Offering a diverse range of things to do, from culture, history, to gourmet, shopping and nightlife, Japan’s busy capital, Tokyo, is an increasingly popular destination for travellers from all over the world. If you are also planning a trip to the world’s largest city soon, you would likely be entering Japan via Narita Airport, Tokyo’s main international gateway.
First-timers to Tokyo may be surprised that Narita Airport is quite a distance from the huge city. Before you start fretting on the potentially high travel cost to get to central Tokyo, here’s some news for comfort. Other than the option of taxis or private cars that can cost a bomb, there are various ways you can get to Tokyo Station, from buses, electric railways to trains. In this article, I will provide you with a guide on how to get to central Tokyo Station from Narita Airport, to suit different budgets and needs.
Low cost options for the budget traveller
Travelling in Japan can hardly be considered cheap, compared to other lower-cost countries in the world. Nonetheless budget conscious travellers need not worry too much about sacrificing comfort for low cost transport options. After all, Japan is a developed country with great emphasis on service standards. So here are 4 options that cost less than 1,400 JPY (12.30 USD), which bring you to downtown Tokyo from Narita Airport.
1. Tokyo Shuttle Bus
The Tokyo Shuttle Bus offers a direct 90-minute bus connection between Narita Airport and the Yaesu exit of Tokyo Station. This discount bus service has frequent departures, approximately every 20-minutes, from Narita Airport Terminals 1, 2, and 3. If you make a reservation online, you would save 100 JPY (0.90 USD) compared to on-the-spot ticket purchase for the one-way trip from Narita Airport.
As an added bonus, you can also purchase the Tokyo Shuttle & Subway Pass package for just an additional 700 to 1,400 JPY (6.15 to 12.25 USD) more to enjoy unlimited Tokyo subway rides within 24 to 72 hours depending on the add-on ticket purchased. In addition, visit Oedo Onsen Monogatari in Odaiba at a special discounted rate of 500 JPY (4.40 USD) per child or 1,200 JPY (10.50 USD) per adult upon showing your Tokyo Shuttle Bus ticket.
Tokyo Shuttle Bus
Price: 1,000 JPY (8.75 USD) per adult for one-way trip without booking, 900 JPY (7.90 USD) if online reservation is made prior to date of usage.
Website: Tokyo Shuttle bus
2. The Access Narita Bus
Besides the Tokyo Shuttle Bus, you can also hop on The Access Narita Bus, a direct bus service between Narita Airport, Ginza Station, and Tokyo Station. Unlike the Tokyo Shuttle, online reservation is only possible for buses heading to Narita. Besides, the reservation system is only available in Japanese and the discount is not applicable. Other than that, the bus frequency is also every 20-minutes and you will reach Tokyo Station or Ginza Station within 90 minutes. Just look out for the blue “Access Narita” signboard when you leave the airport for a cheap and easy ride to central Tokyo.
The Access Narita Bus
Price: 1,000 JPY (8.75 USD) per adult, half price for child age 6 to 12, free for child age 5 or below.
Website: The Access Narita bus
3. Keisei Limited Express
If you prefer taking the electric railway so that you are less affected by traffic conditions, unlike the bus, there is the Keisei Limited Express. From Narita Airport, the Keisei Limited Express train will take you to Nippori Station, just 4 train stops, or a short 10-min ride away from Tokyo Station. The entire journey will take about 90 minutes. Keisei Limited Express operates about 3 connections per hour from Narita Airport.
Keisei Limited Express
Price: 1,030 JPY (9 USD), half price for child fare. Transfer to Tokyo Station via Japan Railway (JR) Yamanote Line or JR Keihin-Tohoku Line at Nippori Station for 160 JPY (1.40 USD).
Website: Keisei Limited Express
Options for the time-conscious traveller
Perhaps you are a time-strapped traveller who prefers to get to your destination quickly and do not mind paying a bit more. Read on for two train options that will bring you to downtown Tokyo quickly without worrying about traffic congestion.
4. Keisei Skyliner (2,470 JPY (21.65 USD), half price for child fare. Transfer to Tokyo Station via JR Yamanote Line or JR Keihin-Tohoku Line at 160 JPY (1.40 USD).)
Opened in 2010, the skyliner gets you to Nippori Station in just 36 minutes, as it is a direct non-stop service. As mentioned earlier, Nippori Station is only 4 stops from Tokyo Station, a quick 10-minute ride away. Even with this transfer, you will be able to reach Tokyo Station in under 50 minutes!
Purchase the Skyliner Discount Ticket online or via a travel agent before visiting Japan, so that you can enjoy a discount of 270 JPY (2.35 USD). Similar to the Tokyo Shuttle discount ticket, enjoy unlimited rides on any Tokyo subway line for 24, 48, or 72 hours at special rate if you purchase the Keisei Skyliner & Tokyo Subway Ticket set.
Price: 2,470 JPY (21.65 USD), half price for child fare. Transfer to Tokyo Station via JR Yamanote Line or JR Keihin-Tohoku Line at 160 JPY (1.40 USD).
If Tokyo is just one of a few stops that you will be travelling to in the country, you will probably be getting the JR Pass for cost savings. In that case, you may like to consider the JR Narita Express (NEX), a 53-minute direct rail service between Narita Airport and Tokyo Station. Being part of the JR group, you can ride on NEX for free if you hold a JR Pass. Do remember to book a seat on NEX and get your pass at a ticket office or machine prior to boarding the train.
Even if you do not hold a JR Pass, this is the fastest way to get to Tokyo Station. Trains run every half hour for most of the day, making it one of the easiest and most convenient transport option to Tokyo.
JR Narita Express (NEX)
Price: 3,020 JPY (26.50 USD), half price for child fare.
6. For a fuss-free door to door journey: Narita Airport Limousine bus (3,100 JPY (27.20 USD), half price for child fare.)
Take a Narita Airport Limousine bus if you prefer a fuss-free journey where you do not need to climb or descend any stairs, or drag your heavy luggage from the train station to your hotel. The bus is just outside the terminal waiting to pick you up to the door of your hotel. There are numerous limousine bus routes throughout the day with departures from the airport every 15 to 20 minutes, and over 100 destinations are served. Using the Tokyo Station route as an example, the limousine bus goes to 26 major hotels such as Shangri-La Hotel and Mandarin Oriental Hotel Tokyo in the area.
Of course, the downside of a bus service is you would be subject to traffic congestion, especially during morning and evening rush hours. Therefore, you must be willing to trade in ultimate comfort for some potential loss of time, reaching downtown Tokyo within 75 to 125 minutes. Purchase the return voucher at 4,500 JPY (39.45 USD), a savings of 1,700 JPY compared to the normal return fare of 6,200 JPY (55.25 USD).
Narita Airport Limousine bus
Price: 3,100 JPY (27.20 USD), half price for child fare.
Now that you have an idea of the various ways to get to central Tokyo from Narita Airport, it’s time to decide which option would best suit your personal travel needs. What some consider as the best option may not work for your case. As you plan your journey, remember, “you don’t have to be rich to travel well” —Eugene Fodor. Enjoy the journey!
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