I have always been wanting to visit Japan. The country with ever-fascinating culture, food, people, landscapes and not to mention, great anime/manga scene! For an anime fan like me, Japan is a must-visit destination at least once in your lifetime.
I finally decided to visit Japan after dreaming about it for so long. I visited Tokyo at the end of February till early March 2018 for about 10 days and it was 10 days well spent. I probably regret not staying longer 😛 That means i would need to visit Japan again!
And if you’re like me and have little to no knowledge of japanese language at all, fear not since you can actually get by in Japan! So let me tell you what you need to consider if you are planning to go to Japan (Tokyo).
1) Plan your flight
Probably the thumb rule of all, you have to plan your flight considerably. If you plan to travel from Europe or America, it will be a long flight so get on your comfiest outfits. In Tokyo you can either fly to Haneda Airport or Narita Airport. If you already booked a hotel in advance, pick the nearst airport.
If not, i recommend to fly to Haneda airport. It is a new airport with an interesting japanese “flair”, where modern meets traditional. The shopping area (Edo-Koji) is designed, as though it was from ancient japanese times. The beautiful wooden facade, adorned with paper lanterns all across the passageway and a huge wooden bridge with beautiful japanese paintings are are definitely a must-see. If you missed all that on your arrival, you can always visit Edo-Koji on your way back.
Check with your embassy beforehand if you would need a visa to enter Japan! I didn’t need to apply for a visa, but a friend of mine who did, told me they require about 60€ and a processing time of 1 week. Again, check with your embassy in your country on how to apply for a visa.
In Tokyo, the standard hotel rooms are not cheap. Of course, you can get cheap accomodation in hostels. Another alternative is to find an apartment or room through AirBnB. I found a very small apartment in Tokyo which in Shinjuku area which costed around 40€ per night. It was quite small but o.k. for the price.
4) Japanese Yen
I brought just enough Japanese money for a train ticket at the airport to a big railway station. I later withdrawn some more money at the atm machine in Tokyo. I had to pay for the transaction fee of the atm machine, but since i’m using Santander credit card, i don’t have to pay for foreign exchange fee. Just do enough research which is going to save you money the most.
Tips: You can withdraw money at 7eleven in Tokyo. They are very easy to find. They even have atm machines at (bigger) train stations.
5) Internet access
There are several ways to gain internet access. You can get free internet everywhere, 7eleven, starbucks etc. But do consider to get a portable wifi or a sim card so you will have internet access at the ready. The Apartment that i rent during my stay in Tokyo included a portable wifi so I didn’t have to pay any extra money for that.
Tips 1: If you want to find an accomodation via AirBnB, make sure to find an apartment/room that offers free portable wifi.
Tips 2: since you will be using the portable wifi, phones, cameras outside, it’s best to bring a powerbank with you! Preferably one with a bigger capacity.
6) Use a Metro App
If you have internet access, download the tokyo subway app. That’s if you’re planning to ride the subway during your stay. I used Tokyo Subway Navigation and it worked great. It’s a definitely must-have app on your smartphone.
7) Use Google Map/ Apple map
Google/ Apple maps sure come in handy if you don’t want to waste your time asking for directions or reading a map. Make sure you have internet access.
Tips 1: If you are underground/ in the metro, there is a high change that you will lose internet connectivity. Make sure to use the app and check your train connection before you go underground.
Tips 2: If you have an iPhone, i do reccomend to use Apple Map instead of Google Map in Tokyo. Most of the time, my Google map showed wrong directions or showed a direction totally outside of Tokyo!
8) Pack as light as you can
I was in Tokyo around March when it was still a bit cold. That means I had to pack my winter jacket, my polo sweater, and and and. Couldn’t find a way around that. But if possible, pack light. You dont want to be dragging huge luggage around. The trains are always almost packed and there are alot of stairs everywhere!
9) Plan your visit
This goes without saying. Make sure to plan your visit accordingly. During those 10 days, i knew exactly where to go and what places to visit. I also researched beforehand if i need to pay for entrance ticket and so on. This will make your visit much more organized and you will optimize most of your time there. I used x to plan the visits in Tokyo. Make sure to check it out, it’s free.
10) Do’s and Don’ts
Familiarize yourself with the Do’s and Don’ts in Japan. I’m sure you can find the info easily on the Internet. One rule of being a good-mannered traveller is to respect them and their culture. I guess it’s also the same thing you want for travellers who travels to your country. Don’t act inappropriately. You are, in a way, representing your country. I guess you also want the same thing in travellers who travels to your country.
So that concludes 10 things to consider before flying to Tokyo! If you have questions, just drop a comment below, i’ll be happy to answer them.