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  • RTS 123 posts

    So, my partner and I decided to get married and jack in our jobs in favour of traveling for anywhere between 3 months to a year. One way ticket to Shanghai booked, onward travel (hopefully we won’t have any issues with TWOV in SH) to Jeju 2 days later, followed by a trip on the train to Busan before jumping on the ferry to Japan to Hakata.

    Will spend a c3 weeks in Japan travelling south to north, not sure if a JR rail pass for 21 days is worth it? I can’t seem to find shinkansen ticket prices online.. any help here would be appreciated.

    Where do you think we should go therafter? We are fairly well travelled in Asia i.e. HK, SG, Taiwan, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam have all been done.

    Richie 976 posts

    Jrailpass dot com perhaps.

    RTS 123 posts

    Jrailpass dot com perhaps.

    Doesnt provide shinkansen ticket prices.

    BJ 675 posts

    First thing to note is rail passes are increasing substantially (up to 77%) in October. Only way to figure if they work for you is calculate individual fares for comparison. I’m no expert on this but numerous sites including tokyocheapo, jreast and shinkasen-tickets all have fare calculators or online booking at least for some tickets. Note that there are also regional rail passes too that might be of more interest to you as they allow for more creative routings. I don’t know how up to date it is but the blog suggested by @Richie is a good source of information, particularly in respect to less obvious routings and train companies. I’m not a huge fan of the JR pass because it is sort of constraining in some ways. I prefer to mix and match shinkasen, rapid express and commuter trains in the most convenient way but it would all come down to the value the pass was offering. Sadly I’ve not yet had the time in Japan in a single trip to really make one work for me. I’m sure @meta will be along at some point with mire precise and invaluable advice. You should also look into Suica and Pasmo cards or their tourist equivalents Welcome Suica and Pasmo Passport. These make lufe easier on metro, bus and commuter trains etc, particularly so if you don’t have rail pass abd are focussed on getting maximum value from that in reality one of these is worth having even if you do have a JR rail pass. Klook and TokyoCheapo may prove useful resources if you need to watch your cash, or even if you just like too as many of us here on HfP appear to do. Enjoy your adventures!

    yonasl 948 posts

    You can price rail fares here: http://www.hyperdia.com/

    The current JR Pass is very good value if you do Shinkansen trips.

    If you do short local trips the pass is not worth it but if you do longer distance then you can quickly amortise it.

    Jon 262 posts

    I’m doing ten days in Japan later in the year and have concluded that with the price rises, the JR pass is no longer worthwhile. The Smart-Ex web site (and associated app if you can set your app store to one of the supported countries) looks to be useful, although you may need to spend some time with it to work out what’s what 😉 https://smart-ex.jp/en/ (Official ticket buying / seat booking site from Japan Railways).

    masaccio 713 posts

    Can you change the onward flights from Shanghai? Sitting in my Shanghai hotel room as I type, I am at a loss why you’d dismiss the entirety of China given 3 months away. Shanghai isn’t worth more than a couple of days, but you are missing such an amazing time by skipping China.

    masaccio 713 posts

    Oh, and following up with something Japan-o-philes won’t like:

    China = best food in the world

    RTS 123 posts

    Thanks all this is all very useful.

    Can you change the onward flights from Shanghai? Sitting in my Shanghai hotel room as I type, I am at a loss why you’d dismiss the entirety of China given 3 months away. Shanghai isn’t worth more than a couple of days, but you are missing such an amazing time by skipping China.

    Mainly because we don’t have the time to obtain our visas in time, so may still do china via HK, as we can fast track visas there. We are flexible in our travel so… Yeah. 🙂

    meta 1,426 posts

    I’m doing ten days in Japan later in the year and have concluded that with the price rises, the JR pass is no longer worthwhile. The Smart-Ex web site (and associated app if you can set your app store to one of the supported countries) looks to be useful, although you may need to spend some time with it to work out what’s what 😉 https://smart-ex.jp/en/ (Official ticket buying / seat booking site from Japan Railways).

    I second this. Smart-ex is the best. Register a pasmo/suica and any other IC card + credit card and then just easily book your tickets from/to anywhere, cancel, etc. It’s all loaded on the Pasmo and you don’t have to worry about physical tickets. You can also load cash onto IC card and pay in the konbinis and other shops.

    meta 1,426 posts

    Oh, and following up with something Japan-o-philes won’t like:

    China = best food in the world

    Been to China and tend to agree, but Chinese food in Japan not in China.

    meta 1,426 posts

    Also worth looking at the Explorer Pass with JAL.

    https://www.jal.co.jp/aul/en/world/japan_explorer_pass/lp/

    Jon 262 posts

    Register a pasmo/suica and any other IC card + credit card and then just easily book your tickets from/to anywhere, cancel, etc. It’s all loaded on the Pasmo and you don’t have to worry about physical tickets. You can also load cash onto IC card and pay in the konbinis and other shops.

    Suica also works with Apple Pay (which makes it nice and easy to top up via, say HSBC Global Money, or Wise, Revolut etc), although apparently the physical card then stops working, so it seems to be a case of one or the other but not both. I did read something about only being able to link Suica to Smart-Ex in-country, or some other complication – I forget the exact details but remember getting the impression that using Suica for Shinkansen tickets, as a foreign visitor, was going to be tricky. On the other hand, it sounds like Smart-Ex will provide your ticket as a QR code so you can just scan your phone at the ticket barriers. I believe (but not 100% sure) that for local / non-Shinkansen trains, Suica works in much the same way as Oyster / Octopus etc – tap in, tap out, no need to buy a ticket (?). I need to read up on it properly nearer the time…

    meta 1,426 posts

    I prefer Pasmo to Suica. Pasmo or any of other IC cards work better with Smart Ex. Pasmo will also work with local trains, buses or anything else. You can actually pay with it in most shops. It’s also best to get your name on the card as that means if you lose it then you get all the funds back.

    I know Japanese prefer Suica because in the old days the local IC cards didn’t work outside specific metro areas.

    Also I wouldn’t rely on anything digital such as Apple Pay in Japan as the country believe it or not still relies on paper/physical tickets and cash payments although things are improving.

    Edit: Regarding using from abroad. You can’t use Smart Ex between 11pm and 5am JST which means that you need to do it morning/early afternoon UK time or late evening.

    Jon 262 posts

    Thanks @meta, good to know. I have a Suica card leftover from a previous trip (and discovered when I linked it to ApplePay a few thousand yen still on it 😉 Maybe I’ll get a Pasmo when I arrive this time. Don’t suppose there’s a way to transfer funds from Suica to Pasmo? (Short of losing it! How do you get your name added to it?)

    meta 1,426 posts

    Good question, I’m not sure how to add the name after purchasing.

    I purchased one 7-8 years ago at a counter and they asked for my name to be printed on. However, I got an IC card in Okinawa recently and there was an option to add the name on the machine.

    BJ 675 posts

    I’m probably missing something but why not just use up the balance and get a Pasmo? And why bother with your name on it? I’vs bever ynderstood why anybidy would bither with a ohone when you can just keep the card conveniently in shirt pocket, back pocket if jeans etc. I too prefer Pasmo, went without a hitch across multipurpose transport modes in Tokyo and Kansai, and at all shops we tried too. Other key reason for orefeference is private rail offices are generally less busy than JR counters, and refunding it at counter next to Keikyu gates is always quick and painless if departing Haneda.

    meta 1,426 posts

    If you lose a Pasmo with a balance, you can get the balance back and a new Pasmo only if your name is registered. Ans also if somebody finds it and you go to Lost&Found office they’ll only give it to you if the name on the ID matches the one on the card.

    mypoint 3 posts

    While specific prices are not available online, you can estimate costs using http://www.hyperdia.com/

    meta 1,426 posts

    Hyperdia is now defunct. (as of December 2022) It no longer provides accurate timetables or prices. The website is still there and search functions, but it’s for historical timetable.

    Also don’t rely on Google Transport or Maps for complete accuracy. Double, triple check on the screens as platforms change frequently.

    yonasl 948 posts
    Reney 749 posts

    Hi all, borrowing this thread.

    I have BA LHR > HND >LHR next Easter. Finally getting into the mindset to book some stuff. I am very overwhelmed but have time on my side. A few questions that I would love some help with.

    I plan to spend most of our time in Kyoto/Osaka/ Kobe/ Hiroshima.

    1. We land at HND at 10:25 am. Thinking of flying straight down to Hiroshima rather than get the train. There are redemption flights HND> HIJ at 12.20 and 14:30 for JAL. I am having never been to the HND airport. Do I need to land, get my luggage and check in again? Is the 12.20pm flight enough time to land get luggage and change flight? Or better to get the 14:30 (assume that is enough gap??). Tell me if you think it is better to get the train?

    2. I’m thinking of staying in Hiroshima for a 2-3 nights to get used to time difference and see the sites. Any hotel recommendations? I have Hyatt, IHG points, Marriot and some hilton points – not a lot of the latter 2.

    3. Then I’m thinking of taking the train up. I am thinking of making home base in either Kobe or Osaka or Kyoto, and do day trips from home base. I have been to Kyoto before and stayed at the Hyatt Regency. I was very happy there, but friends have liked Osaka and Kobe. Welcome thoughts on which city to make home base and hotel recommendation.

    4. Then train back to Tokyo and stay a couple of days before flying home. Welcome thoughts on hotels.

    5. On this plan do I need the rail pass?

    Thank you very muck for any help!

    yonasl 948 posts

    1. Yes, as you are on a completely different flight you need to get your luggage and check in again

    5. Rail Pass will be £300 (7 days) when you go next year. It makes the pass harder to break even (train fares are also expected to increase).

    Maybe flying to Hiroshima then shorter train journeys and then fly back to Tokyo from Osaka is a good option. BA allows you to book JAL for like 7,000 avios. The £ is 0 so they are basically free to cancel (in case you book a few as you finish your plans)

    Reney 749 posts

    @yonasl thanks for the quick response. Yes I saw the points plus £0 fee so it is tempting to book now.

    Do you think the 2 hour transit is too short? Better to allow a 4 hour difference? In case delay etc.

    yorkieflyer 259 posts

    A pity if you’re not including Kanazawa, a gem.

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