Sensoji at Night

I can’t believe I haven’t done a budget report yet! ‘How much did I spend’ blog posts are quite literally my favourite posts to read (well, maybe equal-favs with packing lists). So I plan on producing a breakdown of money spent in each place I visited, followed by an overall trip summary. Because I’m incredibly nosey when it comes to how people spend their money, and I assume you are too!

Preface – It seems that most travel bloggers give a daily budget breakdown in US-dollar terms, regardless of if they are American or not. So I will do likewise at today’s exchange rate, as well as give a breakdown in the local currency and the amount in New Zealand dollars that actually got debited from my account. During this trip, the NZ dollar was very high so I actually got a pretty good deal on most things. NZ$1 bought around US$0.80 before exchange fees, whereas now it will only get you US$0.65. So my advice is to account for currency risk when budgeting your overseas trips, in case your home currency drops in value while you’re travelling.

I was only in Tokyo for a 3-day stopover, so I didn’t spend all that much. I spent a total of ¥34,366 or NZ$397.14 – that’s US$301.99 at today’s exchange rate. However, 48% of that was shopping! Excluding the shopping, I spent ¥18,034, NZ$205.32, US$158.47, or US$52.82 per day.

Accommodation – US$17.93 per day

  • Tokyu Stay Yotsuya, double room, 1 night – NZ$9.16
  • Oak Hostel Zen, 16-bed female dorm, 2 nights – ¥5280, NZ$57.38, US$46.40
  • Total = ¥6123, NZ$66.54, US$53.80

I had a Hotels.com reward night to use up, so I stayed at the Tokyu Stay Yotsuya hotel for the first night and only paid the taxes for it. The full room rate, without using a reward, would have been about ¥5300 (NZ$57.83, US$46.57). This was a really lovely hotel and centrally located. I wish I could have stayed longer, but I was on a tight budget.  The following two nights, I moved to the Oak Hostel Zen, which again was a terrific place. It was really quiet, even though I stayed in the 16-bed female dorm. The beds had curtain surrounds which actually did a really good job of blocking out the light and making your little ‘pod’ feel private (unlike the London hostel I’ll talk about next time!) The staff were very nice and I was able to borrow a travel adapter from reception when I realised I didn’t have the right kind. I highly recommend both places I stayed in Tokyo.

Food – US$19.34 per day

  • Total = ¥6601, NZ$75.25 , US$58.01

Sadly, I wasn’t all that adventurous when it came to eating out. I really wanted to try authentic Japanese food, but I was really apprehensive about visiting local restaurants and not knowing how or what to order. I stuck mostly to fast food, street food and even went to Hooters (I know, I know! WTF??!) which was actually delicious, but expensive.

Transport – US$15.52 per day

  • Total =¥5300, ND$63.53, US$46.57

At Tokyo Narita Airport, I picked up a Suica card and loaded it up with credit for the local trains. I used this card for not only all my transport, but also to pay for a locker at the Narita City train station while visiting Naritasan temple (highly recommended) and to purchase snacks at convenience stores.

Activities – $0

The attractions in Tokyo were all free – lots of walking around, shopping (not free!) and visiting temples.

Misc. – US$47.84 per day

  • Total = ¥16332, NZ$191.82, US$143.52

I needed to purchase a few warm clothing layers for this trip and I thought – why buy them at home when I can buy them in Japan! Tokyo has shopping districts to suit both luxury and budget shoppers. I’m sure many of you are familiar with Uniqlo which is where most of my hard-earned cash went, plus a few Japanese beauty products (Japanese makeup is SO cute).

Japan is often touted as being an expensive travel destination, but like anywhere, it can be as expensive or inexpensive as you make it. Oak Hostel Zen is very affordable, quiet and peaceful and I really didn’t feel the need to be in private accommodation to relax there. If I had stayed there all three nights, my daily spend still would have come to less than US$60 per day incl. food & transport, which is extremely good value in my opinion. I’m over most hostels now, but I would happily forgo a hotel room to stay there again as it was so nice. That being said, at less than US$50 per night, even the Tokyu Stay Yotsuya hotel is plenty affordable if you prefer more privacy, bringing your total Tokyo budget up to US$85 per day.

Have you been to Tokyo? Did you find it as expensive as it’s reputation suggests?