperial Palace
Edo Castle, Imperial Palace East Gardens (Free)

Akihabara (Akihabara)
GO inside Manga/Anime Shops and Electronic Shops
Try an animal, maid or manga café (I tried an Owl Café for JPY 1000)
Play games at a gaming station (JPY 100 per game) and have your picture taken at a Purika (JPY 400)

Day 4

Roppongi (Roppongi Sta. Exit 1C)
Roppongi Hills, Giant Spider, Mori Art Museum (JPY 1500), Tokyo City View, Sky Deck (1,500)
Alternative: (Exit 8)
Suntory Museum of Art (Admission Varies), Fujifilm Square (Free)
National Art Center (Admission Varies)

Tokyo Tower (Akabanebashi Sta)
Near Zojoji Temple (in the Wolverine movie)
Shopping stalls are in the lower floors
One Piece Tokyo Tower on the third floor and has attractions upto the 5th floor – this is for OP fans, like me 😀
For a lower cost of Tokyo Tower purchase here

Tokyo Budget Travel Guide Day 4

This was a Sunday and sort of my rest day since my feet hurts from too much walking. Also, I attended mass at the Franciscan Chapel (Catholic English Mass at 12PM). I also went home early as requested by my CS hosts, I helped making raddish soup and we ate dinner together.

> Other expenses I incurred <

Travel Agency for my Visa – Friendship Tours – Php 1,000.00 (They have 1,200.00 fee for those who applies, but one of my friend’s wife works there and I got a discount)
Here’s a Visa Application Guide
Travel Tax – Php 1,620
Terminal Fee – Php 750
I bough a Japan Travel Sim powered by IIJmio – 1 GB – JPY 2,657

Travel Agency Fees, Travel Tax and Terminal Fees are applicable only for Philippine Passport Holders traveling from PH to JP.

Here’s a Facebook album to help you out!
Tokyo Budget Travel Guide Expenses

People say Japan is Hard to Enter, Japan is Expensive, Japan has a language barrier.
I beg to differ;

If Japan is Hard to enter, you WORK HARDER to make sure your visa requirements are complete or PRAY HARDER to be approved.
If Japan is EXPENSIVE, you SAVE and BUDGET without ruining your experience.
If Japan HAS a language barrier, you need to study a little of their language or at least learn to understand with ACTIONS and EXPRESSIONS.

Never let FEAR hinder your DREAMS!

I truly ENJOYED Japan at a LOW Cost

Even though I got lost (countless of times), the people were unbelievably helpful
The country is gorgeous – the sights, the discipline, the people  It has been a dream come true and exceeded my expectations

Dreams Do Come True! Now, work on yours!

Japan Rate: 11/10

Tokyo Budget Travel Guide Pin

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Comments (35)

  • Lyza P

    June 1, 2019 at 7:58 PM

    Traveled during Spring break (last week of March- 1st week of April). I actually contacted my CS host way back January 🙂

  • The Mad Mommy

    June 17, 2018 at 11:05 PM

    This is a great guide. Especially if it is your first time in a new place, like Tokyo!

  • Princess Quinn

    June 17, 2018 at 8:41 PM

    Wow Couch surfing is the best. Lol! It is quite surprising that there are still generous and kind people who are willing to open doors to strangers. Oh wait, were you completely strangers to each other?/

    1. Lyza P

      June 18, 2018 at 11:58 AM

      Complete strangers, I met then via couchsurfing app. You should try this!

      1. matessa

        April 10, 2019 at 1:30 PM

        I’m on CS but unfortunately Golden Week ang punta nami so kahit anong gawin kong hanap ng alternatives sa accomm, mahal talaga! 🙁 When did you travel in Tokyo, Ms Lyza? 🙂

  • Anosa

    June 16, 2018 at 8:18 PM

    I travel monthly and it’s fun but can be quite expensive, I am definitely loving your tips for visiting Japan

    1. Roma

      December 5, 2019 at 6:07 PM

      Hello! Thanks for the info. If I may ask did you rent kimono? And where? Thank you. Ano yung pinakabest itinerary na masuggest mo dun sa mga option mo po? First time to go to Japan eh. Gusto ko sana mapasyal almost all. Thank you!

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