Traveling to Japan is more popular than ever. Japan has relaxed their visa giving process and it’s now easier for Filipinos and other Southeast Asian national to enter Japan. I’ve been to Japan at least once a year since 2014. Philippine peso vs. Japan yen has fallen though (100JPY=45PHP), so traveling there is not as cheap as last year (100JPY=39PHP) but still people are flocking to Japan.
When asked for the best tip for traveling in Japan, one of my top advice has always been getting a JRPass. But JRPass or Japan Rail Pass will only be worth your money if you are traveling to more than one region in Japan, example Tokyo + Kyoto. The more regions you go to, the more cost effective it is. I will demonstrate later based on a trip I did. But first a quick guide on Japan Rail Pass.
What is Japan Rail Pass or JR Pass?
Japan Rail Pass or JR Pass is an unlimited pass for train travels in Japan. It is cost effective if you are planning to visit several regions in Japan. Here’s a list of its terms and conditions for use.
- can only be used by foreigners on tourist visa (other types of visa is not valid)
- can also be used by Japanese nationals who are permanent residents abroad
- can only be purchased outside Japan; although it’s said that next year, JR Pass will be available for purchased within Japan on a trial basis (2017-2018), and at a higher price
- can only be used on railways lines operated by Japan Rail Group, but don’t worry, JR has the most extensive rail connection in all of Japan
- can also be used on JR operated buses and ferries
What are the Different Kinds of JR Passes?
There are 2 classes of JR Pass: Ordinary Car and Green Car (1st class). The Green Car class si about 35% more expensive and offers more spacious seats but the Ordinary cars are pretty good. I have only been on ordinary car so far and I guarantee you that they’re very comfortable and gets you there the same time.
There are 2 types of JR Pass: National Rail Pass which can be used in all of Japan and Regional Passes which are cheaper if you’re only traveling in certain area, for example Hokkaido or Kansai area.
The National Rail Passes is available in 7 days, 14 days, and 21 days pass. The Regional Pass is available between 2-6 days depending on the region.
Is Japan Rail Pass Worth the Money?
Japan Rail Pass is worth the money if you plan to do several long train rides visiting different regions in Japan. It is not worth buying JR Pass if you’re only staying in one place, for example just Tokyo.
To demonstrate how JR Pass can be worth it, the following is an actual itinerary I did in 2008. I was in Japan for my sister’s wedding in Akita, coastal town 600 km north of Tokyo. We flew in and out of Tokyo and did the trip to Akita with train. We also did side trips to Kyoto, Nara, and Nagoya within the 2 weeks.
We got 2-week pass which costs Php 22,000 today, but if we were to buy train tickets separately, the total journey would have costs Php 36,000. That’s 10,000 pesos in savings! We also used this JR Pass to travel within Tokyo and Nagoya.
TIP: If you are going to be in Japan for 2 weeks and will be 1 week in Tokyo, you can just buy JR Pass for 7 days, and that would be just Php 14,000 (JPY 28,000).
Where to BUY JR Pass in the Philippines?
Most travel agencies that process Japan Visas in the Philippines can sell you Japan Rail Pass. Or for online ease and discount, buy online from Klook. The price chart below is the standard price. But you can buy it cheaper from Klook. Check it out by clicking the orange link.
How much is Japan Rail Pass?
This is a tabulation of the prices of JR Pass National Rail Pass in Philippine Pesos. Children between 6-11 years old get 50% discount. Children below 6 years old travel for free.
This is a table of cost of the National Rail Pass if you buy from sites like JTB.
Check out Official Japan Rail Pass website for more details, such as how to exchange your ticket and how to book for rides.
Ready to go to Japan? Got your visa yet? If not, click photo for a simple guide to apply for your Japan visa.