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Ever dreamed of visiting Japan? Credit card rewards can help get you there for a fraction of the price!
Using miles & points, I recently flew round-trip from Austin, Texas, to Japan for ~$110 in Business Class. The retail cost was ~$11,000! And for 3 weeks of lodging (including some fancy hotels), I spent ~$450!
Japan is a beautiful country, filled with a lot to see and do. You’ll find everything from high-rise skyscrapers to old temples and hot springs. I loved Tokyo’s energetic neighborhoods, shopping, and delicious restaurants. And Kyoto is a fantastic place to ride bicycles, and to explore the bamboo forest and monkey park.
Participating in a cooking class and meeting new friends was the highlight of Osaka. And a day trip to feed the deer in Nara was unforgettable! Plus, Okinawa is known for its beautiful beaches and scuba diving.
Wherever you go, you’re sure to have an amazing time! We spent 3 weeks in Japan, and the total cost of our accommodations was ~$460. That’s $22 per night in an expensive country!
In this part of the series, I’ll share more about where I stayed, and how you can do it, too! In future posts, I’ll tell you about getting around Japan and my flights back home.
How to Fly to Japan for ~$100 Trip Report Index:
- Part 1 – Introduction & Planning
- Part 2 – These Are My Favorite Japanese Cities
- Part 3 – Airport Lounge Access Isn’t Just for Elite Travelers
- Part 4 – The Secret to Flying Cathay Pacific Business Class
- Part 5 – 3 Weeks of Lodging for Only ~$450!
- Part 6 – Getting Around Japan (Rail System, Metro, Bus, Etc.)
- Part 7 – Shipping and Storing Luggage in Japan
- Part 8 – Japan Airlines Sakura Lounge at Kansai International Airport
- Part 9 – Flights to USA – Japan Airlines Business Class
Get More From Your Points by Booking Hotels & Airbnbs
On this trip, I used a combination of hotel points and free night certificates, and cash for Airbnbs.
Airbnbs are great for families and larger groups. Because you’ll get more of an authentic feel for the area you’re visiting and more amenities for the price. Here’s how to find a safe and comfortable Airbnb. And if you use my Airbnb referral link, you can get $40 off your next rental!
For the majority of my trip, I used Hyatt hotel points and certificates I earned by signing up for the Chase Hyatt card. And transferred Chase Ultimate Rewards points I earned from various Chase credit cards to Hyatt.
Transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Hyatt is easy. And they transfer at a 1:1 ratio. So my everyday spending credit cards are usually Chase cards because their Ultimate Rewards points program so versatile.
And my favorite ways to use Chase Ultimate Rewards points are to transfer them to Hyatt for swanky hotels and to Southwest for practically free (~$11) domestic flights!
1. Grand Hyatt Tokyo
Nights regularly go for ~$700. But we paid 25,000 Hyatt points and $0 per night!
Another great option in Tokyo is the Park Hyatt Tokyo, where the cash price is normally ~$1,000+ per night! But it costs 30,000 Hyatt points per night, so it’s a little pricier than the Grand Hyatt Tokyo.
2. Hyatt Regency Hakone
After Tokyo, we headed to Hakone, which is ~90 minutes away. Hakone is a mountainous resort town that was the perfect getaway after fast-paced Tokyo.
We stayed at the Hyatt Regency Hakone Resort and Spa, where rooms cost ~$500 or 25,000 Hyatt points per night.
We had a huge room that felt more like a suite. And the view was fantastic!
3. Airbnb in Kyoto
In Kyoto, we stayed at Private Apartment Airbnb. You’ll get more of an authentic feel for the area you’re visiting and more amenities for the price (we LOVED using the washer!). And if you use my Airbnb referral link, you can get $40 off your next rental!
The total cost for 4 nights was ~$166. And the room came with two large beds, a fridge, basic kitchen, and a no-frills bathroom.
Although it was basic, you could also rent 2 bikes for an additional ~$10 per day. All we had to do was go downstairs by the elevator and pick up our bikes. It was super easy and we rode them every day, for hours a day, all around Kyoto!
By staying in an Airbnb, we were able to experience what homes are really like in Japan, with the small bathrooms and kitchens. We really do get spoiled with swanky hotels sometimes. 🙂
There was even a clothes washer and laundry detergent, and we happily did our laundry here!
But if you want to use hotel points for free nights in Kyoto, consider staying at the Hyatt Regency Kyoto, where rooms go for ~$400 or 20,000 Hyatt points per night.
4. Hyatt Regency Osaka
In Osaka, we stayed in another Hyatt hotel, the Hyatt Regency Osaka.
Nights here are only 8,000 Hyatt points per night, making it a steal! And here, we had the largest room on our trip, a corner room that looked like a suite.
The downside was that it was pretty far away from the city center. So we had to take the metro into the city every day, which can take ~35+ minutes.
Within walking distance of the hotel were a 1980s era shopping mall and a supermarket, but not much else.
I actually liked the shopping mall, because it wasn’t overwhelming like other malls can be. Plus, I found some vintage Godzilla posters and gadgets, which made perfect souvenirs! And since we we were flying out of Osaka, it was a great spot to stock-up on gifts to bring home.
5. Airbnb in Okinawa
In Okinawa, we stayed at the Fun & Local Seaside Homestay for ~$300 for 5 nights (~$60 per night).
We had a private room in a 4-bedroom flat. And even though this was the least private of all the places we stayed during our trip, we LOVED our host.
But if total privacy is important to you, or you’re traveling with small children, for example, renting a whole home or apartment might make more sense.
We spent 3 weeks in Japan, and the total cost of our accommodations was ~$460. That’s $22 per night in a very expensive country!
The hotel points helped a lot. We redeemed a total of 74,000 Hyatt points (some of which were transferred from Chase Ultimate Rewards points) and 2 Hyatt free night certificates for 10 free nights! There are plenty of hotels where you can stay with points, so it doesn’t have to be Hyatt! Use Hotel Hustle or Award Mapper to find hotels you can book with points.
Plus, we used cash to stay at a few affordable Airbnbs, which was a nice way to experience what life is really like in Japan. And don’t forget to get $40 off your next rental if you use my Airbnb referral link.