UPDATED: OCTOBER 2022
As a family, we’ve been blessed to visit several countries and not spend too much. The main reason why we don’t spend much is because we create DIY or do-it-yourself itinerary. Another one of the many reasons for this is our love for public commute. Yes, folks, we love doing public commute whenever we travel. This saves us a lot of money compared to joining tours and taking taxis. The countries we’ve visited so far has amazing public transportation system that makes commuting in public a remarkable experience instead of the dreadful one here in our own country. These countries have trains, subways, buses, and trams – all of which are affordable, efficient, clean, and practical to use even for tourists like us.
But what saves us more money when doing public commute is using various transportation cards that offers discounts and perks. Let me share to you some of the transportation cards we were able to try and maybe it can help you when you do your DIY travel too.
Area: New South Wales, Australia
Cost: Free but you need to have initial top up of AUD20 for adults (AUD10 for children)
Validity: 9 years
Inclusions: Trains, buses, and ferries
Where to buy: Train stations
Opal Card is an IC prepaid card that can be used in various modes of public transportation in New South Wales (NSW). Opal card offers discounted fares for trains, buses, and ferries. Opal also has a maximum spend limit of AUD15.80 per day for adults (AUD7.90 for children) and AUD63.20 per week for adults (AUD31.60 for children). This means once you spend AUD15.80 in a day, all your succeeding public transportation rides will be free of charge. During Sundays, the daily cap is AUD2.70 both for adults and children.
There is an Opal Card for children 4 to 15 years. Top up for Adult Opal Cards are in AUD10 denomination while top up for Children Opal Cards are in AUD5 denominations.
You can use your Opal Card as long as you are in NSW area in Australia.
For more information visit: https://www.opal.com.au
Osaka Amazing Pass
Area: Osaka, Japan
Cost: 1-Day Pass – JPY2500, 2-Day Pass – JPY 3300
Validity: 1 day or 2 days
Inclusions: Unlimited subway rides, Free entrance to several attractions, Discounted entrance fees to some attractions, Discounted vouchers to restaurants.
Where to buy: Osaka Subway stations; Tourist Information at Kansai Airport
Osaka Amazing Pass is one of the best transportation cards we were able to use in our out of the country travels. It offers unlimited rides to subways in Osaka area, so we need to worry if we ride the wrong train or lost our way since we don’t have to spend additional money in riding the right train. It also offers free entrance fee (or discounted entrance fee) to many attractions in Osaka. This helps us in making our itinerary. We don’t need to search so much on what to see or where to go. All we have to do it use the Osaka Amazing Pass and go to the free or discounted attractions.
There are no children cost for the Osaka Amazing Pass. If your child is 6 years old below, they get free rides in the subway and free entrance fees to most of the attractions. If your child is above 6 years old, you must buy them the adult price of the Osaka Amazing Pass. That is a wise decision too as you can still save a lot by buying them their own pass.
The Osaka Amazing Pass is on a day-use basis. Meaning, if you start using it on 8PM on Day 1, it will expire at 11:59PM that day. So, make sure to use it early on Day 1 so you can maximize the Osaka Amazing Pass.
The Osaka Amazing Pass card is non-refundable once used.
For more information visit: https://www.osp.osaka-info.jp/en/
Tokyo Metro Pass
Area: Tokyo, Japan
Cost: 24-hr JPY800, 48-hr JPY1200, 72-hr JPY1500
Validity: 24 hours, 48 hours, or 72 hours.
Inclusions: Unlimited rides on Tokyo Metro Subway and Toei Lines
Where to buy: Tokyo Metro Stations
Tokyo Metro Pass offers unlimited rides on Tokyo Metro Subway and Toei Lines. You can roam around Tokyo with this pass and not worry if you get lost since you don’t need to buy another subway train ticket if you do. If you are planning to ride the subway for more than four times, I suggest you get the Tokyo Metro Pass. One train ride can cost a minimum of JPY170. If you ride the subway more than four times, you can save a lot by using this transportation card.
There is a Tokyo Metro Pass for kids. It cost JPY400 for 24hrs, JPY600 for 48hrs, and JPY750 for 72hrs.
Tokyo Metro Subway Pass has a 24-hour validity period. Meaning, if you start using it at 8PM on Day1, it will expire at 8PM the next day.
The Tokyo Metro Subway Pass is non-refundable once used.
For more information visit: https://www.tokyometro.jp/
Area: Covers most of Japan railways
Cost: JPY 2500 (JPY 2000 is consumable, JPY 500 is the deposit)
Validity: Suica cards are valid for 10 years
Inclusions: Subways, local JR trains, buses, subways, and convenience stores
Where to buy: JR Train Stations; Haneda or Narita Airport; Online
Suica is an IC prepaid card you can use in subways, JR local trains, buses, and convenience store. When you buy the Suica card at JPY2500, it has a JPY 500 card deposit. The remaining JPY 2000 is your consumable that can be used anytime. You just need to tap the Suica card until the prepaid money inside the card is all used up. You can add money or recharge the prepaid load of your Suica card in train stations and convenience store.
The Suica card will not be able to save you anything as it will not give you any discount in train fares. It will just save you time in lining up for train tickets every train ride as you will just have to tap it in the counters.
There is no Suica card for kids. You will have to buy your kids adult version for Suica card. I suggest you just buy them separate tickets in every train ride as they have kids fare for every transportation which is half the price of adults.
The Suica card can be returned and your remaining balance can be refunded. There is a JPY 220 cost when refunding the card which will be deducted from the JPY 500 card deposit.
For more information visit: https://www.jreast.co.jp/e/pass/suica.html
Cost: SGD 12 (SGD 7 is consumable, SGD 5 is the card cost)
Validity: EZ Link cards are valid for 5 years
Inclusions: EZ Link can be used in public transport, convenience stores, taxis, hawker centers, and a lot more
Where to buy: MRT Stations; Changi Airport; 7-Eleven Stores
EZ Link is an IC prepaid card that can be used in different public transportation in Singapore. Not only can EZ Link be used in public transportation, it can also be used in convenience stores, taxis and private transportation, hawker centers, shopping areas, and a lot more.
EZ Link gives discounted fare to Singapore’s MRT. You can use it in your convenience, just make sure that it has remaining credits by recharging or topping-up the balance of your EZ Link card.
EZ Link card remaining balance can be refunded, but once done the card will no longer be active and can no longer be used.
For more information visit: https://www.ezlink.com.sg/
Singapore Tourist Pass
Cost: SGD 30 for 3 days (SGD 10 is refundable rental card deposit)
Validity: validity is based on the number of days you purchased
Inclusions: Public Transportation (MRT, LRT, buses)
Where to buy: Transit Link Offices
Singapore Tourist Pass is a special EZ Link card that offers tourist unlimited travel using the public transport (MRT, LRT, buses). It cost SGD 20 for a 1-day pass, SGD 26 for 2-days pass, and SGD 30 for 3-days pass. The cost includes SGD 10 refundable rental card deposit. You can return the card no longer than 5 days after it expires.
The Singapore Tourist Pass converts back to a regular EZ link once it expires. You can top-up your load balance and use it as a regular EZ link. Once you refund the card (on the allowed time period), you will get your SGD 10 and the remaining amount (load balance) on the Singapore Tourist Pass.
For more information visit: https://thesingaporetouristpass.com.sg/
Child Concession Card
Validity: Up until the Child is 6 years old
Inclusions: Public Transportation (buses and trains)
Where to buy: Changi Airport
The Child Concession Card is given to children below 7 years old so they can ride public transportation (buses and trains) for free. Tourist can apply for free at Changi Airport MRT Station by presenting the passport of the child.
The Child Concession Card is valid up until the child is 6 years old of age.
For more information visit: https://www.transitlink.com.sg/imgs/file/FAQs%20for%20all%20other%20concession%20schemes_rev2.pdf
Area: Covers most of South Korea’s subway and buses
Cost: KRW 4000
Validity: T-money has no expiry
Inclusions: Subways and Buses
Where to buy: Incheon Airport; Convenience stores; Subway stations
T-Money is an IC prepaid card that can be used in South Korea’s public transportation such as subways and buses. It can also be used in convenience stores.
T-Money offers discounts for subway and bus rides. Just like other prepaid IC cards, you need to ensure you have credits inside your T-Money by recharging or reloading the card.
There is a T-money card for children. It cost the same, KRW 4000, but the subway and bus fare is for kid’s rate whenever your child use it.
T-Money card does not have an expiry. You can refund the remaining balance of your T-Money card with a fee of KRW 500.
For more information visit: http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/TRP/TP_ENG_8_1_1.jsp
Area: Taipei and Kaohsiung
Cost: TWD 100
Validity: No expiry but needs to be reactivated after 2 years of invalidity
Inclusions: Taipei MRT, buses, Kaohsiung MRT, bicycle rentals, Taoyuan Airport MRT, and convenience stores
Where to buy: MRT stations; Convenience stores
Taiwan’s Easy Card is an IC card that can be used in different transportation and convenience stores in Taipei and Kaohsiung areas. It is a prepaid card that cost TWD100 and needs to be reloaded before using.
The Easy Card gives 20% discount on Taipei MRT. That is the only discount you can get for Easy Card. It also gives you the convenience of no longer lining up for train tickets every train ride.
Easy Card cannot be refunded and has no expiry.
For more information visit: https://www.easycard.com.tw/en/about
Using transportation cards can save you money since most of the transportation cards offer discounts in every train or bus ride. It can also save you time as you don’t need to buy train/subway tickets every time you ride the subway. We were able to use all the transportation cards mentioned above and we were able to save a lot of money and time as well.