DIY Travel Guide to Tokyo, Japan

DIY Travel Guide to Tokyo, Japan

Two Monkeys Travel - Contributor Asia, DIY Travel, Travel Blog, Travel Guides 69 Comments

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.

DIY Travel Guide to Tokyo, Japan 5

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.

DIY Travel Guide to Tokyo, Japan 4

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.

DIY Travel Guide to Tokyo, Japan 8I 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.

Even the best DIY trips need a little help here and there. If you’re headed to JAPAN, check out all these awesome experiences for only $120 and below. Use them to spice up your budget DIY itinerary, or buy one as a gift for a friend (click the photo for more details!)

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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.

You can order your Japan Rail Pass online. You will receive an Exchange Order (delivery in Japan available), which then needs to be exchanged and activated in Japan for the actual JR Pass. All foreign nationals who visit Japan for tourist reasons can purchase and can also easily choose between Standard and Green Pass (first class).

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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.

DIY Travel Guide to Tokyo, Japan 2

DIY Travel Guide to Tokyo, Japan 3At 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.

DIY Travel Guide to Tokyo, Japan 9Some of the famous Sushi restaurants near the market

DIY Travel Guide to Tokyo, Japan 10The Actors of the Kabuki Show

DIY Travel Guide to Tokyo, Japan 1A 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.

Tokyo City Guide
Meiji Jingu

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.

Check out some of the cool and cheap tours you could do in Osaka, Kyoto and Nara.  

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.

DIY Travel Guide to Tokyo, Japan 11The old Nippon Maru

DIY Travel Guide to Tokyo, Japan 19At 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.

DIY Travel Guide to Tokyo, Japan 18We 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.

DIY Travel Guide to Tokyo, Japan 7

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.

Daily Budget:

DIY Travel Guide to Tokyo, Japan 14

DIY Travel Guide to Tokyo, Japan 15
DIY Travel Guide to Tokyo, Japan 16


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About the Contributor:

Different Kinds of Digital NomadRoxanne 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

Have you purchased your Travel Insurance? If not, check out this article on why travel insurance is so important and how to choose the right insurance for you. 

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Comments 69

  1. Nice Blog! Thanks for sharing this wonderful post. We also deliver the services of vacation rental homes in Tokyo. Get more details by visiting My Tokyo Home.

  2. hi ms roxanne im planning to visit japan but my problem is yung sa bank cert ko hinde ako makakakuha kse wala ako money sa bank pero my hawak naman ako cash and 12 years employe so makakapa present lang ako ITR and COE.san ba maganda kumuha ng visit visa?

  3. Hello, ate! May I know what is the difference of passport and visa? Do I really have to get the passport first before the visa? or the visa itself can be a passport? I am really into travelling, but since I am still a student I have no idea. Please help me. thankies!

    1. A passport is like an identity card that you need to show to the immigration before you leave Philippines and as you enter the country you wish to visit… It is your pass to get into the “gate” of the place you are visitng with or without visa…. A visa is a proof that you were screened and are now allowed to visit that country but it is still subject to approval again once you reach the immigration of the country you are visiting.

      There are countries that Filipinos doesn’t have to apply visa but unfortunately there are a tons that we need to…Hope this helps…

    1. Hi Naldz,

      I came back to Ace Inn Shinjuku in November 2015. I told them about the smelly part and they fixed it. My first time was in May 2015 which it was sunny.

      Most of the hostels I’ve been in Tokyo were in the old buildings including one in Asakusa.

      My bed was comfortable and they have a cold and hot shower. They also upgraded my room when I came back.

      If you want more modernized accommodation, you can stay at a ryokan which is more expensive.

      All in all, the people at Ace Inn Shinjuku are nice and accommodating.

      DON’T EXPECT A HOTEL coz it is not. It’s a budget hostel. 🙂 Thanks.

  4. Hello, you mentioned you had a 5am flight, just wanted to ask what time you went to Mactan International Airport? So i would have rough idea how many hours early should i be there for immigration 🙂

  5. Being a Japanophile since I was a wee little kid its odd we haven’t managed to visit this beautiful country. However love the guide and will bookmark it for future reference! Thanks for sharing

  6. Ouch for the mishaps!missing flights5 and sleeping in the airport? Wow what a kind of experience and story to tell very eventful trip i would say!

  7. I can’t wait to visit Tokyo some day, it looks so cool. Thanks for sharing all the budget info, it’s really useful!

  8. That is so admirable that you did the whole trip by yourself. I cannot even begin to imagine taking a huge trip like that in a culture that is so different than mine. Loved all your tips and advice.

    1. Hi Melody,

      After Japan, I’ve been to Hong Kong, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore and went back to Japan. I also went to Taiwan as well last November 2016. 🙂

  9. This is a great travel guide! I love how you included a breakdown of your expenses because it gives me an idea how much I need to save for Japan in the future! I don’t think I could travel alone though as I am very bad at directions and very shy when meeting new people. That’s very very brave of you to travel in a foreign country alone.

  10. Helpful tips indeed! I’ve been to Japan twice now, and I must say that by the looks of it you really did enjoy your stay there. It’s amazing that you were able to explore Japan for 2 straight weeks! Also, posting your budget sheet is definitely helpful. Thanks, All the best! 🙂

  11. That was quite an adventure! I liked the fact that you were very spontaneous and friendly to a lot of fellow travellers. But I guess that should be part of the package. That you would be willing to talk to anyone , meet people , get to know them and gain more friends and experiences. I couldn’t imagine you sleeping alone at Mcdonalds though. And I totally loved that Old Nippon Maru place.

  12. This is a really good account of staying in Japan, I really enjoyed it. Visiting Japan has been a lifelong dream and I’m hoping next year will be the year!

  13. oh wow you are my hero. Solo in Japan would some kind of dream for me! I have never actually traveled solo except from mom country to dad country if you know what I mean. I really want to go to Japan, solo, with my family, however way! You did a great job on your own, and with this guide. Really helpful and fun to read.

    1. Hi Orana,

      Yes, you can do it! Actually, after this first trip I went to Japan in the same year during the autumn season. Still traveling alone. 😀

  14. The fortune teller was intriguing.. I would love to visit japan.. Some of my friends were visiting it this month! I heard that Japan is mecca for second hand designer bags and if given any chance i surely will never leave without one! Thanks for the heads up by the way, i should be starting to save now for Japan! 30k is real score for Tokyo!

  15. I want to go to Tokyo and experience it just like you did! From the food, music, and street fun you seemed to have had a wonderful time. I love all your pictures and enjoyed reading your experience. Cant wait to see where you are heading next!

    xoxo, Candice

  16. If given a choice, I’d move to Japan. Were you able to check the vending machines? Also, I can’t imagine sleeping in the airport.

  17. Roxanne,

    30K to Tokyo and elsewhere, and you say it could have been cheaper. WOW! I think that is being smart, looking for the best deals possible. Of course this happens if you have control of your work commitments and is able to leave during the lean season when seats are cheap. Anyway, you are not writing about your date? LOL. Great post on solo travel. Here it is not so common but that is changing.

  18. Hi girl! Truly admire your enthusiasm to travel, and thanks for sharing tips and travel itineraries! I have traveled solo to several countries as well, and I will never ever regret any of them! It’s an amazing experience and it’s something no one can ever take away from you. Another tip I’d like to add, which has been proven helpful when SOLO traveling, is to use Couchsurfing. Nope, I have NEVER slept on other people’s couch! But the website has nice features like meet-ups, camps, events, etc. I met wonderful people, locals and travelers alike, thru the website.

    Lovely photos,,by the way! Kudos!

    1. Hi Maerose,

      Yes, I have used Couchsurfing when I went to Penang, Malaysia and I have slept in someone else’s couch. Hehe!

  19. It is so much better than a travel guide. I haven’t experienced any trips anywhere near Japan yet but I am looking forward to. The pictures looks lovely. I think I would like to know more than the food there

  20. Pingback: 4 Days 3 Nights in Puerto Princesa, Palawan Experience with Mom - I Travel Rox

  21. Why would you only eat food from 7/11? If you are in Japan you should enjoy the food- which isn’t very expensive at all. To say you brought your own food then just got the rest from a convenience store is not experiencing Japan at all! What a waste.

    1. Hi Kimmy,

      Actually it wasn’t a waste at all because unexpectedly, I’ve met new people who let me try Japanese authentic food. Hehe! I have my cousin in Osaka which I did not include on the blog post since this is just for Tokyo. 🙂

  22. Hi! Your blog entry about Japan was really helpful during my preparation for my recent Japan trip. Thanks!

    I fell in love with Tokyo above all the 4 cities I’ve visited.

  23. This has been really useful for us since we’re going to visit Japan soon, to write for http:/, so i just wanted to say thank you!

    Greetings from Istanbul! 🙂

  24. Hi Roxanne, how are you? i find ur travel story in japan so interesting! I’ am planning to get a visa but the problem is i don’t have a work. I’am self employed i have online business but i don’t know how will i explain about the ITR issue. Can you give me an idea on how to write a letter of explanation? Hope you can help me about it..Thank you so much!!! Have a great day Roxanne =)

    1. Hi Shery,

      Make sure to be honest with your intention of going to Japan. Also show through your bank account/certificate that you can afford to travel in Japan. I also added on my explanation that I am involved in a non-profit organization so I still have reason to come back to the Philippines because I am a volunteer. 🙂

  25. Hi, Miss Roxanne! 🙂 May I know how much was your money in the bank when you applied for the visa? I’ll be in South Korea this autumn and planning to extend my vacay and book a ticket to Jap if time permits. Thank much!

    1. Hi En,

      The first time I applied for a visa I showed 90K, the second time in Japan during autumn season I showed 50K. Thanks!

  26. Hi Roxanne,

    I was planning for a 2-week alone travel in Japan. And saw this blog. This is cool!
    And you are way to friendly meeting up people and joining them for dinner. XD

    Anong mga kelangan dalhin? Tripod ba? hahaha

    Thank you!.

    1. Hi Elaine,

      The perks of traveling solo is you can also meet other solo travelers. 😀 I brought a tripod but I lost it. The second time wala na akong tripod. Hehe!

      Ano kelangan dalhin? Be friendly! Smile ka lang nang smile. Hehe!

  27. Hello, i am planning to go Japan this april and was actually started inquiring with agencies to join the group tour, kaso expensive but they dont require ITR, then nakita ko blog mo. Kasi wala din akong ITR to submit. Just to verify your daily schedule to japan ikaw lang ang gumawa ng list as in hindi ka kumuha ng tour package like free and easy or land package sa agency where you applied for visa? Lastly, pa advise naman what else to submit since letter of explanation lang ang pwede ko iproduce kasi im not part of any non profit org. Thanks.

    1. Hi Liza,

      I made my own list on where to go around Tokyo. Some of the places I visited were just on the spot. The list I made wasn’t being followed. If you have a big amount on your bank account, I think you’re safe as you have the capacity to spend. It is best to seek advice from the travel agency. What are the documents you have already?

  28. The next time I visit Tokyo (if ever I get the chance again), I feel like I want to stay at your hostel. You got to meet with so many people and made new friends! And Tom Felton, oh my goodness! 🙂

    1. Hi Kim, yes it was a fun hostel actually. Si Tom Felton, di ko inexpect yon… Swerte ko kasi Harry Potter talaga sa Osaka ang punta ko. Hehe!

    1. @Cyan, yes possible sya as the food you can buy it at 7/11. But then you can splurge on food if you really want to. 🙂

    2. There are also cheap fastfood stores around like Matsuya, Sukiya, and Yoshinoya where you can buy a meal for just around JPY 300+.

  29. Hi rox, superb experience.. ganahan sad mi moadto ni james but it may take some time tungod sa full time work.. but this really had inspired me.. good job!

  30. Hello,,good day Ms. Tamayo, we are really planning on having a vacation trip to japan after our work here at Saudi Arabia and I’m just wondering about the info on how to apply without an ITR, me and wife has been working abroad for quite some time now and haven’t got an ITR since we started working, I’d really appreciate all the help I can get, because we are really looking forward to it, as it happens, we plan to make our trip to Japan our 2nd honeymoon since our marriage last 2013,, thank you so much!!!

    1. Hi Joey, if you don’t have an ITR, maybe I guess you have properties in the Philippines to show that you have strong relationship to go back to the Philippines and show your bank certificates too. It is advised that you seek help from the accredited travel agency as they know best. 🙂

  31. WOW. Just wow! Thank you for this! I am so inspired by it! A tour of Tokyo is not that far-fetched after all.. sobrang nakakainspire ito, salamat po! God bless!

  32. Hi! If it’s okay, can I see your certification in Non-Profit Organizations and the format of your explanation letter? My boyfriend can’t also provide an ITR that’s why I wanted to see your certificates and the letter to be our guide. Hope you don’t mind. It will be a big help. Thanks 🙂

    1. Hi Ronalene,

      I can’t let you show you the cert of Non-Prof Org but if you are really involved with one, your organization will create a letter that you are involved with them since (date) and they will mention your position or your purpose in joining the organization.

      For the letter explanation, there was address on the upper left side, greeted with Sir/Maam, and I explained everything why I dont have any income tax return as I am volunteer in a non-prof organization.


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