General Question

chelle21689's avatar

Is it better and cheaper to plan a trip to Tokyo yourself or through tour packages?

Asked by chelle21689 (5450 points ) December 23rd, 2013

I want to visit Tokyo in Spring of 2015 for 10–14 days. I have specific places I would love to see and do. Tour packages have a mix of things but not everything that I want.

Would I be losing a lot more money if I planned the trip myself?
Would it be that much stressful if I didn’t have a tourguide to translate and direct me where to go since I don’t read Japanese?

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9 Answers

LeavesNoTrace's avatar

I would say it’s better to be a traveler than a tourist. ;)

Both can be very economical if you do your research ahead of time and ask people in the know.

dxs's avatar

Kayak.com can help you find the cheapest flights from a variety of companies.

elbanditoroso's avatar

Given that it is an non-english speaking country, you definitely want a guide and a tour. If you were going to Australia or England, or even Singapore, you would do fine.

But in japan, you NEED some guidance. I’ve been there and was happy to have people showing me around.

LuckyGuy's avatar

You can make this an adventure of a lifetime. You can buy a JR Rail pass, stay at hostels and have the time of your life. Here is the link with info.

If you go as a tourist you will see more things. But you will be cooped up on a bus with people 2 -4 times your age and will end up eating and peeing on their schedule.
Go as a traveler and you will have experiences and make friendships that will stay with you forever.

JLeslie's avatar

Tokyo has a lot of bilingual signage now, and many of the people speak at least a little English. The cabs have GPS, so as long as you have the address or the name of where you are going, they can get you there. Tokyo is very safe compared to most cities, just take usual precautians for pick pocketers and purse grabbers (recently this has become more of a problem, but still very low compared to most cities).

You will probably see more on a tour, but you can get around Tokyo fine by yourself and do whatever you want when you want. The museum I went to had English translation. The subway was a little confusing, but the people who worked in the subway always helped me when I needed help. The culture is very polite there, people in the service industry will help you. The area of Roppongi in Tokyo has a lot of people from everywhere, and a lot of Americans. There are also restaurants in the area that have been transplanted from America if you need some food you are more accustomed to. Not only a Hard Rock Cafe, but we also got good Mexican food in that area (a little local joint, not a chain). I think Wolfgang Pucks restaurant was there too? Or, nearby.

I would look at tours for ideas about where to go and how to plan the trip. You might consider a very short tour if they are available? 2 or 3 day tour, and then once you feel familiar with the city see more of what you want to see. One part of Tokyo has lots of young people who all dress up funky to go out, I can’t remember the name of the section. They sell hallowee-like clothing all year round for young people who want to dress up. That type of thing might get missed on a tour.

LuckyGuy's avatar

The area @JLeslie is referring to is Harajuku near Shibuya Station in Tokyo. You can look up Harajuku Style and find thousands of photos.

geeky_mama's avatar

If you’re planning to stay in Tokyo and do not have plans to go to some smaller, more remote towns – you’ll be just fine on your own without a guide. As @JLeslie points out there are signs in English, bilingual train (JR and Metro) maps. Get a Pasmo or Suica card (rail pass) when you land—you can buy them from convenience stores (e.g. 7–11) or even from a vending machine at the airport.

You’ll find people that can speak a bit of English nearly everywhere in Tokyo – and many restaurants have picture menus or English menus available.

Learn just a few phrases in advance:
“Do you speak English?” = “Eigo hanashimasu ka?”
“Where is the bathroom?” = “Otearai doko desu ka?” or “Toire sounds like toilet doko desu ka?”
“How much is this?” = “Oikura desu ka?”

..and you’ll be all set.

If you need/want to go to smaller towns where it’s likely you’ll find less English signage and fewer people that speak English you could hire a guide just for the side trip(s).

chelle21689's avatar

Thanks everyone! This is a long term plan lol I want to save up money and go in maybe 2 years. I’d also like to find someone to go with me.

LuckyGuy's avatar

That’s a great plan. (Especially the last part!)
;-)

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