Jan 7, 2018
When planning a trip to Japan you have to decide if you are going to plan everything on your own or you would prefer to make a round-trip of Japan with a travel agency that organizes your flights, hotels and trips while in the country. Personally, I always preferred the self-organized way, because you simply have more freedom to do what you want and go where you want. But there is a way to combine both: plan your trip to Japan yourself and join some organized tours when you are in the country! I have already made such tours twice and the next one is only one week away. Here I give you an insight into how it can be done.
How to find organized bus tours
There are many companies that offer bus tours in Japan nowadays, even in English. So there are different ways to search for them. The easiest still is using Google which I often use, too. But you can aslo take a look around the websites of companies such as Yokoso Japan, JTB Sunrise Tours, Hato Bus, JapanBusOnline, TabiOne and so on. This is especially nice when you are thinking about making a trip to somewhere and have not decided yet. They offer a lot of tours you might get interested in.
For sure, there are always some points you have to take care about.
- Is it worth the money?
I am a person who has much travel experience from traveling by myself and organizing everything. I mean, it is nice that someone else is doing the organization, but if I have to pay too much for it, it is not worth it for me. Check out the entry fees of facilities, the travel costs etc., and compare them to the price of the bus tour that is offering the same route.
I especially like to use such bus tours for destinations I can’t easily get to by public transport or when I have to change trains often in between destinations when the bus could make it in around the same time. Just an example: I went from Shinjuku to Hitachi Seaside Park, Ashigawa Flower Park and back to Shinjuku with a bus tour – a trip that would be troublesome using public trains, but easy by bus or car.
Where does the bus depart from?
Another important point is the departure point. If we talk about Tokyo, this is mostly around Shinjuku, Ueno or Ikebukuro. Other cities have certain points, too. Often the tours start at bigger hotels where everyone meets and gets picked up with the bus. When you book your tour, check out the place and time – can you find it easily and how long does it take to get there from your home or the place you are staying?
- Is there enough free time at each spot?
One very important point for me is the time at each spot. I mean, when I go somewhere I also want to see something there. I don’t want to be there just for 5 minutes, take 5 photos and can say “Hey, I have been there!”. At least one hour would be nice – also that you can spend this time freely and don’t have to be in the group all the time. When I was looking for a bus tour in Okinawa, in the end I chose the one offering the longest time at the Churaumi Aquarium, because I would like to see a lot there and don’t want to run through it with the time limited around my neck.
As I mentioned before, I joined organized bus tours twice before. Both were organized by Yokoso Japan and I was happy with them. Our tour guide was very nice and gave us a lot of information. Surely, the time was kind of short at our stops (we went to Grinpa & Fuji Shibazakura for one tour and Hitachi Seaside Park & Ashikawa Flower Park for the other one), but we still could see a lot. As a group we could enter quickly and didn’t need to line up at ticket counters. The tours included a lunch buffet which was also nice, unfortunately it was very short on the second tour because we had some traffic delay. However, all in all, I enjoyed it and would always do it again!
Have you ever joined an organized bus tour or do you prefer organizing everything by yourself?
German woman who made several trips to Japan, did one year Working Holiday and started living in Japan again since Oct' 2016 with Japanese husband. Loves music, cats, traveling and food.
Also take a look to my German blog and my Youtube Channel (new video every Friday) → https://www.youtube.com/c/YokoLostInJapan