Tokyo has a reputation as a futuristic city with astronomical prices. As with any destination though, it’s all about doing your research. To help you out, we’ve put together some top tips on how to do Tokyo on a budget.
Hop to Unique Shops
Tokyo is overflowing with cool shopping malls and it’s a common sight to see expensive Gucci bags and Versace suits in the main shopping districts. It’s hard not to be tempted to join in when everything is so perfectly packaged. You can still shop until you drop in Tokyo, however, without dropping all of your money into the mall’s tills. Head away from Ginza and Shibuya and instead visit the hip neighborhood of Shimokitazawa. Vintage shops and thrift stores give you the chance to stumble across some great quality one-of-a-kind items. Or head to Harajuku, an area bursting with color and creativity. Although wherever you shop it won’t be the cheapest you’ve ever experienced, the quality of clothing is incredible, so everything you buy should last.
Dive in the Right Bars
At nighttime, the lights in Tokyo are dazzling as flashing signs beg for your attention at every step. Tokyo has its fair share of big buzzing clubs like any major city, but they aren’t where the party is really at. Avoid the over-crowded clubs and tourist traps and spend your night geeking out at the tech bars. The brand-new VR Park Tokyo is a great place for trying your hand at virtual reality games, and there’s even an old-fashioned arcade downstairs for those who prefer old-school entertainment. If you need a drink after head to the dive bars and keep your eyes peeled for happy hour.
Eat on the Street
Tokyo has no shortage of fine dining restaurants that will eat up your budget quicker than you can say "sushi." Fortunately, the city’s streets are also bursting with delicious, filling and cheap fast food joints and street food. Chain restaurants like Ichiran offer authentic dishes like tempura, rice balls and noodles and, although not perhaps the healthiest of options, they are great value. Make it a culinary trip to remember by taking a trip down Memory Lane, an izakaya alleyway full of intriguing eats. You’ll find the popular yakitori, sumptuous skewered chicken, in all of the tiny bars as well as a bewildering selection of steaming delicacies.
Choose a Capsule Hotel
With so much going on outside, you won’t be spending much time at your hotel, but you do need a comfortable bed. Capsule hotels offer sleeping pods big enough for a bed, TV and radio. They are immaculately clean, modern and comfortable. Some hotels even offer access to sauna facilities and comic book libraries. If you need a little more room to rest in then Airbnb and Hovelstay are your next best options. Hovelstay may not offer you luxury, but character is guaranteed with some pretty unique accommodation on offer.
Frolic for Free
Try not to get lured in by the flashing neon lights, guided tours and excursions. Tokyo is a place for exploring at your own free will; there are countless things to do and see and you don’t need to spend a penny. Throw yourself in the deep end with the eclectic sensory overload of Takeshita-Dori or Shibuya. Don’t get sucked in with the short-lived thrill of the bullet train to Mount Fuji. Instead, head to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building in Shinjuku and enjoy the view for free. Then feel zen without spending your yen by visiting Tokyo’s oldest temple. Sensoji temple in the Asakusa area is one of the most colorful Shinto shrines, where trails of incense will take you back to a land of time gone by.