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Tokyo is notorious for being one of the most expensive cities in Asia, and even the world as a whole. Even when taking typical budget steps on your visit, from eating modestly to staying in the cheapest Tokyo hostels available, enjoying the city could set you back by $60 to $70 a day.
When to Visit
Yet there are also many ways to keep the costs down in Tokyo, starting with the time of year you visit; there are three major periods when backpackers are advised not to visit Tokyo as prices escalate.
These are December and January (the Christmas season), between late April and early May (the 'Golden Week' of national holidays) and during mid-August (when Obon takes place, a traditional Japanese festival to celebrate their forefathers).
A better time to visit Tokyo, therefore, is in late March, when the beautiful cherry trees of Japan begin to bloom. Hanami (which roughly translates as 'flower viewing') is a traditional custom across the country and today parties are still held under the blossoms both day and night. You might have to splash out if you host a party but actually enjoying the beauty of the cherry trees is a free – and rewarding – experience.
In Tokyo, it's also important to think about how much traveling you intend to go. Whilst extraordinarily efficient, trains can be expensive so it could be a worth investing in a Japan Rail Pass. This will allow you unlimited train travel for a fixed period and could help free up some more spending money.
Admission to some places of interest in the city is either free or a negligible amount but other sights do charge visitors rather more. Although it's one of the city's most popular attractions, the Tokyo Tower, with its great views of Mount Fuji, is beyond many travelers' budgets at $15.
A cheaper alternative for panoramas of the city is the Metropolitan Government Building in Shinjuku. From the observation deck on the top floor, you can catch a glimpse of the imposing mountain and, what's more, it's free of charge.
The cheapest place to spend an afternoon, however, is Yoyogi Park. Impromptu gigs by undiscovered bands, theatre groups rehearsing for their next performance and families and friends scattered around, all make up the fabric of this significant part of the city and prove a great insight into how the residents of Tokyo relax.
About the Author
Before settling down and becoming a copywriter for HostelBookers.com Paul Scottyn did a backpacking tour of Brazil, he checked out a variety of Japan hostels including a number of Tokyo hostels.
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