Tokyo first stops
First Stops is a collection of top picks you can rely on for a great time.
Japan's capital city is undoubtedly vast and full of sightseeing spots, so it's no coincidence that Tokyo boasts one of the best public transport systems in the world. Getting from A to B, or landmark to landmark isn't tricky. Avoid taxis - they're relatively pricey and you'll end up sitting in traffic instead of taking in the sights. Instead, traverse the city the quickest and most cost-effective way: by subway and train. Load up a prepaid travel card like a Pasmo or Suica and you'll be able to hop on and off Tokyo's numerous lines as often as you like.
While there are a plethora of gastronomic delights in Tokyo, sinking your teeth into a classic with a contemporary twist is a great place to start your culinary journey. Make a beeline to one of Tokyo's many high-tech kaiten-zushi dining spots, which translates to sushi go-round or conveyor belt sushi; you'll find them peppered throughout Shibuya and Shinjuku. Place your order on the tablet in front of you and in moments your freshly prepared sushi will arrive.
No night out in Tokyo would be complete without becoming one with its pop culture and singing your heart out in one of the sprawling city's infamous karaoke joints. It's not hard to stumble upon somewhere to give your vocal chords a workout as karaoke spots are scattered throughout the city. Keep your eyes open for popular chains such as Big Echo. Don't be shy either as bashful songbirds can enjoy flexing their vocal chords in a private room.
For those looking for some respite from the hustle and bustle of the neon-drenched streets, a tranquil corner of the city is easy to find with Tokyo being home to a number of breathtaking parks and gardens. Take a stroll through expansive and luscious Ueno Park which is teeming with wildlife and greenery no matter the season. In April crowds flock to Ueno for cherry blossom season; from late July to mid August the park's Shinobazu Pond is covered by blooming lotus flowers. One of the best activities in Tokyo is simply stopping to smell the flowers.
This is a city that comes alive at night, and when the sun goes down there's no shortage of perfect spots to enjoy a tipple of one of Japan's homegrown beers, sakes or shōchūs. A view from above is the ideal way to find your bearings after a day of exploring. As the sun sets, head up to the 33rd floor of the Prince Park Tower and get comfy in a window booth at Sky Lounge Stellar Garden - the illuminated Tokyo Tower is a sight not to be missed.
Pop culture and tradition collide everywhere you turn in Tokyo, but the city's many temples and shrines remain a drawcard for locals and tourists alike. Make Tokyo's oldest and most-visited temple, Asakusa Sensō-ji, one of your first destinations. Get your fortune told by Omikuji - a small written fortune - and sink your teeth into some traditional Japanese sweets. Those in search of souvenirs won't be disappointed either. The Nakamise pathway leading up to the temple is lined with hundreds of shops selling various knick knacks including kimonos and traditional art and crafts.