Japan (Tokyo, Kyoto, Kinosaki): itinerary, cost breakdown, packing list

I wrote daily on my journal for my Japan trip, which is, I suppose, why it’s taken me a long time to actually start writing about my first trip to Japan. It was also my first fully-solo trip, so there was a lot of discoveries, both personal and of the country I visited.

Earlier this year, I was planning for a longer trip at a further-away country (oooh, so vague!). Unfortunately, I was gearing up for a big work project at around the time I was planning on, so I decided to postpone that trip and go somewhere else for a shorter, one-week vacation. I finally settled on Japan because of a couple of things:

  • The country is very safe for solo female travelers. I did a bit of research about solo female traveler safety in Japan as I knew I was going alone for this trip. I reassured myself of this multiple times before I went.
  • Transportation to most places look very straightforward via trains and subways, so I can plan my route. This is important to me, because I get lost easily, and because planning what I’ll be doing while I’m in the midst of the unknown soothes me.
  • OMG, my colleagues wouldn’t shut up about Japan!

LOL, you know who you are.

So I found myself booking for a week at the tail end of October.

Initially, I thought about booking a small group tour instead of doing it alone, so that I could just show up and not worry about anything. But, yeah, my obsessive compulsive tendencies won the day and I ended up planning the trip in its entirety myself.

Half the fun’s in the planning!

My Itinerary

There was a lot of planning, and a lot of breaking of those plans, too. Since the actual plans are pretty much the only useful thing at this point, here’s my final itinerary:

Day 1 Saturday
Arrival 8am
Check in at Sunroute Hotel Asakusa
Kaminarimon Gate
Nakamise Dori
Sensoji Temple

Day 2 Sunday
Imperial Palace Outer Park
Hibiya Park

Day 3 Monday
Tsukiji Fish Market breakfast
Meiji Shrine
Takeshita Dori
Shibuya station
Shinjuku station
Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building’s North Observatory

Day 4 Tuesday
Transfer to Kyoto
Nijo Castle
Check in at Airbnb lodging

Day 5 Wednesday
Bamboo groves
Togetsukyo bridge
Rest and errands in the afternoon

Day 6 Thursday
Fushimi Inari Shrine

Day 7 Friday
Transer to Kinosaki
Goshono-yu onsen

Day 8 Saturday
Onsen hopping

Day 9 Sunday
Return to Kyoto
Departure 11pm

There are a couple things to note about this itinerary:

First, I meant to visit the Imperial East Garden on Day 2, but when I arrived, the gates were closed and there was some rather intimidating guards in front.

Second, my Kyoto stay looks VERY sparse. I developed a cold on Day 2; I don’t know if it’s possible, but I remain convinced it is due in part to my complete lack of knowledge that Sunroute Asakusa had no non-smoking rooms, and thus I was in a smoking room for my whole Tokyo stay. The cold resulted in me not at my 100% for the rest of my time in Japan.

Along with that, while I was in Kyoto:

  • I got lost on the bus on Day 4; I wasn’t supposed to head to Nijo Castle, but hey I recognized it, so I got off and did that instead (also because Nijo Castle is close to a subway line).
  • Kyoto was celebrating Jidai Matsuri on Day 5, which I initially planned to watch at the Heian Shrine. But I realized, after Arashiyama, that I was not going to be able to handle a procession crowd very well, at the state of my health and my feet. So I decided to take it easy, rest a while, and do nearby errand-y stuff like send postcards.
  • Kiyomizudera is currently undergoing renovations, which did impact my decision to explore eastern Kyoto/sights near Kiyomizudera. There is always next time!

Cost breakdown: Pre-trip expenses

1,491.00 SGD Airfare
Singapore Airlines, SIN-NRT + KIX-SIN
49.60 SGD Travel insurance
353.90 SGD Tokyo lodging (3 nights)
385.00 SGD Kyoto lodging (3 nights)
6,150 JPY Pocket wifi rental

TOTAL: approx 1875 USD

My airfare cost obviously skews this costing on the high end, and it’s not just because I am chasing after my Krisflyer miles. After experiencing six hours on the red-eye flight to Australia, I knew didn’t want to risk the seven hours between Singapore and Japan on a budget airline, either. Plus, I booked a bit later than I normally would for a trip like this, so the prices aren’t quite so low.

Pocket Wifi The pocket wifi I rented was a very invaluable gadget throughout my stay, especially once I was in Kyoto, Kinosaki, and Amanohashidate where I relied more on buses and walking rather than the trains and subway. I could just fire up Google Maps and see where I was and adjust accordingly; it was very helpful for sudden changes in plans due to rain/etc as well.

(Of course, having it around for Instagram purposes is great, too.)

I did have to apply for a short-term tourist visa, but it’s not shown in my pre-trip breakdown because there were no visa fees. I applied directly at the Japan embassy in Singapore and received my visa in three business days.

Cost breakdown: On-trip expenses

36,340 JPY Half-board onsen inn lodging (2 nights)
26,102 JPY Food and snacks (9 days)
32,590 JPY Transportation, includes:
bullet train from Tokyo to Kyoto
JR West Kansai Wide Area Pass (Kyoto, Nara, Kinosaki, Amanohashidate, Kansai Airport)
extra fees for Amanohashidate
4,150 JPY Entrance fees
3,872 JPY TA-Q-BIN, luggage storage, coin lockers
3,825 JPY Medicine, band aids, muscle pain patches, etc (LOL)

TOTAL: approx 930 USD

I didn’t include shopping, because while I did not really “shop”, I did end up buying really…random things. Like a Pikachu stuffed toy. Like a cute umbrella (and yes, I did bring an umbrella, and no, I did not lose the umbrella…this was just cute, ok). Like a camera lens. So, no, no shopping estimate :P

I had initially budgeted more for food, but honestly, I was very happy with convenience store breakfasts while I was there; I would just buy a few things on the way back and put it in my fridge, for eating the next morning. There was a particular mochi I liked from 7-11…

Packing list

I don’t have super slick packing photos to share for this trip. I initially thought about sticking to my backpack, but eventually decided that between the layers and the shopping I might end up doing, it would be easier to stick to a medium-sized rolled luggage and my backpack, especially since the roads should be good and my rolled luggage shouldn’t have a problem.

I did leave my luggage in Kyoto while I went off to Kinosaki, and brought only my trusty Minaal.

A photo posted by Angela (@angelamaria) on

So here’s my list (including things I brought on my person):

  • 2x jeans
  • 3x tops
  • 2x dresses
  • 3x opaque warm tights
  • 4x socks
  • 5x pairs of underwear
  • 2x sleep wear
  • 1x spring coat
  • 1x convertible shawl
  • 1x ankle boots
  • 1x flats
  • 1x flipflops
  • sunglasses
  • foldable backpack
  • umbrella
  • camera, camera lenses, camera battery, SD cards
  • laptop, charger
  • phones, powerbank, chargers
  • small towel
  • liquid detergent
  • toiletries: shampoo, conditioner, facial wash, bar soap, powder deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, q-tips
  • makeup: Tinted moisturizer with SPF, lip balm with SPF, eyeshadow primer, eyeliner
  • first aid: band-aids, Betadine q-tips, chewable vitamin C tablets, paracetamol tablets

I did NOT learn my lesson from my last trip and bring muscle pain reliever pads. I never learn.

I also did not expect to need sunblock, but in retrospect, I should have brought sunblock. Angela, just because it’s autumn, doesn’t mean that the sun doesn’t shine.

In hind-sight

The very first iteration of my itinerary included an overnight in Hakone, but I changed that out to have more time in Kinosaki. Most of the people I shared my final pre-trip itinerary with, kept asking why I wasn’t going to Hakone, and nah, never heard of that Kinosaki place. But it did turn out to be one of the high points in my trip, and I’m really glad I decided to spend two nights taking it slow and experiencing a small, traditional Japanese town. I think I could have opted to do Kinosaki in the middle of my trip to rest a while before attacking Kyoto, though.

As a first fully-solo trip, I do think Japan was a good choice for me. It was challenging because of the language barrier, but at no time was I worried about my safety (keeping in mind, though, that I don’t really have a “night life” and I stayed in most nights). The worst thing that happened to me was that cold, and tripping on the stairs. Totally my fault. I still have a pinched nerve to show for it.

I also need to learn to take it slower when I’m on my own. I tend to ignore my tiredness and hunger while traveling alone, always thinking “there might be a good cafe over there” or “this one’s near, I can still do this”. It doesn’t make sense, but I’m a lot more tired when I travel alone than with other people.

Nevertheless, I’m really happy I made Japan my first fully-solo trip. It’s an amazing place with fantastic food and oh-so-interesting odds and ends, and I was already planning to go back to Japan in the midst of my trip ;)


  • Hi Angela, May i know where to get the Kowa 8.5mm F2.8?? and around how much would it cost?

    • I got mine when I went to Japan last year, so outside of Japan I’m not quite sure where to find it — I believe local/Singapore camera shops don’t have it. Mine was under 95,000 JPY.

  • […] got this lens mid-trip. I never looked back. It became my go-to lens for the rest of the trip. Most of my Japan shots […]

  • Really enjoyed your blog entry. The practical realities of travelling mean we don’t always get to do what we plan (colds and falls and things being renovated). I have never solo travelled before but I imagine Japan being a place where I would like to go as well (ditto on the nightlife thing) I also thought the cost breakdown was very helpful (tactfully ignoring the camera lens) and hope you will be writing about your next trip in this much detail in the future. Thanks :)

    • I’m glad my post was helpful! I did wonder if I should go ahead and post my breakdown–most breakdowns I’ve seen are those that focus/cater to the budget-conscious traveler, and my trip wasn’t exactly what I’d call a budget trip (though I am fairly conscious of budget when I travel). So nevertheless I’m glad it’s useful!

      I’ll definitely continue to write details about my trips! :)

      • Flick replied;

        Just thought I’d give a quick reply to say that when I was student, budget was king (or queen) alongside seeing the key landmarks. But once I started working, although budget was important (budget conscious as per your reply), comfort became even more of a priority. We’re not getting any younger either so I really need a good night’s sleep as my recovery time is much longer these days :)

        • Oh yeah, I definitely know what you mean about not getting any younger, haha. I definitely think more about getting ample rest, as well as being more open to pay a little bit more if it’s worth the upgrade. I think my recent trip highlighted that need for rest very well!