Tokyo might be known as one of the most expensive cities in the world but this is not quite the case. Japan’s vibrant capital is definitely on the expensive side when compared to cities in Thailand or Indonesia, but much cheaper than places like the UK, Scandinavia, or Australia. The good news is that you can explore Tokyo on a budget, with these 7 tricks for spending less and enjoying more.
1. Eat from vending machine restaurants.
There are vast numbers of vending machine restaurants in Tokyo where you can pay as little as $3 for one meal. Simply select your meal at the vending machine, and take your ticket. Give your ticket to the restaurant staff who will bring the dish to your table. The good news is that you can rarely go wrong with food in Tokyo and pretty much all vending machine restaurants serve incredibly delicious food.
2. Get dinner from supermarkets just before closing time.
You don’t have to skip dinner just because you travel on a budget. Head over to any supermarket located in the basement of shopping malls. You will find many fresh dishes such as sushi, tempura, and noodles, all discounted just before closing time. You can get an awesome dinner for two for as little as $5.
3. Invest in a JR Pass.
If you wish to explore cities outside of Tokyo, you should consider investing in a Japan Rail Pass. This gives you unlimited travel by Shinkansen to pretty much any destination around Japan. The Japan Rail Pass is also valid for various local trains and can be used on the Yamanote line in Tokyo.
4. Take the overnight buses or trains.
From Tokyo, you can visit other cities by taking an overnight bus or train. This is an easy way to save money on transportation as well as accommodation. Your Japan Rail Pass will cover some overnight trains which usually offer dedicated sleeping space. The trains have excellent facilities, including showers and dining lounges.
5. Travel during winter.
Tokyo is much cheaper during winter and if you don’t mind visiting off-season, you can save a lot of money on flights, accommodation, and tourist attractions. Even if you don’t wish to visit during winter but are keen to save, remember to avoid main holidays and special events such as the cherry blossom season at the beginning of spring or the Golden Week in May.
6. Consider a capsule hotel.
Capsule hotels are becoming increasingly popular amongst international travelers as they are quirky, basic, and cheap. You will sleep in a capsule or pod which has clean linen, wifi, and an alarm clock. The bathrooms are shared but usually kept in pristine conditions.
7. Visit Tokyo’s main free attractions.
There are myriad free attractions in Tokyo, such as the famed Shibuya Crossing. You can visit the Piss Alley, also known as the Memory Lane, in Shinjuku where you can sample well-priced Japanese street food. Another great freebie in Shinjuku is Kabukicho, Asia’s largest red district. It’s entirely free to walk around the quarters and marvel at all the colorful neon lights. To view Tokyo from above, head over to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building which offers free admission to its observatory platform.