Every year, Japan aims to drive up the number of tourists that visit the country and undoubtedly, Japan is also on the list of to-go place for many of these travelers. A new year and a new start for 2016! Now, how about a trip to the capital of the land of the rising sun? You’ve probably waited a long time and wanted to come but have been wavering for a few reasons.
Budget? Language Barriers? Or even plain fear of getting lost? Every trip is worth a new experience whether it goes your way or not! Simply said, let me help you with a few tips if you are planning to take your first trip to Tokyo to lessen those worries of yours!
Getting an IC Card is my first tip to all first time travelers to Tokyo. Now you might be wondering why? If you’ll be flying directly into Tokyo, you’ll probably be arriving by the Narita or Haneda Airport and will be going around Tokyo by buses or trains or subways. Getting an IC Card at the airport will save you time and money later as you will be using it all over the city during your travels. You also shouldn’t have any problem getting one because there is an English language option that tourists can use. If, by any chance, you ever do have a hard time getting one, there are some people assisting tourists getting an IC Card in the airport. That’s why it’s easier to get one there.
Using an IC Card is also more convenient because you can use it in all kinds of transportation systems all over Tokyo except for taxi cabs and at the same time you can also use it for purchases in establishments that use IC Cards like most convenience stores, malls and department stores and even food outlets. Aside from that, you won’t need to buy tickets every time you use the trains or subways here, which would be more complicated and time-consuming for tourists. Using IC Cards will also save you a few yen rather than the tickets, they are easily rechargeable in most places and you also get a cool card as a souvenir.
Quite a number of first time travelers to Tokyo have a hard time riding the train or subway because of their complexity. But don’t worry! You just have to keep a few things in mind when riding the trains here.
Know where you first came from.
Know where you want to go.
Know what train line you should take.
Now I know these ‘3 Knows’ may sound easier said than done, but these are actually small but meaningful tips to help you navigate your way around town – especially back to the place where you first came from. Before you come to Tokyo or at your hotel, make sure you’ve researched the places you want to go and what train line to use to get there. Google Maps is very helpful in this case. Always write down your hotel name and address, and the nearest station to your hotel on a piece of paper because chances are, your phone might run out of juice with all the travel and photo taking (you never know!). Ask for a train line map at the station, so you’re able to navigate your travels more easily too.
The chances of first-time travelers getting lost are there, but these are avoidable especially because train stations in Japan usually have information translated into basic English. Also as much as possible, do avoid taking a taxi if you know you’re lost as this will cost you quite a lot. Don’t be shy about asking people even if you don’t know any Japanese. Someone will understand and help you if they’re not in a rush. But just in case, know this phrase “すみません、駅はどこですか”(“Sumimasen, Eki wa doko desu ka?”) which means “Excuse me, where is the station?”
Now this last and final tip is for the “What if” purpose because you never know if you enjoy too much of Tokyo and have used up a lot of the cash you have brought and exchanged for yen. In this case, your handy credit cards or debit cards will come into play. You might be wondering if those cards of yours will be able to dispense money to save you and well…it can!
The easiest way for you to know which machine will accept your card is to first look if the machine has Visa, MasterCard and other marks written that will accept your card. If you see these signs, then the chances of you getting money are high. Automated Teller Machines are scattered all over Tokyo, but of course never just put in your card without double checking the signs! The safest bet you can take is to go to a 7-Eleven store as every one of them has an ATM where you can dispense money. If you do use them, the money dispensed will all automatically be in Japanese yen already.
Even if Tokyo is on the conventional side of modernization, cash is still the central form of payment used in most shops especially for those in street shopping districts. So make sure you prepare yourself in terms of funds as well so as not to encounter any possible problems!
Getting to travel around a new country is an adventure that many people would want to experience. Japan is a beautiful country and Tokyo is a place with both modern and traditional sides to it that travelers will surely get to enjoy once they are here. These tips may seem to be just basic information, but I wrote these in order to not only be tips for first-time travelers to Tokyo but also serve as ways to be able to avoid anything that may become a disturbance for you during your trip. I hope these tips will help you to enjoy Tokyo to the fullest!