So you’re planning a visit to the capital city of Japan, and you’ve decided that, while you’re budget-conscious, taking a plane is probably a wiser option than rowing over on a raft or lassoing a flock of passing pigeons. Good decision. Cheap flights to Tokyo are possible no matter where you’re flying from—the USA, the land down under, the land even further down under (New Zealand, that’s you), Singapore or anywhere else. Read on to find out how you can snag a bargain ticket, as well as what to watch out for when booking. We’ve also thrown in some tips on what to do when you’re here. Yosh! Let’s go.
Timing is everything when it comes to cheap flights to Tokyo
First things first—that old saying that timing is everything? Well, when it comes to finding cheap flights to Tokyo, it’s really true. Changing your travel dates by even a week can make a difference of tens of thousands of yen. If your schedule is flexible, you’re in luck. Even more so if you can book your tickets far in advance (3-6 months+ is ideal). A quick perusal of the rates on Skyscanner will confirm this, but the periods listed below are best avoided if you are trying to save some pennies (or cents, whatever they use where you call home).
Cherry blossom season, which is late March to mid-April in Tokyo, is both crowded and pricey; everyone wants a piece of the sakura, and we understand why—they are so very transient and lovely. If you want to experience spring in Japan, it’s best to arrive in early March and depart well after the blossoms have done their thing, or just wince and cough up for the steep airfare. You’ll also want to steer clear of Golden Week (the cluster of national holidays at the end of April going into early May), the New Year period, O-bon (an important family holiday in mid-August) and, though it is a bit less crowded, Chinese New Year (usually sometime in February).
Direct vs. indirect routes
Direct flights are, of course, much less hassle than flights that require one or more connections. That makes them more expensive (usually); sometimes prohibitively so for cheapos. Our first rule of thumb (and presumably yours, too) is to scan, scan and scan some more for a cheap direct flight to Tokyo; if you come up short, go for the indirect option with the lowest travel time. Don’t assume that a direct ticket will be out of your price range; sometimes you’ll be pleasantly surprised at what comes up in your search.
If you do opt for an indirect flight, try to cap your travel time at 20-24 hours, maximum. Unless you build in a proper stopover (e.g. a night or two in Thailand or Hong Kong), any longer in the air will make for an extremely tired (and probably grouchy) cheapo on arrival in Tokyo. Young whippersnappers in the age range of 18-24 will probably ignore this advice, and that’s okay, but anyone older might want to listen. The TC team have all done several flights to and from Tokyo, and are no longer into dozing on dirty airport carpets for days on end. You’ll also want to avoid non-protected self-transfers (exactly as scary as they sound) and transfers that require you to hotfoot it from one airport to another (e.g. in Shanghai) at your connection point.
Cheap flights for your route
For a price comparison of direct vs. indirect flights to Tokyo from some of the major ports of origin around the globe, see below. All fares are displayed in USD in the interests of simplicity. If your city isn’t included, give us a nudge in the comments and we’ll add it to our list. At the bottom of this article, you’ll find a few general money-saving tips, including how to make use of price alerts on booking sites.
New York to Tokyo
|New York => Tokyo||ANA (All Nippon Airways)||$1,031.00||Details|
|New York => Tokyo||Japan Airlines||$1,829.00||Details|
|New York => Tokyo||China Eastern||$456.00||Details|
|New York => Tokyo||Finnair||$991.00||Details|
London to Tokyo
|London => Tokyo||British Airways||£676.00||Details|
|London => Tokyo||Japan Airlines||£692.00||Details|
|London => Tokyo||Alitalia||£382.00||Details|
|London => Tokyo||PIA||£395.00||Details|
To see more options, as well as tips on traveling this route, head over to our article on getting the cheapest flights from London to Tokyo.
Toronto to Tokyo
|Toronto => Tokyo||ANA (All Nippon Airways)||$4,568.00||Details|
|Toronto => Tokyo||China Eastern||$599.00||Details|
|Toronto => Tokyo||ANA (All Nippon Airways)||$671.00||Details|
For more flights and more details (and in Canadian Dollars, too), read our dedicated article on the Toronto to Tokyo route.
Singapore to Tokyo
|Singapore => Tokyo||ANA (All Nippon Airways)||$479.00||Details|
|Singapore => Tokyo||Singapore Airlines||$490.00||Details|
|Singapore => Tokyo||Scoot||$226.00||Details|
|Singapore => Tokyo||Philippine Airlines||$343.00||Details|
To see further flights and details (and in Singapore Dollars, too), read our dedicated article on the Singapore to Tokyo route.
Sydney to Tokyo
|Sydney => Tokyo||Japan Airlines||$777.00||Details|
|Sydney => Tokyo||ANA (All Nippon Airways)||$787.00||Details|
|Sydney => Tokyo||Jetstar||$241.00||Details|
|Sydney => Tokyo||AirAsia X||$263.00||Details|
For more flights and info, and in Australian Dollars, check out our dedicated article on cheap flights from Sydney to Tokyo. Flying from New Zealand? You’ll want to read our article on cheap flights from Auckland to Tokyo. And if you’re heading over from South Africa, here is your guide to the cheapest flights from Johannesburg or Cape Town.
Choosing your arrival airport
When you book your flights, you’ll see that some of the options land at Narita Airport, and others at Haneda. Flights that terminate at Narita tend to be a bit cheaper, as the airport is older and out in the sticks of Chiba Prefecture (next door to Tokyo). The downside is that getting into the city is a little more expensive and takes longer, too—overall, Narita is the less convenient of the two airports. Haneda is in Tokyo Prefecture and transfers into the inner city take just 30 minutes (plus you get to ride a monorail, which is cool). It’s also swankier and just generally more awesome. Moral of the story here—if you are faced with a choice between the two airports, and the tickets are the same price, go for Haneda.
Things to do in Tokyo
Whether you’re in Tokyo for a few days or a few months, you’ll find plenty to keep you fed, watered and happy. Tokyo has some of the best grub in the country, as well as pubs galore and entertainment to suit all sorts. There’s everything from karaoke to parks, museums, art galleries, mad architecture and hole-in-the-wall concert venues. If you’re here en route elsewhere, our Haneda Layover Guide and Tokyo in 24 Hours Itinerary might come in handy. This list of 101 Cheap and Free Things to Do is useful for longer stays, and our Beginner’s Guide to Tokyo is what you need to read if you’re going to be living here for a while.
Price alerts and Travel hacks
Skyscanner, Kayak and Google Flights all have a nifty little feature in the form of price alerts. You can register the flight(s) you are looking for, and get email notifications when prices go up or down. This helps you to take advantage of seasonal sales and other bargain booking times. Kayak also helps you to anticipate what’s going to happen with its flight price prediction feature—that’s the little graph you’ll see at the top left of your flight search screen (for some routes). Note the buy/wait advice beneath.
Other ways of saving those cash monies include:
- collecting air miles
- Getting an air miles credit card (for Brits, the BA Amex card is a must)
- Booking flights that depart mid-week as opposed to on/near weekends, and playing around with dates that differ by 1-3 days each end to compare prices.
This article is updated regularly. Check back for more flight routes. Last update: June 2017, by Carey Finn.