There are lots of ways to get around Tokyo. If you like to walk, central Tokyo is a lot smaller than you may realise. Cycling is another great option.
Want to get from the airport to central Tokyo? We’ve got you covered, read: Narita Airport to Tokyo or Haneda Airport to Tokyo.
Trains & Subways
To the uninitiated, the train and subway system in Tokyo can seem incredibly complicated. There are two different subway operators (Tokyo Metro and Toei) as well as one major rail company (JR) and a multitude of private line operators. In general, these are well priced compared to other major cities. In terms of cost savings, the less you change between the different operators on a single journey, the cheaper your trip will be.
If you’re staying more than 24 hours, the best idea is to buy a Suica travel pass. These are credit card size cards that you charge up with credit and are usable on all lines, this will save you so much hassle as you don’t have to think about which ticket to buy etc. You can even use them to pay for items from a vending machine and in some shops! Most the other “discount” tickets available for Tokyo should be avoided as they are only useable on one subway company which makes them pretty much useless. The easiest way to buy a suica is to go to a JR ticket office at a station – perhaps get one at Narita or Haneda as soon as you arrive. After you used up the initial credit, you top them up using any of the machines at train stations, press the English button to get started. And if you’re a proper cheapo, don’t forget to hand them back when you leave to reclaim the 500yen deposit.
The Suica Card, featuring a penguin
For travel within the city, the bus system can be useful for making those trips that the subway doesn’t handle well – like Roppongi to Shinbashi. Fares are cheap and you can use Pasmo/Suica contact-less payment cards. Working out which bus goes where and where you should get off however, is quite a task. We recommend asking a local and telling the driver where you’d like to go. For long distance travel out of Tokyo, highway buses are almost always the cheapest (and least comfortable) option.
Taxis have a flag-fall of 710yen, so even if you catch one for 100m, this is how much it will cost. Once your trip reaches the 710yen threshold, the figures on the meter will start to spin like the fruit on a one-arm bandit. Generally Taxis are only a good deal if there are four of you.
Image credit: かがみ～ used under CC license