As if it was tailored just right to what we’ve initially planned, the airfare was cheaper during the weekdays (departure and arrival). Therefore, a week tour became ideal for us where we can also spend a Sunday service at our local church there.
But over a month before our travel, the weather forecast wasn’t available yet so we planned our itinerary as it is. We also read in one of the blogs about traveling with children… that to avoid being exhausting to kids, itineraries should be limited to a few area each day and shouldn’t end late in the evening. For us, our day usually starts at 9:30am and ends at maximum of 10pm after taking dinner.
Here are some of my tips:
- Consider what your group likes to see. A group tour will also become memorable if the destinations appeal to everybody.
- Check out some blogs on POPULAR DESTINATIONS as well as UNPOPULAR YET MUST-SEE SITES. Sometimes, the usual spots become a bit boring while exploring the unexplored makes it more exciting.
- Check out if there are good places to visit in the same area so you don’t miss one out or you don’t go back in forth in the same area.
- Familiarize yourself with the currency (Japanese Yen). We usually hear that everything is expensive in TOKYO. Although the exchange rate is at 0.43 per peso, i just divide everything by 2 for me to get the peso equivalent. Example, a bottle of Pocari Sweat cost 120 yen or less than 60 pesos. And since i am most convenient with Qatar Riyals now, its even easier to appreciate the cost if i further divide it by 10 pesos… arriving the cost of the electrolyte drink to a realistic amount of QAR6. Same is true with the food which averages at 1000 yen per meal divided by 2 = 500 pesos, divided by 10 = 50 riyals. That’s just a normal cost of a meal in Applebees or Chilli’s. I may just write another blog on how to budget while in Tokyo.
- Know if the sites you want to visit have entrance fees. Some of the must-see destinations charge expensive fees so watch out for available discounts coupons on their websites, fast tract ticketing center, or even combo tickets where 2-days tickets may save you a penny other than buying daily tickets.
- Taking the metro is the most inexpensive way to roam around the city. You may even inquire about JR PASS to save more. Depending on time as well as convenience of the group, taking a bus or taxi is also an alternative. For us, we took taxi most of the time. While it is a bit expensive, we ended up saving on time and energy – carrying a baby stroller with a very energetic 2-year old toddler. Example, going to Tokyo station from our apartment cost 220 yen per person by train (x4 = 880 yen) plus a around 20-30 minutes walk. On the other hand, taking by taxi will cost around 1800 yen and taxi is taking us right infront of the apartment. The choice really depends on your budget.
Here’s our itinerary which you could consider during your visit to TOKYO. If traveling with all adults company, this itinerary could still be improved by adding nearby destinations which can be reached by a few minutes walk. I will also add up additional itineraries for you to consider. Alternatively, you can read more blogs to know better destinations.
DAY 01 – TOKYO TOWER and ROPONGGI HILLS
We arrived at the airport early morning and the travel from NARITA AIRPORT to TOKYO STATION (the closest main train station to our apartment) took us around 45 minutes. Trying out the train trail provided by our Airbnb host almost disappointed us since the estimated walking time almost doubled up not including the fact that to avoid being lost, we have to ask at every turn. That’s why i mentioned in my previous blog to really ask the exact direction of the apartment, and if possible, to ensure that it is only a less than 5 minutes from the nearest metro station and doesn’t require so much transfer in order to reach any of your destinations. Anyway, getting familiar with Tokyo’s metro is easy and traveling, no matter the distance, will eventually become a breeze. The key is to always ask… there are always English speaking staff available.
The apartment allowed us to keep our luggages in their office until the 3pm check-in time. And so we decided to take lunch at the nearest McDonalds (to be safe first) and headed out to the destination nearest our place – TOKYO TOWER.
But due to a long travel, we run out of phone battery and only managed to took a few photos. Since the weather was nice, we had a clear view of the Tokyo skyline. It was vast, impressive and right there, you will get an impression of their rich culture as evidenced by the several cemeteries and temples around the tower – intricately preserved amidst the developments in the country.
Though without a photo, Johann was able to chance at One Piece exhibit also in Tokyo Tower and we got to roam around the souvenir shops at the lower floor (this also gave them an idea of the souvenir prices).
After heading back to the apartment for a power nap, we went straight to ROPONGGI HILLS to have a glance of a typical Tokyo night.
Afterwards, we took our first dinner… korean style, thus the hashtag #confusedtravelers.
DAY 02 – TOKYO DISNEY LAND
Tokyo Disney Land is one of the two attractions located inside TOKYO DISNEY RESORT. Click the link and see Park Fees, schedules, and even hotel vacation packages if you require. Downloadable maps of the both parks are also available for earlier preparations.
And while we have a threat of rain during this day, we were still able to enjoy the park and covered all the attractions and watched all major shows. We were spared from the heat of the sun though the cloudy sky puts a limit to what could have been a grand fireworks display in the evening. Please read my other blog on Disney Land.
Suggested Additional Activity: If budget permits, you can also consider any of the hotels within the resort in order to maximize the disney experience.
DAY 03 – TOKYO DISNEY SEA
Rain poured in but since the 2-day ticket was already purchased and should be consumed as scheduled, we pushed through with our Disney Sea tour. Armed with our jackets and see-through umbrellas, we were still able to enjoy the day.
Please read my other blog on Disney Sea.
DAY 04 – ASAKUSA TEMPLE, TOKYO SKY TREE, AKIHABARA, and HARAJUKU
We are once again headed to a very long day and good thing that the weather was nice that day. After sipping our usual morning coffee and chocolate drinks, we headed out for a train ride going to Asakusa area. Subway was really convenient and the famous landmarks are very easy to locate. The TEMPLE OF SENSOJI is just few meters away across the street after coming out from the station, while the Tokyo Sky Tree can bee seen from a distance.
After several days, our trip to Asakusa provided a venue to meet our cravings for good food. Right at entrance heading towards the main temple, food and souvenir stalls are lined up to the delight of many tourists.
Prior to entry to the temple entrance, you will see these gentlemen offering a guided tour of Asakusa on a rickshaw (jinrikisha, literally “man powered vehicle”).
We entered one of the popular ramen house along the main street of Asakusa. But just like what we are accustomed to, we usually head straight to the table and order. In Japan, many restaurants usually have a vending machine where you pay for your food and will give a stub that will be collected by the restaurant staff. A menu with photo also helps in deciding for your order. Surprisingly, this was our first taste of a very delicious ramen in Japan.
Just after lunch, we went straight to TOKYO SKY TREE by taxi (minimum fare only – 730 yen) since it will still be a few meters walk… and we just had out lunch.
Much higher than Tokyo Tower, which has its Main Observatory at 150 m and Special Observatory at 250 m, Tokyo Sky Tree is rising 350 meters above the ground.
The “TOKYO SKYTREE TEMBO DECK (350 m)” is covered in huge 5 meter-high glass for a 360-degree all-round view, allowing visitors to see from the foot of the SKYTREE up to 70 kilometers away in the distance. The “TOKYO SKYTREE TEMBO GALLERIA (450 m)” will take you from the “floor 445” to SKYTREE’s highest “floor 450” via a glass tube. The “TOKYO SKYTREE TEMBO GALLERIA (450 m)” will leave you convinced you that you are walking in the sky. – excerpt from their Tokyo Sky Tree website
Though the Admission Tickets for TOKYO SKYTREE Observatories is a bit expensive, the Fast Sky Tree Ticket gives an opportunity for tourist to enter the observation deck faster than the regular ticket holders which usually takes more than an hour, from falling in line to buy the ticket to falling in line to the elevator.
But no matter the cost, the view is just spectacular. Since the tower is located outside of Tokyo central, a view of the Tokyo Skyline as well as the neighboring prefectures are highly visible – even the Tokyo Disney Resort can also be seen from a distance.
Late in the afternoon, we headed towards AKIHABARA to have a stroll at the area famous for electronics products, manga comics, and video games. Though as expected, manga comics in English language will be a rare books to find in this predominantly Nihonggo speaking country. And while knowing it ahead, several comics stores located at the different floors usually have adult materials not suitable for your kids. So i have to really guide him and limit his access to these areas.
A side trip to Tokyo’s biggest Daiso (100 yen store) at Harajuku was also on our schedule. We had to ask the metro station’s staff for the exact location and true enough, it didn’t take us much time to find it in right there at a small teens fashion street where Harajuku is famous for.
A dinner (see our photo) at one of Yoshinoya’s store in the area ended the long day.
DAY 05 – SANRIO PUROLAND and SHINJUKU
Relatively smaller than Disney Resort, SANRIO PUROLAND is a covered complex located around 30-45 minutes rapid train ride outside of Tokyo center, which is famous for characters like Hello Kitty, etc. Depends on how fast you move, you can even cover it half day for a cheaper entrance fee. Afternoon passport maybe purchased at 2000 yen while the regular passport maybe purchased at a discounted price of 3,700 yen.
And since we intentionally reserved the night to see the neon lights of Shinjuku, we chose a morning visit to Hello Kitty. More of Sanrio Puroland on my next blog.
Meanwhile, a friend referred us to Kinokoniya Bookstore with its main store located in Shinjuku (for Johann’s manga comics) – we decided to head back to the main terminal in Tokyo Central in the afternoon. However, due to time constraint and since Johann already tried searching at Book Off bookstore located right at the east exit off Shinjuku Station, he decided to end his search and just bought some books there.
Shinjuku, the main train station in the West part of Tokyo, is famous for its nightlife. But while the Kabukicho district – also known as the red light district of Shinjuku, is not part of our itinerary, a lot of restaurants offering beers line-up the streets right after you come out of the train station.
And our stroll down the streets of Shinjuku accidentally led us to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building – often visited by tourists for its free observation decks which provide good panoramic views of Tokyo.
DAY 06 – SHIBUYA and TOKYO IMPERIAL PALACE
I posted on my social media account photos of our visit to Every Nation Church in Shibuya as well as our afternoon trip to the Imperial Palace (click the links for the photos). We will have a separate blog about these destinations soon.
It was a whole day of walk so we suggest travelers to wear comfortable rubber shoes. Good thing the weather was cooperative that day and it gave us a shade in what could have been a very hot afternoon.
We almost tried the SKY BUS TOKYO for a sight seeing bus around the city. But since we’ve almost covered many of its itinerary, we decided to end the day early to pack our things and rest for the next day flight. Otherwise, this destination is also advisable if you are not familiar with Tokyo. Their office is located just right outside the Tokyo Station. You can ask the metro staff where the Marunouchi Mitsubishi building is and you can easily see it since the buses are just parked infront.
DAY 07 – TOKYO STATION and NARITA AIRPORT
Just a bit of a tip here. Since Narita airport is about 60 kilometers outside of Tokyo, an ample travel time should be allocated prior to the flight. Also, it is important to note that a separate ticket should be purchased in order to board a special shuttle bus to and from the airport (see Keisei Express Bus with main terminal at Tokyo station for more details). One way fare is 1000 yen per person and is paid at the bus on a first-come-first -served basis.
We wished we have visited more places than what we originally planned. Since time is short and some places needs more time to explore, take some photos, and even just feel the air and just stay there for a while, while holding hands with your love ones.