- Tokyo 5 day itinerary
- Day 1 – Shinjuku
- Day 2 – Asakusa
- Day 3 – Shibuya
- Day 4 – Ginza & Akihabara
- Day 5- Take a day trip!
- Where to stay in Tokyo
- How to move around Tokyo
- Tax-free shopping
- Hands-free travel
- What to eat in Tokyo
- Where to next?
If you’re thinking of visiting Tokyo but are feeling a bit overwhelmed with the plethora of things to do, check out my Tokyo 5 day itinerary below that suits a mid-range budget and at a medium pace of exploration:
Tokyo 5 day itinerary
Day 1 – Shinjuku
If you’re a first time visitor to Tokyo, then I’d highly recommend staying in Shinjuku. the Shinjuku area is often regarded as a financial district, but it’s extremely well connected and there are a lot of things to do here!
1. Tokyo Metropolitan building for city views
You can start off your first day in Tokyo by heading to the Tokyo Metropolitan building, where you can access city views for free, along with a guide. Getting a first-hand understanding of the different areas and enjoying the views is one of the best ways to acclimatise to a new place. There’s also a cafe upstairs, so feel free to grab a cuppa.
2. Samurai museum
The Samurai museum is one of the highlights of this itinerary. The museum is located next to the Robot restaurant, and the area around you is chockfull of restaurants, cafes and bars. Choose whatever you like, from ramen to tacos. The Samurai museum offers you guided tours in English. The tickets cost you 1,500 yen (adults) and also
3. Robot Restaurant
Next, head to the famous Robot Restaurant after lunch. This show is everything outrageous and more, with dancers, singers and robots. It’s a long way down deep into a basement and they offer you various drinks and snacks between the show. I would advise being careful about bringing children or people who have a sensitive vision, hearing or for those who have epilepsy as there are a lot of flashing lights. The show is quite long, almost 1.5 hours, but it provides a lot of entertainment. You can check out Voyagin for cheap tickets (this one is 40% off).
4. Devour delicious yakitori in Piss Alley/ Memory Lane
I know, thinking of eating in a place literally called “Piss Alley” might seem a bit unnerving, but it’s home to some of the best food that Tokyo can offer. Located quite close to Shinjuku station, Piss Alley/Memory Lane is a little lane full of restaurants with affordable yakitori on offer. You have a range of different grilled skewers to choose from (vegetarian too) as well as a few ramen shops. I’ve had some of the best shoyu ramen with veggie tempura here. The place was called “Piss Alley” because of the lack of toilet facilities. It’s a popular watering hole for locals and tourists alike.
Day 2 – Asakusa
Witness a sumo practice
While I missed this when I visited in February, you must check out a sumo practice if you are in Tokyo to witness the amazing discipline about it. Check out You Could Travel’s post and itinerary on Tokyo for more. Cory’s & her husband’s posts are extremely informative and useful and were crucial to my research on travelling to Japan.
Our very first Buddhist temple in Japan, Senso-Ji is located in an area called Asakusa, which is a short metro trip away from Shinjuku. Senso-Ji temple has a lovely temple complex. Spend your time walking around this shrine and enjoy the lovely traditional, old town feel of the Asakusa area, which is quite different than the rest of Tokyo.
Street food & souvenirs at Nakamise Dori
On the way to the main Senso-Ji temple, you will find many shops full of souvenirs. This is a nice place to pick up ‘yukata’ or a summer kimono at a reasonable price. I would also recommend trying out the different food on offer, especially the fresh melon buns and matcha ice cream.
Visit Kappabashi street for culinary souvenirs
After your visit to the temple, head to Kappabashi street nearby to grab some beautiful Japanese kitchenware. You will also find a variety of excellent quality Japanese knives. Besides this, you will also find chopsticks, a variety of bowls, matcha sets and more. There are also a lot of charming coffee shops with specialty coffee on offer if you’d like a break from all that walking.
Cheap souvenirs at Don Quijote
While this has nothing to do with the epic novel, Don Quijote is a haven for cheap souvenirs and pretty much everything under the sun. It’s a massive superstore that has clothing, food and more. It has to truly be seen to be believed. You can find everything under the sun here. Really. It’s also a great place to pick up some Japanese skin care products. If you are as clueless as I was about this, then please check out my friend Haiya’s guide to Japanese skincare to help you decide which products to buy. It also helps to download Google translate in order to read the packaging & instructions (also with restaurant menus!).
Once you’re done thoroughly exploring Asakusa, head over to the Golden Gai area for a tipple or two. This area is home to over 200 bars, all of which are NOT tourist-friendly. You will know which these are
Day 3 – Shibuya
Visit the Imperial Palace gardens
Another free activity to do on your Tokyo 5 day itinerary is to visit the Imperial Palace gardens. The gardens here are truly beautiful and rich in flora throughout the year, so even if you visit Tokyo in winter, you still will be able to appreciate its beauty. We visited in February, and though it looked sparse, we were lucky to be able to view the beginning of cherry blossom season.
See the Meiji shrine at Yoyogi Park
Head over to the Meiji shrine next, where you will be struck in awe at the beauty of this ancient Shinto shrine. Make sure you take pics near the cool sake barrels! Make sure the shrine is visited before
Harajuku Takeshita street
If you’re looking for everything kawaii (cute), then you must head over to the edgy Harajuku area, located within walking distance of Shibuya or a short one stop away by the train. This area is extremely instagrammable, so whip your camera out and make sure you have lots of pictures!
If you have an international driving licence, consider a ‘Mari-car’ tour, where you can don a costume of your favourite character and enjoy go-carting in the middle of the city.
Day 4 – Ginza & Akihabara
Watch a Kabuki show
Another place for luxury shoppers, Ginza is the upscale district in Tokyo. If shopping isn’t really your thing, consider heading to the Kabukiza theatre, a short walk away from Ginza station. Over here, you can choose to watch one to up to three acts, but please make sure that you arrive at least half an hour to secure your seats. Kabuki is an ancient Japanese-style theatre show with elaborate costumes. Please note you are not allowed to take pictures during the show. They also provide translations devices for 500 yen and an additional 1000 yen deposit that you can get back on returning of the device.
After you are done shopping and watching Kabukiza, head on to the historic Tsukiji market. While it’s no longer an active fish market, it’s a great place to grab some street grub at affordable prices. The fish is sourced from the new Toyosu market.
Home to all things ‘otaku’, if you’re a gamer, then Akihabara is your place. Spend time ogling at various stores, where you can pick up both new and vintage games & manga at different price points. Akihabara is also home to famous ‘maid cafes’, where cute Japanese girls offer you the best service and equally cute menus.
Dinner at Roppongi Hills
Roppongi Hills is a swanky, luxurious district with some great restaurants. I recommend ‘Meat Man‘ for some lovely izakaya style food and shochu cocktails. Head over for a delightful rum tasting (if you’re not into sake/shochu) to Tafia.
Day 5- Take a day trip!
If you’re looking for a day-trip from Tokyo, there are various options. I highly recommend a trip to Kamakura, a short
Where to stay in Tokyo
If you are a first-time visitor to Tokyo, then I highly recommend staying at the Hotel Sunroute Plaza in Shinjuku. It’s very close to the station and extremely accessible. They also provide you with nightwear, which is an interesting plus! Other great places to stay include Ginza for those that love luxury shopping and Shibuya (we also stayed in this hotel), where there’s lots of city life!
How to move around Tokyo
While it may seem quite intimidating, the best way to see Tokyo is by walking around and taking the train. You do not need a Japan Rail Pass unless you are travelling to more cities in Japan. Instead, there are several 24, 48 and 72 hour passes available for tourists that cover almost all metro and subway lines. You can get them at major stations such as Shinjuku station. Make sure you carry your passport with you though, as it will be verified.
Here are the latest prices as per the Tokyo Metro website:
- Tokyo Subway 24-hour Ticket – Adult: 800 yen (US$7), Child: 400 yen (US$3.5)
- Tokyo Subway 48-hour Ticket – Adult: 1,200 yen (US$10), Child: 600 yen (US$5)
- Tokyo Subway 72-hour Ticket – Adult: 1,500 yen (US$13), Child: 750 yen (US$6)
I would also consider investing in a pocket wifi device to help you navigate throughout the city. If you use Tokyo Cheapo’s affiliate link for Ninja Wifi, it enables you for a really good discount. Check it out here. The pocket wifi device can be picked up and dropped off at the airport or to your hotel.
Most major stores in Japan offer tax-free shopping for purchases above 5,000 yen, so shop away! Make sure you have your passport with you though.
This is the most interesting & unique part
What to eat in Tokyo
Tokyo (and pretty much the rest of Japan!) has amazing options for dining. I’ve decided to highlight this all in my next post, so stay tuned for this!
Where to next?
Depending on how much time you have, I would also highly recommend a trip to a neighbouring hill-station called Hakone to view Mt Fuji, or even a shinkansen ride to Kyoto, where you can spend two to three days.