On this trip, we hope to experience the different kinds of transport that are available in Japan. In our 12 days, other than the inbound and outbound flights via Cathay Pacific, we are also making a trip out to Kyoto and Hakone respectively.
The conventional (and most used method) of travelling between Tokyo to Kyoto will be the shinkasen or bullet train. It takes about 2 hours in between the two cities. Unfortunately, it is also very expensive and can cost about $200 per trip.
The Wife is always a budget traveller and even though it is not unaffordable, I do not really want to spend too much, especially on transport, which is just a means of getting to the place.
Thus after some research, we have decided to go to Kyoto via an overnight highway bus which is cheap and can save us the time and one night of accommodation. We were very excited after finding this alternative but at the same time was rather worried that it would be tough to get tickets and travel via this mode.
But to The Wife’s astonishment, there is a very good English site by one of Japan’s best budget express bus provider , Willer Express which gives a good range of information. Emails in English sent to them also received quick and clear response.
Given that our bookings for hotels have already been made during a 50% off Japan Hotels sale on hotels.com, we have to work our plan around the hotel bookings.
We have the option of traveling both ways by express bus (to Kyoto by night and back by day). However, this method will take us about 5 hours extra compared to a bullet train (which should be quite an experience as well) which could be spent on sightseeing.
Thus after a lot of cost weighing, The Wife suggested to The Husband that we will take the overnight bus to Kyoto and then the shinkansen back. This decision will cost us about $610 in total to and fro which is about $262 lesser than bullet trains both ways and about $300 more if we take the bus both ways.
The Wife proceed to booking the overnight bus to Kyoto and confirmed our pickup at Tokyo Station at about 10pm at night and scheduled to reach Kyoto Station just before 7am the next day.
We picked the Relax with Toilet bus.
Other than the best reclining degree, there is also leg and foot rest as well as a small pillow and a canopy that can be drawn back for privacy. There is also free rental of blanket if the weather gets cold. Most important part is that there are toilets on board so that we do not have to get down in the middle of the night during stops for toilet breaks.
The enquiring and booking process was a breeze and the availability of English site and FAQs made things a lot easier. The email confirmation arrived as soon as The Wife sent out the booking. It came with a detailed map on where the pickup point would be. Very efficient!
It was a really good experience and we look forward to the actual bus ride and would review about it when we get back.
One more item down and less than 2 months to departure!