Backpacking in Tokyo

Contrary to popular belief, Tokyo should not be crossed off your destinations list on the basis of high prices. It is easy to stay there without parting with too much cash, as long as you are savvy with your spending.

The public transport system is excellent, hundreds of Tokyo hostels have opened up in recent years to cater to the increased number of visitors, food can be very affordable and most of the main sites are free to visit.

Public Transport

As Tokyo has the most extensive network of surface lines, the train is the best way to get around. The Yamnote line links all the major districts together, of which there are many including must-visits Akihabara (electronic city) and Shibuya (youth city).

Despite being established in the 15th century, Tokyo is a 24-hour modern city with fascinating technology part of everyday life. If, however you want to soak up some more historic culture, you can also take the train out of the city and visit places like Kamakura, where you will find the 2nd largest bronze Buddha in the country.


The cheapest option is a hostel; Tokyo hostels are located in every district of the city and usually comprise of dorm-style mixed rooms. It is very uncommon to find single sex dorms in Tokyo, so if you would feel unsafe in a mixed dorm, the best choice is to go for a private room. Only slightly dearer at a hostel, they usually have the added extras of an attached bathroom and free breakfast.

One of the important things to remember when booking a Tokyo hostel, though, is that many of them have lockout rules so if you’re planning a night out make sure you check their policy before you book.

A hostel that definitely deserves a mention is the Ace Inn in Shinjuku; its capsule wooden beds in a grid-like formation will add an interesting tale to your trip, even if you stay for just one night.


Although the city recently received 191 Michelin Stars (double that of its nearest competitor Paris) for its internationally acclaimed cuisine, there are still plenty of opportunities to taste the local specialties without having to fork out a lot of money.

If you can stomach it, a visit to the Tsukiji fish market early morning is an interesting way to see the local traders in action, just get on the Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line to Tsukiji station. Outside, the wholesale market is a mixture of wholesale and retail shops that sell groceries, seafood, and the freshest sushi you can buy.

As a huge part of Japanese cuisine, sushi is readily accessible on almost every street in the city. To try it on a budget, visit one of the many izakayas – popular informal bar/pub eateries. They are cheap and friendly to newcomers and travelers, with the staff often advising and informing your choices.

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3 Responses to Backpacking in Tokyo

  1. rene December 31, 2010 at 9:34 pm #

    Tokio – leuke stad.
    Zie de Tourist Guide van Tokio op een Google Map:

  2. Miguel August 26, 2011 at 2:20 am #

    I agree with your post, Tokyo is not a really expensive place and you can enjoy the capital without the need to spend a lot of yens!

  3. last minute trip September 27, 2011 at 1:28 pm #

    I have this illusion when i was kid to travel around Asia, especially Japan. Japan for me is really one of the best place in Asia. it signifies strong tight culture and modernization. ironic isn’t it but that makes Japan interesting to visit at.

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