Duration of my stay: 11 days – You can add/subtract any of these stops to your preference! But here’s what I will suggest to beginner solo travelers…
- Look into the Japan Rail Pass (either 7/14 day)
- Get a SIM card (I ordered mine when I ordered my 7 day JR Pass for $26 for 3 GB/15 days)
- Get yourself a PASMO/SUICA card (transportation, convenient stores)
- Google maps will be your best friend
- Educate yourself on basic Japanese phrases like “Thank you”, “Hello”, and “How much is this?”
Day 1: Flew in from ICN to NRT Airport
6 PM – Arrived to NRT
9 PM – Checked into Guesthouse Fete Hostel here
- I prefer to stay at female dorms only, but I’ve heard many people say that they’ve had no issues staying at mixed dorms.
- All the hostels that I chose are around $18-25 a night, since I tried to budget.
- I prioritize location and cleanliness!
My thoughts on Guesthouse Fete – Extremely warm and welcoming! When I arrived all hot and tired, they offered me a hot meal for around $4.50. Everyone is super friendly especially the staff! There are people from all over – Japan, America, and Europe. (About 7 min from nearest train station)
Day 2: Central Tokyo (Harajuku/Shibuya)
8 AM – Head to Harajuku
- Meiji Shrine/Gardens – It’s worth it to walk the whole thing, trust me! Keep going in past the shrine and visit a garden then go to the traditional temple…I had a great experience there!
- Hedgehog Cafe – For 1,500 yen around $11 / 30 Min you can pet a hedgehog!!!! There’s also an owl, chincilla/otter, and various themed cafes!! (I love Asia)
12 PM – Tokyo Plaza
- BRING YOUR PASSPORT everywhere in Japan…I made the mistake of leaving mine at home and couldn’t get any tax reductions anywhere 😥 It was a great excuse to save money though and walk away, lol.
- High end shops! Keep walking around the area and find cute stores filled with Japanese fashion.
5 PM – Head to Shibuya
- Shibuya Crossing – Ok, it’s infamous and a must-see, but I found it overrated. It’s too crowded and many high-rise buildings block their windows so that people don’t crowd in. Cool for a quick snap!
- Sushi Stand Up Bar – Walked around looking for a place to escape the crowded streets and fell upon this happy place! The chefs were so nice and I had a great experience. You just order, they put it right in front of you, and you eat STANDING UP. Haha, it’s convenient because Japanese people are always on the go to and from work.
- MariCart – I have to go back tomorrow, but do this while you’re in Shibuya! I forgot my passport and apparently you need either an International Driver’s License or a military ID card. Also, call in advance and book an appointment because it’s organized in groups.
Day 3: Tokyo (Asakusa/Ueno)
11 AM – Slept in! Head out for the day
- Edo-Tokyo Museum – About a 12 minute walk from Guesthouse Fete! Entrance fee is 600 yen for an adult. Free audio guided tour where you can learn about Edo history and culture! Extremely informational and fun to experience. Very family friendly as well! Surrounding gift shops, cafes, and restaurants.
1 PM – Head to Asakusa
- Senso-ji Temple – Architecture is nice, but I prefer the atmosphere yesterday in the Meiji Shrine because less people. This place was full of people taking selfies (lol) kinda steals away the magic.
- Market – Street food, souvenirs, etc right by Senso-ji Temple!
3 PM – Escaped the crowd to Ueno
- Ueno Park – Had shows and food! Traditional drum dances and performances…Had grilled squid and noodles! I just sat by the fountain and people watched 🙂
- More to do like zoos, galleries, museums, universities, etc!
6 PM – Headed to Shibuya for MariCar
- SO glad I didn’t skip out on this experience! It’s worth the money (7,500 yen). For one hour, you’re guided around Shibuya and Harajuku, hitting Shibuya Crossing three times.
- Best experience for those thrill seekers out there 🙂
Day 4: Take the bus from Tokyo to Mt. Fuji
11 AM – Checked out of the best hostel ever, bye Guesthouse Fete! ❤
12 PM – Shinjuku Expressway Bus Terminal to Kawaguchiko Station
- Cheapest Option: Buy your bus tickets online here (Around $22.30 adults) compared to JR Pass for $250
3 PM – Arrive to Kawaguchiko Station and Check into K’s House Mt. Fuji here
- 15 Min walk from Kawaguchiko Station
- 4 Bed/Female Dorm – Hotel style with your own key! Extremely comfortable bed and spacious shower. Instantly clicked with my mates 🙂
6 PM – Rest & Explore
- Many restaurants around the area! Tempura, Udon, Ramen, Cafes, Indo/Halal . . .
- Bike Rentals
- Cable Car
Note: July-August is Climbing Season, but unfortunately it was raining the whole time I was there 😦 You can still climb, but it isn’t recommended because you won’t be able to see anything anyway!
Day 5: Climb Mt. Fuji
12 AM: Took the bus from Kawaguchiko Station to Mt. Fuji 5th Station
2 PM: Began trekking up to see how far we could go
- 1-2 hour hike from 5th station to 6th depending on how much you stop to enjoy the VIEW
- Bring hiking shoes, gloves, and proper hiking gear if you are planning on going to the top.
- 6th station (2,390m) was already chilly and the weather was changing to rain.
5 PM: Hike back down and take the bus back down
7 PM: Ate Ramen and then went to get some rest!
Best day ever…breathing in the mountain air. We also made people dance on the way back down hahaha and interviewed people who climbed the top! It was so fun to meet people of all ages and backgrounds.
Day 6: Travel from Mt. Fuji to Kyoto
11 AM: Take the bus from Kawaguchiko Station to Mishima Station (2,260 yen)
2 PM: Take the Shinkansen bullet train from Mishima to Kyoto Station (10,200 yen)
- I decided to return my JR Pass because if you’re only going one way, not round trip, using the bus saves money (around $100)
4 PM: Check into K’s House Kyoto here
6 PM: Ate dinner at a cafe around the hostel
Note: Today was my day off…needed a break! Super exhausted from traveling and didn’t feel like doing anything, which I had to come to terms with that it was ok 🙂
Day 7: Kyoto (Temples/Museums)
- Get a one-day bus pass (600 yen) because it saves you money and you won’t lost anything if you take the wrong bus (like me!!!! 5x)
- Have entrance fee money! Each temple/museum in Kyoto costs 400-500 yen
- Most everything closes at 5 PM idk why
9 AM: Head to Kyoto Station –> Golden Temple
- It is extremely HOT during the summer, so hot that I didn’t feel like doing anything.
- Bring a fan/buy an electric one if you love yourself 🙂
12 PM: Saved money and ate at 7/11
- Meals on a budget in Japan are so easy! Just head to a convenient store and grab those triangle kimbabs or bento boxes 🙂
2 PM: Went to Insho-Domoto Museum of Fine Arts
- Beautiful art!! Come here if you love a quick stroll through paintings
4 PM: Ryoanji Temple
- More NATURE! Took a nap here and people watched.
5 PM: Everything closed, but at least it was a lot cooler!
- Get google maps and internet and GET LOST…on purpose or on accident…
- I found a thrift shop and bought two J Theory jeans for half the original price!!
7 PM: Headed back to my hostel for some din din 🙂
Day 8: Fushimi Shrine & Cat Cafe
1 PM: Waited for the harsh heat of the day to go away before I went to Fushimi Shrine
5 PM: Strolled around the area and found a cat cafe
- Found out I’m allergic to cats
Day 9: Traveled to Osaka
11 AM: Took the train from Kyoto to Osaka
4 PM: Check into Ikidane House here
- Pros: Capsule style beds (cool experience), great price & distance from stations
- Cons: Area at night is kind of sketchy and the neighborhood isn’t the most interesting
Day 10: Namba Shopping District
- Department stores, street shopping & food, and at night the lights are beautiful!
Day 11: Spa World
- Spent all day here at this typical Asian spa and sauna with an Asia World and Europe World
- Pool Area for families
- Massage/Facial Places/Restaurants
Note: Flew out of Osaka because it was a lot cheaper to ICN.
- 11 days was the perfect amount of time for me, but you could definitely do more/less.
- In my opinion, I preferred Tokyo > Kyoto > Osaka. They each had their own unique atmospheres and sights, but Tokyo was a lot cleaner overall and had more to do for solo travelers.
Feel free to comment any questions that you have!