Looking to make the most of your time in Tokyo? In this article, I share the top recommendations for what to do in the city during a 5-day trip.
Quick guide to Tokyo
Best time to visit: the best months are from March to May and from September to November. In summer it is very hot
How many days: 4 days is the minimum to see the most interesting things
Why it’s worth visiting: Tokyo needs no introduction. It’s one of the most spectacular cities in the world
Where to sleep: as I explain in the article it depends a lot on the area you decide to stay in. On Trip.com you can find the best options
Japan has been part of my life for a long time: I grew up watching Japanese cartoons and playing video games using Japanese consoles. My first DSLR camera was Japanese and so was my first phone.
Probably you can relate to this too. And this is even more incredible if you think that right after World War II Japan was devastated. In a few years, it went from being virtually a third-world country to being one of the most developed countries in the world. Every time there is a disaster or a national crisis Japanese people emerge stronger than before (just think about what happened in 2011).
So when I finally had the chance to visit Tokyo it was for me a dream come true. I heard many things about it but actually didn’t know much.
General Info about Tokyo
The Narita airport is about 1 hour from the city and it’s a good idea to get the Suica + Narita express card. It’s basically a subway card with some money on it plus a return ticket from Narita to Shinjuku subway station.
Transportation is quite expensive in Tokyo, and generally speaking all over Japan. If you are planning of traveling extensively using the fast train I recommend you buy the JR Pass: you’ll save a lot of money.
Another thing to keep in mind is that the subway is partially run by the local government and partially by some private companies. So remember to check if the lines you’ll use are all part of the same system otherwise, you’ll end up spending more than what you expected.
This being said I think that every single yen is well spent: the subway is very clean and the people working there are always nice and ready to help even though almost no one can speak English. A negative aspect of the subway is the staggering amount of people, especially during rush hours. It’s something really difficult to describe. You’ll have to see it with your own eyes.
Apart from transportation, I don’t think Tokyo is too expensive, at least compared with other capitals like London and New York (here my 5-day travel guide) or any tourist city in Italy where you can easily pay 100€ per night for a 3 stars hotel. The food in Tokyo is cheap, especially street food.
What’s the best season to visit Tokyo?
The best season to visit Tokyo is during spring when you can see the beautiful cherry trees (sakura) in full bloom. Obviously, there will be more tourists than usual and the prices will be higher than the rest of the year. But the weather will be very pleasant too. That’s something to really take into consideration since in winter it gets pretty cold and in summer is really hot and humid.
Where to stay in Tokyo
When you look for a hotel in Tokyo keep in mind that the city doesn’t really have a center. There are instead some big suburbs each with its own center. You can decide where to stay according to what you like. Remember that the subway closes at midnight.
Tokyo in 5 day
You’ll definitely need more than 5 days to see all that the city has to offer but 5 days will give you enough time to see the best attractions. These are some of the places you can’t miss.
This area is also known as Akihabara Electric Town. When you think about Japan you probably have in mind what you can find in this area. The buildings are full of stores selling manga, anime, videogames, and electronic gadgets. The craziest thing I saw was a urinal with a built-in LCD screen that gives you a higher score the more “pressure” you have… Weird! You can find it in the Sega palace.
In Akihabara, you can also find several Maid Café. In these cafés, waitresses dressed in maid costumes act as servants and treat customers as masters.
Here you can find some discounts for the hotels in Akihabara.
It’s famous for the numerous temples and historic buildings and that’s where most of the tourists go. You’ll find plenty of shops selling cheap souvenirs. It’s the most tourist place in the city.
Here you can find some discounts for the hotels in Asakusa.
Famous for the numerous nightclubs and because most of the western expats live here. This area is also where you can find the iconic Roppongi Hills.
This mega-complex incorporates office space, apartments, shops, restaurants, cafés, movie theaters, a museum, a hotel, a major TV studio, an outdoor amphitheater, and a few parks. The centerpiece is the 54-story Mori Tower.
Mori’s stated vision was to build an integrated development where high-rise inner-urban communities allow people to live, work, play, and shop in proximity to eliminate commuting time. From the top of the Mori Tower, you can have the best view of the city including the replica of the Eiffel Tower.
It’s the favorite place for young people. This is also the place where you can find the famous Shibuya crossing, the busiest in the world, and the small Hachikō statue. To see the Shibuya crossing from above you can go inside the Starbucks nearby.
Here are some discounts for the hotels in Shibuya.
In this area, you can find the Government Palace and the busiest railway station in the world used on average by more than 4 million people per day.
Here are some discounts for the hotels in Shinjuku.
If you love sushi this is the place to go. Tsukiji is home to the biggest fish market in the world. If it’s an animal and lives in the sea, you have good chances of finding it here.
Photography tips and conclusion
If you’ll ever visit Tokyo you’ll have plenty of things to photograph. I lived in Taiwan for a year but Tokyo is a different world. After this trip, I realized why the Japanese tend to photograph everything: because they live in a different world. I think that for a Japanese, coming to Europe is like going back in time.
A lens like the 24-105mm is a good choice and I used it for 90% of my pictures. I also used a wide-angle lens. My suggestion is to travel light since you’ll have to walk a lot and, especially in summer, it can be really hot.
Don’t be afraid to try the food in Japan and to make new friends. Japanese are really nice and will be more than happy to talk with you.