So you’re in Tokyo for the 2020 Olympics, and between events you have some time to spare? Well, lucky you’re in one of the most exciting, attraction-filled cities in the world.
While there’s no shortage of things to see, do, eat and experience, the abundant options can at times get a little overwhelming, so it’s highly recommended that you plan ahead. If you want to get a taste of everything, then this is the bucket list for you. We’ve thrown in some handy transport and connectivity hacks too, for good measure.
The best bit? All of these tours and passes are bookable on the same platform, Klook. Plus, Tokyo Cheapo readers who are also first-time Klook customers spending over $100 USD can use this exclusive promo code to get $5 USD off Japan activities: TCKLOOK (valid until 31 August, 2020).
1. See a show at the legendary Robot Restaurant
Shinjuku’s garish but alluring Robot Restaurant has quite a reputation, and there’s no reason why it shouldn’t. This delightfully over-the-top dinner (or just drinks) and show experience features live performances, high-tech giant robot displays, dancers, hypnotic light shows, hilarity, and a whole bunch of nonsensical fun.
Nestled in the suitably neon-drenched Kabukicho district, the nightlife heart of Shinjuku, the Robot Restaurant is the epitome of Tokyo madness, and something that everyone should try at least once. Booking link
2. Visit teamLab Borderless for an immersive art experience
Japan’s enigmatic art collective teamLab has been capturing imaginations and taking over Instagram feeds for a little while. Their immersive digital art displays are not only out-of-this-world beautiful, but they challenge the limitations of what people think art can be.
If you’ve never been to Tokyo before, a visit to the collective’s flagship gallery, Borderless, is a must-add to any itinerary. Occupying over 10,000 square meters, this art complex is a labyrinthian network of larger-than-life displays, dotted with secret delights hidden throughout the museum.
Don’t bother asking the staff for directions; the whole point of the gallery is to find your own way, and create your own experience—because no two visits to this avant-garde Odaiba art house are ever the same. Booking link
3. Get in a go-kart and zoom through the streets
Keen on cruising through Tokyo streets decked out in your favorite costume, while getting snapped by passersby? Go-karting in Akihabara is a surefire way to get that adrenaline up and those endorphins running high for the rest of the day.
For around two hours, and with a little courage, you can live out all your childhood fantasies as you and your friends (along with an experienced guide) weave through the metropolis in nimble karts, taking in the sights and sounds of one of the world’s biggest cities.
You may have seen Tokyo from the sidewalk, but with this experience, you can hit the asphalt and cover a lot more of the landscape—and from a new perspective, too. Booking link
4. See the view from Tokyo Skytree
Like a towering needle piercing the skyline, Tokyo Skytree is one of the city’s most iconic landmarks and impressive pieces of modern architecture. This television broadcasting tower and tourist complex is the tallest structure in Japan, standing at a staggering 634 meters high.
You can ascend its highest accessible peaks—the 350m observation deck or the 450m gallery—and admire the spectacular Tokyo skyline, with views that reach from Tokyo Bay all the way to Mt. Fuji. It’s a quintessential Tokyo experience. Booking link
5. Go ticketless with a Suica card
If you’re planning to explore Tokyo, catching the city’s meticulously clean, comprehensively connected and perfectly timed trains and subways is going to be an inevitability.
When it comes to getting tickets to access the transport systems, there are two main methods for short-term visitors who will be in town for more than three days. You can get individual tickets, which are small paper tickets you purchase for each trip, or a pre-loaded transport card, a Suica or Pasmo, which can be topped up and used on all city buses, trains, and subways.
Given that the individual ticket option is rather difficult and time-consuming, an IC card like Suica is always the better option, as you just have to tap it at the ticket gate, and off you go. Plus, if you have leftover money on the card, you can also use it to buy food, drinks, and other goods from the many vending machines and ubiquitous convenience stores across the map, so there’s no wasting your precious yen. Order link
6. Take the Tokyo Skyliner express train from Narita Airport
After catching a long flight to Japan, the last thing most people want to do is waste time at the airport trying to figure out how to work the train system to make the typically long journey into Tokyo.
However, if you pre-book a Tokyo Skyliner ticket, you can make a seamless trip from Narita Airport to downtown Tokyo (Nippori Station) in just 41 minutes, with no confusion and no waiting in line to purchase tickets. Get it sorted ahead before you arrive, and you’ll have more time to enjoy your Tokyo visit. Booking link
7. Get connected before you head to Japan
While free wifi is on the increase in Tokyo and other parts of Japan, it’s not yet all that widespread, and can be a bit fiddly to use (think numerous registrations, multiple logins, etc.). For easy, reliable connectivity, it’s a good idea to sort out a prepaid SIM card and/or wifi router for your travels.
There are a range of different travel SIMs and rental wifi routers available for short-term visitors to Japan. You can order these online and pick them up at the airport when you arrive—or, depending on where you’re coming from, even before you leave. Collection points are available in a number of parts of the world, including London, New York, San Francisco, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Bangkok and many more. Order link
There are certain times in the year that can make your visit to Tokyo less than idea.