This is my first solo trip out of the country- DIY Travel Guide to Tokyo, Japan
Tokyo is the capital and largest city of Japan. As they say, Tokyo is an expensive city but I was able to enjoy the place with a tight budget. Related Article: Best Backpackers Hostels in Japan
Check out some of the cool and cheap tours you could do in Tokyo.
Striking a pose with a cross-dresser in Harajuku
As a Filipino passport holder, we need a visa to enter Japan. As a newbie international traveller, I decided to get the 15-day tourist visa. I don’t have any income tax return to show. I wrote on my blog on how I got my Japan Tourist Visa without Income Tax Return.
Before the trip, I already made a list of what I want to do in Tokyo. Not everything was followed in my itinerary as planned but I never regretted anything. To be honest, there are lots of places to go around Tokyo and all you need is an All Day Train Pass for 1000 JPY. Related Article: DIY Travel Guide to KYOTO, Japan
Travel Tip #1:
I stayed in Ace Inn Shinjuku, they have maps and guides in different languages which are very useful if you want to tour around Tokyo alone. I always ask information from the receptionist and they helped me a lot. Definitely, I will stay there again. It is also fun to travel with a group of people you just met or with a travel buddy.
Day 1 – May 21, 2015
My flight was 5:55AM and I was so excited to travel solo. The Cebu Immigration didn’t ask me a lot of things so it was really smooth. While I was inside the plane, the flight attendant thought I was Japanese because she gave me a yellow arrival card for Japanese. I was looking around to see what the others have received and they have an English version so I asked the FA to give me another one. I was able to ask some Filipinos about their trip to Japan and they were so shocked how come a little girl like me will travel solo? Well, they also thought I lived there.
I arrived at Narita Airport feeling so amazed that I did it alone. I just followed the instructions on how to go to my hostel. I was able to ask some Japanese couple and they were so helpful. They kept on apologizing as they don’t speak English but I told them it was okay.
In front of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building
I arrived at the hostel and had some rest for couple of hours. I spent the afternoon roaming around Shinjuku with a friend who is doing his masters at Waseda University. Later on, we also met his other friend. They even invited me to join the university festival last June 7 but unfortunately, I could not extend my trip. For sure it would be fun as what I’ve seen on anime. From Shinjuku I walked to my hostel for less than an hour. It was safe to walk around even I was alone. Related Article: Looking for cheap hostels in Japan? Check out these backpackers hostels.
I stayed at Ace Inn which is very near to Akebonobashi station and from there I could get around Tokyo using the Toei subway or Tokyo Metro. Funny, I was always mistaken as half-Japanese. People inside the hostel call me as Tamayo-chan.
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EXTRA TIP: If you’d like to travel by train around Japan then you should get a Japan Rail Pass! Japan Rail Pass is a multi-use discounted ticket, valid for travels on all JR national trains in Japan, including Shinkansen bullet trains and Narita Express. You can select 7, 14 or 21 consecutive validity days.
Travel Tip #2:
Befriend other travelers. I was able to ask a fellow traveler from the same room where he had been in Tokyo. Then another traveler went inside the room and invited us for a night life in Roppongi.
Check out some of the cool and cheap tours you could do in Roppongi.
Related Article: How to meet fellow Backpackers
Day 2 – May 22, 2015
I went to Yasukuni Shrine and Imperial Palace Garden. I just walked from my hostel the whole day as I was trying to familiarize the place. The receptionist in the hostel gave me a map and instructions on how to get to Imperial Palace Garden. I passed by first the Yasukuni Shrine so I went inside to take a look. I never paid for anything and I really enjoyed taking photos.
Check out some of the cool and cheap tours you could do in Tokyo Imperial Palace.
At night, I spent my dinner in Roppongi with other fellow travellers from the same hostel and went to a club for a night life. At the same time, I was able to see the Tokyo Tower from Roppongi.
Travel Tip #3:
Sometimes it is best to bring food from the Philippines. I brought chicharon, Mr. Chips, Oreo, and preserved Mangoes from Cebu that helped me with my breakfast and lunch. Actually, I don’t eat breakfast and I don’t eat a lot. Well, I sometimes end up eating a lot during dinner if I go to authentic Japanese restaurants. 7-eleven is my savior because I can hoard food for less than 1000JPY which is good for three meals.
Day 3 – May 23, 2015
A fellow traveler suggested that I should buy the All Day Pass Metro Toei to get me easily around Tokyo. I went to Ginza for the Tsukiji Outer Market, Ginza Shopping Street, Ginza Kabubikiza Theatre and Tower and Ginza Yonchome Intersection. Traveling solo was so liberating. I was just asking people around on how to get back to the station as I was kind of getting lost but then everything went fine.
Some of the famous Sushi restaurants near the market
The Actors of the Kabuki Show
A stroll at Ginza Shopping Street
In the afternoon, I went to Shibuya and looked for the Hachiko statue then witnessed the Shibuya crossing. I only did few things in Shibuya because I was tired already so I decided to go back to my hostel for a rest and waited for dinner. Related Article: DIY Travel Guide to JAPAN
At night, I met the same people in the hostel and invited me to have dinner with them. We went to Shinjuku Golden-gai for dinner. After that a fellow traveler and I went to Roppongi. Fortunately and unexpectedly, I was able to meet Tom Felton aka Draco Malfoy, the British actor of the Harry Potter movie series.
Travel Tip #4:
Be prepared but always be spontaneous. You don’t know what’s going to happen so before I made this trip, I was really prepared for my credit cards and debit cards in case something will happen.
Day 4 – May 24, 2015
Two consecutive nights I went to Roppongi and I always get back to the hostel in the morning but still I managed to wake up early for a tour. This time I wasn’t alone as I was with a travel buddy.
We went to Shinjuku and almost walked around Shibuya especially in going to Meiji Jingu. We went to Takeshita Street and Harajuku to see those animated people and places. We went to Shibuya crossing and Hachiko statue.
Another story: I missed my bus to Osaka so I ended up sleeping at McDonald’s. Oh well, I was lost in Tokyo for a night.
May 25 to May 30 – These days I went to Osaka, Kyoto, Nara and Mie Prefecture but I have to skip this part as I am focusing in Tokyo.
Travel Tip #5:
Always smile but don’t panic. The moment I was lost in Tokyo I was able to receive help from a Japanese guy. Good thing about Japan is that they are very helpful to foreigners. I never regret I made my first solo trip in Japan.
Day 5 – May 31, 2015
I got an unexpected trip to Yokohama as somebody asked me for a date. A Japanese guy whom I met on the 2nd night life in Roppongi wanted to see me again and showed me around his city.
Check out some of the cool and cheap tours you could do in Yokohama.
The old Nippon Maru
At the Yamashita Park
Yokohama is an hour trip from Tokyo and you can do a day tour there. Yokohama was not part of my itinerary but who am I to refuse such invitation? 😀
Surprisingly, it was the Yokohama Port Festival so we were able to get into the two ships for free admission. There were several activities happening around and we enjoyed the view. You can walk around and all you have to spend is for food. We went to Chinatown to see the fortune teller. No, I didn’t pay for it. It was our first time together to experience talking to a fortune teller.
We were waiting for the fortune teller
Travel Tip #6:
You should always booked the ticket online with luggage allowance as for sure you want to buy a lot of souvenirs from Japan to give to your friends and families.
Day 6 – June 1, 2015
I woke up late in the morning as I was lazy in the morning thinking this would be my last day in Tokyo. I just wanted to relax. I was able to meet my American friend we just went to Shinjuku. There was nothing much to do though. We just enjoyed talking and ate some Takoyaki. We went to Don Quijote to buy some stuff for souvenirs.
Travel Tip #7:
Always find the cheapest airfare possible. My round trip to Tokyo is already cheap at P8580.72 but there is way cheaper I found at least P3,000 for a round trip ticket. Next time, I’ll grab the opportunity to book that ticket when the seat sale comes.
Day 7 – June 2, 2015
I woke up in the morning to have some breakfast and ice cream at 7-eleven with my friend. I prepared my stuff going to the airport, took the Narita Express for my flight back to Cebu.
Another story: I actually missed my flight back to Cebu so I ended up sleeping for two nights at Narita Airport. Tokyo to Cebu flight was expensive so I had no choice but to book a flight the cheapest way possible. I found a flight to Hong Kong and was able to fly out on June 4th.
To end this Japan trip, I was able to see Mount Fuji on my way to Hong Kong as I got the window seat.
Travel Tip #8:
Always walk around in Tokyo and you can visit palace, temples and gardens for free and you don’t need to pay for any entrance fees.
My solo trip to Japan was not that perfect. I had those misfortunes but turned out to be an adventure. With this write-up, now it is clear to me how much I’ve spent for my Tokyo trip. Indeed, it is possible to spend less than P30,000 in Tokyo for seven days.
About the Contributor:
Roxanne M. Tamayo is the blogger and photographer behind iTravelRox. She is an aspiring digital nomad, a volunteer and started her monthly travels since August 2014. One country a year travel started in September 2013 but got the idea of solo backpacking during her trip to Palawan in September 2014. And the rest of the story is ever progressing.
Name of the Country: Japan
Date/s of your Travel: May 21 to June 4, 2015 but let’s focus the 7 Day Trip in Tokyo
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