I've been trying to observe the trend of the forex recently. I was trying to find a nice (and profitable) time to exchange currency for my April Japan Trip, as well as buy my Japan Rail Pass.
And the good news is, over the past 1.5 months, the Singapore dollar can exchange for more and more Yen. My Japan Rail Pass is fixed at 28,300yen. But because it can only be bought OUTSIDE of Japan, means I have to buy it before leaving. At the beginning of February, on the way home from Nihongo lessons, I passed by the JTB outlet at Ion. I went in, asked a lady at the counter the price, and was quoted S$476 on that day. Today, the rate on a similar Singaporean tour agency website (they are competitive) quoted me S$441. That's a discount of $35! *Grinz*
So if any of you out there wanna go Japan, this month and next looks to be a good time to do your exchange of currencies. Coz if you look at Japan Yen's trend for 2011 it is also like that. March and April are the best. No idea why. It totally does not fit in with the demand and supply theory I've learnt in Economics back in my JC days. Unless no one else is going to Japan to tour in March and April except crazy people like me who's in love with sakuras…
By the way… Japan Rail Pass is considered a worthwhile expenditure if you are going to travel far in Japan via the Shinkansen. It sells by 7, 14, or 21 days. The 7 days pass is the cost of about a one-way ride from Tokyo to Osaka, so if you are going on a 2-way then it is definitely worthwhile getting it. It also allows you to reserve your seat beforehand free of charge, and can be used when you are using any local JR lines except the Nozomi Shinkansen (the fastest).
When deciding if the pass is worthwhile, first plan your trip VERY carefully. Then use the amazing Hyperdia website that allows you to check the cost of the train ride. Remember to uncheck the option of using "Nozomi/Mizuho/Hayabusa (Shinkansen)". This is also useful for you to also decide how much to budget for the trip, as the website shows all stations in Japan (I have not met a station it could not find…). Travel expenses for 1 person can be expensive, so be prepared for it. You can plan your itinenery down to every minute train/subway using this website. The site can even plan for you to walk from Station A to Station B for exchange of subways if it is near enough so that you can save money.
For Singaporeans who want to buy the pass, you can get it at Japan Tourism Board (JTB) @ Ion basement or at Nippon Travel Agency (they have the online site with online payment, free delivery). They will issue you with a receipt that can enable you to exchange for a JR Pass at any JR Office in almost any town/city in Japan. Please note that there ARE other places/agencies that sells the pass but I only listed the most convenient and well-known.