japan trip: the planning

The two younger sisters and I are going to Japan. In my 2016 list (complied in 2015), I said that I wanted to bring them overseas. And finally – more than a year later, we are ready to leave.

Why do I want to travel with the sisters? So I can scold them <insert evil face emoji>. Okay, I kid you. Well, I’ve traveled alone (just to fly over to HK) with #5 in 2014 and with #6 to China last year. But the three of us had never traveled together. It’s high time…after 20 years.

I went to Japan in 2014 but it was with my older sister and aunt. This time we three will be on the go. Literally.

Both of the younger sisters have their ‘must-do/see’ items. #5 wants to see snow (for the first time) and #6 wants to go to Yokohama. Me? I just want to eat eat eat. Sushi, wagyu beef, uni. Yum.

Thus, with those thoughts in mind, I started planning our itinerary. But first – the cost.

We got Sister #2 to help us change money at The Arcade. The rate was S$12.38 = ¥ 1,000 / 80.78. Other places were having rates like 12.45 – 48. Yes, I checked around. In the end, I used Cash Changer to check where had the best rates. However, I do not suggest you travel from the East to West of Singapore to change a ‘better rate’…your transportation costs would be more than the savings. It happens that my sister works at Raffles so it was eas(ier) for her to pop by The Arcade during lunch,



After much research and comparing (and questioning if the airline we picked was safe – I know, kiasi Singaporeans), we chose Vietnam Airlines. I bought them through CheapTickets.sg. There is a stopover in HCMC. One heart stopping moment though, we bought our tickets way back in August 2016…just about 1-2 weeks ago, I was looking through our flight itinerary and realized that #5’s name was wrongly spelled. Now, I do not know if I keyed it in wrongly or if it was issued wrongly but I called Vietnam Airlines and they told me since the error was very minor (just an A instead of an E at the end of the name), we can go to the counter and change it upon check in. Oh well, hopefully nothing goes wrong.

Cost: S$584.01 / pax


Remember the need to see snow? Well, Tokyo does not have snow. So we will travel up to Hakodate, Hokkaido to try to see if we can catch any. Our Hakodate accommodation will cost us ¥18,000 for 2 nights. That would be S$74.28 / pax 
We opt for an Airbnb apartment in Shinjuku. S$178.67 / per pax for 5 nights. It comes with a free wifi egg.
Our flight on the last day leaves early in the morning…which leaves us the opportunity to try out the capsule hotel at Narita Airport. The three of us will get our own capsules at S$87.00 / pax.
Cost for 8 nights: S$339.95 / pax 
(which would roughly be S$42.49 per night)


I will not know our final transportation expenditure until we are back from Japan…but the initial output is already heart breaking. Yup, we got the JR Pass. Before my sister put in her request to see snow, I was planning to just travel around Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto…by taking the overnight bus. You know, budget travel. But after some research headache, I decided we should just buy the JR Pass. Hence our journey to Hakodate (the last station we can go to without buying the Sapporo JR Pass).
I monitored the price and once the exchange rate fell, bought it from Changi Recommends. I actually checked a few vendors and Changi Recommends it the cheapest…not to mention that we can pick it up right before we fly off.
Cost: S$353 / pax 
Travel insurance from Tenet Sompo. Didn’t bother to get their special Japan insurance because it was more expensive than their highest plan…so I just bought their highest coverage. There was a 50% off promo…score!
Cost: S$51 / pax


Wifi…yes, we’ll be getting the wifi router from Changi Recommends. For the long rides to and from Hakodate. They are always having offers…so ours cost $5 a day. I also opt for the $10 insurance as I can be quite clumsy.
Cost: S$18.33 / pax
Final (initial cost): S$1,346
January 11, 2017
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