Tokyo - Travel cost guide
This is my money diary to Japan. Together with friends, we travel in a group of eight people, each with very different interest. It was a bit of rough and bumpy ride, but luckily we managed to come back without hard feelings. I wasn't very considerate in how I spent. Ops. Haha.
If you aren’t travelling with a tour or unlimited budget, then I guess Airbnb is the best option. I am a five star/boutique hotel, or no hotel kind of traveller and Tokyo is not a forgiving place for the working class in Malaysia. The hotels I would stay cost at least RM700 a night while Airbnb around Shinjuku to Shibuya area cost RM100-150 per person per night.
If you like to experience onsen in the city and save a night accommodation, like the last day before the flight, you can head to the Ooedo-onsen which opens 22hours a day for an entry fee of ¥2200.
Haneda to Shinjuku station is ~¥400 while the 24-hr pass is only ¥800. Because there are so many lines and it’s a bit confusing, I would suggest that you get the 72-hours Tokyo pass (¥1700) and a Pasmo card (fully refundable) together.
The strategy is - use Tokyo pass whenever you can and switch to Pasmo if you can't for the line.
As long as you are inside Tokyo, the Tokyo pass should save you 60% of your travel cost, and you could change your itinerary according to weather as that will not cost you extra money.
Food and drinks
Generally, good food means queue (not applicable to tourist area). If your trip is short, there is no point of looking for any hidden gem. Street snacks generally cost ¥300-400, a standard meal at ¥2000, a good meal at ¥5000-7000, while fine dining is ¥12,000 above. For extremely cheap meal, ¥109 ongiri rice ball from Family Mart.
The air-con market building beside Tsukiji Fish Market is in between wholesale and retail and gives the best value, the price is around 1/5 of what you pay outside. And you can enjoy your meal at the level 3 rooftop garden. A big piece of unagi or oyster cost around ¥250. Outside the market, that would cost ¥1000-1300.
For sushi, Tsukiji is not the best place. I would say that only the otoro sushi here is very good while the other sushi is nothing to shout about. The one I paid a few thousand ¥, even the rice wasn’t done well (comparing to Michelin star standard, I tasted 4 so I am allowed to say that).
Snacks at Asakusa - Not recommended trying. I queue and paid for the ice-cream, mochi, red bean cakes. ¥1500 wasted. Tasty rating: FAIL. Come here to wear Kinomo and take pictures.
Drinks will cost you ¥100+, the 2 litters bottle mineral water cost the same as 300ml. House tap water is safe to drink.
If budget permits, go for a Kaiseki meal and Kobe beef. For snacks, you must eat things like Daifuku ice-cream, oysters, sea urchin.
Most museum and park entrance cost between ¥300 – 600. Get the English Tokyo handy book from the tourist information centre when you arrived. You can get 20% off ticket for most museum and park entrance. If you need a one-stop park-museum centre – UENO is the place to go. Pop-up stalls on weekends.
Want to visit Disney but not keen to pay the full price? Consider getting the 6pm entry pass for ¥4200. In four hours you can, watch on the lake show and fireworks. Experience up to 9 not-so-popular rides or 3 hot rides. Remember to queue at the entrance around 5:40pm. South entrances are less crowded.
Instant noodle museum yearly pass ¥1000 comes with one make your own instant noodle and two international noodle dish at the cafe. So it’s a bit cheaper, and you get to bring back a yearly pass.
Branded items and electronics are cheap here (buy your iPhone, Macbook). However, I find the Channel Loose Powder to be more expensive, so I guess it depends on brands. Local or street stuff is almost certain to cost 3-5 times of the price here. They seem to be of good quality, but I am not ready to pay that much more.
I find many interesting items, but I can’t buy them because I don’t want a house full of stuff.
Most of the famous, good confectionery are sold inside the Airport duty-free at the same or better price and without the GST hassle. So don’t waste your money and effort buying fever premium things outside. My favourite things inside the Air Port–
You could also find books and drugstore inside the Airport. Things like ELLE magazine, Kanebo cleanser is available. The cheapest mask pack is a local brand name “lulula” ¥400 for 7 pieces or ¥1500 for 32 pieces.
For small items starts from ¥100 (like Daiso) for made in China and ¥350 for made in Japan. I laugh when I see the statement – made in China, sold exclusively in Japan. I wonder if we will see that in Malaysia.
I think the sim card in Japan is quite pricey if you stay short term. The one I took from Airport was ¥7200. That’s about RM280. Rooming would cost about RM30 a day. If the Airbnb you stay provides portable wifi, you could save the cost. Free wifi around train station but none work on my iPhone.
If you hold USD, the exchange rate in Japan are super competitive. I accidentally found that Maybank Forex counter in Mid Valley rates is od too, less the super long queue.
I have to admit that I brought home a handful of not so useful things (less compare to my friends..hehe). You could definitely spend unlimited in this city, but the lowest budget trip I know of is RM2500 for 6 days inclusive of the air ticket. They had Ongiri for every breakfast.