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When we started planning our trips to Japan we quickly became overwhelmed with websites offering tickets, tours, rail passes and accommodation. And even when we thought we had found a useful site or went direct to the local site, often our credit cards were not accepted – hello Tokyo Disney!
So we thought we would share our favorite sites for booking everything you need for your own trip to Japan to save you the bother of going through all that yourself.
Here are our top picks of the most trustworthy and best travel sites for your trip to Japan offering the best prices and why we like them.
What's in this article
- Japan hotel booking websites and accommodation sites
- General travel sites for Japan
- Flights, cruises and package deals
- Tickets for the major attractions in Japan
- Restaurant bookings
- Tours and activities
- Wifi rental and SIM cards
- Travel services
- What are your favorite resources for booking a trip to Japan?
Japan hotel booking websites and accommodation sites
- Booking.com – has the largest range of accommodation options, from hotels and ryokans, to apartments and aparthotels. Generous cancelation policies, English language customer service and great deals make this our go to site for accommodation in Japan
- Agoda– you can often find excellent deals and discounted stays on Agoda (they are Booking.com’s brand that specialize in Asia)
- Airbnb – after 2018’s major government crackdown on short term rental apartments, Airbnb listings in Japan have stabilized and all now have confirmed licenses.
- Japanese Guesthouses – useful site for researching and booking ryokan
General travel sites for Japan
Klook – this very handy website and app are popular throughout Asia but are especially useful in Japan.On Klook you can book airport transfers, rent portable wifi devices, and purchase rail and IC passes as well as book tours and activities. You can do all this in your own currency and keep all the details (including ticket information and passes) on their app – click to browse Klook
- Narita airport limousine bus – fast, efficient, and takes you to most places you need to get to in Tokyo via several routes. Plus it is cheaper than the Narita Express and there is no need to work out the Japanese rail system after a long flight. This was recommended to us by a friend who lived in Tokyo for 3 years and I am so glad we took that advice. Book 3 days in advance to secure your seat – book online with Rakuten
- Kansai airport limousine bus to Kyoto – takes you to Kyoto station in an hour and a half or Osaka in less than an hour. There are up to 3 departures per hour and you’ll make the transfer in air-conditioned comfort and there’s free wifi onboard – book online with Rakuten
- Kansai airport limousine bus to Osaka – the journey to Osaka takes around an hour and there’s no need to change lines or navigate the train stations with your luggage. Relax on the limousine bus and get your bearings after a long flight. The buses run from 08:40am to 21:00pm – book online with Rakuten
Trains and rail passes
Getting around Japan by train is easy and many people choose to buy a Japan rail pass for convenience and to save money. When you are planning your trip, use these websites to determine whether the pass will be useful.
- Hyperdia – the best site for planning your train journeys within Japan. We used Hyperdia to price up our trips and found that it wasn’t worth it to pre-purchase a pass because we used some non-JR lines and our travel was spread out over 10 days.
- Jorudan – great route planner for many different forms of transport across Japan. You can compare transit times and prices and filter out routes not covered by the JR Pass
If you are traveling between Tokyo and Kyoto / Osaka and returning within a week you can benefit from a pass. Otherwise you can also buy single tickets online. Here are the best sites for doing that
- JR Passes (on Klook) – Klook has a very easy to navigate section for JR Passes where you can browse the available offers and choose the pass that is right for your trip. There are several different passes available for each region. When you have purchased your ticket you will be sent a voucher that you take to a JR office in Japan and exchange for your rail pass. Klook has great explanations in English and it is safe and easy to pay with your credit card – browse JR Passes on Klook
- Single bullet train tickets from Tokyo on Rakuten – if you’re nervous about buying tickets for your train journey from Tokyo or other cities in Japan, Rakuten offer a great service. Book your shinkansen tickets online and they will be delivered to your hotel. You can also combine the bullet train tickets with day trip options and hotels for longer stays – browse bullet train tickets on Rakuten
IC Cards for city subway and train services
If you want to hit the ground running as soon as you arrive in Japan, pick up a preloaded IC Card at the airport. You can use them to travel on local transport including trains and buses, instead of buying tickets each time. They can also be used at convenience stores like 7-Eleven (for snacks, an emergency umbrella, luggage services), and vending machines.
The most common cards are Suica (also Pasmo) in Tokyo and ICOCA in Osaka and the Kansai region. You can add money and recharge them at train stations.
Order your preloaded Suica card before you arrive in Japan for collection at Narita, Haneda or Kansai airport and tourist information offices around Tokyo. The card comes preloaded with ¥1,500 so you can use it for trips on the JR East train system (except the Narita Express / N’EX) immediately. Pre-covid the cards were available to pre-purchase on Klook, but whilst this is not currently available, we expect that option to return (check on Klook for more details)
The ICOCA card works in the same way as a Suica card but is more commonly found in the Kansai region including Kyoto and Osaka and can be used on JR West trains. Order your preloaded ICOCA card before you arrive in Japan for collection at `Osaka Kansai Airport, JR Namba station in Osaka and the Osaka tourist information office. The card comes preloaded with ¥1,500. Pre-covid the cards were available to pre-purchase on Klook, but whilst this is not currently available, we expect that option to return (check on Klook for more details)
- Rentalcars.com – browse great deals on both international and local Japanese car rental companies. Easy to book and pay online. We use them for most trips abroad
Flights, cruises and package deals
- Skyscanner – we use Skyscanner to browse the best flight deals and set up alerts for future price drops on airfares to Japan
- Tourradar – package tour market place where you can browse and buy tour packages offered by main vendors like Trafalgar, National Geographic, Intrepid etc They often have last minute deals and specials
- Cruise Direct – browse upcoming cruises stopping at ports in Japan. This site is excellent because not only does it offer great deals but you’ll see departures by all the major operators – Princess, Celebrity, Cunard, Norwegian and more
Tickets for the major attractions in Japan
Navigating the official sites for major attractions in Japan can be a struggle. And even when the English translations are ok you often are unable to use your credit card.
Luckily, most of the attractions are affiliated with either Klook or Rakuten so you can prebook your tickets to the most popular activities with ease. You can also find some interesting activities on Viator also.
- Studio Ghibli – official ticket site
- teamLab Borderless digital art museum – official site OR buy teamLab Bordless tickets [Klook]
- Sumo training and tournament – book training tickets OR book sumo tournament tickets [Klook]
- Street GoKart – race through the streets of Akhibara – book go kart tickets [Klook]
- Tokyo Disney – official ticket site OR Tokyo Disney tickets are also available on GetYourGuide – check here
- Kimono rental – wandering the streets in traditional Japanese clothing is very popular – prebook your fitting [Klook]
- Nijo castle – prepurchase skip the line tickets to one of Kyoto’s most popular attractions – get tickets [Klook]
- Maiko performance and dinner – enjoy this unique cultural experience and interactive show – more info [Viator]
- Universal Studios– avoid long lines and buy your skip the line tickets in advance – prebook tickets [Klook]
- Osaka Aquarium – hugely popular with locals and tourists alike – see ticket info here
Don’t let the language barrier get in the way of a good meal. You can book all you can eat buffets, wagyu speciality restaurants and Michelin starred dining on:
- Klook dining experiences – everything from elegant Michelin stars to the Robot restaurant – easy online booking service without the language barrier
- Sushi restaurants on Rakuten – book specialty sushi restaurants online with instant confirmation
Tours and activities
Japan has so many unique and interesting things to do that it is worth just having a browse of some of these websites just to see what is possible.
- Klook – as you would expect they have a wide array of tours and activities available. From day trips to Mount Fuji to Kyoto’s Nishiki market food tour
- Rakuten – also offer tours and experiences such as Samurai armor wearing experience and a tour of the famous Tokyo tuna auction
- GetYourGuide – useful as a back-up. They are an authorized reseller for Tokyo Disney and the site and app are easy to use. We usually find this site better in Europe but their listings in Japan are increasing – read our full review here
- Viator – owned by TripAdvisor, Viator is a popular site to book tours, tickets and transfers. You can keep all your tour information on their handy app
Wifi rental and SIM cards
Staying connected in Japan is super easy. You can prebook wifi rental devices or pick up SIM cards as soon as you arrive. It’s best to prebook them to save time waiting and you also get better deals when you book in advance.
- Pocket wifi device rental [Ninja wifi on Rakuten] – 3GB per day for up to 5 devices with Ninja wifi. Easy pick up and return at the major airports
- Japan 4G SIM card [Klook] – various options for data only SIMs starting from $US30
- World Nomads – travel insurance is a must for any trip including Japan. World Nomads will start cover right up to departure or even after your trip has started if you have left things a little late. Recently in Kyoto our daughter was feeling unwell and we needed to take her to hospital. Fortunately all of the services were covered by insurance with a small excess to pay as it was all very expensive.
- Bagbnb – luggage storage in convenient locations in cities across Japan. A great alternative to left luggage facilities at train stations
What are your favorite resources for booking a trip to Japan?
We hope you found this list of sites useful. Planning a trip to Japan is fun but can be frustrating when you try to navigate through all the possible booking sites. The sites listed here are our most trusted resources found after much trial and error. Have you found any others that you recommend?
Disclaimer – Untold Morsels assists our readers with carefully chosen product and services recommendations that help make travel easier and more fun. If you click through and make a purchase on many of these items we may earn a commission. All opinions are our own – please read our disclosure page for more information.