Although low-cost carriers excludes amenities like seat selection and extra baggage weight, the savings could probably buy you an extra night’s stay in Tokyo. Choosing budget airlines, such as Jetstar and Scoot, for a flight to Narita Airport can cost about $500 (return), whereas full-fledged air tickets can go up to $1,000 or more. But it is worth keeping your eyes peeled for promotional fares, which can dip as low as, or if not lower than, what is offered by budget airlines.
According to Skyscanner’s analysis, the best time to book for Singapore travellers to enjoy the cheapest fares on average is between 21-25 weeks in advance, with average savings of 21 to 22 per cent..
Certain days of the week are prime for air ticket deals from various airlines, so do not miss out! For example, limited number of discounted tickets are available on Jetstar’s website on Fridays from 8am-11pm. Similarly, Scoot’s deals are every Tuesday, while Tigerair’s are Thursdays. AirAsia occasionally offers free seat bookings during certain periods of time.
Haneda Airport International Terminal vs Narita International Airport
Haneda Airport International Terminal (HND) is much closer to the city center (half the travel time or less) compared to Narita International Airport (NRT), and it is much less busy, which enables you to clear immigration and customs more quickly. However, do note that flight fares are probably more expensive if you fly straight to HND
This portion will mainly focus on travel to and from Narita International Airport since you will most likely land in NRT if you are flying into Tokyo from international destinations.
By JR Narita Express
The JR Narita Express (NEX) is the most comfortable mode of travel across major stations across Tokyo, including Tokyo Station. The NEX Tokyo Round Trip Ticket at 4,000 yen provides foreign travellers with a discounted round trip fare from the airport into Tokyo and back within a two-week period.
Duration: Approximately 1 hour
Cost: About 3,000 yen (fully covered by the Japan Rail Pass, JR Tokyo Wide Area Pass and some other JR passes)
Departure: Every 30 to 60 minutes.
*Prices and times vary by final destination and high/low season travel.
By Limousine bus
Limousine buses to Tokyo Station depart Narita Airport every 15 to 20 minutes. There are direct limousine bus connections to several major hotels in the Tokyo Station area.
Cost: 3,100 yen (one way), or 4,500 yen (round trip - available to foreign tourists only)
Tokyo Disney Resort Area
Tokyo City Air Terminal (T-CAT)
Yokohama City Air Terminal (Y-CAT)
By Tokyo Shuttle bus
This discount bus service operates roughly three times per hour between Narita Airport and Tokyo Station. Unlike Limousine Buses, the first Tokyo Shuttle leaves Tokyo Station at 1.30 am, which means you can catch early flights out of Narita.
Day - 900 yen (advanced purchase via Internet)/1,000 yen
Early morning (before 6am)/Late night: 2,000 yen
1 day Tokyo Metro pass: 600 yen [you’d have to take about four regular trips on the subway to make it worthwhile]
If you are arriving via Haneda Airport instead, do not worry as you can take the express trains or buses out to the city. Some Limousine buses do have drop-off and pick-up points at both Haneda and Narita. The trains and buses mentioned below are for getting around from Haneda Airport only. The buses and trains mentioned below are exclusive to getting around from Haneda airport.
For trains, you can choose to take the Haneda Express to Hamamatsucho station (Tokyo Monorail) or the Airport Limited Express to Keikyu Shinagawa station.
Both Hanamatsucho and Keikyu Shinagawa station are on the Yamanote line which serves stations that are close to tourists attractions like Shibuya or Harajuku. Both express trains take around 13 minutes of travelling from the airport to their respective stations.
The ticket fare for Airport Limited Express to Shinagawa is around 410yen and a little more if you are heading towards the tourist attractions. It costs around 580yen to reach Shibuya, Harajuku, Tokyo stations and 610yen to reach Shinjuku station. The train trip would not take more than 30 minutes, depending on the trains you choose to take. For the Haneda Express, an adult ticket to Hamamatsucho station is 490yen while the child one costs 250yen. At Hamamatsucho station, you can transfer easily to the Yamanote line.
For buses, there are a couple of buses that you can take depending on where do you want to explore and where your lodging is at.
The most convenient mode of transport for getting around in Japan is by trains — Japan Rail Trains (JR Trains) or Subway/Metro trains. Most of the tourist attractions are all around walking distance from train stations, regardless of whether it is JR or Subway trains, hence making visiting tourist attractions super easy and very accessible.
There is a variety of train passes you can purchase depending on your itinerary. For reference, the Tokyo Metro fares range from around 170 yen to 310 yen (S$2.10 to S$3.80) while the JR fares are similar as well. Some stations may even be cheaper than 170 yen.
The three main lines of Tokyo that is extremely useful for tourists to know and they are Yamanote line (in green), Chuo line(in orange), and Keihin-Tohoku Line (in blue). Another line that is useful is the Ginza line, in orange in the map above.
Yamanote line is a loop line around Tokyo which covers most of the tourist attractions like Ueno, Harajuku and Shibuya. Chuo line covers Tokyo’s east to west, and heads out to Shizuoka or Yamanashi for tourists to visit Mt. Fuji. Keihin-Tohoku line, as its name suggests, covers Tokyo from North to South. It is the line that would take you to Tohoku just as like the way its name suggest. During the day, all trains on the Keihin-Tohoku line are rapid trains.
City Tour buses are quite convenient to use, and it is like joining a local land tour to get to various sightseeing places. However, most of the conductors on the buses speak solely Japanese, although they do know a little English.
Regular buses would not be recommended for tourists because of the two types of boarding systems - Rear and Front boarding, maybe be confusing. They differ depending on the distance travelled.
If you are a cost-conscious traveller, taxis are an unnecessary alternative to your mode of transport, that is if the trains are still running. The convenience of taxis comes at a hefty price. Taxi fares differ according to the prefecture or region you are in. The taxis comes in three “sizes” which depends on how many passengers they can carry - a large taxi can carry up to five passengers while a medium and small taxi can carry up to four passengers.
For a standard four-passenger taxi, fares starts at around 400 yen to 700 yen and increases at the rate of 80-90 yen/300-400metres. Expressway tolls would be included in the final fare to pay. Funfact of Japan’s taxis is that the doors are fully automatic! So don’t try prying open the doors on your own, the driver would open and close the door for you.
Tokyo Subway Ticket
This pass entitles you an unlimited use of all subway lines except JR trains. The pass is sold conveniently at Narita and Haneda Airports, just for foreign tourists only and you will be required to show your passport upon purchase. Ticket pricing: 800 yen for 24 hours, 1,200 yen for 48 hours and 1,500 yen for 72 hours.
Tokyo Metro 24-Hour Ticket
This ticket entitles you to an unlimited use of the nine Tokyo Metro subway lines. However, this pass does not include the four Toei subway lines and JR trains. This ticket is readily available at the ticketing machines at Tokyo Metro stations. Ticket pricing: 600 yen/ticket
If you are considering to get the pre-paid IC card, which is essentially just the Japan version of our Ezlink card, there are two different cards — Suica card and Pasmo card which allows you to travel on the JR lines and the non-JR lines respectively.
If you are travelling for a longer period, and is considering to travel multi-cities, there are other Train Passes that may be more economical for you.
JR Tokyo Wide Pass (formerly known as the JR Kanto Area Pass)
This is a rail pass specially for the non-Japanese passport holders. This pass entitles you for unlimited travels on any JR trains, which includes the rather expensive Shinkansen trains and also the limited express trains. Not only that, it also allows travelling on selected non-JR trains in the Kanto Region for three consecutive days. Ticket pricing: 10,000 yen for adults and 5,000 yen for children
Japan Rail Pass (JR Pass)
JR Pass is cost effective for long-distance train travel in Japan, think travelling from Tokyo to Nagoya for a day trip. This pass is only for tourists to purchase and offers unlimited use of JR trains for a designated time at a really good deal.
The best part about these passes is that you are able to purchase them here in Singapore, either at the Japan Tourism Board in Takashimaya Level 3 or at the newly opened Japan Rail Cafe at Tanjong Pagar station.
*50 per cent discount for children aged 6 to 11 years old