Tokyo, Japan: The Ultimate Guide

Tokyo is known for its friendly locals and impressive public transportation. It also has a rich and storied past. This is a city full of history, culture, and attractions that everyone should experience. Whether you’re visiting for the first time or heading back to the city, our ultimate guide to Tokyo has you covered. You can explore the city like a pro and enjoy all that Tokyo has to offer.

Best Known For: The Shibuya Crossing

shibuya crossing tokyo ultimate travel guide

Among the rich history of Japan in the sprawling metropolis of Tokyo, you will find the Shibuya Crossing. This famous intersection is located right outside Shibuya station. Here, five roads meet and radiate out into the city. Some 2,500 people cross the street simultaneously every two minutes.

What began as a simple train stop is one of the most notable locations in the country, and perhaps the world. Many movies have showcased this crowded intersection, as well. Shibuya Crossing is home to dozens of bars, restaurants, stores, and other businesses.

Of course, it’s all a bit overwhelming when you take it in alone. If you want to make sure that you get a true sense of Tokyo nightlife, book a Bar Hopping Night Tour. Escorted by an expert insider guide, you’ll head to all the best places in the Shibuya Crossing area.

Tokyo Essential Travel Information

MoneyThe currency in Tokyo is the Japanese yen. Japan has historically been a cash-based society, but that is changing. More locations are accepting digital and electronic payment methods. ATMs are also easy to find throughout the city. Many attractions and tourist sites still only operate with cash. Beware that Japan is notoriously a “no tipping” culture. A simple “Arigato!” (thank you) will do.
LanguageIn Tokyo, standard Japanese is the spoken language. However, there are some slang dialects and regional pronunciation differences. English signage and speakers are plentiful in most of the tourist areas.
TransportationTokyo is famous for its public transportation system. Driving is not advised for first-time tourists. Traffic is heavy and the driving rules are quite different. Tokyo’s public transit system goes all over the city. It is efficient, timely, and affordable. You can also find buses and taxi cabs. Rent a bicycle if you want to tour Tokyo like a local.  
CultureJapanese culture and customs are quite unique, but we have a guide to help you better understand the local culture for your visit.  
ClothingIn Japan, Western clothing styles are common. You will see locals wearing jeans, T-shirts, and business clothes. Those who still wear traditional Japanese clothing mostly save it for special occasions.

Interactive Map of Tokyo

More Things to See in Tokyo

Tokyo tours attractions

Tokyo is a city that is full of things to see and do. One must-see on your trip is the Tokyo SkyTree. This unique structure is the world’s tallest tower. The SkyTree measures an impressive 634 meters in height. There’s a shop, café, and even a luxurious restaurant that offers 360-degree views of Tokyo. Book your tour in advance to beat the crowds at this popular destination. Our Tokyo sightseeing half-day tour and full-day tour both include tickets and a guide to this wonderful attraction.

You will also want to visit the Senso-Ji Temple, the oldest temple in Tokyo, completed in 645 AD. This is also one of the most colorful and popular temples in the city. Book a tour in advance because this is a popular attraction. Our Asakusa History Exploration Tour and the Tokyo Yanaka Historical Walking Tour, for example, will help you explore the Temple and give you a true sense of Japanese history and culture in the city. This is a great way to take in all the best sights of Tokyo with an expert to make sure that you see it all.

Where to Stay in Tokyo

Tokyo capsule hotels

Tokyo is home to several international hotel chains, local boutique accommodations, capsule hotels, and other funky places to stay. You will find accommodations for every taste and budget. Check out our handy guide to the Best Hotels in Tokyo to help you narrow down which hotel is best for you.

The Mandarin Oriental is a towering five-star hotel located at the top of the Nihonbashi Mitsui Tower. It offers state-of-the-art accommodations with traditional Japanese design. You will also find advanced tech, top-of-the-line cuisine, and a prestigious spa.  

You can also book a room at Shangri-la. This luxury hotel is located next to Tokyo Station. You can enjoy beautiful views of the city from this impressive 11-story hotel.

Check out One@Tokyo Hotel for unique accommodation. This hotel is located in Oshiage. The building was designed by Kengo Kuma. It features views of SkyTree and 142 rooms. Plus, prices are more reasonable than you’ll find at many chain locations. You can also book package tours that include accommodations and tours in one booking!

Tokyo’s Restaurants and Markets

Shibuya crossing markets

Tokyo is a fast-paced city with thousands of convenience stores and markets. Many are open 24/7 and sell all kinds of things you wouldn’t expect. You’ll find quick snacks, ready meals, and plenty of drinks. You may even find alcohol at convenience stores, but that will vary.

No ultimate guide to Tokyo would be complete without mentioning the city’s unique and renowned restaurants. You’ll find life-changing sushi at locations like Sukiyabashi Jiro Roppongi and Manten Sushi. Try great local cuisine at Den, Ginza Uchiyama, Jomon, and others. Head to Takahashi, Fuunji, or Soranoiro NIPPON at Tokyo Station for the best ramen. You can also find food tours to explore the city’s cuisine in a fun new way.

Our Recommendation: Things to Book Ahead

As this ultimate guide has shown, Tokyo has so much to offer. Unfortunately, this is not a kept secret and the crowds can get large at peak times. For this reason, you’ll want to make sure that you book certain aspects of your trip in advance. Most importantly, secure your hotel reservation in good time. You should also arrange your transport to and from the airport in Tokyo. Finally, book tours for the main attractions you want to see so that you don’t miss out.