Monday, November 21, 2016

Japan Rail Pass - Worth it?

I wondered if there were a way to travel cheaper.

Kansai Area pass covers Kyoto-Nara-Osaka-Kobe - $80 for 4 days per adult, $55 for 2 days per adult. So for 10 days in the Kansai region - $215. per adult. If we travel by the slower Shinkansen, it would be $180. Total $400.

BUT, still need a pass in Tokyo. That 5 day pass is $241.

So total would be $640

A 14 day National Pass = $590 (when I checked in July) which includes the slower Shinkansen. Still cheaper. And more convenient.

I guess if next time we just cover Tokyo to Hokkaido, we can just use the JR East regional pass.

Travel From Haneda to Osaka by Nozomi - Green seat - 19,820 yen ($252) - $80 more than ordinary reserve seat.

Nara to Shin-Okubo (Shinjuku) - Green Seat - 19,230 yen ($250) $80 more.

Eventually, I decided to just get the 14-day Ordinary Pass from Japan Rail .

The 14 day pass when I got it was S$1174 for 2.

The next day, it was S$1188 for 2. The site claims to calculate the price based on the latest exchange rate, so apparently, that is true. I got it at the cheaper price of S$587 per adult. One day later, it went up to $594.

When buying the JR Pass at Japan Experience, I was also offered a Mobile wifi for S$100 for 11 days. Unfortunately, I had already booked a mobile Wifi from Pupuru.

At S$125 for 11 days. With insurance and all. Oh well.

The problem with that offer is that I won't be able to return the device in mid-travel. Pupuru allows me to return the device by mail within Japan at any time.

For this trip, we found that we spent quite a bit on local subways which are not covered by the rail pass. It may be better if we had done without the rail pass.

We used the Rail pass for travel from Tokyo to Osaka. That would have cost Y14,550
Then we travelled from Osaka to Kobe - Y550.
Then from Kobe to Nara - Y1240
Then finally from Nara to Shinjuku - Y14,120 (according to Hyperdia)
But we took it in stages. Nara to Kyoto, Y710; Kyoto to Tokyo Y13,400; then Tokyo to Higashi-Shinjuku by Metro, Y200 (not covered by Japan Rail Pass).

So in total, the Pass saved us (or would have saved us) about Y30,500 or about $400. But we spent about $590 for a pass each.

So conclusion? Not worth it for this trip. If we plan to stay put in a major city for more than a few days, the Rail Pass may not make sense. The good thing is that there is the Hyperdia website to help estimate Rail costs and I'm getting familiar with system so I am reasonably sure which are the Pass-usable.

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