In developed countries, citizens are encouraged to use public transportation, hence, public transport systems of these countries are eminently modern. Japan is not an exception, as they invested immensely in the transport infrastructure, which can provide its residents with the fastest, most convenient, time-saving rides. The selection is wide, including Shinkansen, train, subway, shuttle bus,…If this is the first time you have ever been to Tokyo, you may have no clue on how the traffic works and how Japanese travel every day. However, moving in Tokyo will not be a difficulty anymore after taking our advice below. So, are you planning a trip to Tokyo and don’t know how to get around Tokyo (how to go around Tokyo and how to travel around Tokyo)? Let’s check out our suggested 3 best way to get around Tokyo (best way to travel around Tokyo) and cheapest way to get around Tokyo (cheapest way to travel around Tokyo) by public transport: JR Railway, Subway and Bus to find out the answer! Let us discover the best tips for an effortless Tokyo journey!
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How to get around Tokyo? Introducing popular means of public transport in Tokyo
The JR line (Japan Railway) is Japan’s major railway, owned by Japan Railway Group. There are many trains running every day, various schedules with multiple routes, and also different types of trains to choose from.
Subway is the most popular choice when it comes to public transport in Tokyo. Japanese people prioritize this option thanks to its punctuality and vast coverage of almost every location in Tokyo. There are 2 famous subway systems: Tokyo Metro and Toei. It is recommended to purchase Suica care, which makes it quick and easy to buy tickets.
Tokyo shuttle bus is also commonly chosen for the speed and comfort it offers. The buses are squeaky clean, modern, equipped with air conditioners and enjoyable seats. The price for one ticket is around 210 yen (USD1.91) but may vary depends on the route. However, Tokyo natives don’t usually take buses for in-city purpose, instead, they are conventional for outer destinations. If you want a field trip to suburban Tokyo, a bus will be your perfect option.
There are several day tours that shuttle bus is their major transportation, recommended by travellers like Mt Fuji Classic Route Day Tour from Tokyo with Matcha Experience, Nikko Tosho-gu day tour, Mt. Fuji and Hakone Day Trip from Tokyo,…
Of course, Japan still has other kinds of public transport, such as taxis and bicycles. However, a taxi ride is usually costly, so you should not choose it as your major transportation. On the same page, riding a bike is not advisable for tourists at all, so let’s put this aside.
How to go around Tokyo? Best way to get around Tokyo and cheapest way to get around Tokyo and Effortlessly getting around in Tokyo
The number of cards/tickets I list down here can help to get around in Tokyo much less complicated. Be wise when choosing the most suitable type of transportation and type of card/ticket depends on your purpose.
Suica is the payment card of Japan East JR, offers the simple way to purchase train tickets so you don’t have to line up later. To use Suica card, first, users have to put money in as it is a prepaid card. Not limited to only subway tickets, it is also used for bus tickets and shopping at several restaurants, convenience stores, vending machines and many other services (similar to T-money card of Korea). In addition, many tourist attractions offer discounts when buying tickets with Suica card.
Link to book Suica IC Card (Tokyo Pick Up).
This is the ticket exclusively made for foreign tourists when they travel to Japan. Tourists get the special offer of unlimited rides on Tokyo Metro in 24/48/72 hours. It is basically a perfect choice. I highly recommend getting this pass if you plan to constantly moving to each and every corner of Tokyo. For more instructions about taking the subway, download the app Tokyo Metro Navigation. Make sure you get the app as soon as possible so you don’t arrive somewhere you should not be. It is an online application so the connection to the Internet is the ultimate requirement, here is the link to buy the indispensable Japan 4G tourist SIM card. If you travel in a group, it is advisable to rent an unlimited wifi hotspot device, the more economical option.
Link to buy Tokyo Subway Ticket (24, 48, or 72 Hours).
In 7/14/21 consecutive days, you gain unlimited access to multiple railways including Shinkansen, Rapid Limited Express, Express, local trains and local JR bus lines. Significantly, going from Narita International Airport to central Tokyo is similarly easy with JR Pass. There are some comments about JR Pass is only suitable for people with a nonstop travel schedule and multi-city tours. This is not totally correct, in my point of view, JR Pass is also greatly convenient for travelling within Tokyo because at all of the most famous travel spots for first-time visitors, such as Shinjuku, Shibuya, Akihabara, Ueno, Harajuku…, JR Pass can be applied there.
Link to buy JR Pass for Whole Japan (7, 14, or 21 Days).
Transport within Tokyo is much easier with the help of mobile applications. Everyone should download the JR app (Android, iOS) to check the possible ways to wanted destinations. The app shows how many stations/stops you need to take, how much it costs, when to switch lines,…Certainly, every visitor can take advantage of it.
How to go around Tokyo? Be aware of these when joining the traffic of Tokyo
Here are the speed signs to beware when taking the railway:
- Local (普通) – stops at every station.
- Rapid (快速) – skips some stations.
- Express (急行) – skips more stations. The price for Express is higher than local/rapid
- Limited Express (特急) – only stops at major stations. Additional fees available (sometimes it can go up to 4000yen or $36.34)
Obviously, the safest choices are locals and rapids, stick to them so you don’t miss any stops. Express and Limited Express are usually taken to travel to the suburbs, or from the suburbs to central Tokyo.
- Japanese railways are among the most punctual in the world. Exact to the second.
- Thoroughly choose the right routes, because it takes a lot of time to go back if you get on the wrong train. Getting a map related to the transportation you are taking (can be picked up at the station information desks) or downloading mobile applications I mentioned above will make a huge difference.
- Foods and drinks are not allowed while using Japanese public transport.
- Keep in mind that it can be excessively crowded on Japanese public transportation, as during rush hour overcrowding is undeniable. Be extraordinarily aware of your valuables (passport, wallet,…), they can fall out and be lost when you were trying to squeeze through the sea of people.
- Respect the queue culture when using public transport, and keep your volume low.
Ta-dah, hopefully, all these tips can support your journey in Tokyo. Let’s get start the packing up, and share your experience with Japanese public transport with us.
Some best day tours, trips, activities and transfer services, tickets in, to and from Tokyo you can refer to
- Airport Limousine Bus Transfers from/to Narita and Haneda International Airport (Free Wifi Onboard)
- Nikko Day Tour from Tokyo
- Mt Fuji & Hakone Day Tour: Lake Ashi & Ropeway Day Trip from Tokyo
- Nikko Cultural Day Tour from Tokyo
- Tokyo Subway Ticket (24, 48, or 72 Hours)
- Tokyo Skyliner and Tokyo Subway Ticket
- Shuttle Bus Transfers (One Way/Round Trip) from Shinjuku/Ikebukuro to Tokyo Disneyland or Tokyo DisneySea
- Sky Hop-on and Hop-off Bus Pass
- 4G Prepaid Sim Card (JP Airports Pick Up) for Japan
- 4G WiFi (Japan Pick Up) for Japan
- JR Pass for Whole Japan (7, 14, or 21 Days)
Are you finding more top things to do in Tokyo: Tours, activities, attractions and other things? Read more: Tokyo travel blog — The fullest Tokyo city guide for a budget trip for the first time visiting Tokyo, Japan.