There is a myth about travelling to Japan that most people seem to believe: It's expensive! It's what most people think before shrugging off a trip to this amazing country. It’s time we debunked this one.
The myth has been around for decades; it seems to have been born out of the rapid growth of Japan's economy in the 1980's, way back when everyone was walking around with their cell phones the size of bricks, jeans stuffed with yen and listening to Wham on their walkmans.
To put it simply - this just isn't true.
With the exchange rate for most major currencies sitting at parity with the Japanese Yen, there hasn't been a better time to visit Japan, and the good news is: the trend of a lower value Yen isn't going away anytime soon.
Let's break down the usual vacation expenses and line them up with Sydney, Australia for a price comparison.
Sydney is the biggest tourist destination in Australia and Tokyo is the biggest tourist destination in Japan. They are both world class destinations with amazing experiences for visitors. Both Japan and Australia have similar price points and economies, so they seem the best for comparison to show us that Japan is not an expensive destination for your next holiday.
Lets begin with the first thing you will be buying after your flights-
We have used Expedia for the comparison on your average 3, 4 and 5 star hotels. The selected hotels were all on the same night and had no sales associated with them.
What we find is that you can save as much as $100 a night on accommodation in Tokyo, compared to staying at a comparative hotel in Sydney! That money adds up fast, considering more often than not, you'll be staying for at least a few nights. The difference in price for a week's accommodation could add up to cover your return airfare to Tokyo with Jetstar!
This is the big one. Food and drink takes up a large amount of your day to day money whilst on vacation. Generally speaking, you will be purchasing all your food, beverages and snacks while away, which adds up, fast. As we see above, everything is significantly cheaper in Tokyo as opposed to Sydney, with some items having more than a 200% increase in price, when purchased in Sydney.
On average you could save up to $40.00 in your daily food and beverage spending when holidaying in Tokyo, compared to what you would spend in Sydney.
Transport is another cost to factor in while on holidays. In big cities like Tokyo and Sydney, you can get away with not hiring a car, and take advantage of the cities' various forms of transport.
Let's start with getting from the airport to the hotel. Both cities have excellent train options straight from the arrival terminal to various stations in the city. We compared the Sydney Air-link train service to the fastest of Tokyo's several train options from the airport (and the most expensive) the Narita Express, with a few dollars saved from Tokyo again.
Public transport options in each city have various day passes available to anyone. Sydney's pass covers both train and buses and is just over $20 per day. Tokyo also has several options catering to their many train networks covering the city, we selected the best covered pass, the Tokyo Free Kippu, which gives use of all subway lines and the JR Rail lines. It's also able to be used on all bus services too. This pass comes in at just over $15 for an adult, cheaper again.
An even better cost saving measure is to get yourself a combo Narita Express / Suica Card on arrival at the airport. This card gives you a return ticket on the Narita Express, and 2000 Yen credit on your Suica card to use on any public transport service, or at many shops which support it's paypass-like payment feature. This combo card is only available to international guests and gives you a saving of up to 3000 yen!
For more information on this amazing deal check here.
With Japan's super fast network of Shinkansen trains and Australia's cross country network of trains we looked at comparable trips. Sydney to Melbourne one way (approx. 876km), and Tokyo to Osaka one way (approx. 570km). Tokyo came in a little cheaper, with a 2 hour train ride as opposed to a 10 hour train ride from Sydney to Melbourne. Both were for a mid week afternoon train.
Lastly we looked at domestic flights. Again we looked one way Sydney to Melbourne and Tokyo to Osaka. Both are similar distances. and both were flights with Jetstar (Jetstar AU domestic and Jetstar Japan). With Japan's domestic flight coming in roughly half the price.
The final cost aspect we're looking at is tourist attractions and entertainment. We looked at the 4 big things most cities/countries offer and that are attractive to tourists.
First up is museums. Every city has dozens of museums covering local and national history, technology and art. For this comparison we took the two cities most visited museums to see who is cheaper. For Sydney we looked at the admission costs for the Power House Museum, and for Tokyo we took the Edo-Tokyo Museum. The Edo Tokyo Museum, which shows you a representation of how Tokyo was in the Edo period is half the price of the Power House Museum, with a standard adult ticket coming in at just $6!
Next up we looked at the average movie ticket price at a major cinema chain in both cities, with Sydney again coming in more expensive, at over $20 for one movie, then adding in the cost of popcorn and a drink, you're looking at an expensive afternoon at the movies.
For theme park admission we had to look up to the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia, as Sydney didn't have a park to compare with. We took Warner Bros. Movie world on the Gold Coast, as the closest comparison to Tokyo Disneyland's one day ticket price. Keep in mind WB Movie world isn't even half the size of Tokyo Disneyland, yet it is an amazing $23 more than the world class park in Tokyo. Also good to point out that the operating hours are significantly longer at Tokyo Disneyland. So for a cheaper price, you can take the kids to one of the greatest theme parks in the world!
The final comparison is of observation decks. All major cities have them and these do draw in most tourists, at least once, to get a birds eye view of the city you're visiting. In Sydney we have the Sydney Tower Eye coming in at 309 metres tall, with its observation deck at 250 metres and costs $26. In Tokyo, we have the Tokyo Sky Tree, the tallest tower in the world (second tallest structure), at 634 metres tall and it's 1st observation deck is at 350 metres, and the second observation deck is at 450 metres. To get to the first observation deck it will cost you $20. That's right, it's cheaper to go up the tallest tower in the world than Sydney's 309 metre tower.
So again it's a straight win for Tokyo for cheapest tourist attractions, compared to Sydney.
Japan right now is the place to go to get a great deal.
Yep you heard us. Japan is a great value trip which won't break the bank. Sure, like anywhere, you can easily break and drown the bank if you want, however it's just as easy to travel on a budget and get the most out of it, and see all the great things the largest metropolis in the world has to offer.