Is Tokyo Expensive As A Tourist?

Tokyo is a city that attacks all of your senses, it’s an incredible place to visit as a tourist, but how expensive is it?
Is Tokyo expensive as a tourist? Photo: Timo Volz | Unsplash

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So, you’re thinking of doing everything once you’ve arrived in Tokyo. You want to walk the famous Shibuya crossing, eat authentic Japanese sushi and ramen in a mom and pop restaurant, and party with dancing robots in Shinjuku.

You’ve got plans to explore Tokyo Skytree’s observatory, visit Tokyo Disneyland, buy souvenirs at Nakamise Shopping Street, and if time allows, take a bus to and from Mount Fuji.

Whew. I don’t blame you. Tokyo is an incredible city riddled with endless attractions and beautiful sights to see, and the intoxicating allure of doing everything the city has to offer can be extremely irresistible.

But before you land in Japan and worry you’ll max out your credit cards, there’s one very important question that I’m here to help you ask and answer: Is Tokyo expensive as a tourist?

Shoppers search for goods in Shibuya. Photo: Jezael Melgoza | Unsplash

Let’s Review the Basics …

We’ll cover a few key areas that are basic requirements for tourists when traveling: Lodging and food, attractions, and transportation. But first, let’s go over the conversion rates for popular currencies around the world when stacked up against the Japanese Yen as of October 2022.

1 USD = 144.736 JPY
1 Euro = 141.908 JPY
1 CAD = 104.619 JPY
1 Renminbi = 20.3528 JPY
1 Rupee = 1.774 JPY

1,000 Japanese Yen. Photo: Jasmin777 | Pixabay

Don’t Worry About the Lodging + Food

Let’s just get this out of the way—Tokyo is considered one of the most expensive cities in the world. When it comes to lodging and food, sure, Tokyo’s hotels and fine dining restaurants can make a pretty hefty dent in your account. The average cost for a basic hotel can run between $60-$70 per night depending on the area.

Moreover, there’s a theory I have about travel that’s yet to prove me wrong: When traveling in East Asia, you’ll always find cheap hostels. And where there are street food markets, you’ll also find cheap cuisine.

There’s a chance to save your cash when visiting Tokyo by staying in a cheap hostel in Asakusa or Shinjuku for $30-$40 per night and eating at Tsukiji Fish Market, Yanaka Ginza Shotengai, or Ameyoko Market.

Verdict: Expensive, but cheaper budget-friendly options are available. It depends on your preference.

Find cheap sushi at Tsukiji Fish Market. Photo: Michael Wu | Unsplash

Will Tokyo’s Attractions Eat Your Wallet?

Tokyo is a sprawling, densely stacked megacity overflowing with exciting adventures and unique experiences. In a sense, it’s also a city so big that you’d find plenty of free things to do and cool places to sightsee without having to spend a dime if you decided to budget travel.

But, that’s not why you’re planning to head there, right? You do want to partake in the best that Tokyo has to offer, from historical and cultural attractions to nightlife, landmarks, shows, shopping, and more. So, are Tokyo’s attractions expensive? Here is a list of ticket prices for popular attractions in Tokyo:

  • Tokyo Skytree: 1,800+ JPY / $12.43
  • Robot Restaurant: 8,500+ JPY / $58.72
  • Tokyo Disney: 7,900+ JPY / $54.58
  • Tokyo Tower: 1,200 JPY / $8.29
  • Tokyo National Museum: 1,000 JPY / $6.90
  • Tokyo Cruise: 840+ JPY / $5.80
  • Yomiuri Giants Baseball Game (Tokyo Dome): 1,700+ JPY / $11.74

And now, here’s a list of some cool things you can do and places you can visit for FREE in Tokyo:

  • Senso-ji Temple: FREE
  • Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building (Observatory): FREE
  • Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden: FREE
  • Tokyo Imperial Palace: FREE
  • Walk Rainbow Bridge: FREE

Tokyo has tons of free things to do and places to explore, which makes shelling out a few bucks for exciting attractions and experiences in the city a relatively easy and convenient thing to do.

Verdict: Cheap  

Tourists gather around Senso-ji Temple. Photo: Jérémy Stenuit | Unsplash

Is Transportation in Tokyo Expensive?

Getting around Tokyo is one of the most important factors to consider when determining if the city is expensive. After all, you’ll be using public transportation, like the metro and buses, in addition to taxis, pretty frequently to get to and from attractions, restaurants, and your lodging. Here’s a breakdown of how much transportation costs in Tokyo:

  • Tokyo Metro: 170 – 320 JPY / $1.17 – $2.21
  • Toei Metro:  180 – 430 JPY / $1.24 – $2.97
  • All Metro Lines Day Pass: 1,600 JPY / $11.05
  • Tokyo + Toei Day Pass: 900 JPY / $6.21
  • Tokyo Subway Ticket (Unlimited 24hr/48hr/72hr): 800 JPY / 1,200 JPY / 1,500 JPY – $5.52/$8.29/$10.36
  • Toei Bus: 210 JPY / $1.45
  • Sky Hop Bus Tokyo (Hop-on Hop-off Tourist Bus): 4,000 JPY 24 Hours / $27.63
  • Taxis: Start at 420 JPY / $2.90

Tokyo’s public transportation isn’t as expensive as, let’s say, New York City’s, where rates start at $2.75 for metro and bus access; however, you will need to use Tokyo’s public transportation regularly to get to and from attractions that are spread out across the city.

Even with a day pass, the combination of using the metro, bus, and taxis constantly throughout the day, although clean and very reliable, can get expensive.   

Verdict: Expensive

Public transportation in Tokyo can get expensive. Photo: 스마트랜스 | Pixabay

So, What’s the Verdict?

Although Tokyo is considered expensive, there are ways to explore the city on a budget. Take up lodging at a hostel and eating in food markets, for instance, as well as secure day/multi-day passes to use public transportation during your trip, and you won’t have to worry about spending money for any attraction or experience you’d like to do. So, is Tokyo expensive as a tourist? Nope. Just as long as you can, as the saying goes, ‘ball on a budget’, you’ll be ok. Safe and happy travels!    


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