FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

7 Tips to Know Before Your First Trip to Tokyo

by Kelly Magyarics

Nov 30, 2023

© Kelly Magyarics


If you’re dreaming about a trip to Japan, you’re not alone. Last month, Japan welcomed 2.52 million visitors — more than doubling the pre-COVID-19 levels of February 2020. My teenagers and I started planning our Thanksgiving week vacation to Tokyo six months ago after I scored amazing round-trip tickets on United Airlines using miles. Never having been to Japan, I crowdsourced tips and recommendations from friends before we left; I also learned a lot during our recent trip. Here are seven useful tips to know before you go:


© Kelly Magyarics

Exchange Lots of Yen

It might come as a surprise, but for as technologically advanced as Japan is, in many places cash is the only payment accepted — even in big cities like Tokyo. I booked my accommodations, train tickets and attractions like Tokyo Skytree, Shibuya Sky and a traditional tea ceremony lesson in advance online using a credit card, but I still took plenty of U.S. dollars with me to exchange once I landed at the airport. Credit cards were accepted in some places like designer boutiques in Ginza and shops in quirky, bustling Harajuku. But no matter where you are, many restaurants only accept yen. You even need to insert cash into the machine to top off your subway card (more on that later).

Rent a WiFi Router to Use During Your Trip

Even if your cell carrier offers unlimited data overseas like ours (T-Mobile), data might not be as fast as you need it to be, especially to look up directions or make dining reservations. Before your trip, rent a personal wireless router through Ninja WiFi or another local carrier for the duration of your trip for speedier internet access on your devices. We went with the default plan and speed, more than sufficient and less than $40 a week. There are pick-up and drop-off locations at Haneda (HND) and Narita (NRT) airports, as well as various locations around the city.


© Kelly Magyarics

Learn How to Be a Tokyo Subway Pro

The subway system is clean, efficient, on time and civilized. Lines painted on platforms let riders know where doors will open, and people line up single file and wait their turn to board after letting exiting riders pass first. Subway cars are generally silent, and walkways and staircases in stations have directional arrows for traffic flow. We were especially grateful for this organization when transferring through stations like Shinjuku, the world’s busiest train station, with 3.5 million riders passing through every day. While Google Maps works for planning subway routes, I preferred Japan Travel, which also tells you which car or section of the train to board to be closer to your transfer train or preferred exit, and which subway exit to take to be closer to your final destination. As a tourist, you can purchase a Welcome Suica card at either airport, valid for 28 days and can be topped off as needed. You can also use these cards to purchase items at vending machines and in convenience stores.

Don’t Eat and Drink While Walking

While Americans are used to walking down the street sipping iced lattes and taking bites of a folding slice of pizza, this is considered rude in Japan. This was a rule we momentarily forgot one day after we bought the Japanese stuffed crepes that are all the rage in the aforementioned Harajuku and started walking down Takeshita Street ,taking spoonfuls of matcha ice cream. Often, food stalls and takeaway restaurants will have standing areas specifically designed for customers to enjoy their treats; otherwise, just find a nearby area in which to sit or stand. I’m an avid gum chewer, something you won’t often see there, either. If you must chew, do it discreetly — without loud popping or blowing bubbles.

ice cream

© Kelly Magyarics

Know How to Use Toilet Slippers

Warning: You’ll probably fall in love with all the bells and whistles of Japanese toilets. But while you’re oohing and ahhing over the anticipation of heated seats (and ones that automatically raise) and bidet features and white noise buttons that drones out bodily sounds, don’t forget to put on toilet slippers if you see them just inside the bathroom. (They may even be labeled as such.) Take off your street shoes outside the bathroom and use the slippers while you are taking care of business. But don’t forget to retrieve your own shoes on the way out — it can be quite embarrassing to stroll back to your restaurant table or your host’s living room still wearing footwear only designed for the bathroom.

Lean in on Convenience Stores

It seems like you can’t walk a block in Tokyo without seeing a Family Mart or 7-11, and the latter is much different (read: better) in Tokyo than its American counterparts. Convenience stores were our go-to to pick up breakfast to enjoy in our Airbnb. Popular items include yogurt drinks; pastries; fruit; and onigiri, the breakfast staple consisting of fish wrapped in rice and nori. You can also find items here including medicines, toiletries and batteries.

Get Out of the City for a Bit

Even if you are only staying for a week, try to venture beyond Tokyo’s borders to see a different side of Japan. One day, we took a two-hour bus to Kawaguchiko in the Fuji Five Lakes district. The weather was glorious and the massive volcanic mountain came out to say hello. We saw it from many vantage points, including from a cable tramcar atop a mountain, a sightseeing boat and at Oishi Park at sunset. We also stayed overnight at a hotel with onsen, the traditional hot spring baths popular in the area. The next day, we did a bit more sightseeing before catching a late afternoon bus back to finish off our trip in Tokyo. Leaving and coming back definitely gave us a new appreciation for Tokyo.




FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Explore Excursions


Insta Feed
February 2024
Feb 21, 2024

Down to Earth: Find Your Element for the Ultimate Customized Spa Experience at Chuan Spa

After a stressful pre-holiday season and a busy work schedule, there was no better time for a relaxing spa experience than during my recent trip to Pasadena with the FXExpress Publications, Inc. team. We headed to The Langham Huntington, Pasadena for the 20th anniversary of the GT Tested Reader Survey awards, which meant a jam-packed trip, but I managed to carve a little time out of our busy schedule to visit Chuan Spa at the hotel.

Hit the High Notes in Nashville

Nashville’s once-modest skyline continues to evolve as its luxury market grows. Lavish hotel properties are added to the landscape while acclaimed chefs stake claim in the robust culinary scene and premier cultural offerings round out the city’s repertoire.

eFlyer Deals
Feb 21, 2024

Leap Day Savings at The Marker San Francisco, Hotel Dena

This Leap Year, save 29 percent off the best available rate at The Marker San Francisco. This limited-time deal is available for booking only on Feb. 29, for travel between Feb. 29 and Dec. 31.

eFlyer Reviews
Feb 21, 2024

Amantaka Review

You know what you’re going to get at an Aman hotel, and also you don’t. Expect peerless service, obsessive attention to detail, architectural elegance worthy of a fashion magazine, a holistic approach to wellness and astounding levels of comfort. But each property is also intimately connected to its setting, and that’s where the surprises lie. For instance, finding yourself on your knees on a sidewalk in Luang Prabang handing out sticky rice to Buddhist monks at 5:30 a.m. isn’t something we expected.

A New Perspective on Incentive Travel

Incentive travel has long been a way for organizations to drive sales and reward employees with opulent trips to exotic destinations. Today it encompasses even more.

eFlyer News
Feb 21, 2024

Copa Airlines Unveils New Route from Raleigh-Durham to Panama City, Panama

Copa Airlines unveiled its newest route to Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, offering passengers a seamless way to travel nonstop between the North Carolina region and Panama City, Panama (PTY). The service, beginning June 21, will operate four times weekly.


There’s more to travel than just getting there.

Feb 19, 2024

5 Reasons to Put Muscat, Oman, on Your Travel List

It’s time to start dreaming of your next trip. Here’s some destination inspiration for you. Take a visual journey through Muscat, Oman, with us.