Backpacking Tokyo is on the bucket-list of more than a few world travelers. And no wonder. You get the wonder of the Orient, the convienience of the modern world, and the climate of an island nation—all in one trip.
There are plenty of other reasons to backpack Tokyo. Japanese people are proverbial friendly and polite, and there’s no other Asian country you need take so few precautions against theft. They’re also wonderfully innovative, and you’ll find many technological surprises that are part of everyday normal life in Tokyo.
Is backpacking Tokyo expensive? Yes and no. Japan is not, by any means, a cheap backpacking destination, and even traveling local-style will cost you something substantial. That said, it’s not ridiculously expensive: you should be able to get by for considerably less than backpacking Europe would cost you, for instance.
Consider backpacking Tokyo in the off-season: the weather won’t be ideal and there won’t be cherry blossoms, but prices will be much, much prettier! Wintertime, the rainy season (June & the first half of July) and hot August are the seasons spurned by well-monied tourists, and they’re the best time to visit Tokyo if you want to go away again with your bank account as intact as possible.
Rent a bike: You’ll find bike rentals in sixteen different spots throughout Tokyo, and the city is easy to navigate on a bicycle. Central Tokyo can also be enjoyed simply on foot.
If you’d rather not use your locomotive power, try the subway or local buses. Avoid taxis like the plague; they are extremely expensive in Tokyo.
There’s the money you’ll shell out for lodging and the food that holds body and soul together, but if you aren’t careful, you could spend a fortune on activities and drinks in Tokyo as well. If you aren’t careful. If you’re careful, you can find plenty of equally fun things to do that’ll cost you nothing—or next to nothing.
• Get your wrestling fix-- If you’re a morning person and you think Sumo wrestling is cool, head down to the Sumo stables early some morning to watch the top wrestlers doing their thing on the training grounds. It’s free and it’s fun to watch, but you have to get there early (try for six or seven in the morning—it’ll all be wrapped up by nine)
• See the city from above—Make your way to Shinjuku, find the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Offices and take the elevator to the 45th floor. The observation deck is open from nine thirty in the morning to five thirty in the evening, and it’s free, too.
• Visit the Imperial Palace—Okay, they won’t actually let you into the palace, but you can enjoy the beautiful East Gardens for free and get rid of all the stress you put on in the rush and bustle of the city. The gardens open at 9 am most mornings, but are closed Monday and Friday
• Soak in hot natural baths—This isn’t free, but it won’t break your budget, and is a cultural experience that gets you squeaky-clean and wonderfully relaxed as a special bonus.
Have fun backpacking Tokyo, and drop us a note to let us know how it went!