Tokyo is an incredible city to discover, making it no surprise why so many first-time travelers choose it as their travel destination.
Staying in a central area such as Shinjuku or Shibuya will put you within easy access of both nightlife and shopping – using Suica cards is the easiest way to navigate!
Bring along a bilingual map. As public garbage cans are scarce, save yourself money and stash your trash until you find an available bin to dispose of it in. Getting to the city is very easy thanks to Cathay Pacific flights that even take you from Vancouver to Tokyo so here is what you have to know.
1. Stay in a central location
Tokyo’s sprawling cityscape can make finding a central location challenging, but if you can stick with one of the main neighborhoods you can make the most of your visit by getting acquainted with more aspects of this vibrant metropolis and having easy access to many top things to do there.
First-time visitors will likely want to stay near Tokyo Station as this busy activity hub provides an easy starting point for exploring many of Tokyo’s top attractions, from its stunning new Tokyo Skytree to Shibuya and Harajuku shopping centers and restaurants that can all be reached on foot.
Ginza and Odaiba, two popular areas in Tokyo to stay, can both be reached via underground and monorail lines from Tokyo Station. Furthermore, Shinjuku offers many hotels as well as bars, nightclubs and izakayas that make up its nightlife scene.
Asakusa hotels provide some of the finest accommodations in Tokyo, due to cultural landmarks like Sensoji Temple and Nakamise with their lively red stalls. When staying at The Gate Hotel Asakusa Kaminarimon you’ll be just two minutes from entering Tokyo Skytree – making this area a wonderful choice.
As with most major cities, staying near transport links and attractions during peak summer, spring, and autumn periods is always recommended. Being central also enables visitors to experience Tokyo’s famed traditional festivals known as matsuri that occur between late spring and autumn – budget travelers might try capsule hotels or hostels which provide comfortable yet inexpensive sleeping solutions while 4-star hotels start from approximately Y10,000 per night for something a bit more luxurious.
2. Take the subway
Tokyo can be daunting on first visits, but with some research and planning you can easily navigate its public transportation system. From getting a SIM card and using public transit and IC cards to packing tips and money management tricks: here is everything you need to know about travelling in Tokyo!
Tokyo subway is an efficient and cost-effective way to navigate around the city, offering quick service at reasonable rates. Day passes may be purchased, or, if your mobile phone supports NFC payments (most do), tapping can pay!
If your phone does not support NFC technology, purchasing a prepaid SIM card upon arrival is the ideal solution. Not only will this provide a Japanese number and data plan during your visit, but it’s also much cheaper than paying for short-term rental or taxi every time you need transportation.
Tokyo boasts two separate subway systems: Tokyo Metro and Toei Subway. Each has their own individual systems, so riding one won’t work on another. An effective way of remembering which line to take is by memorizing station names with circular colored outlines around their station names – this will allow for easier switching when riding different systems simultaneously.
Most major attractions in central Tokyo can be reached with ease by rail via the Yamanote line or a short train ride from there. Harajuku embodies what many think of when thinking of modern Japan – an eccentric district full of bustling streets, people, and trendy shops – so make sure to allow enough time to experience it all! Additionally, on certain weekends part of the city temporarily closes off to cars to create pedestrian-only zones known as Hokousha Tengoku that offer excellent opportunities to experience all that Tokyo offers!
3. Take a taxi
Tokyo offers excellent train and bus networks, but taxis are another fantastic means of travel. Not only are they economical and pleasant drivers, but Tokyo requires taxi drivers to wear formal attire such as suits and ties – something not found elsewhere around the world where often rude, unpleasant drivers demand large tips as payment!
Tokyo taxi drivers take pride in providing clean vehicles and exceptional customer service, so it is easy to hail one directly off the street in most parts of town, or wait at designated taxi stands at train stations and major hotels. If you want to reserve a ride ahead of time, an app like Uber (though this will likely cost more) should be used instead of traditional taxi services.
Japan differs from most countries by charging taxi fares by time rather than distance, which may make traffic congestion increase the cab fare significantly if stuck in traffic jams. Also, tipping isn’t generally practiced here and tips should not be expected or expected of passengers.
If you don’t speak Japanese, communicating with taxi drivers might prove challenging. To ease communication barriers and bridge the language barrier, consider having your address written out on paper in Japanese or pointing it out on a map; some taxi companies even provide phone translation services. Stickers on taxis usually indicate whether they accept credit/IC cards that can be used as payment for public transport.
Tokyo boasts several special-use taxis beyond standard cabs, such as luxury limousines and vans that can fit multiple suitcases at once. While these may cost slightly more, their additional expense could prove worthwhile if you need to transport several people or large amounts of luggage.
4. Take a tour
Tokyo is an expansive metropolis filled with many things to see and do, yet first-time visitors may struggle navigating its intricate labyrinthine streets. Therefore, hiring a local guide as a tour guide would be wise! From shopping futuristic malls full of high tech electronics, temples with timeless traditions or tranquil zen gardens for inner peace or clubbing with cosplay fans dressed as anime heroes they will help guide your experience of this enormous metropolis.
One of the best ways to experience local life in Tokyo is by visiting neighborhoods like Ebisu, Nakameguro or Daikanyama and exploring their restaurants and bars. Or book an Airbnb Experience for an insider-look at this incredible megalopolis.
An effective way to experience local culture in Tokyo is by adhering to its rules of etiquette. This is particularly essential when traveling in large groups; station platforms typically display lines to indicate where passengers should line up to board trains; it is also wise not to block station walkways with luggage.
Visit Asakusa or Senso-ji temple for an immersive cultural experience, representing how Japanese tradition has been preserved within Tokyo and how much value the city places on tradition.
Lastly, for something truly adventurous visit Akihabara: the center of all things anime and geeky. Here, you’ll find everything from maid cafes to cat cafes as well as electronics and comic books galore – it truly is one-of-a-kind! But remember to bring an empty plastic bag along so as not to end up carrying home an enormous load of trash!
Tokyo is one of the best foodie cities in the world, boasting over 160,000 registered restaurants with Michelin stars – making Tokyo an amazing food city to explore! When hunger strikes in this capital city there’s plenty to choose from when dining out!
When dining in Tokyo, sushi and ramen are surefire hits – both can be found throughout the city and make great options for satisfying hunger pangs. But don’t overlook other delectable treats such as monjayaki and fukagawa meshi!
If you’re seeking an exclusive dining experience, check out Roppongi which boasts more of an urban vibe than Ginza. Here, you’ll find an eclectic blend of Japanese, international and fusion restaurants.
Shibuya offers many affordable dining options. This area boasts numerous shopping centers and department stores. Furthermore, Shibuya is known as an epicenter of youth fashion and culture; nighttime can bring plenty of excitement.
One great place to enjoy lunch or snacks in Tokyo is Harajuku, known for its cosplay shops, vintage clothing stores and colorful street art. Here you will also find Shibuya Crossing–often considered the world’s busiest intersection!
Discover a variety of cuisines here and visit any number of izakaya (pubs). One that I particularly enjoyed was Zaku Zaku, serving delicious take on Beard Papa’s cream puffs and eclairs.
Other fun food-related things to do in Tokyo include taking a cooking class or food tour to gain more insight into a specific dish or cuisine. Klook or Get Your Guide are good resources for booking these tours.