Traveling to Tokyo for the first time? I’ve got you covered. Here are some travel tips that I have gathered from my 5-day trip to Tokyo in summer. I have traveled to Japan a couple of times in the past three years, and the country never seized to amaze me with its amazing people and culture. So if you are planning to visit Tokyo soon, here are some tips for you to explore the city with ease!
The easiest way to get connected (aka Wi-Fi everywhere) is getting a pocket Wi-Fi.
Before traveling to Japan, I applied for a sim card online to pick up at the airport so I can use the internet with my phone whenever I want. But it turns out that my phone service provider has locked my phone, and I could not get the sim card to work on my phone (that is $20 wasted). So if you are on a contract with your service provider, check-in with them before you travel.
Therefore, I recommend getting a pocket Wi-Fi when you arrive at Narita Airport. You can find the counters in the arrival hall, and they only accept credit cards (debit cards won’t do the trick). So make sure you bring along your credit cards if you are interested in getting the portable/pocket Wi-Fi.
Be ready to take your roller suitcase up and down the staircases in the subway station.
I found that the elevators/lifts in most of the subway stations tend to be very small and using the staircases seems to be the fastest way to get out of the station. Try to limit the size of your roller suitcase so it will be easier for you to travel around the city. Use a coin locker to store your luggage if you have to; you can find coin lockers pretty much at any stations in Tokyo.
Caffeine lovers, canned coffees are pretty good in Japan.
Tokyo is surprisingly a late city; most coffee shops don’t open until 7 or 8 in the morning, including Starbucks. So if you are in need of caffeine to start your day in the morning, I recommend getting canned coffee in convenience stores to solve your caffeine needs. There are a variety of canned coffee for you to choose in Japan and trust me, some of them does taste good!
Get your Ichiran ramen in the morning to avoid the line.
Eating ramen is a must in Japan, but the popular ramen restaurants can get pretty crowded at lunch or dinner time. I visited Ichiran Ramen in the past during lunch hours and waited more than an hour to get my bowl of ramen. This time, I decided to get my Ichiran ramen in the morning (There is a 24-hour Ichiran chain in Shibuya) to avoid the crowd, and I was right! There was no line, and I was able to take my time to learn to use the ticket machine in the restaurant.
Don’t walk and eat at the same time.
Japan has a huge selection of street food that you can buy easily, but the Japanese do not eat and walk at the same time. Most of the stores would ask you to finish your meal or dessert before you start traveling.
Street signs can be hard to find, ask the station masters for directions before you go to reduce travel time.
One of my struggle when visiting Tokyo was locating the street signs. Each road seems to lead to multiple directions, and I often found myself lost in the city (not to mention the multiple-level subway). After getting lost for a couple of times, I learned my lessons to ask the station masters for directions before I began my journey. While the major stations usually have multiple exits, it is important that you find the right exit to reduce your travel time.
Tokyo can be extremely hot in the summer, bring an umbrella and an extra T-shirt with you when you explore the city.
The first mistake I made while traveling was not bringing along my umbrella when I explore the city. While it hardly rained when I was in Tokyo, the weather was extremely hot, and I was sweating a lot. I recommend that you bring along an umbrella so you won’t feel so hot while walking on the streets. The second mistake I made was not bringing an extra T-shirt with me when I travel. I like using a backpack but it has left my back drenched in sweat, and it was painfully awkward to visit a museum with a sweaty shirt. So either wears a sweat proof undershirt or bring along an extra T-shirt to avoid sweating too much.