Budgeting Planning

Step 3: How to Book Your Flights to Japan: My Advice for Cheap Flights & Japan Visa

Ok so you’ve made your Japan Bucket List and you’ve picked when you’re going to visit, the next big thing is to book those flights and get your Japan visa baby! I remember when my boyfriend surprised me with the good news that he was able to get time off and we could go to Japan. I actually screamed and then jumped around like a lunatic. My crazy reaction was because I knew one of my lifelong dreams was coming true. Within the next three days, I had all our flights booked and accommodation sorted.

Here are my tips on How to Book Your Flights to Japan and my advice for cheap flights and getting your Japan Visa.

Airports in Japan

Japan has many airports for such a small country, but that also gives you so much flexibility with your trip. The most known one is Narita International Airport in Tokyo. You will find that most international flights will come in and out of Narita.

Narita is technically not in Tokyo, but the next prefecture over called Chiba. It’s about an hour and a half away from Tokyo but has many methods of transport to get to and from. It’s a good thing to keep in mind the other airports in Japan so you can create the most optimal route for your trip.

How to Book Your Flights to Japan: Airports in Japan

I knew I wanted to experience the cherry blossoms and move along with Spring, so for me starting in the South and working my way up North made the most sense. If I had flown in and out of Tokyo it means I would have been doubling-back a few times.

I see this when people share their itineraries online; people fly into Tokyo and plan the next day to head off to Kyoto. This seems like madness to me and a waste of precious time. Have you considered starting in Osaka, spending some time there then heading up to Kyoto, Tokyo etc? Have a look at the all the airports on offer below before you make your final decision.

How to get Cheap Flights to Japan

Flying is the closest experience we will have to feel like we are in a cattle truck. Some people are fortunate enough to fly business class but most of will be crammed in the back. There are airlines better than others of course and you have to decide on what your level of needs are. Below is the list of the top Airlines of 2017 who fly to Japan:

  1. Qatar Airways
  2. Singapore Airlines
  3. ANA All Nippon Airways
  4. Emirates
  5. Cathay Pacific
  6. EVA Air
  7. Etihad Airways
  8. Hainan Airlines
  9. Garuda Indonesia
  10. Thai Airways
  11. Qantas Airways
  12. Japan Airlines
  13. Air New Zealand
  14. Asiana Airlines
  15. China Southern
  16. Hong Kong Airlines
  17. AirAsia
  18. Air Canada
  19. Malaysia Airlines
  20. Korean Air
  21. Delta Airline
  22. British Airways
  23. Jetstar Airways
  24. AirAsiaX
  25. Vietnam Airlines
  26. SilkAir
  27. Scoot
  28. Jetstar Asia
  29. Philippine Airlines
  30. China Eastern
  31. SriLankan Airlines
  32. Hawaiian Airlines
  33. Xiamen Airlines
  34. Air China

My tips to score a cheap flight

  • Sign up for alerts to the airlines above that are available in your country. That way you never miss out on a sale.
  • Always use an incognito tab or VPN when looking at flights. Google tracks when you search for flights and raises the price each time.
  • Compare flight prices on Skyscanner or Google Flights
  • If you can, try and book directly through the airline’s website instead of a third party like Expedia where you will get charged extra fees
  • Do a comparison with a travel agent. I recommend this as it’s something I regret not going ahead with. When we were quoted by our travel agent there was a $200 difference with what I could get online. In the end, I ended up paying the same price because of all the baggage fees! Travel agents can get discounts for you, bonuses like food and if anything goes wrong they are there to help.
  • If you are going to go with a low-cost carrier airline such as Jetstar or Air Asia always check the fine print. The low-cost carriers only include carry on which means you will have to pay extra for checked baggage. When I went to pay for baggage on Air Asia and Jetstar they both were offering ‘food & baggage package’ for $150.00. Upon further investigation right down the bottom of the page in small font was ‘Baggage Only fee’ for $100.00. It also explained that the food in the package was just a sandwich… which means they were charging $50.00 for a sandwich!!!
  • For those of you in Australia and Asia, you know that Jetstar does a couple of big sales during the year. One of them is 2 for 1 deal and another is pay $0 for your flight back. If you are really wanting to save the pennies then snap up one of these deals.

How to Book Your Flights to Japan: Jestar's 2 for 1 Sale to Japan

Do you need a Japan visa?

Most passport holders are visa exempt for Japan if their visit is up to 90 days. The below countries do not require a visa for the 90-day visits:

How to Book Flights to Japan: Do you need a Japan visa?

Countries that do require visas are the following:
– China
– Russia
– Georgia
– Philippines
You can fill out the Visa form here.

If you are planning to stay longer than three months then you will have to apply for the specified visa: Designated Activities.
For more information on longer stay read more here.

The cheapest way to get to and from the airport (Don’t waste your Japan Rail Pass)

When I was doing my research on prices for trains to and from the airport I was shocked, some trains cost $100+ one way! These trains, like N’EX and Narita Express, cost more because they are fast trains that take less than an hour to get to and from the airport.

Some of the trains are covered with your Japan Rail Pass, but it seems like such a waste to activate your rail pass early especially if you’re not planning to travel to another city for a few days. My biggest advice is don’t waste your money/rail pass on these Express train. All that money for something that gives you convenience for one hour. Instead, recommend using Airport Buses!

This Tokyo Shuttle bus only costs 900 yen (only $10 dollars!) if you make a reservation online and takes an hour and a half to get to and from. That’s only a half hour extra of time and you saved yourself $90!!!. Catch the bus from Tokyo Station, they depart every 10 – 15 mins.

Please note: you can only make reservations up to 2 days in advance.

We took this bus from Kansai International Airport to Osaka Station for 1500 yen. Once you exit the airport, head down to road level and you will see the bus terminal. You don’t even need to walk that far!

Both of these buses were very comfortable and ran on time, so please save your money and hop on one of these.

Planning a trip to Japan? Complete my Step by Step Guide!


  • Alan Bird

    My experience with cheap low cost carrier’s to Japan turned me of using them. I had one flight with Air Asia going to Tokyo moved by 48 hours and had to re-book with another airline to get to an event in time. It took 2 months plus and 15 +emails to get my money back (funny how it came 3 day after I started emailing Air Asia’s CEO). It didn’t finish there as the flight back to Australia was moved by 24 hours on the transit so I was stuck in Malaysia for that time so a day’s work Lost and one nights accommodation.
    Since then I have flown with major carriers and flights have worked out cheaper by the time you add up all the extras with the budget airlines that the major airlines include. And the extra leg and seat room make a big difference on longhall flight.
    You live and learn.


    • Jasmine

      Yes I definitely learnt this lesson aswell. I would much rather pay the extra to have a reliable and enjoyable experience. We originally booked with Jetstar and 3 days later they contacted us to say they no longer do flights from Melbourne to Japan! It took them 6 months to book us onto a new flight!!!


  • Sarchie

    I got return flights to Tokyo on Japan Airlines for $980 peak season (baggage x2 23kg and meals included). I disagree with using budget airlines for international flights longer than 5 hrs, too much discomfort for what you get. I’ve also found that I can always do better than a travel agent when it come to cost, maybe it’s because I travel a lot and know more.


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