After ticking off the Visa application in our checklist, it was time to do some serious itinerary planning. We have almost 10 days in Japan and we decided to maximize our time by going to 3-4 different cities. We then contemplated on which cities we should go to and how we can go there in the fastest and cheapest way possible.
Kyoto, Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka were our target destinations.There are different ways to travel within cities in Japan, such as subways, buses, planes, and trains. I have always wanted to try to ride the bullet train but was discouraged by the hearsay that it was expensive to ride on one. Well, it is indeed expensive but upon reading up on it I have found the best thing that could work in our favor in terms of maximizing our time in traveling between cities. Hence the JR Pass!
The Japan Rail Pass (JR Pass) is a very cost effective rail pass for long distance train travel in Japan. It can be used by foreign tourists only, and must be purchased before your travel to Japan as it is not available for sale in Japan. I bought mine from HIS Travel agency in Singapore. There are a few accredited agencies in Singapore and around Asia that sell the JR Pass as listed here. I chose HIS because it also has a branch in the Philippines and I read up a blog post about it. The cost for the JR pass varies on the type of train and number of days you want to use it for.
|Japan Rail Pass|
|7 consecutive days||29,110 yen||38,880 yen|
|14 consecutive days||46,390 yen||62,950 yen|
|21 consecutive days||59,350 yen||81,870 yen|
|Reduced rates (50% off) apply to children aged 6-11.|
Now before you consider purchasing the JR Pass, you have to make sure that by the end of your trip you won’t be ripped off. JR pass is quite expensive and is not that practical if you are only staying for less than a week and only in 2 cities. We purchased the Ordinary/7day JR pass which costs 29,110 yen (S$ 344.02; P11,691.36). Based on my sister’s rough computation of all the rides we took using this pass, we would’ve paid more if we didn’t have the JR Pass. Do take note that this pass is not valid for all trains and has some limitations so it’s best to read up on all the restrictions as much as you can.
Once we reached Japan, we immediately went to the JR ticket office in Kansai International Airport to do the exchange to the real JR pass. Every airport has a JR ticket office, and you can refer to the list in the booklet included in your Exchange Order. We actually had a difficult time finding the ticket office from the airport because when we research online, it says it’s on the 3rd floor. The 3rd floor of the airport however is the floor for restaurants and souvenir shops. So after wandering around for half an hour, we asked the information desk on the 2nd floor and was directed towards the exit (just behind the information desk) which leads to the JR Kansai-Airport Station.
Since our first destination is Kyoto, we took the Haruka Express which is operated by JR so we were able to use our JR pass. There are 2 trains that get in and out of KIX, one is the Haruka Express and the other one is the Nankai line (which we used on our last day to go back to KIX, more on that later).
Do take note that there is a designated gate for JR pass holders and you cannot use the regular turnstiles. The gates are usually located beside the information window of every train stations. The JR pass is a small booklet with the your name and dates of use (start and end) printed and laminated at the back of the booklet. The print of the dates are bold and big so it would be easier for the train officers to see if the pass is still valid or not.
With that we proceeded to the platform for the train that would take us to Kyoto. The travel time from KIX to Kyoto is 75 minutes with brief stops at Tennoji and Shin-Osaka stations.
This portable WIFI was our saving grace during the entire trip. It’s not entirely cheap but it is affordable, and since it was 4 of us who would be sharing, it was worth it. Also, I would like to emphasize that the connection is better than the WIFI, 3G and 4G connections in the PH. And best of all, it was unlimited, and can connect a loooot of devices (we had 4 iPhones and 1 iPad).
We got our WIFI Walker from Global Advanced Communications. They have a booth on the 1st floor of KIX near the Tourist Information Counter. We got the 800 JPY / day for 10 days (~P3225). They only accept credit cards for payment and returning it is easy, just slot it in the box and you’re good to go.
Yey, another post done. 🙂
Next one’s gonna be about the first city we visited-Kyoto!