I just went to Japan last April to see cherry blossom!
It’s indeed amazingly beautiful!
Even though Japan is super expensive country, but you gotta see it once in your life.
Kyoto is very beautiful, while Tokyo is a superbusy city with commuting people everywhere..
I will share you my itinerary and tips for cheap backpacking trip!
1. I bought Japan Rail (JR) Pass at http://www.nta.com.sg, one of the travel agent who sold this pass in Singapore, because travelling around Japan is very pricey.. shinkansen and airplane price ranging at 5000-20,000 JPY. But fortunately Japan government has initiate this pass to help the traveler getting around Japan! The pass itself is not cheap! the price for ordinary seat for entire Japan is 28,300 JPY, while they also sell pass only for west, east, and several areas only with cheaper price. I already browsed and research the cheapest travel agent, and i found NTA through the internet. I bought around 434 per pass.
2. Plan your travel by train through http://www.expedia.com, a very fascinating website where you can browse a complete transportation schedule in Japan! amazing!
3. Book your hostel before going there. I usually booked through hostelworld.com or hostelbookers.com, but i found that hostelworld has more options than others.. believe me, hotel in Japan is so pricey. But, hostel in Japan is very small as well.. or maybe I just don’t get used into hostel anymore? the last time I stayed in a hostel is when… okay let me try to remember… oh Gosh, when I was first time living in Singapore! Okay, I gotta admit that Japan hostel is way much smaller than Singapore hostel. They maximize every space they got! So, next time i go there, i’d prefer to stay at Tokoyo inn, a budget hotel which offer price per room (for double room) 6000-9000 JPY per night, depends on which city you stayed, you can book online through http://www.toyoko-inn.com. Well, I know that sounds pricey, but you can try to browse through agoda.com, and you’ll find out that 3 stars hotel is priced around 20,000 JPY!
I arrived at night at Kansai Airport, which I don’t recommend you to! I went there with AirAsia from Sg-KL-Osaka, with a very cheap price, only around 170 SGD one way, and I bought Jetstar from Osaka-Manila-Sg for going back for only 250 sgd. Yeah, I know going back is way much more expensive! but that’s the best deal i can get 🙂
Why I dont recommend you to, because the direct train from kansai airport to shin-osaka -the largest station in Osaka, is around 8 PM (you can check in hyperdia.com), and i didn’t realize it… so fortunately there’s a lady who helped me and my mother to exchange the rail pass and ask the officer to print out how to get to Shin Osaka. So, we had to change 3 trains to be able to get there. I even made a mistake and got off at the wrong station.. fortunately I can get the next train!
So we arrived at Toyoko Inn Osaka around 1 AM -_-”
I went from Osaka to Kyoto by shinkansen, only around 15 mins.. and I regret why did I use my Japan rail pass! because in the end of the trip, my sister said i should’ve pay instead because it’s quite cheap to use regular train which will took less than 1 hour. So, it’s a lesson for you!
I got off at Kyoto station and going to the tourist information. You must go there! because you’ll need the bus map from the officer.. it’s very useful! they have all the bus routes to amazing sightseeing spots.. so you dont have to use taxi at all! and REMEMBER to buy a bus pass which is very cheap, 500 JPY per day per person.. because 1 trip of bus cost you 220 already.
Recommended temples: Kiyomizudera, Kinkakuji.
Don’t go to Imperial palace.. when i went there, it was closed for public.
And it’s so hard to find cheap foods in Kyoto, so I bought bento from 7eleven or other convenience store. It wasn’t nice though 😦
Went to Tokyo! By shinkansen hikari, it took like 3 hours from Kyoto station.. then i arrived at super super busy Tokyo station.. be careful, too many people passed by will make you lost!
My hostel is at Nakano, which is only 2 stops from shinjuku.. but the place is really small! that’s why I suggest you to stay at Toyoko Inn instead.
I think this post already long enough!
I’ll create some tips for Tokyo trip later on.. Enjoy!