In about a month's time I plan to get back on the road, leaving Australia and heading towards Asia. I'm so excited and I've been reading up a lot on the various countries I'll be visiting, but I guess I just wanted to hear some personal stories and opinions on how realistic it is to see Japan and S.Korea on a backpacker's budget. I've heard a lot about SE Asia and that's all great, however very few people I know have actually been to Japan or Korea, the general opinion just seems to be "ohh its very expensive there".
Now I know it's expensive, people have told me Japan is doable on $50 a day, but really you want your budget to be double this. If I get there and I have to spend shit loads then I guess I will, but ideally I don't want to do this. I guess I really just want to hear some encouragement from other people who have been in my situation and still had a great time.
Next is South Korea. Has anyone tried getting the ferry from Japan? If so, would they recommend this method? Also, compared to Japan, how much less will a day cost me? And outside Seoul, what would you recommend seeing?
I would really appreciate any help or advice. Cheers!
I'm going to be doing Japan and South Korea this September and taking the ferry from Japan to Busan in South Korea.
Can't tell you any real info about Japan as was last there in 1983, but I work with a Korean dude who I consulted this morning about my Korean itinerary which will last probably 7-9 days.
His advice was -
There's nothing important in Busan.
Take the bus to Gyeongu which is up the east coast and is one of the most historic sites in Asia (read LP).
Take buses further up the east coast which is very scenic and spend some time at Seoraksan National Park, the best in Korea. National holidays and weekends at the park are reputedly horrendous.
Take the bus from Sokcho to Seoul which you can read about in LP.
Do the DMZ.
Better than nothing I hope.
P.S. Would like to hear how you go in both Japan and Korea.
It of course all depends on how much money you are willing to spend my friend. Add to that what precisely it is you want to do on your trip and you can quickly find out how realistic your expectations are.
Where do you plan to go in Japan? Do you plan on staying in one area or travel long distances?
The cost for travel from one city to another is pricey. Take Tokyo to Osaka for example:
Depending on the time you reserve your ticket, the bus can be anywhere from 4500 yen one way to 8500 yen one way. If you do it early enough you can get the 4500 yen trip. The Shinkansen (bullet train) is always the same price. You can go to the discount center shop and buy one for about 500 yen cheaper, but that's the maximum discount that I know of. It costs about 13500 yen one way for the fastest shinkansen, and I think 11800 yen for the slower one.
Hope this helps a bit
[ Edit: Edited on Mar 14, 2007, at 11:02 PM by gwelty ]
It's strange that on many of the traveler sites and forums I visit, there are very few people who have actually been to Japan. A few years ago I was an exchange student there for about 3 weeks and it wasn't too bad moneywise where I stayed (Sano City) which is just north of Tokyo and Yokohama. If you stick to markets in the big cities you should be fine. As I was traveling as a student I bought a ton of souvenirs on the cheap from the stands. Don't let all the bright lights and signs fool you, their only purpose is to attract anyone willing to splash out the cash
I can't really help on the subject of transportation as I had arranged rides. But from what I hear, public transportation within cities are pretty cheap. It's just from city to city rides that can be a little steep in price. Oh and no matter what you do visit Kyoto
I'm currently studying in South Korea and I hope I can do a 10 days trip to Japan after mid-terms. So far I have been only a bit around in Korea but I've been twice to Seoul and to Sokcho (on the north-east coast.)
Transportation is reasonably cheap, special the underground in Seoul or local busses. Overland busses are more expensive.
Generally Hostels cost about 15'000 Won (ca. 15 Euro). Food can be very cheap in the countryside, ca 3000-5000 Won, in very touristic areas in Seoul it can be more.
Hope this was any help