So i've finally gotten around to taking the time off I need and I'm now sorting out a 5-6 week trip (ish) around China and Japan for the middle of next Jan.
Ive got a basic route - starting in HK, Huangshan, Hangzhou, Shanghai, Suzhou, Xian then up to Beijing, then flying to Tokyo, and doing the Tokyo area, then Kyoto, then Nara, Koya, and then back to Tokyo. (This is very likely to change but that seems to be my basic route at the moment).
My only fear is cost - currently I'm sitting on 13,000 GBP in the bank, and dont want to spend it all, I'm aiming for around max 7k?
I dont mind spending more than 7k since i've wanted to do this for ages, and I have no qualms staying in hostels and dorms. I wouldn't mind capsule hotels either in Japan I find them quite intriguing and love throwing myself in feet first!
Will this be enough though - or do I need to seriously extend my budget upwards and save more? As I say Im not looking for luxury, just a solid time. Im there to see the sights not sit in a hotel room!
Im new to travelling in Asia, i've travelled in Europe and North Africa a fair bit and know its pricey - but I'm a bit flummoxed at the moment!
Any help would be greatly appreciated!
[ Edit: Edited on 24-Sep-2016, at 16:57 by KingBoo ]
I think you should be able to do it, with the lower costs of China offsetting the higher costs of Japan.
I keep track of my expenses as I travel, so I have a good idea of what my costs are; and it helps in planning future trips.
My experience of Japan is that it is not very expensive if you :
1) preplan your hotels carefully;
2) avoid being in places where a major festival is on (e.g. avoid Kyoto during Golden Week);
3) use the metro rather than taxis; and,
4) eat like the Japanese instead of eating western.
With this, I would expect that you could do Japan for under 1 k GBP/week easily. China I don't know so well, my one visit was for work with all arrangements made by our hosts.
China isn't too expensive - dorm rooms and getting around by metro or train certainly reduces the cost. And, as mentioned above, eating the local food rather than western food is a great deal cheaper (I got hooked on the small dumplings with minced meat and herbs inside - gorgeous!) and try the smaller street cafes instead of restaurants. Arm yourself with a good guidebook and plan the tours yourself rather than buying them at your accommodation - Beijing is pretty easy to do yourself and, if you can get train tickets, so are Xi'an, Chengdu and Shanghai.
your biggest expense is the hotel-i always stay in a Route Inn near a train station as there rooms are clean, you get a huge buffet breakfast which holds down your other eating expenses during the rest of the day, they offer free wi-fi, and most have an onsen in the basement. also eat in the basement of department stores as the prices are much lower and they offer all the food you could want-other hotel chains could be explored tocompare prices and locations
Thanks for the suggestions. Will look into them the next time I'm headed to Japan.
Department stores, such as Stockmann in Finland, also offer reasonably-priced meals in otherwise expensive countries.
Thank you all for these amazing suggestions! I'll definitely look into the Route Inn!
Any other advice / costing tips would be greatly apprieciated!
key cheap meals in japan that are filling,healthy, and very fresh are conveyor belt sushi (you pay by color of plate-get free green tea and ginger), soba, and ramen-much better than anywhere else in the world and ,as i said, not expensive--also convenience store like 7-11, lawson, and serus are really good, cheap alternatives for a quick lunch or even dinner-also, there is no tipping in japan-a huge plus
The Youhai Bravo supermarket in the basement of the Beijing Henderson Centre, near the Beijing Railway Station, has almost everything you need at reasonable prices. So it's the place to go if you're traveling by train. If not, well, it's also a good place to shop for food, toiletries, etc. The Howard Johnson Paragon Hotel is above, easily recognizable from the railway station, where there also is a Beijing Subway stop.
I cannot help with the China leg, but for Japan your major expense will be accommodation - especially if you want to stay in central Tokyo and in Kyoto. You can easily reduce your costs by staying in less popular areas or further out of the main city area - the trade-off being that the travel time/cost is higher, but you do get to see some more of the city. As an example, I recently stayed at a 4+ star hotel in Tokyo for Y11,500 but the same type of hotel in the centre of the city might have been Y30,000 and up.
For food, you can eat very well for Y1,000 a meal. Some places ("family restaurants") include all you can eat salad buffet. I was at one yesterday and the main course (which was tasty), was secondary to the free soup/salad/fruit/vegetable and pasta.
The other thing to plan is travel. The bus network works, but is slower. but allows you to take in more of the scenery and stop at different places along the way. If you were wanting to explore widely, then you might consider a rail pass.
Overall, however, is how much you want to spend. You could do nicely on JPY10,000 per day for everything (GBP2,500 for three weeks), or you could easily spend double or triple that if you want to add in some drinking/theme parks/more expensive experiences.