July 24, 2007

Is Japan really that expensive for visitors?

I need a break.

After a long while from my previous holiday back in Feb 2006, I am now planing my next holiday in Japan, Hokkaido. "Japan again!" are my friends reaction when I told them that I am heading to Japan for holiday. Well, it is understandable that they have such reaction, because this will be my sixth time to Japan.

They (my friends) alway think that Japan is an expensive place to have holiday. They compare the prices in Japan and Singapore and just complain about the price they need to pay for every meal. Logging is expensive, they reasoned, and also not forgeting the train fare when compared to the MRT of Singapore.

Is Japan that expensive? I always tell them that while Japan is expensive on an absolute level, it is not expensive in a relative level. So what do I mean by that?

Take a meal in Japan for example. Unlike Singapore, Japan do not have hawker centre or coffeeshop. If you want to eat a meal, you go to a restaurant or an eating house. You probably get a meal for about 800 yen in an eating house, but say you eat in a causal dinning restaurant, and it is about 1,100 yen per meal. This is about SGD14.50. Now, if you were to go to a Japanese restaurant in Singapore and have the same meal, it will probably cost you at least SGD15, or about 17.50 including service charge and Sales Tax. And mind you that in Japan, the amount you pay is net of GST and service charge. Moreover, the service you get in Japan is second to none!

I one went into a conveyor belt sushi restautant in Kyoto, and they charge 120yen per plate for sushi. That is about SGD1.60....this cheaper than you can get in say Sushi Teh in Singapore. And I can tell you that the fish is about 5% larget and fresher than those you get in Singapore!

Transportation wise, the train fare in Tokyo is definately more expensive and more crowded. However, when you consider the inefficient network of the Singapore system, the difference in price probably make up for it. In Tokyo, the network of the subway is so extensive that you hardly need to change to a bus inorder to go to your destination. In Singapore, the system is designed such that you have to change to a bus. The transfer cost you money, the transfer cost you time.

So if one take these into consideration, Japan is not that an expensive place to visit... so why don't make Japan your next place for your holiday?


charis said...

Dear icecold,

i'm thinking of travelling to Japan on a free n easy trip. I'm not really a serious backpacker... somewhat still would like to travel in comfort. However, like any typical singaporean, i'm looking for good and affordable accomodation in japan. I intend to start from osaka, kyoto, nagoya and then to tokyo. Do you have any good recommendations?
Wonder also what's the least number of days I need to enjoy these places on public transport?


icecold1967 said...

Hi Grace,

There are many reasonable priced hotel. Google for hotels like Green Hotel, Comfort Hotel, Kamanoi. They are typical around 7-9k Yen, depending on the area.

If this is your first trip to Japan, according to your iternary, spend at least 3 days in Tokyo, 2 days in Kyoto, 2 days in Nagoya, and 2-3 days in Osaka. So all in about 10 days. However, I think you can afford to give Naoya a miss, there are other places that is worth your time than Nagoya.

charis said...

Hi icecold,

Thanks for your reply.

I thought a day trip to Kyoto, Kobe and Nara would suffice...

Erm, I'm not very interesed to go into the temples... would there be lots to see in those places to stay for the night?


charis said...


may i ask which area would be a better place to stay in - The Namba/Shinsaibashi area or the Umeda area?


icecold1967 said...

I have not stay in these area before.

I usually stay in Ikebukuro or Shinjuku area. But for cheaper accomodation, you can try Ueno area.

icecold1967 said...

You can do a day trip to Nara and see the park with deers runing around.

Kyoto is worth at least a night stay if possible.

I have not been to Kobe, so cannot comment.