Konnichiwa! Planning an itinerary is one of the most tedious things to do for any trip. But you have to do it in order to have a plan. Of course, it would be best that you can have something to refer to or even better if somebody does the planning for you. All you have to do is just to follow!
We thought that 5D4N would be more ideal than 4D3N / 3D2N because there is so much to explore in Tokyo! Air tickets to Japan is not that cheap too, so you might as well spend more days there exploring.
But before you even plan your itinerary, you would have pondered about which airport in Tokyo to go to – Narita or Haneda. Most will recommend Haneda because it’s nearer to the city.
Day 1 (Friday) – Shinjuku
#1 Reach Tokyo by noon!
Plan your flights and the most ideal flight is to reach before noon so that you can be in the city just in time to check-in to your hotel.
#2 Take either Train or Airport Limousine Bus to the city
Don’t bother taking the taxis unless you are feeling very rich. In Narita Airport, the most comfortable train service would be the Narita Express (NEX). It has wide seats and you can take a nap through the journey as it’s very smooth.
There are several Airport Buses available and some offer cheaper rates than others. One suggestion would be to check out the various promotions that they have monthly to see which is suitable for you.
#3 Check-in to hotel
By the time you reach your hotel, it should be 2pm which is the timing for check-in. Some hotels allow early check-in depending on room availability. If you are planning for a shopping trip to Tokyo soon, compare for the best hotel rates here!
#4 Late lunch at Ichiran Ramen Shinjuku
Start your lunch in Tokyo with one of the best! Ichiran Ramen is the must go place for ramen. You get to customise your own ramen which suits your taste. You won’t regret coming here. [Read more about Ichiran Ramen]
#5 Explore Shinjuku
Shinjuku (新宿) is located in central Tokyo and it’s a business, shopping and entertainment district. It’s also the interchange station for subways. So, expects lots of people here!
You can see many Uniqlo shops around Shinjuku and it’s also one of the places you should visit because it’s cheaper than Singapore!
As you walk around, you will see many popular dessert shops such as Croissant Taiyaki and BAKE Cheese Tart. If you see them, just buy them because you probably won’t have time to walk all the way back again.
#6 Dinner at one of Tokyo’s most delicious Yakitori shop!
My favourite Yakitori shop is called Hajimeya Yakitori in Shinjuku, on the side of Kabukicho, an entertainment (red-light) district. Just don’t venture into the clubs or shops that do not come with recommendations and you will be safe. [Read more about Hajimeya Yakitori]
#7 Explore Omoide Yokocho
If you love Yakitori, you should visit the Omoide Yokocho where you can find many small shops selling Yakitori, done local style. Seating is cramped, the place is smoky but it’s where you get the original experience. Beers are cheap too!
#8 Back to hotel to rest
If you are staying in Shinjuku, you might want to check out a local sento (public bath). It’s also known as onsen where you soak yourself in mineral water, which is good for your body.
Day 2 (Saturday) – Asakusa, Ueno, Akihabara
#1 Explore Asakusa district
When you step into Asakusa, it gives you a totally different feel. A feel that is very traditional.
You can see many rickshaws by the roadside as this is one of the attractions here. You can book a guided tour on the rickshaw but it isn’t cheap. A 30 minute tour costs 9000 yen. You can of course tour around by yourself by foot and you will save lots of money.
#2 Visit Senso-ji Temple
Senso-Ji temple is one Tokyo’s oldest Buddhist temples and it attracts about 30 million visitors a year. Before you enter Senso-Ji, you will need to cross the red Kaminarimon Gate, the famous landmark of Asakusa.
You will then pass by Nakamise Shopping Street. Take a look at what interesting buys there are and purchase only after you are done with Senso-Ji temple.
#3 Shop at Nakamise Shopping Street
Nakamise Shopping Street is one of the oldest shopping streets in Tokyo and you can find many souvenir and snacks shops. They are beautifully packed and you can bring them home as presents. Don’t miss out on the various food stalls found along the streets too.
#4 Try Tokyo’s thickest Matcha Ice Cream
Located just behind Senso-Ji temple is Suzukien Matcha Ice Cream shop. What’s unique about this shop is that they have different intensity of matcha ice cream, the thickest being level 7.
I had it with Black Sesame Ice Cream to balance out the bitterness of Level 6 Matcha Ice Cream. It was so good! I can have this every day!
#5 Visit Ameya-Yokocho Market
Ameya Yokocho or Ameyoko is a shopping street with lots of cheap shopping and street food located in Ueno. For those who love street shopping and food, like Bangkok’s Chatuchak Weekend Market, you will like this place.
#6 Explore Akihabara (秋葉原)
From Ameyoko, you can actually walk to Akihabara and it takes about 15-20 minutes. Akihabara is all about electronics, games, manga, anime and maid cafes. It’s not your typical shopping place.
If you are looking to purchase anything related to electronics, check out the mega complex “Yodobashi Akiba”. Or else, the number of games shops you can find is just unbelievable. If you are into games, you had better set aside half a day at least.
#7 Back to hotel to rest
Day 3 (Sunday) – Harajuku, Omotesandō, Shibuya
Be prepared for lots of walking today as the places are all nearby to each other.
#1 Visit Meiji Jingu Shrine
Visiting Meiji Jingu Shrine is quite a walk away. Even though you will pass through the gates near Harajuku station, you will take another 15 minute before you see the shrine.
#2 Take a stroll along Yoyogi Park
On Sunday, Yoyogi Park is quite happening because many families come to the park to relax. You can also see random street performances in the park itself. If you have extra time in Japan and want to see what locals do, this is a good place! If time is not on your side or if you don’t really like parks, I would say skip this.