JAPAN: How My Sister & I Travelled to Osaka – Kyoto – Nara for ₱25,000 Each ALL-IN

Another trip to be grateful for! Ending the first half of #Travel2015 was such a blessing with Japan! This is my first time to backpack with someone and I am truly grateful to share this first with my sister. Happy graduation, little sister! You deserve this for all your hard work! Japan was amazing and I am grateful for another first world country experience.

Umeda Building at Sunset

Umeda Building at Sunset




OKN II Kansai Route & Osaka Food Trip Guide (Travel Date: June 2018) ➡️ Osaka – Kobe – Naruto, Japan: Thrilling Rides, Melt-in-your-mouth Beef, Mesmerizing Whirlpools, & Many More!


Getting a visa is really easy! Japan single entry tourist visa is free but you have to pay for the travel agency processing fee of ₱950/person. Applicants cannot go directly to the Japan embassy. Visit the website above for the requirements and procedures. Applying at Reli Tours (SM Megamall Branch) took us 10 minutes only. You just hand out your documents, they check it, you pay the fee, and you are done. We got our visa after 5 days.

SHOW MONEY: I’ve gotten a lot of questions about this so I’ll just state this here. Based on research, I believe the most important documents are your itinerary, employment certificate, bank statement, and ITR.

At the time that I applied, the bank statement I showed had ₱50,000. We also included our flight and accommodation details.


I have email subscriptions of low fare airlines (Cebu Pacific, PAL, and Jetstar) so I always get notices whenever there is a seat sale. Just sign up/register for their mailing lists by visiting the airline’s official websites.

ex: Jetstar

Last April, there was a Jetstar promo for Osaka for ₱12,000+ per person. I did not get it because I had to pay for me and my sister. After a month, there was another promo, the cost became ₱7,000+ per person for a round trip flight to Osaka. Thinking that this was a great price, I booked it immediately.


Train going to USJ

Train going to USJ

TRAIN SYSTEM IS AMAZING! GRABE! Complex, efficient and reliable! I felt really sad going back to our country and seeing the “progress” of the MRT & LRT.

I really wish the JR Line could be transferred to the Philippines.

Train rides are pretty expensive. One train ride would cost around ₱50 to ₱500.

Good thing there are discount passes for travelers! We used the ICOCA card and Kansai Thru Pass (We used this for our Osaka-Kyoto-Nara day). These are very good deals for short time travelers in Kansai. You can avail these cards once you get out of the Kansai International Airport.



Osaka Food Finds!

Prices for food in Kansai are almost the same in Manila. Food markets, convenience stores (Lawson, 7 eleven, Serkes), and restaurants offer quality food at good rates! 


Our GO-TO food place: Convenience Stores

Convenience Store






KIX Arrival

Drop Inn Osaka


Shinsaibashi & Dotonbori



Kuromon Market

Shinsaibashi & Dotonbori

Universal Studios Japan

KIX Departure



This is one of the best backpacker hostels I have stayed at. It is super clean plus the staff are so friendly and accommodating!

Ina loving our backpacker beds!

Ina loving our backpacker beds!

The bed, pillow, and comforters were so clean and of quality, I felt like we were staying at a hotel. The shower rooms and toilets were very clean too. The lobby and guest space was nice, it was a venue for locals and international guests to chat and get to know one another.

There is an international night and sing along every weekend but my sister & I failed to attend as we were too tired from our itineraries. This is a good hostel to stay at when in Osaka! 

Common Room at Drop Inn Osaka

Common Room at Drop Inn Osaka



Dotonbori, “New York Times Square” of Osaka

Food! Shops! People! Since we went on a Friday & Saturday night to these places, there were so many people! Great to take pictures as the view was breathtaking! Dotonbori is your New York Times Square in Osaka!



We ate at Yoshinoya (Try the Cold Ramen, it’s so delicious!), Daiku Suisan Revolving Sushi and Kuromon Market (where we had the Best Sushi ever).

Revolving Sushi

Revolving Sushi


Pica Pica at Kuromon Market


Mandatory US Globe Shot

Mandatory Universal Studios Globe Shot

Universal Studios Japan (USJ)

USJ June 2018 Visit ➡️ Universal Studios Japan in Summer + Booking Passes with KKday (Universal Studios Japan Theme Park Guide & Tips)


Best advice! As our flights were both on weekdays (Monday & Friday) and we only had a weekend to fully give a day for USJ, we had no choice and went on a Sunday. We planned on getting express passes to skip the lines but when we got there BEFORE OPENING, express passes were already sold out. 

Universal Studios is always a magical experience because there’s always THAT great feeling of being in another world. 

Who's gonna kiss Spiderman?

Who’s gonna kiss Spiderman?

Movie sets and characters coming to life and you’re right there in that moment, such a grateful experience. Loved the New York part! Really authentic! 😉 Living the dream even in a different country is already a blessing. We only got to try The Terminator show and Rock N Roll show as we spent most of our time in the Harry Potter world. Just a heads up, USJ shows and rides use Japanese language.

At Fisherman's Wharf

At Fisherman’s Wharf

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Hogwarts Castle at USJ Harry Potter World

Hogwarts Castle at USJ Harry Potter World


Half our day was spent in this magical world!

GRABE ANG GALING! Authentic, Real, and Magical!

When we entered the Harry Potter world, we met the familiar trees in the movies, Sound effects in the movies were used as well SO MAFEEFEEL MO TALAGA NA NANDUN KA SA MOVIE. SOBRANG GALING! Worth it! The Best-est! Everything was so authentic and real! ANG EFFORT! We took pictures, we took in the place, we ate at Three Broomsticks and we had the very famous butterbeer! Very sweet and soooo good!

The famous ride, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, is a MUST! At first, we were hesitant because at the start of the line, we saw that waiting time is 240 minutes! 4 HOUR WAIT for a what? A 5 minute freaking ride? I was hesitant but if people were lining up for this, I felt that it was worth it.

During the line, I just kept on praying to Lola and kept on being grateful. I kept saying, Please please make the wait lesser and lesser please please grateful grateful, grateful for the patience please please more patience.

1 more hour to go.

1 more hour to go.

I knew it worked because it only took us 2 hours and after taking that ride, IT WAS ALL WORTH IT. ANG GALING! We played Quidditch, we fought off snakes, dementors and voldemort, we rode through the castle and the waters! And we saved the wizarding world! GALING SOBRA!


Frozen Butterbeer at Three Broomsticks

Grateful for this Harry Potter experience! I am not a big fan but I really loved it. Can’t wait to visit the Harry Potter worlds in Florida and London!

For more details on the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (WWoHP) at Universal Studios Japan, check out my theme park guide on Rappler.

Hogsmeade at Harry Potter World USJ

Hogsmeade at Harry Potter World USJ

UPDATE (AUG 2017): Skip the queues by purchasing your USJ tickets and express passes in advance via KKday! The prices are discounted as well so it’s definitely a WIN-WIN! There was no option like this back in 2015 so I advise you to take advantage of this travel platform. Don’t wait & fall in line like we did! 


At Kyoto Station

At Kyoto Station


Best station in Kansai for me!

The over-all feel and ambiance of the place was just amazing! Not just a train station, but a wonder! Truly great!


Octopus Egg Heads at Nishiki Food Market

Octopus Egg Heads at Nishiki Food Market

This is like Kuromon Market in Osaka. Lots of food! Different varieties! But I think what is different here is that there are more fresh fruits and vegetables.

At Nishiki Food Market

At Nishiki Food Market


Food Choices at Nishiki Market


Great view! Felt like I was in a Denmark/European movie! So nice and so beautiful! 

At Gion Shijo Bridge. European Feels

At Gion Shijo Bridge. European Feels


Very tourist-y! But very nice and calming. Admission is free and there are a lot of shops and street foods around the place.

Best thing we ate here is the Sakura Ice Cream – really delightful!

Fushimi Inari Shrine

Fushimi Inari Shrine



At Nara Deer Park

At Nara Deer Park

A 20 minute walk from Nara Station is the NARA DEER PARK. Great place to take pictures! Walk was good too as there are lots of trees and very clean air! Lots of wild deers roaming around freely too! I was scared of them but Ina wasn’t.

Ina doing a selfie with a deer at Nara Deer Park

Ina doing a selfie with a deer at Nara Deer Park

GRATEFUL FOR THIS KANSAI, JAPAN EXPERIENCE! If you have more questions about our trip, please comment below. THANK YOU to everyone who helped us! Grateful for all your advice and tips! 


I am very grateful for the money that I paid for these amazing travel blessings (amount is for 1 person):

Round trip Jetstar Flight (Includes NAIA Terminal Fee, Japan Airport Fees)


Visa Processing Fee (Reli Tours SM Megamall)


Travel Tax


Hostel – Drop Inn Osaka (3 nights)


Train – Kansai Amazing Thru Pass (1 day)


Train – ICOCA Card


Universal Studios Japan (1 day)


Food & Gifts





78 thoughts on “JAPAN: How My Sister & I Travelled to Osaka – Kyoto – Nara for ₱25,000 Each ALL-IN

  1. Justine Anne says:

    Hi! Pwede po mag tanong? Anong klaseng ticket po yung binili nyo sa USJ? And about sa Drop-Inn hostel, okay naman po ba sya? Hindi naman po ba maingay sa loob, and yung shower experience? Kindly reply to my email para malaman ko po, nagpa-plano kasi eh, hindi pa decided sa accommodation namin. Thank you! 🙂

    Here’s my email (justineannmiraflor@gmail.com)


  2. Michelle says:

    Hi sis Irene! Your blog is really helpful for us who have plans having a vacation specially in Osaka. You give us an idea and info’s. Thank you for sharing your amazing experience and great moments while traveling! 😊


  3. Eriko Luis Hallare says:

    Is it common for applicants to have show money worth ~P50 000 with a Kansai only itinerary (worth ~P25 000), to have their visa application approved?
    The Agency cannot answer my questions regarding the reasons for disapproval.
    So far, the disapproval I read from a blog entry was a discrepancy with her birth certificate, and that she served that as a lesson for her visa applications in other countries. Such stories give me ideas on how to improve my chances to have my visa applications approved.

    Previously, my schoolmates told me that they had to declare at least P100 000 show money to have their visa approved. And also a blog entry from another budget traveler few years ago.

    Your blog entry shocked me big time! Pangarap ko talaga makapuntang Japan! Maaga na para sa akin 2018.


    • Irene Maligat says:

      Hi Eriko 🙂 A lot of people ask me about the show money. At the time that I applied, 50k was the amount indicated in the bank statement I submitted. I cannot say if it’s common, I just stated that fact because a lot of people were asking. In any visa application, I think the best chances for approval is you have economic means (bank statement, ITR, etc) to support your stay in Japan and that you have enough reasons to come back (employment certificate, itinerary, roundtrip ticket, hotel confirmation, etc). Don’t give up! You’ll reach your dreams 🙂


      • Eriko Luis Hallare says:

        Irene! I’m a DLSU graduate too! 😊
        I got the idea of P100 000 show money from my coursemates (now Civil Engineers) and a few other friends since college.

        If you know the field trip organized by Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech or Tokodai), that’s the field trip that many of my coursemates joined.

        From how I see things happening lately, the answer to my question is that it’s common.
        Maraming schoolmates ang pumupuntang Japan ngayon eh!


  4. Shirly Dumaicos says:

    Hi Irene,
    I love to travel and I have been eyeing japan for a year now.Good thing I saw your blog.I now have a skeletal Itinerary for my future travel once i got rid of my fear of solo travelling. (I have been reading on your tips on solo travelling too).
    Keep on posting.Wishing you more travel to sharethis year.


    • Irene Maligat says:

      Hi Shirly! Thank you for your kind words 🙂 Conquer that fear! You have nothing to lose! 😉 Step out of your comfort zone & you’ll be glad that you did! 😉 Wishing you more confident travels as well! 😉 God Bless! 🙂


  5. Nene says:


    Gusto ko lang sabihin na ang detailed and helpf nitong page mo, and ang cute na tinatry mo sagutin yung questions ng iba kahit na nasa mismong page na yung sagot xD Kudos miss. Punta na ako sa page ng mga airlines para maghanap ng cheap fares 😀


  6. Gee says:

    Hi! Is the transpo for your whole itinerary Japan trip was so accessible? I mean the train stations are not confusing? Btw, nice blog entry ha, makes me more excited to go to Japan. 🙂


  7. PRC says:

    Hi Irene. Stumbled on your blog and it’s inspiring. We will also be.going to osaka on a limited days and budget.hehehe… would like to ask, very limited research ko at confused sa hyperdia… from osaka-namba station, near na lang ba dotonbori dun? And before ma reach ang dotonbori haven, need to cross the bridge pa? We have seniors kasi with us and worry ko na baka mahirapan to reach the place.



  8. Gee says:

    Hi! Your blog made me feel so excited! 🙂 Thanks for sharing. 🙂 so you stayed in just one hostel for the whole osaka-kyoto-nara trip? Can you leave your luggage in the shared dormitory in Drop-Inn?


    • HI I'M IRENE! says:

      Hi Gee! Thank you 🙂
      Yes we stayed in One hostel 🙂
      We did Nara and Kyoto in just one day 🙂
      Yes we just left our luggage in the dorm room but kept our valuables in the locker/safety deposit box 🙂 Our stuff was safe. Nothing got lost 🙂


      • Anonymous says:

        Thanks for the reply! Honestly i really wanna go to Japan because of your blog entry. It just cost you 25k, really? !?! 🙂 is the directions easy to follow? I mean you just did your own ITI and no tour guide, is the transportation accessible and easy to find? Planning to go on a solo trip so im thinking if people there are nice and friendly? 🙂


      • HI I'M IRENE! says:

        Yes 🙂 Everything was DIY 🙂 No tour guides, we just asked some people sometimes for directions. Train system is amazing 🙂

        There are lots of people who do solo trips in Japan. People are nice but not everyone speaks english so if you ask questions, and they don’t help, don’t be too sad. Just ask another person.


  9. Anonymous says:

    great guide! You mentioned you were emailed for budget flights, if you don’t mind me asking, where could I apply for that mailing list?


    WordPress.com / Gravatar.com credentials can be used.


  10. Emms says:

    Hi! Do you have an idea if sa tulad kong housewife, i can only present bank statement. Si husband ang may work, OfW sya. Maapproved kaya kmi?


      • Emms says:

        Hello Ms. Irene, may idea ka b if tulad ko housewife then si husband na oFW un gagastos ng trip nmen. Ma aapproved kaya ako/kami.


      • HI I'M IRENE! says:

        Hi Emms, I am not sure of the approval patterns of the embassy but if you provide documents that are sufficient to prove that you’ll be going there for tourism and that you’ll return to the Philippines (provide flight and accommodation details, etc), I think that will be okay 🙂


  11. Hi I'm Phil says:

    Hi, I just want to ask the DAILY SCHEDULE OF STAY requirements for the visa application. I have a sister working in Japan and she has an apartment there. is it okay if we stay there and include it to the form or we need an Inn or Hotel for our Accomodation? Btw, we’re going to Japan as tourists (without guarantor).


  12. Mira V says:

    Hello Irene!

    Your article is one of my most favorite DIY Japan blog entries! Very informative and well detailed! We plan to visit Japan in 2017 and thanks to you, we now have a skeletal itinerary to follow! 😙

    By any chance, would you know if we can include Tokyo in our planned Japan excursion? Or is it another magical story on its own?

    Thanks much!
    Keep on inspiring people thru your travels! 😉

    Mira V.


    • HI I'M IRENE! says:

      Hi 🙂 No guides/translators 🙂
      When we have questions, the staff at our hostel answers in good english.
      We research a lot beforehand so we know where to go 🙂
      We also learn a few japanese phrases like Thank You, Sorry, etc. just in case 🙂


  13. Joy says:

    Hi, can you share your itinerary? We’ll be going to Osaka to for 4 days and 3 nights as well. Maybe we can just follow what you had. 🙂 TIA


  14. Joanna Marie A Fernando says:


    This is a big help as my parents and I are planning to go to Osaka – Kyoto – Nara then Tokyo for a 10-day trip. Do you have other suggestions for this trip? 🙂

    By the way, the Drop Inn Hostel have a own comfort room each room? 🙂

    Thanks alot!
    Joanna Marie A Fernando


  15. shewolfe says:

    Hi, you were mentioning about toxic itinerary. Is it you who planned it or do you have someone’s guide? I never experience touring before, so I want to know about the itinerary. Have you booked it thru a tourist agency? Or you just research the places? BTW, the Universal Studio is awesome! 👍


  16. Anonymous says:

    Hi! Did you have to book in advance for the backpacker hostel? And how do I subscribe so I could receive emails about low airfares? Thank you so much in advance! 😄



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