September 3, 2013

Travel cheap in Japan with Willer Express

Right after the marathon, I decided to head to Kyoto.

Shinkansen without a doubt offers the fastest way to reach Kyoto. Travelling at a speed of more than 210 km/h, I could reach Kyoto in about 2 1/2 hours. But it would cost me a whopping 13,220 yen!

Since I was on a budget, my friends suggested that I travelled by bus. There are a number of options for highway buses in Japan, but I particularly took a ride from Willer Express thanks to their really comprehensive and helpful website.
It wasn't only cheaper, I saved the accommodation for the night too since I opted for an overnight ride.

Buying the ticket from the website was extremely easy cos there's an English website. Pheww! Choose the origin, destination, date and number of passenger(s), and the website will return the available options.

Select the bus which appeals to you. They have different seats suitable for all passengers and budget. All the available seat functions are listed with the bus selection so you can choose which seat and bus suits you.

Here's among the choices...

standard seat for passengers with limited budget

 they have women only bus!

 business class for extra comfort

I could have gotten the cheapest standard seat at 4,800 yen but considering the distance, and I wanted to sleep comfortably, I chose to spend a little bit more for the Premium seat. Well.. it's still much more cheaper than taking the Shinkansen.

Do note that some buses don't have luggage trunk so you need to bring a carry-on luggage small enough to fit into the overhead rack or under your seat. If you travel with a huge luggage, choose your bus carefully.

Next step, choose the route. Depending on the route, select your boarding and arrival locations. I love this feature cos we can board or get off the bus at our preferable locations. Fret not, the website has maps for all the locations so you can check which location is convenient to you.

From time to time, there are discounted tickets on sale so do check the website regularly before your trip. If you're lucky, you can grab the last-minute discounts too.

Supposedly, you can choose your seating on the bus but for my trip, it was assigned by the company. Apparently, they will assign seats on the date of departure based on the number of passengers in groups, as well as gender. They will not seat men together with women unless they are in the same group. Definitely a plus plus plus point from me. I definitely don't want to sleep next to a guy!

Lastly, complete your booking by paying for the ticket at a Lawson or Family Mart convenience store (only in Japan), or via credit card, or by Willer Points (if you have travelled with the bus before, 1 Willer Point is equivalent to 1 yen).

Once you have completed the booking, a confirmation email will be sent to your email address. Bring the confirmation email with you or simply quote the reservation number to check in. There's no counter whatsoever like the airport for the check in, you just need to present yourself to the staff at the boarding location.

Easy right?

The bus I took departed around 11 pm from Shinagawa JR station, and I safely arrived in Kyoto at about 7 am. The bus stopped a couple of times for toilet breaks if I'm not mistaken, but I just slept soundly the whole way through! They provided me blanket and pillow. Plus I had a comfortable reclining leg rest and individual curtain. I even had an electrical outlet to charge my phone. Super love the bus la.

 Anyway, they also offer Japan Bus Pass option that allows 3 days worth of bus travel for 10,000 yen or 5 days for 15,000 yen if you want to travel around Japan.

For more info about Willer Express, click here.


BibiErr Karim said...

Definitely a useful entry. Nak bajet sangat gi Japan ni contemplating of whether I should buy the JR Pass or not. Thanks for sharing Mun.

rara said...

BibiErr: Bila nak pegi Japan? Enjoy!!

My name starts with M said...

besnye bas dia!! Bila aku nak gi jepun ni hehe

zila said...

another travel blog??..i polo..hehehe

rara said...

@Mas : I'm going again next year.. jom! hehe..

@zila : hi! :)

My name starts with M said...

next year bila? mana?

rara said...

@Mas : Aku dah beli ticket to Tokyo bulan Feb. But might change it to end of March/early April for Sakura! hehe..

CIKU said...

hi..salam perkenalan..nak follow gak :)

rara said...

@CIKU: Hi :)

Unknown said...

Hi rara,

For single women traveler, is it safe to be on willer express premium seat? I'm torn between choosing premium seat and beaute ladies. Comfort wise I prefer premium, but how about safety?

Goh Lee Xin said...

Hi rara,

Is willer express premium seat safe for solo women traveler? I'm torn between premium or beaute ladies. Kindly advice.

rara said...

@Goh: Hi Goh, Sorry for late reply. Premium seat is definitely safe. They will not seat ladies n men together. :)

Aril Said said...

What if i dont have credit card..?? Is there any other way to pay?

rara said...

@Aril: You can pay at Lawson or Family Mart if you're in Japan. But you need to pay within 24 hours if I'm not mistaken. If from Malaysia, no choice you need a credit card to pay.