Yes, Japan can be expensive. Who hasn't heard wild stories about the price of American consumer goods in Tokyo, like a $500 pair of Levis? Nevertheless, it's possible to travel to Japan without spending thousands of dollars. Investigate the website for Japan National Tourism Organization (www.jnto.go.jp/eng/), for extensive information on festivals, traditional annual events, and World Heritage sites in Japan such as Buddhist monuments, castles, shrines, sacred sites and more, and a list of the country's top 20 destinations. We found a few deals for trips with varying degrees of independence, support, and guidance.
Asian Affair Holidays (tel. 800/742-3133; www.asianaffairholidays.com) is running a "Japan Holiday" special for the Tokyo Hilton, for five days from $979, including airfare, good anything through March 31, 2007. The lowest price reflects departures from Los Angeles January 1, 2007 through March 31, 2007. Otherwise, fall travel gives you the best prices, specifically August 21 through December 5, with a price of $1,029 per person. The package includes round-trip airport-hotel transfers, and five nights at the Tokyo Hilton International Hotel, and a half-day city tour; the price also includes security and fuel surcharge.
Friendly Planet (tel. 800/555/5765; www.friendlyplanet.com) has a ten-day tour called "Discover Japan" priced from $1,699, reflecting a savings of $600 per couple if you book before July 31. The trip includes Tokyo, Kyoto, Mt. Fuji and Hakone, along with airfare, eight nights' accommodations, transfers and full American buffet breakfast daily, and one lunch. Your intra-Japan transport is coveredÂ?including a ride on the Super Express "bullet" train between Tokyo and KyotoÂ?and the services of English-speaking tour guides are provided throughout. You must act quickly though because there are only three departure dates available: September 26, October 10, and November 21. Everything else is sold out. Also, U.S. departure taxes ($250) are not included.
Gate 1 (tel. 800/682-3333; www.gate1travel.com) has a couple of specials, including "7 Day Tokyo Vacation" from $1,069, for Monday departures August-December, and "7 Day Kyoto Vacation" from $1,289, for Wednesday departures during the same time period. They are both independent packages and the prices include airfare from Los Angeles (other departure cities are available). Five nights' accommodations are included, along with five breakfasts, airline fuel surcharges; Gate 1 is fairly flexible, with options to add on airport transfers ($45), sightseeing tours, and hotel extensions. You will stay at the Sunshine City Prince Hotel in the Ikebukuro district.
The Kyoto trip offers departures from late August through mid-December, and your choice of accommodations, either the New Miyako Hotel (lowest price is $1,289 for November 22 departure), or the more expensive Westin Miyako Kyoto, whose cheapest departure date, November 22, is already sold out. The trip gives you plenty of free time and options to add on sightseeing tours and extend your stay.
If you're willing to pay more to get more, General Tours (tel. 800/221-2216; www.generaltours.com) has an escorted, nine day tour, "Japan Sampler" from $2,599, with seven nights in top-rated hotels, daily buffet breakfasts, one dinner, and all round-trip airfare and intra-Japan transportation. Tour highlights include private sightseeing of Tokyo and Kyoto, Meiji Shrine, Nara, a drive up Mt. Fuji, and Kyoto's Golden Pavillion, Heian Shrine, and more. The price is based on Los Angeles departures; Chicago and New York prices are posted, too, along with a land-only option. There are many departures from August through November, with prices ranging from $2,599-$2,699 and $2,639-$2,759 from Chicago or New York.
In terms of fare sales, you have two options right now. Expedia (tel. 800/EXPEDIA; www.expedia.com) is running a fare sale that offers substantial savings on Japan Airlines, but you must book by August 3, and it's only good for travel in September. The sale is valid for travel September 5-28, Monday-Thursday only. Sample fares include Boston-Tokyo from $865; San Francisco-Tokyo from $722; New York-Tokyo $942; Chicago-Tokyo $752. All Nippon Airways (tel. 800/2FLY-ANA; www.anaskyweb.com/us/e) is offering super saver fares for more destinations in Japan (Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya than the Expedia sale, from the usual placesÂ?Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York, plus Honolulu and Washington D.C. Some of the prices advertised also beat Expedia's special, such as San Francisco-Tokyo from $688, but it's valid for travel in a different month, starting October 1. The sale has just been extended, and you must book by August 10. You have the option to travel as soon as late July.
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