Top 10 Places to Visit in Tokyo on a Budget

Top 10 Places to Visit in Tokyo on a Budget

Tokyo is one of the most remarkable cities you can visit in the world. It is the heart of Japan to many tourists, filled with splendor from both the old world and modern marvels. Of course, it also happens to be the fifth most expensive city in the world for expats.

Who says it has to be an unreachable space for tourists on a budget, though? There are plenty of free or affordable spots to visit in Tokyo if you are smart with your money and know where to look. Check out the best places to visit even in times of inflation.

1. Harajuku

Harajuku is a popular haunt for people who want to express themselves with fashion and cosplay. You’ll find tons of cool little gems here and stores that fit every niche you can think of. The streets themselves are full of life with art and uniquely dressed regulars getting some boba.

If you plan to visit this bustling district, you’ll need to know exactly how to break bad spending habits if you’re going to make it out without a hole in your pocket. The main driving factor to watch for is emotional spending, and 77% of people surveyed have admitted to doing retail therapy. Make sure you recognize what triggers you to spend out of your means so you can actively set your mind against it. Instead, focus on exploring the street art and free galleries in the area while trying out funky and relatively cheap snacks.

2. Tokyo Imperial Palace

Tokyo’s Imperial Palace is an impressive and historically significant place you can see in Tokyo. There are plenty of free tours that will take you through the gardens of the area and provide a solid view of the grounds. Keep in mind that while you can walk around and admire the natural beauty and centuries-old architecture, you are not allowed to enter the actual buildings within the palace.

On certain days, the areas open to the public are even more limited due to government regulations. But even then, it’s a tranquil spot for a stroll and some history.

3. Meguro River

Another delightful place to visit in Tokyo is the Meguro River. There are 830 cherry blossom trees along the river, and it’s a stunning sight to behold. The best times to visit here are the Spring and Winter to really capture the magic that this place beholds. Do note that April is usually the time when the blossoms really hit their full bloom.

You can enjoy a 3.2-kilometer walking trail to bask in the ambiance and check out some local snacks from the food vendors that are spread across the area. 

4. Shinjuku Gyoen Park

Also known as the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, this park and garden is one of the most beautiful and popular destinations you can visit on a budget. Admission is only 500 yen for adults and 250 yen for students. There are also special discounts for large groups of 30 or more people.
Here, you can see over 20,000 trees, seasonal blooms, and pristinely preserved historical structures. The serenity you can experience in this place is unmatched, especially compared to the busy modern life that buzzes across Tokyo just outside the gardens.

5. Senso-ji Temple

Where Kyoto has the famous temple of Daigo-ji, Tokyo has the unforgettable Senso-ji temple. Much like its counterpart, this ancient Buddhist temple is heavily revered and considered a beacon of spirituality to this day. Even if you aren’t particularly spiritual, there is still much to enjoy on the temple grounds.

There are plenty of interesting things to do like visiting an o- mikuji stall, admiring the temple statues, and enjoying a fireworks display. Do prepare to contend with crowds during peak seasons, especially since admission is free.

6. Kabukicho

If you’re more of a nightlife lover and thrill seeker, you may want to check out Kabukicho. Drenched in neon lights and a mix of game centers and red-light entertainment, simply strolling through these streets is an experience. There are tons of amusing themed bars to visit with great music, especially if you’ve ever found yourself curious about the host culture in Japan. If you can find a Japanese friend, you’ll be welcomed to even more establishments that are usually closed off to tourists. 

It’s an even more tantalizing place to see now that the Tokyo Kabukicho Tower, a new 225-meter-tall skyscraper, has just been unveiled. Food halls, cinemas, game centers, hotels, and more can be found here along with an admittedly offputting view of the popular Godzilla Statue.

7. Meiji Jingu Shrine

Enveloped in forestry, the Meiji Jingu Shrine almost feels like another world. General admission is free, and it’s very easy to get to from the Metro. There are a few shops and museums to be found, but you don’t need to spend anything to walk around and visit the temple. You can also visit its wall of painted barrels to learn more about the unique history that grounds this place.

8. Tokyo Tower

Who says a budget trip means you can’t visit the most iconic spots in Tokyo? Tokyo Tower is the epitome of post-war revitalization as it was one of the first structures built to symbolize the city’s resurgence after World War 2. If you feel like it looks familiar, this is because it was made to emulate certain aspects of the Eiffel Tower in France. The Tokyo Tower is actually taller at a height of 333 meters, and you can get a magnificent view of the skyline from its observatories for 1200 yen.

9. Shibuya Crossing

Few intersections are as recognizable as Shibuya Crossing. It is considered the busiest crossing in the world, with around 3,000 pedestrians passing at any regular interval. The intersection has had appearances in countless paintings, photography series, movies, shows, manga, and even video games. Its infamy has reached such heights that a full-scale replica has even been created just to be able to recreate it for filming.

Aside from transport to get here, you don’t have to pay anything to experience the wonder of this iconic place. Once you’ve crossed yourself, you can also enjoy plenty of other points of interest within Shibuya.

10. Tokyo National Museum

For the budget traveler who wants to immerse themselves in the culture, the Tokyo National Museum is the one-stop shop for all things Japan. It has a very extensive collection with over 100,000 individual items stemming from different periods. The best part about visiting this museum is that its tickets are a far cry from the other very expensive museums littered across the country. Entry to regular exhibitions ranges from 600 to 1,000 yen for adults.