We have heard this city being sung about in songs, seen it star in so many movies, and lavish the cover of many travel books. Tokyo is a profound city with a fusion of new and old, millions of people rushing through its train stations every day and home to some of the best food in the entire world.
“The overriding sense of Tokyo…is that it is a city devoted to the new, sped up in a subtle but profound way: a postmodern science-fiction story set ten minutes in the future.” – David Rakoff
It’s no doubt that many want to venture here and experience it for themselves. The Budget Traveller’s Guide to One Week in Tokyo will have you exploring the classic areas of this great city, like Asakusa, Harajuku, Shinjuku, Shibuya and more, all while not breaking the budget. A week is the perfect amount of time to venture and see the best it has to offer and have some great food along the way.
The Budget Traveller’s Guide to One Week in Tokyo will cover the following:
- 7-day flexible itinerary
- Restaurant recommendations near to where you will be visiting
- Money saving tips
- Free things or cheap things to do in Tokyo
- Recommended budget accommodation
Day 1 – Arrive in Japan
Arrive at Narita or Haneda Aiport, I prefer to arrive at midday so you can go straight from the airport to your accommodation. (Need help finding a cheap flight to Japan? Then check out my guide here.) Allow around 2 hours to get off your flight and go through customs.
Remember to pick up your sim card/wireless internet device and Japanese dollars. Use the Tokyo Airport Bus from the Airport to Tokyo Station. Catch the train from Tokyo Station to the nearest station to your accommodation. Check into your accommodation and unpack and unwind. Don’t overwhelm yourself too much on the first day, instead, go for a walk around your accommodation and find places like a supermarket or restaurant. Have an early night so you are refreshed for the next day.
Day 2 – Asakusa
Some hostels provide breakfast otherwise head to the local supermarket and pick up some fresh omurice or onigiri for breakfast! Don’t forget to grab some snacks and water as well (I usually brought some fruit along). Today you’re going to explore Asakusa! Asakusa is famous for keeping it’s Edo Period aesthetic and home to the famous Senso-Ji Temple.
First, you will need to pick up your Pasmo/Suica card from the train station and load it with money so you can get around for the day. There are two different Asakusa Stations, you want the one that has the Asakusa Line (not Tsukuba Express).
From the station walk to the Asakusa Tourist Information Center and pick up any maps or info you need. Head to the rooftop level of the Information Center to get an awesome shot of Senso Ji (see above)!
Entrance to Senso-Ji is free. I’d recommend spending 200 yen to get your fortune inside the temple, which makes for a great souvenir! Take your time here, I know the crowd can be large and overwhelming but just enjoy each aspect of the temple.
A short 5-minute walk from Senso-ji is the famous melon pan shop Kagetsudo. Watch Only in Japan‘s video on this famous melon pan and why you need to grab yourself one. Nearby is a 4 story level Don Quijote, a Japanese variety store that has everything you can possibly imagine.
This was our favourite Don Quijote as it was neatly laid out and had well-priced souvenirs. I’m still devastated to this day that I didn’t buy the 1kg pudding in a bucket!
Don’t forget to ask them for the Tourist Tax Refund, when you show your passport at the time of purchase. After you’ve done a spot of shopping find somewhere for lunch! I’d recommend checking out Ometaro Okonomiyaki for Japanese style savoury pancake.
Head towards Asakusa Station and you will see the Sumida River. There’s a wonderful walkway along the river where you can get a great shot of the famous ‘Golden Poo’ aka the Asahi Beer Hall. Cross over the river to Tokyo Skytree, another great point to get a view of Tokyo.
Looking for a free view instead? Take the elevator up the Level 345 of Skytree and go to the shopping mall for an amazing view. The best time to aim for is sunset so you can get beautiful shots of the city falling into night.
At this point, you’re probably a bit wrecked from a full day of sightseeing so I recommend hopping on the train back to your accommodation and grabbing some ramen on your way home.
Day 3 – Harajuku & Shinjuku
Crazy fashion and cute girls? Let’s go to Harajuku! Catch the train to Harajuku Station and make your way to Takeshita Street, where the kawaii fashion begins. If you haven’t had breakfast yet, pick up a Harajuku style crepe from Sweet Box, Angels Heart or Santa Monica Crepes!
Take your time to venture inside all the different shops, maybe pick up a cute souvenir for a friend back home? If you’re into your fashion then head off the main street and down the side streets for more boutiques, thrift shops and niche fashion (for ideas watch the video above!). Look out for the famous Moshi Moshi Box Clock at the end of Takeshita Street and make sure you get a snap!
If you are loving the kawaii vibes make sure you book a reservation at Kawaii Monster Cafe for lunch to try some crazy multicoloured spaghetti and parfaits! When you need a break from the hustle and bustle, grab a bento box and make your way to Yoyogi Park or Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden.
Now that your tummy is full, let’s check out Shinjuku! Inside the train station are Keio Department Store and Odakyu Department Store, great places to have a wander and pick up a sweet treat (and free wifi). Head over to the Tokyo Government Metropolitan Building and take the elevator all the way to the top to get spectacular views of Tokyo for free!
Nearby is Yokocho, a famous izakaya street jam packed with bars and restaurants. A great place to have some sake with some of the locals and practise your Japanese. To continue the party head over to Golden Gai nearby to do some bar hopping and try some of the best Shoyu Ramen at Nagi.
Day 4 – Tokyo DisneySea or Studio Ghibli Museum
Today you’ve got two options to see!
- If you are anime lover then you’re going to want to make your way to Studio Ghibli Museum and Nakano Broadway!
- If you’ve never been to Disneyland then you have to check out Tokyo Disney Sea!
With both these options please make sure you have booked your tickets well in advance as it is difficult to purchase on the day. Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea are located in Chiba, a good 35 – 50 minutes out of Tokyo so remember to keep this in mind if you want to get there before opening. Tokyo Disney Sea is a whole day event and is also the only Disney you can drink alcohol at!
For Studio Ghibli you will be heading over to Kichijoji where the famous Iseya Yakitori restaurant has been operating for 100 years can be found. Once you’ve had some mouthwatering skewers stroll over to the museum (depending on what time your ticket says). Just a note that you’re not allowed to take photos inside the museum but you can take as many as you want outside. For a complete check out my Anime Lover’s Guide to Studio Ghibli Museum.
After Studio Ghibli hop on the same train line to Nakano. Nakano Broadway is a great spot for anime shopping with countless stores filled with anime merchandise. Beware that after a few hours here you might come out with bags and bags of goodies!
If you’re feeling famished from browsing the stores then try out Mos Burger nearby for ‘Japanese style’ burgers!
Day 5 – Shibuya
Today you’ll visit the iconic Shibuya – are you ready? Catch a train to Shibuya Station and follow the crowd to find the right exit. Queue up and take a photo with the famous Hachiko Statue before walking the famous Shibuya Crossing!
There are endless opportunities to shop here, like Shibuya 109, Bic Camera and Don Quijote. On my trip, I ended up visiting Shibuya twice because I couldn’t get enough shopping in. You can save your yen and check out Bingo a secondhand clothes store or on Wednesdays go to Don Don Down for clothing items that can be discounted down to 100 yen!
The afternoon is free for you to explore and see something you’re interested in. If you are a fan of art check out the Mori Art Museum or if you’d love to see more Japanese shrines then head over to Meiji Shrine. Want to see Tokyo the way locals do? Check out my friends at Tokio Tours. They offer some amazing half day tours such Hidden Gems of Tokyo and old school neighbourhood Yanaka tour.
Day 6 – Akihabara
It’s your second last day in Tokyo so let’s delve into the tech and anime paradise; Akihabara. Akihabara is huge and crammed packed with multi-level buildings selling cameras, computers, manga and anime merchandise.
Immerse yourself in the Otaku subculture and check out Maidreamin, Gundam Cafe or Square Enix Cafe to try a limited edition snack or beverage. Anime lovers will rejoice at Animate, Mandarake and Akiba Culture Zones to find second-hand anime figures. For a complete guide check out my 10 Must Visit Places in Akihabara for Anime Lovers.
If anime isn’t really your thing then hop on a train to Ryogoku Station and check out the Edo-Tokyo Museum for a history lesson on the culture of Edo Period Tokyo! Tickets are less than $10 which makes it a cheap way to kill an afternoon.
Day 7 – Last Day
Last day in Tokyo and what a whirlwind it has been! Take this time to pack all your things and double check you haven’t left anything under the bed. If your flight is in the morning or midday then make your way to the airport. Otherwise get in any last minute souvenir shopping or go back and visit a place you love!
I recommend leaving your suitcase at the hotel/hostel instead of finding a locker at Tokyo Station. Tokyo Station is so overwhelming and nearly impossible to find a free locker. It might mean you have to factor in time to go get your suitcase but the ease of mind is worth it.
Budget Accommodation in Tokyo
Always try to stay in hostels over hotels when travelling to save the ultimate dollar. You spend such little time in your room so no reason to splurge. Always consider cleanliness, amenities and free breakfast! Double check reviews and see how close the location is. The following are places I recommend you to stay at:
- Hotel Graphy in Ueno
- Retro Metro Backpackers in Asakusa
- Wise Owl Hostel in Shibuya and Minato (This is where we stayed)
How much does one week in Tokyo cost?
For a full breakdown budget for one week in Tokyo check out my guide here.
Planning a trip to Tokyo?
- The 50 Best Places to Eat in Tokyo
- 11 Myths Busted About Travelling to Japan
- Discounts and Passes for Japan Guide 2018
- When is the best time to visit Japan?
I hope my budget traveller’s guide to one week in Tokyo has inspired you for your own trip. let me know in the comments where you want to visit most in Tokyo.