Tokyo is a crazy, high tech, frenetic, and amazing. This is a high tech city that is the center of Japan. Here you can visit the imperial palace, the morning fish market, see the beautiful cherry blossoms, party in the Tokyo’s trendy night life district, and eat lots of good food. I love Tokyo. It’s one of my favorite cities. It’s not cheap but I love the high tech in the city and the fact that in a city of so many people, people still don’t lock their doors!
- Hostel Prices: Many hostels costs around $30 USD per night. The cheapest places to stay in Tokyo are Pod hotels.
- Budget Hotel Prices: Private rooms costs around $130 USD in a hotel which includes breakfast.
- Average Cost of Food: Raman noodle shops, miso and soba noodles, and donburi stalls range from $2-10 USD. Buying groceries will cost you $30-45 USD per week. Most restaurant meals cost around $15 USD. Mid-range restaurants can will cost around $35 USD. Sushi Trains cost around $1-5 USD per piece. Fast food is around $7 USD.
- Transportation: Tokyo has a world class train system that goes every year. The Yamanote Line hits all the city’s spots and an all day ticket can be purchased for $9 USD. The bus is another great way to explore the city, and bus stops are clearly marked. It costs $2 USD when you board, or $17 USD for an all day train and bus ticket.
Top Things to Do
- Hachiko Statue – The Hachiko Statue is a life sized statue of a dog from 1925. The dog’s owner died but everyday the dog went to the train station to wait for him to return from work. It signals loyalty and devotion to the Japanese and is a popular monument. It’s in front of the Shibuya Station and free.
- Visit the Tokyo Tower – Resembling the Eiffel Tower, the Tokyo Tower is taller than its European version, and made entirely of steel. You can pay $15 USD to go all the way to the top floor.
- Ueno Zoological Gardens – Located in Ueno Park, the Zoological Gardens is the oldest zoo in Japan and worth a visit for the day. The pandas are particularly rare and interesting to watch. Children get in free and adult tickets are $6 USD.
- Ueno Park – Ueno Park is a great place to spend a free day. The park is covered in cherry blossom trees. The best time to come is when the trees are blossoming. There’s a big festival at this time. You can also buy food from one of the many vendors.
- Visit the Imperial Palace – The Imperial Palace which is home to the Emperor of Japan is a wonderful place to take a tour and learn about Japanese history and current events. It is surrounded by a beautiful park and garden and admission is free. There’s a guard change each day similar to the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace.
- Tsukiji Fish Market – Visit this world famous fish market and watch the vendors sell fish that ends up as sushi in restaurants all over the worlds. It’s hectic, crazy, and delicious. The tuna auction is now closed to tourists but you can visit the market after it is over.
- Watch a Sumo Match – Kokugikan is Japan’s most famous sumo wrestling arena and where tournaments are held three times yearly. A visit to one of the sumo stables nearby can be interesting, but must be arranged well in advance.
- Sensji Temple – One of the most beautiful temples in Tokyo. The legend hasit that in the year 628, two brothers fished a statue of Kannon, the goddess of mercy, out of the Sumida River, and even though they put the statue back into the river, it always came back to them. Sensoji was built nearby for the. The temple is Tokyo’s oldest having been complete in 645.
- Akihabara Electric Town – For Tokyo, this is the Tsukiji Market of the electronics world. You can find pretty much anything you’ve ever imagined, as well as, all of the things you’ve never even dreamed of. Many up and coming electronics are tested here and there is tons of cool stuff to browse through.
- Roppongi Hills – A dream brought to life, this is a complex of architectural wonder. There are various buildings to see, all of which have been designed by major, leading architects, as well as, various public art displays. This eye-feast doesn’t cost anything—all you have to do is catch a ride up.
- Golden Gai – If you are looking for something interesting to do at night, this little alleyway of back-street bars is a great place to start. There isn’t much going on during the day here, but come sun down, these zig-zag hallways and closet-sized beer rooms are filled with interesting people and cheap drinks. This is what you might consider “old-school” Tokyo.
- Get on a suijo-bus – For centuries, Tokyo has been centralized around its’ rivers. One of the traditional ways to get around has always been via water bus. This is a great alternative to the subway (when possible) and offers a different perspective of the bustling city. There are even floating restaurants—yakata-bune.
- Check out a Sento – A sento is a traditional Japanese public bath house. While they were originally built to accommodate those that did not have such facilities in-house, they are now a great place to go for some peace and relaxation. They are typically separated by gender.
- Skip the taxis - Since cabs can be expensive ($7 USD per five miles), use the public transportation to save money.
- Shop at the 100 Yen ($1) stores – There are many 100 Yen shops in Japan where set meals, groceries, water, toiletries, household items. There are a lot in Tokyo.
- Eat at 7-11 – 7-11, Family Mart, and other corner stores have a lot of pre-set meals for $1-3 USD that make for a cheap lunch option. Additionally, supermarkets also have many set meals at similar prices.
- Work for your room – Hostels in Japan let you work for your room. You’ll spend a few hours in the morning cleaning and you’ll get free accommodation for as long as you want. The Khao San Hostel chain always has spots available.
- Couchsurf – Using sites like Couchsurfing that allow you to stay with locals not only gets you a free place to stay but lets you interact and learn about local life. Make sure you ask early – the response rate is not good!