Is Osaka expensive? I travel to Osaka all the time and in this post, I will share with you everything you need to know about Osaka travel budget.
📧 Hello Trisha! I found your Taipei blogs and ever since, I got very hooked! I am a University student in Seoul, South Korea and I am looking to travel to Japan soon. I see that you highly recommend Osaka in all your posts so I was wondering what is the Osaka travel budget that I need to prepare? Thank you for all your posts – it really helps!
– Isobel Parkin, United Kingdom
How much do you need to travel to Osaka Japan? Japan is expensive in general but that does not stop tourists from visiting this beautiful country.
When I first traveled to Osaka, I thought that $35 USD travel budget in Japan will do (like other Southeast Asian countries) but in the end, learned that you need at least $75 USD per day and this is the super backpacker budget.
For sure, the Osaka travel budget will depend on your travel style. I myself have changed my travel styles through the years so the budget will always be different.
This guide tackles all kinds of budgets: backpacker, mid-range, and luxury travelers so I hope this will help you prepare for your trip to Osaka!
- 15 top-rated things to do in Osaka Japan [travel + budget guide]
- 26 must-see attractions in Osaka, Japan
- Osaka Japan Rail Pass Guide
- 25 best restaurants in Osaka Japan
💲 Is Osaka expensive to visit?
Regarding affordability, Osaka is definitely cheaper to visit compared to Tokyo, Japan! Now, it only depends on what you consider expensive.
If you are to visit Osaka, you are most likely to spend a minimum of $95 USD to $97 USD a day, including accommodation, food, transportation, and entertainment. This can go up to $150 USD daily or even $200 USD daily, depending on your wants and preferences.
I based these costs on the daily living expenses of a local and the cheapest stay you can get, which is $20 for a hostel stay and the cheapest meal at $10 USD.
💵 Can you use US dollars in Osaka?
Currently, only Osaka’s local currency is accepted for payments in restaurants, shops, and stores. The currency in Osaka is the Japanese Yen (JPY); when converted, $1 USD = 134.53 JPY as of December 5, 2022.
Foreign currencies like US dollars have yet to be accepted (except for some shops in the duty-free section of the airport). So, make sure to exchange your US dollars when you visit Osaka.
You may exchange a few of your money at the airport and the rest in some local and trusted money exchange houses in the city (which I shared with you in this article).
Aside from the local money exchange banks, you can also have your money exchanged from these trusted Osaka banks:
- Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group
- Japan Post Bank Co. Ltd.
- Mizuho Financial Group
- Chiba Bank
💰 How much does a meal cost in Osaka?
A full meal in Osaka can range from $10 USD, the cheapest, to $50 USD. You can buy donburi, ramen, udon, or soba for $10 USD from local eateries and small shops for only $10 USD. This will increase when you visit well-known tourist restaurants.
There are also cheap street foods that you can buy and make as your meal. You can buy okonomiyaki, takoyaki, fish cakes, and much more for only $2 USD as the cheapest.
Casual dining can cost you $15 USD to $30 USD. The good thing is a lot of restaurants in Japan offer “set menus,” especially during lunchtime. This set menu can get you by until dinner without a snack in between.
If you prefer to experience a luxurious Japanese dining experience, you can always book food tours or eat at luxurious hotel restaurants that offer fine dining experiences. Just expect this to cost you $50 USD per meal or even more.
🍺 How much is a beer in Osaka?
If you enjoy a beer (like I do), you have nothing to worry about when you visit Osaka. A local beer usually costs $3.30 USD per pint in a neighborhood pub. These beers are guaranteed to provide a decent taste and are available in different varieties.
Osaka is popular for its craft beer, and in between bars, you can experience different brews of beer and choose what best fits your preference.
Try visiting the local pubs and trying their draft beer to get a taste of the local beer they are having in Japan. Imported beer in Osaka can cost $4 USD when bought in restaurants or convenience stores.
🆚 Is Osaka cheaper than Tokyo?
Definitely, Osaka is cheaper than Tokyo! The living cost in Osaka is significantly lower than in Tokyo, making it a cheaper choice to visit as a tourist. After I got to experience staying both in Osaka and Tokyo, I noticed about a 5% to 10% percent difference in both cities.
Comparing the travel costs between Osaka and Tokyo, Tokyo has higher accommodation costs, transportation fees, and expensive restaurants. Osaka is considered a cheaper destination, but it still gives the best experience in Japan to tourists.
You can spend only $95 USD a day in Osaka (minimum), including accommodation, food, and travel costs. In Tokyo, you might need to spend and allot more than $100 USD a day to enjoy the best of the city.
💸 What are the cheapest months to visit Osaka?
The cheapest month to visit Osaka is during September. On average, you can get the cheapest flight tickets this month and, at the same time, only spend $90 USD to $95 USD a day.
You can also get great deals not only for flights but also for hotel stays. September is neither a low season nor a high season, which means you can still enjoy the best of Osaka without having to experience an influx of crowds or quiet and closed shops.
Generally, visiting Osaka is also cheap during the low season, from December to February. These are the coldest months in Osaka, and the city gets pretty quiet. The only downside is it can be difficult to travel around (unless you enjoy the cold) during this time of the year.
✈️ Flights to Osaka prices
A few direct flights are from the US to Osaka or Canada to Osaka. You can catch direct flights in the US from San Francisco and Los Angeles. You can also fly directly from Vancouver, Canada, to Osaka.
The cheapest two-way flight you can get when flying directly from San Francisco is $1,226 USD for 12-20 min via United Airlines.
If you plan to travel from Los Angeles (LAX), it will cost you $954 USD (cheapest two-way flight) for 12h 30 min of travel via American Airlines.
🛏️ Accommodation prices in Osaka Japan
Staying in hostels, hotels, or Airbnb in Osaka can range from $20 USD, the cheapest, up to $800 USD, depending on your choice of accommodation.
If you are a solo traveler on a budget, you can find a place to stay for only $20 USD up to $30 USD. That is if you stay in a shared Airbnb or hostel. These rooms are small and can vary from bunk beds to capsule rooms.
Whenever I visit Osaka, my choice of place is boutique hotels. They are small and non-luxurious hotels, but they still guarantee me a private room. Usually, these hotels have shared and common bathrooms. They usually range from $35 USD to $50 USD during peak season.
So if you plan to stay in Osaka for 7 days as a budget solo traveler, make sure to allot around $150 USD to $250 USD already.
If you are a first-timer, I recommend you book places in the city center of Osaka. This can guarantee you fewer expenses on transportation already. There are a lot of places you can book within the neighborhood.
But if you want to go crazy with your family and friends, you can book a whole house or a villa via Airbnb. This can cost you $150 USD up to $800 USD.
🍣 Osaka Food Costs
When visiting Osaka, a food crawl is a must! And by that, we mean you must set aside a budget for your food trip experience.
The city is considered the heart of Japan’s food and culture, so it offers you a lot of delicacies and dishes that are traditionally and locally made in Japan.
Food choices in Osaka can range from $2 USD to $100 USD per meal. This will now depend on where you buy your food.
Convenience stores, street foods, local eateries, cafeterias, or famous restaurants – name it, Osaka has it all!
Street food like takoyaki, okonomiyaki, and negiyaki are the best choices for a cheap budget. They can range from $2 USD to $10 USD a piece/meal. Meanwhile, udon, ramen, or soba that can already be enough for a meal can cost you $10 USD to $25 USD per order.
Usually, convenience stores and local stores sell instant ramen, udon, or soba, which is much cheaper. But if you want something more authentic, head to restaurants and set a budget for $15 USD or more.
If you want something more filling, like set meals or rice bowls, there are a lot of choices and places to choose from. These food menus can range $20 USD to $50 USD.
Authentic sushi or maki is also a must while in Japan! For a more luxurious and authentic taste, you can go to hotels or high-end restaurants to ensure that everything you’re eating is fresh. You can find dishes like these for $30 USD to $100 USD.
🧭 Tour Costs
There are many tours offered in Osaka when you visit the city. Aside from visiting theme parks, you can also visit museums, historical sites, temples, local mountains, and shopping centers. Expect to pay for activities, sightseeing experiences, and tours starting at $32 USD.
But if you are short on time and want less hassle, you can book packed tours via Viator. They offer different tours, from food tours, walking tours, sightseeing tours, and a lot more.
Some can be personalized based on your liking, each with tour guides to help you learn more about Osaka.
To give you an idea of what you can experience and how much you are going to pay, here are some sample tours:
- Universal Studios Japan: from $43 USD
- Kuchu Teien Observatory: from $12 USD
- Kyoto and Nara 1-day bus tour: from $120 USD
- Minoh Waterfall Tour: from $67 USD
- Osaka Backstreet Night Tour: from $105 USD
🚆 Transportation Costs
Japan is one of the countries well-known for its transport system. This makes it easy for locals and tourists to go around Osaka easily. And this does not mean you have to pay a few more bucks to experience reliability in their transportation. Surprisingly, a train ride can cost as little as $2 USD.
When I was in Osaka, I witnessed and experienced how good their public transportation is, dominated by the subway system. For a day, you will need around $2 USD to $10 USD for transportation. That is if you use the train system or bus lines efficiently.
Aside from their train lines that connect to neighboring places and cities, they also have bus lines that can take foreigners to different tourist spots easily. Bus tickets can cost you $1.50 USD per ride.
I suggest you purchase your own prepaid card when in Osaka. This makes it easier for you to use in buses or trains.
💱 Money exchange in Osaka
Although there are stores that accept USD in cash, you should exchange your currency when arriving in the country. Airport money exchange in Osaka has low rates, so I suggest you exchange money in the city center.
Of course, you will need money to travel to the city center so exchange a little money at the airport to keep you going. It’s easy to find money exchange machines and shops in Osaka.
In tourist areas like Namba, Dotonbori, or Shinsaibashi, you can easily exchange money through money exchange machines or convenience stores. You can also visit Major Banks and department stores for cash exchange.
Among the best and trusted banks in Osaka are:
For money exchange houses are:
- Namba Currency Exchange
- Samurai Exchange – Situated on level 1 of Emi Point Building Dotonbori
- Sakura Exchange – Located at Dotonbori, level 3 of the Ougiya building
- World Currency Shop – has different branches all over Osaka
Click the links to easily find the location of the bank in Osaka.
🏧 ATM Withdrawals
ATMs in Osaka are accessible and easy to locate. In Osaka, I used an online ATM locator for my American Express, Mastercard, and Visa to easily find machines. You can easily find one, especially within the tourist areas. Just look for machines with an English option so you will be able to use the ATM.
The machines are usually in convenience stores or post offices, so if you see one, there’s probably an ATM beside it or inside.
Cash withdrawals usually charge foreign cards 110 JPY or $1 USD. You can refer to the banks I have listed above for trusted Osaka banks.
💳 Credit/debit cards
Although Osaka is an advanced city, Osaka still prefers cash as a means of payment at restaurants, little shops, taxis, and small hotels, so it is best you always carry cash with you.
But aside from withdrawing cash from ATMs using my AMEX, I also used Wise in Osaka. Using a Wise debit card in Osaka is a good idea because it is mostly accepted all over (unless you buy from small shops). As mentioned, Visa and Mastercard are also widely accepted credit cards.
Remember that when you use a debit card in Osaka, withdrawal fees, international ATM fees, and, depending on your bank, you might get a bad conversion rate.
So, remember to keep enough money and plan ahead when roaming for the day.
💁♀️ Tipping in Japan
Unlike in the United States, staff in Japanese Restaurants do not expect to be tipped. Also, taxi drivers, hotel staff, and tour guides only accept tips with good service provided.
Many tips you hand out may be refused because of Japanese hospitality. So if you want to thank your hotel housekeeping, you can always leave a thank you note behind (which I did).
This way, you won’t risk your kind gesture and turn out to be rude.
🤑 Osaka money-saving tips
Traveling to another country can be overwhelming. What more, if you are visiting a place of food, culture, and history – Osaka!
With Osaka serving the most-scenic places, good food experiences, and forward-thinking culture, you should have enough budget when traveling. But you can spend some of your savings when visiting the city!
Set a budget
You’ve booked your ticket, and now the only thing missing is your budget when arriving in Osaka. It’s key to ensure that you have a plan in place already before entering Osaka. This will help you to avoid overspending.
Make a clear outline of your daily expenses in Japan. List down the things you would need to spend and the places you would have to visit. I have shared with you in this article a few basic costs that can be useful when planning.
List them all down, from food to transportation, including some entrance fees to see attraction sites, and limit your budget. Depending on the length of your trip, having a realistic budget is the best way to help you save money.
Remember, allocate your budget for basic needs – food, travel, and accommodation and add extra spending for your daily outing to attractions and activities.
Eat street food
Osaka is known for its variety of food choices. You might get overwhelmed when you arrive in Osaka, especially in Dotonbori. But don’t be!
Plan ahead and look for cheap stores and local shops to eat from. Aside from saving money, you will surely experience Japan’s traditional and authentic taste.
Osaka has a lot of Izakaya or small bars and restaurants that can seat only 10 people around, look for these as they surely offer cheap meals!
Travel during off-peak season
If you have flexible time when it comes to your travels, I suggest you book a flight to Osaka during the off-peak season. This way, you can save money. The airfare will be relatively cheap, and most of the attraction sites and tourist spots will be less crowded.
Moreover, major attractions like Universal Studios Osaka offer discounted rates during quieter seasons. Months like September or December to February are the cheapest months to visit Osaka (except the Christmas holiday).
So if you are planning to visit Osaka, traveling during the low or off-peak season could help you save a substantial amount of money and avoid long lines for tourist attractions.
Check out free attractions and things to do
Although many tourist attractions and spots usually ask for entrance fees, there are various places in Osaka that you can visit for free!
One of my favorite things about Osaka is the incredible activities we can attend free of charge. You’re already making the most of your trip, from seeing and attending festivity to picture taking in famous neighborhoods and parks.
There are a lot of different Japanese holidays and festivals that you can attend when in Osaka. And for you to have better ideas about the different events in Osaka per month, I have listed them below:
- January: Shogatsu (New Year), Doya Doya, Toka Ebisu Festival
- February: Dojima Yakushido Setsubun, Namba Hikaritabi, Ichiya Kanjo Festival
- March: Annual Sumo Tournament, Spring Basho, Osaka Asian Film Festival, Osaka Illuminage
- April: Hanami Party (Cherry Blossom Viewing)
- May: Osaka Oktoberfest
- June: Aizen Festival, Candle Night, Osaka Comic Con
- July: Tenjin Matsuri, Gion Matsuri, Sumiyoshi Matsuri
- August: Naniwa Yodogawa Fireworks Festival, Summer Sonic
- September: Kishiwada Danjiri Matsuri, Kansai Queer Film Festival
- October: Osaka Mecha Happy Festival, Sakai Matsuri, Osaka Kitchenware Street Festival, Goryo Jinja Shrine Autumn Festival, Hannan City Yagura Festival
- November: Shitenno-Ji Wasso Festival
- December: Osaka Festival of Lights
Stay in capsule hotels/hostels
Last but not the least, the most effective way to save money when traveling to Japan is by staying in hostels or capsule hotels.
Many well-known accommodation options in Osaka are already in the city center. Included here are capsule hotels and hostels that provide small, clean, and cozy places to sleep.
Usually, these places are aimed at solo travelers, as each pod or bed is only good for one person. Expect to have common areas like the shower room, bathroom, and locker rooms. This is the perfect place to stay on a tight budget!
There are a lot of well-known accommodation options in Osaka that are already in the city center. Including here are capsule hotels and hostels that provide small, clean and cozy places to sleep.
Usually, these places are aimed at solo travelers as each pod or bed is only good for one person. Expect to have common areas like the shower room and bathroom as well as locker rooms as well. This is the perfect place to stay if you are on a tight budget!
🇯🇵 Osaka Travel Resources
🚑 Do I need insurance to travel to Osaka Japan?
Yes, you do! This is the number one requirement when traveling to Japan. I use SafetyWing and I only pay $40 USD per month for my digital nomad travel insurance!
✈️ Where can I find cheap flights to Osaka Japan?
You can find cheap flights to Osaka, Japan by using WayAway. This is my current flight search favorite and I have proven that flights on this website are way cheaper!
🛏️ Where can I find cheap hotels in Osaka Japan?
Budget travelers, use Hostelworld when looking for accommodations in Japan. A bed in a hostel dorm starts at $25 USD per night. Booking.com is best for boutique hotels while you will find many luxury hotels on Expedia.
Trisha is one of those people who left their comfortable life to travel the world and learn about life. Her style is to stay in one place she likes for 3 months (or more) to know what it feels like to eat, cook, speak, and sleep in another culture that isn’t hers. She’d like to believe she’s not traditionally traveling but she just chooses to be somewhere else all the time. In no particular order, her favorite cities in the world are Barcelona, Buenos Aires, Hong Kong, Mexico City, and Tel Aviv.