It was my first time in Japan, so I was a complete Tokyo novice! So I basically wanted this article to help out someone like me, visiting for the first time and willing to know how to prepare for a trip to Tokyo.

In this guide, you’ll find tips for exploring Tokyo, a few key spots like Mount Fuji, and much more that you’ll want to know before going. Let’s get right into it.

How-to-Prepare-for-a-Trip-to-Tokyo

Tips for Exploring Tokyo

Let’s start this guide with the essential tips for visiting Japan and Tokyo specifically, from using the JR Pass to drinking water and WiFi.

Use the JR Pass

When travelling around Tokyo, the JR Pass is an essential tool for tourists. You can choose between the national JR Pass, which covers all of Japan, or the regional JR Pass, which is cheaper but limited to specific areas.

The JR Pass provides unlimited travel on JR trains, including the famous Shinkansen bullet trains, and can save you a lot of money if you plan to explore multiple destinations.

Purchase the pass before arriving in Japan, as it offers significant savings and convenience as soon as you land at Narita International Airport.

Travelling-by-train-in-Japan

Drinking Water in Tokyo

Staying hydrated in Tokyo is easy and eco-friendly if you take advantage of the city’s numerous public water fountains.

Instead of buying bottled water, which can be costly and environmentally damaging (despite being cool with different flavours at 7-Eleven), carry a reusable water bottle and refill it at these fountains.

This simple habit helps you save money while reducing plastic waste. Tokyo’s tap water is clean and safe to drink, so you can fill up without any worries.

Reusable-water-bottle

Language

Learning a few basic Japanese phrases can make your experience in Tokyo much more pleasant. While many locals understand some English, showing respect by using simple Japanese words like “Hello” (Konnichiwa) and “Thank you” (Arigato) goes a long way.

It helps bridge the cultural gap and can lead to more positive interactions with residents. Many Japanese people appreciate the effort foreigners make to speak their language, no matter how minimal.

So, before your trip, take some time to learn basic greetings and expressions. It’s a small effort that can greatly enrich your visit.

Learning Japanese sentences when travelling to Toky

Rubbish Bins

Tokyo (and Japan as a whole) is known for its cleanliness, but you might be surprised to find a lack of public rubbish bins, trash cans.

To avoid littering, carry a small plastic bag in your backpack for your rubbish. When you find a bin, usually near convenience stores or train stations, you can dispose of your collected trash properly.

Yes, that’s not the most convenient way, but please don’t throw rubbish in the streets of Tokyo!

Tourist attractions in Tokyo

WiFi in Tokyo

Luckily, most public places and train stations offer free wifi, though the connection can sometimes be unreliable. Having access to public wifi can be a lifesaver, especially if you find yourself lost or need to look up directions.

I recommend downloading maps and essential information before heading out. Of course, the best alternative is to buy a local sim card when arriving in Tokyo or buy an E-sim card for Japan.

WiFi-in-Tokyo-Japan

Meeting Up Other Travellers

Traveling solo in Tokyo can get lonely, especially if your accommodation is filled with locals rather than other travellers. To meet new people and make friends, join Meetup groups that cater to tourists, expats, and locals interested in language exchange and social activities.

That’s the best way to make friends on your trip! Alternatively, I made friends on guided tours and we had fun during the trip and even stayed in touch for a drink after the tour.

Get out of Tokyo – all of my spots below are in and around Tokyo, once you’ve finished them, these Amazing day trips from Tokyo will keep you occupied!

And if my tips aren’t enough my friend Cory has over 50 Fun And Cool Things To Do In Tokyo.

Group-of-friends-eating-street-food-in-Tokyo-Japan

Best Tours in Tokyo

Travelling to Tokyo and want to make the most of it? Here are some fun tours you can join while in Tokyo.

Asakusa

Asakusa is a must visit in Tokyo, a few people told me it was too touristy and not very authentic. I’m not sure I agree.

Although the usual shops and stands have sprung up in the area, Sensoji is a Buddhist temple built in the 7th Century, you can’t get much more authentic than that.

It’s also close to the Skytree in Tokyo, another site worth seeing even if you don’t get a chance to go up it.

Shibuya

Everyone told me to check out the Shibuya Crossing, and for that reason you should. But don’t expect much more than a big junction.

Personally, I couldn’t care less and really didn’t understand why so many people ranked it as a ‘must see’ attraction! If this does float your boat then head to Starbucks for a coffee and a view of the crossroads. Aside from that Shibuya is a fascinating and vibrant area to visit.

A mixture of locals and tourists, it has some of Tokyo’s best nightlife, shops and restaurants. It gave me that buzz that made me realise I was in Tokyo!

Riverboat Cruise

Riverboats and river taxis run up and down the Sumida river. I travelled back to my hostel from Asakusa this way, as the sun was setting, it was a peaceful and relaxing way to get home, and in a hectic city like Tokyo, a very calm way to watch the city lights.

Maricar

Get dressed up as Mario Kart characters and drive on the main roads of Tokyo in Go-karts? Yes please! This ever-popular attraction is growing rapidly as one of the hottest activities in Tokyo, but make sure you get your International Driving Licence permit as that’s required by law to drive on the roads in Tokyo.

Check your licence here. For UK drivers you’ll need to pick up an International Driving Licence from the local post office, which currently costs around £5.50. For more information take a look at the article I wrote solely on Maricar Mario Kart on the Streets of Tokyo.

Super Potato

A gamer geek’s paradise! I’m not really a gamer, but this shop in Akihabara has arcade games from my childhood and a huge selection of retro consoles and games on sale.

A lot of people visit it more as a museum and I have to say it is well worth dropping by especially if you’re into your games.

Mount Fuji

Only a short trip from Tokyo, you must visit Mount Fuji or at least Lake Ashi for stunning views of the mountain. And the sad thing is, I didn’t get to do it!

The season for climbing it finishes in mid-September, just before I arrived and I planned to go to the lake on my last couple of days and the tail end of a typhoon halted all my plans. Next time I’m here I’ll make sure I climb it.

Parks & Gardens

There are many parks and gardens in Tokyo, giving you a welcome break from the madness of this huge city. I didn’t get a chance to explore them all, but here are a couple well worth the visit!

  • Yoyogi Park & Meiji Shrine: I always love finding peaceful gardens and green in big cities, and Yoyogi Park and the Meiji Shrine is a perfect spot for this. The entrance is marked by one of the typical Japanese torii gates, around 40 feet tall! You’ll find beautiful tree lined pathways leading to the Shrine itself, and a pay to enter Meiji Garden.
  • Imperial Palace Gardens: As the main residence for the Emperor of Japan, the Imperial Palace and Gardens has beautifully kept lakes and flower displays all around the park. Along with stunning views of the traditionally Japanese looking palace itself. Make sure you get to the grounds before 4pm though, as the gates will be closed!

Metropolitan Government Building

There are a few areas listed to get that spectacular view of Tokyo, and I only went to one, for the simple reason that it was free! The Metropolitan Government Building offers great views of the city, and gives you a real sense of just how huge Tokyo is.

I have a couple of tips for you, if you want to eat or drink at the fancy, overpriced restaurant you can’t get in alone (can you tell how much this annoyed me?), and if you want to go at night avoid going there at sunset or even just after sunset.

There was a huge queue so get there an hour or two before sunset and relax with the free wifi.

I was also keen to check out the views from Roppongi Hills, and of course the Skytree, so if you find yourself in these areas check them out. If you have any other nice viewpoints to suggest, please let me know in the comments below.

Photography tip: for a reflection free night shot, take a black jacket to cover the camera and the window around it. I actually used the waterproof cover for my backpack, I’ve always got it with me and it wraps around the camera perfectly. For more tips check out our 5 photography tips for beginners.

Nightlife in Tokyo

Due to not being too well and struggling with the jetlag, I didn’t get to see as much of the nightlife as you’d usually expect from me! I also found it a bit of a minefield, in such a large city where do you start?

It also occurred to me that not too many places are that tourist friendly, so after some trial and error here are the places I recommend checking out:

  • Golden Gai: I loved it here. An area of tiny streets and even smaller bars in Shinjuku. Most of them are tourist friendly and many don’t have a cover charge. My favourite was H.O.D Bar, a British punk rock theme with a menu of music to pick from the jukebox!
  • Shibuya: You can’t generally go wrong in this area, the only thing is plan ahead! I was a little clueless at first, and it’s intimidating and a bit hectic. Be sure to check out the Shibuya Crossing at night, and if you’re not sure where to start there’s an Irish bar called Failte with a terrace that’s a good starting point!
  • Camelot: When it comes to clubs, I’d heard this had a good mix of locals and tourists, and a lively atmosphere.
  • Robot Restaurant: It’s doesn’t necessarily have to come under nightlife, but if you can afford it (tickets start at ¥8000 Approx £54/$70), then it is an impressive show.

So as you can see this nightlife section needs some more ideas, can you suggest anywhere? Please put them in the comments below.

Where to Stay in Tokyo?

There are plenty of excellent accommodation options in Tokyo, and these below are the best, no matter your budget.

Luxury: The Prince Park Tower Tokyo

The Prince Park Tower Tokyo

Mid-Range: Via Inn Prime Akasaka

Via Inn Prime Akasaka

Budget: Citan Hostel

CITAN Hostel

Getting there

KLM UK flies to Tokyo, using Amsterdam as a hub (why not stopover here too?). Going via Amsterdam allows you to fly from 17 UK based airports, rather than only travelling from Manchester or London. I flew from Southampton, which is hugely convenient for me as my local airport. The changeover in Schiphol is smooth and straightforward, KLM will inform you which gate (sometimes from the arrival plane) your connecting flight will depart from, and you won’t need to collect and check in your luggage again.

I flew to Tokyo as a guest of KLM UK. My flights to Tokyo were complementary, but return flights from the UK start at £406, including taxes. All of the content, opinions and photography are my own. Please take time to visit KLM UK‘s websites to support me on more adventures like this one!

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Have you been to Tokyo? Can you suggest anything to add to the tips for exploring Tokyo section or places to see? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below 🙂

2 thoughts on “How to Prepare for a Trip to Tokyo in 2024

  1. overnight agra tour says:

    Great information you shared about Tokyo and its really amazing place and you shared an amazing guide to plan a trip here. awesome photos you shared of that beautiful destination.

  2. Pingback: Japan Bucket List: 40 Places Not to Miss in the Land of the Rising Sun

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