In this comprehensive Tokyo travel guide for first-timers, I want to share with you travel tips and information you need to know about this bustling city in Japan. I also included a sample Tokyo itinerary you can use as a base, especially if you’re only staying for a few days. Hopefully, this post would be helpful for those planning to travel to Tokyo for the first time once the crazy outbreak is over.

⚠️ IMPORTANT REMINDER: Postpone, don’t cancel! Let’s save the tourism industry. Some information in this post may have changed due to the pandemic and it might affect your travel plans. Always be a responsible traveler and keep yourself updated by reading COVID-19 advice from your local authorities and in your point of destination/s before traveling. You can go ahead and take inspiration from this post, bookmark it, or save it on your Pinterest travel board for future reference.

Tokyo Travel Guide
Grab some coffee! This is gonna be a long Tokyo travel guide post!

Writing this post brings back so many good memories of my first time in Japan! I went there with my boyfriend last September 2018. It was fun remembering our Tokyo travel adventures.

So are you ready? Let’s dive in!

Trip Planning Tips

Ultimate Tokyo Travel Guide For First-Timers

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What You Need To Know About Tokyo

Tokyo is the capital of Japan and it is one of the most densely populated cities in the world. One can enjoy the eclectic mix of modern and traditional cultures in Tokyo. Shrines, temples, and monuments on one end, and anime, kawaii or geeky stuff on the other. No wonder you will never run out of interesting things to discover in Tokyo.

There’s an activity for all sorts of people. So whether you have an interest in food, art, culture, beautiful scenery, anime, tech, fashion – you can get a taste of them all in Tokyo!

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Tokyo Travel Tips For First-Timers

  • Tourist visa – Filipinos must apply for a tourist visa when visiting Japan for leisure. You can be granted single or multiple entries. They do not accept walk-in applicants in the Embassy of Japan in the Philippines. So you have to file your Japan tourist visa application through accredited travel agencies. More details about how to apply for a Japan visa here.
  • Currency – Yen is the official currency of Japan. The symbol is ¥ and it’s also referred to as JPY or JP¥.
  • Money exchange – It’s advisable to have your PHP exchanged to JPY before you leave for Japan. You can potentially save on bad exchange rates overseas. Normally I call my bank to ask for their exchange rates and then compare it with popular money exchange centers in the metro like Czarina or Sanry’s.
  • Credit card and ATMs – Most establishments accept credit cards and there are many convenience stores across Tokyo that have ATMs. But you probably would want to have some spare change in your pocket in case you want something to drink from the vending machine.
  • Language – Japanese is the official language in Japan. You may have a hard time conversing with them as most locals (especially the old ones) can only understand and speak little English. I noticed young professionals or young students are easier to talk to in English. So if you’re lost or you need to ask something important, look for them. They’re also very helpful too! I also suggest that you download a translator app.
  • Season – There are four seasons in Japan: spring (March to May), summer (June to August), autumn (September to November), and winter (December to February). Choose which season your trip falls into and pack accordingly.
  • Travel App – Taking the train is confusing in Tokyo. Download Hyperdia so you know which station and train you have to take.
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Trip Planning Tip Travel Apps

Essentials For Your Tokyo Trip

When planning your Tokyo travel escapade, take into consideration the cost of transportation, entrance tickets to tourist attractions, and other things. These may blow up your expenses but the good thing is that you can get most of them at a discount! I personally like using Klook and I was able to save a lot of money with these:

  • Tokyo Skyliner Express Ticket to/from Narita Airport – save yourself the hassle and long travel time. In just 41 minutes you can arrive in Tokyo from Narita Airport with this express ticket.
  • Buy a Tokyo Subway Ticket – travel conveniently around Tokyo through Tokyo Metro and Toei Subway lines for 1, 2, or 3 days. This pass grants you unlimited access to 13 different routes with over 250 metro stops covering most of the city.
Tokyo Travel Guide Narita Airport Train Ticket
Tokyo Skyliner Express Ticket! Must-have for your Tokyo travel adventure!
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Flights To Tokyo

The main international airport in Tokyo is Narita International Airport (NRT).

From Manila, you can take direct flights to Tokyo. There are many airlines with routes from Manila to Tokyo like Cebu Pacific, Philippine Airlines, Japan Airlines, and All Nippon Airways.

ALSO READ: 7 Cebu Pacific Seat Sale Hacks That 100% Worked for Me!

I was able to score super cheap flights to Manila-Tokyo-Manila with Cebu Pacific’s Piso Fare sales. When I visited Tokyo last September 2018, I only paid Php 2,204.98 all-in (Php 1.00 base fare) for the roundtrip fare. Round trip ticket prices can go as high as Php 19,000++ for regular non-seat sale ones. So I consider myself very lucky that I got to snag such a good deal! I booked my Tokyo travel airfare tickets almost a year in advance – it’s worth the long wait!

You can also take a flight to Nagoya or Osaka from Manila and then take the bullet train to Tokyo (can be an expensive option). But personally, I prefer taking one Japan city/area at a time. I went back to Japan the year after (2019) to visit Osaka. I’ll blog about that next time. 😊

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Trip Planning Tip Accommodation

Where To Stay In Tokyo

Your accommodation in Tokyo can take a huge chunk of your budget, but good thing there are many affordable options if you know where to find them. I highly suggest trying a cheap capsule or hostel accommodation.

💡 PRO TIP: Choose accommodation that is near public transportations! This will save you valuable travel time.

Ryokan & Hostel Wasabi Nippori

Ultimately, we chose Ryokan & Hostel Wasabi Nippori. It’s near public transportation, it’s cheap, and the reviews were good. It’s my first time trying a capsule-type dormitory. We chose the mixed dormitory-type – meaning mixed genders can occupy the 18-bed capsules.

ALSO READ: Tokyo Hostel Review: Shocking Experience Sleeping With 15 Random Strangers In Japan!

Tokyo Travel Guide Ryokan & Hostel Wasabi Nippori
Tokyo Travel Guide – Ryokan & Hostel Wasabi Nippori (photo from their website)

Location: 6-24-16 Higashi-nippori, Arakawa-ku, Nippori, Tokyo, Japan, 116-0014

Accommodation type: Dormitory, Japanese-style Rooms, and Western-style Rooms

Cost: 2 Single Bed Mixed Dormitory Room for 4 nights only cost us JPY 16,113 or PHP 7,368.69! Super cheap, right? That’s already the total! Haha I really have a knack for scoring cheap rooms and airfares. 😉

Will I recommend Ryokan & Hostel Wasabi Nippori? YES! Definitely!

💸 BUDGET TRAVEL TIP: Book via Agoda for cheap accommodations. Always look for accommodations that have the “Book Now, Pay Later” scheme.


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Getting Around Tokyo

The best way to get around Tokyo is by subway and trains. Avoid hailing taxi cabs as they are crazy expensive. You can also try riding a bus but it’s not recommended for first-time visitors.

Do get a Tokyo Subway Ticket from Klook for a discounted price. It grants unlimited access to 13 different routes with over 250 metro stops covering most of the city.

And download these apps before your Tokyo travel adventures: Hyperdia, Google Maps, and Tokyo Subway App.

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Travel Guide Activities

Top 15 Things To Do In Tokyo If It’s Your First Time

Here are some of the things you can do when you’re traveling to Tokyo for the first time. Tokyo is such a huge, bustling city that it’s impossible to do everything all in one go. But hey, don’t feel bad if you won’t be able to accomplish everything in the list below. That’s one good reason to keep coming back, right?

  • Check out the Shibuya Crossing – you can go to Starbucks around the block to get a nice aerial view of the Shibuya Crossing. Get mesmerized seeing the organized chaos of this super famous intersection.
Tokyo Travel Guide Shibuya Crossing
Tokyo Travel Guide – Shibuya Crossing
  • Take a picture with the statue of Hachiko. You might have seen the movie and cried over it. In case you don’t know who Hachiko is, he’s the loyal dog that waited for the return of his owner long after he’s gone. He waited day in and day out at the same spot at Shibuya Station.
  • Shop around Shibuya! Don’t miss out Don Quijote, it’s a massive shop wherein you can find all sorts of stuff!
  • Visit Meiji Shrine (or Meiji Jingu) in Shibuya, one of the most important shrines in Japan. It is a Shinto shrine dedicated to Emperor Meiji and his wife.
Tokyo Travel Guide Meiji Shrine
Tokyo Travel Guide – Meiji Shrine
  • Walk around Yoyogi Park. This popular tourist destination is just adjacent to Harajuku Station and Meiji Shrine. Enjoy the lush sceneries that this park has to offer.
  • Explore Ginza, one of Tokyo’s top shopping districts. You’ll enjoy here if you’re into high-end shopping or just want to see Tokyo’s upscale boutiques.
  • Roam around Akihabara, a district in central Tokyo famous for its many electronics shops, maid cafes, cat cafes, arcade games, to name a few.
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Fun Tokyo travel adventures!
  • Visit the Senso-ji, a famous Buddhist temple in Asakusa. You can also try a lot of street food and buy souvenirs from the nearby street called Nakamise Shopping Street.
  • Explore the Shinjuku district known for its large entertainment, business, and shopping area.
  • Try Japanese food like sushi, sashimi, ramen, tempura, yakitori, onigiri, okonomiyaki, taiyaki, and many more!
Tokyo Travel Guide Food Trip
Tokyo Travel Guide Food Trip
  • Try the different food in 7-11! You will not regret grabbing some quick bite at this convenience store, I promise. Unique 7-11 food finds include onigiri, bento, fresh noodles, Japanese potato chips, and more!
  • Feel like a child again at Tokyo DisneySea! Enjoy the different magical themed areas, thrilling rides, and attractions. Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea are two different theme parks that are next to each other and have separate entrance fees. Choose Tokyo DisneySea as it’s the ONLY DisneySea park in the world. Most rides are also targeted for adults!
Tokyo Travel Guide Tokyo DisneySea
Tokyo Travel Guide – Tokyo DisneySea
  • Check out Tokyo SkyTree, the tallest tower in the world! It’s also the world’s second-tallest structure after Dubai’s Burj Khalifa.
  • Visit the National Museum to learn more about the history of Japan.
  • Day tour to Mt. Fuji if time permits.

This list never ends as there a lot more Tokyo travel attractions! But if you’re a first-timer in Tokyo the above-mentioned list would do.

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Trip Planning Tip Itinerary

Sample Tokyo Travel Itinerary For 5 Days 4 Nights

Planning a trip to Tokyo can be overwhelming because of the seemingly never-ending list of things to see and do! Here’s a sample Tokyo travel itinerary you can use as a base. These are arranged in such a way that places that are close to each other are put together on the same day so you can travel around Tokyo efficiently. Feel free to tweak whichever way that’s more suitable for you.

I usually use the site/app called Visit A City when creating an itinerary and the sample Tokyo travel itinerary below is based on that. However, we weren’t able to go to all these places since we decided we wanted to stay a little longer in some areas and forgo the others. I’m sharing this in case you want to make the most out of your 5 Days 4 Nights in Tokyo. 😊

Sample Tokyo Travel Itinerary For 5 Days 4 Nights
Day 1
Sensoji TempleTokyo’s oldest temple and a famous Buddhist temple in Asakusa.
Asakusa ShrineOne of the most popular Shinto shrines in Tokyo. It honors the three men who founded the Senso-ji Temple.
Tokyo National MuseumEstablished in 1871, it is Japan’s oldest and largest art museum.
Ueno ParkOpened in 1873, it was one of the first public parks in Tokyo.
AkihabaraDubbed as the “Electric Town,” this district is best known for its high-tech shops, anime, and manga stores.
Day 2
Tsukiji Fish MarketLocated in Central Tokyo, this market is considered the world’s largest wholesale seafood market.
Tokyo TowerThis Eiffel Tower-inspired is the second tallest structure in Japan.
Tokyo SkytreeThe tallest structure in Japan at 634.0 meters (2,080 ft) and the tallest tower in the world. There’s an observatory featuring a spiral, glass-covered skywalk.
Tokyo SolamachiAt the base of the Tokyo Skytree, you can find a large shopping, dining, and entertainment complex where you can hang out.
ShibuyaThis area is commonly referred to as one of the fashion districts of Japan. Don’t miss out on this major commercial and business center, especially at night where it can get really busy with nightlife!
Day 3
Tokyo DisneySeaYou have to allot one whole day if you plan to visit Tokyo DisneySea.
Must-try rides at Tokyo DisneySea for adults:
– Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Crystal Skull
– Raging Spirits
– Tower of Terror
– Journey to the Centre of the Earth
Day 4
Meiji ShrineA traditional Shinto shrine dedicated to the spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife Empress Shōken.
Yoyogi ParkThis large central park in Shibuya is adjacent to Harajuku Station and Meiji Shrine. Great for photo-ops especially during cherry blossom season!
HarajukuA popular district known for its youth culture and unique fashion. It’s common to see Japanese strutting their Harajuku style in this area.
Ota Memorial Museum of Art
A museum in Shibuya which showcases Japanese art known as ukiyo-e, which means “pictures of the floating world.”
National Art CentreA museum for temporary exhibitions in Roppongi and is housed in a unique building.
Day 5
Tokyo Government OfficeGet a spectacular view of Tokyo from the tallest city hall in the world. It offers a FREE observation deck for visitors.
ShinjukuExplore this large entertainment, business, and shopping area.
Narita AirportDeparture time! If you have a Tokyo Skyliner Express Ticket, you can take the train to Narita Airport from Ueno Station.

OPTIONAL: Add a day tour to Mt. Fuji in your Tokyo travel itinerary if you can. But make sure to check the weather forecast first before booking your tour. We didn’t take it when we were there because unfortunately, the weather didn’t cooperate with us. Maybe next time for us, yeah?

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Frequently Asked Questions About Tokyo

I gathered some of the most frequently asked questions when planning a Tokyo travel itinerary and tried my best to give my answers. Read on to make the most out of your Tokyo travel adventures!

How much should I budget for a trip to Tokyo?

Believe it or not, you can survive with around Php 15,000 (~ JPY 33,000) pocket money for 5 days, 4 nights in Tokyo! That’s roughly Php 3,000 (~ JPY 6,500) per day. As mentioned above, you can cut down on your expense if you stay in hostels or capsule-type accommodation. Another way to save on money is by splurging only one meal a day (this could be either lunch or dinner) and eat somewhere cheap for your other meals. This is where 7-11 and streetfoods can save you!

Is Tokyo expensive?

Surprisingly, it’s not that expensive. Again, if you know where to find the cheap places to stay and dine in, then you’re good to go! Of course, if shopping is on top of your list, then that might blow up your budget. But generally, the cost of goods in Tokyo are affordable.

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How long do you need in Tokyo?

We stayed for 5 days and it seems not long enough! But we covered many places during our 5-day Tokyo travel adventure. It already includes one full day at Tokyo DisneySea (don’t miss this!). So if you only have 5 days to spare, it’s fine.

What is the cheapest month to travel to Tokyo?

The cheapest season to visit Tokyo is during winter from mid-January through March. Most shops offer discounts to attract tourists and popular destinations are not as crowded during this time.

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Where should a first-time tourist stay in Tokyo?

If you’re not too picky, I highly recommend staying in hostels or capsule-type accommodations. I had a great experience at Ryokan & Hostel Wasabi Nippori and would definitely book them again when I visit Tokyo in the future. Make sure to find accommodations that are walking distance to train stations!

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Tokyo Travel Guide For First Timers Filipinos
Tokyo Travel Guide For First Timers
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Do you plan to visit Tokyo in the future? Why or why not? And for those who have been there before, how was your experience? What activities did you do in Tokyo? What’s your favorite part of your Tokyo trip? Did you enjoy trying different Japanese food? Did you also get lost and didn’t know how to figure out their complex train system on your first few tries? LOL!

So that’s it for this very long Tokyo travel itinerary post! I hope you find all the information in this Tokyo travel guide useful! Enjoy your Tokyo travel adventure and make sure to tag me @hazywanders so I can see your travel photos! Let me know in the comment section if you have any questions or more Tokyo travel tips to share.

💡 PRO TIP: Learn more travel tips in this Ultimate Guide To Planning Your Trip In 8 Easy Steps! I covered the basics of planning a trip and also included the tried and tested websites and apps I normally use to score cheap deals.

Find this post helpful? Share it! 💖
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About Hazel Salcedo

A digital marketer who’s always daydreaming about her next getaway. This wanderlust is living proof that traveling can be affordable! She’s traveled to many destinations thanks to Piso fare flights. Read the 7 best seat sale hacks that worked for her.

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  1. I’ve been there in Tokyo way back 1998. I love Japan than any other country. The environment is so clean and the people are so kind and polite. Thank you for sharing some photos, It made me reminisce my journey in Disneyland.

  2. Such a wonderful itinerary to read for someone like me who hasn’t been to Tokyo before. I’d love to visit Tokyo in the future after COVID is gone and this guide will be so helpful in knowing how to plan my trip.

  3. Like many people I have just heard time and time again that Japan is expensive and that I would spend a fortune in Tokyo. So this is a really helpful guide as it shows that this is not necessarily the case. Great list of things to do and I love the sample itinerary. I would really like to visit Japan one day. I also love to go into 7-11 in other countries and see what local snacks they have. I’m sure there would be some great ones in Japan.

  4. I have wanted to see Japan, specifically Tokyo, for years. In fact, if I were able I’d move there. I’m just fascinated by the history, culture, and beauty.

  5. I have been to Tokyo a handful of times and love it! My first trip I had a hard time figuring out the subway. Not which train to take, but how to get on at rush hour! I waited 3 trains but finally just pushed myself on!

  6. Those are some awesome tips for visiting Tokyo. Probably a bit more expensive flying from Phoenix to Tokyo, looks like it would be between $1,000 and 1300 to fly there, but other than that, it seems like it wouldn’t be too expensive once I got there. Japan has been on my bucketlist for awhile!

  7. matatagalan pa siguro kami makapunta. kelangan muna matatakan ang passport ko ng mga non-visa travels. that, or I make sure my bank account is bulked. but yeah, tokyo is such a wonderful place to go to. I’d love to see it with my family.

  8. This was such a nice post! I went to Tokyo December 2018 for 1 night… can you believe that! I was living in South Korea at the time and wanted to quick and adventuorous escape. Of course I couldn’t get to all the fun things you listed in your post, but here’s to hoping for next time!

  9. Tokyo, one of my dream places that I want to visit. I want to go there because of art, anime and tech. Tokyo is amazing! Thanks for sharing this anyway.

  10. Ooh .. Tokyo is beautiful. I never was, but reading the post I fell in love with him even more. I would really like to visit him at least once. Well written post, very informative and the photos are beautiful.

  11. What a complete guide you have here. Definitely a must save. There’s a lot of seat sales right now for destinations like Tokyo next year. Hopefully it would be safer to travel by then.

    1. Hi, Jaear! Yes, so many seat sales happening lately – they’re all quite tempting! Haha! I actually have a booked ticket for Japan again this December, but might have to cancel that for safety reasons. 🙁

  12. I visited Japan a few years ago and spent a number of days in Tokyo – there is so much to do and all of your suggestions are on point! My one argument would be to spend MORE than a day at Fuji if time allows! It’s a beautiful area and a great place to relax : )

  13. What a comprehensive guide on Tokyo! I’ve never got an opportunity to explore that part of the world yet but would love to visit Tokyo and explore everything that you’ve mentioned!

  14. How awesome! I have always heard how 7-11 stores in Japan have a good array of choice meals and now I am even more convinced. Will definitely look on this guideline when we get the chance to explore Japan.

  15. I’ve been to Tokyo once but I haven’t explored much of these places! This guide is so informative! I would love to visit Harajuku! Its so interesting how that place just screams creativity everywhere you go hehe

  16. Tokyo is HIGH up on my travel wish list! I would love to go there some day as I’m a big fan of anime haha. I didn’t realise there was SO MUCH to do there though! I’d love to go to Tokyo Tower. I’ve never heard of “pocket Wi-Fi”, so that was a really good tip!

    1. You’ll definitely enjoy Tokyo if you’re a big fan of anime! And pocket wi-fi is like a portable internet router wherein you can connect multiple devices at the same for internet connection. I like it more than buying a local sim for net. 😅

  17. I hope to visit Tokyo one day as I’ve read so much about it. I love the dormitory style hostels with the personal drawn curtains for privacy. Very unique!

  18. I was 4 years old when i first went to tokyo and it was my first international travel. my mom said it could be easy for me to get a visa. hahaha how true? imagine it has been 3 decades!!!!i wish i can go back. we were planning sana for december but then this pandemic. ugh.

    1. Hi, Margaux! I think if ganon na katagal, baka wala na masyado impact – pero I think it could help pa rin somehow sa application. Generally, it’s easy to apply naman for a Japan tourist visa. I applied twice and got accepted on both tries. 😀

  19. Based on my experience, eventhough Tokyo is a very modern city, cash is still a king. Many small shops prefers cash . But things are now changed especially after this pandemic, where we need to limit contact.

  20. What a great guide! May I recommend, if you’re a huge Mario Kart fan like me, looking into booking a tour with MariCar! It’s a tour through the city (either during the night or at night, and you have various route options) on a gokart, dressed as your favorite Mario Kart character. It’s such a fun and unique way to see the city! It seriously feels like real world Mario Kart, and you’re out there on the streets with real traffic and abiding by the traffic laws. Do note though, if planning to book a tour, make sure you obtain your International Driver’s license before arriving to Japan or you will not be able to go on the tour.

  21. I never been to Tokyo but I always wanted to visit Japan because I heard a lot of good feedbacks from my friends about the country. I like their culture, cleanliness and technology. Thank you for blogging about it, will surely use your blog as my reference! Hopefully next year after this pandemic is over! I will make a trip to Tokyo before going to Philippines:)

  22. I never been to Tokyo but I always wanted to visit Japan because I heard a lot of good feedbacks from my friends about the country. I like their culture, cleanliness and technology. Thank you for blogging about it, will surely use your blog as my reference! Hopefully next year after this pandemic is over! I will make a trip to Tokyo before going to Philippines:)

    nice theme layout!

  23. Your Japan post reminds me that I have TONS of Japan blog posts that are still in ‘pending mode’ lol. OMG, I miss Japan so much and wish can travel soon.

  24. We wanted to go to Japan badly but with the current situation that we have, we need to postpone our trip and read articles like this to plan our trip in the future. This would definitely help us with our itinerary!

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