Travel tips for Japan: 15 things you need to know

15 tips for first-time travelers to Japan

We’ve just returned from an amazing month and half trip to Japan and wanted to share a 15 tips we picked up along the way.

Travel tips for Japan:

1. Bring a plastic bags for rubbish, because they don’t have a public bins. Otherwise, most 7/11 stores have bins next to their microwaves/coffee machines and you can generally find a rubbish bin at most train stations.

Japan at spring
Japan at spring

2. There are very few public bathrooms with hand dryers. Do as the locals do and carry around a face towels to dry your hands. You can buy these all over Japan for less than 600 yen.

3. You must carry passport at all times. You’ll definitely need this if you’re to do any tax free shopping (include most of souvenir or tech shops like Bic camera, Yodobashi or Don Quijote).

Travel tips for Japan - Kyoto
Travel tips for Japan – Kyoto

4. Carry at least 2000-3000 yen per person at all times. Only big restaurants take credit cards. When using cash, remember to put your money in the tray at the cashier.

5. Find hotels close to train stations. You’ll appreciate this at the end of a long day of exploring. Most businesses don’t start operating until 10-11am, so you will likely find yourself sleeping in and exploring until late.

6. Pack as little as possible in the smallest suitcase on wheels you have. Streets are generally flat, but you don’t want to be lifting anything too heavy up and down the subway stairs.

7. Put your phone on low battery mode to ensure it lasts a whole day of taking photos and using Google Maps.

Kyoto temple
Temple in Kyoto

8. Buy an e-sim before you arrive to use the internet the moment you arrive.

Airalo is great. Pocket wifi is also a good alternative. You can rent them from companies like Japan Wireless or EConnect Japan. You order them in advance and choose pick up at the airport or delivery to your hotel. Then you just drop them in a post box at the end of your trip in the envelope they provide you with. Super easy.

9. You can download the Suica card to your Apple wallet and use this for local trains. You can add more money as you need. For trips between cities use ticket machines – we found this cheaper than the JR Pass. They translate to English and are relatively intuitive to use.

Kyoto at night
Kyoto at night

We found the easiest option was to search for your destination station. Google Maps is super useful in helping find the best route and for locating the right platform. It will also indicate how much each trip will cost.

10. Wear a comfortable shoes and remember this is one of the best travel tips for Japan. If you only take one tip away, it should be this one. Trust me!

11. Do your research and pre-plan as much as your itinerary as you can. This can save you so much time.

Wish Japan
Make a wish!

12. If you want to visit Japan at sakura time or Golden weeks, you must book your hotels months earlier. Don’t forget – Japan also struggling with overtourism.

13 If you want to take a great pictures, you must to start every day very early – before sunrise, unless you want to experience Kyoto or Tokyo with 10 000 new friends.

14 Book a larger room with multiple beds even if you don’t need them, because single bed rooms are like tiny home living.

15. Spend any leftover Suica money at the airport convenience stores, so you can return with a zero balance.

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