Top 10 Cheap things to do in Tokyo

Updated 03/04/2020 Tokyo is not a cheap destination. Watch your expenses or burn a hole in your wallet. That being said, there are a lot of cheap things to do in Tokyo and you can still have an awesome Tokyo experience! 

1. Go up the observation deck of Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building

The sunset view from Tokyo Metropolitan Building.

One of the first cheap things to do in Tokyo is actually free! With hundreds of skyscrapers making up the skyline, Tokyo is a city with a mind-blowing aeriel view. 

Ascend to the observation deck of Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building located in Shinjuku to feast your eyes with the free aerial view that it has to offer. If the day is clear, you can even see the snow-capped Mount Fuji from the observation deck.

As there’s no time limit on how long you can stay, stay till sunset or even till night to enjoy the exuberant, neon-lit night view of Tokyo.

2. Wander around the romantic Tokyo University

tokyo university main building clock tower under blue sky cheap things to do in tokyo
Tokyo University is one of the best (if not the best) universities in Japan. Think of it like Harvard and Cambridge.

Famous for its academic prowess, Tokyo University has produced 10 Nobel prize laureates and also 18 prime ministers of Japan. The university is so beautiful that countless movies, dramas, manga and anime series have used it as a filming location.

This is one of the cheap things to do in Tokyo. A student area is a cheap area.

A bustling student neighbourhood must have many quirky cafés and that’s right! Head to Kuriya Kashi Kurogi, which is a café designed by Tokyo University’s very own lecturer!

If you wanna experience scenes in mangas where students dine in the student cafeteria, head to Hongo Central Cafeteria and you will be able to buy something to eat too!

If you haven’t visited any other Japanese university before, make Tokyo University the first one as it really gives off a different feel of how universities are like in Japan compared to those in other countries.

3. Visit the man-made island, Odaiba

Look at all the hydrageas at Odaiba!

According to my host, Odaiba is the hotspot for Japanese couples to hang out. If you are here in summer, you can also enjoy a great view of the blooming hydrangeas by the bay of Odaiba.

In July, Odaiba is home to one of the largest fireworks shows in Japan. There are a lot of events all year round in Odaiba, so be sure to check what’s happening at Odaiba before you go! Most of them cost nothing to free, making it one of the best cheap things to do in Tokyo!

Check out the official website!

4. Catch a glimpse of the Shibuya crossing

Busy traffic and pedestrians crossing at Shibuya crossing under summer sun
To get the best view of the Shibuya crossing, make sure you visit one of the cafes that's located at the top floor so you can watch the world goes by with a cup of latte!

With 100,000 crossing here everyday, Shibuya is officially the busiest crossing in the world. From above, it looks like a miniature mass migration.

For a terrific view, go to the nearby Starbucks cafe and take the window seat. Take an obligatory time-lapse while enjoying a cup of Matcha Latte from Starbucks! This is one of the best cheap things you can do in Tokyo!

5. Visit Sensoji at Asakusa

One of the most touristy place in Tokyo.

You just need 100 yen to check out your fortune! This is my favourite cheap things to do in Tokyo!

This gigantic temple is the most touristy place that I’ve been in Japan. Despite the hordes of tourists, I still think that Sensoji is a must-see attraction in Tokyo, as the architecture and the history are simply spellbinding.

Besides, Asakusa has a lot of other tourist attractions that are all located a stone throw away, such as the Tokyo Skytree. You can also window shop at the famous Nakamise street and buy some last-minute souvenirs for your loved ones. 

If you are interested, you can also try an Omikuji (paper fortune) to check your luck with a mere 100 yen. Don’t get too upset if it says that you’re not gonna get a partner forever though.

6. Head to the biggest fish market in the world

Pamper yourself with fresh sashimi at Tsukiji Market!

Tsukiji fish market (Update 2019: has moved to Toyosu Market) is the biggest fish market in the world. It markets 660,000 TONNES of fish per year! This is heavier than the Burj Khalifa – the tallest building in the world!

This is the best cheap things to do in Tokyo if you are not going all out. The sashimi here are super fresh so it’s hard not to treat yourself a little bit more as the price isn’t that high. However, bear in mind that all the sushi will add up! 

If you are imagining Tsukiji as the typical fish market with an unbearable stench, fear not because it’s actually one of the cleanest markets that I’ve been (and it doesn’t smell). 

As the seafood in Tsukiji fish market is so fresh, you should have lunch at one of the sashimi restaurants there. Any sashimi will be good. 

Try Tamagoyaki (rectangular egg) from the street vendors and it’s gonna blow your mind. Also, Tsukiji fish market has a tuna auction every early morning. Grab your spots fast as there are only limited spots for tourists.

UPDATES (21/06/2019): Tsukiji fish market has moved to Toyosu Market due to 2020 Tokyo Olympics. 

7. Visit Tokyo Dome

Tokyo dome during sunset cheap things to do in tokyo
There are many things happening in Tokyo dome. Even though the events inside are not cheap by walk-in, tickets can get crazy cheap online, making it one of the best cheap things to do in Tokyo.
Roller coaster ride in a theme park next to tokyo dome
If you are keen for a spontaneous thrill ride as if our life hasn't gotten enough rollercoaster rides for us!

For some reasons, baseball is one of the most popular sports in Japan. And Tokyo Dome is home to major baseball games in Japan. You can see fans lining up for tickets a day before the ticket counters are even open!

If you love thrill rides, there is an amusement park sitting right next to Tokyo dome. 

Check out the official website here.

8. Wander around the historical palace

Nijubashi bridge cheap things to do in Tokyo
Nijubashi bridge is one of the oldest bridges in Tokyo. Make sure you check out the opening hours because when I was there, the entrance to the other side of the bridge was closed!

Located on the former site of Edo Castle, the Imperial Palace is a short walk from Tokyo station. The palace was once destroyed during World War II, and that’s why you can see some remnants lying around. You can access the site using Nijubashi bridge.

Visiting the castle complex is free! 

9. Visit Ueno Park

fountain ueno park cheap things to do in tokyo
Really felt like jumping in there as the sun in Tokyo during summer is blazing hot!

This is my personal favourite of all parks in Tokyo. It houses a few museums, a zoo, a cultural centre, a beautiful pond and some live performances! Grab something from the convenience store and have a picnic there.

10. Become an otaku in Akihabara

Just admire the colourful neons and advertisements!

Otaku basically means obsessed, and in this context, it means “people with immense interest in Japanese animations”, be it manga, anime, games and so on.

However, Akihabara is not only for these people! At Akihabara, you can see cosplayers, colourful signboards, maid cafes, ubiquitous gambling pachinkos and other things that you can never see out of Japan! Enjoy the lively vibe that Akihabara has to offer and also, be prepared for some culture shocks too!

On Sundays, the main road (Chuo Dori) is closed to car traffic. Wander around as you like and fear the busy traffic no more! Take that photo of you lying in the middle of the road (if you have no problem with passerby judging you all the time)!

Where to stay?

If you wanna experience a good capsule hotel, stay with Nine Hours Shinjuku. It’s really hard to get such a good price in a good capsule hotel in area like Shinjuku! You gotta experience how staying in a capsule hotel is like in Japan!

If not, opt for a budget hotel. I find Belken Hotel to be one of the cheaper ones in the central of Tokyo as compared to other offers around the area.

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Tokyo is not cheap but there are plenty of free things to do in Tokyo! Make sure to check this guide out to keep your wallet in shape!
Don't wanna overspend but still wanna enjoy Tokyo? Make sure that you check these Top 10 free things to do in Tokyo!

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