If you’re planning your first trip to Tokyo, you’re in for an unforgettable experience. Tokyo is a bustling metropolis with a unique blend of ancient traditions and modern technology. It’s a city that can be overwhelming to navigate, especially for first-time visitors. That’s why having a comprehensive guide is essential to making the most of your trip.
From the neon-lit streets of Shinjuku to the serene gardens of the Imperial Palace, Tokyo has Something to interest all. However, with so much to see and do, it can be challenging to make a plan. That’s why we’ve put together a guide to help you plan your first trip to Tokyo. Our guide includes everything from transportation tips to must-see attractions, so you can make the most of your time in this incredible city.
Getting There and Around
If you are planning your first trip to Tokyo, you may be wondering how to get there and how to get around the city. Tokyo has two major airports, Narita International Airport and Haneda Airport, which are both well-connected to the city by public transportation.
If you are arriving at Narita, the easiest and most convenient way to get to the city center is by taking the Narita Express (N’EX) train. The N’EX takes about an hour to reach Tokyo Station and costs around 3000 yen. There are also several bus services available from Narita Airport to major hotels and train stations in Tokyo.
If you are arriving at Haneda Airport, you can take the Tokyo Monorail or Keikyu Line to reach the city center. The Tokyo Monorail takes about 20 minutes to reach Hamamatsucho Station and costs around 500 yen. The Keikyu Line takes about 30 minutes to reach Shinagawa Station and costs around 400 yen.
Traveling around Tokyo
Once you are in Tokyo, the city has an extensive public transportation system that includes trains, subways, buses, taxis, and even water buses. The trains and subways are the most convenient and efficient way to get around the city, with the JR Yamanote Line being the most popular and convenient line for tourists.
If you are planning to use public transportation frequently during your stay in Tokyo, it may be worth purchasing a prepaid IC card such as Suica or Pasmo. These cards can be used on trains, subways, and buses, and can also be used to pay for purchases at convenience stores and vending machines.
Overall, Tokyo has a well-connected and efficient public transportation system that makes it easy those to get around the city. With a little planning and preparation, you can easily navigate Tokyo and explore all that this vibrant city has to offer.
When visiting Tokyo for the first time, it’s important to choose the right accommodation that fits your budget and preferences. The city offers a wide range of options, from budget-friendly hostels to luxury hotels, traditional ryokans, and capsule hotels. Here are a few of the best areas to stay in Tokyo for first-time visitors:
- Shinjuku: This area is perfect for those who want to stay in the heart of the city and be close to many attractions, restaurants, and bars. It’s also a transportation hub, making it easy to explore other areas of Tokyo. Some popular hotels in Shinjuku include the Hyatt Regency Tokyo, Hilton Tokyo, and Keio Plaza Hotel.
- Asakusa: If you’re on a budget, Asakusa is a great area to stay in Tokyo. It’s home to many affordable hostels and guesthouses, as well as the famous Senso-ji Temple. The area is also known for its traditional atmosphere and street food. Some recommended accommodations in Asakusa include Khaosan Tokyo Origami, K’s House Tokyo Oasis, and Sadachiyo Ryokan.
- Ginza: This area is perfect for those who love shopping and luxury. It’s home to many high-end boutiques and department stores, as well as some of the best restaurants in Tokyo. Some recommended accommodations in Ginza include the Conrad Tokyo, Mitsui Garden Hotel Ginza Premier, and Hotel Monterey Ginza.
When choosing your accommodation, it’s also important to consider the proximity to transportation. Tokyo has an extensive network of trains and subways, so staying close to a station can make it easier to get around the city. It’s also a good idea to book your accommodation in advance, especially during peak travel seasons.
Overall, Tokyo offers a wide range of accommodations to suit every budget and preference. Whether you’re looking for luxury or budget-friendly options, there’s Something to interest all in this vibrant city.
Food and Drink
Tokyo is a food lover’s paradise, offering a wide variety of delicious and unique dishes that are sure to tantalize your taste buds. From sushi to ramen, yakitori to kaiseki, there’s Something to interest all in this vibrant city.
One of the must-try dishes in Tokyo is sushi. Tokyo is home to some of the best sushi restaurants in the world, offering fresh and high-quality fish that is expertly prepared by skilled chefs.
If you’re looking for a more casual dining experience, try kaiten-zushi, or conveyor belt sushi. You can choose from a wide variety of sushi dishes as they pass by on a conveyor belt, and pay by the plate.
Kaisen-donburi is another must-try dish for seafood lovers. This dish consists of a bowl of rice topped with fresh seafood, such as tuna, salmon, and octopus. It’s a simple yet delicious dish that is sure to satisfy your seafood cravings.
Another popular dish in Tokyo is ramen. This hearty noodle soup is a staple of Japanese cuisine, and Tokyo has no shortage of delicious ramen restaurants. There are many different types of ramen, from shio (salt-based) to miso (soybean paste-based) to tonkotsu (pork bone-based), so be sure to try a few different varieties during your stay.
If you’re looking for something a little different, try yakitori. This dish consists of skewered and grilled chicken, and is often served with sauces and seasonings. You can find yakitori restaurants all over Tokyo, from casual street vendors to upscale dining establishments.
Finally, no trip to Tokyo would be complete without trying some of the city’s famous craft beers and whiskey. Tokyo has a thriving craft beer scene, with many small breweries offering unique and flavorful beers. And if you’re a whiskey fan, be sure to visit one of Tokyo’s many whiskey bars, where you can sample some of the best whiskey in the world.
Overall, Tokyo is a food lover’s paradise, offering a wide variety of delicious and unique dishes that are sure to satisfy even the most discerning palate. Be sure to try as many different dishes as you can during your stay, and don’t be afraid to venture off the beaten path to discover hidden culinary gems.
Tokyo is a city with an abundance of sights and attractions that will keep any first-time visitor busy for days. Here’s a few of the must-see sights:
- Tokyo Tower: This iconic tower offers breathtaking views of the city. You can even look down to the ground through a glass floor. Admission costs 900 yen for the lower platform and 1,600 yen for both platforms. It is open from 9:00 am to 11:00 pm. To get there, take the Hibiya Line to Kamiyacho or the Oedo Line to Akabanebashi.
- Senso-ji Temple: This is Tokyo’s oldest and most famous temple, in the Asakusa district. The temple is dedicated to the Buddhist goddess of mercy and features a large gate, a five-story pagoda, and a shopping street with traditional Japanese souvenirs.
- Imperial Palace: This is the residence of Japan’s Imperial Family and is in the center of Tokyo. The palace is surrounded by beautiful gardens and a moat. You can take a guided tour of the palace grounds.
- Ginza: This is Tokyo’s most famous shopping district, known for its high-end department stores, luxury boutiques, and restaurants. It is a great place to go shopping or enjoy a meal.
- Shibuya Crossing: This is Tokyo’s busiest intersection, famous for its pedestrian scramble. It is a great place to people-watch and take photos.
And this is just a sample of the many sights and attractions that Tokyo has to offer. Be sure to plan your itinerary carefully to make the most of your time in the city.
Shopping in Tokyo is an experience like no other. From high-end designer boutiques to quirky vintage shops, Tokyo has it all. Here’s a few of the top shopping destinations in Tokyo:
Ginza is Tokyo’s premier upmarket shopping district. It features high-end department stores, boutiques, and designer brand stores. Nearly every leading Japanese and international fashion brand has a presence here, as well as major electronics brands such as Sony and Apple. Ginza is a great place to find luxury goods, but be prepared to pay a premium price.
Shibuya is a bustling shopping district known for its trendy fashion boutiques and department stores. It is a popular destination for young people and fashion enthusiasts. Shibuya is also home to the famous Shibuya Crossing, one of the busiest intersections in the world. It is a must-visit spot for anyone visiting Tokyo.
Harajuku is a neighborhood known for its trendy fashion and street style. It is a popular destination for young people and fashion enthusiasts. Takeshita Street is the main shopping street in Harajuku, and it is lined with quirky shops and boutiques. If you’re looking for unique fashion items, Harajuku is the place to go.
Asakusa is a historic neighborhood known for its traditional Japanese crafts and souvenirs. Nakamise-dori is the main shopping street in Asakusa, and it is lined with shops selling everything from traditional Japanese sweets to handcrafted pottery. Asakusa is a great place to find unique omiyage.
Akihabara is a neighborhood known for its electronics and anime shops. It is a popular destination for tech enthusiasts and anime fans. Akihabara is also home to some of the largest electronics stores in Tokyo, such as Yodobashi Camera and Bic Camera. If you’re looking for the latest gadgets or anime merchandise, Akihabara is the place to go.
When shopping in Tokyo, it’s important to keep in mind that many stores only accept cash. It’s also a good idea to bring a reusable shopping bag, as many stores charge for bags. Happy shopping.
When it comes to nightlife, Tokyo is a city that never sleeps. With options, you can find something to suit your taste and style. Here are some areas and venues to explore:
Shibuya is a popular area for both locals and tourists. It is known for its lively atmosphere and neon lights. You can find bars, clubs, and karaoke rooms here. Don’t miss out on the famous Shibuya Crossing, which is one of the busiest intersections in the world.
Shinjuku is another popular area for nightlife. It is home to the famous Kabukicho red-light district, which is known for its bars, clubs, and adult entertainment. However, there are also many other options in Shinjuku, such as jazz bars, cocktail lounges, and karaoke rooms.
Roppongi is a popular area for expats and international visitors. It has a reputation for being a bit more upscale and expensive than other areas, but it also offers options, from high-end clubs and bars to more laid-back pubs and lounges.
Ginza is known for its high-end shopping, but it also has bars and restaurants. Many of the bars in Ginza are more upscale and sophisticated, with a focus on cocktails and wine.
Other areas worth exploring include Shimokitazawa, which is known for its indie music scene and hipster vibe, and Ebisu, which is home to many trendy bars and restaurants.
When going out in Tokyo, keep in mind that many venues have a cover charge, and some may have dress codes. Also, be aware of your surroundings and take precautions to ensure your safety, especially if you plan on drinking.
Tips and Tricks
Traveling to Tokyo for the first time can be overwhelming, but with these tips and tricks, you can make the most out of your trip:
- Learn basic Japanese phrases. While many Japanese people speak English, it’s always helpful to know some basic phrases like “hello” (konnichiwa), “thank you” (arigatou gozaimasu), and “excuse me” (sumimasen).
- Get a Suica or Pasmo card. These IC cards are rechargeable and can be used on most public transportation in Tokyo, including trains and buses. They also save you time and money as you don’t have to buy individual tickets for each ride.
- Download a translation app. Google Translate or other translation apps can be a lifesaver when you’re trying to communicate with someone who doesn’t speak English.
- Carry cash. While credit cards are widely accepted in Tokyo, some smaller shops and restaurants only accept cash. It’s always a good idea to carry some yen with you.
- Take off your shoes. When entering someone’s home, a temple, or a traditional Japanese restaurant, you’re expected to take off your shoes. Look for a shoe rack or a designated area to leave your shoes before entering.
- Respect local customs. Japan has a rich culture and many customs that may be different from what you’re used to. For example, it’s considered impolite to talk loudly on public transportation, so try to keep your voice down.
By following these tips and tricks, you can have a more enjoyable and stress-free trip to Tokyo.