Golden route Japan itinerary for first trip to Japan. Where to go with best places to visit in Japan. Backpacking Japan for beginners

 

So, you’re just getting started with planning your trip to Japan and you’re not sure where to start when it comes to places to visit in Japan?!

The so-called “Golden Route” of Japan is a good place to start!

These are among the most popular cities for tourists, but don’t let the crowds stop you from considering these places.

They are popular for a reason!

And after you’ve finished up the classic golden route, a trip to Japan’s tropical islands of Okinawa can be a perfect place to end!

 

And if you haven’t confirmed your trip yet, also have a look to some months you may want to avoid a trip to Japan and the best ways to find a flight to Japan. If you’re traveling alone and are looking for cheaper accommodation, there are hostels in Japan too.

 

Quick tips for getting around Japan

Golden route Japan itinerary for first trip to Japan. How to get around Japan. Backpacking Japan for beginners

 

  • Japan has a good public transportation system, and it’s a good way to get around
  • The Google Maps app is also a reliable way to figure out how to get around locally by bus and train
  • The Japan Travel Navitime app can be good if you’re trying to figure out the best way to get around with a JR pass (or to help you decide if it’s better to get around without your JR pass) – See the current price from an official JR pass vendor for a 7-day, 14-day, and 21-day pass. (partner website)
  • The Google Translate app has a feature where you can take a picture of Japanese writing and it will translate it for you
  • An IC card is SO worth it to get if you’ll be taking the bus or train to get around locally. No cost savings, but it’s highly convenient so you won’t have to go through the hassle of buying individual tickets! They are basically recharge cards. Examples of IC cards are icoca, suica, and passmo.

 

Golden route Japan itinerary for first trip to Japan. Best places to visit. Backpacking Japan for beginners

 

 

Now…

 

 

Classic Japan itinerary: Best places to visit on the golden route for your first trip to Japan

 

 

1. Tokyo

Golden route Japan itinerary for first trip to Japan. How many days in Tokyo? Backpacking Japan for beginners

 

 

2. Mt Fuji

Golden route Japan itinerary for first trip to Japan. How much time climbing Mt Fuji? Backpacking Japan for beginners

 

Climbing Mt Fuji as a 2-day hike

This is what my 2 days of climbing Mt Fuji looked like:

 

 

3. Fuji Five Lakes (Kawaguchiko or Hakone)

Golden route Japan itinerary for first trip to Japan. How many days in Fuji Fives Lakes for Mt Fuji views? Kawaguchiko or Hakone. Backpacking Japan for beginners

 

How to spend one day in Fuji Five Lakes area

Being in the Fuji Five Lakes area is all about Mt Fuji views! This is what I did with one day in Kawaguchiko:

 

 

4. Kyoto

Golden route Japan itinerary for first trip to Japan. How many days in Kyoto? Backpacking Japan for beginners

 

Use this Kyoto tourist map to plan out your 5 days in Kyoto!

Kyoto used to be a capital of Japan, and there are a number of UNESCO world heritage sites in Kyoto.

 

 

5. Nara

Golden route Japan itinerary for first trip to Japan. How many days in Nara? Backpacking Japan for beginners

 

How to spend one day in Nara

This is a popular day trip from Kyoto, and these are places to visit with one day in Nara:

  • Nara Park
  • Kasuga Taisha Shrine
  • Todaiji Temple with Great Buddha
  • Nigatsudo Temple and Sangatsudo Temple

Nara also used to be a capital of Japan long ago, and there are also a number of UNESCO world heritage sites in Nara.

 

 

6. Osaka

Golden route Japan itinerary for first trip to Japan. How many days in Osaka? Backpacking Japan for beginners

 

Day trip to Osaka and Himeji from Kyoto

Himeji is another city with a grand castle, and you can make it a castle day with both Osaka and Himeji:

  • Himeji Castle
  • Koko-en Garden (Himeji)
  • Osaka Castle
  • Dotonbori (Osaka)

 

 

7. Hiroshima

Golden route Japan itinerary for first trip to Japan. How many days in Hiroshima? Backpacking Japan for beginners

 

Visit Hiroshima’s main attraction

You’ll want to give yourself 2 hours minimum, although you could easily spend a full day here.

 

 

8. Miyajima

Golden route Japan itinerary for first trip to Japan. How many days in Miyajima? Backpacking Japan for beginners

 

Day trip to Miyajima from Hiroshima

You’ll take a ferry to get to Miyajima, and these are some things to do with one day in Miyajima:

  • Walk to the torii gate at low tide
  • See the torii gate at high tide
  • Mt Misen hike
  • Mt Misen ropeway
  • Visit to Daisho-in Temple

 

 

 

So…

Where are all these cities located?!

 

The golden route of Japan map

 

 

Click the little icon in the top left corner of the map to see the list of what you’ll find on this map.

This map may not work very well on this page on mobile, sorry!

In that case, have a look at this Japan map in Google Maps.

 

Golden route Japan itinerary for first trip to Japan. Best places to visit. Backpacking Japan for beginners

 

HAPPY GOLDEN ROUTE TRIP IN JAPAN!

 



More quick tips for planning your trip to Japan

There are affiliate links on this page that take you to partner websites.

When the JR pass is worth it
In general, 2 long-distance shinkansen train trips will likely end up making it so the JR pass will be worth it. But here's how to calculate it to be sure. See the current price of a JR pass from an official vendor.

Natural disasters in Japan
Unfortunately, Japan can be prone to natural disasters which means risk for travel delays. So be sure to look at travel insurance for natural disasters.

My travel insurance took care of my accommodation and food costs when I was forced to stay extra days in Japan because of a typhoon. There have been a few typhoons that have hit Japan in the past couple of years and they can cause real travel disruptions!

See how much insurance costs for your trip.

Create your Japan itinerary


Use this Kyoto tourist map to plan out your 5 days in Kyoto!
 
That's it for now!




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