12 Travel Tips for Tokyo


1.Fly in to Haneda Airport

Tokyo has two airports, Narita International Airport and Haneda International Airport.

If it’s possible we’d strongly recommend arriving and departing Tokyo from Haneda Airport rather than Narita.

Haneda International Airport is located in Tokyo, on the southern tip of the city near Tokyo Bay. From Haneda Airport it’s an easy 30 minute train or monorail ride into central Tokyo. Arriving at Haneda will allow you to spend more of your first time in Tokyo seeing the sights.

Narita Airport is not located in Tokyo but in the neighbouring prefecture of Chiba. From Narita it’s a 40-80 minute train ride (depending on the train) or a two hour coach ride to the centre of Tokyo.

Unfortunately flights in and out of Haneda Airport are often more expensive than flights to and from Narita because it is in a much more convenient location.


2. Spend At Least 5 Days in Tokyo

We’d recommend spending at least four or five days in Tokyo.

How long you choose to spend in Tokyo will obviously depend on your budget and if you plan to visit other parts of Japan during your stay.

Yet if this is your first time in Tokyo you’ll want as many days as possible to see as much as you can – there is enough to see and do in Tokyo to last a lifetime and beyond.

With at least five days you’ll get to see a good range of Tokyo’s main sights, from famous landmarks and neighbourhoods as well as some of the city’s off the beaten track spots. You could also fit in a day trip to one of the many beautiful spots that are an easy train ride from Tokyo too.

However, even if you have less time to spend in Tokyo you’ll still be able to see a good selection of the city’s main highlights, as you can see from our two day Tokyo itinerary.


3. Spring or Autumn are the Best Time to Visit Tokyo

Spring and autumn are easily the best times to visit Tokyo.

This is due to the good weather and the beautiful nature that blooms throughout the city in both seasons. If this is your first time in Tokyo then spring or autumn is definitely when the city is at its best.

In spring daily temperatures range from highs of around 13°C (55 °F) by early March to the low 20°Cs (around 71 °F) in May. Most days are typically sunny and dry.

In spring the city is filled with gorgeous shades of pink, white and red cherry and plum blossoms. A huge deal for locals and tourists alike, cherry blossom season is one of the best and busiest times to visit Tokyo.

Sakura season usually reaches Tokyo between the last week of March and early April, though the exact dates vary from year to year. If you miss sakura season you can still admire the azaleas and hydrangeas that fill Tokyo’s parks, gardens and temple grounds during the rest of spring.


4. Summer is the Worst Time to Visit Tokyo

Summer is easily the worst time to visit Tokyo. Early summer is Tokyo’s rainy season, and along with heavy rain the temperatures and the humidity begin to rise. Days are often overcast and cloudy until the end of July, with temperatures in the mid to high 20° Cs.

After July the summer in Tokyo is usually incredibly hot and humid, with temperatures regularly reaching 30 °C. At the height of summer the added humidity can make the temperature feel closer to 40 °C.

The humidity and temperatures do become slightly more bearable by early October as autumn approaches, but needless to say, trekking across Tokyo in the blazing sunshine and unforgiving heat and humidity is incredibly uncomfortable. If high temperatures and humidity are not your thing then consider visiting Tokyo at a different time of year.


5. Avoid Tokyo During Golden Week

Golden Week is a collection of consecutive public holidays at the end of April and beginning of May that usually coincide with at least one weekend, making this one of the busiest travel periods of the year in Japan.

The Golden Week holiday dates are April 29th, and May 3rd4th and 5th each year. A lot of people also use these extra holidays as a chance to travel out of (and then back into) Tokyo over the Golden Week vacation.

While larger business tend to stay open, many smaller cafes, restaurants and museums close down during Golden Week, as people travel across Japan to be with their families.

Flights, trains and hotels are often extremely busy during this period and are often fully booked way in advance. Tokyo’s main tourist attractions are also packed as people take advantage of the extended holiday.


6. Maybe Avoid the New Year Too

Generally winter is a good time to visit Tokyo. Though it’s the coldest time of year in Tokyo, most days are gloriously sunny, with very little rain. However, travelling to Tokyo during the New Year period is best avoided.

After Golden Week this is one of the biggest holiday seasons in Japan, when people return home to spend the season with their families.

Many shops, bars, cafes and restaurants close completely in Tokyo during the New Year period. Businesses tend to shut down entirely from around the 28th December to and reopen around 3rd or 4th January.

7. Think About How You’ll Be Leaving Tokyo

One of our best Tokyo travel tips is to think about your departure in advance. You probably don’t want to think about leaving Tokyo before you’ve even arrived, but it really pays to plan ahead.

If you have an early flight or train out of Tokyo you will want to make your journey out of the city as easy as possible. You do not want to be dragging heavy suitcases all the way across Tokyo on packed commuter trains in the middle of rush hour.

If you’re flying out of Narita Airport then consider staying within easy reach of either Ueno or Nippori stations. These stations have the easiest access to Narita Airport on the Skyline Express.

If you’re departing from Haneda Airport, think about staying somewhere with easy access to Shinagawa Station, which is a direct 15 minute train ride on the Keikyu Airport Line. Hamamatsu Station is also only a 15 minute ride from Haneda Airport on the Tokyo Monorail.

8. You Don’t Need to Stay Right in the Middle of Tokyo

One of the toughest decisions to make ahead of your first time in Tokyo is deciding where in the city to stay. The size of Tokyo and sheer volume of choice of accommodation in the city can be bewildering.

However, you don’t necessarily need to find a hotel right in the heart of Shinjuku or Shibuya to get the most of a trip to Tokyo.

Tokyo doesn’t have a typical city centre and there are a multitude of districts in the city that are crammed with hotels and have great transport links.

When looking for somewhere to stay in Tokyo take a look at other areas of the city, such as UenoIidabashiIkebukuro or Shinbashi.

9. Find Accommodation Near a Train Station

You will spend a lot of your time in Tokyo travelling from A to B.

A top Tokyo travel tip is stay within reach of a well connected train or underground station.

Whatever your budget, find a hotel that has good transport connections. The good news is that with close to 300 metro stations and hundreds more train stations in Tokyo it’s almost impossible to find a hotel that isn’t near a train or metro line.

It’s often suggested that it’s best to find a hotel close to a station on the Yamanote Line, the circular train line that loops around many of Tokyo’s major tourist sights and most popular areas, such as ShinjukuShibuyaHarajuku and Akihabara.

While it is certainly handy to be close to a Yamanote Line station, in reality, it is not essential.

As there are so many metro and train lines in the city, there are dozens of ways to get across Tokyo, so don’t worry too much if you’re hotel is not right next to the Yamanote Line.

As long as you’re somewhere fairly central that’s close to a train or metro station you’ll be able to get in and around Tokyo easily.


10. Pick Up a Pasmo or Suica card (or Get Them on Your Phone)

Pasmo and Suica are contactless prepaid cards (known as IC cards) that allow you to tap in and out of all train and subway stations in Tokyo. They can also be used on most local buses too. Both Pasmo and Suica are essentially identical; Suica is operated by JR East while Pasmo is operated by Tokyo Metro, who operate most of the subway train lines in Tokyo.

The sale of Pasmo and Suica cards were suspended in 2023 due to the global shortage of semi-conductors that are needed to produce them. However there are still short term versions of both Pasmo and Suica cards available for visitors to Japan – these are the Pasmo Passport and the Welcome Suica.


11. Pick Up Pocket WiFi or an eSim

If it’s your first time in Tokyo then its guaranteed that you’ll be taking a shedload of photos that will need to be instantly Instagrammed. Plus you’ll also need to get online in order to navigate your way around the city.

In which case hiring a portable WiFi router or an eSIM mobile data plan is going to be essential to keep you connected.

Several devices can be connected to a portable WiFi router. If you’re travelling with a phone, a laptop and a tablet, this is by far the easiest and most convenient way to get online.

Also, multiple smartphones can connect to a single WiFi router, making it a great option if your travelling in a group.

If you just need data on your smartphone to browse the web and access essential apps when you’re out and about – and don’t want to carry around an extra device – then an eSIM mobile data plan is perfect.


Remember Not to Tip

Tipping is an alien concept in Japan – in fact it can sometimes be seen as something of an insult.

In Japan it is believed that people are paid fairly for the work they do and tipping might suggest that they are being underpaid.

In bars or cafes you may  occasionally see a small tips jar by the till, and leaving a tip will be entirely at your discretion. Otherwise remember that tipping waiters, bar staff, taxi drivers or hotel porters is not necessary and may even cause offence.

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