Tokyo on a Budget

Tokyo on a Budget

Tokyo is massive, bustling metropolis. Between the busy streets, the high-tech buildings, and amazing combination of traditional and modern, it’s a fascinating place. It is also one of the most expensive cities in the world. Traveling Tokyo on the cheap is not easy, but it can be done. Here are the top money-saving tips as you explore the gateway into Asia: Tokyo, Japan.


Budget saving starts as soon as you land in Tokyo. From Narita, you can take a bus into the city center. You even have a couple of options of bus companies. A Limousine Bus is the one usually recommended as it drops visitors off at most of the major hotels downtown, but there’s also the BE-TRANSSE bus that’s even cheaper that takes you from the Airport to Ginza Station and/or Tokyo Station.

Once you’re in the city center, the trains in Tokyo are the way to go. Using the Yamanote Line, you can get to anywhere you want in Tokyo. The most economical choice is to purchase an all-day ticket for $9 USD. The busses within Tokyo are great as well. $2 USD is the typical fare one-way and can be paid when you board. Alternatively, you could buy an all-day train and bus combo ticket for $16 USD. Whether you take the bus or the trains, avoid taxis at all costs. Starting rates are around $7 USD.


Solo travelers should strongly consider renting one of the famous pod hotels in Tokyo. Not only is it a smart budget choice, but it will be an great experience to remember. These will usually run around $35 USD a night. For the ultra-budget conscious, you could work for your accommodation at hostels in Tokyo. In exchange for a couple of hours of cleaning and maintenance work in the morning, you get free accommodation for as long as you like. The Khao San Hostel chain is one of the most popular places to do this.

Budget-Friendly Activities in Tokyo

  • Go a free tour of Tokyo. Tokyo Free Guide is a company where volunteer guides take visitors around the city for free! Well, almost free. The one caveat is you have to pay for any costs incurred during the tour like transportation, food, or entrance fees.
  • Tour the many shrines and gardens. Take in some traditional Japanese culture by visiting the many shrines and gardens throughout the city. The entrance fees are usually very minimal. This is a great place to have a picnic — just make sure you bring a mat to sit on and some snacks!

See the city lights at night. Head to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Offices where they allow people to go up to the top of the tower to get sweeping views of the city for free. On a clear day, you might even be able to get a glimpse of Mt. Fuji. The observation deck is open from 9:30AM to 11PM everyday.

Eating on the Cheap

Eating out is pretty pricy in Tokyo but a few ways you can cut down on this expense is to buy food from convenience stores like 7-11 or Family Mart, or even in train stations and supermarkets. You can get pre-made meals for around $3 USD here. There are also yakitori barbeque buffets where you can get unlimited rice, meat, and salad for $8-$15 USD.

Cutting down the expenses in Tokyo can be done! While harder than other places around the world, don’t let a tight budget stop you from visiting this amazing city.

Photo Credit: arcreyes [-ratamahatta-]

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