Tokyo is one of Japan’s most influential and cultural cities. It’s not only the capital of Japan; it’s a melting pot of diversity and history. Tokyo travelers will be mesmerized by the city’s abundance of things to do, but if you’re looking for authentic Japanese traditions and quiet neighborhoods, a flight to Tokyo is not for you. Tokyo is a crowded, busy, and futuristic city that is full of ideas and inventions. Of course, there are some traditions that Tokyo still embraces – traditional tea ceremonies, flower arranging and public baths still take place and Tokyo boasts a wealth of museums and Japanese art.
Tokyo is located on Honshu, Japan’s largest island. The city is actually a cluster of small towns (called wards) run individually, but grouped together to form one city. Each community has its own history and culture, and each tells its own story. Tokyo is one of the 47 prefectures of Japan, home to the Imperial Family and Imperial Palace, seat of government and home to over 13 million people, making it one of the most densely populated cities on the planet.
To get a feel for the bustling metropolis, visit the Tsujiki market, one of the busiest wholesale fish markets in the world, where you can see fresh produce from the highly skilled and dedicated Japanese fishing industry. Or, visit the kimono shop at the Daimaru department store, where the prices will leave you scraping your jaw off the floor. For a bird’s eye view, whizz up to the observatory of the Tokyo Tower, from where you can even see Mount Fuji and Mount Tsukuba. And for a bargain, head to the colorful Akihabara (or Electric Town), the best place for electronic, computer and anime and otaku items. For moments of calm, stroll through the East Gardens of the Imperial Palace or visit Meiji Jingu, the Shinto shrine just behind Harajuku station.
For the first-time traveler, Tokyo is a shopper’s haven, so be sure to pack an extra bag with you on your flight. From high-tech toys to designer clothes, it’s impossible not to bring back a little gift from Tokyo. As Japan’s financial center, new designs and developments are being crafted and produced every day. Business moguls pay top dollar for Tokyo’s inventions including computers, cars and gadgets that have become common staples in many American households. If you’re a gadget-guru, you’ll hit the jackpot when you get a flight to Tokyo. Just look around your flight – it’s likely the person sitting next to you is using the newest gadget for communicating with the Western world. Take a moment and let it sink in – you’ve just gotten a glimpse of the future and it starts on your flight to Tokyo.
The best part about Tokyo? Its people. The city may be cramped and hectic, but the people are friendly and can show tourists the true beauty that lies within Tokyo. The city is also home to millions of students, making the city affordable and fashionable; it truly has something for everyone. While you’re here you may also want to take in the nightlife for which Tokyo is famous; trendy clubs and fine-budget dining are the way to go. Whether you visit the city for business or for pleasure, there’s much to see and do that it may seem overwhelming to figure out where to start. Here are some tips to help you plan and enjoy the smoothest possible trip to Tokyo.
Winter is cold in Tokyo and the temperature occasionally drops below freezing. Spring has pleasant warm days. Summer is hot and muggy. It gets cool again in the fall, with temperatures ranging from about 50 degrees to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. August is the warmest month with high humidity and temperatures in the 80’s, and January is the coldest with temperatures averaging in the low 40’s. The monsoon season lasts about a month starting around mid-June. Typhoons are widespread in Japan in August and September.
Tokyo is a futuristic and technologically advanced megacity, visitors flying to Tokyo can experience a city that retains traces of an ancient, more contemplative approach to life that sits comfortably alongside a tech savvy lifestyle giving the city a great architectural and cultural juxtaposition. Japan’s capital offers a seemingly unlimited choice of shopping, entertainment, culture and dining for visitors who arrive on cheap flights to Tokyo. Here are some details on when the best time to fly to this beautiful city is, and what periods you may want to avoid if you can.
Spring and fall are the most temperate seasons. Despite the heat and humidity of the summer (June to August), rates in the summer are going up; this is the peak tourist season. Many local festivals are celebrated in Tokyo in July, and the school summer vacation runs from the end of July through August. Peak travel times for flights to Tokyo tend to fall around Japanese holidays when reservations need to be booked far in advance.
The New Year’s celebration is January 1st – 3rd which is a busy travel time, but the rest of January, February, and March are quiet. This is when cheap flights to Tokyo are easier to find and sightseeing attractions are not nearly as busy. Plus, skies tend to be clear and sunny and the weather is chilly but dry. There are opportunities to find affordable flight tickets to Tokyo during this season, save for Christmas and New Year’s, if you can manage the cold weather. One of world’s biggest animation events, Tokyo International Anime Fair, takes place in March and draws anime enthusiasts from around the world, and this event is also a likely exception to the idea of finding cheap flights during this time.
Spring (March to May) is a sweet spot for booking flights to Tokyo; the cherry blossoms are in bloom and daytime temperatures are comfortable for sightseeing. Autumn (September to November) is also ideal time to visit for witnessing the foliage change color. Avoid travelling in summer if possible and aim for the first half of March, mid-May to June or September to mid-December to book the cheapest flights to Tokyo. Note that typhoons are widespread in Japan in September so it is advised to monitor the forecast before your flight.
Flight times into Tokyo vary greatly depending on your starting location. Flights from cities in the southwestern United States such as Los Angeles, California or Las Vegas, Nevada take around 11 hours, while flights out of northwestern and mid-western states such as Washington or Minneapolis typically last twelve hours and thirty minutes. If you’re traveling into Tokyo from London, expect a twelve hour flight.
Airports in Tokyo serve a wide variety of both international and U.S. carriers, allowing for easy and convenient travel for people from all corners of the world. U.S. carriers include Delta, American Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines and United Airlines, with international carriers that include British Airways, Air China, Philippine Airlines, Singapore Airlines and Thai Airways International.
The climate in Tokyo is similar to the climate in the northeastern part of the United States, so you’ll need to pack in conjunction with the season. During the summer, Tokyo can get quite humid and the mosquito population is high, so make sure to pack insect repellent and an ample supply of loose, breathable clothing, as well as a few sweaters or light jackets to warm up in air-conditioned buildings. While Tokyo doesn’t typically get a lot of snow during the winter months, temperatures can drop fairly low during the season, so it’s also a good idea to bring along winter outerwear.
If you’re planning to hit one of Tokyo’s exclusive nightclubs or dine out at an upscale restaurant, you’ll want to bring along a few formal options and some club wear. To make your packing a little easier, contact the establishments you plan to visit and ask about their dress codes. Many of the clubs offer this information online for convenience. Tourists often utilize the subway system in Tokyo, which means you may end up walking a fair amount. Pack comfortable, breathable shoes for these excursions, and make sure to take along some reading material and your camera.
Since the flight to Tokyo is fairly long from the U.S., pack your carry-on bag with items to keep you busy on the flight, as well as essentials such as hygiene products and a travel-sized first aid kit. You may also want to take along a few travel-appropriate snacks such as trail mix or protein bars.
Tokyo has two major international airports, Tokyo International Airport, commonly known as Haneda Airport (HND) or Tokyo Haneda Airport, and Narita International Airport (NRT), also known as Tokyo Narita Airport. Tokyo Narita International Airport (NRT) handles more than 35 million passengers each year. The primary hub for flights in and out of Japan, the airport is served by all major international airlines with connections to hundreds of cities worldwide. Haneda Airport, however, is the closest airport to Tokyo. Train and bus services connect the two airports. Here are a few tips for getting to where you need to go from each of these two airports.
Haneda Airport is about 13 miles south of Tokyo, and Keikyu and Tokyo Monorail services run from Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 allowing direct access to the city center in fifteen minutes. You can also board Keisei direct suburban trains which can take you to the center of Tokyo in about an hour or so. If you are renting a car you can drive to the city within thirty minutes, traffic permitting. Regular bus services operate from the airport but tend to be a slower (if less expensive) option than the trains; it will get you to the city center in about forty minutes. Taxis are also available at the information desk in the airport terminal, but these are the most expensive option.
Narita International Airport is a little less than 50 miles east of Tokyo and one hour and thirty-five minutes by train and subway, and one hour’s drive by rental car. The train station can be found in Terminal 2. Taxis are also available with fixed rate fares – expressway tolls are a surcharge. If you book in advance before your flight to Tokyo you can use the limousine bus, a door to door service which drops people off at a set list of hotels. Tickets can also be purchased at the ticket counter at the basement level of the airport.
Once you’ve settled in to your hotel and are ready to explore, you’ll soon realize why Tokyo is known internationally for having great public transportation. It is clean, safe and efficient. Tourists usually stick to the subway or Japan Railways (JR). The subway has 13 different lines that run from early morning to late evening. Avoid the rush hours if possible as they can get extremely crowded. You can buy a Tokyo Combination Ticket which offers unlimited rides on the Tokyo trains, subway and bus lines for one day. Taxis are safe, clean and comfortable, but among the highest-priced in the world. Drivers might not speak English, so it’s a good idea to have your destinations written in Japanese before boarding.
Japan’s capital city offers an abundance of activities, ranging from shopping for the latest fashions to historic walking tours. No matter what your age or preferences may be, Tokyo’s got something for every taste.
For a fun day of shopping, head to Shinjuku and visit The Beams Japan. This shopping wonderland takes up six floors, and offers everything from unique clothing items from around the world to artwork, jewelry and craft items that make perfect take-home souvenirs. When you need a break from browsing the wares, head downstairs and enjoy a coffee and some Japanese pastries at Sarutahiko Coffee.
If you like a little adventure with your dinner, Ninja Akasaka offers an amazing dining experience. In addition to delicious Japanese cuisine, this fun restaurant features waiters and hosts dressed as ninjas, who sneak around silently while serving patrons.
For a beautiful view of Tokyo combined with area history, take a walk along the Rainbow Bridge. Known as Tokyo’s most famous bridge, Rainbow Bridge crosses the waters of Tokyo Bay and boasts a gorgeous rainbow shape. Make sure to make a wish when standing on this majestic attraction, it just may come true.
If you’re interested in learning more about Japanese culture, there’s no better place than the historic Kabukiza Theater. This beautiful theater has stood the test of time for over 120 years with the help of remodeling, and offers tourists Kabuki shows on a daily basis. The newly-remodeled building also houses a separate floor where you’ll find exhibits featuring artwork, Kabuki costumes and more.
If you’re planning to extend your holiday in another worldly city or need to travel outside of Tokyo, Cheapflights can help. Narita International Airport is the primary hub for flights out of Japan, with outbound flights departing at all hours of the day or night, and is served by all major international and U.S. airlines with connections to hundreds of cities worldwide. Finding your departure flight should be no problem at all.
You can find terrific flight deals for popular routes from Tokyo at https://www.cheapflights.com.sg, https://www.cheapflights.com.my, https://www.cheapflights.com.ph, or https://www.cheapflights.com.hk.
If you’re in need of transportation to Haneda International Airport, Keihin Kyoko Bus service offers shuttle bus rides that drop off at your desired terminal, limo service and car service. Taxis are another option however, they can be difficult to flag down during high traffic times, which could lead to late arrivals at the airport. Scheduling a shuttle or car ride twenty-four hours prior to your departure will help ensure you arrive on time. Ride-sharing services such as Lyft and Uber also operate in Tokyo, but it’s a good idea to use the app’s ride-schedule feature to guarantee a timely pick-up. Traffic is always pretty busy in Tokyo, so planning accordingly will save you time and prevent any last-minute mishaps. This is especially true if traveling to Narita International Airport, which is further away. The train and subway are also options for transportation to Narita International Airport as well.
Once you choose a destination and departure city, be sure to check out our Tokyo airport guides for detailed travel information and helpful tips.