Traveling abroad can be taxing. Making sure to pack the essentials, iron out all of your travel itineraries and get your appointments in order ahead of time can help you get organized and make your travel time stress-free! Whether this is your first or 100th time visiting Tokyo, these eight tips for traveling in Japan’s most famous prefecture will save you time and help you blend in with the locals. Here are 7 Tips for Traveling Tokyo:
Travalet’s Pro Tips for Traveling Tokyo
1. Best Time to Visit Tokyo
While it’s true that Tokyo is simply stunning in the summer, it’s also the prime-time season for tourists which means longer lines for most attractions, higher temperatures, and higher hotel costs. The ideal time of year to travel to Tokyo would be the Fall. Between the beautiful changes in color, as well as the drop in temperature and hotel rates, September, October, and November in Tokyo, Japan really can’t be beaten. (Don’t forget to book in advance for great deals when traveling Tokyo!)
Despite the fact that in most major cities around the world credit/debit cards are the main way we purchase items, it’s surprising to say that many establishments in Tokyo will only accept cash. Also, some credit cards are incompatible with the way Tokyo‘s credit card system. However, you can withdraw money from almost any Post Office ATM, and many ATMs located within convenience stores will accept VISA.
If you’re looking for cheap exchange rates then check out a brokerage that deals specifically with foreign exchange called OFX. It’s very simple to use, and you can even complete the process entirely online. Learn More
“Did you know, Tokyo is divided into 23 wards, 26 cities, 5 towns and 8 villages, each with its own city hall. However, everyone calls Tokyo prefecture office “Tokyo City Hall” so everyone within and outside Japan still refers to Japan as a city.”
In Japan, the food is as much about the preparation and presentation as it is about the food itself. A great deal of thought and care goes into Japanese food prep, and simplicity is usually the key ingredient. One way to devour as much Japanese food culture as you can be to go on a sushi tour.
In addition to Sushi, there is also ramen, soba, tonkatsu, and much more. Read up on the top 10 foods to try in Japan.
Don’t forget, many apprentice chefs working in traditional restaurants in Tokyo may work there ten years before they’re allowed to handle the fish or meat. While they may bus tables when needed, these are not “low-wage” staff and tipping them is considered an insult!
In Tokyo, a large amount of the population travels by subway. One thing to note is that there are two separate subways lines, Tokyo Metro and Toei. The lines do not interconnect and they charge separate fares. This means that a ticket for Tokyo Metro will not be accepted with Toei. It’s best to complete your journey on lines operated by the same company rather than switching.
Tokyo also has several train lines that run throughout the area. Learn more about Tokyo transportation here.
5. Activities and Entertainment
While there is a myriad of things to do in Tokyo, here are a few of our favorites:
Visit the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden
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In the heart of Shinjuku, the Gyoen National Garden is a truly awesome and peaceful place to visit– especially during cherry blossom season! It’s a great thing to see when traveling Tokyo!
Dine in the Sky
Perfect food??? A photo posted by Поляна (@tulenpoli) on
While it’s a little pricey, Tokyo’s Musashi Skytree Restaurant is quite stunning! At over 634m, you can see for miles while sampling some delicious cuisine when traveling Tokyo.
See Some Sumo Wrestling
If you just so happen to be in Tokyo during one of the three grand tournaments (15-day events in January, May, and September) you can catch some of the action at Ryogoku Kokugikan, Tokyo’s National Sumo Hall. Learn more.
6. Luxury Accommodations
Tokyo boasts some of the most luxurious hotels in the world. Some of the popular luxury hotels are: The Grand Hyatt, Tokyo
Photo by @edwin.cheng Thank you for sharing a wonderful view of illuminated Tokyo tower from #GrandHyattTokyo #Christmas #Christmasillumination #Christmaslights #Tokyotower #Tokyohotel #Tokyotrip #japantrip #roppongi A photo posted by Grand Hyatt Tokyo グランドハイアット東京 (@grandhyatttokyo) on
The Imperial Hotel, Tokyo
The Park Hyatt Tokyo
#cherryblossom #parkhyatttokyo #spring #shinjuku #パークハイアット東京 #春 #桜 #新宿 A photo posted by Park Hyatt Tokyo / パーク ハイアット東京 (@parkhyatttokyo) on
7. Japanese Customs
Did you know, some restrooms in Tokyo have the bowl of the toilet located on the floor, and you have to squat over it! This may seem odd but once you get used to it, you’ll consider it your new normal.
If you’re concerned about hygiene, keep in mind that the most hygienic restrooms are located in hotels and department stores. Another interesting custom is that you will find a pair of slippers in many homes and public places that you change into before entering the restroom itself.
It may come as a surprise to you that many public restrooms don’t have toilet paper available. If you think you may run into this, no worries. You can buy toilet paper from many dispensers throughout Tokyo for only about ¥50. Many public toilets don’t have toilet paper, though there are dispensers where packets can be purchased for ¥50 or so. Also, some restrooms don’t have paper towel dispensers/hand dryers installed, so be sure to come prepared with hand sanitizer, handkerchief, or something of the like.
With these tips, your time when traveling Tokyo will be time well spent!