Planning a trip to Japan? We’ve got you covered! If you haven’t already, make sure to check out our comprehensive guide on the 60+ travel tips for Japan to get started. Now, let’s zoom in on Tokyo, the heart of this fascinating country.

Why does Tokyo often top the bucket list for visitors to Japan? It’s simple: the city’s unmatched blend of cutting-edge technology, rich history, and unique culture is an irresistible combination. 

Whether you’re indulging in the freshest sushi at Tsukiji Market, diving into the eclectic fashion scenes of Harajuku, or immersing yourself in the history and culture at ancient temples like Senso-ji. Tokyo’s diverse attractions ensure that every visitor finds a unique and memorable experience.

Let us give you the insider tips and essential info you need to navigate this bustling metropolis like a pro. So, buckle up and get ready to dive into the must-know Tokyo travel tips that will make your trip unforgettable!

Top 25 Tokyo Travel Tips

Travel Planning Tips 

Before diving into the nitty-gritty of Tokyo travel tips, let’s take a moment to set the stage. Planning a trip to such a vibrant and sprawling city can be overwhelming, but don’t worry—we’ve got your back. 

Tip # 1: Book accommodations in areas that best suit your interests and purpose for travel. 

  • Budget Travelers: Stay in areas like Asakusa or Ueno for more affordable options with easy access to major attractions. Asakusa is famous for the historic Senso-ji Temple, and Ueno boasts the beautiful Ueno Park and its numerous museums.
  • Luxury Seekers: Opt for upscale neighborhoods like Ginza or Roppongi for high-end hotels and fine dining. Ginza is renowned for its luxury shopping, exquisite restaurants, and stylish hotels, while Roppongi offers a vibrant nightlife scene with chic bars, clubs, and cultural attractions.
  • Cultural Enthusiasts: Choose a traditional ryokan in areas like Yanaka for an authentic experience. Yanaka retains a charming old-town feel, with narrow streets, traditional houses, and a wealth of history. 

Staying in a ryokan allows you to immerse yourself in Japanese culture, complete with tatami mats, futons, and kaiseki meals.

Tip #2: Book accommodations early—especially during peak seasons like cherry blossom season, Golden Week, autumn, and the end of year/new year period. Each of these seasons has its unique draw but brings with it a higher number of visitors.

  • Cherry Blossom Season (late March to early April): The blooming of cherry blossoms is a celebrated event across Japan. In Tokyo, spots like Ueno Park and Chidorigafuchi Park become especially crowded with both tourists and locals enjoying hanami (flower viewing parties).
  • Golden Week (late April to early May): This is a series of four national holidays within one week and one of Japan’s busiest holiday seasons. Many residents take paid time off during this period, leading to packed trains, airports, and tourist spots. Key dates include April 29 (Showa Day), May 3 (Constitution Day), May 4 (Greenery Day), and May 5 (Children’s Day).
  • Autumn Foliage (mid-November to early December): Similar to the cherry blossom season, autumn brings stunning colors to Tokyo’s many gardens and parks. Popular spots for viewing autumn leaves, including the Rikugien Garden and Meiji Jingu Gaien, can be very packed.
  • End of Year/New Year Period (late December to early January): New Year (Shogatsu) is Japan’s most important holiday. Many people return to their hometowns, and famous temples in Tokyo, such as Meiji Shrine and Senso-ji, attract millions of visitors for Hatsumode (the first shrine visit of the year).

Tip #3: Try to plan your visit during the least crowded and cheapest months:

  • June (Rainy Season): Fewer tourists and generally lower prices can be expected due to the rainy weather, making it a quieter time to enjoy Tokyo.
  • Summer (July to August): Although it’s hot, the summer months tend to be less crowded compared to spring and autumn, potentially offering more comfortable pricing and accommodation options.

Tip #4: Download Google Maps – if you haven’t already. Google Maps is highly reliable and accurate in Japan. It provides real-time information on train schedules, platform numbers, and the best routes to your destination. 

Simply enter your current location and destination, and Google Maps will offer detailed step-by-step directions, including walking paths within stations. Google Maps is widely trusted by both locals and tourists for its accuracy in Japan. It regularly updates to reflect any changes in train schedules or routes.

Beyond basic directions, Google Maps offers features like offline maps which are indispensable when exploring remote areas like the islands of Tokyo or rural outskirts. Learn how to download offline Google Maps here.

Tip #5: Work in—at least some of—these 30+ FREE things to do in Tokyo in your itinerary. It’s a pretty comprehensive list, but some of my personal favorites are:

  • Imperial Palace Gardens: I always find a stroll through the Imperial Palace Gardens to be a refreshing break from the bustling city. It’s free, it’s beautiful, and you can join guided tours that don’t cost a yen!
  • Tokyo’s Parks: I’m a big fan of Ueno Park for a leisurely day out—there’s always something happening, and the atmosphere is just vibrant. Yoyogi Park is another favorite, especially on the weekends when you can catch some live performances.
  • Asakusa Culture and Tourist Information Center: This place is more than just a resource for visitors; it’s an architectural gem designed by Kengo Kuma. The observatory deck here offers some fantastic views of the city, and best of all, it’s completely free.
  • Seasonal Flower Displays: Whether it’s cherry blossoms in spring or ginkgo leaves in autumn, Tokyo’s parks offer some of the best spots to see seasonal flowers. Shinjuku Gyoen is especially spectacular during the cherry blossom season.

Tip #6: Consider joining a food tour or local experience to gain insider tips and enrich your visit. These tours not only provide a deeper understanding of the area but also support local businesses, tying into the services our company offers.

Area Tips 

Tokyo is a sprawling metropolis with countless neighborhoods, each offering its own unique vibe and attractions. Here are some tips on must-visit areas and hidden gems that will help you make the most of your Tokyo adventure.

Tip #7: Consider visiting some of the city’s most famous areas and tourist favorites.

Even if you’re not a fan of crowds, these incredibly popular spots are worth a visit for various unique reasons:

  • Shinjuku: A bustling commercial center known for its shopping, entertainment, and vibrant nightlife. Be sure to check out the panoramic view from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building’s observation deck.
  • Shibuya: Famous for the iconic Shibuya Crossing and its energetic nightlife, this area is a hub for youth culture and entertainment. Explore the trendy shops, bustling streets, and the beloved Hachiko statue, a popular meeting spot.
  • Akihabara: A haven for tech enthusiasts and anime fans, offering a wide array of electronics and themed cafes. Perfect for manga, anime, and gaming aficionados seeking unique merchandise and experiences.
  • Harajuku: The heart of youth fashion and quirky trends, known for Takeshita Street’s eclectic shops. Experience Tokyo’s avant-garde fashion scene and vibrant youth culture here.
  • Asakusa: Home to the historic Senso-ji Temple and a traditional atmosphere. Enjoy the lively Nakamise Shopping Street leading up to the temple.
  • Ginza: Renowned for luxury shopping, exquisite restaurants, and stylish hotels. It’s an ideal spot for high-end shopping and dining.

Tip #8: If you want some more lesser-known and local neighbourhoods, consider checking out:

  • Nakano: Known for Nakano Broadway, a multi-story shopping complex full of anime, manga, and pop culture stores. It’s a quieter alternative to Akihabara.
  • Koenji: A haven for vintage shopping and indie music scenes, perfect for those looking for a unique cultural experience. The area is filled with second-hand shops, record stores, and live music venues, perfect for those seeking a more laid-back and bohemian atmosphere.
  • Meguro: Offers a blend of modern and traditional experiences. Visit the Meguro River for beautiful cherry blossoms in spring and enjoy the serene atmosphere.
  • Kagurazaka: Explore this old geisha district known for its charming narrow streets and French cuisine. Discover the area’s historic temples, traditional shops, and delightful cafes and restaurants.
  • Roppongi: Known for its vibrant nightlife, international dining, and contemporary art museums like the Mori Art Museum.

Tip #9: If you have enough time, also consider taking these day trips from Tokyo:

  • Yokohama: Visit the beautiful waterfront area, the Cup Noodles Museum, and the historic Yokohama Chinatown.
  • Kamakura & Enoshima: Discover the Great Buddha, numerous temples, and the scenic Enoshima Island, perfect for a mix of history and nature.
  • Kawagoe: Known as “Little Edo” for its well-preserved Edo-period buildings, offering a glimpse into historical Japan. Explore the town’s old clay-walled warehouse district, candy alley, and traditional streets.
  • Nikko: Home to the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Toshogu Shrine, and beautiful natural scenery. The area is famous for its stunning temples, waterfalls, and hot springs, providing a refreshing escape from the city.

Culture and Etiquette Tips

Tokyo’s diverse neighborhoods each have their own unique vibe and social norms. Here are some tips to help you navigate the cultural landscape:

Tip #10:  Though it is, of course, not a requirement for tourists, you can blend in more easily by dressing and behaving more conservatively in these formal areas:

  • Ginza and Marunouchi: These upscale business and shopping districts are where people tend to be more formal. In these areas, dressing neatly and being mindful of your manners is crucial. Avoid talking loudly, and be especially polite in interactions with shop staff and restaurant employees. Maintain a formal demeanor, avoid using slang, and be punctual for any appointments or reservations.
  • Chiyoda (Imperial Palace Area): This area is home to many government buildings and the Imperial Palace, where formality and respect are paramount. When visiting places like the Imperial Palace or nearby shrines, dress modestly and follow all posted rules. Being mindful of your behavior in this area reflects well on you and shows respect for Japan’s cultural heritage.

Tip #11: Good manners are always a requirement when travelling, but you can let your hair down a bit more in these Tokyo areas that are more casual and youthful:

  • Shibuya: Known for its bustling streets and youth culture, Shibuya has a more relaxed atmosphere. While basic politeness is always expected, the dress code is more casual, and you can be a bit more expressive in your behavior. It’s common to see people wearing trendy and casual clothing. Feel free to express yourself, but still respect public decorum (e.g., avoid being excessively loud or disruptive).

  • Harajuku: Famous for its eclectic fashion and youthful energy, Harajuku is where you can see people dressed in unique, often avant-garde styles. This is a place where individuality is celebrated, so feel free to dress creatively. However, respect personal space and avoid making too much noise in residential areas.

  • Shinjuku: A bustling area where casual attire is common. It’s a lively district with a mix of everything, from skyscrapers to small alleyways with hidden spots for a great night of drinking.

Tips Related to Transportation and Getting Around 

Tokyo can be an overwhelming city for first-time visitors due to its vast size, busy atmosphere, and complex transportation system. However, with the right preparation and a few practical tips, you can navigate the city’s trains and other related transportation with ease and confidence. 

Tip #12: One of the first things you should do when you arrive in Tokyo is to get an IC card, such as a Suica or PASMO. These rechargeable smart cards can be used on most trains, buses, and even for purchases at convenience stores and vending machines. 

Having an IC card will save you time and hassle, allowing you to travel seamlessly across the city without needing to buy individual tickets for each journey.

Tip #13: Try not to get caught up in the notorious Tokyo rush hour, which typically falls between 7:30 AM and 9:00 AM in the morning, and from 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM in the evening. During these times, trains can become packed with commuters heading to and from work. 

Use Google Maps to check real-time train schedules and crowd levels. The app can suggest less crowded routes or times if your schedule is flexible.

Tip #14: Also know in advance that these specific train lines and stations can get crowded:

  • Yamanote Line: This circular line is one of the busiest, connecting major districts like Shinjuku, Shibuya, Ikebukuro, and Tokyo Station. Expect heavy crowds, especially at Shinjuku Station, which is one of the busiest train stations in the world.
  • Chuo Line (Rapid Service): This line runs through key areas such as Tokyo Station, Shinjuku, and Kichijoji. It’s heavily used by commuters traveling from the western suburbs into the city center.
  • Tokyo Metro Ginza Line: Connecting Asakusa and Shibuya, this line passes through important business districts like Ginza and Shimbashi, making it very crowded during peak times.
  • Tozai Line: Known for its extreme crowding during rush hours, the Tozai Line connects eastern Tokyo suburbs with central areas like Nihombashi and Otemachi.
  • Hibiya Line: This line connects key business districts such as Roppongi and Hibiya, and can get quite crowded, especially during evening rush hours.
  • Odakyu Line: A major commuter line running from Shinjuku to suburban areas like Machida and Odawara. Expect crowding at Shinjuku Station.
  • Keio Line: Another major line starting from Shinjuku, serving western Tokyo suburbs. Shibuya and Shinjuku stations are particularly congested.
  • Seibu Shinjuku Line: Connecting Seibu Shinjuku Station with Tokorozawa, this line is also heavily used by commuters during peak times.

Tip #15: If you do find yourself stuck in Tokyo rush hour, navigate it like a pro by:

  • Following the flow of commuters efficiently. Be prepared for crowded platforms and trains, and move quickly to avoid blocking others.
  • Standing on the left on escalators to allow others to pass on the right, especially in busy stations.
  • Using the Women-Only Cars during morning rush hours for safety and comfort.
  • Carrying minimal luggage or bags to make it easier to navigate through crowded spaces and board trains swiftly.

Tip #16: Use bicycle rentals for a flexible travel option. Exploring Tokyo by bicycle can be an incredibly enjoyable way to see the city. Here are some popular options for your cycling adventures:

  • Docomo Bike Share: This widely-used bike-sharing service has numerous docking stations throughout Tokyo. It’s convenient for short trips and casual rides.
    • How to Use: Register online or through the app, then use your membership card or a PIN to unlock the bike. Google Maps can help you find the nearest docking station and plan your cycling route.
  • Hello Cycling: Another popular bike-sharing service with extensive coverage across the city. This service is user-friendly and accessible.
    • How to Use: Download the Hello Cycling app to locate, reserve, and unlock bikes. You can pay via the app using various payment methods.
  • Tokyobike Rentals: If you prefer a more traditional rental experience, Tokyobike offers stylish and comfortable bikes for daily rental.
    • How to Use: Visit the Tokyobike shop in person to rent a bike. They provide maps and recommendations for scenic cycling routes around Tokyo.

When renting a bike, be mindful of these safety tips and cycling etiquette:

  • Always ride on the left side of the road and follow traffic signals.
  • Use designated bike lanes where available and be mindful of pedestrians on shared paths.
  • Wear a helmet for safety, even though it’s not mandatory.
  • Park your bike in designated parking areas to avoid fines or having your bike impounded.

Tip #17: Utilize Taxis for short distances and convenience. Taxis in Tokyo are known to be expensive, so they are best used for short distances, late-night travel, or emergencies. Google Maps can provide fare estimates for your journey. Instead of getting an Uber, it’s also super easy, safe, and convenient to hail down a taxi the traditional way. 

  • Taxi Availability: Look for taxis with a green light indicating they are available. You can also use taxi-hailing apps like JapanTaxi or Uber, which are integrated with Google Maps for easy booking.
  • Payment: Many taxis accept Suica or PASMO cards as well as credit cards, making payment convenient.

Tip #18: Consider getting transportation passes.

Tokyo offers various transportation passes that can make getting around the city more convenient and cost-effective. Here are some options to consider:

  • Tokyo Subway Ticket: This pass provides unlimited access to the Tokyo Metro and Toei Subway lines. There are three types available: 24-hour, 48-hour, and 72-hour passes. 

These can be especially useful for tourists planning to explore multiple areas within a short time frame. You can purchase these tickets at Narita and Haneda airports, major subway stations, and even online in advance.

  • Tokyo Combination Ticket: This ticket offers unlimited rides on JR East trains, Tokyo Metro, and Toei Subway lines for a single day. It’s perfect for travelers who want the flexibility to explore the city using multiple transportation options.

Packing Tips

Packing for Tokyo requires a bit of strategic planning. In this section, we cover packing tips to ensure you’re well-prepared for your adventure in this dynamic city.

Tip #19: Make sure that you pack appropriately for the season.

  • Spring (March to May): The weather is mild, but temperatures can vary. Pack layers, such as a light jacket or cardigan, to stay comfortable. Don’t forget an umbrella or a raincoat, as spring can be rainy.
  • Summer (June to August): Summers in Tokyo are hot and humid. Bring light, breathable clothing like cotton t-shirts, shorts, and dresses. A portable fan and a hat can also help you stay cool.
  • Autumn (September to November): Autumn is pleasant, with mild temperatures. Pack layers to adjust to changing temperatures throughout the day. A light jacket and long sleeves are ideal.
  • Winter (December to February): Winters are cold, so bring warm clothing such as sweaters, a heavy coat, gloves, and a scarf. Tokyo doesn’t get much snow, but it can be windy, making it feel colder.

Tip #20: Even in summer, trains in Tokyo can be quite chilly due to strong air conditioning. Carrying a cardigan or light sweater in your bag is advisable to stay comfortable.

Tip #21: Sudden rain showers are common in Tokyo—especially during the rainy and typhoon seasons—so having a small, foldable umbrella is advisable.

Tip #22: Tokyo is a city best explored on foot, so comfortable walking shoes are a must. Opt for sneakers or cushioned flats. If you plan to visit more formal places like high-end restaurants or theaters, pack a pair of dress shoes as well.

However, even at high-end restaurants, casual attire like sneakers and casual clothes are generally acceptable unless specifically mentioned otherwise, so you should not worry about packing a suit.

Tips for After Arriving in Tokyo

Arriving in Tokyo is an exciting moment, but can also be daunting. To help you settle in quickly and start your adventure smoothly, here are tips for your first few hours in the city. 

Tip #23: Find your way out of Haneda Airport and into Tokyo with these options:

  • Tokyo Monorail: This is one of the fastest and most convenient ways to reach central Tokyo. The monorail runs from Haneda Airport to Hamamatsucho Station in about 13 minutes, where you can transfer to the JR Yamanote Line or other lines to reach various parts of Tokyo.
    • Fares: A one-way ticket costs around ¥490.
    • Frequency: Trains run every 3-5 minutes during peak times and every 10 minutes during off-peak times.
  • Keikyu Line: The Keikyu Airport Line offers direct services to Shinagawa Station in about 11 minutes, where you can transfer to the JR Yamanote Line or other lines.
    • Fares: A one-way ticket to Shinagawa costs around ¥300.
    • Frequency: Trains run every 4-5 minutes during peak times.
  • Bus Services: Several limousine buses connect Haneda Airport to various destinations in Tokyo, including major hotels and districts like Shibuya, Shinjuku, and Roppongi.
    • Fares: Depending on the destination, bus fares range from ¥600 to ¥1,200.
    • Frequency: Buses run frequently, especially during the day.
  • Taxis: Taxis are available 24/7 outside the terminals. While they offer door-to-door service, they are significantly more expensive than trains or buses.
    • Fares: A taxi ride to central Tokyo can cost between ¥5,000 and ¥10,000, depending on the distance and traffic.

Tip #24: Find your way out of Haneda Airport and into Tokyo with these options:

  • Narita Express (N’EX): Operated by JR East, the Narita Express provides a direct and comfortable connection to Tokyo Station, Shinjuku, Shibuya, and other major stations. The journey to Tokyo Station takes about 55 minutes.
    • Fares: A one-way ticket to Tokyo Station costs around ¥3,070 for an ordinary seat.
    • Frequency: Trains run approximately every 30 minutes during peak times and every hour during off-peak times.
  • Keisei Skyliner: The Skyliner is a high-speed train that connects Narita Airport with Ueno Station via Nippori Station. The journey to Nippori takes about 36 minutes.
    • Fares: A one-way ticket to Nippori costs around ¥2,520.
    • Frequency: Trains run every 20-40 minutes.
  • Access Express (Keisei Main Line): This is a slower but cheaper option that connects Narita Airport with Asakusa and other parts of Tokyo. The journey to Asakusa takes about 65 minutes.
    • Fares: A one-way ticket to Asakusa costs around ¥1,280.
    • Frequency: Trains run every 20 minutes.
  • Bus Services: Limousine buses and shuttle buses connect Narita Airport with major hotels and districts in Tokyo, including Tokyo Disney Resort.
    • Fares: Depending on the destination, bus fares range from ¥1,000 to ¥3,200.
    • Frequency: Buses run frequently throughout the day.
  • Taxis: Taxis are available outside the terminals. While they provide door-to-door service, they are very expensive for the long distance to central Tokyo.
    • Fares: A taxi ride to central Tokyo can cost between ¥20,000 and ¥30,000, depending on the distance and traffic.

Tip #25: Exchanging currency in Tokyo can be straightforward if you know where to go:

  • Airport Currency Exchange: Both Haneda and Narita airports have currency exchange counters, which are convenient but may offer slightly lower exchange rates compared to city options.
  • ATMs: Many ATMs in Tokyo, such as those at 7-Eleven, Lawson, and Japan Post Bank, accept foreign cards and offer competitive exchange rates. Using an ATM can be a convenient way to withdraw yen directly.
  • Currency Exchange Centers: Dedicated currency exchange centers in popular areas like Shinjuku, Shibuya, and Ginza often offer better rates than airports. Look for Travelex branches or local exchange shops for good deals.
  • Hotels: Some hotels offer currency exchange services, but the rates may not be as favorable as other options.

Start Your Tokyo Adventure 

There you have it—25 essential tips to help you navigate Tokyo like a pro. From the bustling streets of Shibuya to the historic charm of Senso-ji, these tips will help you make the most of your vacation in Tokyo. 

Remember, this guide is just the beginning. We also offer comprehensive guides for other amazing destinations in Japan, such as Osaka and Kyoto. Each city has its unique attractions and experiences waiting to be explored.

Tokyo awaits, so buckle up because unforgettable memories are about to be made. Safe travels!