5 Things You Need When Traveling to Tokyo
I just came from my third trip to Tokyo a couple of weeks ago, but I'm already planning another one in the fall! I love the place, plus I believe it's important to have something truly exciting to look forward to. That's one of the beauties of traveling - the anticipation of it.
If you've caught the Tokyo bug as I have, allow me to be helpful by listing down the five most important things you need to have you when you travel there. Of course, a passport, visa (if applicable), and cash are required, but these five things should make your trip a lot more enjoyable and fun.
#1 Tokyo Essential: Comfortable shoes.Socks too, if you can. A trip in to Tokyo involves A LOT of walking, unless you're extremely loaded and don't mind springing for crazy expensive cab rides (one of the priciest in the world). Even places of interest near train stations require a quite a bit of serious leg work. Walking is also a great way to explore the city and you really don't want your feet to expire too soon!
Vans Bandana Slip-Ons (P2,750 locally)
Forget about pretty sandals and "flat"forms, they're not any match for the steep stairs in the train stations. Just go for flats, sneakers, or rubber shoes, like the one I got from Vans recently. This brand has so many cute new designs that you're bound to find something uber stylish. FitFlops are also an excellent choice as they cushion the feet and provide arch support.
Wear slim half socks to prevent chafing even when you have only ballet flats on.
#2 Tokyo Essential: A neutral fashion and makeup wardrobe. Unless you want to stick out like a sore thumb, only pack natural-looking makeup and black, grey, navy, and neutral-colored clothes. Go the pastel route if you wish, but draw the line at bright colors! The Japanese aren't big on loud colors and prints, something I realized painfully when I went out wearing a bright blue printed shirt. Even my shoes were too obvious!
Uniqlo and Muji are great stores to go to when you want to dress like a typical Japanese. I know, it's so obvious!
Everyone is well-dressed in Tokyo, but I've observed that even the most stylish people always pick toned-down colors. Wear something bright and you immediatey look like a tourist, IMHO, so avoid that - if you're so inclined.
#3 Tokyo Essential: Reloadable Suica and Pasmo train cards.If you plan to stay for a while and visit a lot of places, it's just simply more convenient to get cards with IC chips before you get on a train. You can swipe these cards before boarding, eliminating the hassle of computing the fare from point A to B and buying a ticket every time. You can actually view how much you have left everytime you use the cards so you know when to reload.
There are only two cards to consider, really: a Suica or a Pasmo. Both cost the same (JPY500 refundable fee + the amount you load) and can be used across most if not all train operators. A Suica card can be purchased at any JR station, while a Pasmo can be found in any Metro train station. You can have your name printed on both cards, if you wish.
My cards! I was in a rush getting my Suica, so I didn't get to have my name printed on it :(
Suica and Pasmo cards can also be used in lieu of cash in many establishments. Convenience stores and quite a few shops (also duty free ones) inside Narita Airport accepts the Suica. If you still have balance left over, I recommend you use it at the Royce store in Narita before boarding the plane. ;)
#4 Tokyo Essential: Apps to help with the language barrier and finding places you want to visit. If you're not going on a tour or don't have a friend to take you around, apps can make your Tokyo trip less frustrating! The train routes for one for one are extremely confusing, even if you know which station to get on and off at. Dumbstruck tourists staring at the train maps in Tokyo Station are a common sight. (Myself being one the first time I rode the train alone).
I used three apps on my iPhone, for your reference: the Tokyo Rail Map, which informs you of the train route from station 1 to station 2, and lists down all the train lines. I love that it tells you where to change stations. I also have theJapanese Pocket Lingo, which has common phrases to help you communicate with the locals. It won't teach you the language, just useful phrases. The most important out of three though would be NAVITIME for Japan Travel. This has a detailed map, a function like Tokyo Rail Map, a route search that tells you when to turn left etc., and looks for free wi-fi spots.
#5 Tokyo Essential: Smart International Roaming Service for reliable data services. A must if you're from the Philippines! I'm on Smart postpaid and it's a seamless transition to the local network (NTT/Docomo) as soon as the plane lands. It's extremely important to have data on your phone when you're in Tokyo, because! It's hard to get wifi there! So annoying right, considering it's a first world country. For example to get wifi in Starbucks you first need to confirm your sign up via email...but how do you access your email if you don't have a connection to begin with?
You'll also need data to operate NAVITIME for Japan Travel, and when you're walking around, you'll tend to lose whatever wifi connection you have. So yes, if you're on SMART, activate roaming and take advantage of the great rates.
It's now simple and easy to track and control your usage and expenses while you travel because Smart has simplified their postpaid zonal roaming rates into just two zones (Asia and America; Middle East, Europe, Africa and Oceania). Rates are in peso now too, so it’s anti-bill shock.
In Japan, it's only $10/day for unlimited data roaming. I can make/receive calls and texts promptly, but I prefer to use Viber or Facebook when communicating. Make the most of the roaming, right? FYI, Smart offers lower rates in countries covered by Vodafone and Conexus. You can check the rate per country on this world map!
So there you go, hope my list helps you out when you visit Tokyo! <3 Tell me all about it when you get back!
This post is brought to you by Smart.