Japan Travel Tips – Tips to Survive & Navigate Kansai Area

Japan ICOCA Card - Japan Travel Tips

Japan Travel Tips – Preparing Your Trip To Kyoto, Osaka and other Kansai area

This is a long overdue post on Japan travel tips since my last year’s trip to Japan in May (full itinerary here and here), but since it was one of the best trips I ever had so I’m gonna start writing about Japan, although it might take a while to complete but I’ll try. First thing first, my Japan travel tips on how to survive and navigate the country that you don’t speak the language.

Japan is the most civilised country in Asia and with a little planning, you will be able to enjoy your trip without much hassle. With the help of technologies these days, travel is becoming more and more convenient! So here are the essentials that I would highly recommend for your Japan trip:

1. Data SIM Card: Before landing in Japan, I ordered a 1GB Data SIM Card online from b-mobile. The SIM Card is valid for 14 days which was good for my 10 days stay. I paid ¥4,190 inclusive of delivery to Kansai Airport’s post office. My flight landed at 8.25am in the morning just nice to pick up the courier package from the post office which opens at 0900. Minimum 4 days order prior to collection is required for airport pick up and the SIM Card will be ready to use as soon as you open the package. I slotted it into my iPhone and it worked perfectly within minutes. It’s a lifesaver as I used it mainly for Google Map and HyperDia ( Japan online train schedule) so I didn’t get lost in Japan. I also used it to research and plan for restaurants and places of interest on the go, not forgetting the constant uploads of amazing pictures to Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

** Update in 2016: They have now only 1 type of Sim Card, Unlimited Data for 14 days selling at ¥2,380 (extra ¥216 for delivery to airport’s post office), which was even cheaper. I’d used it again in February for my Hokkaido trip and it was working perfectly.

** Update in 2018: Latest data package is 5GB of data for 21 days, selling at ¥3,480.

Read Also  My 10D9N Kyoto/Osaka Japan Kasai Trip Itinerary Part 1
Japan Travel Tips


Japan Travel Tips


Tips to Survive & Navigate Japan - Japan Travel Tips


2. HyperDia: One you get connected to the Internet on your smartphone, HyperDia is your best way to navigate the Japan huge but efficient rail network. This app/website will tell you the exact time and platform the next train will arrive/depart. Japan is a developed country so their trains are always on time and reliable, totally unlike the one in Malaysia. Thanks to HyperDia, I managed to plan my trips around Kyoto, Osaka, Nara, Kobe and Kinosaki Onsen easily without any hassle.

Japan Travel Tips

3. ICOCA and Hakura Combo: ICOCA and Haruka is a discount ticket package for foreign visitors arriving at Osaka’s Kansai Airport. It provides transportation from the airport into the Osaka or Kyoto by the Haruka Limited Express Train and an ICOCA prepaid card (pre-loaded with ¥1,500) for the use on urban transportation at a discounted price in Kansai area. I bought the one-way Hakura-ICOCA combo at ¥3,000 (current price is ¥3,030) and got a pretty Hello Kitty and Osaka Castle card design as souvenir. You save about ¥1,500-2,500 on the Hakura ticket depending which destination you’re going. The ICOCA is like the Ez-Link of Singapore or Octopus Card of Hong Kong, you can use it at most of the shops and transportation in Kansai area. I reloaded my ICOCA card couple of times just to ease my smaller purchases at the convenient shops. Book your ICOCA and Hakura Combo from the official website before you fly into Japan.

Japan Travel Tips

4. JR-West Rail Pass: In Japan, the train is the most convenient way to get around so rail pass is the most economical way to visit a few cities in a short few days. I bought the 4- days Kansai WIDE Area Pass for ¥7,000 (current price is ¥7,200) and went to Osaka, Kobe, Nara and Kinosaki Onsen with it. I got to experience the Shinkansen with the rail pass too from Kobe to Osaka. Most importantly, this rail pass got us to Kinosaki Onsen, a picturesque hot spring town 3 hour train ride away from Osaka. Kinosaki Onsen was one of the highlights of my Japan trip for sure.

The rail pass came with some discount vouchers and places of interests around the stations accessible by the rail pass. Book your rail pass from the official website before you fly into Japan.

Visitor SIM Card, Japan Train Schedule - Japan Travel Tips
Read Also  My 10D9N Kyoto/Osaka Japan Kasai Trip Itinerary Part 2

So, with the 4 Japan Travel Tips mentioned above, I’m sure you will be ready to explore Japan, Kansai area in particular, without much hassle. Enjoy Japan, because it is a lovely wonderful country, and it is the land of rising sun! If you need some inspirations or ideas for your Japan trip, check out Japan 3 Week Itinerary too.

Do follow my adventures on Facebook here and Instagram here.

Check out my previous Japan Kansai Area Trip Itinerary (Kyoto & Osaka mainly) here and here.
Check out my other posts on Kyoto here.
Check out my other posts on Osaka here.
Check out my other posts on Japan here.

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  1. Solid advice with a sim card. We usually try and travel with wi-fi from the hotel and stored Google Maps but, if they have real time rail updates, it would be important to have mobile data.

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