Destination: Tokyo

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Tokyo, Japan is one of the largest cities in the world and a popular travel destination. Tokyo is a unique blend of modern and traditional. It’s unlike any travel experience I’ve been on. So you’re planning a trip out there? Here are a few tips to prepare you on your journey!

Getting there

There are two major airports in Tokyo; Narita International and Haneda Airport. For a very long time Narita was the only option for foreigners traveling to Japan. However, in the last several years Haneda has been upgraded with a new International Terminal. Tokyo hopes are to reroute many of its flights to this airport in preparation for the 2020 Olympic Games. Both airports are a fair distance away from Tokyo’s city center. With Narita being about 90 minutes away and Haneda about 45 minutes. I recommend traveling through Haneda whenever possible. Besides being closer to the city, it offers advantages in both security and baggage claim times.

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Transportation

Once you get to the airport, you are given several options to get to your destination. You can choose to take a taxi, train, or shuttle bus. A taxi is the most expensive of these options and I would not recommend it for getting to/from the airport. Trains are the most affordable option and offer shortest travel times. The only downside is having to lunge your luggage around. The shuttle bus, in my opinion, is the best option. It is a reasonable price, easy to take from the airport, and will drop you off right in front of your Hotel (Depending on which hotel you are staying at).

For transportation within the city, nothing beats the trains. Tokyo has one of the best commuter rail systems on the planet. The lines are easily identified by color and the stations are equipped with signs in English. Combined with Google maps, getting around in Tokyo was a piece of cake.

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Cash/coins

When you arrive in Japan your first instinct may be to exchange your cash at the airport, don’t.  The exchange rates are often ridiculous at the airport. I would recommend withdrawing cash at an ATM machine. You can usually find a 7-Eleven or Family Mart close to your hotel. They let you withdraw your cash in Yen for a fairly low charge.

In the meantime, you can use debit or credit cards. There was a time when credit cards were not widely accepted in Japan. That has changed and now credit cards are accepted nearly everywhere (even cabs). That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t carry some cash on you in case. Just a note, the Japanese currency is heavily distributed as coins. There ain’t no shame in rocking a fanny pack or coin purse, It will help with the assortment of coins you will acquire throughout the day!

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Language

Can you get around Tokyo without knowing Japanese? The short answer is yes. Tokyo, the largest city in Japan, is well equipped for foreign travelers with almost all business catering to English speaking tourist. With that being said, knowing some Japanese will only make your experience better. You don’t need to be fluent, but knowing a few words will help you. Knowing words like please, excuse me, and thank you can go a long way!

 

English Japanese ( Romanji)
Please Kudasai
Excuse me Sumimasen
Thank you Arigato Goziamasu

 

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