For those travelling to Japan it can be quite an expensive place. Public transport, although extremely efficient can still get rather pricey, especially when you want to cover a vast area. Normally we would have considered the JR (Japan Rail) pass to get us from city to city, but actually after weighing up the pros and cons between the JR pass and the Willer bus pass, we decided that the Willer bus pass was a far more adequate and cheaper way of getting around Japan.
Obviously everyone’s circumstances are different, but for us covering Fukuoka, Hiroshima, Kyoto, Tokyo and Osaka over a period of three weeks, the bus pass worked out better for our needs and budget.
Willer Bus Pros
The Willer bus pass can be used within a two month period with non-consecutive journeys unlike the JR pass which must be used consecutively
The buses are comfortable, clean and regular toilet/station stops are made for every journey
There is a good English-speaking customer service number for any enquiries (+81-50-5805-0383)
The Willer bus is cheaper (¥10,000 3 day, ¥12,000 4 day, ¥14,000 5 day passes) than the JR pass (¥28,300 7 day, ¥45,100 14 day, ¥57,700 21 day passes)
The bus pass can be easily ordered over the Internet and tickets purchased via your online account
Willer Bus Cons
The bus pass can only be ordered outside of Japan! As does the JR Pass, however we still ordered our bus pass whilst in Japan. How? Well we used a VPN app on our iPad to access the website to fool the system that we were outside of Japan
There are some routes that cannot be booked on the Willer bus (check their website here for details)
The bus journeys are typically much longer than the trains, so if you’re short for time then you’ll have to take the longer journey time into consideration
More info on the Willer bus pass can be found on their official website here and also here. Info on the JR pass can be found here.