Tokyo is a crazy, frenetic, and astounding city. Here you can, explore the early morning fish market, visit the historic Imperial Palace, behold beautiful cherry blossoms, party in Tokyo’s trendy nightlife district, sing karaoke, and eat lots of amazing sushi (it is Japan after all).
I love Tokyo. It’s one of my favorite cities in the world and I can’t visit it enough! I love that it’s a fast-paced modern city that still embraces its traditional roots. I love the orderly crowds when you expect chaos and the never-ending list of amazing things to see and do. You could easily spend weeks here and never get bored.
Tokyo is a city like none other. Where else can you be in a city of ten million people but hear a pin drop? It’s rare a person visits and doesn’t enjoy their time here.
This travel guide to Tokyo can help you navigate the city on a budget to ensure you make the most of your time in this massive metropolis!
Table of Contents
Top 5 Things to See and Do in Tokyo
1. Admire Sensoji Temple
The original Buddhist temple was built in the 7th century and is a quick walk from the Asakusa train station. The current resurrected temple is beautifully painted in rich reds and lives in an oasis of ancient structures, nestled amongst modern skyscrapers, including a five-story pagoda and the famous Kaminarimon aka “Thunder Gate,” constructed in 941. There’s a huge statue of Kannon, the goddess of mercy, inside the main hall and other statues to ancient gods and goddesses, lanterns, and more throughout the grounds. The grounds are free to enter and open 24/7. The temple itself is open daily from 6am-5pm (opens at 6:30am from October to March).
2. Visit the Tokyo Tower
Built in 1957, with many other replica towers being erected country-wide, this bright Eiffel Tower doppelganger stands approximately 333 meters (1,092 feet) and is made entirely out of steel. It was Tokyo’s tallest structure until the “Skytree” was built in 2010 (SkyTree admission is 1,800 JPY when booked online). You can pay to go up 250 meters (820 feet) up to the top floor of the Tokyo Tower to take in expansive views of the city, though the main observation deck offers views that are just as impressive (it’s 150 meters/492 feet up). On a clear day, you may even spot Mt. Fuji. Admission is 1,200 JPY for the main deck or 2,800 JPY for the top. There are also plenty of kid-friendly (and kid-at-heart-friendly) restaurants, shops, and displays at the tower base and main deck level.
3. See the Tsukiji and Toyosu Fish Markets
Tsukiji Fish Market opened in 1935 and for decades was the most famous wholesale fish market in the world. While the Tsukiji inner market (with its famous tuna auctions) closed, you can still visit the outer market, which has rows and rows of wholesale stalls as well as fresh-from-Toyosu seafood restaurants. Food and drink tours of the Tsukiji Outer Market are available for around 13,500 JPY.
In October 2018, Tsukiji moved its wholesale market and fish auction to a new location in Toyosu and doubled in size, now including a fruit and vegetable section and rooftop garden. If you want to experience the wholesale market auctions, head to Toyosu, where there are also endless fishmongers at rows upon rows of tables, butchering and selling octopus, crustaceans, and varieties of fish I had never seen before. Both markets operate from around 5am-2pm and offer free admission. They are closed Sundays, holidays, and some Wednesdays.
4. Admire the Imperial Palace
The Imperial Palace is the primary residence of the Emperor of Japan. Built in the late 15th century as a feudal city within the city and inhabited by various warrior clans, Edo Castle, as it was called through most of history, was renamed when the then-Emperor moved Japan’s capital from Kyoto to Tokyo in 1869. While visitors aren’t permitted inside the Palace and other buildings, the grounds are a peaceful place to wander. For access to limited areas of the grounds, book a free tour in advance on the Imperial Palace website.
5. Explore Ueno Park
Ueno Park is home to over 1,000 cherry blossom trees. April is the best time of year if you hope to catch them in full bloom. The Tokyo National Museum (admission 1,000 JPY), both the oldest and largest art museum in Japan, is located in Ueno Park and houses one of the world’s largest collections of art and artifacts from Asia, including exhibits on diverse topics including Noh and Kabuki theater, Buddhist art, the Art of the Tea Ceremony, and military memorabilia. Ueno Tosho-gu, a Shinto Shrine for several shoguns, can also be found in the park (free, but 500 JPY to visit the inner shrine). It dates to the 17th century and is well-preserved and architecturally significant to the Edo period. There are several other museums here, including the National Museum of Nature and Science (630 JPY), Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum (admission varies by exhibition), National Museum of Western Art (500 JPY), Shitamachi Museum (300 JPY), and Ueno Zoo (600 JPY), Japan’s oldest zoo and home to 400 animal species.
Other Things to See and Do in Tokyo
1. Watch a sumo match
Ryogoku Kokugikan, Japan’s most famous sumo wrestling arena, hosts tournaments three times each year in January, May, and September. The sumo wrestling that we see today dates back to the 17th century, though its origins date back even further. To this day, it’s one of the most popular traditions in the country. If you’re in town at the right time, this is a must-see. Tickets sell out quickly so book online in advance. Ticket prices vary but start around 3,800 JPY for arena seats. To learn more about the sport or experience sumo in the off-season, book a tour of a sumo stable. Here, you’ll see where wrestlers not only train, but also live. Visits must be arranged well in advance.
2. Gaze at Mount Fuji from Hakone
Hakone is a picturesque mountain town located an hour outside of Tokyo. It is known for its stunning views of Mount Fuji, aka “Fuji-san,” one of Japan’s three holy mountains. Hakone is one of the best places to escape the overwhelm of Tokyo. There are numerous guesthouses in the area, many with their own private onsen (hot springs). For these reasons, Hakone makes for a great romantic getaway for couples. Site-seeing also abounds here. Hakone Shrine is a beautiful red torii-style gate, and for a unique view of the region, grab a seat on an aerial cable car, Hakone Ropeway. Tickets are included with the Hakone Free Pass, which provides round-trip train travel from Tokyo’s Shinjuku Station and access to eight local attractions at a bundled rate of 6,100 JPY.
3. See the Hachiko statue
The Hachiko Statue is a life-sized bronze statue of an Akita dog located outside Shibuya Station. The legendary Hachiko would greet his owner at Shibuya Station on return from his daily commute, until the owner passed away at work in 1925. Hachiko visited the train station daily and waited for his owner until he also passed away nearly a decade later, in 1935. He is a national hero in Japan and his story is well-known as it highlights virtues of loyalty and devotion, which are highly valued in Japanese culture. Shibuya Station is the fourth-largest commuter station in the world and Shibuya Crossing is the world’s busiest intersection. You can find Hachiko, unsurprisingly, at the Hachiko Exit.
4. Shop at Akihabara Electric Town
This is the Tsukiji Market of the electronics world. You can find pretty much any gadget you’ve ever imagined throughout this neighborhood, consisting of block-after-block of electronics shops ranging from one-man kiosks to massive malls. You’ll even find technology that feels years ahead of the rest of the world. Many up-and-coming electronics are tested here. With tons of bright lights and huge billboards, it feels like you stepped into the future — or a sci-fi movie. There are also lots of local artists selling their music here, too. The neighborhood also has many manga and anime specialty shops and cafes mixed in between the camera, phone, and TV retailers.
5. Wander Roppongi Hills
Roppongi Hills is one of Tokyo’s “cool” neighborhoods, with skyscrapers designed by leading local architects and many different public art displays to stumble upon. One of Tokyo’s tallest buildings, Mori Tower, is also in Roppongi. It’s guarded by Maman, a 6-meter (20-foot) bronze spider designed by sculptor Louise Bourgeois (if it sounds familiar, it’s because there are 5 other identical Maman statues in Qatar, the USA, South Korea, Spain and Canada). Mori Tower also contains the hip Mori Art Museum, which features Japanese modern art exhibits (2,000 JPY admission), and Tokyo City View, a 52nd-floor vantage point of Tokyo’s endless concrete jungle. It’s the perfect fusion of art and a view (which, by the way, on the right day, also includes Mt. Fuji). Consider a sunset visit and see the city twinkle. Admission to the viewpoint is 2,000 JPY when booked online, with an additional 500 JPY for the rooftop Sky Deck.
6. Drink in Golden Gai
Located in a dark corner of Shinjuku, Tokyo’s largest and most famous nightlife district, this little alleyway of back-street bars is a lively place to drink at night. Daytime is relatively quiet, but come sundown, these zig-zagging hallways and closet-sized beer rooms are filled with interesting people and cheap drinks. There is a bit of a red-light district feel to Golden Gai, as it lacks the polish you’ll observe in the rest of the city, but it is not to be missed.
7. 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 fun alternative to the subway and offers a different perspective of the bustling city. There are even floating restaurants, known as yakata-bune, as well as lunch and dinner cruises that you can book. Expect to pay at least 13,000 JPY for a cruise with a meal. Regular ferries vary greatly depending on the route and company, but generally range from 860-1,700 JPY.
8. Visit the Great Buddha
Make a day trip to the small city of Kamakura to see its 13-meter (43-foot) bronze statue of Buddha. Built in 1252, the statue was initially constructed within Kotoku-in Temple, but the temple has since been washed away by several storms, so the statue now sits in the open air. Usually, you can even go inside the statue as well (there’s nothing to really see inside but it’s neat to step inside a centuries-old work of art). Admission to enter the temple grounds is 300 JPY, while it’s 20 JPY to go inside the statue. Kamakura is on the proposed list for UNESCO World Heritage Sites and is also home to important Zen temples and shrines of historical significance to Japan. The journey to Kamakura takes around an hour and is free with a Japan Rail Pass.
9. Check out a sento
A sento is a traditional Japanese public bathhouse. While they were originally built to accommodate those that did not have such facilities at home, they are now a great place to go for some peace and relaxation. They are typically separated by gender. The Japanese are not shy, so you need to be comfortable with nudity. Many Sento are traditional, but some modern “Super Sento” offer more luxe amenities including massages, fitness facilities, and on-site cafes. A budget-friendly sento costs around 500-700 JPY. If you have tattoos you may not be allowed to enter (or you may have to cover them) so double check your chosen Sento’s policy before heading over.
10. Get touristy at Tokyo Disneyland
I’ll be honest, I’m a sucker for Disney attractions and Tokyo Disneyland doesn’t disappoint. It’s a fun choice for anyone traveling with children, but also for any adults who just love amusement parks (like me!). It opened in 1983, has seven themed areas to explore, and is the third most visited theme park in the world! You’ll find many of the same classic rides from Disney World here, like Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, The Haunted Mansion, and everyone’s favorite teacup ride, The Mad Tea Party. Tokyo Disney has several unique attractions, as well. “Pooh’s Hunny Hunt” and “Journey to the Center of the Earth” are Tokyo-specific and sure to stun. Ticket prices vary depending on the day and time that you plan to visit, but full-day admission begins at 7,900 JPY for adults and 4,400-6,200 JPY for children, depending on their age. It’s best to book online in advance.
11. Have dinner with ninjas
For a unique dining experience, head to Ninja Tokyo (formerly Ninja Akasaka). This ninja-themed restaurant is set in a medieval, Edo-era “village.” The waitstaff are clothed in stereotypical all-black “ninja” garb and trained in all sorts of “ninjutsu” magic tricks and simple illusions. You’ll order your meal off of old scrolls while being entertained by the skillful tricks of your server. Dinner options include children’s and vegetarian options, alongside Wagyu steak, sushi, and other Japanese fare. Prices range from 18,000 JPY for an 8-course dinner including premium Wagyu steak to 6,000 JPY for a 6-course vegetarian dinner. It’s super fun and unlike any other restaurant I’ve ever seen!
12. Tour the Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum
Built in 1933, this beautiful Art Deco building was originally the official residence of the Prince and Princess Asaka (who are a branch of the Imperial Family). Asaka founder Prince Yasahiku studied and lived in France from 1922-1925 and wanted to bring this architectural style to Japan, which explains the building’s unique design and decor. After various incarnations, including the Japanese Prime Minister’s residence and a state guesthouse, this building eventually found its current purpose as a small museum, in 1983, and is now home to rotating modern art exhibitions. Admission varies depending on the exhibition, while entrance to the garden is 200 JPY.
13. Try superhero go-karting
Want to speed around the busy streets of Tokyo in a go-kart while wearing a costume? Of course, you do! There are a number of go-kart companies that let you dress up as Mario or Luigi, a Marvel superhero, or Pikachu and race through the city in go-karts (just like in the Mario Kart video games). There are both private and group tours, with multiple departure locations that cruise through different neighborhoods. Expect to spend about 1-2 hours and 10,000-18,000 JPY per person depending on the options you choose. An International Driving Permit is required to participate, which you can procure with a current valid driver’s license before you leave home.
14. Visit a quirky café
The rumors are true: Tokyo has all sorts of over-the-top, weird, and wonderfully themed cafés. These include monster cafés, owl cafés, cat cafés, vampire cafés, dog cafés, religious-themed cafés, and much more! If you’re seeking a unique dining experience that highlights Japan’s “kawaii” side, research which quirky cafés are near you. They’re all around the city so you never have to go far to find one! A couple of my favorite cafes are Vampire Café (vampire/goth-themed café) and Dog Heart (dogs everywhere!).
15. Take a cooking class
In addition to food tours, cooking classes are a great way to engage in the local cuisine, while learning something new and connecting with local chefs. By taking a cooking class in Tokyo, you’ll get to take home some new culinary skills from one of the culinary capitals of the world. There are a ton of options from which to choose, from sushi making workshops to a wagyu cooking class!
For more information on other destinations in Japan, check out these guides:
Tokyo Travel Costs
Hostel prices – Most hostels in Tokyo cost around 3,600-5,500 JPY per night for a bed in a dorm of any size. For a private room in a hostel with a twin or double bed, expect to pay between 8,500-12,500 JPY per night. Prices are the same year-round.
Free Wi-Fi, private lockers, and self-catering facilities are standard in most hostels. Only a few hostels include free breakfast, so research and book in advance if this is important to you.
Budget hotel prices – If you’re looking for a budget hotel, expect to pay at least 6,000 JPY for a double bed at a two-star hotel. For a mid-range three-star hotel, prices start at 7,500 JPY per night while capsule hotels start at 3,500 JPY for a tiny pod that is essentially just a bed. It’s not fancy, but it’s a unique (and very Japanese) experience.
Airbnb is tightly regulated in Japan, so there are not a ton of options (even when looking on Airbnb, you’ll find mostly hotel rooms), and the ones that are available are expensive when compared to other options. Private apartments/homes on Airbnb usually start around 10,000-15,000 JPY per night. Private rooms aren’t very common and only slightly cheaper, at 7,500 JPY per night.
Food – Japanese cuisine is made up of internationally recognizable dishes including sushi and sashimi, tempura, gyoza, and miso soup, as well as various noodle-, beef-, and seafood-centric dishes. Popular dishes include karaage (Japanese fried chicken), champon (traditional ramen-adjacent soup) and yakiniku (Japan’s version of Korean barbeque). For dessert, daifuku (a rice flour confection often stuffed with red bean paste) and green tea-flavored treats like ice cream or cookies are common.
There are many affordable places to eat out in Tokyo. Basic food options like soba, curry, and donburi (bowls of meat and rice) are around 400-700 JPY. Ramen is around 1,200-1,500 JPY. Fast food (think McDonald’s or KFC) is around 750 JPY for a combo meal. Kaitenzushi, or conveyor belt sushi, costs between 150-700 JPY per piece.
You can also find plenty of inexpensive meals and pre-packaged items at 7-Eleven (even the locals eat them). Pre-packed meals of noodles, rice balls, tofu, and sushi are all available for 300-500 JPY, making for cheap lunches. (Supermarkets have many set meals at similar prices too).
A lunch meal at a sit-down cafe is around 1,200-1,500 JPY, while mid-range restaurants (think three-course meals with an appetizer, entree, and dessert) cost around 3,000 JPY per person. And if you want to splash out, Tokyo is the perfect place to do it, with the highest concentration of Michelin-starred restaurants in the world. An 8-course meal at a higher-end restaurant costs 14,000-22,000 JPY.
A beer costs around 600-800 JPY, a glass of wine is 1,000 JPY and up, and cocktails start at 800-1,200 JPY. A latte is 600 JPY, while a bottle of water is 150 JPY.
Buying groceries costs 5,000-6,500 JPY per week for basic staples like rice, seasonal vegetables, and some fish.
Backpacking Tokyo Suggested Budgets
If you’re backpacking in Tokyo, budget 8,000 JPY per day. This assumes you’re staying in a hostel dorm, cooking most of your meals, grabbing food from 100 yen shops, visiting free museums and temples, using public transportation to get around (or renting a bike for a few hours), and limiting your drinking.
On a mid-range budget of 18,000 JPY per day, you can stay in a private Airbnb or hostel room, eat out at some budget restaurants, indulge in some drinks, do some paid activities like visiting a quirky cafe or going go-karting, rent a bike for a day or take the occasional taxi.
On a “luxury” budget of 29,500 JPY per day or more, you can stay in traditional Japanese accommodations or hotels, dine in nicer restaurants, enjoy drinks as often as you want, do paid tours, and take more taxis. This is just the ground floor for luxury though. The sky is the limit!
Tokyo Travel Guide: Money-Saving Tips
While Tokyo is one of the most expensive cities in the world, there are still plenty of ways to reduce costs while visiting. To help keep your budget intact, here are some quick tips to help you save money:
- Skip the taxis – Since cabs can be expensive (they have a 475 JPY starting fare), use public transportation to save money. Tokyo’s Metro runs until midnight, with routes throughout the city, while JR East shuts down at 1:20am. If you can be home before then, you’ll save a ton avoiding taxis.
- Shop at the 100 Yen stores – There are many 100 yen shops in Japan where you can grab set meals, groceries, water, toiletries, and household items. This is where you want to purchase necessities, allowing you to eat and shop on a budget. Just ask your hostel/hotel where the nearest “Hyaku En” shop is located.
- Eat at 7-Eleven – The 7-Eleven, Family Mart, and other convenience stores sell a variety of pre-set meals for under 500 JPY, which can make for a cheap lunch option. Additionally, supermarkets sell set meals at similar prices. You can also find a lot of cheap meals (such as curry, ramen, and donburi) at the major bus/train stations. Locals regularly eat these meals, so don’t be shy.
- Get a transportation pass or prepaid card – Chances are, you’ll be using a lot of public transportation to get around the city. If that’s the case, be sure to get a transit day pass or prepaid card. There are a variety of passes available since there are many different subway and railway companies operating the different lines. One-day passes range from 600-1,600 JPY.
- Stay with a local – Using sites like Couchsurfing that connect you with local hosts not only gets you a free place to stay but provides you with the opportunity to learn about local life. Just ask early — the response rate in Japan isn’t great. Try requesting accommodation from expats, as they are generally more active on the platform.
- Work for your room – Certain hostels in Japan let you work for your room. A typical arrangement may involve spending a few hours in the morning cleaning, in exchange for free accommodation. Inquire in advance to see if any hostels offer this option for your target dates.
- Sleep in an internet/manga cafe – These 24-hour cafes are host to late-night gamers, partiers, and businessmen who didn’t make it home after a night out. They rent by the hour, so if you just need to kill some time but don’t want to splurge on a hostel/hotel, consider a cafe. Some offer beds, though most just have comfortable chairs. Food and snacks are generally included in the price. Rates can be as low as 1,500 JPY per night.
- Buy food at night – After 8pm, many supermarkets discount their fresh foods. If you take advantage of this evening special, you can save up to 50% on the majority of your fresh food purchases.
- Stay at a capsule hotel – If you’re on a tight budget, stay at a capsule hotel. They are a little cheaper than hostels and can help you pinch pennies while you’re here. Just don’t expect anything fancy!
- Bring a water bottle – The tap water here is safe to drink so bring a reusable water bottle to save money and reduce your plastic use. Lifestraw makes reusable bottles with a built-in filter so you always know your water is clean and safe.
Where to Stay in Tokyo
Tokyo has a ton of hostels and they’re all comfortable, modern, clean, and social. Here are some of my recommended places to stay:
For more suggestions, check out my list of the best hostels in Tokyo!
How to Get Around Tokyo
Public transportation – Buses are widely available in Tokyo, though you can usually get by without them because the subway and train systems in the city are comprehensive. If you do need to take the bus, fares are around 210 JPY for adults and 110 JPY for kids. Toei is the main bus company providing service. A single-day bus pass for Toei lines is 700 JPY (available for purchase directly from the driver). Buses run from approximately 6am-10pm.
The Metro and Japanese Rail (“JR”) systems throughout Tokyo are the most efficient in the world. They ferry almost 9 million riders around the city daily and are known for being extremely punctual. The Metro system is made up of thirteen different lines with single-ride tickets starting at 170 JPY (165 JPY with a PASMO or Suica card).
Adults can purchase a 24-hour pass for 800 JPY, a 48-hour pass for 1,200 JPY, and a 72-hour pass for 1,500 JPY, with half-price passes for children. This pass works on all Tokyo Metro and Toei Subway Lines. JR Lines, however, are excluded and tickets must be purchased separately.
You can also use a prepaid and rechargeable PASMO passport card (for use on the subway, rail, and bus) or Suica card (for use on JR East lines). Mobile apps of both are available for iPhones and Androids, though the apps are not always compatible with international smartphones. While these cards don’t offer discounted fares, they streamline using public transportation as you don’t have to fumble with cash every time you ride. These are a great option if you’re not going to make use of an unlimited daily pass, just keep in mind that you can’t get any of the money back that you put on the card, so load it only with what you need.
Metro trains are available from 5am-12am, with women-only cars for added security and safety. Things get busy at rush hour (7:30am-9:30am and 5:30pm-7:30pm on weekdays) so avoid those times if you are able.
There are also five Metropolitan JR lines in Tokyo (Yamanote, Chuo, Keihin-Tohoku, Sobu and Saikyo), so if you have a Japan Rail Pass you can utilize these lines at no additional cost.
Taxi – Taxis in Tokyo aren’t cheap so I’d avoid them if you can. Fares start at 475 JPY and go up by 415 JPY per kilometer. Avoid them!
Ridesharing – Ridesharing in Tokyo isn’t any cheaper than taxis so don’t expect any savings here. DiDi is the go-to ridesharing app in Tokyo and its prices are generally on par with (or higher than) the JapanTaxi app or Uber.
Bicycle – Tokyo is a relatively safe city for cyclists. There are many bike lanes and a ton of locals commute via bicycle. There are both bike-share and bike rental options. For a full-day rental or 24-hour bike share, expect to pay between 1,000-1,600 JPY, though pricing varies greatly. Hourly rentals may be found for 200-300 JPY, if you prefer a short-term rental. Often, rental companies charge an additional fee for bike helmets and may require a deposit.
Car rental – Unless you have a specific reason to rent a car, I would avoid it. While generally organized, traffic in Tokyo is stop-and-go at the best of times. The city is designed around public transportation, and it is the quicker travel method within the city. In the event you do plan to rent a car, prices start at 7,200 JPY per day for a small two-door vehicle.
For the best rental car prices, use Discover Cars.
When to Go to Tokyo
The most popular time to visit Tokyo is in the summer; however, it can get quite warm during this season. Temperatures in June-August hover around 32°C (89°F) and it is very humid. Even September is quite warm as well. You’ll also experience larger crowds, including many Japanese travelers, because Tokyo is the most visited city in the country.
Expect public transportation to be more crowded in summertime compared to other seasons. If you do visit during the summer, rise early to beat the crowds and book your accommodation in advance.
Personally, I recommend the shoulder seasons as the best times to visit Tokyo. April-May and October-November see cooler temperatures and possibly some light rain. But the city isn’t quite as busy, which is a big plus. Keep in mind, late March through early April is cherry blossom season, so expect massive crowds in the city’s greenspace if you visit during that time. If your visit coincides with cherry blossom season, be sure to book ahead.
While winter in Tokyo is brisk, it is hardly unbearable. Temperatures usually sit around 10°C (50°F) during the day and drop to around 2°C (36°F) during the night. The city is much quieter during this time as well. Snow isn’t common and when it falls it usually melts within a day or two. Expect more rain than snow during the winter season.
Keep in mind that typhoon season affects Japan from May through October. Japan has the infrastructure to handle typhoons, but be sure to purchase travel insurance in advance!
How to Stay Safe in Tokyo
Japan is a very safe country. Even in Tokyo, a massive city home to 10 million people, there’s virtually zero chance you’re going to get robbed, scammed, or hurt. In fact, Tokyo is consistently ranked as one of the safest cities in the world. That said, it never hurts to keep your valuables secure just to be safe.
Scams here are virtually non-existent, but if you’re worried about getting ripped off you can read about common travel scams to avoid here.
Your main risk here is from Mother Nature. Earthquakes and typhoons aren’t uncommon, so make note of exits when you arrive at your accommodation. Download offline maps to your phone, as well, in the event you may need to navigate the city during an emergency.
While exploring, note that Japan does not issue building addresses sequentially so it is easy to get turned around or lost. Also, Japanese citizens possess significantly less English-language fluency than you may have encountered in prior travels, with less than 10% being fluent. Make sure you have an offline map and language app just to be safe.
Solo female travelers should generally feel safe here, however, the standard precautions apply (never leave your drink unattended at the bar, never walk home alone intoxicated, etc.). And as a solo female traveler, you may have to watch out for occasional lewd behavior. Some female travelers have reported inappropriate behavior, such as men asking personal questions or catcalling. Groping has been reported on the cramped subways, so you’ll want to remain vigilant (though it is still quite rare). Many train lines throughout the city have “women only” cars during rush hour (you’ll see pink signs directing women on where to board), so you can use those if you feel the need.
Japan’s emergency number is 110. For non-emergency assistance, you can call the Japan Helpline at 0570-000-911.
The most important piece of advice I can offer is to purchase good travel insurance. Travel insurance protects you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it and I’ve had to use it many times in the past. You can use the widget below to find the policy right for you:
Tokyo Travel Guide: The Best Booking Resources
These are my favorite companies to use when I travel. They consistently have the best deals, offer world-class customer service and great value, and overall, are better than their competitors. They are the companies I use the most and are always the starting point in my search for travel deals.
- Skyscanner – Skyscanner is my favorite flight search engine. They search small websites and budget airlines that larger search sites tend to miss. They are hands down the number one place to start.
- Hostelworld – This is the best hostel accommodation site out there with the largest inventory, best search interface, and widest availability.
- Agoda – Other than Hostelworld, Agoda is the best hotel accommodation site for Asia.
- Booking.com – The best all around booking site that constantly provides the cheapest and lowest rates. They have the widest selection of budget accommodation. In all my tests, they’ve always had the cheapest rates out of all the booking websites.
- Intrepid Travel – If you want to do group tours, go with Intrepid. They offer good small group tours that use local operators and leave a small environmental footprint. And, as a reader of this site, you’ll get exclusive discounts with them too!
- Get Your Guide – Get Your Guide is a huge online marketplace for tours and excursions. They have tons of tour options available in cities all around the world, including everything from cooking classes, walking tours, street art lessons, and more!
- SafetyWing – Safety Wing offers convenient and affordable plans tailored to digital nomads and long-term travelers. They have cheap monthly plans, great customer service, and an easy-to-use claims process that makes it perfect for those on the road.
- LifeStraw – My go-to company for reusable water bottles with built-in filters so you can ensure your drinking water is always clean and safe.
- Unbound Merino – They make lightweight, durable, easy-to-clean travel clothing.
- Japan Rail Pass – This is a flexible transportation pass used for navigating Japan. Similar to the Eurail pass in Europe, it turns expensive bullet trains into budget-friendly modes of transportation. You honestly can’t visit Japan without one.
Tokyo Travel Guide: Related Articles
Want more info? Check out all the articles I’ve written on backpacking/traveling in Japan and continue planning your trip: