The 5 Things You Need to Know to Travel Japan Like a Pro!

Travelling to a foreign country can be stressful, and there are just so many people who get it so wrong. Whether it’s doing things the hard way, or just completely not understanding that there are other ways of doing things, we’ve all seen these kinds of tourists, and most of us just want to scream at them for doing things so inefficiently, but most people keep that to themselves and leave the hopeless tourists to do their own thing.  Well, we are here to change that. This list here will help even the most inexperienced of travellers have a smooth and easy trip.

1. Buy and use a Rail Pass

Japan Rail pass

A rail pass comes in SUPER handy in Japan. This is because Japan has an extensive rail network that can get you to almost anywhere in the country. If you buy the JR Rail pass, you have access to any of the national carrier’s rail lines, from the top of Hokkaido, to the bottom of Kyushu. Top to Bottom. Shinkansen’s (Bullet Trains), Rapid express trains, and local lines, you can even use the JR Rail pass on the ferry to Miyajima.

While the biggest criticism of the JR Rail pass is the cost, we can confidently say that the price is well worth the savings, as you pay a flat rate cost for a 7,14,21-day period for unlimited access on any of JR Rail lines. You can easily make up the cost of the pass with just a few journeys on the bullet train.

It’s really simple to use as well. Once you get your rail pass voucher – known as an exchange order, which will be delivered to your address, then you need to go to any major JR Rail station to the ticket booth, and show them the exchange order with your passport, and you then receive your pass. Then all you need to do is show your pass at the manned ticket booths when you arrive at your departure and arrival station.

We recommend that you buy your rail pass off Japan Rail Pass, they have been a well trusted partner of ours for a long time and they offer some of the best prices in the business.

2. Get Your Accommodation Well in Advance

Many first-time travellers leave the important things such as hotels to the very last minute. And this can backfire, horribly. Whether it be in costs, or availability of preferred hotels. To avoid any issues when booking your accommodation, we would recommend that you do this at least 3-4 months in advance, and about 6-8 months in advance if you are booking for a major event such as the Olympics.

 

When you are booking your trip, we suggest that you use either Booking.com, or Agoda – you can find both their search boxes below – as they are both a well-reputable brands with the best prices in the industry.

If you are nervous of booking your hotel for yourself, we have a small team of people who are there to cater to your needs. We can find a hotel for you that matches what you want and for the best price out there. Check out our ‘Hotel Helper’ service for more.

3. Get a Data Sim Card

While Japan does have Wi-Fi in most public places, there certainly is limits and it can be difficult to find a stable connection for long term usage outside of a hotel room. Knowing most peoples luck, they might have Wi-Fi connection all the way up until the point where they really need it, where there will mysteriously be no Wi-Fi signal anywhere around.

With a sim card, you don’t have to worry about losing Internet connection when you need it the most. 

With Unlimited data packages, for 8, or 31 day periods, you have the freedom to use the Japanese cell network without having to pay outrageous roaming fees. While these sim cards do not give you a Japanese cell phone number to make local calls, you still have access to your Facebook, Messenger, Whatsapp and your other communication app, so you can keep in contact with anyone, any time of the day. 

These sim cards, while more expensive than you would normally pay in your home country for data, they really do make traveling Japan a breeze. You have access to google maps at your figure tips, so you know that you will not get lost easily providing you use your sim card wisely. 

As mentioned, they come in 8, and 31 day packages and really helpful. We can not recommend getting a sim card enough, just click the boxes below to find a pick up location at your arrival airport into Japan so you can get straight into it only minutes after touching down. You can purchase them in Japan at technology stores like Yobodashi Camera, but you are looking to pay approximately 10-25% more than you would by booking your sim card with the below packages.

4. Get Tax Back off Large Purchases

For Purchases over 5000JPY, you are entitled to get tax back off your purchases as long as you have entered Japan on a tourist visa. This comes in especially handy for saving money in Japan as you can get back 8% (10% starting October 1st) of what you’ve paid for something. This applies to purchases of non-perishable items, so clothing, technology and alike are all accepted by the Tax Free policy, providing the store advertises tax free in their store.

To get tax back, you will need the item, proof of purchase (receipt), your passport and you also need to be in the same complex that you purchased the goods in, eg. the same mall, or shopping street. So if you do plan on spending a lot of money on some cool clothing or the latest tech, then you should seriously consider getting tax back on your purchases. Most malls will have a tax back station and they do speak English for the most part, so just head there after your done shopping.

5. Touch up on Japanese culture

We can not stress enough, the importance of cultural knowledge when it comes to travelling to Japan. From simple things such as crossing the street, to eating customs, there really is a ton of information and cultural customs that you have to consider at all times of the day. We have another similar article on our website that gives you an insight to some of the Japanese cultural norms that you can check out by clicking here now.

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