Tokyo is known for its mix of old and new combined, with ancient temples mingling with skyscrapers. The most populous city in the world; however, is also known as one of the most expensive, which is always a concern for tourists who want to travel to one of Asia’s biggest cultural hubs. As a city that attracts over 13 million tourists a year, Tokyo is in high demand and it’s not slowing down, with accommodation being the part that burns the largest hole in your pocket.
However, there is hope outside of staying in capsule hotels; the rise of sites like Airbnb have made a trip to Tokyo, and Japan as a whole, a lot cheaper. Just using an Airbnb alone can save you hundreds of dollars in hotel bills, and give tourists a genuine insight to how real Tokyo residents live. Here’s how you can stretch your dollar and see the world’s biggest capital.
The ease of booking an Airbnb
Booking an Airbnb is easy. You communicate with the owner of the apartment, organise your selected dates and book with the reassurance that your stay is going to be more authentic and much cheaper than hotels. An Airbnb I stayed at in Tokyo was just across from Sugamo JR Station, a train station very close to the heart of Tokyo, which saved us around 51,250 JPN (500 USD) in accommodation costs for a 6-day stay. Due to its close proximity to the city centre, the apartment itself was smaller in size. There’s a small futon area for you to sleep in and the bathroom is compact. However, an additional benefit to using an Airbnb is that you tend to have extra amenities like your own kitchen and washing space, as well as Wi-Fi and mini television — things that aren’t available in your average hotel or hostel. Although compact, the apartment has exactly what you needed and cuts the accommodation costs in half. This alone allows you to enjoy dining at Tokyo’s many restaurants or buy groceries and preparing food for yourself in the apartment, shop for souvenirs, buy tickets to tourist attractions, and purchase local treats.
Experience Japanese life with an idyllic apartment
The apartment and its close proximity to the JR Line was also convenient for local restaurants, grocery shopping and easy access to popular tourist sights in Tokyo like Harajuku and Akihabara. A top tip for shopping is to go late at night before closing time to enjoy discounted food and goodies. The majority of Japan’s top tourist attractions luckily have no entrance fee, especially the many temples dotted across the city like Sensō-ji, Zōjō-ji, Meiji Jingu and Sengaku-ji (47 Ronin). There are, however, a few attractions that carry a hefty price tag for tourists. Tokyo’s Skytree for example, a popular way of seeing the capital’s amazing skyline, will set you back 3,000 JPY (28.60 USD), and many of the museums around have small fees ranging from 300 - 600 JPY (2.80 - 5.75 USD), but the food, souvenirs and train travel will be where you spend the most money. Be sure to look out for cheap deals in the alleyways of Tokyo’s districts for more affordable yet amazing food. Prices of meals in Tokyo’s restaurants range from 500 to over 1,000 JPY (4.78 - 9.56 USD), which can add up when you’re eating out several times a day.
Shop around for the best deals
When searching for an Airbnb in Tokyo, it will all depend on your requirements and budget. As a solo traveller with minimal requirements you’ll be able to find a plethora of Airbnb apartments across the city all for similar prices. For those wanting to be closer to the heart of Tokyo and close to the main train station where the Shinkansen (bullet train) departs, expect to pay much more. I would also recommend contacting the Airbnb host directly before booking, to ensure the Airbnb meets all of your necessary requirements. Get to know the area you’re staying in so you can budget accordingly; this way you can plan how much to spend on metro tickets (if you have a Japan Rail Pass, you can use all of the JR Lines in Tokyo for free), and organise your sightseeing plans to suit you.
You might be interested in these Airbnbs!
Save hundreds and budget better with an Airbnb in Tokyo
The Airbnb I stayed in was conveniently located, and although being a compact space, catered to every need I would want. This can be a downside to the accommodation on offer in Tokyo, but you can see how much you can get for your money in Japan’s capital. Depending on your requirements, you can secure a nice small space for 4 - 5 days for just under 51,250 JPN (500 USD) on average. You can also explore the world’s greatest city without being strapped for cash, or feel guilty about seeing the more expensive sights and eating the city’s best culinary delights. For those wanting to experience Japan with a smaller budget, book your accommodation on Airbnb.
Get Trip101 in your inbox