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Are advance hotel booking essential

Derby, United...
Level Contributor
71 posts
10 reviews
Are advance hotel booking essential

Evening everyone,

First post on the Japan forum (eek) ! Im in the very, very early stages of planning an itinerary for a 5 week trip to Japan for April/May 2019. We're planning to visit all the obvious places (tokyo, kyoto, osaka, hiroshima, fukuoka... etc) and potentially flying down to the islands - okinawa maybe...... I have a lot of reading to do! But my immediate question (though I'm sure there will be many more) is at that time of year, is it possible to book hotels as we go - maybe a couple of days in advance rather than just turning up at a destination, adjusting our itinerary as we travel with only the skeleton plan sketched out? Or will we struggle to find accommodation do you think?

Any thoughts would be most appreciated.


15 replies to this topic
San Francisco...
Level Contributor
5,310 posts
24 reviews
1. Re: Are advance hotel booking essential

Book your hotels in advance to get the best deals and to avoid wasting your vacation looking for a hotel room in a city that is fully booked. In particular, Kyoto does not have enough hotel rooms for all the tourists coming in spring to see the cherry blossoms. One dilemma is that some hotels in Japan don't release rooms for online booking until 6 months in advance.

San Diego
Destination Expert
for San Diego
Level Contributor
68,365 posts
72 reviews
2. Re: Are advance hotel booking essential

April is cherry blossom season so quite popular /busy!

The first week of May in Japan is Golden Week with tons of Japanese on holiday.

The answer to your question is ,"Yes" book ahead.

Indore, India
Level Contributor
37 posts
3. Re: Are advance hotel booking essential

I've started booking for the samish time (all with the possibility of cancelling) and find that they are filling up fast. It seems the prudent thing to do otherwise it might get very expensive if not impossible

Destination Expert
for Tokyo
Level Contributor
25,948 posts
30 reviews
4. Re: Are advance hotel booking essential

I have travelled without pre-booked hotels, and change hotels and destinations the day before, even during April.

If you have somewhat unlimited budget, can tolerate lousy hotels as a last resort, can travel to the next city or town easily with a rail pass or rental car, can read Japanese and use Japanese booking site for last minute bookings, you can absolutely book as you go.

However vast majority of the people on this forum do not and cannot travel like that.

Level Contributor
3,882 posts
670 reviews
5. Re: Are advance hotel booking essential

Book in advance especially for the time period you are visiting. Very busy indeed.

Get reservations that can be cancelled and if you change your mind or something better comes up you can change or cancel.

Edited: 07 August 2018, 03:31
Tokyo and California
Destination Expert
for Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Shinjuku, Japan
Level Contributor
28,857 posts
69 reviews
6. Re: Are advance hotel booking essential

Booking in advance is totally essential in April and beginning of May. If you don't book, you'll end up spending a lot of time looking for a room (instead of sightseeing) and pay a ton for a "leftover" room. I'm talking about spending over 35,000yen for a tiny 11m2 room sort of thing. As said, book rooms that are cancellable for free way in advance.

Level Contributor
432 posts
73 reviews
7. Re: Are advance hotel booking essential

Yes!!! I booked my hotel at the end of jul for our nov trip. I realise this week that the price has gone up double for the same rooom. And the tokyo hotels are also being snapped up. Apparently im "late".

If you're going for sakura season it is advisable to book your accommodation in advance.

Edited: 07 August 2018, 08:56
Hong Kong, China
Destination Expert
for Hong Kong, Osaka
Level Contributor
62,278 posts
171 reviews
8. Re: Are advance hotel booking essential

In fact, you need to book as early as possible once you have set your plans. Hotel rates go up as supply dwindles. Staying "flexible" during April to May is not a good plan.

Nakano, Japan
Level Contributor
865 posts
9. Re: Are advance hotel booking essential

It is a must unless you are solo traveler.

Level Contributor
4,199 posts
149 reviews
10. Re: Are advance hotel booking essential

@Bibimbob is correct, you can book as you go, but it does take time, and it can cost a lot (seriously a lot), and might mean changing hotels more frequently. I have had occasions where I have needed a place to stay at short notice and have managed to get some reasonable places at good prices, but I was not in the silly/crowded places like Kyoto in cherry blossom season or the middle of Tokyo. Plus, I have a wide tolerance range for hotels when I need to. I suspect Bibimbob also has a lot of knowledge about which are acceptable options and which are not so they would be less worried about getting somewhere. As a first time visitor, that is something you will not necessarily have or get too quickly.

>>>Hotel rates go up as supply dwindles<<<

Yes, that can apply, but the hotels also change prices depending on the time of year and day of the week. I also agree with the concept of dwindling supply for some chains and I do see tiny/lousy rooms for 55,000 yen in business hotels - why, because it's the last one.

Edited: 07 August 2018, 10:20
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