How to see Tokyo on a budget

Tokyo is a big city, big expense with lots to do and even more to see. How the hell am I going to afford visiting Tokyo? Don’t stress, I did it all with very little and if you are a budget traveller like myself you can quite easily see Tokyo on a budget.

Cutting costs whilst seeing as much as I could was my number one goal. To do this I set out to find someone who would host me on couchsurfing to bunk at their place. Oh yea, if you don’t know what couchsurfing is and you are a budget traveller, you may as well just give up right now. Nahhh, I’m just kidding you, but seriously, you do need to get onto this and see what it’s all about. You can learn more on couchsurfing in this post I wrote about the awesomeness of couch surfing.

One thing about trying to couchsurf in Tokyo though is, it’s hard to find someone to host you. So my tip here is to start asking hosts at least 1 month or more before you plan to arrive if you can. So with that, the first thing you need to do is find yourself a host for how ever many days you decide to stay in Tokyo. (Travel tip, 3-6 days is perfect for a visit to see most things in Tokyo).

Tokyo on a budget

Myself and my lovely host family from couchsurfing

If you can’t find a host, well get yourself onto HostelBookers, a website where you can book a hostel (about $20-$30 cheapest p/night) or you can even book hotels from this site too. However when searching for a hostel, don’t stay in Asakusa House because its sucks! I stayed there for one night and it was terrible, although another hostel I did stay which was great is Asakusa Smile, you can check it out here.

Tokyo on a budget

Tsukiji fish market

Ok now that accommodation is out of the way, the next important thing you need to save money on is transport. This is what will cost you a lot in Tokyo. Taxi’s are out of the question here if you are trying to cut costs because in Tokyo they are just so damn expensive. My tip is to buy a single pass each time for the metro, JR rail, or buses. This is the cheapest fare and if you need to pay extra for a longer journey you can pay the remaining price upon arrival at your destination (look for the sign “amend ticket”). If you are staying only a few days and want to see a lot in a short time you can get 1 day passes for 1,000 Yen. Or, another option instead of buying a ticket for every trip is to get a PASMO card like I did or a SUITCA card. These cards let you load money onto the card account, check your balance and they are very handy allowing you to just swipe in and out to catch the train/metro (easiest option). However, if you really want to save money on transport, then you should get with the exercise regime and just walk instead. I did this a lot which saved me on transport, but most of all, it was the best way to see Tokyo, because by catching the train/metro you miss all the great districts in-between your stops.

The next is food which is one thing you may want to splurge out a little in Tokyo, as Japan has so many delicious dishes. I couldn’t help myself but indulge a little bit for tasty meals and it was certainly worth it. There are restaurants that don’t over charge too much and then there are some that do, so you will have to suss that out yourself. If you are going the Full Monty on saving than you should stick to what I call the convenient store diet. There is 3 popular convenient stores chains, called Lawson, Family Mart and 7/11 and at each you can pick up decent food (sushi, pasta meals, rice meals, salads, vegetables and all sorts of healthy options) on the run and it is the cheapest food you can get.

tokyo on a budget

Shrine in Tokyo city centre

Sight seeing, the best thing about visiting the sights in Tokyo is they are basically all free. Well most of them with the exception of the Tokyo tower, sky tree tower, some museums and obviously the theatres and amusement parks. If you would like more info, see this post on what to see and do in Tokyo.

Whilst visiting Tokyo did you have any money saving tips we should know about too? please feel free to share your Tokyo on a budget travel tips below

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