WHAT’S the one thing you absolutely shouldn’t do in Japan the moment you step out of airport arrivals?
Take a taxi.
Taxis are very expensive. A 12-minute taxi ride can set you back between P2,000 to P3,000.
An hour ride can cost you up to P20,000! You read that right. Twenty thousand pesos for a taxi!
Travel is costly; a short two-minute train ride can start from P90 up, but if you research about the most cost effective way to get to your destination, i.e., which passes to take, your money can go a long
Most cities have 24 to 72 hour train and subway passes that will cut your travel expenses a whole lot.
Take for example the Kansai through pass for Osaka, Kyoto and Nara. For about P2,000, you have unlimited rides for three days on all trains and buses except the JR line. This includes a one way trip from or to the airport.
There is also the JR pass for tourists, available only outside Japan. Buy this online or from accredited travel agencies.
This pass offers unlimited train rides, even on the bullet trains, all over Japan, but only on the JR line.
Do read up on this if you intend to visit different cities, for example Tokyo to Osaka, or even as far as the northernmost or southernmost cities. It will be more time-effective to take their domestic planes if you intend this, though.
Alternatively, you can choose to stay within walking distance to the places you intend to visit. Or stay at a hotel that offers free shuttle service to the airport or major landmarks. You save up this way.
So now you have your pass. Navigating the subway and train stations can be daunting when you look at the guide map: crisscrossing lines of different colours in English and Japanese. But if you take a deep breath, it’s quite manageable.
There are signs everywhere. Arrows point to where you should go, which platform to take going where.
The tricky part is knowing which station to get off from if you need to transfer trains to get to your destination.
This is where Google maps comes in handy. Just type in your location, where you’re headed, and presto, you have choices of the easiest route to take, which line, how many stops, etc.
Google maps can be quite accurate in pointing out which direction you need to walk towards. There is a blue line with a white arrow, and it indicates if you’re facing the right way, on the correct route.
It also gives you the approximate cost if you take a taxi.
Sometimes, the easiest and cheaper route is not by train or subway but by direct bus. Familiarize yourself with where these stations are located.
If you get lost, ask for directions. Don’t be shy.
We’ve found that the Japanese are very friendly and more than willing to point out the right way.
Ah, and you need Wi-Fi. This is also very important. There are devices for rent at the arrivals section of the airports, just after you exit baggage claim.
Alternatively, you can buy a SIM card. Make sure you get the one for internet surfing. Chiara was able to download an app that allowed her to connect to premium WiFi hotspots all over Japan.
Prosperous New Year ahead!
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