So you decided you love all things Japan and want to visit, right? Or perhaps you already visited Japan and need the right idea or cheap deal to return? Whatever your reason, Japan is a beautiful country full of culture and excitement for all! The difficult part is the planning and purchasing behind getting over there. I hope this article helps you accomplish your goals of visiting Japan! ?
International travel can be an expensive ordeal. Many "mainstream" websites are readily available through advertising but may not offer the best deal. Finding online tools to help search for best deals or assist with traveling is important when planning a trip!
This article is PART 1 grouped into 2 articles: Vacation and Immersion.
- Vacation covers websites when planning conventional visits to Japan.
- Immersion covers ideas & websites for lengthy stays in Japan.
Price- Here is a list of websites I use to make searching easier! I find buying airfare is best done 2-3 months in advance. Too early and airlines don't discount tickets; too late and you may find only longer duration flights are available or all cheaper seats are taken. Airlines will dump last minute deals to get rid of empty seats but many are long total duration flights (unless you don't mind that).
- Odigo, of course! Looks like they updated our user interface to include booking options on the middle of dashboard. Make sure you try it out!
- Jetcost: It searches many websites that search for the cheapest available plane ticket. This way you cover more websites in shorter amount of time without opening 20 different browsers.
- ITA Matrix: Features I like about ITA Matrix are details. I use ITA Matrix to cross-check flights I find on Jetcost since some details like layover duration and flight duration aren't available (depends what website you are directed to).
- Agoda: I find certain hostels, low-budget hotels, etc show up in Agoda where they don't show up in searches on other websites. I find Agoda usually has best prices, as well.
- Kayak: Another good website for airfare and accommodations.
- Air BnB or Homestay: These last two are in a bit of grey area. Minpaku or rented private lodging was just given OK by Japanese legislation to operate in Japan. I suspect many hosts will skirt "unreasonable" regulations though. Try these 2 articles by Japan Times: AirBnB OK & New Regulations. I've read good and bad reviews on AirBnb/Homestay but seems heavily dependent on host for the experience. Make sure you read reviews or reach out to host before booking. I personally will try these because of how cost effective they are (especially in groups) and I have difficulty believing anyone could have bad experience with a Japanese host. ?
Timing- Try to avoid busy holiday times if you are looking for a good deal. Prices can be inflated during this time as many Japanese will travel! Many offices (like banks) will be closed so withdrawing money can be difficult too. Keep in mind that certain events can only be experienced during these times so your visit many require sacrifice based on your agenda.
- Golden Week (April 29 thru May 5-6)
- Obon Festival (July 11-15, August 11-15, varies) Can be celebrated different times based on region: When Japan switched to the Gregorian calendar from the Lunar calendar at beginning of Meiji Era, some regions decided to ignore the change...So check the region's traditional celebrations when visiting.
- New Year's Holiday (January 1-3)
- Japan will be hosting 2019 Rugby World Cup.
- Japan will be hosting 2020 Olympics.
- A list of Japan's Holidays on JapanSpecialist.co.uk
- Weather has a factor in prices too! No one wants to visit Japan when its 90° (I do! ?). It can be rewarding to visit in less than optimal times if you're willing to tough it out. Here is a useful guide on Japan-Guide.com for weather averages too!
- Keep in mind China is right next door to Japan. They have over a billion of the world's population and like holidays too! I noticed Okinawa is a popular destination for Chinese when I visited in 2015. I don't think this is as much a factor depending on your destination though.
- Chinese New Year (January 27–February 2, 2017)
- National Day Holiday (October 1–7)
- A list of China's Holidays on OfficeHolidays.com
- Currency Converter: You can use for all currencies with live rates.
- Flight Status: Nice for looking up your flight status when you can't find the board in the airport.
- Webflyer: Useful for comparing rewards programs and comparing frequent flyer mile transfers, etc.
- JetLagRooster: Lol I can't believe someone made this! It's pretty awesome. Use this to help sleep pattern schedules to reduce jet lag.