The Most Budget-Friendly City To Visit When Traveling To Japan

When it comes to budget-friendly destinations, Japan is typically not included in the conversation. It's certainly no Thailand or Guatemala, but many travelers are surprised to know that traveling to Japan and cutting vacation costs do not have to mutually exclude each other. While many visitors to Japan automatically think of visiting Tokyo, the country's capital is unfortunately not the easiest place to travel to if you're trying to save money. Luckily, Tokyo is not the only unmissable destination in Japan, and there's another major city that's estimated to cost around 25% less.

Osaka, Japan, is the third largest Japanese city by population, and provides similar excitement to Tokyo at a cheaper price. You can travel there by flying into its designated international airport, Kansai International Airport (KIX), or by utilizing the efficient Japanese rail system with a Japan Rail Pass (also frequently referred to as a JR Pass). Osaka is even a great hub for getting to some historic cities and towns, including Japan's first capital.

Average prices in Osaka

While Osaka isn't going to be the cheapest destination you'll ever visit in your life, if you play your cards right, you can do it on the low end in Japan. According to Budget Your Trip, an average day in Osaka costs around $88 per person.

On the low end, visitors can expect to pay as little as $5 for fast food meals. You might associate fast food with junk food, but the quality of fast food in Japan shouldn't be knocked. McDonald's has different menu items, such as the Teriyaki McBurger, which are always fun to try. Japanese 7-11s are well known as being some of the best 7-11s in the world — definitely try one of their egg salad sandos.

For the cheapest neighborhood, head to Nishinara. Here, hotels run for an average of $27/night. If you choose to treat yourself to a luxurious five-star resort in Japan, Osaka is the place to do so. The Ritz Carlton, Osaka costs around $295/night. To put into context what a great deal that is, the Ritz Carlton in Tokyo typically runs around $790/night. 

What to do in Osaka

Saving money is only great if the destination is worth visiting. Luckily, Osaka fits the bill. If you're planning a visit to Osaka, you simply cannot miss Dotonburi. Tourists have gone so far as to say it's like Times Square on steroids; the brights are extra vibrant and bright at night, and it is filled with great late night eateries.

Osaka Castle is one of the world's most enchanting castles and is the top tourist site in Osaka. It is a great spot to visit year round, but is especially picturesque when the sakuras, or cherry blossoms, are in bloom in the spring.

You might associate Mario and Luigi as Italian, but they were indeed born in Japan. Universal Studios' Super Nintendo World is a fun family-friendly activity, and it just so happens to be in Osaka. For all video game fanatics, a visit here is simply a must. 

If you want to get out of the city, jump on the train and head to nearby Nara. Nara is best known for Nara Park, where visitors from all over the globe come to hang out with the sacred deer. Guests can feed the deer by purchasing crackers, which are sold in the area, and to this day, the deer will bow to you. Nara is a historically fascinating city, as it was the first capital of Japan.