Japan is one of the most popular countries in the world to visit. Food, Onsen, Sakura trees are just one of the many reasons that draw people there. For those planning a trip to Japan, these are the apps or items you should have to make your trip a lot easier.
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1. Mobile SIM/ WiFi
For countries like Thailand, we will usually buy a new sim card for our mobile data needs when we reach the airport there. And we will require the Internet a lot. The main reason is due to the long travelling times but you will need it for some of the other points mentioned later. Yes, free WiFi is available almost everywhere but they are slow and insecure.
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However, buying one there is too costly. Here are a few alternatives.
a. Yokoso SIM
This is just a normal sim card which allows you to use data. It is the cheapest option I can find. It is available for purchase on Qoo10. For 7-14 days of travel, you can consider these 2 popular options:
-S$32 for 8 days 3.0GB
-S$36 for 15 days 3.5GB
Don’t worry about exceeding the data usage. Basic internet usage (for Whatsapp) will still be provided. Please get this a few weeks in advance as it has a limited availability and long delivery times.
b. Changi WiFi
At S$5 per day, you can experience unlimited fast Internet speeds with excellent network coverage (at least from all the places I visited). This is a good option for those willing to pay a little extra for a better holiday experience.
2. Basic Japanese app
Many of the Japanese are not able to communicate very effectively in English. Surely those at tourist populated areas know the basics for apparent reasons but it definitely helps to learn some simple words. Simple greetings, numbers and common places (Eg. toilets, transportation) will be handy wherever you go.
There are lots of them on the App Store/ Play Store. Any of the top rated ones should be sufficient.
3. Google translate
For more specific terms, Google translate is the better option. You can download the app or use the web version.
It can be a good way to communicate clearly with the locals. Japanese are mostly good with technology. It will be easier if the locals can give you the information you need.
Here’s a translator that works even better than any translator apps.
4. Trip planner
Japan’s transportation system is infamous for its complexity. Just look at this.
Using a trip planner like this. It will make your head spin less. This will the most helpful tool you need if you travel primarily by trains. Just put your starting and ending stations and it will auto-generate the routes for you.
5. JR Pass
Transportation in Japan is not only complicated but also expensive. Really expensive. JR Train (or what we understand as MRT) is the most common means of transportation. A one way trip from Tokyo to Osaka cost around 14 000 yen (S$175). The minimum is about 140 yen (1 or 2 stations) and on average you will spend at least 1k to 2k using the JR train. A trip to the airport will cost 3000 yen (S$39.50). All these costs will definitely add up.
Here’s where the magic ticket comes in. The JR Pass. With this, you have unlimited usage for the period of time. A 7-day ticket cost 29 000 yen (S$362) and a 14-day ticket will be 46 000 yen (S$575). If you are planning to travel between cities at least once, you will easily ‘earn back’ what you have paid. For those travelling to multiple cities during your trip, this is a steal.
My advice is to plan your trip beforehand and search the estimated price online. Do your math and see whether it is worth it. You need to get it here and exchange it at a JR Travel Service Centre in Japan.
Another point to note: Subways and some lines are not covered by the JR Pass. That’s why you use a trip planner to avoid that.
6. Your Golden Mouth
Japanese are always known to be polite people. In fact, they are very helpful too! Even with the JR trip planner, it is best to ask the station staff for suggestions. They know the most efficient routes and whether it is covered by the JR Pass. Japan has too many small alleys so Google Maps might not be very accurate. Asking the locals for directions if needed. In fact, just bring your golden mouth wherever you go for a holiday. Put down your pride for once and ask whenever you are unsure! This applies not only to travelling. Be it army, work, studies, you shouldn’t be afraid to ask.
It’s always good to do some research and preparation before your holiday. That’s what we are here for. We have also kindly prepared an info-graphics for you!
Share and let us know if you are interested in more topics about Japan. Stay tuned for a Japan Travel-Blog!
Last updated on December 7th, 2019.