Japan is amazing but expensive. This Tokyo Travel Guide covers everything you need to know before visiting, including how to save money and typica costs.
As the world’s most populous metropolis, Tokyo is a beacon of forward thinking innovation. Known for its gadgets, robots and gaming, Tokyo greets tourists with its frantic bright lights of Shinjuku, it’s unusual fashion of Harajuku and a whole host of palaces, temples, landmarks and parks to devour.
There is something for everyone in Tokyo. Those interested in history and culture can check out the many temples and shrines across the city, whilst those looking for great photos can head to one of the many skyscrapers for that perfect view. There are plenty of parks in Tokyo, all lined with food vendors making many ideal spots for a picnic lunch. There are cultural experiences to be had and many things to do in Tokyo.
Budget: Dorms can be found at ¥2500 – ¥5000, with capsule hotels costing slightly more and private rooms starting at ¥3000.
Midrange: Nice but small rooms can be found from ¥5500 – ¥12000.
Luxury: Tokyo is expensive, so if you want the most luxurious hotel you will be paying upwards of ¥45000.
Transport: Rides on the Tokyo Metro cost ¥165 – ¥236 depending on distance whilst all day tickets can be purchased for ¥750.
Average cost of food:
A bowl of noodles will cost you around ¥800 whilst Donburi stalls can cost as low as ¥300.
Sushi bars will cost between ¥12- ¥700 per piece and Bento boxes are cheaper by up to half price at lunch time.
A dinner for two at an Japanese style pub will cost upwards of ¥6000 and fast food starts at around ¥900.
Best time to visit Tokyo
The best time to visit Tokyo is March, April, October and November. There is less rain but warm weather, so you can visit the many outdoor sights and neighbourhoods.
The spring is the perfect time to visit because of the cherry blossoms, especially if you are visiting as a couple.
Summer is warm but also experiences heavy rains, whilst the winter is incredibly cold.
However, January and February see very few tourists so it is possible to save some money but it doesn’t make a big difference.
Where to stay in Tokyo
There are plenty of great places to stay in Tokyo but make sure to compare prices first and look at the various Tokyo Districts and what they offer before choosing your accommodation.
Creative Tip: Remember to always check you have asked for a non-smoking room.
Toco Tokyo Heritage Hostel is a traditional and atmospheric hostel just 1 few steps from Iriya station. Private rooms start at ¥3573, a great option for couples and families.
For those looking for something different and unusual, check out Khasan Tokyo Samurai Capsule, with dorm beds starting also starting at ¥3573, linen curtains provide that extra bit of privacy.
A new and modern hotel, The Richmond Hotel Tokyo Suidobashi is a clean and comfortable hotel just a ten minute walk to Suidobashi subway station and a 2 minute walk to Tokyo Dome, rooms starting at ¥10,700.
Partner hotel; Richmond Hotel Asakusa offers comfortable beds and spacious rooms; difficult to find in an over populated city, rooms start at ¥12,000.
The Capitol Hotel Tokyu boasts 2 restaurants, an indoor pool and gives you direct access to 4 subway lines. Rooms are heavenly and offer great city views, starting at ¥58,212 a night.
For those looking to mega splurge, even just for one night, check out The Peninsula Tokyo. Start at ¥121,716. The Peninsula pampers its guests with a spa and fitness centre, swimming pool and rooms to die for. Just a 2 minute walk from Ginza shopping district and is directly connected to Hibiya Subway station, this is a pricey hotel that I hope I can afford one day.
Save money in Tokyo
Japan is a fascinating place to travel but it is one of the most expensive countries to visit in Asia. However, you can save money in Tokyo using these tips.
- Use the vending machines – There are vending machines all over the city so use these for drinks and even food. Eat from the vending machine restaurants, with meals costing around $3. You select a meal from a vending machine, receive a ticket then give your ticket to the restaurant staff who will then bring the dish to your table. Alternatively, you can save some money by picking up meals and snacks from the supermarkets in Tokyo.
- Supermarket meals – Another way to save on supermarket meals is by heading to the store just before they close. Supermarkets in Japan offer fresh dishes such as tempura, noodles and sushi. This means any food left over near the end of the night becomes reduced, so you can get a cheap late meal
- Stay in a capsule – Tokyo has capsule hotels in many of the neighbourhoods. These are a lot cheaper than private rooms and perfect for solo travellers.
- JR Pass – If you are exploring Japan, then get yourself a JR Pass. This gives you unlimited travel by Shinkansen to almost every destination in Japan and it can also be used on the Yamanote line in Tokyo.
- Travel in the winter – As with many other destinations, travelling in the off-season will save you some money but not as much as you may think. The bigger hotels don’t tend to lower prices but look for local guesthouses and smaller hotels to get some good deals.
- Enjoy the free attractions – There are lots of free things to do in Tokyo so take advantage of these. For example, Tokyo has amazing observation decks but they are expensive to visit. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building offers free admission to their observatory deck and offers incredible views of the city and beyond.
- Use the Metro – Remember to stick to public transport, taxis in Japan are very expensive but the Tokyo Metro is easy to navigate, cheap and there are stops near all the popular attractions.
- Overnight buses or trains – If you are leaving Tokyo and visiting other destinations in Japan, consider the overnight buses or trains available. You will save money on accommodation and the trains have excellent facilities including showers, dining lounges and a dedicated sleeping space.
- Bring a reusable water bottle – Tokyo water is safe to drink so avoid buying bottled water and use the water fountains around the city or ask restaurants for tap water in your bottle.
- Use the 100 Yen stores – Head to the 100 Yen stores for souvenirs and everyday items to save money and avoid the pricier souvenir store.
- Pre-book admission tickets – When heading to the paid attractions in Tokyo, book tickets online, especially for sights such as Tokyo SkyTree or Disneyland.
- Avoid the bars – There are small local bars in Tokyo but drinks are expensive. Instead, head to the stores for your drink of choice.
Best things to do in Tokyo
Sumo Morning Practice
Mori Building Digital Art Museum
Tsukiji Fish Market
Arcades of Akihabara
How to get to Tokyo
Fly – Most major airports fly to Tokyo Narita International Airport, where you can get an express train or highway bus to central Tokyo taking 1-2 hours. Avoid getting a taxi as these can cost you upwards of ¥30000. Flights into Haneda Airport also gives you the option to catch a train or bus into central Tokyo costing between ¥400 – ¥1200.
Train – Trains to and from other major cities in Japan is also possible. Bullet (high-speed) trains are relatively cheap and get you to Osaka, Kyoto and Hiroshima.
How to get around Tokyo
Tokyo has arguably the best train system in the world, with workers having to show their boss a train note if they are late to work because of the trains; it is that incredibly uncommon!
However, avoid the trains as much as you can during rush hour as it can be incredibly busy.
Also avoid catching taxis as this can be expensive across such a large city.