9 Days Tokyo Itinerary (Day 1): Singapore to Haneda Airport to Tokyo Downtown (Solo Trip)

Yay! I’ve finally completed another solo trip, this time to Tokyo, Japan. Check out my 9 Days Tokyo Itinerary and see the popular places I’ve visited such as Shinjuku, Shibuya and Asakusa. I also did a short trip out of Tokyo and spent 3 great days in Hakone, a beautiful onsen resort town. 

In this Tokyo travel series (of which this is the first post), I’ll share useful tips such as where to stay, things to do and how to get around in Tokyo.

Tokyo Haneda Airport T3

You’ll also salivate at the delicious Japanese food I’ve tried during this 9 days of travel (hey, I did my food research, k?), as well as some of the things to avoid when travelling in Tokyo. 

What can I say? 9 days is not enough in Tokyo, man! I regretted not dedicating more days in Tokyo, as there are so much more I wanted to see, explore and BUY. You will read about my regrets later in not having more time to shop. Sob!

Don’t miss these posts!

 


Why Solo Trip to Tokyo? 

Solo trip to me is like marathon to some other people. Completing a trip on my own on a foreign land gives me a sense of achievement as I would explore the new place based entirely on my own effort and resourcefulness. 

I could also decide exactly how I wanted my travel itinerary to look like, and how much time to spend at each place, spontaneously.

Not that this can’t be done with a partner, but once in a while, it’s always good to go solo. It’s like a little vacation for your soul. :) You can check out this earlier post I’d written about my thoughts in travelling solo (in Taiwan).

Now, without any further ado, let me share Day 1 of my Tokyo Solo Trip (May 2023). 

Tokyo Solo Trip
My Tokyo solo trip began at Changi Airport Terminal 1

Um…my solo trip didn’t have a perfect start as the breakfast I’d wanted within Changi T1 transit (Ya Kun Kaya Toast) had long queue and I had to settle for sandwiches from 7-11. But all was good as the Club sandwich was actually quite nice! :)

Tokyo Solo Trip
From left: Long queue at Ya Kun; pack sandwiches from 7-11

 


Morning Flight via ANA Airline to Tokyo City

(11am)

As Japan has just fully opened its border on 8 May 2023, air ticket price was still high. I paid about $1k to travel to Tokyo via a full-service airline when it used to cost around $600 pre-covid. 

Even no-frill budget airlines such as Scoot would cost about $700. Factoring that full service airlines come with baggage allowance, meals, spacious seats and entertainment system, the few hundred dollars extra seemed worth it.  

Great Experience on ANA Airlines (SIN – Tokyo)

I’m glad to say that my experience with ANA was excellent. The seats were really spacious, and the departure and arrival were on time!

Everything was smooth and perfect just like Japanese’ Six Sigma approach towards quality management.

Tokyo Solo Trip
Spacious leg room and good entertainment system onboard ANA flight!

What impressed me the most was how they started boarding people, not just by vertical block, by laterally too! For each block, they started calling those who were assigned window seats, followed by middle seats and finally to those with aisle seats.

So, there was no “traffic jam” on the plane and everything was orderly and comfortable!

ANA Tokyo Flight NH842
The movie I watched onboard ANA flight to Tokyo (“The Man from Toronto”)

The 787-9 Dreamliner I was on offered a modern entertainment system. It was a small plane (view seat map) which meant fewer passengers and fast boarding/disembarkation. :)

Lunch was filling and came with too much carbo. As usual, I asked for a glass of red wine and paired it with Dark Chocolate ice cream while completing two movies during the 7-hour flight. 

Lunch onboard ANA NH842 flight to Tokyo
Lunch onboard ANA NH842 flight to Tokyo

 


Arrived at Haneda Airport: Any Immigration Queue in 2023? 

(6.40pm)

My flight (NH842) that departed at 11am, landed at Tokyo at around 6.40pm (GMT: +9). Luckily, immigration clearance at Haneda airport was smooth without a queue.

So, should you fly to Haneda or Narita Airport?

Now, you may wonder if you should fly to Haneda or Narita Airport. If you are heading to Central Tokyo, do note that Haneda Airport is nearer to downtown than Narita Airport.

With the shorter time to get into Central Tokyo (40 mins from Haneda vs 1.5 hrs from Narita Airport), public transport cost would also be significantly lower (e.g. ¥500 vs ¥2,800 to Shinjuku Station).

Do also note that most budget airlines only fly into Narita Airport. So despite the lower air tickets, you may incur higher public transport cost subsequently. 

 


Getting 4G SIM Card (WiFi) – Tokyo, Japan

The first thing I did after touching down in Tokyo was to ensure that the 4G SIM Card which I’d pre-purchased was working.

Unlike other 4G cross-border cards I’ve used, this card required me to turn on auto-roaming. Luckily, there was a Whatsapp number given in Klook product listing, so that I could request for immediate assistance while tapping on airport’s free WiFi.

Japan 4G SIM Card
Bought a 10GB SIM Card (15 Days Validity)

Was the 4G SIM card reliable? Yes, it worked well throughout my 9 days trip in Tokyo, even when I was in Hakone, a mountainous resort. Hence, I highly recommend this 4G SIM Card to those who are travelling to Japan.

TIP: If you are getting this 4G SIM card, make sure you install it as SIM Card No. 1 (as per advice from the seller). Then turn on auto-roaming when you reach Japan.  


How to get around Tokyo? Use a Suica Card!

(7.30pm)

You can either buy train ticket from DIY ticket kiosk or approach Keikyu Service Centre for in-person assistance. 

Tokyo Itinerary
Haneda Airport T3: Approach “Keikyu Line” service counter to buy train ticket to city

Alternatively (and which I highly recommend), you can get a Suica card (something like Singapore’s EZ link) from a different vending kiosk located opposite Keikyu Service Counter. 

Tokyo Suica Card
Suica card can be purchased from machine with the red print (second kiosk from left).

Suica card is great and convenient as you need not figure out how much to pay per trip. Just tap and it can be used for all transport lines in Tokyo. You can also use it at non-transport places, such as convenience store, vending machines and lockers.

For ease of mind, you can also get the Suica card online.

TRANSPORT TIP: There are two types of Suica cards – Green vs Red. Green is a default card for all, while red is meant for tourist and has a short expiry of 28 days. Though the tourist card doesn’t require deposit, any remaining balance would not be refunded.  

How about Tokyo Subway Pass? 

You can also get Tokyo Subway Pass for unlimited use (available in 1, 2 or 3 days). I bought a 2-day Tokyo Subway Pass and used it on Day 2 and 3 of my 9-day Tokyo trip.

It really helped cut down my transport cost significantly and I highly recommend it!

>> RELATED: Day 2 in Tokyo, exploring Asakusa during biggest shrine festival of the year

Unlike a Suica Card, the Tokyo Subway Pass can only be used on Tokyo Metro and Toei Subway lines. But these two lines cover an extensive network of about 250 stations, and can get you to most places within Central Tokyo. Do note however that it doesn’t cover ride to and from Airport (or on the popular Yamonote loop line).

That’s the reason why I have both Suica Card and Tokyo Subway Pass to cover all forms of transport that I needed to do in Tokyo. Will share more travelling tips as we go along. 

 


Getting from Haneda Airport to Tokyo Downtown

My first 3 nights would be at Akihabara – a popular place known for its electronics, anime and maid cafes. As compared to Shinjuku and Shibuya, Akihabara is a relatively cheaper and quieter place to stay in Tokyo.

After-Thoughts: After actual stay, I think Akihabara has the right level of buzz and not as overwhelmingly busy as Shinjuku or Shibuya. It would be a perfect place to stay during the weekends if you want some sanity (and not have to queue for everything)! :)

Located at north-eastern side of Tokyo city, Akihabara is also nearer to Asakusa and Ueno, both of which would have enough things to occupy your days. It is also quite near to Tokyo Station and Ginza. 

Train from Haneda Airport to Akihabara Station

(8pm)

I got to Platform 2 of Haneda Airport to wait for Keikyu Airport line bound for Shinagawa Station, which I would then need to do a transfer.

TIP: Do be careful as not all train that stops at this platform will bring you to Shinagawa. Some will bring you to Yokohama, another city. :)

Always check the time of train arrival to ensure you get onto the right train. For example, if you refer to the photo below, the train bound for Shinagawa would arrive at 20:07. 

Tokyo Itinerary
[Haneda Airport T3] At train platform waiting for Shinagawa-bound train

After I alighted at Shinagawa Station, it was a confusing walk to get to another platform bound for Akihabara (via Yamonote line).

Confusing as I didn’t expect this transfer would require me to exit the gate. But this would soon be second-nature as I gradually learnt the ropes of travelling around Tokyo City. 

From Haneda Airport to Tokyo City
Left: Crowded train | Right: Transferring to JR line at Shinagawa Station

Tips in taking Train in Tokyo

Google map is essential (kudos to Google) if you want to navigate Tokyo via their public transport. Follow these tips and you’ll be able to get to anywhere with ease:

  1. Use Google Map’s direction features, e.g. key in destination and starting location.  
  2. Several route options would be presented. I would choose the train-line based on time and cost (both are reflected on Google Map). 
  3. You can even select the time you like to depart (in case you are not departing right at the moment).
  4. Google will indicate the Platform number to be at. Use signage at train station to get to the right platform. If you are lugging luggage, most train stations would have elevator – you just need to walk around a bit to find them.
  5. When at the platform, note the time your train is supposed to arrive so that you don’t get onto the wrong train. 

 


First Hotel in Tokyo Trip @ Akihabara

(9.15pm)

Finally, I arrived at Keikyu Ex Inn Akihabara hotel, which I highly recommend. It’s a short and simple 5 minutes straight-line walk from Akihabara Station.

Checking in was such a breeze through its’ DIY kiosk. Really amazing how the room card was spitted out of the machine instantly.

Keikyu Ex Inn Akihabara
Checked in through this DIY kiosk at Hotel

The amenities provided at the lobby was amazing too, covering instant soup, tea and coffee and DHC skincare sachets. Keikyu Ex Inn Akihabara hotel also has laundry and microwave facilities unlike the other two hotels I would stay in later. 

HOTEL TIPS: Many hotels in Japan charge by no. of pax per room. Hence, if you are travelling solo, do adjust the no. of pax to 1 during online-booking and see if you can enjoy some savings.

Keikyu Ex Inn Akihabara
Generous amenities at Keikyu Ex Inn hotel in Tokyo (Akihabara)

Quick Glance of Room (Keikyu Ex Inn Akihabara)

As with most hotels in Japan, do expect room size to be small, around half that of standard size (around 12 to 14sqm).

As a solo traveller, I needed to keep my cost down as I couldn’t share the cost with any travelling partner. This small business hotel at less than $100 per night was excellent for my need. 

ACCOMMODATION TIP: If you like to bring your cost down even more, you can try staying in a Capsule hotel such as in Akihabara Bay Hotel. It would be a unique experience on its own. 

Keikyu Ex Inn Akihabara was well-designed as I have sufficient space (including table space) to place my stuff. It’s also modern and clean!

Keikyu Ex Inn Akihabara
Room at Keikyu Ex Inn Akihabara

The only drawback was the lack of view. It wasn’t an issue as I was out till late night on all days.

TIP: If you are a light sleeper, bring along ear plugs to Tokyo, as it is a populous city with busy traffic.

I enjoyed my stay at Keikyu Ex Inn Akihabara and enjoyed 3 nights of good quality sleep. I highly recommend this hotel in Akihabara!

 

Where to stay in Tokyo?
Typical Japanese hotel toilet

 


Tokyo Itinerary (Day 1): Food search in Akihabara at 10pm!

The con about arriving in Tokyo late is having limited dining option. But I preferred this over a red-eye or early-morning flight (as I’m a night owl). :)

Luckily, Don Quijote Akihabara was opened 24 hours and was only a 5-minute walk from my hotel. Though there were 8 levels of shopping to explore, my sole focus was to look for food and hence skipped everything else which included some rather interesting stuff. ;) 

Don Quijote Akihabara
Don Quijote Akihabara offered interesting products related to Anime and Maid Cafes
Don Quijote Akihabara
Upper levels were dedicated to games and claw machines.

Food Option at Don Quijote Akihabara 

Too bad, this branch didn’t offer a good selection of ready-to-eat food past 10pm. I had to make do with instant noodles and processed eggs. LOL! 

Don Quijote Akihabara
Limited ready-to-eat food at Don Quijote Akihabara

Also bought Suntory Jasmine Lychee Beer and Choya liqueur. Can’t believe how cheap everything was. The meal you see below cost less than ¥600 and was satisfying! :) 

Don Quijote Akihabara
All these for less than ¥600, including beer and choya (plum liqueur)!

I spent the rest of the night prepping itinerary for the next day. That’s all for this post – continue this story by checking out what we did on Day 2 when we explored Asakusa during the biggest festive event of the year in Tokyo!

See you soon!

Essential Info (Day 1):

Map Locations of Tokyo Itinerary (Day 1)

ANA Flight > Haneda Airport T3 > Get Suica Transport Card > Train to Shinagawa Station > Transfer to Akihabara Station > Keikyu Ex Inn Akihabara Hotel > Don Quijote Akihabara

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