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Osaka Travel Guide: An Excellent Guide to the World

A vibrant street with bright-colored neon signs and lanterns.

This Osaka Travel Guide helps you make the most of your two days in the city. It features a well-crafted travel itinerary and a detailed budget for the trip. 

Disclaimer: Some information in this Osaka Guide changes too often. If you continue reading this article, you agree to cross-check information with concerned authorities. Please read the site’s full Terms.

Advisory: Please refer to the Embassy of Japan regarding the country’s latest travel advisories before planning your trip.

Introduction

Japan is indeed a dream destination. This East Asian nation has many fascinating sights and cultures that lure me to visit charming cities like Osaka.

I booked a flight bound for Osaka to fulfill this dream. However, before the expected departure, a tropical typhoon made landfall that brought intense wind and heavy rains.

Considering all the preparations for this trip, I could not help but worry about possible flight suspension. Fortunately, we flew and arrived safely at Osaka’s Kansai International Airport.

Osaka is the third-largest metropolitan in Japan – behind Tokyo and Yokohama. Like in many parts of Japan, the city has a fair share of historical and cultural landmarks hiding amidst the city’s modern structures.

Osaka reveals its more appealing facets as colorful neon signs and animating electronic billboards illuminate at night. Hence, a visit to this bustling city would not be complete without strolling around the entertainment districts of Shinsekai and Dotonbori.

Despite the unpleasant departure in Manila, I arrived in Osaka full of pleasure and excitement. Osaka’s welcoming and energetic atmosphere shows that the city is worth visiting.

Osaka Travel Guide Contents

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Quick Fact About Osaka

Naniwa, present-day Osaka, served as the ingredient trading hub during the Edo Period, earning its nickname ‘The Nation’s Kitchen.’ Today, Osaka is regarded as Japan’s culinary mecca.

Visa in Japan

Philippine passport holders traveling for tourism in Osaka, Japan, require a tourist visa. Application for a Japan tourist visa needs no in-person interviews, except for some instances. However, all documents are to be handed in through accredited travel agencies.

Want worry-free online processing of your visa and other travel documents? Visit ivisa.com to know more. 

Before departure, passengers must undergo stringent immigration procedures. Read the article, How to Avoid Getting Offloaded at the Philippine Immigration?

Time Zone in Osaka

Osaka is an hour ahead of Manila, Philippines. 

Climate in Osaka

Japan has distinct climate zones. The northernmost islands of  Hokkaido are in the subarctic zone, while the Ryukyu Islands lie in the country’s subtropical area.

Further, the central islands of Shikoku, Kyushu, and Honshu are in the temperate zone. Osaka, which lies on Japan’s largest island – Honshu, experiences mild temperatures with sporadic rainfalls.

Best Time to Visit Osaka

Osaka is an all-year-round destination. However, the city is more inviting during the spring and autumn seasons.

March to May

Months from March to May are one of the best seasons to visit Osaka for its pleasant weather. Moreover, the cherry blossoms or sakura begin to flourish in mid-March and reach full bloom in April’s first week.

However, visitors may expect hoards of people and pricier hotels during the spring as it is also Japan’s peak season.

Osaka Travel Guide Tip: Japanese people observe a local holiday or ‘Golden Week.’ It falls from the last week of April until the first week of May. So, avoid these weeks as much as possible. 

June to August

The summer season in Osaka is from June until August. Hence, visitors may expect a warmer atmosphere, especially in August. On the other hand, rains are more frequent in June and July.

September to November

Another perfect time to visit Osaka is from September until November, or the fall foliage season. Aside from the fair weather, Osaka’s green leafage changes into warm shades of yellow, orange, and red. Yet, another charming attraction to witness during the autumn season.

December to February

A much colder atmosphere awaits visitors from December until February as it marks the winter season in Osaka. Unlike Hokkaido’s freezing temperature, the wintry season in Osaka is less cold. But wearing thicker outerwear is advised to keep you warm.

Language in Osaka

Japanese is the widely spoken language in Osaka, Japan. Although many locals are not fluent in English, public signs with English translations and tourist information centers are spread in the city.

Here are essential Japanese words and phrases to learn before your trip to Osaka, Japan.

  • Konbanwa – Good evening
  • O genki desu ka? – How are you?
  • Sumimasen – Excuse me
  • O namae wa nan desu ka? – What is your name?
  • Shitsumon o shite mo ii desu ka? – May I ask you a question?
  • Chikatetsu wa doko desu ka? – Where is the subway station?
  • Kore wa ikura desu ka? – How much is this?
  • Takai – Expensive
  • Kore wa nan desu ka? – What is this?

Currency in Osaka

Inaugurated in 1871, the Japanese Yen (code: JPY) is Japan’s official currency. As of January 26, 2023, the exchange rate is JPY 1, PHP 0.42, or  USD 0.0077.

Osaka Travel Guide Tip: To save money, convert your currency to yen in downtown Osaka, which offers better exchange rates. Otherwise, convert sufficient cash at the destination’s airport to cover your fare to the city center.

Modes of Payment in Osaka

Cash, foreign-issued debit and credit cards, and stored-value cards (SVCs) are accepted modes of payment in Osaka. However, Osaka remains a cash-based society, so it is essential to have enough cash in the city.

Cash

Hard cash is the preferred payment option in Osaka, especially in convenience stores, smaller shops, vending machines, lockers, and tourist attractions.

Debit and Credit Cards

In addition to cash, debit and credit cards are accepted in most upscale hotels, malls, and high-end restaurants in Osaka.

Stored Value Cards

The IC Card or the Integrated Circuit Card is a rechargeable smart card used as a payment option on public transport. Also, it is used in selected retail outlets in Osaka for discounted purchases.

Hence, the ICOCA is a convenient payment tool for the Japan Rail (JR) West trains and buses across Kansai and San’yō regions. 

Osaka Travel Guide Tip: The City of Osaka is Japan’s third most populated and one of the busiest. In Osaka, an overwhelming crowd is a typical scene once you enter its metro stations. So, to avoid hassles in obtaining a ticket, grab these all-inclusive passes to save money and time.

  • Unlimited service on subway, tramway, and city buses is made possible with Osaka Amazing Pass. Plus, enjoy free and discounted admission to over fifty tourist sights in the city.
  • Otherwise, avail Kansai Thru Pass. This all-inclusive rail pass provides unlimited subway, tramway, and bus rides across the key cities within the Kansai region.
  • The JR West Kansai Pass is exclusively for JR lines and buses. The ride-all-you-can pass encompasses Kansai’s major cities, like Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, etc. 
  • Are you planning to visit other far-off cities in Japan, such as Yokohama and Hakone in Kanagawa? Reserve this all-inclusive JR Nationwide Pass instead.

Ways of Getting to Osaka

Japan is an East Asian country surrounded by expansive bodies of water. Although the island state is serviceable via ferries, the more convenient way to reach Osaka is by flights.

By Air

Local and international airlines provide flights from Ninoy Aquino International Airport to Kansai International Airport – the gateway to Kansai Region. The flight time may take about four hours from Manila to Osaka via air travel.

Like Bangkok, Osaka has two airline hubs; the Osaka International Airport, or Itami Airport, and the Kansai International Airport. The former air terminal serves domestic flights, while the latter caters to overseas-bound passengers.

Osaka Travel Guide Fact: Opened in 1994, Kansai International Airport is the world’s first air terminal constructed on the water. Also, it has the world’s longest runway. The airport is situated on an artificial island in Osaka Bay.

By Water

If you are from nearby East Asian cities such as Shanghai or Busan, ferries sail to Osaka City. However, a single journey may take at least a day to reach the metropolis via the Osaka International Ferry Terminal.

This Osaka Travel Guide requires 19 minutes of reading. If you can’t make it this time, read it later. But please save this pin. 

Getting Around Osaka

Osaka is an expansive city covering a land area of about 225 square kilometers. But, getting around is as convenient as in other Japanese cities because of the reliable public transport network.

Train

Osaka’s rapid transit is the fastest and the most convenient way of navigating the city. Hence, rapid transit systems such as the Osaka Metro, Osaka Loop Line, and other rail lines run across the metropolitan.

Osaka Metro

The subway train, or Osaka Metro, serves Osaka City and its nearby towns. Osaka’s top tourist sights are accessible via the nine subway lines in operation, like Midosuji Line and Chuo lines.

Meanwhile, the regular fare for adults starts at JPY 180, PHP 75.57, or USD 1.39. Instead, use a more convenient way to pay for this transport service – the Osaka Amazing Pass.

Although operating hours may vary for each line, Osaka Metro runs daily from 5:00 am until midnight. However, the services are lessened during the weekends and holidays.

The Osaka Loop Line

Also known Osaka Kanjo Line, the Osaka Loop Line circumnavigates the city center. Among the nineteen stations, twelve are interlinked to other lines.

The Osaka Loop Line runs daily, from 5:00 am until midnight, and is covered by the JR West Kansai Rail Pass.

Other Rail Lines

Rail lines like Nankai, Kintetsu, and Keihan run between Kansai Airport and downtown Osaka through various areas within the region. The operating time begins at 5:00 in the morning to midnight daily.

Bus

Osaka has a well-ordered bus system, yet most commuters still depend on the city’s smooth-running rail transits. Even so, city buses remain viable for leisurely trips around the city.

The regular fare for adult passengers starts at JPY 210, PHP 88.18, or USD 1.62. Or, use the Osaka Amazing Pass to pay for the bus fare.

Osaka Travel Guide Tip: The rush hours in Osaka are between 7:00 am and 9:00 am and 7:00 pm and 9:00 pm. Hence, avoid the peak hours as overcrowding in trains and buses is usual in the city.

Taxi

Hailing a taxicab is not a problem in Osaka as the city has plenty of it. But, expect to pay higher than any public transport in the city. The flat rate is JPY 660, PHP 277.13, or USD 5.09.

Areas to Stay in Osaka

Accommodations in Osaka are a widespread. However, the districts of Kita and Minami are the ideal areas to stay for accessibility and convenience.

Kita

In Japanese, Kita means ‘north.’ Also known as Umeda, Kita is located northward of Osaka. It is the city’s central business district where corporate offices, shopping malls, diners, and hotels are scattered.

Two important rail stations are also found in this transportation hub; the Osaka and Umeda stations. Both rail terminals serve various lines coming in and out of downtown Osaka. Along with Kyoto and Kobe, Kansai Airport is well-connected through these stations.

The Umeda Sky Building and the HEP Five are among the well-liked landmarks in Kita. Both are a few minutes’ walk from Osaka and Umeda stations.

Minami

The vibrant district of Minami, which means ‘south,’ is Osaka’s ultimate shopping and dining paradise. This area is much closer to Kansai Airport than Kita and is less than an hour’s train ride, via Nankai Line, to Namba Station.

Accommodations are widespread throughout Namba and Shinsaibashi – two of the well-liked neighborhoods in Minami for hectic nightlife. Head towards attention-grabbing Dotonbori for gastronomic satisfaction and Amerika Mura for a first-rate shopping experience.

Internet in Osaka

Singapore and Japan are among the world with the fastest internet. Having internet on your smartphone is essential in a city like Osaka, where directions involve complexity.

Power Adaptor in Osaka

Osaka operates on a 100 V supply voltage with a frequency of 60 Hz and it has two types of power adaptor:

  • A or has two flat parallel pins
  • B or has two flat parallel pins and a grounding pin

Osaka Travel Guide Itinerary

Osaka Travel Guide Highlights: Sights and Attractions
Highlights: The Umeda Sky Building, Dotonbori, Takoyaki, and Osaka Castle.

Day 0 - Departure for Osaka

03:05 pm – 08:00 pm Flight to Osaka and have your in-flight dinner

08:00 pm – 09:15 pm Arrival at the Kansai International Airport Airport Terminal 1 and  clear the immigration and customs checkpoint

09:15 pm – 10:01 pm Redeem the following tickets at Kansai Airport assigned counters; Nankai Rapi:t Airport Express Train Ticket and 7-Days JR Nationwide Pass (coverage: Osaka, Nara, Kyoto, Hakone, Yokohama, Tokyo)

10:01 pm – 10:41 pm Head to Namba

  • From Kansai Airport Station
  • Take the Nankai Rapi:t Airport Express Train toward Namba Station
  • Alight at Namba Station
  •  Walk toward accommodation

Osaka Travel Guide Tip: Osaka is one of the world’s most expensive destinations. And to score inexpensive rates in the city, consider staying in a hostel – an alternative to pricier hotels. Book a hostel in Osaka!

10:41 pm Hotel check-in and sleep

Day 1 - Osaka

06:45 am – 08:45 am Wake up, prepare, bath, and have breakfast

Osaka Travel Guide Reminder: Walking from points A to B requires more than a kilometer.

08:45 am – 09:30 am Head to the Umeda Sky Building

  • From accommodation
  • Walk toward JR Namba Station – Platform Q
  • Take the JR Yamatoji Line toward Oji Station
  • Alight at Shin-Imamiya Station
  • Change line – Platforms 1 or 4
  • Take the JR Osaka Loop Line toward Tennoji Station (clockwise)
  • Get off at Osaka Station – Central North Exit
  • Walk toward Umeda Sky Building

09:30 am – 10:45 am Explore the Umeda Sky Building

Umeda Sky Building

Standing at 173 meters, the Umeda Sky Building is one of Osaka’s iconic landmarks for its hyper-modern appeal. These twin structures, having forty floors each, boast the world’s highest escalator that links the two towers from 35th floors.

In addition, the ‘Kuchu Teien,’ or Floating Garden Observatory, perched on the tower’s 39th floor, offers unobstructed city views. Also, corporate offices, restaurants, shops, and movie theaters occupy the lower levels.

Floating Garden Observatory is open daily, from 9:30 am until 10:30 pm, and the last entry is at 10:00 pm. The admission fee for adults is JPY 1,500, PHP 629.15, or USD 11.55.

Book the Umeda Sky Building admission ticket and dare to conquer your fear as you ascend in the world’s highest escalator.

10:45 am – 11:30 am Head to Osaka Castle

  • From Umeda Sky Building
  • Walk toward Osaka Station – Platform 2
  • Take the JR Osaka Loop Line toward Tennoji Station (clockwise)
  • Alight at Osakajokoen Station – West Exit
  • Head toward Osaka Castle

11:30 am – 02:30 pm Have dinner and explore Osaka Castle

Osaka Castle

Amid Osaka’s lofty and modern structures sits an old-world charm – the Osaka Castle. This stunning fortress erected in 1597 has withstood the test of time and been altered by strings of reconstructions.

Today, the Osaka Castle has transformed into a museum from a former stronghold and arsenal. Atop this concrete erection is an enclosed viewing deck, offering an expansive field view of the castle grounds and the city.

The Osaka Castle is open from Mondays until Sundays, from 9:00 am until 5:00 pm. The admission fee is JPY 600, PHP 252.80, or USD 4.63.

Nishinomaru Garden, on the other hand, is open from Tuesday through Sunday. The entrance fee starts at JPY 200, PHP 84.16, or USD 1.55.

Secure your Osaka Castle ticket and learn more about the rich history behind Osaka’s renowned citadel. 

02:30 pm – 03:00 pm Head to Abeno Harukas

  • From Osaka Castle
  • Walk toward Osakajokoen Station – Platform 2
  • Take the JR Osaka Loop Line toward Tennoji Station (clockwise)
  • Drop off at Tennoji Station – East Exit
  • Head toward Abeno Harukas

03:00 pm – 04:30 pm Explore Abeno Harukas

Abeno Harukas - Harukas 300

The Abeno Harukas, situated next to Tennoji Station, is Japan’s second tallest building, with a towering height of 300 meters. This mixed-used property shelters the country’s largest department store – Abeno Harukas Kintetsu, offices, a hotel, a museum, and viewing decks.

Harukas 300 features out-of-doors and glass-enclosed observation decks. From the building’s 58th to 60th floors, astonishing views of Osaka await visitors.

The Harukas 300 is open daily, from 9:00 am to 10:00 pm, while the admission fee is JPY 1,500, PHP 629.15, or USD 11.55.

Climb the second-highest skyscraper in Japan and be mesmerized by Osaka’s urban jungle. Reserve your Harukas 300 Observatory e-ticket now!

04:30 pm – 04:50 pm Head to Shinsekai

  • From Abeno Harukas
  • Walk toward Tennoji Station – Platforms 17 or 18
  • Take the JR Osaka Loop Line toward Tennoji Station (clockwise)
  • Alight at Shin-Imamiya Station – East Exit
  • Walk toward Shinsekai

04:50 pm – 07:00 pm Explore Shinsekai and have dinner

Shinsekai

Located south of the Minami district, Shinsekai is a vibrant locale with inexpensive restaurants and shops. It is patterned after Paris and New York City and opened in 1912 as a premier entertainment district.

Several of its well-liked attractions discontinued operations and were neglected after World War II. But, a few remain, like the iconic landmark – the Tsutenkaku Tower.

The Parisian Eiffel-inspired tower stands tall at 103 meters and has enclosed and open-air observatories. This sky-high viewing deck offers expansive views of Osaka.

Tsutenkaku Tower is open from 10:00 am until 7:30 pm daily. The entrance fee starts at JPY 900, PHP 377.49, or USD 6.93.

07:00 pm – 07:15 pm Head to Dotonbori

  • From Shinsekai
  • Walk toward Shin-Imamiya Station – Platform 3
  • Take JR Yamatoji Line toward Namba Station
  • Alight at JR Namba Station – East Exit
  • Walk toward Dotonbori

07:15 pm – 09:15 pm Explore Dotonbori and grab some souvenirs

Dotonbori

Dotonbori is probably the most renowned tourist spot in Osaka for its energetic and colorful atmosphere. Establishments along Dotonbori Canal are concealed with glaring neon signs, bright-colored lanterns, and gigantic electronic billboards. But, the most eye-catching of them is the ‘Glico Running Man’ installed above the Ebisubashi Bridge.

Aside from being a shoppers’ paradise, the vibrant area is a diners’ dreamland, teeming with restaurants, food stands, and bars.

Takoyaki

Translated as ‘grilled octopus,’ Takoyaki is among the most popular Osakan snacks. It is made of wheat batter stuffed with octopus bits or kinds of seafood and spices. The ball-shaped dish is topped with bonito flakes and coated with mayo and takoyaki sauce.

09:15 pm – 09:30 pm Head to accommodation

  • From Dotonbori
  • Walk toward accommodation

09:30 pm Prepare and sleep

Day 2 - Universal Studios Japan

06:15 am – 08:15 am Wake up, prepare, bath, and have breakfast
08:15 am – 09:00 am Head to Universal Studios Japan

  • From accommodation
  • Walk toward JR Namba Station
  • Take the JR Yamatoji Line toward Oji Station
  • Alight at Shin-Imamiya Station
  • Change line – Platform 4
  • Take the JR Osaka Loop Line toward Tennoji Station (clockwise)
  • Drop-off at Nishikujo Station
  • Change line
  • Take the JR Yumesaki Line toward Sakurajima Station
  • Alight at Universal-City Station
  • Walk toward Universal Studios, Japan

09:00 am – 08:00 pm Explore Universal Studios Japan and have lunch and dinner

Universal Studios Japan

Opened in 2001, Universal Studios Japan, or USJ, is the first Universal Studios theme park outside of the U.S. Currently,  there are ten attractions spread inside the 54 hectares amusement park, including Hollywood, San Francisco, and New York.

It also features Universal Wonderland, Jurrasic Park, Amity Village, WaterWorld, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and Minion Park. Super Nintendo World is the most recent attraction added in 2021.

Universal Studios Japan is open daily, and the operating hours may vary.

Are you ready to unleash your inner child in Asia’s first Universal theme park? Grab your Universal Studios Japan Studio Pass online to enjoy these world-class attractions.

08:00 pm – 08:45 pm Head to accommodation and prepare

  • From Universal Studios Japan
  • Walk toward Universal-City Station
  • Take the JR Yumesaki Line toward Nishikujo Station
  • Alight at Nishikujo Station
  • Change line – Platform 4
  • Take the JR Osaka Loop Line toward Tennoji Station (counter-clockwise)
  • Drop-off at Shin-Imamiya Station
  • Change line – Platform 3
  • Take the JR Yamatoji Line toward JR Namba Station
  • Alight at JR Namba Station
  • Walk toward accommodation

08:45 pm Sleep

Day 3 - Nara

05:30 am – 07:30 am Wake up, prepare, bath, and have breakfast
07:30 am – 08:30 am Head to Nara

  • From JR Namba Station
  • Take JR Yamatoji Line toward JR Nara Station
  • Alight at JR Nara Station

Budget for Osaka Trip

In 2022, I spent P 29,257.50 for two days and three nights in Osaka. However, costs may still vary depending on your travel lifestyle. For more thrift tips, consider several ways to save money for your next trip. 

Below is the Osaka travel guide budget for your reference. 

Pre-Departure

  • Documents for visa application, PHP 505.00
  • Visa handling fee via an accredited agency, PHP 3,360.00
  • A one-way flight ticket with an in-flight meal, Manila to Osaka, PHP 2,149.00
  • 2D3N accommodation with free breakfasts, PHP 6,201.00/2 pax, PHP 3,100.50
  • One-way Nankai Line Airport Express ticket, Kansai Airport to Namba Station, PHP 453.00
  • 7-Days JR Nationwide Pass, PHP 11,902.00 (coverage: Osaka, Nara, Kyoto, Hakone, Yokohama, and Tokyo)
  • Umeda Sky Building admission ticket, PHP 585.00
  • Osaka Castle entry ticket, PHP 234.00, with Nashinomaru Garden, PHP 78.00
  • Harukas 300 Observatory e-ticket, PHP 585.00, and heliport tour ticket, PHP 203.00
  • Universal Studios Japan Pass, PHP 3,348.00
  • Travel tax, PHP 1,620.00

1st Day

  • Lunch, PHP 350.00
  • Dinner, PHP 350.00

2nd Day

  • Lunch, PHP 400.00
  • Dinner, PHP 350.00

Osaka Travel Guide Resources

I have compiled handpicked travel resources to help you plan your trip. These are the brands that I highly recommend for their top-notch offers. 

Passport icon

Looking for an easy-peasy solution to process your visa application and other travel docs, consult iVisa!

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SafetyWing covered you with their travel medical and health insurance solutions while away from home. 

The sky is the limit with Skyscanner if you are looking for better and cheaper flight options for your next trip.

Hotel icon

Make a reservation to one of the most extensive hotels booking services – Agoda. It offers unmatched hotel deals!

Hostel icon

Explore the world with HostelWorld! Book a hostel and share a space with newfound buddies. 

Car icon

Drive your way to undiscovered places! Book a car via Discover Cars and experience hassle-free road trips. 

Ticket icon

Want to visit your favorite theme park or museum? For discounted attraction tickets and tours, look for Klook!

Bus icon

For transfers from point A to point B, go for 12Go! It has extensive coverage of ground transports and ferries, too.

Osaka Travel Guide Question: What is the former name of Osaka?

Please drop your answers or messages in the comment section. Thank you, and see you on the road!

About the Author

J. Sac is the author of ‘Osaka Travel Guide: An Excellent Guide to the World.’ He is also the founder of Traveledictorian – a travel blog that publishes well-thought-out travel content. 

His passion for writing, photography, and travel fueled him to explore Asia and the rest of the world. He also plans to undertake humanitarian work in his travels. Read his inspiring story and follow him on social media!

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