Travel

Travel: Tokyo 8 days RM3650.

This is my money diary for 8 days in Tokyo, Japan. Together with friends, we travel in a group of eight people, each with very different interests. It was a bit of a rough and bumpy ride, but luckily we managed to come back without big hard feelings.


Accommodation


If you aren’t traveling with a tour or unlimited budget, I guess Airbnb is the best option. I am a five-star/boutique hotel, or no hotel kind of traveler, and Tokyo is not a forgiving place for Malaysia’s working class. The hotels I would stay in will cost at least RM700 a night, while Airbnb around Shinjuku to Shibuya area costs RM100-150 per person per night.

If you like to experience onsen in the city and save a night accommodation, like the last day before the flight, you can head to the Ooedo-onsen, which opens 22hours a day for an entry fee of ¥2200.


Transportation

Haneda to Shinjuku station is ~¥400 while the 24-hr pass is only ¥800. Because there are so many lines and it’s a bit confusing, I would suggest that you get the 72-hours Tokyo pass (¥1700) and a Pasmo card (fully refundable) together.

The strategy is – use Tokyo pass whenever you can and switch to Pasmo if you can’t for the line.

As long as you are inside Tokyo, the Tokyo pass should save you 60% of your travel cost, and you could change your itinerary according to weather as that will not cost you extra money.

Food and drinks

Generally, good food means queue (not applicable to tourist area). If your trip is short, there is no point of looking for any hidden gem. Street snacks generally cost ¥300-400, a standard meal at ¥2000, a good meal at ¥5000-7000, while fine dining is ¥12,000 above. For an extremely cheap meal, ¥109 onigiri rice balls from Family Mart.

The air-con market building beside Tsukiji Fish Market is in between wholesale and retail and gives the best value, the price is around 1/5 of what you pay at the retail area. And you can enjoy your meal at the level 3 rooftop garden. A big piece of unagi or oyster cost around ¥250. Outside the market, that would cost ¥1000-1300.

For sushi, Tsukiji is not the best place. I would say that only the Otoro sushi here is very good while the other sushi is nothing to shout about. The one I paid a few thousand ¥, even the rice wasn’t done well (comparing to Michelin star standard, I tasted 4 so I am allowed to say that). Make an appointment in Oribe or Ori Sushi in Malaysia and you will not miss Tsukiji.

Snacks at Asakusa – Not recommended trying. I queue and paid for the ice-cream, mochi, red bean cakes. ¥1500 wasted. Tasty Rating: FAIL. Come here to wear Kinomo and take pictures.

Drinks will cost you ¥100+, the 2 litters bottle of mineral water costs the same as 300ml. House tap water is safe to drink.

If budget permits, go for a Kaiseki meal and Kobe beef. For snacks, you must eat things like Daifuku ice-cream, oysters, sea urchin.

Tickets

Most museum and park entrances cost between ¥300 – 600. Get the English Tokyo handy book from the tourist information center when you arrived. You can get a 20% off ticket for most museums and park entrances. If you need a one-stop park-museum center – UENO is the place to go. Pop-up stalls on weekends.

Want to visit Disney but not keen to pay the full price? Consider getting the 6 pm entry pass for ¥4200. You can watch the lake show and fireworks in four hours—experience up to 9 not-so-popular rides or 3 hot rides. Remember to queue at the entrance around 5:40 pm. South entrances are less crowded.

Instant noodle museum yearly passes ¥1000 come with one make your own instant noodle and two international noodle dishes at the cafe. So it’s a bit cheaper, and you get to bring back a yearly pass.


Shopping


Branded items and electronics are cheap here (buy your iPhone, Macbook). However, I find the Channel Loose Powder to be more expensive, so I guess it depends on brands. Local or street stuff is almost certain to cost 3-5 times the price here. They seem to be of good quality, but I am not ready to pay that much more.

I find many interesting items, but I can’t buy them because I don’t want a house full of stuff.


Gifts

Most of the famous, good confectionery are sold inside the Airport duty-free at the same or better price and without the GST hassle. So don’t waste your money and effort buying fever premium things outside. My favorite things inside the AirPort– Ichiya  (not as great as I thought) and Royce. The only other place you can get original Ichiya in Tokyo with wine cheese flavors is in GinzaSix, and you need to queue around 9:30 am.

You could also find books and a drugstore inside the Airport. Things like ELLE magazine, Kanebo cleanser are available. The cheapest mask pack is a local brand name “lulula” ¥400 for 7 pieces or ¥1500 for 32 pieces.

For small items starts from ¥100 (like Daiso) for made in China and ¥350 for made in Japan. I laugh when I see the statement – made in China, sold exclusively in Japan. I wonder if we will see that in Malaysia.


Internet connections

I think the sim card in Japan is quite pricey if you stay short-term. The one I took from Airport was ¥7200. That’s about RM280. Rooming would cost about RM30 a day. If the Airbnb you stay in provides portable wifi, you could save the cost. Free wifi around the train station but none work on my iPhone.

Currency exchange


If you hold USD, the exchange rate in Japan is super competitive. I accidentally found that the Maybank Forex counter in Mid Valley rates is good, too, less the super long queue.

I have to admit that I brought home a handful of not-so-useful things (less compare to my friends..hehe). You could definitely spend unlimited in this city, but the lowest budget trip I know of is RM2500 for 6 days inclusive of the air ticket. They had Onigiri for every breakfast. I spend nearer to RM3650 for 8 days, including all entry tickets and Kobe beef, excluding shopping.

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