Getting around Tokyo on a Student’s Budget

The allure of exploring a new place in a different country is one of the best perks of studying abroad. Discovering exotic locations, culture, language, tradition, and of course, bargain shopping! Tokyo is one of the most expensive cities in the world, and for any foreign student, it may be quite a challenge to stay on budget. One of the main concerns  is budgeting for transportation costs.

Some tips to save on transportation:

Trains & Subways

Tokyo’s train and subway system is a series of reliable, convenient, and comfortable network of state of the art carriages that can get you around the city and even out of it in hardly any time at all. There are two separate subway operators (Tokyo Metro and Toei) as well as one major rail company (JR) and a multitude of private line operators. Usually it costs less to change between the different operators on a single journey.

Train railway. | tokyoform

If you plan on staying for more than 24 hours in one destination, it would be advisable to get a Suica travel pass. These are cards that you can charge up with credit and use on all lines. They work all across Japan. This will save you time on thinking of what kind of ticket to purchase. You can also use the cards to pay for items from vending machines and at shops. You can get these cards  at the JR ticket office at a station, or at Narita or Haneda Airport as soon as you arrive. You can even hand in the card back when you don’t need it anymore to receive the 500 yen deposit.

Bullet train. | NJ Moore

Go for a walk

Another way to save on transportation costs is to walk. If the distance is close enough for a walk, why not take advantage of the exercise? Tokyo is a beautiful and vibrant city with so many things to experience and see. By walking around the city to get to your destination, you’ll be able to experience more of the culture, meet more people, and perhaps even discover some off the beaten path finds worth remembering.

Walking in Shinjuku. | Kageaki Smith at KCP Flickr

Take a bus

Japan’s bus system can be useful to get to some areas the train or subway can’t get to. Bus fares are cheap and you can even use Pasmo/Suica contact-less payment cards. Just remember to study the bus routes and consider asking a local to help you out in telling the driver where to let you out. Highway buses are also one of the cheapest options when travelling out of the city.

Hello Kitty-themed bus. | Jody McIntyre