The Budget Traveler’s Guide: Osaka, Kyoto and Nara (Japan)

Japan is considered to be a splurge trip to many. I’ve been dying to go for years but being the frugal traveler I am, I keep on putting it off. I love Japanese food pa naman. That alone makes me really want go. So I challenged myself to come up with an itinerary that is affordable to me and my friends. And surprisingly, we did managed to spend less than Php34k per person on this trip. Google is really the bestest. Now let me break it down for you.



Cebu Pacific Air, Philippine Airlines, and Jetstar all flies to many regions in Japan. These airlines offers seatsale many times in a year. Your best best is grabbing their piso fares. Another option is by going to travel expos. I got our tickets last February’s Travel Tour Expo 2016 at SMX. Jetstar is reintroducing flights to Japan so it was on sale. Roundtrip Manila-Osaka-Manila inclusive of 15kg baggage costs Php5300 per pax. I told the sales assistant to look for the cheapest fare on the dates after cherry blossom season 😉 .

Tip: Be a flexible traveler. Choose dates that are off peak if possible. Take note that cherry blossom season is the most expensive time to travel in Japan.

Japanese visa is free. But you cannot go directly to the Japan Embassy to get one. It is coursed thru travel agencies only. Their processing fees vary from Php800 – Php1200 per pax. I went to Travel Pros at SM The Block for ours. They are not the cheapest at php1000 but they are the ones near me. It is very easy to transact with them. Our group of 6 all got multiple entry visas after 5 working days.

Another thing that can give a major dent in your budget is the accomodation. This is also another one of those things that I don’t like splurging on. I think it’s a waste of money to get an expensive place to stay when most of the time we are out exploring anyway. Hotel, hostels, capsule hotels and airbnb’s are the choices here. We are 6 on the group and we all agreed that we want to be together in one place that is clean and hopefully near everything specifically a train station. No hotels for us. When choosing your accomodation, I highly recommend Namba area because that’s where all the action is. We chose an airbnb that is actually good for 10 pax and located right above Kuromon Market. I posted a review of the place a few days back. It is 3 minutes walk to Nippombashi Station and 5 minutes to Dotonburi and Shinsaibashi. Score!


If you don’t want to get lost in Japan, a pocket wifi is going to be your best friend. That and Google maps. I rented one from Pupuru and it was love at first connection haha. Only 88 pesos per day per pax for our group of 6.

I read a lot on what kind of train pass we would get or if it’s even worth to get one. Good thing they released a new pass last April. The new Kansai One Pass is all you need if your going to tour Kansai region. It is accepted on almost all train lines, buses, even convenience stores and offers discounts on some tourist sites. I think it will run for a limited time only though.


Osaka is said to be the ‘kitchen’ of Japan. You will never go hungry here unless you’re very picky. There’s a lot to Japanese cuisine than sushi. So if you don’t eat raw food don’t worry. Or there’s always Mcdonalds haha. In Osaka, don’t leave without trying their famous takoyaki and okonomiyaki. There’s a lot food stalls around Dotonburi that offers them.

In Kyoto, anything matcha is a must!


I used Japan Guide to narrow down our itinerary to max of 2-3 tourist spots a day especially in Kyoto. We only have 4 full days to explore Kansai. It’s so bitin! Kyoto is so beautiful that 2 days is definitely not enough.

Osaka – Kyoto – Nara Itinerary
May 15-19, 2016

Day 1 – Arrival 12pm. Rinku Premium Outlet. Dotonburi. Shinsaibashi.

Day 2 – Kurumon Market. Kyoto – Arashiyama Bamboo Grove. Kinkakuji Temple. Dotonburi.

Day 3 – Kyoto – Fushimi Inari. Kiyomizudera Temple. Higashiyama District. Gion.

Day 4 – AM Osaka Castle. PM Nara Park.

Day 5 – Last minute shopping at Shinsaibashi. Departure to Manila in the evening.

It looks simple enough but all the walking was so exhausting. On our second night and every night there after, as we’re walking home, my legs started to feel like they don’t belong to me anymore. Like it wants to tore itself from my body, promise! You can map out the sites by interest and location. In my opinion you don’t have to see all the temples. Frankly they all look the same to me. I’m much more  interested in food haha 🙂 .

Here’s the budget breakdown in Pesos for Sorianos (2pax):

Airfare – 10600

Visa – 2000

Travel tax – 1824

Airbnb – 11424

Transpo in Japan – 7475.55

Pocket wifi, entrance fee to  2 tourist spots and locker – 2915

Food – 10390.95

Grab taxi from airport to QC – 500

TOTAL – Php47129.50 for 2 pax at JPY conversion of .43 

Above total does not include shopping, pasalubong and pabili from friends. In my previous post,  I discussed our day to day in detail and it includes a pdf file of ALL our expenses. As in everything it’s there na. We managed to spend less than Php34k per person all in!

So there you go! I hoped you enjoyed watching our Japan ravel video above. You can watch more of our travel videos here – Travel Adventure Ideas (Soriano Films).

You can also read more of our Japan trip here:

Osaka-Kyoto-Nara Itinerary and Expenses

Osaka Travelogue Day 1

Where to stay in Osaka

Arashiyama and Kinkakuji Photodiary

Southern Kyoto: Fushimi Inari

Eastern Kyoto: Kiyomizudera, Higashiyama distriact and geisha hunting in Gion

Thanks for dropping by 🙂 .



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  1. Hello Mitzi.! My name is Willester. I will be visiting Japan this Sept.6-10. I am following your blog post as my guide. However, I do have several questions pertaining to Kansai One Pass. I hope you could help me with this:
    1. Do I need to buy the Kansai One Pass online? or can I buy it at the airport?
    2. When Going from Kansai airport to Kyoto, do I still need to reserve a seat online for the train or can I go directly to the station and get inside just like a normal subway.?
    3. ANy other advice that you could give me for my trip? this is my first time travelling solo outside the country, and I want my itinerary as detailed as possible to save time.

    My plan is:
    arrived at Kansai airport at 8:30Pm
    -head straight directly to kyoto (il be spending 3 nights in kyoto)
    sept.7 (kyoto tour)
    sept 8 (kyoto tour and Nara)
    -travel to osaka and have a quick tour (overnight in osaka)
    -continue tour around osaka before departing..

    my departure time is at 8pm. so I still have time in the morning to roam around osaka…

    I hope to hear from you soon. Thanks a lot in Advance

    1. Hello willester yap

      IlI’ll be in japan same day with u. But ill bein tokyo. Hope I can get some news about u in osaka for my next trip. Enjoi ur trip

      1. Waah, my first plan was to go to tokyo, but decided to go to kansai region instead since, most of the things that I want to see and do are in kansai..=) Share your tokyo exp too

    2. Hi Willester. Thank you for your comment.

      1. You can buy the Kansai one pass the JR West or Nankai Electric Railway booth at Kansai Intl Airport Ticket station 2/F. (The train station is connected to the airport)
      2. After buying your kansai one pass, get inside the station across it and board the train going to kyoto.(yes it works like a subway)
      3. You need to get a pocket wifi to help you navigate. It will save you a lot of time. Japanese people doesnt really speak english although they are most willing to help.

      Enjoy your trip!

      1. Oh great. Thanks. I also had a help from my research that there is a prepaid data tourist simcard available already. I think I’ll get the simcard instead, since I’ll be arriving late and the post office closes at 8pm. And also, Its quite expensive for me. I will be updating you on my trip soon though. I cant wait, few more days to go..hahaha

  2. Hi Mitzi, thanks for the info you put in this blog, my name is Tess galindez , we are going to Osaka (4 of us) this october and I’m having a hard time looking for a good air BnB for us to stay, can you recommend the place where you stayed? thanks in advance

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