How can I go around Tokyo?
You could flag down a taxi, an Uber, ride the bus, rent a bike or go on foot; but if you want to be efficient and fast, the trains are the way to go! Now, Tokyo’s train system is dense and extensive — so it can be very confusing. However, all throughout my stay in Tokyo, I’ve managed to make it less complicated by simply using Google Maps (mapping my point A and point B and then checking out the directions for the subway/train/bus. It even has real-time walking navigation and an offline option!)
– Google Maps does NOT work offline if you want routes or transportation schedules during your Tokyo itinerary, so I recommend that you get a pocket WiFi or a SIM Card to stay connected online.
– Tokyo’s trains typically open around 5AM and close somewhere around 12AM or midnight. If you don’t have an IC Card, purchasing local rail lines and subway tickets can only be done with cash or coins at the ticket machine. Credit cards are only applicable when buying long distance bullet train tickets.
– If you’re traveling by train during rush hour, be wary that it can get crazy crowded. If you’re a woman, you can ride the front carriages that are designated only for females (this is only during weekdays until 9AM).
– You will notice that in escalators, people stand on the left side so that those who are in a hurry can pass on the right.
– When riding taxis, the left rear door is operated automatically by the driver so don’t try to open or close it by yourself.
– There are several train etiquettes that you should remember when in Japan, number one of which is to keep noise down to a minimum. For more details on this, read here: [coming soon]
So when it comes to local train tickets in Tokyo, there are several types that you can choose from but what I would highly recommend is that if you’re only planning on traveling INSIDE Tokyo, buy the prepaid IC cards (like Suica) that can be used in any train or bus in the city.
NOTE: There is also the option of buying the Tokyo Subway Ticket which will give you UNLIMITED access to all subway lines of Toei and Tokyo Metro (but NOT JR lines, which is fine since most key places in Tokyo is accessible via Toei and Tokyo Metro).
There are options for this for 24 hours, 48 hours and 72 hours. Now, I only find this choice as economical IF, and only if, you are going to ride the train for MULTIPLE times in a day or a span of days. But if, let’s say, you’re only going to one place or district in a day, then just use your IC card as per normal.
On the other hand, if you’re traveling outside of Tokyo, that’s a different matter since I would then recommend that you consider buying a Japan Rail Pass or JR pass for unlimited rides. To see if buying this train pass will be worth it for your Japan itinerary, go and read my explanation here.
TIP: See the whole list of available JR train passes that you can get in Japan here!