We have always preferred DIY travels and the language barrier was not enough excuse to discourage our love for DIY customized travels. DIY works for us ~ we get to tailor fit our itinerary to our interests, and at a much leisurely pace. There are also not much tour packages offering itineraries for families with young children. I don’t want to waste half a day or more, touring attractions that would likely bore my (so theme park active and science museum addicted) kiddos.
If you are planning a Tokyo trip with school age children, this itinerary could help you.
Sharing here our 7days-7nights Tokyo Japan. I will try to add tips every now and then, to help make your planning easier.
TIP 1: YOU NEED A VALID JAPAN VISA TO GO TO JAPAN. Will write about our Japan Visa application experience in a separate blog.
TIP 2: Tokyo has two main airports, HANEDA and NARITA. I opted for Haneda International Airport, I figured it will be less busy than Narita, which is the principal gateway to Japan. Haneda is also closer to Tokyo, meaning less expensive and it would be easier to reach Central Tokyo.
TIP 3: Tokyo hotels are pretty expensive. Not to mention small. I have recently been introduced to AIRBNB. I was a bit skeptical at first, and had sleepless nights thinking about if I have done right booking accommodations via AIRBNB. It turned out to be one of the best decisions, we have made. We booked an entire condo unit, about 50sqm in size. The place is clean and huge. It comes complete with basic amenities, plus a working kitchen and a laundry area (though I was not able to do laundry, since we were all too tired after our days touring). Location was great too. It is right smacked in the heart of Asakusa. The nearest train station is barely 100meters away. AIRBNB is cool in our books!
Day 1 – Manila to Haneda
Haneda is about 4 hours by plane from Manila. We left Manila via PAL at 9am and arrived in Haneda at 2pm.
Step 1: Clear immigration (which was fast and easy) in 30+ minutes.
Step 2: Picked up our luggage.
Step 3: Buy Yen (I already bought some from Manila through BDO, but we have loose USD with us so we had this changed in the Airport). There are plenty of banks inside where you can do this. We found one at the 2F Arrival Lobby. Exchange rate was okay, although slightly lower than in Manila.
Step 4: Pick up pocket wifi we rented. Free internet connection is scarce in Japan. If you are using Japan's train system, Google map is your best friend. You can't risk travelling without a reliable internet connection or else get lost. We settled a 75MBPS model from GAC COMM. Connection was fast and reliable, serving 5 connected gadgets at a time. Battery life was great too, lasted 9-10 hours.
Step 5: Head to Keikyu Tourist Information Center to buy PASMO card (or a SUICA, they serve the same purpose). A PASMO is your ticket to Tokyo's train system, minus the hassle of having to queue for one time ride train tickets. You can also use PASMO at beverage/food dispensers and some convenience stores. Keikyu Tourist center is located right outside the 2F Arrival Lobby. From Haneda Airport, we have to take the Keikyu Line. Asakusa is about a 30 minutes train ride.
TIP 4: Pack light, not all train systems in Tokyo has an elevator. Be prepared to carry your luggages. For our 7 days - 7 nights trip, our family of four filled 2 medium trolley bags and 2 back packs. I have a spare bag inside one of the luggages, which I figured I can use to pack my "pasalubongs" after. As it turned out, my extra bag was a little to small and I ended buying another medium sized trolley bag. It was a good thing though, I got a good deal for a heavy duty travel bag, which was nicer than the ones we have.
3pm - Arrived at Asakusa at 3pm. Our AIRBNB was a self -check in. It was so cool. We settled a bit before wandering to where our feet led us ~ and they were telling us "food stop - food stop"...
430pm - With the help of google map, we sought out Asakusa Okonomiyaki Sometaro, which was TripAdisor's top places to eat in Asakusa Taito area. Will write more about our first authentic Japanese cuisine experience in a separate blog.
530pm - Stop over at Don Quijote, Asakusa. Don Quijote is a popular shopping store in Japan were you can find quirky stuffs and souvenirs. They carry both cheap and expensive brands. Hubby got a Bluetooth headset for fraction its price here in Manila.
6pm - We walked the streets of Nakamise. It was running late and there were very few people. I have seen pictures from blogs and reviews showing busy Nakamise Street and Senso Ji temple. I was pleasantly surprised to find the place with very few tourist and so serene.
TIP 5: SENSO JI is so pretty at night, less the crowd. Unfortunately, only a handful of shops were open at the Nakamise Street. I had to postpone my shopping for a next time.
TIP 6: If you are on a budget, you can never go wrong with packed foods at 7 11. The ramen are fresh and so good. It was hard to believe we got it at a convenience store. Average meal cost Y300-Y400
We noted KitKat comes in 2 sizes, 8 and 12 pieces. The 12 pieces cost about Y500. Same pack cost on Y300 when we went to Edo Wonderland in Nikko. So as you can see, stuffs are a bit more expensive in the city.
9pm - Sleeping time.
Please check also our Day 2 in Tokyo as we visited Odaiba.
DAY 2 - TOKYO JAPAN (Welcome to Odaiba)
DAY 3 - NIKKO
DAY 4 - UENO
DAY 5 - TOKYO DISNEYLAND RESORT
DAY 5 - TOKYO DISNEYLAND REPORT II
DAY 6 - TOKYO DISNEY SEA