10, 11, 12 or even more hours in a plane to Tokyo and when you get to the airport, you’re still 70 km away from Tokyo city. Thankfully, as in many other things in the city, there are plenty of options to go from Narita airport to Tokyo and cheapest is not always best, more convenient or even faster.
So, after a while sharing it private, I’ve decided to share with all of you my full guide of options with pricing, pros and cons, plus where to get the tickets in advance:
Going by bus from NRT airport to Tokyo
Do you think that the bus is the cheapest option to go to downtown Tokyo from the airport? Well, it depends on where you are heading to. Below are some really nice options if you are not in a hurry or are looking for convenience:
Airport Limousine Bus
If you are going to one of the main hotels in Tokyo or near and you want a transport that takes you comfortably next to your door, Limousine Bus is the best option for you. It takes you to Shinjuku, Tokyo Station, Ikebukuro, Ginza… and even outside Tokyo to places like Disney or Takayama, for example.
To be honest, it doesn’t really look like a “limousine”. It is a regular bus with wifi and room for up to 2 pieces of luggage (of 30 kg each) per person. And in the cons, it can take you from 60 to 140 minutes to go to your destination.
Price? You can buy it at the airport for about 3,200 yen / person or 4,500 for a return ticket (you must return 14 days after the first use, so it might not suit all travelers) and you can also buy vouchers of 4 trips for 8,000 yen (you can use it for different people, 4 persons one way or two return, which is quite nice pricing.)
Buying online or at the counter? It depends. Some routes get full easily and others are perfect upon arrival. My tip is to book online if you can with the exception of the group tickets, which are not available.
You can book online from the month before of your trip or 5 minutes before, paying at their site or book via Govoyagin or en Klook in Euros, from 23 euros one way and 36 return.
And kids? Free under 5 years old (without using a seat) and 50% discount up to 11 years old.
Tokyo Shuttle Bus (now TYO-NRT)
This option is the result of two different options: Keisei bus and The Access Narita merging. It is a great option if you are traveling to/from Tokyo and Ginza stations and while it is a much more basic service (no wifi and no toilet) it leaves every 20 minutes by day and at different times at night.
Major differences with Limousine Bus is that it only goes to Tokyo – Ginza, you you can only take one piece of luggage with you and you cannot buy it online.
Price? 1000 yen single way (kids pay 50%) except if you are traveling by night, when it doubles the price (between 23:00 and 05:00). You can buy the tickets at the counters at the airport (from 07:00 to 23:00) and after that you can buy it at the bus.
It takes from 60 to 95 minutes to take you downtown (if there’s a lot of traffic). Having said that, it is the best option to go to the airport at night. You have a trip at 24:00 and then trips start at 03:00 (every hour until 7AM). And from the airport to town, last one is at midnight and 1:45 AM, then nothing until 7AM.
Going by train from narita to Tokyo (JR and others)
Train is probably the most popular option for travelers arriving to Narita airport. It is not a bad option at all and there are all sort of pricings (depending on your luggage and how you value convenience). These are the main.
Keisei Access and Limited Express
This regular train connects Narita Airport Station with Nippori and Ueno stations, which are an easy way to connect with major hotel locations through the JR Yamanote line in about one hour and a half (or two hours). The Express one would also take you to Nihombashi, Ginza and Asakusa.
On the cons, you shouldn’t take big luggage or backpacks with you during peak time (it’w a regular commute train most japanese use to go to work) and when getting the tickets at the Keisei counter you must highlight that you DO NOT want to ride the Skyliner (they don’t believe you would want a slower and less convenient train as a tourist).
Cost is about 10€ but you must get it at the airport (can’t be booked in advance but you can pay with your Pasmo or Suica IC card).
Keisei Skyliner train
Hop on in Narita airport and arrive in just 40 minutes at Ueno (35 min. at Nippori) is truly convenient (you can get from there to almost anywhere in Tokyo by metro or train). There is one every 45 minutes (more at peak hours9 and 20€ one way (some promos below).
Pros? Besides pricing and speed, there’s luggage storage, free wifi (at stations). And it is the best option for Ueno
Pricing: You can book it for about 20€ (for an specific day and hour) at 12GO or buy a train pass at Klook that you can exchange for a ticket in the next 6 months from buying it. You can also get a pass at Govoyagin, it is redeemable at the counter on the day you select.
For me, it is better to book a return ticket that comes together with a 24, 48 or 72 hours metro pass for Tokyo via Klook.
N’EX or Narita Express from Japan Rail
For many people, N’EX is the main option and would never go further. Why? Because this train is included at the Japan Rail Pass and it takes your fast to Shibuya, Shinjuku, Ikebukuro or Tokyo Central Station.
So, you could travel for free on it with the JRPass and it might not be worth (yet). But, is it a good option if you have to pay for it? For many locations in Tokyo it is. For example, it takes you straight to Shibuya for only 3060 yen (4070 return ticket) which is not cheap but it is direct.
It is also comfortable for carrying luggage and you can charge (and use) your laptop when on it. There is one every half an hour aprox. and takes one hour to get to central Tokyo and 90 minutes for Shibuya or Shinjuku. It also includes your connecting ticket to any other point of the JR line within Tokyo (not Metro or Keisei or other). And there is free wifi.
Cons? Return ticket must be used within 14 days and you have to buy it at the airport.
You can book it online (if not using the JR Pass) at Klook. Or you can try to add it to your JR Pass, but check first if it’s worth or not (spreasheet included at the link).
How to go from narita airport to central Tokyo at night:
If your trip arrives very late to Narita Airport, you have different options, among which is sleeping in Narita, the city, or booking a room at the capsule hotel inside the airport itself. But if you are thinking on sleeping in Tokyo so you can start your day there, just remember going through passport control and customs can take you 1 hour if this is your first entry to Japan and that you might as well need some extra time for getting the tickets at the counter.
These are the options you have at night from the airport*
- 21:44 Train Narita Express N’EX to Tokyo Station, Shibuya, Shinjuky or Ikebukuro (you would have time to change to your final stop once in Tokyo) or towards Yokohama
- 21:15 Limousine Bus to Ginza, Shibuya or Roppongi
- 22:49 Tren Keisei Access Express to Ueno
- 23:10 Bus Keisei Access Narita – Tokyo Shuttle (now TYO-NRT) to Tokyo Station (price doubles for this last one and tickets are available at the bus) and then next one is about 6AM
- 23:20 Train Keisei Skyliner to Nippori or Ueno
- 23:30 Limousine Bus to Ikebukuro, Tokyo Station of Shinjuku (careful with this one, their counters at T1 and T2 close at 23:00 so you cannot buy the ticket there, you can only travel if you have your ticket exchanged for that trip)
- Any time: Transfer privado o compartido.
I would also add car rentals but local operators such as Nissan or Nippon close by 20:00 or 21:00 depending on the season
*The timetables refer to the ones published today (date of publication). They might change during high season or peak events, so better double check before booking.
Going to Tokyo by taxi or private transfer
Although not many travelers consider taxis now, it might be worth booking a van or getting a taxi that takes you directly to your hotel door to door. There are different options:
- Private transport up to 7 people, any time of the day from 180€ (you pay by van, not occupancy). You can book it through 12Go, Klook or Civitatis
- Private transport up to 10 people, any time, from 197€ (you pay by van, not occupancy). Available through 12Go.
- Shared transport by shared Shuttled bus to the Tokyo centre. They only take you to hotels and don’t accept travelers going to AirBnbs or hostels. You might book it thgough GoVoyagin from 50€/person or Viator.
Things to know in advance: If carrying a lot of luggage (or huge bags) they won’t fit everyone. Check before you book or think on using a service like the one from Kuroneko (Yamato) which would take your luggage directly to your hotel.
At private transport (not shared) you can also request a child seat in advance and most of them wait for you, up to 90 minute delays from your expected arrival time.
Every option ordered by price
Ok. Final price will depend on what else you will need to get to your hotel but imagining that you got that covered this is the list (per person):
- Free – Japan Rail Pass and N’EX when you activate your pass at arrival. It might not be worth doing this for many travelers, but you can calculate this easily with this spreadshet.
- 8€ – TYO-NRT Tokyo Shuttle
- 10€ – Keisei Narita Limited Express
- 20€ – Keisei Skyliner
- 23€ – Bus Limousine
- 26€ – JR N’EX Narita Express without Japan Rail Pass
- 20-26€ – Private transfer for a team from 7 to 10 people
- 50€ – Shuttle bus (shared)
Note: Pricing is per persona and in euros. Real price is yen so check your best options for traveling in a different currency. Check the links for extra options like special prices for return tickets or combined fares.
And by time
Well, time is relative and Tokyo is big and times will depend on where you are heading to (find below the best option for each area) but in general terms, the fastest ones are: Keisei Skyliner, N’EX, private transport and buses, in that order.
top transport from the airport by area:
Best option to go from Narita Airport to Asakusa (Taito-ku) is the Keisei Access Express (not the Skyliner), for price and time. BUT, if you are carrying big luggage, you must send it by Yamato to your hotel or take the Limousine Bus, because it is a regular train and has no luggage compartments.
And to go from Narita airport to Ueno (Taito-ku): Keisei Skyliner. This is the fastest option and not really expensive. There are cheaper options from Keisei (Access and Limited) but only recommended without luggage (as said above).
Or for going from Narita to Ikebukuro (Toshima-ku): You have three very goodoptions for a little money difference: Skyliner (direct from Terminal 1 and with 1 transfer from the other terminal buildings), N’EX Narita Express and Limousine Bus (both direct). First one is fastest, the other ones are better if you need to carry more luggage with you.
Best option from Narita to Roppongi (Minato Ward): Limousine Bus. You could use the Skyliner to Ueno and change to Roppongi, but you would be saving 10 minutes only at non-peak times. Of course, at peak times the difference would be over 45 minutes but you must take into account the luggage (peak times with big luggage or backpacks is not the wisest choice in Japan.)
And if you want to go from the airport to Shinjuku: N’EX or Narita Express goes straight to Shinjuku (not all trains, better ask before boarding) or Limousine Bus.
And, finally, if you want to go to Ginza/Tokyo Central Station: bus TYO-NRT for price and money. The option Keisei Limited Express + JR Yamanote is not much more expensive and it takes about the same time, but wouldn’t recommend it in peak times or with big luggage.