Budget-friendly alternatives for your next trip to Japan!

Train Conductor at Shinkansen South Tohoku - JR Pass Guide

In case you missed it, JR Pass prices have increased by more than 30% since 1 Oct 2023. For example, the 7-day Whole Japan JR Pass which used to cost ¥29,650, now cost ¥50,000 (~S$450)! Quite a hefty increase!

And to be honest, maximising the Whole Japan JR pass in the past always made the itineraries feel a little rushed. So we took this opportunity to find ways to explore more in different regions of Japan.

Here we’ve put together five popular Japan itineraries that make use of JR Pass alternatives, plus tips on how to use the JR Pass at the end!

Read also: JR Pass Budget Alternatives — How to Explore Japan Without Paying ¥50,000 for a 7-day Pass

Graphic - Japan Itinerary

Click to jump to each section: 7D Kansai Itinerary | 6D Kyushu Itinerary | 6D Hokkaido Itinerary | 7D Tokyo and Fuji Itinerary | 6D Kyoto and Nara Itinerary

1) 7D Kansai Itinerary

View of the Osaka Castle

Cities covered: Osaka, Nara, Okayama, Kurashiki, Kobe, Kyoto 
Highlights: Universal Studios Japan, Okayama Castle, Arashiyama Bambo GroveNara Park
Recommended Transport Passes: Nankai Line Airport Express Train Tickets (~S$12.20), 2-day Osaka Amazing Pass (~S$30.80), 5-day JR Kansai WIDE Area Pass (~S$108)

Our Kansai itinerary kicks off in Japan’s second-largest city by population — Osaka.

Dotonbori Glico Man - Japan Itinerary

Spend the first two days exploring Osaka city — remember to activate your 2-day Osaka Amazing Pass! Hit up shops along Shinsaibashi-Suji Shopping Street, pose with the famous Glico man at Dotonbori Street, visit Osaka Castle as well as teamLab Botanical Garden Osaka.

The 2-day Osaka Amazing Pass covers unlimited trips on the Osaka subway, tramway, and buses. It also includes free entry to more than 50 attractions (some covered in this Japan itinerary)!

Hand Holding Super Nintendo World Ticket - USJ Osaka Guide

Here’s where you should activate your 5-day JR Kansai WIDE Area Pass — for day trips out of Osaka! Spend a full day at Universal Studios Japan, home to the world’s first Super Nintendo World. That’s not all, visit popular themed areas within the park like Minion Park and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

*Pro-tip: Maximise your time at Universal Studios Japan by getting express passes (from ~S$106.50) and skipping the queues!

Read also: The Ultimate USJ Guide and Tips (2023) — Universal Studios Japan

People with Deers at Nara Park - Things to do in Nara

Next stop, Nara! Visit Todaiji Temple and feed adorable deers at Nara Park before ending the day at a relaxing onsen back in Osaka.

Okayama Castle Near River - Things to do in Okayama

Spend a day exploring Kurashiki (known as the “Venice of Japan” cause of its beautiful canal stretch filled with gondolas), Okayama (for its gorgeous all-black castle) and Kobe (for beef) — all easily accessible via Japan rail!

Boy and Girl on Rickshaw Tour in Kyoto - Things to do in Kyoto

After that, head to Kyoto for two days. Dress up in kimonos and go on a rickshaw tour of the Higashiyama district, visit the world’s first Starbucks with tatami flooring and hike up the famous Fushimi Inari Shrine.

*Pro-tip: Purchase the Nankai Line Airport Express Train Tickets (~S$12.20) for airport transfer to Namba Station (Osaka).

Check out our full Kansai itinerary.

2) 6D Kyushu Itinerary

Yellow ginkgo tree of Kushida shrine - Japan Kyushu Itinerary

Cities covered: Fukuoka, Kitakyushu, Kagoshima, Beppu
Highlights: Kokura Castle, Beppu Hot Springs, Sengan-en Garden
Recommended JR Pass: 7-day JR Kyushu Rail Pass (~S$225


If you’ve already visited Tokyo and Hokkaido and want to check out lesser-known places in Japan, consider this Kyushu itinerary!

Beppu Hells Blood Pond Hell - Japan Kyushu Itinerary

Kyushu is Japan’s third largest and southernmost island. There are direct flights from Singapore to Fukuoka (Kyushu’s capital!) in just under 6 hours.

The JR Kyushu Rail Pass includes unlimited rides on reserved and non-reserved seats on all local trains, limited express trains, and shinkansen (Mizuho, Sakura, and Tsubame) within the designated area. It must be used on consecutive days.

Ichiran ramen in Fukuoka - Japan Kyushu Itinerary

In Fukuoka, visit Kushida Shrine, escape the city by heading to Fukuoka City Zoo and Botanical Garden and have dinner at Ichiran Ramen.

Kokura Castle - Japan Kyushu Itinerary

Photo credit: Fukuoka Now

The next day, head to Kitakyushu and Shimonoseki! Try the city’s infamous poisonous pufferfish delicacy (fugu) at Karato Market and then visit Kokura Castle — the only castle left standing in Fukuoka Prefecture.

Kukora Tanga Ichiba Market - Japan Kyushu Itinerary

Before leaving Kitakyushu, make sure to stop by Tanga Ichiba Market where you can find local specialities such as karashi mentaiko (辛子明太子, spicy salted roe) and nukadaki (ぬか炊き, fish simmered in miso).

YUfuin Kinrinko lake - Japan Kyushu Itinerary

We also visited the quaint onsen town of Yufuin to see Kinrinko Lake during autumn! This lake is known as “Golden Fish Scales Lake” and has both hot and cold springs welling up from the bottom.

Beppu Hells Sea Hell - Japan Kyushu Itinerary

You can’t visit Kyushu without a trip to Beppu — the “home of hot springs”. Beppu’s most famous attraction, the “Hells of Beppu”, features interesting natural hot springs like Chinoike Jigoku (blood red pond) and even Oniyama Jigoku (where crocodiles are kept)!

Another unique experience here is being buried in sand; the naturally heated volcanic sand is known to have benefits like improving blood circulation.

Shabu Zen pork - Japan Kyushu Itinerary

Next stop, Kagoshima! Here we visited the Sengan-en Garden and feasted on local black pork (Kagoshima Kurobuta).

Yatai Food stalls in Fukuoka - Japan Kyushu Itinerary

Finally, travel northwards back to Fukuoka. Make the most of your last day and visit Ohori Park, The Ruins of Fukuoka Castle, Tōchō-ji Temple and have dinner at a yatai (roadside food stalls).

Check out our full Kyushu itinerary.

3) 6D Hokkaido Itinerary

Otaru Canal Landscape - Best Things to do in Otaru

Cities covered: Sapporo, Otaru, Asahikawa, Biei
Highlights: Hiyoriyama Lighthouse, Otaru Canal, Shirogane Blue Pond
Recommended JR Pass: 7-day JR Hokkaido Rail Pass (~S$231)

The JR Hokkaido Rail Pass comes in 5, 7 or 10 consecutive days and covers all JR Hokkaido Lines (except the Hokkaido Shinkansen). This includes local train networks as well as select JR Hokkaido buses.

This Hokkaido rail itinerary starts off in Sapporo, Hokkaido’s vibrant capital known for good food and beautiful cityscapes!

Visit Sapporo’s main attractions on your first two days — the Tanukikoji Shopping Arcade (a 1km-long shopping street), Sapporo TV Tower and the iconic Shiroi Koibito Park (a chocolate theme park dedicated to these treats).

Sapporo Katsuissen Conveyor Belt Sushi Restaurant - Hokkaido Itinerary

Food-wise, Sapporo is packed with fantastic dining options. Some of our favourite meals include Gotsubo Oyster Bar (~S$1.40 for a thicc oyster? Say no more), Soup Curry Garaku (this dish originated in Sapporo!) and Katsuissen (for an authentic sushi belt experience).

Otaru Hiyoriyama Lighthouse - Hokkaido Itinerary

After exploring Sapporo, it’s time for a day trip to Otaru. Otaru is a charming coastal town that’s a 35-minute train ride from Sapporo. This is one train journey you don’t want to nap on — the route is extremely scenic!

Otaru 手打ち御膳蕎麦「砂場」Soba Restaurant Flatlay of Food - Hokkaido Itinerary

We first headed to the coast to see Hiyoriyama Lighthouse before going back to the city centre. In the city centre, visit the Otaru Canal, Former Temiya Railway and Sakaimachi Dori Shopping Street. For meals, we had fresh kaisendons at Sankaku Market and delicious soba at this quaint little restaurant.

Next on our Hokkaido itinerary is Asahikawa, where we checked out Asahikawa Ramen Village, Hokkaido Gokoku Shrine and had a yummy mutton bbq dinner.

Biei Shirogane Blue Pond - Hokkaido Itinerary

We then rented a car for a day to explore the nearby town of Biei — dropping by Shirogane Blue Pond, Shirahige Waterfall, Tokachidake Observatory and the alpaca farm at Shikisai no Oka.

Check out our full Hokkaido Japan Itinerary.

4) 7D Tokyo and Fuji Itinerary

Mount Fuji Itinerary Tokyo - Fuji Q Rollercoasters

Cities covered: Tokyo, Fuji
Highlights: Mount Fuji, Harajuku, Shinjuku, Shibuya 
Recommended JR Pass: 3-Day Tokyo Subway Ticket Unlimited Rides (~S$13.60),  Fuji Excursion Train (~S$36)

Start this Japan itinerary on a high — more specifically, at the top of Japan! From Shinjuku, it takes just under 2 hours to get to Mount Fuji via the Fuji Excursion Train.

Climbing Mount Fuji - View of Hiking

Because just viewing Mount Fuji isn’t enough, why not dedicate two days to climbing it? It’s a tough journey, but trust us — the views and sunrise from the peak make the entire journey worth it.

Read also: Guide to Climbing Mount Fuji — Everything You Need To Know About Climbing Japan’s Highest Mountain

Climbing Mount Fuji - View of Fuji and Fuji Q

Since you’re already in Fuji, you can’t leave without visiting Fuji Q Highland. This theme park has gorgeous views of Mount Fuji in the background and is known for crazy rides. Like Takabisha, boasting one of the steepest drops (121°!!) and Eejanaika, a 4D rollercoaster with 14 inversions.

Read also: The Best Roller Coasters in Japan Most Tourists Miss — Fuji Q Highland Guide

Chureito Pagoda Arakura Shrine - Japan Itinerary

Next, spend a full day road-tripping around Kawaguchiko and Mount Fuji. If you’re travelling in a group, it’s best to rent a car on this day!

Head to Kawaguchiko Natural Living Center for blueberry soft serve, climb 396 steps up to the viewpoint at Chureito Pagoda and savour delicious soba for lunch.

Vermilion Torii Gates of Hanazono Inari Shrine Ueno Park Tokyo - Japan Travel Tips Peak Season

After four days exploring Fuji, it’s time to return to Tokyo. One of the best things to do in Tokyo is explore Ueno — the cultural heart of the city. Visit the Tokyo National Museum and Hanazono Inari Shrine in Ueno Park, grab street food at Ameyoko Shopping Street and try tinned snacks (including bear meat) at mr. kanso bar.

Female in kimono at Sensoji Tokyo Fuji - cultures explained Okinawa different from Japan

Then, head over to the neighbourhood of Asakusa to watch sumo training, don a kimono to snap photos at Sensoji Temple and relax at Asahi Beer Headquarters while trying limited-edition beers.

Tokyo Shibuya Crossing - Japan Itineraries

The last day of this Japan itinerary is dedicated to Shinjuku and Shibuya — places you can’t miss when you visit Tokyo! Visit the Imperial Palace, sightsee at Harajuku and enjoy the lively atmosphere at Shibuya crossing.

Check out our full Tokyo and Mount Fuji itinerary. 

5) 6D Kyoto and Nara Itinerary

Kyoto Sannenzaka Cherry Blossom - Things to do in Kyoto

Cities covered: Kyoto, Nara 
Highlights: Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, Fushimi Inari Shrine, Nara Park, Kaiun Bungy 
Recommended JR Pass: 3-day Kansai Thru Pass (~S$48.80) — Use this for transport within Kyoto, then purchase single tickets for transport to Nara at Kyoto station

This Kansai itinerary has Kyoto as its base; perfect for those who want to spend more time exploring Japan’s former capital city (from 794 to 1868).

Kyoto Station Interior - Things to do in Kyoto

*Pro-tip: The Kansai Thru Pass also includes discounts at 260 major tourist attractions along JR lines! It can be used on non-consecutive days (find out exactly how this works here), so you can save the pass for days you’re using the train more.

Psst. It’s ~S$3 cheaper when purchased online via Klook compared to buying it in Japan.

Nishiki Market Tempura - Japan Itinerary

Spend your first day in Kyoto exploring the downtown area! Grab coffee at Kurasu Kyoto Stand, beef sushi and tempura at Nishiki Market then hunt for thrift gems at Shinkyogoku Shopping Street.

Kyoto Kiyomizudera Temple Sunset - Japan itineraries

Photo credit: @aaapplecider via Instagram

Day two covers my favourite neighbourhoods in Kyoto — Higashiyama and Gion. They form the heart of Kyoto and are the city’s best-preserved historic districts! There’s plenty to do in Higashiyama, like admire some of the city’s most famous buildings — Kiyomizudera Temple and Yasaka Pagoda.

Fun fact: Kyoto is considered the birthplace of geisha culture and Gion is the city’s most famous geisha district! Spot geishas heading to work along the 1km-long Hanamikoji Street, lined with machiya (traditional townhouses).

Kyoto Arashiyama Monkey Park Iwatayama VIew - Japan Itinerary

Photo credit: @leonthekay via Unsplash

Day three of this Japan itinerary is all about Arashiyama and its surrounding attractions! Visit Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, watch wild Japanese Macaques at Arashiyama Monkey Park Iwatayama and stop by Kinkaku-ji Temple.

Kyoto Fushimi Inari Shrine City View - Japan itineraries

Start the following day with an early hike up Fushimi Inari to the peak of Mount Inari (233m tall) then wind down with a relaxing onsen session at Genji-no-Yu Onsen.

Nara Park Ukimido Pavilion - Japan Itinerary

Most tourists know about the famous Nara deer. But Nara offers a rich history that goes beyond cute animals — it was Japan’s first capital from 710 to 784! That’s why this Japan itinerary includes two days in Nara.

Nara Ikaruga Buggy Driving Tour - Japan itineraries

Hang out with the resident deers and check off photo spots like Todaiji Temple and Kasuga Taisha Shrine at Nara Park, indulge in famous mochi at Nakatanidou and go on a buggy tour around Ikaruga neighbourhood.

Nara Kaiun Bungy Jump Bridge - Things to do in Nara

Another unique thing to do in Nara? Take on Kaiun Bungy (30m) — Kansai’s only bridge bungy jump located near the base of Mount Shigi!

Check out our full Kyoto and Nara itinerary.

Tips for Using the Regional JR Pass

1) Purchasing and Activating Your Regional JR Pass


A cheaper (and more convenient) way to get your JR Pass is via Klook. For example, a 7-day Hokkaido Rail Pass costs ¥27,000 (~S$243) in Japan, but only ~S$235 on Klook. And you don’t have to physically queue when you buy it online!

Once the booking is confirmed, you’ll get an exchange voucher on the app. Just present the digital QR code at any JR service counter when you arrive in Japan to exchange it for a physical JR Pass. Passes only activate on your first ride out, so plan it carefully!

*Pro-tip: Individual shinkansen tickets can also be purchased via Klook if you only need one-way tickets, or if your itinerary includes other cities that your JR Pass doesn’t cover. These can be easily picked up from train stations and there’s an option to switch train timings at the station if needed. Pick-up instructions will be sent via email!

Unsure about which JR Pass you’ll need? Simply select the region you’re visiting to view the list of JR Passes available!

PSA: Klook is having an epic year end promo! Besides discounts on attractions, hotels and more, get 12% off shinkansen tickets with a minimum spend of S$200 (capped at S$30). It’s the best time to book rail tickets for your upcoming trip to Japan. 🥳

2) Download the Japan Travel App to Plan Your Routes

Japan Travel by Navitime App - Japan itineraries

The Japan travel app (available on iPhone/Android) is the only app you’ll need for route planning in Japan. It shows various ways to get around (whether it’s covered by your JR Pass), train and bus timings, as well as which platform to go to.

3) Making Seat Reservations

People in the Train - Travel Around Osaka Japan itineraries

Trains can get quite packed during peak hours or at popular stations like Tokyo and Kyoto so we recommend reserving a seat at least a day in advance. Most JR Passes include free seat reservations on the reserved carriage as well, so make use of this perk! Seat reservations can be made at automated machines or JR service counters!

4) Check out our other JR Pass guides

Hokkaido JR Pass - Hokkaido Itinerary

We get it, there are dozens of JR Passes available and it can be tough to decide which pass works best for your Japan itinerary. Check out our other JR Pass guides and Japan itineraries — it might just clear things up!

Ultimate JR Pass Singapore Guide — Step-by-Step Guide and New Updates in 2023
JR Pass Budget Alternatives — How to Explore Japan Without Paying ¥50,000 for a 7-day Pass
Osaka Transport Guide — Maximising Your Transport Passes for Travelling In And Around Osaka

Which of these Japan itineraries are you most keen on? Share with us in the comments!

This post was brought to you by Klook.

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