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World Travel Guide > Guides > Asia > Japan > Tokyo

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Getting around Tokyo

Public transport

In Tokyo, public transport is fast and effective. People are friendly and willing to help, and many signs are in English. JR (a consortium of six companies) runs most of the overground trains in Tokyo while Tokyo Metro and Toei Subway operate most of the subway (underground) lines. For visitors, getting a Suica or Pasmo IC card is ideal if you plan to use public transport in Tokyo. These cards are prepaid and rechargeable, allowing you to ride and transfer among overground, subway and busses.

Taxis

It's easy to find a taxi in Tokyo, either on the street or at taxi ranks near main stations, though they aren't cheap. Tipping is not customary and could offend. Taxi drivers rarely speak English, so make sure you have your destination written out in Japanese.

Nihon Kotsu (tel: +81 3 5755 2336) is one of the biggest and most reliable taxi companies in Tokyo, and phone operators speak English.

Driving

As public transport is excellent and taxis are reliable, there is little need to drive in Tokyo.

Car hire

You need both a national driving licence and an International Driving Permit to drive in Japan. The minimum age for hiring a car varies, although most places won't rent to under-21s. The biggest car hire company, with more than 100 branches in the Tokyo area, is Nippon Rent-A-Car (www.nrgroup-global.com).

Bicycle hire

You can often hire bicycles at suburban railway stations or make use of Docomo Cycle (docomo-cycle.jp), a bike-sharing scheme. Alternatively, check out Tokyo Bike Rentals Yanaka (tokyobikerentals.com).

Featured Hotels

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Claska Hotel

Modern minimalist design and classic Japanese aesthetics brush shoulders in this hip hotel, just outside of the city centre. There’s the chance to choose between a western–style room or traditional tatami space. Each option comes with plenty of home comforts, including beautiful toiletries and access to a huge CD and DVD collection. There’s even an in–house gallery, plus a French/Japanese fusion restaurant.

Hoshinoya Tokyo

Opened in the summer of 2016, Hoshinoya is a unique urban offering for Tokyo, a hotel with a contemporary take on Japan’s legendary omotenashi hospitality, set right at the heart of the city's Otemachi district. Leave your shoes at the door and unwind into spacious quarters, designed with a tasteful nod to the traditional Japenese aesthetic. The 19-floor hotel with stylish lattice exterior forms a bijou enclave in this bustling business district, just a 10 minute walk from Tokyo Station. You won't want to leave your ochanoma lounge area, allocated exclusively to guests staying on each floor and decked in traditional tatami mats, it has a library, sofas and kitchen space. But if you do the rooftop onsen spa is a truly unique Tokyo experience. The hot spring waters are the perfect cure for urban fatigue and will help you revitalise your body and mind, all the while staring up at the open Tokyo skies above.

Hotel Gracery Shinjuku

Set only a few minutes' walk from Shinjuku train station and in easy walking distance of a dizzying array of shops and restaurants, Gracery Shinjuku is something of a landmark - it's set in a modern high rise building that's 30 stories high, and there's a giant replica godzilla head peering out the side. If you're willing to pay extra, you can stay in a godzilla-themed room too. Though the rooms are compact, the bathrooms are larger than the norm and the higher rooms have scenic city views; there's also a convenient Italian restaurant on-site and a cinema on the ground floor.

Park Hyatt Tokyo

The Park Hyatt Tokyo's role as muse and backdrop to Coppola's Lost in Translation pushed it onto the world stage in 2003. Towering over fashionable Shinjuku, guests enter on the 41st floor and gaze across the neon-lit Tokyo sky. Art blends with sleek architecture and spacious rooms, and even the spa combines tradition and modernisation with impressive success. Plus, there's something to be said for working out in the gym that tormented Bill Murray.

Hotel Asia Center of Japan

Quite possibly offering the cheapest double rooms in central Tokyo, this hotel is ideal as as a central base for a short visit. Within walking distance of the ex-pat haven of Roppongi, and the restaurants and bars of Aoyama Itchome, guests are well placed for sightseeing.

Imperial Hotel

This 5-star luxury hotel in Vilnius and is set in a historic 16th-century building. Its great Old Town location, super helpful staff and 55 spotless rooms combine to make this a deservedly popular choice with business and leisure travellers alike.