Japan, is a beautiful country with an estimated population of around 127 million. And Tokyo as Japan’s capital is one of the most populated urban areas in the world. With a population as big as this, you may wonder if you have thrown yourself into the deep end. But there is nothing to worry about because Japan is a very tourist-friendly country, most especially for solo travelers. And to make the most of the time for your visit here is a rundown of the top tips when going solo in Tokyo:
CHECK IF YOUR AIRLINE FLIES TO HANEDA AIRPORT
When flying to Tokyo, you will either arrive at Haneda Airport which handles most of the domestic flights or at Narita International Airport which handles the vast majority of the international flights. Both of these airports are world-class, offering great services and on-time performances. However, Narita is located further away from central Tokyo while Haneda is just 14-km away. So if you want to travel less and save more going to Tokyo, check if your airline flies to Haneda Airport.
From Narita, there are several options for getting into the central Tokyo including public transportations such as train, bus, and taxi. However, these options can be expensive, ranging from 900 yen-20000 yen.
Haneda’s transportation options, however, are much cheaper ranging from 410 yen-11000 yen. Aside from transportations, the airport also offers a hotel in each of its three terminals. Hotels accessible by free shuttle buses from the airport are also available.
LEARN ENOUGH OF THE LANGUAGE AND KEEP SOMETHING ON HAND TO TRANSLATE EASILY WHEN NEEDED.
This is a general rule when traveling anywhere, whether you’re a solo traveler or not. Language can be a barrier especially in countries like Japan where many of the signs are written only in kanji, a Japanese writing using characters only instead of letters. Having a book, or something that is not reliant on battery power, with the common phrases and words translated will help you a lot most especially for the longer journeys.
PLAN FOR YOUR NEXT DESTINATION.
As a solo traveler, you have to rely on your own knowledge to figure everything out. Going out and exploring without a plan is like throwing yourself to the lions. Tokyo is a big and populated urban area and can be really overwhelming. Research and read a lot about the city’s public transportation, if needed buy a map or use Google Maps, and list down the destinations you want to visit. Doing this, it cuts down stress on traveling and gives you more time to explore other places.
BUY A JAPAN RAIL PASS (JR PASS).
Since most of your travel will require you to get in train, subway, and bus, and of course, you don’t want to miss the chance, buy a Japan Rail Pass (JR Pass). This pass is only available to tourists and for a flat price, you can travel by train, subway, and bus without the hassle of buying tickets in every ride. You can save some money too!
Transport in Tokyo is easy to navigate. You can either download the Tokyo metro app to your phone or get one of the paper maps available in most main stations. All station signs and announcements are in Japanese and English so you won’t have a hard time getting from destination to destination.
BRING ACTIVITIES FOR THE TRAIN RIDE.
Japanese are not chatty especially when in trains and subways. Most of the time, everyone is busy reading, hooked on their mobile phones, or just minding their own business even when they have travel companions. And it is very rare that you find someone to talk to because talking on transit is usually frowned upon in Japanese culture. It is advisable that you bring something of an activity with you, most especially if you are one of the people who get bored easily. Reading a book, writing in your journal, or playing games on your mobile phone (use your earphones or keep the volume down so you won’t distract other passengers) are few of the options you can do.
PAY ATTENTION TO RECOMMENDATIONS AND TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE OPPORTUNITIES TO GET THEM.
In anywhere you might be traveling, people (the locals or the native vacationers) will frequently offer recommendations. And if you do find people to direct you, take extra advantage of the opportunity to ask for the options for how best you can utilize your short time of stay. Sometimes, it is better not to just rely on your own list of top spots. Tokyo has a lot of friendly people, you will surely find one who can help you.
FOCUS ON THE MAIN AREAS AND DO NOT JUMP AROUND TO DIFFERENT PARTS OF THE CITY.
Explore places in the neighborhood and avoid spending most of your day traveling from one place to another. This won’t only save your time but also your money. There are a lot of beautiful spots and sceneries in Tokyo and you will surely not get disappointed.
BE EXTRA CAUTIOUS WHEN GOING OUT AT NIGHT TIME.
Exploring Tokyo in the evening with all the lively and fascinating city lights is truly a must-see. But being a solo traveler that you are, and getting around a place you aren’t familiar with, it is most advisable to take extra care of yourself. This does not mean that Tokyo is not a safe place, but every city has its bad guys.
Confidence is key. When going home or going out in the evening, make sure you can navigate without so much looking at your map or your phone so you won’t make yourself a target.
Getting around Tokyo and maximizing your time visiting the different destinations can be really exhausting. So when you get back to your hostel, rest, relax, sleep, and prepare for another day of Japan adventure.