The only city in the world I have yet been able to call my second home. Typically I love my suburban home and find busy cities a bit overwhelming. Tokyo, however, is the exception to this rule. I’ve always felt immensely comfortable coming to Tokyo and happy! However, in an effort to squeeze in a third trip to Japan within the same year, I opted for much cheaper accommodation than I was used to, and scaled back my spending habits: less expensive restaurants, less shopping, less expensive attractions. When I was used to staying in 5* hotels or large spacious apartments, would a tiny hotel room be enough? When I was used to eating wherever I fancied, buying all the adorable things I saw and enjoying everything Tokyo had to offer, would I still be happy? Could people who aren’t as enamoured with Japan as I am, be able to cope if they really want to afford to go? Well…
|Photo from Hotel MYSTAYS Kanda|
I stayed at a chain called Hotel Mystays, notorious for being the Japanse equivalent of an ibis…just much much smaller…as you know we are in Tokyo here. Booking and waiting for the trip to come around, I was expecting a tiny room, very little service and poor English. Well, I was right about the tiny room! However, I certainly wasn’t disappointed with it. It was immaculately clean, very modern and the various furnishings utilised the small space. I really loved having USB chargers in bed! Plus it had everything I needed and more. Downstairs was a coin-laundry and microwave – meaning I didn’t have to bring many clothes with me and save money by eating in. Plus the staff were SUPER FRIENDLY. I’m used to a lot of kindness and politeness in Japan, I mean that’s what the country is famous for. However, they went above and beyond to ensure everything was okay for us. They even helped me print off some forms for my visit to YouTube Space Tokyo at no cost – that I was super grateful for. I didn’t receive this level of attentiveness at the larger higher rated apartment I stayed at before so I was very happy 🙂 So if you’re going to Tokyo do I recommend downscaling to a tiny hotel room? Yes and no. Of course, you know why I praise doing so, but I know for some people the tiny space might just be a bit too tiny to get used to. So research and shop around, however, I really recommend where I stayed for an optimum location and great service with everything you could ever need.
The hotel’s website: Hotel Mystays Kanda
Where I stayed before if you want good location, good services and happy to pay more for larger space: Citadines Shinjuku
For a more detailed review and my photos: My review on TripAdvisor of Hotel Mystays Kanda
|Fresh ready meal from 7/11 – Do-it-yourself ramen!|
To keep food costs down I was constantly shopping at 7/11. Every night we would purchase snacks (as we would normally have a big lunch), drinks and breakfast from here. A shop would usually cost no more than 500yen (around £4). Back when I went in August 2015 and this January that would have only been a measly £2.50 but even with the poor exchange rate now, £4 to eat in the centre of a city is not bad at all. The food is also of great quality and I love it. My favourite find this trip was probably cheese dough balls and sweetcorn soup, best breakfast ever <3. By shopping at local supermarkets you’re not only saving heaps of money, but you’re also getting to experience ‘normal’ day-to-day life here. But, of course, I do recommend eating out some of the time! Train stations are great places to find cheap eateries. Again to keep the cost down we ate during the day as typically lunch menus are cheaper than dinner menus. My most expensive meal the whole trip was 1000yen (£8) and that was in a beautiful setting in Setagaya and it was my favourite Japanese meal on the planet: Cheesy Okonomiyaki <3. Meaning I spent no more than £12 a day on food and the average was around £8/9. Three meals and drinks all for under £10 is not bad at all. By juggling eating out with eating at supermarkets, you can save yourself lots which can be spent elsewhere. Plus it certainly does not put a dampener on the trip or reduce the fun, in fact, I find exploring foreign supermarkets pretty fun!
I’m not going to lie, I did splash out about three times on this trip, however, it certainly wasn’t needed. But I know some people who visit Tokyo who just spend spend spend, when really most of your activities can be free or very very cheap. So how much did I spend on activities? 12,900 yen was the total of my ‘expensive activities’, around £115. However take into account that one of those activities was a trip to the Disney Tokyo Resort, it really isn’t unreasonable. Take Disney out of the equation and the other two ‘expensive’ activities cost around 6000 yen (£50). We took a trip to an onsen in Odaiba which was a wonderful experience after a tiring day out at Disney and finished our trip with a night out to Tokyo Dome where we went on lots of attractions. I’ve already written a post about what I advise to do in Tokyo here. But here, all I can say is despite costing a lot, all of those experiences were of much better value than that of back in the UK. However, you certainly do not need those activities to have fun! Most of the beautiful parks and shrines in Tokyo have free entry and they are simply stunning. Ueno park is home to a countless number of museums which have free entry and a zoo only costing 600 (£5) yen to enter. Shinjuku Metropolitan Government building offers a free viewing observatory (who needs Tokyo Tower or SkyTree anyway 😉 ). Cat cafes only cost around 600 yen to enter along with other themed cafes. Also, most of Tokyo can be seen by just walking around and taking it in. Cost: free! There is so much to see and do you really could get away with £10 a day to enjoy it. In regards to shopping, just apply the mindful spending technique: ‘Do I really need it? If I really want it I’ll come back for it in a few days.’ But for super cheap shopping, go to Daiso or other 100 Yen shops, the quality is much better of that than Poundland in the UK!
Just pointing you in the direction of my vlog if you are interested 😉
As I conclude, I’ll answer the question I asked myself – Yes, you can visit Tokyo on a budget and it can be rather comfortable! With this post, you shouldn’t have to wait forever to go to Tokyo, it really can be affordable! Now you have the tips, do you think you may give it a try? If not has this post inspired you to try scaling back when going to other destinations far away? If you need any more travel tips in regards to booking cheaply and saving up check the travel tips tab at the top of the page 🙂