Top 10 Things to Do in Tokyo as a Solo Traveler
This post was written by Vanessa from Wanderlustplusone
Tokyo is the perfect city for any solo traveler and the first place I ever visited on my own, actually Tokyo is possibly among the safest places on earth. You can spend weeks in the Japanese capital without getting bored and meet other travelers from all over the globe, plus many welcoming locals, too.
Top 10 Things to Do in Tokyo as a Solo Traveler + Essential Travel Information for Tokyo
TIPS FOR VISITING JAPAN AND TOKYO
Money/Budget Tips for Tokyo
Japan is still very much a cash society; therefore it is advisable to have at least some bank notes in your wallet. The local currency is Japanese Yen, and easily obtained at the Japan post office, which has international ATMs.
For total daily expense/spending money, I would estimate around $70-$100 per day for food, sightseeing, and metro fares; assuming that you will be spending less than $20 per meal and spending less than 40 dollars per day on transportation and sightseeing)
Tipping in Japan is almost a cultural no go! Not even in restaurants and taxis.
Japanese is the main language spoken and even though the street signs are in English characters, and many restaurants have English or picture menus or plastic food in the window, you might find it easiest to rent a local WiFi/4G pocket hotspot and use the Google translate application if you are struggling to communicate or read any signs.
Tips for Female Travelers
Japan is one of the safest places in the world and theft is very rare. However, lone woman travelers should probably avoid busy, crowded metro trains.
How to Get Around in Tokyo
Tokyo is a vast metropolis and getting around can take longer than expected so plan your route in advance. Taking the metro and walking are the preferable way to explore the city, however, taxis are inexpensive for short rides and cycling is becoming a popular alternative.
The metro uses cash rechargeable Suica/Pasmo magnetic ticket cards that can also be used in the many vending machines and shops to pay for purchases.
What to Eat in Tokyo
As for food – you will be spoilt for choice! Try as many different Japanese dishes as you can, you will find there is much more to Japanese cuisine than sushi and ramen – my favorite is Udon soup with fried tofu. There are restaurants everywhere so you should not have trouble finding a good one. The larger train stations and shopping centers are the best places for a budget option or head to the food halls of department stores, where you will be able to taste all kinds of delicacies for free! They also offer great takeaway boxes, called bentos.
Where to Stay in Tokyo
Hostel accommodation can be found from 40USD, try Kaisu Hostel for its great location and design. For a quick overnight sleep – only in Japan – Capsule Accommodation from 40USD, there is a female only one at Nine Hours Woman Kanda. If staying on for a few nights consider
If staying on for a few nights consider Sadachiyo, one of the few remaining traditional ryokans in Tokyo from 120USD, or fancy a stay in one of the skyscrapers overlooking the city from your room? Then the Park Hotel Shiodome the perfect place also from 150USD.
What´s the Best Time to Visit
Tokyo is a city for all seasons. It is most famous for its spring cherry blossom season, “Hanami”, which is in full swing between March and April. Bring your blanket, some food, and drink and find yourself a spot in one of the many parks under the blossoms. Lie back and gaze up through the pink petals listening to the others enjoying this tradition.
Most people avoid June/July because of the rainy season and in August the heat and humidity can make a visit unbearable for some, but there are many festivals including the famous Sumida fireworks.
In September the summer heat might still be lingering around, but by mid-October, the trees change their leaves to any color between yellow, orange and red giving a special hue to the gardens and temples.
Winter can be quite cold, but there usually is plenty of blue sky and sunshine. The festive lights in December and January make it a special time to visit and around New Year the temples are overrun with locals.
Tokyo is the city of the future, always trying to stay ahead of the other cities in the world – a heavy dose of hyper-modern, both vibrant and unique, yet mixed with an under current of the classic and traditional, and suffused with history.
You might meet robots and super automatic toilets, but also immerse yourself in decades of history at ancient temples and manicured gardens. Tokyo remains one of the largest cities on the globe and is still expanding constantly, with a great hunger for improvement and change.
Tokyo is a buzzing metropolis with millions of people, buildings that touch the clouds and cafes where you can enjoy your cake seated next to an owl. It is a city you want to visit again and again and I am sure it will never cease to amaze you.
Top 10 Places to Visit in Tokyo
#1 HAMARIKYU TEIEN
THE DETACHED PALACE GARDENS
Nearby Hamarikyu Teien dates back to 1654 when it belonged to generations of Shoguns.
The imperial family gave the garden to the City of Tokyo in 1945 and has since been open to the public.
It features the only seawater pond in Tokyo, a 300-year-old pine tree and flower fields which are a sea of yellow in spring from the rape flowers and in autumn the cosmos flowers make it a colorful scene with the skyscrapers of Shiodome in the background.
Open from 9:00 to 17:00 (Entry until 16:30)
Closed: Year-end holidays (December 29 to January 1)
Closest metro station: Shiodome and Shimbashi
SHOPPING AT THE OLDEST AND MOST PRESTIGIOUS DEPARTMENT STORES
The main Ginza street Chuo Dori is shopping heaven for all the major brands and designers. @pixabay
Immerse yourself in the Hakuhinkan Toy Park one of the largest toy stores in the world. A 5-story heaven filled with unusual toys and quirky souvenirs. Look at some of the crazy gadgets that are only available in Japan and buy a gift for one of your little ones back home. Had enough of toys? Walk along Chou Dori for a dose of retail madness.
Ignore the usual international chain stores and head to Wako, Mitsukoshi, Matsuya or Hankyu to experience a true Japanese shopping experience.
Closest metro station: Ginza, Ginza-Itchome, Higashi-Ginza
#3 TOKYO IMPERIAL PALACE
THE RESIDENCE OF THE JAPANESE EMPEROR
The emperor lives here in a residence surrounded by expansive gardens and a moat.
Unfortunately, the Imperial Palace is not open regularly, but it is worth strolling along the moat, past the bridges and ramparts, while watching the locals and joggers circling the palace ground or speeding past. The gardens are full of manicured trees like giant bonsais, and part of the gardens is open to visitors.
Closest metro station: Hibiya and Tokyo Station
TOKYO CITY VIEW
There’s no better place to take in the bird’s eye view of the bustling metropolis below than from Tokyo City View on the 52nd floor or if you are brave enough the outside sky-deck.
Spot the iconic Tokyo Tower, Tokyo Sky Tree and on a clear day majestic Mount Fuji. Be amazed at how far the city stretches in all directions. Had enough of rooftop views, head to the Mori Art Museum for some extraordinary exhibitions.
Past exhibitions have included Ghibli Studios and Yayoi Kusama.
Closest metro station: Roppongi and Azabu-Juban
THE LARGEST SHINTO SHRINE IN TOKYO
A visit to a shrine is a must when in Japan.
Meji-Jingu is the largest shrine in Tokyo and boasts the largest Torii entrance gate at its entrance. It is a wonderfully austere and serene place of worship. At the entrance purify your hands and mouth with water by using a ladle at the “temizuya” cleansing station and then throw some yen into the offering box, bow your head twice and clap your hands twice and then bow again. If you are lucky you might get to see a traditional Japanese wedding underway.
Open every day from dawn until dusk.
Closest metro station: Harajuku
TAKESHITA STREET, THE PLACE OF KITSCH, COOL AND KAWAII
Takeshita Dori is famous for it “kawaii” culture.
Wandering the streets and near the metro station of Harajuku, you will not fail to notice the young girls dressed up in fantasy cute princess´ clothes or in goth style cos-play outfits, and the many shops selling clothes for these trendy teenagers.
This vibrant street is the birthplace of many fashion trends and a great place to watch the people go by while enjoying a crepe or a bubble tea in one of the cafes that line the alley.
Closest metro station: Harajuku
THE BUSIEST SCRAMBLE CROSSING IN THE WORLD
Visit the famous Hachiko dog statue before you get to the busiest pedestrian crossing in the world.
Wait for the green man to come alive and watch 2500 people at a time walk across the intersection. To get a better view try L’Occitane café and gaze down on the pedestrian madness.
Closest metro station: Shibuya
Time travel to 1950/60’s in Yanaka, a part of Tokyo where few tourists venture.
The area feels more like a village rather than suburban Tokyo, Yanaka Ginza is strewn with lovely little handcraft shops, boutiques, and cafes, treat yourself to a sponge cattail sweet with yummy fillings, I recommend banana.
Explore the back alleys and the architecture of the houses while watching the locals going about their daily life. Interested in art? Head to Asakura Choso Museum for some sculptures by a famous Japanese artist. Not far from the museum you will find Yanaka graveyard, a calm oasis in the bustling city.
Closest metro station: Sendagi and Nippori station
It is time to have some evening fun. Get yourself in the mood with a drink in the bar at Robot Café. The bar could have come straight out of the mind of Gianni Versace, all gold, prints and mirrors everywhere.
Then make your way down to watch one of the craziest shows you will ever experience. Expect plenty of neon lights, taiko drumming, pretty dancers and giant robots. Book ahead to secure your preferred performance.
Closest metro station: Shinjuku
KABUKI CHO, AND THE ENTERTAINMENT DISTRICT
Immerse yourself in the crowds of people visiting the largest entertainment district in Japan.
You will not find any obvious red lights here, but a wide array of bars, clubs, and restaurants.
Admire the neon lights, sounds, and atmosphere. In case you are hungry, there is no better place to have lunch or dinner than at the vegan Restaurant Kiboko
Closest metro station: Shinjuku
Safe Travels and a Great Stay in Tokyo!
ABOUT THE AUTHOUR
Hi! I am Vanessa and have a great lust for travel, fashion, photography, architecture, and to spend time together with my family. Tokyo and Japan have been a long-standing travel destination for me since my first trip on 2001. My blog WanderlustPlusOne indulges and combines these all these passions and experiences in one spot.
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