If you're planning a trip to Tokyo, you probably have a long list of places you want to see. The area is diverse and vibrant, and it has everything from cityscapes to nature retreats. Of course, just wandering the city can create memories you'll never forget.
But what are the places that truly count as can't-miss opportunities? Where should you go (and what should you try) to make the most of the experience?
We've got the advice you need to make the most of 48 hours (but hopefully more!) in Tokyo, Japan if you're just passing through.
First Day: Do Everything Disney
No trip to Tokyo would be complete without a visit to Tokyo Disneyland. And there are a ton of other things to see and do in the area, which makes a hotel near Disney ideal. Plus, if you're flying into the Narita International Airport (which most international travelers do), it's only an hour's Uber to your destination.
Stay somewhere picturesque like Hotel Okura Tokyo Bay or Tokyo Disneyland Hotel (this one's super close to the train, too!) and you'll be steps away from all the excitement of the theme park resort. Tokyo Disney Resort includes Tokyo DisneySea, American Waterfront, and has hotels located all around its perimeter. You can hit all of them in one day! Admission to Tokyo Disneyland & Tokyo DisneySea is ¥7,500 ($69USD) for a one-day pass.
Also, Enjoy Some Downtime & Try Japanese Cuisine
Exploring all the parks and rides could take you all day, and we highly recommend it. Of course, if you have some free time after (or in between?) hitting the parks, the nearby Total Recreation Park Rose Garden is a great place to relax. Of course, it's also great for snapping some Instagram pics... Just saying.
Also nearby is Sushiro Minami-Kasai if you want to try Japanese conveyor-belt sushi. Conveyor belt sushi typically involves ordering from a digital menu and then watching your food meander toward you. Yum!
Day Two: Spend Time Exploring Tokyo Sea Life Park
A short train ride from Disney is Tokyo Sea Life Park, which showcases sharks, eagle rays, penguins, and more. Think Monterey Bay Aquarium or Long Beach's Aquarium of the Pacific but in Tokyo: interactive exhibits and educational presentations are part of the experience.
Admission is cheap (about 700 yen, or $6USD), and there are plenty of opportunities for epic vacation photos. There's a seaside observatory, plus bird gardens and a bird-watching center. And when you're done checking out all the sea and land life, you can walk across the Kasainagisa Bridge to access Kasai Beach Park and get an ocean view. That is if you have time.
Then Venture To The Imperial Palace & Even Ueno Zoo
The Imperial Palace is in Chiyoda City, northwest of your Disney home base. The Palace is made up of extensive grounds, gardens, and even has science and modern art museums on-site. Check out the Three Palace Sanctuaries, Fukiage Omiya Palace, and the Remains of Edo Castle. You can even catch a show at Nippon Budokan (either martial arts or music!) if you plan things right.
Visiting the Imperial Palace adds some culture and history to your trip. For people who are religious or are just curious about the history and spirituality of Japan, this is the spot to visit. Be respectful, but take in the beautiful scenery, buildings, and relics.
Near the Palace grounds is Maruka, an udon noodle restaurant that has a curry that gets rave reviews, making it an excellent and quick spot for lunch.
You can also take a short trip over to see Ueno Zoo and Tokyo National Museum (walk or ride fast!). The Ueno Zoo has over 400 species and thousands of animals, including pandas. Admission is only ¥600 (less than $6USD). There's a petting zoo area where you can get up-close-and-personal with the animals, as well.
The Tokyo National Museum showcases artifacts and art of Japan and other Asian countries. It's an entire complex with tons to see, and some areas are free to get into. Admission for some attractions ranges from ¥410 to ¥620 (about $4USD to $6USD).
Before Heading Home, Linger At Narita Airport
Yes, it's an airport, but it's not so bad hanging around waiting for your flight home (or to your next destination). First of all, the airport is huge, and there are quite a few things that will keep you busy while you wait. Narita Airport has its own app (in English, too!), and you can get all kinds of info about things to do, plus updates on your flight.
There's also a cultural theater inside the airport, and offerings vary daily. You might see a kabuki gallery, traditional Japanese armor, or a dance performance. And one of the highlights is the in-airport Pokemon store. If you're a fan of the cartoon and all its merch, shop the store for all kinds of memorabilia. Pikachu in flight attendant garb? Yes, please!