Are you planning a trip to Japan?
Last year I went to Japan for the first time and it was a once in a lifetime holiday. I LOVED it and everything about this country, but when you’re starting out, it can be a daunting trip to organise. So here are my top tips on how to plan a trip to Japan and make it the best holiday EVER!
Planning a Trip to Japan
STEP 1: Bucket List
The first thing we’re going to do is write a list of 5 things you want to see or do while you’re in Japan. This could be anything from eat fresh sushi to climbing mount fuji! Write down the reasons why Japan excites you and what you’d really love to do! Check out my post on 10 amazing things to do in Japan for inspiration.
STEP 2: Locations
Once you have your list, figure out where you can do these things. For example, we did a lot of things like a traditional cooking class (this should 100% be on your to do list FYI!) and temples in Tokyo, but we traveled to Kyoto for Ninja School and to Osaka for a tea ceremony. A bit of googling will help you find things like this out as well as using trip advisor for reviews on activities.
STEP 3: Timings
Once you know the places you want to visit, have a think about how long it will take you to do it all. Take a look at our 10 day Japan itinerary to see how much we managed to fit into each day and whilst still having some time to relax.
STEP 4: Travel
Now it’s time to look into the actual travel part of your trip – how you’re going to get to Japan and how you’ll get around while you’re there. Check flights around the time you want to visit to see if you can find any deals. Skyscanner has a whole month option so you can see when the cheapest flights fall, which is super handy if you have a bit of flexibility.
You’ll need to get around whilst in Japan, so if you’re planning on leaving Tokyo then take a look at the JR Rail Pass to save yourself a lot of money on travel. We made a 7 day ticket cover our whole 10 days by activating it part way through our trip, so be smart. But remember, you MUST buy your JR Pass before you get to japan as it’s not available to purchase over there. It’s a real money saver so definitely look into it if you’re planning on exploring outside of Tokyo.
STEP 5: Accommodation
Once you have your start and end date, your flights and a rough idea of how long you’d like to spend in each place – find your accommodation! Booking.com is a fab place to find hotels and ryokans (traditional Japanese guest houses) for the night as you can filter down your search results by price and facilities you need – take a look!
STEP 6: Activities
You can now book some of your activities to make sure you get to do all those things on your list from step 1! We used an app called Klook to book a lot of ours and they often have pretty good discounts or fast track entry to things. It’s a good idea to check there first to see if you can get a good deal and to book in advance, as a lot of things do sell out. They also sell SIM cards and some travel cards too which is very helpful.
STEP 7: Pack!
All that’s left to do now is pack! Check out my packing video for Japan to see everything I took with me to make my stay comfortable.
….oh, and don’t forget your travel first aid kit that should be with you on every trip!
10 Tips for Travelling to Japan
- Carry a rubbish bag to put in your bag. Public waste bins are few and far between and there is NO littering in japan – one of the reasons I really loved this country.
- Learn some basic phrases such as hello, thank you, please and excuse me as not everyone will speak English. (Bonus tip: it’s not rude to yell excuse me in Japanese across a restaurant to get a server’s attention, it’s pretty normal.)
- Download google translate to help with menus that don’t have an English version. It can be patchy but it helps!
- Wear Comfy shoes – you’ll be doing a lot of walking and stair climbing on the underground. Also, make use of the underground!
- Use google maps to help you navigate the Japanese metro system. It will even tell you the best doors to stand at for fast entry and exit.
- Don’t eat on the street while walking, it’s considered quite rude.
- Carry cash. A lot of places are cash only so don’t get caught out. Also look out for vending machines and shops that take pasmo as payment too (your top up travel card – like oyster) as that can be super handy if you need to buy water.
- If you visit an onsen – the public hot spring baths – be aware that you must go in totally naked! No swimming costumes allowed for sanitary reasons, and no visible tattoos.
- Hotel rooms are small in Japan for the most part, so if you’re moving around a lot, consider getting some packing cubes to make your items accessible from your case without much floor space!
- Grab a Japanese sim card for your phone or hire a wifi portable router to help you get around. We found having access to data essential during our trip to help us navigate and get around.
Planning a trip to Japan – told you I’d have you covered!
Hopefully this blog answered all your questions on how to plan a trip to Japan, but if you have any thoughts – or want to check out our Japan holiday photos! – then come find me on instagram @xameliax!
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– Planning a Trip to Japan by xameliax –