A Pinoy’s Guide in Planning a Japan Vacation
Since Japan has just announced they will be more lenient in granting visas to Filipinos, it would be a sin if Pinoys do not take advantage of it and travel to Japan. Japan is a beautiful country that offers so much more than what Pinoys could imagine. From its amazing sceneries, preserved culture, and kind-hearted citizens, Filipinos will definitely feel at home at once in Japan.
I have been in Japan twice in my life and one of the biggest misconceptions about it is that it’s an expensive country to visit. If you know where to look, the prices in Japan are much cheaper in the Philippines. I mean, you can even get a 200 to 350 pesos big souvenir in Tokyo Disneyland which you can never have in other Disneylands. And so to help you plan your Japan vacation and make sure you have enough budget, here is a complete guide in planning a budgeted vacation in Japan! 🙂
How much will a vacation in Japan cost?
Your budget for a vacation in Japan shouldn’t be too different from your budget when you visit Hong Kong. The only difference will be the fare prices, airplane ticket cost, and how many theme parks and cities are you planning to visit. If your main purpose is to experience the culture of Japan, I strongly suggest you stay in 1 or 2 cities so you can keep your budget at a minimum. The great thing about Japan is there is so much to visit and explore in each city so you’re not really missing on anything. And besides, you can always visit the other cities next time when you have the time and budget.
Why Not Try a Travel Now Pay Later in Installments Scheme?
The last time I visited Japan, it was a spur of the moment and I really didn’t have enough money. So what I did is I used my credit card to travel now and pay later in installments. In this method, I used my credit card to purchase my plane tickets, hotel, theme park tickets and travel tax. After purchasing, I went to my bank and asked to pay for what I purchased in installments. There is of course added interest but it was very minimal just as long as it’s within a 12 month period. You can opt for the longer paying period but interests will be much higher.
What are the Requirements for a Japan Visa for Filipinos?
- Filled up Japan visa application form at the embassy website
- 4.5cm x 4.5cm photo in white background
- Birth certificate
- Bank certificate
- Latest ITR
So before you get started with anything, you have to make sure you are qualified to get a Japan visa. If you are currently employed and have the necessary documents to prove it, then you can be sure you will be approved. If you don’t have a savings account or don’t have funds in it, I suggest you get a loan or borrow money from someone for your bank certificate. If you don’t have an ITR, better get one as soon as possible.
Based on my experience, Japan embassy wants to see at least 10,000 pesos for every day you stay in their country. If you’re staying for one week, you need at least 70,000 pesos in your bank account and declared in your bank certificate. If you have your own credit card and other assets like house, cars, businesses, you can also add it in your requirements.
Buying and Booking First Before Applying for a Japan Visa
Another way to increase your chances of getting an approved visa is to buy your airplane tickets, the train passes, booking your hotels first before applying for a visa. This does not only prove you will go back to the Philippines but also that you can afford your vacation in Japan.
How Much are Airplane Tickets to Japan from the Philippines?
The price of your airplane ticket will mainly depend on the airline you choose. A regular round trip tickets from Philippine Airlines costs 10,000 pesos and 4,000 to 6,000 pesos for Cebu Pacific. If you have your own credit card, you can even fly for free if you convert your credit card points to Get Go points (for Cebu Pacific) or Mabuhay Miles (for Philippine Airlines). You can also opt for Cathay Pacific which is a bit expensive but makes up for their service and roomier seats.
The best time to visit Japan for me is during their cold season. It’s super cold so the long walks are not too hard, you can dress up in your favorite winter outfit (which we don’t get to do in the Philippines) and best of all, you get to see snow if you’re willing to do some traveling to other cities.
Once you know the month you are visiting, take your time in finding the cheapest tickets. Cebu Pacific goes on sale almost every month so all you need to do is subscribe so you are instantly updated. The cheapest fares are usually the ones that are for next year travel dates which shouldn’t be a problem because it will give you more time to save additional money.
There are so many theme parks in Japan located in different cities so it can be very expensive if you plan to visit it all in one vacation. It’s actually better to just visit one or two theme parks at a time so you don’t get too tired in your vacation. There is so much more to see in the country aside from their theme parks so don’t be sad if you don’t have enough budget to visit it all.
A day trip to Tokyo Disneyland or Disney Sea cost 3,000 to 4,000 pesos each while Universal Studios Japan costs 3,500 to 4,000 pesos. A trip to SANRIO land will cost you 900 to 1000 pesos, SANRIO Harmony Land at 900 to 1400 pesos while Tokyo One Piece Tower costs 1,300 to 1,400 pesos. FUJI-Q Island costs 2,300 to 2,600 pesos while Legoland costs 2900 to 3100 pesos.
If you only have a budget for one theme park, I strongly suggest you go to Universal Studios Japan. If you have a budget for one more, choose Tokyo Disney Sea. Universal Studios in Japan is unlike no other. Although you can visit another one in Singapore, Japan’s version got a Harry Potter park so its definitely worth it. Meanwhile, Disneyland is also found in Hong Kong but Disney Sea is not.
Saving on Transportation Expense Using the JR Pass
The JR Pass is a tourist’s ticket in saving on transportation expense all throughout Japan. Most first time visitors in Japan would prefer to stay in Tokyo which will cost you 10,000 yen or approximately 5,000 pesos for unlimited trips within 7 days. If you need more information or plan to stay in another city, check this guide. The trains in Japan are not as easy to navigate as in Singapore and Hong Kong as each train may go to a different direction. So to make sure you board the right train, check Hyperdia guide.
Where to Find Cheapest Hotels in Japan?
The cheapest hotels in Japan are the capsule hotels where you sleep in a capsule-like bed and leave by morning. This is a good choice if you don’t mind bringing your things with you everywhere you go. If you’re staying in Japan for a longer time (therefore you have a big luggage with you) I suggest you go for cheap hotels or Airbnb.
The cheapest AirBnB I found in Tokyo is 700 pesos for 2 each night. This includes the whole apartment and a free portable wifi. If you’re traveling with a group, you can get a bigger Airbnb for less than 4,000 each night that is good for 12 persons. Of course, its not as good as a hotel but it wouldn’t really matter because you will be out most of the day. The only time you’re back home is when you need to rest and take a bath in the morning.
Creating an Itinerary
Once you have booked your plane, hotel, theme park tickets, and JR Pass, its time to plan your itinerary. For me, a vacation in Japan shouldn’t be shorter than 7 days. There is just too much to explore that less than 7 days is not good. If you have more budget, go for 14 days. You can just opt to eat cheaper food (found in 7 11, of course) and opt for tourist spots that are free to visit.
If you’re looking for ideas of places you can visit, you can always go to Trip Advisor where you get straight feedback from real people. It will take the time to research but it’s going to be fun because you will be amazed how many places you can visit without spending a cent.
How Much Will Food Cost in Japan?
If your AirBnB comes with a kitchen, you can opt to cook your own food for breakfast and buy snacks on grocery stores or 7 11s for the road. The cheapest meal you can get in Japan is their onigiri which is basically a triangle shaped rice with a viand in the middle. My all-time favorite is the tuna but feel free to explore other flavors. Each of it cost 40 to 50 pesos which should be enough to fill you up but if you’re like me who loves to eat, I get 3 of it in each meal LOL. If you have more budget, you can opt for the 150 to 250 pesos meals. For restaurant food, it usually cost 400 to 600 pesos per person.
If you haven’t tried these rice balls before, below is a video how to open and eat it.
Applying for a Japan Visa for Filipinos
Once you have all of the requirements ready, you are ready to apply for a visa. I’m not sure of the exact time but you can only apply a specific time before your scheduled travel date. I believe I submitted mine 30 days before travel date. There are only certain travel agency where you can submit yours and for us, we chose Pan Pacific. For a list of all the agencies, visit this link.
After 7 to 10 days, you should hear back again from your chosen agency whether your application has been approved or not.