When you can just join a fixed tour in a lower price or you can just explore new places on your own, why some people choose private tours?
Yes, it is more pricy and you may need no support as long as tourist information centers. However, there are still some people want to have private tours. Why do they need one?
Here are some reasons, for you to think twice before you choose.
- Time vs money
- If you choose to travel on your own, especially in a country you do not speak their language, you easily get lost. You can ask for help, but sometimes it is not enough. You can miss your train to get on in a countryside and wait another one or more hours for the next one. When you have 3 weeks vacation without a plan, it is OK but when your time is limited but you want to do this and that and that, hiring a private tour guide is the smart way.
- If you take a packaged tour, you cannot manage your own time. When to hop on a bus with a lot of other people and when to be kicked out from the bus are all decided, even though you find something really interesting, it is not your choice to stay longer. With private tours, if you change your mind, it is your own choice.
- Basically, private tours are made only for you, according to your request. You can go surf, hiking together with a rental dog, visit a hidden temple in the middle of no where, have a party at clubs of your taste, etc. All you have to do is to ask.
- A lot of my customers consider buying JR passes before they come and ask me if it is a clever choice. My answer is Yes and No. JR pass is reasonable if you have a lot of time to travel and you stay hotels nearby a JR train station. However, when your time is limited and may not travel all over Japan, or when you stay at a hotel near other train lines (like Tokyo Metro), you may not need JR pass that much.
- For instance, a JR Pass for 7 days costs 29,110JPY per person (for regular seats). You can take bullet trains but it is limited to slower Shinkansens and local trains. If you take slower Shinkansen from Tokyo to Osaka, it takes 3 hours by Shinkansen Hikari, 4 hours by Shinkansen Kodama. If you take the fastest Shinkansen, Nozomi from Tokyo to Osaka, which is not available with your JR Pass, it takes 2 and a half hours and a round trip costs 28,500JPY. You save money and time if you travel between Tokyo and Osaka just once during your trip.
- You can only take JR lines with JR pass. Most of big cities has subways and other local private train lines, if you take them, you pay extra for them.
- Plus, if your destination is in the countryside, you may have to take a taxi which would cost you a fortune. Please remember that cabs in Japan are quite expensive.
- Your private tour guide can tell you which route and plan are the best ways for you. You do not have to worry about changing trains as the tour guide can show you the way. Or the tour guide can drive you around Japan. Anywhere. Our guides have a special license as a professional driver (the license required to drive as the business) plus basic life saving licenses.
- Lost in Translation
- Maybe this is the biggest reason for most customers of private tours. Though in big cities like Tokyo, there are some English speakers but if you are looking for a fluent one, it is hard to get. You may not be able to get the information that you want. You may be told the direction to somewhere different. Japan is a safe country and everyone is so nice to tourists. But getting the right information, having a tour guide / translator would be a better idea.
- Something only Locals know
- OK, TripAdvisor can help you give you some idea what to do and where to go. However, you know that the reviews are all written by tourists, not locals. Maybe a nice looking cafe you found in TripAdvisor has been closed for good. Maybe a beautiful view point you found there is not the most beautiful view point. Maybe it depends on time. Don’t you agree to ask the locals who know the area before you start your trip? Don’t you want to have better suggestions and go to somewhere not so many tourist have explored?
- Cultural Knowledge
- If you are a kind of person who don’t care the local manners and background history, please take care of yourself. If you want to know more about the country, your private guide will tell you, what is the manner to eat sushi, visit shrine and the difference between temples and shrines. A lot of visitors to Japan are attracted to its unique culture. Behave as in your country or learn why it is so unique? It is up to you.
Now you are interested? We are just one message away and happy to help your trip more sophisticated and sufficient.