Transport is a very important part of travelling. It’s absolutely recommended for you to plan your travel before hand (this is something I always emphasize every time I post something about travelling) and know what options are available to you.
As I’ve said before, Japan transport can get very complicated specially with the language barrier in between. BUT actually it’s not that hard at all! The Japanese people are naturally very helpful and not many of them can speak fluent english but they make sure you understand them by their cute hand signals! 😀
TIP #1 – GET A PASMO/SUICA CARD
I personally bought a Pasmo card during my trip and spent only approximately 6000 Yen for 12 days out of which 500 Yen was kept for deposit and was refunded to me when I left Tokyo. A Pasmo card or Suica card is a smart card mainly used for public transport in Tokyo, something like the Oyster card in London. The only difference between both is that they’re owned by separate lines but works everywhere.
You can get these cards at any station, there would be a machine where you can get it from and fret not because it’s available with an English translation. If you’re still a bit dazed, you can always approach the friendly staff and ask them for help.
What’s great about having a Suica/Pasmo card is you can use it to pay out in many places like 7/11, Lawson, Coin Lockers and so on. It also works for buses, trains and even taxis! In fact, I used it in Kyoto stations as well. And you can always refund the extra money in it by the end of your trip!
There are also passes available like the One Day Pass which allows you unlimited access to all metro/toei lines for 1000 Yen but I wouldn’t recommend that unless you’re going to be doing a lot of travelling around Tokyo. I enjoyed walking very much since the sights were lovely!
TIP #2 – DOWNLOAD HANDY APPS
The problem in Tokyo is that all the lines are owned by separate companies which can make it really complicated when it comes to using passes. I suggest you carry a subway map (available at all stations for free, just ask them) or download the Tokyo Subway App on your phone.
Here are the transport apps that I used and came in very handy:
- Tokyo Subway – An interactive subway map of Tokyo.
- Navitime for Japan Travel – Routes for travelling around Japan, also gives you the amount you’re expected to pay during your travel.
- Of course, Google Maps.
TIP #3 – ALWAYS CHOOSE SUBWAY OVER TAXI
There’s a reason why a lot of people tell you ‘never take a cab in Tokyo’. And that is because it is super expensive! Unless you’re in a die-die situation, stay away from it. The one night that me and my friends lost track of time, we had no choice but to take a cab home. We were having dinner in Roppongi and our hostel was in Asakusa. For a 20 minute ride, we had to pay 5000 Yen. While the subway would’ve been roughly 200Y. And from Narita to Tokyo, it will cost you 20-25,000 Yen! **Public transport in Tokyo shuts down at 12am! So be careful.
If you are going to take one, then make sure you’re coming with your basic Japanese skills. We took a cab on the first night because well, we underestimated the cold. The first cab driver took us to the wrong place because he couldn’t understand us and eventually he wanted to get rid of us. The second one was nicer but we still spent about half an hour on trying to explain the address to him. It was by luck we found the apartment at 10pm. Despite arriving at 8pm in Tokyo.
PLUS rent a pocket wifi at the airport, I promise you, it’ll save you time and effort!
TIP #4 – WEAR COMFY SHOES
If you want to save money on transport then prepare to do a lot of walking. Wear the best walking shoes you have! And if you’re going on winter, a pair of gloves would be nice too. We stayed in two places, once in an Airbnb in Roppongi and while we were there we got to see Tokyo Tower, Roppongi Hills, etc since they were all walking distance. You could even walk to Shibuya if you’re up for a 3.6km walk! My friends did it!
While we were in Asakusa, we walked around Taito, Ueno, etc. Basically, we only spent on going around central Tokyo.
TIP #5 – HAKONE FREE PASS
Mt. Fuji from the rope car!
Travelling to Japan would be incomplete if you don’t pay a visit to Mt. Fuji. It’s always advisable to stay a night in Hakone if you want to enjoy the best of it and also because you’re already wasting time on travelling for almost 1 and half hour to Hakone. We stayed in this lovely hotel “Hakone Lake Hotel”.
The Hakone 2 days free pass let’s you use the buses, cable cars and trains to and from Hakone. It’s basically your ticket to everything. It costs 5140 Yen from Japanican and saves you money instead of buying the one-way pass of 2080Y and the rest are separate.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN JR LINES AND OTHER SUBWAY LINES.
The JR line is owned by the Japan Railway Group. This is the line that will take you to Hakone and many places outside Tokyo and as well as within. They are also the operators for major Shinkansen lines or the bullet trains.
A JR Rail Pass is available for tourists and are NOT sold within Japan. This is only recommended if you’re going to be travelling a lot outside Tokyo.
The main subway lines are Metro and Toei. Some stations will only have one of the lines and some will have both. There are also other privately owned lines (like the TOBU as you can see in the picture above)but these two are usually enough if you plan to travel around Tokyo itself.
You can of course choose to travel with whatever line you feel like. If you have the Suica/Pasmo card, you can use it anywhere!
Look out for these signs!
So I guess that’s all you need to know for now! For any questions or anything that I missed out on, feel free to drop in a mail/comment below. If you enjoyed the post, don’t forget to subscribe on my blog for more travel updates!
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