For some reason, I always feel like Osaka and most of Japan are places you can’t enjoy to the fullest when you’re travelling on a budget. I’d never go crazy ordering $1,000 bottles of champagne, but if I had extra money to play with, this is how I’d go about spending a weekend in Osaka. Use this guide to build your own upscale Osaka itinerary.

Book a High-Quality Room

The traveler in me wants to stay in a hostel, but no one I meet there will want to splurge on these activities. Instead, I’ll book a renowned hotel like the InterContinental Osaka, where I can enjoy spa services after a big day out or before heading out for the afternoon. I’ve never been a big massage person, but would consider getting a massage just because.

Feel Like a VIP at Universal Studios

jaws isaka

Photo via Flickr by masatsu

Universal Studios Hollywood is awesome, and I have no doubt that Universal Studios Osaka will be even better. Theme park crowds can frustrate me, but all is well as long as I get there early in the day and avoid massive queues. I’ll be flying solo, and taking advantage of being a single rider is always satisfying.

After taking a quick peek at the rides, three stand out. Any “Jaws” rides make my spine tingle, and Hollywood Dream – The Ride looks like a rollercoaster that will make me laugh and cry. The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man has been voted the world’s best ride, which is all I need to hear.

Take a Japanese Cruise Up the River

Seeing different traditional boats around Asia is exciting. With the rise in fiberglass boats, wooden boats aren’t as common anymore. That doesn’t mean there aren’t any more wooden boats, though. I’ll take a tour a private boat with Suitokanko and just hang out on the water in peace.

See Osaka From a Helicopter

osaka skyline

Photo via Flickr by andhong09

I’ve only got a weekend in Osaka, so the perfect way to gauge the size of the city is by helicopter. The standard offering is a 15-minute ride, so I might be greedy and take two. I’ll take one during the day and another at night when the city goes neon. Attractions I’ll see include Osaka Bay, Shitenno-ji Temple, Kyocera Dome, Osaka Castle, and countless skyscrapers across the city.

Add More Activities if Time Allows

Those three activities will definitely make me exhausted. After I’ve allowed for time to eat and wander the city, there won’t be much time left. If possible, I’d also look to visit an onsen and watch a sumo wrestling match.

When I look over this list, it strikes me that food doesn’t make the cut. I’m sure there’s a bunch of world-class restaurants in Osaka that might even serve vegan food. For me though, high-quality food includes anything that’s healthy and costs a few dollars. The experiences above are all slightly out of my regular budget-friendly activities, but if I could do them, I definitely would!