Tokyo

Discovering Tokyo with RM1000

IMG_3351

I love going back to Tokyo, said to be one of the most expensive cities in the world. At least I thought. Let me tell you this: it’s a myth!

Before I left for Tokyo for the first time 5 years ago, I did all the necessary calculations for my 7-day trip. Although I was only going to stay at 3-star hotels (which means accommodations wasn’t going to be that expensive) and had already bought by Japan Rail Pass before flying off (which means that my transportation cost have already been paid), the prospect of going to the most expensive city without my sources of funding i.e. parents was intimidating. So as a result, I brought RM5800 in cold hard cash to Tokyo for a 7-day trip.

I was surprised to know that Tokyo (or Japan as a whole) isn’t as expensive as I was led to believe. I found the city more affordable than London, Melbourne or Singapore! Just to be safe, I continued bringing lots of cash on subsequent visits, each time realizing that I always have some excess cash to shop with at the end of the trips.

After several visits, I progressively learned the tip and tricks to minimize my traveling cost by knowing, for example, where to stay and what to eat — up to the point that I could sustain with just RM1000 for a 5-day trip.

Before I start listing down how I did it, you need to know that this is budget trip — it covers the basics of your traveling cost in Tokyo (not inclusive of your flight ticket — here’s how to get cheap flight tickets), so it’s perfect for those who just want to take some days off just to chill in the city and experience it for a couple of days.

Accommodation

When it comes to the accommodation, the internet is your best friend.

You can rent out private rooms or entire properties for the duration of your trip. If you’re rajin enough, you can find places offering RM150 a night for 2 people, at a good location. Sometimes the property owners will even throw in pocket wifi for you! Here’s where you can look:

If you want to opt for hotels, there are 3-star hotels that provide spotless rooms and services at good rates. The decent hotels I’ve stayed over and over at include:

Booking.com

I often do my comparison on Booking.com, narrowing down the hotel by the number of stars and the price range and after that filtering the hotels according to the price. Before completing my booking, I was actively on the website to look out for great deals, capping the price of our double room at less than RM300. The cheapest price I’ve secured was in my last trip, RM200 for a double room with shared bathroom — each of us paid only RM100 a night!

If you manage to do it like I did, you’ll be spending about RM500 on your accommodation.

(If you’re taking the AirAsia flight to Haneda and arriving late, sleep at the airport on the first night to save even more.)

Transportation

P1270118

If you’re only traveling within the city, buy a Tokyo Metro Pass for visitors. The pass can be purchased at the Visitor Information Center that’s located the right side after exiting the arrival gate.

The Tokyo Metro Pass lets you get on the Tokyo Metro lines (which basically covers the whole of Tokyo). There are 2 kinds of tickets for travelers:

  • 1-day ticket ¥600 (RM18)
  • 2-day ticket ¥980 (RM30)

Considering that a one way ticket from one place to another could cost ¥160 (RM5) and you’re likely to spend 5x more than that on transportation for 1 day, it’s a better idea to buy the pass. For a 5-day trip, you’ll be spending less about RM100 on transportation.

Read more on Tokyo Metro tickets for travelers and see the map of the Tokyo subway.

Food

P1290329

When I’m not so particular about spending, I’d eat outside all the time so most of my money in Tokyo, in turn, would be spent on food. A proper meal at a restaurant in Tokyo costs around ¥1000 (RM30), so eating 3 times a day (plus pastries and ice chocolate drinks in between) could easily mean spending more RM100 a day on food!

I’ve learned to cut down on food expenses by first, bringing food from home and second, knowing where and when to dine.

For the last trip, I brought food to Tokyo — oats, walnuts, seeds and cranberries and then shopped for fruits at markets and bread at bakeries so that I can prepare my own breakfast to fuel me in the morning.

Since one can’t possibly rely on oatmeals forever, here is the list of cheap eats I visit to fill my tummy later during the day:

  • Pastries from bakeries start from ¥180 (RM6)
  • Sushi kaiten restaurants offering cheap sushi like Kurazushi and Ganso Zushi, starting from ¥100 (RM3) a plate
  • Restaurants offering lunchtime sets, like Shinjuku Sakae Sushi, which offers a ¥720 (RM25) sushi set during lunchtime (instead of ¥1200)
  • Chain restaurants offering filling tendon sets (tempura and rice) from ¥580 (RM18) like Tenya
  • Chain restaurants like Saizeriya, which offers pasta and pizza for about ¥500 (RM15)
  • Shops selling halal kebabs that’s splattered across the city like Anatolia and Kebab Box J, for a ¥500 (RM15) kebab

Or if you’re feeling super cheap, buy salmon onigiri from 7E (or Tokyo’s many konbini/mini-marts), only ¥100 (RM3) per piece. Mineral water costs about the same, ¥100 (RM3).

If you bring plenty of food from home, you can save a lot on food. Budget RM80 a day at most (but I’m sure it’ll be a lot less) for basic food in tokyo. For a 5-day trip, you’ll be spending about RM400.

Activities

There’s a lot to see in Tokyo… for free! Here are places you can consider going for sightseeing and they’re all reachable by the Metro Visitor Ticket that you’re using. I’ll be updating the links below in the future:

So… there you go — RM500 for accommodation, RM100 on transportation and RM400 for food. Discovering Tokyo with RM1000 for a 5-day trip (not inclusive of flight tickets). It’s totally do-able, kan?

I highly recommend that you bring extra cash though, just in case you feel like, you know, having fabulous creme brulee at the L’occitane Cafegoing up to the Tokyo Tower or going on a cruise along the Sumida River.

That’s it for now, I’ll be updating this post when I can think of more suggestions — this post if you think it’s helpful 🙂

You Might Also Like

41 Comments

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Bazilahj
    October 22, 2014 at 9:58 PM

    Omg Mia finally you decided to post this! i have to agree with you on that particular myth. I just come back from my Japan trip last few weeks and i survived on those yummmy onigiri. Cant wait for more entries like this! Thank you!

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Suhaila
    October 22, 2014 at 10:23 PM

    Hi there Mia! It’s a blessing to find another person who loves Tokyo as much as I do. My friend gave me your blog’s link and I find your tips to be beneficial. Insya Allah I’ll be applying those in my upcoming trip to Tokyo. Cheers! 🙂

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Ristina
    October 22, 2014 at 11:27 PM

    Yup Japan is not as expensive as everyone thought! If you don’t go shopping and survive on the delicious onigiri (which I totally did), you can spend even less. Been there 5-6 times already, but I still think of Japan every time we start planning for our travel trips 🙂

  • Avatar
    Reply
    sylvia
    October 22, 2014 at 11:27 PM

    Hi Mia thank you for all the good trip tips and cant wait to read more from it

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Seri
    October 23, 2014 at 1:44 AM

    Yes..japan is not that expensive. The last time i went to tokyo, i even brought back some extra yen! Because i dont shop..i makan je dkt sana hehe And i loveee their 7-E / convenience store!

  • Avatar
    Reply
    ann
    October 23, 2014 at 10:05 AM

    Hi
    is thr a day pass that can be used for both metro n jr trains?ive been thr twice but i cant rmber.coz i wasnt the one who bought the tix.i wil b going to tokyo again,alone, in a couple of mths so i need this sorted.thanks.

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Teha Raihan Radzi
    October 23, 2014 at 11:00 AM

    You can get much cheaper accomodation if you dont mind dorm sharing style hostel. It was only 2200yen/night but you need to bring your own toiletries though. Check http://tokyo-backpackers.com/en/

    To answer the above comment, you can get Metro + JR day pass but it is 1500+ yen if i am not mistaken. It can be purchased at any Tokyo Metro ticket vending machine in the same panel with Metro Day Pass option.

    I usually arrive at Narita so I bought Keisei Skyliner return tix + 2 days Metro Pass at the airport at a much cheaper price that is only applicable to tourists. You need to show your passport at the skyliner tix counter. Check http://www.keisei.co.jp/keisei/tetudou/skyliner/us/value_ticket/pass.html

    As for food, the hostel is very near to a mart and 7E and my daily meal usually similar with what Mia had written here.

    Sigh.. I want to go to Japan again T_T

    • Avatar
      Reply
      ann
      October 24, 2014 at 7:28 AM

      Hi teha raihan radzi
      thanks for your reply.will take note.
      i rmber abt buying at the tix machine but cant recall if its applicable for both types of trains.i tend to take for granted when travelling with others,compared to when im alone.knowing dat stuffs will be taken care of. Thanks again 🙂

    • Avatar
      Reply
      FY Lim
      October 28, 2014 at 11:30 AM

      Teha, if you have the option, choose Haneda instead of Narita. Because Haneda is much closer to the city, thus saving cost and time.

      To me prepaid IC cards like Passmo and Suica is cheap and convenient. I’m not sure why but my in trip this May, the charged fares using my Passmo was 5yen cheaper than the stated price. (up to 20yen off when I traveled to outskirts) Some restaurants accepts IC cards so you don’t need to fiddle with small change.

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Miasuraya
      October 30, 2014 at 9:36 PM

      Whoops. I forgot to add about the dorms! Definitely cheaper. Thanks, Teha. I shall add your points.

  • Avatar
    Reply
    zuhaiza
    October 23, 2014 at 12:47 PM

    BIG Thanks Mia! Love xoxo

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Eikha
    October 23, 2014 at 1:27 PM

    Yaasss Saizeriya is the way to go, delicious too! Yoshinoya is cheap, too. I paksa Em makan Yoshinoya every night (there were nights when he refused to), it was summer – unagi season! They were delicious! Haha.

    Anyway, I’m more excited about the “getting cheap flight” link, I know I’ve read it somewhere on your blog but couldn’t find it -__-. Bookmarked! 🙂

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Azi
    October 23, 2014 at 5:16 PM

    Mia thank you for this and I am done pinning this on My Pinterest. Now i wonder if I can find other guides/tips and tricks as detailed as you are to other cities in the world; Paris/New York/Amsterdam. Thanks again Mia!

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Hani Lutfi
    October 23, 2014 at 6:53 PM

    This is so true though! I went to Japan for a 9 day trip, purchased a Malaysia Airlines ticket, had my own Suica card and I think I spent around RM8 000 in total. Food, accommodation, air fare and all included. I stayed at the Sakura hotel which isn’t fancy but it sufficed and quite satisfactory. I lived on onigiri, vending machines drinks and Maggi. Of course, I still treated to myself to some soba, tendon and all, plus a hella lot of shopping!

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Gaurav
    October 27, 2014 at 11:24 PM

    Great post! I visited Osaka and Seoul recently over 7 days and spent RM2K in each city. Always assumed Tokyo would be more expensive but this makes me want to plan a visit very soon. Thanks once again!

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Danny
    October 27, 2014 at 11:52 PM

    Just returned from Japan on Friday. What I’d share is decent meals (or sets) are 1000 yen. Cheap meals are as Mia mentioned like 100 yen sushi, eateries with a lot of branches (sukiyaki etc) and small kiosk / shops.

    If you’re an anime / figurine collector, you’d go pretty crazy in Akhihabara but I realized, stuff sold in Osaka was cheaper. If you’re visiting Disney / Universal Studios Japan, there’s a lot of souvenirs you may end up buying as well.

    At the end of the day, when I’m on holiday, I’d rather not have to worry about over thinking during my trip and enjoy it. Having realized I didn’t spend that much would be a bonus, maybe even incentive to return again. 🙂

  • Avatar
    Reply
    JessyTheKlChic
    October 28, 2014 at 11:25 AM

    Gosh, I never knew that it could be so cheap. Thank you for sharing, you make me want to go to Tokyo now. haha

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Robin
    October 28, 2014 at 11:43 AM

    I just went Tokyo-Kyoto-Osaka months ago. I spent about RM2500 (return tickets + hotel + food + transport + shopping + all in) in 9 days.

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Jasmine
      December 1, 2014 at 3:27 AM

      robin, mind to share your itenerary?

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Neena
      April 28, 2015 at 10:22 AM

      Hi Robin, that sound fantastic, share with us please.

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Jenyfer
      June 16, 2016 at 4:28 PM

      Can u share how u did that?

  • Avatar
    Reply
    mallika Alagasu
    October 28, 2014 at 1:00 PM

    I love to visit. Japan especially Tokyo.are there vegetarian meals??I am. Vegetarian no fish meat n eggs but eat onions n garlic.tq

  • Avatar
    Reply
    The Travelling 3o
    October 28, 2014 at 2:11 PM

    Hi Mia, thank for this great post! Glad to hear that it’s only a myth and 100% affordable. It is our wishlist to visit Tokyo.

    Btw we just posted about our 8 Days trip to Melbourne & Tasmania. Really appreciate if you can drop by and leave some feedback 🙂

    Thanks!
    http://www.thetravelling3o.com

  • Avatar
    Reply
    andy cheah
    October 28, 2014 at 2:59 PM

    Greeting,I am now still in Japan Nagoya. I been here already 1 month,my cash in hand is RM10k from begin.I travel from Osaka to Kyoto then Tokyo finally I am at my last destination Nagoya.I can say travel Japan is not that expensive,but in Tokyo there are tons of thing will get u mad to splash ur cash to buy it.Like Akihabara there is lot of anime and cheap and quality electronic thing to buy,like DSLR and iPod nano is cheaper then in Malaysia,some more u can discount more 5% by using Visa credit card and plus passport more 8% tax free(for some shop there got sign tax free),Tokyo banana got lot of favorite and is so delicious,can buy it for souvenir……and here got tons of coffee equipment price are quite reasonable,and also have specialist shop too.There coffee beans is worth to try it.fashion cloth no need to comment is many time got different price,I suggest next time bring less thing to travel Japan,better buy in spot.Japan travel not expensive,but it will drag ur mind to buy it,so better load some more bullet in case u miss the deal and remember increasing ur luggage Wight for return flight,trust me….once u buy lot,u will headache about it like I do now.I love Japan so much,will back here again…..

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Nor
    October 28, 2014 at 5:13 PM

    Tenya tu hanya jual seafood and vege aje ke? tak jual daging ke?

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Fred
    October 28, 2014 at 11:07 PM

    Totally agreed that things aren’t that expensive as one might think it is in Tokyo & yup…. it’s so doable.

    Love Tokyo

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Potato Queen
    October 29, 2014 at 12:44 AM

    Hi Miasuraya,
    Very helpful post indeed. I have visited Japan last year and couldn’t agree more that the term expensive is a myth. I find the transport and food esp at convenience store is very cheap. Their Lawson is like a snack heaven omg.
    🙂
    http://aliciaboey.blogspot.com

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Nia Leah
    October 29, 2014 at 2:13 AM

    Hi Mia, thank you so much for this wonderful and helpful post! I really appreciate it cos Japan is one of my top destinations and it’s so nice to see the possibility of getting there in the near future. Xo

  • Avatar
    Reply
    ed
    October 29, 2014 at 9:45 AM

    My first assumption when planning to travel to Japan was Mahal Semuanya (everything expensive). But it was opposite. If you can choose the right time of the year, you can travel cheap. After my first trip, it was much easier for me to plan cheaper trip.

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Melissa
    October 29, 2014 at 9:54 AM

    Thanks for writing this, it is extremely useful and also particularly rare to have a well written piece coming from a fellow Malaysian traveller. Usually when travelling overseas I have to look at travel blogs written by Americans or other non-Malaysians and then have to convert the figures into Ringgit. Keep this up please!

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Roslina Abdul
    October 29, 2014 at 11:22 AM

    Hi gal, good reading. i never been to Tokyo yet so ur blog really helps a lot. I too travel a lot under budget , mine usually backpack. Thank again for this article.

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Tan Aik Meng
    October 29, 2014 at 2:36 PM

    Can the 2 day tokyo metro ticket go all the way to the airport ?
    If not, additional $$$ need to be allocated for the trip.

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Miasuraya
      October 30, 2014 at 9:39 PM

      Nope. You can buy tickets from the airport, going to the city with monorail costs ¥540. Thanks for highlighting.

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Garrett Wong
    October 30, 2014 at 4:23 PM

    Actually, if you spend some time in Yokohama, which is about 30-45 minutes by train from Tokyo, it’s about 20 – 30% cheaper than Tokyo for food and accommodation. I’ve been going to Yokohama every year for the past 18 years and I love it there.

    Go buy food from neighbourhood supermarkets…they’re cheap and good. You can buy fresh oysters (out of shell) in brine for only RM14 per dozen. And they’re so plump and juicy and fresh! Their ready-packed bento lunches are tasty and of good-quality.

    Yes….it is a big misconception that Japan is unbearably expensive. I just got back from Perth, Australia, and prices there were horrible!

    See you in December, Yokohama!

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Roy
    October 30, 2014 at 9:23 PM

    Hi, about the 2 day tokyo metro ticket, does the 2 day start from the day you bought it or once you start to use it? I’ll be in Tokyo for 7 days and plan to 2 of those passes on the first and last two days of my trip (I’ll mostly be using JR Line during the middle part of my trip).

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Miasuraya
      October 30, 2014 at 9:40 PM

      Starts on the day you activate it, so you can buy the tickets earlier on.

  • Avatar
    Reply
    miera nadhirah
    October 31, 2014 at 6:59 AM

    Brilliant….!!!! SImply brilliant… Will keep this in mind for future visits

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Anis
    November 9, 2014 at 3:38 AM

    Yes! Japan is not that expensive to begin with! I too thought it was a very expensive country until I discovered it myself. I went to Japan for an internship programme & survived with only RM2000. Which I converted all to Yen beforehand. Even so, I still had some cash to bring back home. The secret is bring what ever food you can from Malaysia & indulge on those onigiris! Hehe. Love this & will be going back soon. Unforgettable Japan. 🙂

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Neena
    April 28, 2015 at 10:27 AM

    Hello Mia, thanks a bunch for sharing. This is so great!! I’m glad I found your blog. Japan is always on our travel list. With your advice, I will definitely visit Japan soon.

  • Avatar
    Reply
    hunny
    September 18, 2015 at 5:14 PM

    Hi Mia, Im going to tokyo next month for the first time and Ive been reading your blog for tips. Need to know whether the tokyo metro pass covers the toei line as well? Please please please reply me asap 🙂

  • Avatar
    Reply
    nani
    October 8, 2015 at 4:24 PM

    Hi Mia, thank you for sharing! I will read your blog if I plan to travel outside of country because the information you gave is absolutely useful . And if you got more time could you please post about the honeymoon place and how to get there with affordable price.

  • Leave a Reply

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

    error: Content is protected !!