Travel | Ultimate Guide in Choosing Transportation Cards in Japan

By huayyu - 4/20/2018

Ultimate Guide in Choosing Transportation Cards in Japan

One of the hardest parts of planning for a trip especially if you are on a budget is transportation.  When I was planning for my Japan trip, choosing what type of transportation to use was a headache.  In my opinion, Japan has one of the most extensive and also expensive transportation.  The problem is that its buses, trains, etc. are owned by different companies with different transportation cards offered.  Since I was on a budget, I had to choose the card which would help us save money.
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Here are my tips in choosing which transportation cards to use.

Tip #1: Know where you are going first.  

You would need to finish your itinerary so you would know which subways or buses to use.  You can use Sygic Travel in planning your itinerary (Read my post Sygic Travel Trip Planner).

Once you have your itinerary, it would be easier to research how to go there and you would know which transportation cards are accepted.

Tip #2: Ask advice from someone who has been to Japan before.

Talk to someone who has been to Japan and has experienced transportation.  They would be able to recommend which cards to use so that you would have an idea already of the different cards.

Tip #3: Research and Compute!

This is the important part.  Make sure to research the card that someone recommended.  Sometimes, it would not apply to you.

I had once been recommended the JR pass since we would be traveling from different provinces.  They said that it is cheaper than buying per way.  Yes, they were correct that it is cheaper but since I was only traveling between Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, and Nagoya, it is much cheaper in buying a separate ticket than getting the JR pass.

This is where it really gets tricky.  You need to compute if buying a one-way ticket would be cheaper than buying the transportation card.  List down all the one-way tickets that you might use versus the price of the transportation so that you can see if you are really getting your money's worth.

For my trip to Nagoya, Osaka, Kyoto, and Nara, here are the transportation cards that I used:

1. Kintetsu Rail Pass

Kintetsu Rail Pass

I had a hard time deciding which transportation card to use going between provinces.  Some suggested that I use JR pass but once I computed the rate for the single-use, it turns out that we would spend more if we buy JR pass.

Finally, I decided to use the Kintetsu Rail Pass.  This pass can be used in traveling between Nagoya, Osaka, Kyoto, and Nara.  You can use it for unlimited rides for 5 consecutive days at the rate of 3,600 yen which is just exactly what we need since we will go back to Nagoya on exactly the 5th day of our trip.

You can buy this ticket at the train station or you can buy it from the local travel agency (ARS Dream) like what we did.  For hassle-free travel, you can also buy it through Klook.

2. One Day Eco Card

One Day Eco Card

Since we made Osaka as our main base, we knew that we would be constantly using their subway.  I found out that you could buy One Day Pass which is a one-day unlimited use for subways, buses, and trams in Osaka.  I figured it would be better to purchase this ticket so that we could go in and out of the station without any worries that we are spending too much on transportation.

You could buy this ticket at the ticket machines for only 800 yen.

3. Kansai One Pass

Kansai One Pass ICOCA

For our other transportation expenses, we opted for Kansai One Pass.  This is a prepaid card where you load the amount and it will be deducted every time you use their transportation.  This is a convenient way to travel so that you don't have to buy tickets every time you travel.

Take note that this is for foreign visitors only and passports are needed to purchase this ticket.  You can purchase this ticket in selected stations.  Click here for the sales location.

Want to travel easier?  Book your transportation tickets in advance through Klook for a hassle-free trip.  Use PROMO CODE: MOBILE10 HK$10 off your first booking on the mobile app.  Click here for more Klook Promo Codes.

Have another tip on choosing which transportation card to use?  Or you have any recommendations on which transportation card to use?  Comment below.

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