A few years back, Tokyo became the destination for my very first solo trip. That trip made me fall in love with solo travel, changing me in more ways than one. Where or what really lies the magic of the capital city in this Land of the Rising Sun? Today I’ll give you 15 reasons why I think Tokyo is the perfect destination for anyone’s solo trip.
Confession: My first solo trip was not the first time I went Tokyo, but who says you must go to a NEW city for a first solo trip?
Why Tokyo is the Perfect Destination for A Solo Trip
1. Tokyo is simply SO DIFFERENT!
No matter where you come from, Tokyo will be really different from your hometown. I come from a very modern city (Singapore), and even then, visiting Tokyo for the third/fourth/fifth time was still eye-opening in different ways. Tokyo’s madness and the Japanese culture will make your solo trip a very distinct memory.
2. Tokyo is generally a very safe city.
A very important aspect for considering destinations for solo travel is SAFETY. In Tokyo, at the very least, petty crime is not that prevalent downtown. Tokyo’s safety, if I may presume, is largely brought about by the integrity standards that the Japanese observe. The citizens also work hard to ensure a safer environment, by making one another responsible together. You might even see small kids taking public transport and walking home on their own.
As always, low crime doesn’t mean no crime. It’s never a good idea to walk alone late at night at dark, secluded places. Danger lurks in darkness, just like everywhere else.
3. Shinjuku Station is crazy and you gotta experience it for yourself.
When I try to briefly explain to people about Shinjuku’s location in relation to nearby hotspots like Harajuku and Shibuya, I use “City Hall MRT Station in Singapore” as an example. However, I’m not sure if anyone can ever visualize it in a befitting way. At Shinjuku Station, there are more than 200 exits. The station serves 3.6 million passengers a day. Shinjuku station is soooOooo huge and sooOooOo deep inside, I was amazed how long it took me to walk to the platform to take a train to Kamakura for a day trip. Like, just how HUGE is this station actually?
4. You just need to take the train for your public transport.
Tokyo’s train system is so well-covered and efficient, you’ll only need to use the train to get anywhere, as long as you manage to figure out the routes somehow (you will). The trains are also famous for being really on time.
If however, you head to the outlying areas such as Kamakura or Nikko, they have their own transport systems such as monorails and buses. Never underestimate just how huge Tokyo is!
5. There are female-only train cabins.
With all good intention, I’ll advise you to stay away from taking the train during Tokyo’s peak hours (although these days, Tokyo is so crowded, I feel there’re only peak and super-peak hours). However, if you really want to be out at that time or to see how crowded Tokyo’s trains are notorious for, there are female-only train cabins that take into effect during peak hours. I’m not sure if all trains on all lines have this implemented though!
6. You’ll probably get lost… a few times.
It’s part of the deal for visiting Tokyo, but look on the bright side. Otherwise, how are you gonna tell others back home later about how confusing, how exciting a place Tokyo really is? One time, I stood for 20min at a subway station, staring at its train map that was completely void of English words, filled with station names that I couldn’t recognize. Inside of me, you bet I was panicking, but I was adamant that I’ll work out the journey somehow. And I finally did and found my way back to the hotel!
7. Tokyoites are really helpful humans.
Although they’re always in a haste, Tokyoites (slang for people living in Tokyo) are very helpful if you need assistance. They’ll help you to the best of their extent. Once again, it comes down to the culture of looking out for one another.
8. More Japanese in Tokyo can speak English than you think.
I’ve never really had problems seeking assistance by speaking English. Even when I was alone at the oldest amusement park trying to figure out the ride ticketing system, a Japanese mother in the queue spoke English with me. When I was shopping for a new bag at a Samantha Thavasa boutique, the saleslady spoke English to me, having worked in Singapore before. Amazing!
Well, if the Japanese you’re speaking to can’t speak English, he’ll probably understand what you’re trying to say. You’ll be fine!
Sometimes, the food menu comes with English text too.
9. Tokyo makes it EASY for you to dine alone.
With sushi bars, ramen bars, and even isolated seats at restaurants such as Ichiran Ramen, it’s so easy to enter a restaurant alone in Tokyo and grab a solo seat at the counter just like everyone else, or simply ask for a table for one. Restaurant staff will even watch out for you, ensuring you’re comfortable and know how to place orders.
Also, being busy people in Tokyo, people are always dining alone. You won’t be the odd one out, so no worries about receiving judgemental looks from strangers, cos there’ll be none. If there are, they’re probably foreigners who have never travelled solo before and don’t understand why we do.
If all else fails, you can always buy food from the convenience stores (Lawsons! Family Mart!) and dine in the comfort of your room.
10. No one will judge you for being alone.
No matter if you’re shopping, at the amusement park, hiking, anything — the Japanese will always keep to their own affairs in public places and not judge. If you get curious stares, well they’re probably fellow tourists admiring you for your courage =D
| Read: How to Rock Your First Solo Trip |
11. Say hello to hotel rooms for single travellers!
No more having to pay double share even if you arrive as one. I stayed at a Bright Single Room at Sunroute Plaza Shinjuku Hotel, and really enjoyed my stay (review in this post). For females, some hotels even have female-only floors. Talk about safety and thoughtfulness, Tokyo has you covered.
I have yet to try capsule hotels as I’m a seeker of comfort whenever I travel, but if you wanna try something new and also cut costs, you can consider them as your form of accommodation for a night. Sized like a large refrigerator, your ‘room’ is simply an enclosed pod where you’ll lie down and sleep. Genders are usually separated by floors.
12. There are clean and modern toilets everywhere!
I don’t know about you, but the cleanliness of toilets matters a big deal to me when I travel. In Tokyo, even if it’s a public toilet at a busy station like Harajuku, or one outside Meiji Shrine – in the middle of the woods with 100,000 trees, or even up on a mountain, when I went hiking at Mt Takao, you’re guaranteed clean, modern toilets! Amazing!
Also, have you thought of trying a Japanese bidet toilet? With lots of buttons that give you control over water pressure, water direction, and even music to drown out any weird sounds from your body? And warm seats too? Japanese toilet systems are simply the best thing invented.
13. Because ONSEN.
On hindsight, it’s probably more comfortable to experience onsen as a solo traveller, than the double stress of seeing your friend naked + dealing with your friend seeing you naked 😉 If you’re clueless about onsen, fret not, for I have a guide on how to use the onsen! If you’ve never tried onsen, you’re missing out!
14. Tokyo has seasons and sceneries perfect for your selfies.
15. Tokyo gives you easy access to outlying areas for day trips.
Merely 1 or 2 hours away by train from Tokyo centre, you can take day trips to Kamakura, Nikko, Hakone, Yokohama, and so many more places. Explore cultural attractions and coastal towns, go hiking, go see Mount Fuji, and so much more. Enjoy your me time!
The Japanese are some of the most respectful, honest and cultured people I’ve ever seen, which makes the environment really comfortable to be at, even if you’re travelling on your own in this indescribable city, Tokyo. Now I can’t wait to go back again!
Have you been inspired to make a solo trip to Tokyo yet?
Credits: The points about female-only train cabins and female-only hotel floors, as well as photo of female-only hotel storey were contributed by my friend, Grace H., thank you! | All other photos taken by me. | Information about Shinjuku Station and train map are from its website.
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