Travel Tips for Tokyo and the 10 Best Things to do There!
Hey everyone! So, after an amazing time in Tokyo, I wanted to share my experience with you, as well as some photos of the things I got into. Hopefully I can inspire, or help you with your next trip! Here are some travel tips and, in my opinion, the best things to do in Tokyo!
1. If you are having a tough time booking a hotel, I’ll save you the time and stress, and suggest that you book The INTERCONTINENTAL. It is a stunning property with amazing and engaging staff. The rooms are a great size and the view (Pay a little more and get a room with a view) is amazing! You get stunning views of the Tokyo Rainbow Bridge. The location is perfect too, within 5 minutes of the train station, to get anywhere in Tokyo you want to go, such as Shibuya or Harajuku. This hotel has a business center, lounge, spa, restaurants, and a great bar! I really enjoyed my stay here. This is luxury at its best.
2. Take the metro from your hotel to HARAJUKU and walk around the shops. There is a lot of fun Japanese fashion there, fun foods like animal shaped ice cream, waffles, and cotton candy. Enjoy the colors and vibe of Harajuku. There is shopping in Harajuku, and you must check out Kawaii Monster Café. It’s a great place for funky photos, food, and shows. It really celebrates the Kawaii culture and we had so much fun there. Make sure you go early to get a good table, and on Thursdays there is a cool burlesque show. It’s for sure worth checking out.
3. You MUST go to the TEAMLAB Borderless exhibit at the Mori Building. It’s a digital art museum and it’s hands down the coolest museum I’ve ever been to. If you’re short of time in Tokyo this is the top thing you should do! Check out the website link and have a look at how cool it is. The art work moves room to room and changes and gives you such another perspective. It’s incredible and again, some of my favorite Tokyo photos came from this museum. It’s unlike many museums in the world. You can buy tickets online for a discount or get them there, but prepare to wait in line. They are a reasonable price as well.
4. Head to SHIBUYA. Shibuya is similar to Times Square in New York. It’s home to the rumored busiest intersection in the world called Shibuya Crossing, which has been featured in many films. It’s so crazy to see. It’s electric watching people moving all at once, in all different directions. Emily and I hung out here for about 20 minutes just watching the lights change, and the scatter of people. It’s great for time-lapse photos also. Shibuya also has loads of shopping, nail salons, restaurants, (including Ramen) and coffee shops. It’s a very busy place in the city, but gives you a true feel of Tokyo. I loved all the lights and the energy there. You should get your nails done while in Japan, the experience alone is unique. You get to see some really eccentric and unique styles the Japanese girls will do. I do black with cute gold charms. It’s pricey, but it’s part of the experience. A place I went to was called Nails Gogo at 102 Shibuya. Also, really do some shopping while you’re here. I love the Japanese fashion. My favorite boutique was “Ready, Me, Go” in Shibuya.
5. Visit an ANIMAL CAFE. I went to the hedgehog Cafe in Asakusa, and it was a good experience. Some will argue they are inhumane, but the animals seemed cared for a looked after at the place I went. There is also an Owl café I heard is wonderful, and again, the owls are looked after but you must pre-book and reserve a time as they sell out quickly, as animal cafés are a popular thing to do. Like all things, not all are created equal and I’ve heard of some sad ones that really imprison the animals like the penguin one, so do you research is all I can say and then decide if it’s something you want to support. I’m always on the fence with these types of things but at the hedgehog café, they seemed happy. It’s really like a pet store with hedgehogs, and you’re just allowed to play with them while they are waiting to be sold. They seem to enjoy all the toys you give them as well, again this is just from my own personal experience.
6. For some history, go and visit SENSOJI TEMPLE in Asakusa. It’s Tokyo’s oldest temple in the history center of the city and is truly stunning, and fantastic for photos. You can also understand the tradition of the hand washing, face washing, and incense. There are markets all around with traditional Japanese gifts, items, and foods. You can play games like the “Goldfish game” like Emily and I played, and walk through the gardens on the side of the temple. It is also very near to the Tokyo Sky Tree.
7. For amazing views of the city, I would visit TOKYO SKYTREE or TOKYO TOWER. Tokyo Skytree is taller and newer and you can see Tokyo Tower from it, but some say it’s just too high. I didn’t do either as I liked to just look at both from down below. I think Tokyo Skytree is a little more costly as well, so compare prices before you go. I loved the city view from the top of the Intercontinental Tokyo Bay, which I was able to get for free, so I didn’t want to pay a fee to see another city view. Another great view which is also free is from the Tokyo Metropolitan Governmental building.
8. Try the sushi and the Ramen. There are so many places all over. Emily and I ate at the Famous GONPACHI restaurant in Ginza, where the film “Kill Bill” was shot. It’s open late and has a huge variety of things to eat that were great. Below I’ll make another list of great restaurants below.
9. Go and race MARIO KARTS. You can even dress up. I’m so sad I didn’t get to do this, but my girlfriend did it the day before while I was too busy! You just need a valid ID and then you can race cars through the city, like you’re in the real-life game! It’s such a fun and authentic experience and it’s a great way to see different areas of the city, even if you are just zooming by then. My gf said this was one of her favorite things she did while we were here. Book online to reserve!
10. Walk around SHINJUKU, Tokyo’s biggest red light district. This area is often called “the district that never sleeps”. Here you will find loads of Ramen places, (many were pork based so I couldn’t enjoy them L) bars with cheap alcohol, strip clubs, restaurants, clubs, and a lot of tall, bright buildings. The place seems a little seedy at night so be careful, but it’s for sure worth seeing. There is also a famous restaurant called ROBOT Restaurant. I wanted to go but the prices were a little steep for me considering it is a huge tourist trap and I heard the food isn’t amazing. I think people go for the cool and unique photos, if you have the time and budget then check it out, if not then stroll by, and keep walking around the rest of the district as there are plenty of interesting things to see. If anyone tries to give or sell you anything, just keep walking.
11.BONUS: Walk around Odiba and visit THE HILTON HOTEL where they do a dessert buffet around Christmas all in Girly pink colors and sparkles. It was another one of my favorite things to do and the sweets were so amazing and so Insta-worthy! It’s a must do if you’re there while it’s on. Check the dates.
Best Travel Tips for Tokyo
1. Don’t assume everyone speaks English, you’ll actually find the opposite, most people don’t speak English. Some hotel workers do, cabs rarely, and people in shops rarely unless you are in very touristy areas. It’s a good idea to keep your hotel info written down in Japanese so you can easily show a cab driver or ask someone on the metro what stop you need. Also, language apps can be lifesavers.
2. If you can, take the metro, it’s so much cheaper than cabs, as we realized soon on that cabs are expensive in Japan and the metro is easy to figure out. Buy a rechargeable city card upon arrival. This will save you heaps and taxi’s take much longer with the traffic anyway. Study the map beforehand and always double check the line you’re on and the direction you’re going. When in doubt, ask someone. If they can’t speak English, wait and ask another or just show them on your phone where you are trying to go. Some will be too shy to help, others will gladly help. Japanese people aren’t rude, just a little quiet and shy at times.
3. When taking public transport, it’s important to be quiet and calm, Japanese are very quiet when taking public transport, so it is rude to speak loudly or act obnoxiously. Also keep your phone on silent and don’t answer it on public transport.
4. Not all atms take foreign cards and not all restaurants take credit cards, so it’s best to have cash on you always, and perhaps get it before hand or if you find an ATM that takes foreign cards. 7/11 has ATMs and takes foreign cards, they have loads of things there also and even free Wi-Fi.
5. It is not customary to tip in Japan and some places get offended or don’t accept tips, so you can save a little money there!
6. Tattoos are offensive in Japan, I only realized this when I tried to go to a spa and I wasn’t allowed because I had tattoos. If you have them on your arms, it’s polite to cover them. They are not a good thing in Japan to have.
7. Pack sensible shoes, as you will be walking a lot. Also dress to impress, I found that the Japanese are always dressed up. I loved the girls’ style. Cute dresses and skirts with pastel colors and layers. High socks and cute chunky shoes. The style is fun and quirky and it’s fun to experience with the fashion here. Showing a lot of cleavage is a no no here. People are modest when showing off their body, especially women.
8. Tokyo Narita airport is an hour and a half away and almost 200 USD to get to one way. So, try not to fly into Narita, but Hanada instead, also take the train from the airport. It’s much cheaper and doesn’t take much longer than a cab.
9. There are no trash cans around the streets of Tokyo so keep your garbage in your handbag or just be mindful of what you bring that will need disposing of later.
10.Keep to the left. People in Japan walk and drive on the left so watch the flow and go with it. You don’t want to disturb people.
Best places to eat in Tokyo:
This list was put together by myself, a few locals and frequent Tokyo business travelers I know. You will not go wrong with any of these. Most you should prebook.
Pizza studio Tamaki
Alice’s Fantasy Restaurant