Wednesday, January 23, 2013

How to get from Narita Airport to Tokyo city.

Bus Train information counter Tokyo Consult Tokyoconsult
Bus and Train information counter at Narita airport
Narita airport is located approximately 50 miles (80 kilometers) from Tokyo city. Getting from Narita airport to the city might make first time travelers feel a bit uneasy. It is actually surprising easy to do in a area where the public transportation system is best established in the world.

-To read about how much to budget for your trip to Tokyo, visit Budget: How much does it cost to go to Tokyo?
-To read about how to plan your trip to Tokyo, visit Planning for your trip to Tokyo
-To read about where you can find the best Ramen in Tokyo, visit Best Ramen in Tokyo.


Rental Car

For most of the people from North America, rental cars might come into mind. However, dealing with international driver's license, rental car process, new driving rules (on the opposite side of the road) and lack of parking spaces in Tokyo city, are definitely complicated and intimidating in one of the busiest city in the world. Driving a rental car is definitely not recommended for first time travelers in Japan. I would reserve this option for more advanced travelers and will possible discuss about this topic in my future blog post.

-Advantage: Freedom.
-Disadvantage: Trouble; Cost; Parking issues; Traffic.


Taxi

It is perhaps the easiest method. All you need to do is to wave at one right after you get out of the airport terminal. Imagining paying for taxi for a 50 mile (80 kilometer) ride. The cost might be as high as 40,000 yen one way. That is close to 500 USD or 400 EURO. Traffic might also get in the way of the taxi ride and adds to the high cost of taxi fare. Traffic in Tokyo could add an additional hour to your total taxi ride. Sure it is convenient and easy, but I rather reserve this option for when someone else is paying for my ride or when I have won the lottery ticket.

-Advantage: Easy; No need to drag luggage on the streets.
-Disadvantage: COST!!! Traffic


Public Transportation

In my opinion, public transportations are the best ways to get from Narita airport to the city center. With the rising cost of travel expenses and exchange rate, the cost-performance value is high with public transportation. Most of the train stations access are located in the basement of Narita terminals. As soon as travelers go through the customs, look for signs directing to basement train ticket office/platform.


Train

Narita Express Train Tokyo Consult Tokyoconsult
Modern looking seats in the Narita Express train

JR Narita Express

Modern, fast , and simple choice for first time travelers. The cost is approximately 3,000 to 3,500 for one way trip. Round-trip ticket with SUICA card package offers lower rate and it is a great deal in my opinion. Narita Express train line stops at major stations in Tokyo, which include Tokyo, Shinagawa, Shibuya, Shinjuku, Ikebukuro. The travel time will be around 60 to 80 minutes depending on the destination.

-Advantage: Fast; Convenient; Covered by JR Pass; Smooth ride; Reserved seats; No traffic.
-Disadvantage: Only stops at major stations in the city; not the cheapest option.


JR Train (Sobu Line)

Local train that takes you from the airport terminal to Ueno. It is one of the cheapest options to get from the airport to the city. The train will stop at many local stations. There will be many budget travelers riding this train. The time it takes to get to the city will be approximately 90 minnutes. Costs around 1200 to 1500 yen for an one-way ride.


-Advantage: Inexpensive; Mostly commuter locals. No traffic.
-Disadvantage: Slower than other options; Not the most comfortable train ride. No reserved seats and seats are limited; Travelers might be standing during the entire train ride.


Skyliner (Airport Express)

Fastest/Newest option Narita/Tokyo has to offer. It takes approximately 45 minutes to get from Narita to Ueno/Nippori station. Reserved seats. Cost is about 2,000 to 2,500 yen. Package deals with one/two-day Metro pass are also available.

-Advantage: Fast, bullet-train-like speed. Reserved seats. Slightly cheaper than Narita Express. No traffic.
-Disadvantage: Stops at Nippori and Ueno station only, it will require transfer on other train lines in order to get to your final destination. Not the cheapest option.


Keisei (Keisei Limited Express)

Similar to local JR train ride. Inexpensive option that costs around 1,000 to 1,200 yen. No reserved seats. It takes slightly over an hour to get from Narita to Ueno/Nippori area. It will usually require transfer of train if the final destination is not Ueno/Narita.

-Advantage: Inexpensive. No traffic.
-Disadvantage: Slower than other options; Not the most comfortable train ride. No reserved seats and seats are limited, one might be standing during the entire train ride.


Bus (Limousine Bus)

It is the most convenient option if you are carrying a big suitcase. Travelers would not have to drag their suitcases across the streets when taking the bus. The bus company staff will place your luggage in the bus storage and drop them when you get off at your destination. The bus stops usually include major hotels and major metropolitan bus stops. Due to traffic, the bus might take up to 90 to 120 minutes to get to the city. The cost of the bus ride is approximately 3000 yen. Package deals are also available for the Limousine bus and Metro pass. The bus company counter is located right on the first floor of the Narita airport, signs of the counter are visible right after going through the custom; Bus company staff will be standing near the counter and answer questions for travelers.

-Advantage: Convenient; Comfortable; Better sightseeing of the streets; Reserved seats.
-Disadvantage: Stops only at major hotels and metropolitan train stops.

There might be other options of getting from Narita to Tokyo, but the options I listed are the most practical ones for first time travelers.


ADVANTAGE of Narita airport vs. Haneda airport

- More options on mode of transportation that takes you into the city.
- Airport transportation give you more options on your destination in the city.
- Chances to ride Nartia Express train and Skyliner train.
- Possible more flight options into Narita airport.


What would you take to get from the airport into Tokyo city?
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