Tokyo is such an iconic, fascinating city that I think many people in this world would love to visit at least once in their life time.
Some of the many legit concerns I received from my readers regarding traveling to Tokyo are:
- I don’t speak any Japanese, I’m gonna get so lost everywhere.
- I have a really tight schedule and the Japanese are too punctual for my own good. I’m worried about missing my train, bus, boats…
- I am traveling with very young, energetic kids and I am intimidated by the complicated train system. I have to push a stroller and I panic when my baby cries in a crowded train!
- I am traveling with my family/parents/in-laws and after walking for 5 minutes they complain about knee pain. My MIL also needs to go to the washroom every 2 hours.
- It’s my first time so I want to see Tokyo Tower, Tokyo Sky Tree, Sensoji temple, Meiji shrine, the Imperial Palace… and I only have ONE day in Tokyo… and a flight to catch later.
- I want to buy 10kg worth of fresh groceries and I don’t want to carry them with me up and down the stairs through 3 different train rides and I just don’t want to deal with looking at the train map or GPS arghhhh.
(Ok. That last one is me. Haha.)
People who are hesitating to visit Tokyo because of the above troubles, I have some good news for you today! 😀
Tokyo Sightseeing Taxi!
Omg I’m really so loving the fact that Tokyo is getting more and more foreign-tourist-friendly, leading up to Tokyo Olympics 2020. I’m so excited!
What is Tokyo Sightseeing Taxi?
Yes, it is a chartered taxi just for you (and your travel companions). Tokyo Sightseeing Taxi will pick you up and drop you off where you want while touring Tokyo’s famous sights with guided explanation from the driver.
In another word, Tokyo Sightseeing Taxi is your door-to-door personal chauffeur. The gentleman in the photo is Yoshi, my personal chauffeur of the day!
Wow, that’s gonna break my bank!! You must be thinking right now. Well, I don’t blame you. All of us have heard that taxis in Tokyo are really, really expensive. But is it really so? We will find out soon!
What are the benefits of using a taxi for sightseeing in Tokyo?
Oh my god I probably need 10 blog posts for this, but let me summarize it for you.
1. Door-to-door service
Nope. You don’t have to wake up early to catch the bus or train or anything else anymore. Just let your chauffeur know what time and where to pick you up. Even right in front of your hotel’s door!
I told my driver to meet me in front of Meiji Jingumae outside Tommy Hilfiger as I will be waiting for another guest to join me and it’s also just minutes’ walk away from my accommodation.
The car was waiting right there for me even when I arrived 15 minutes early!! Of course for dropping off at the end of the day, you can request the driver to send you back to your hotel or any other destination you may like.
2.You can share the ride with your friends and family and split the cost!
Here’s my guest -RinRin!! She was my companion of the day, and we were going to Hakone together for the first time!
Chartering a taxi is of course a luxurious way to travel, but if you have a group of friends, it may be even more worth it than taking the public transport! Think about the effort you save planning a route and the time you save waiting for the next transport and looking at maps!
The usual taxis are sedan type, but you can also request up to a 9-seaters! So now it means you can split the cost with 8 other travellers! I think it’s really perfect especially for Malaysian/Singaporean because we have the culture of annual family trips (sometimes in-laws and yee ma ku che also come along right? Haha). You also don’t have to worry about your grandma’s knees anymore!
3. Relax allllllll the way
Since you won’t be fixated on the timetable for the next train and busy looking up the GPS, you can leave it all to your driver and just… relaxxxxxxxxx.
Yes, you can eat, chat, listen to music, or talk to your driver about all things in the world too if you like! I was having my breakfast (egg sandwich from combini, yums!) and RinRin was doing her make up. These are very precious perks especially for people who don’t like wasting any time!
4. Moving in ultimate comfort
This is super useful if you are the paranoid type of traveller who needs to bring everything with you; a mommy traveling with baby and stroller and a million big medium small bags; someone who lugs along heavy luggages and wants to see all of Tokyo before catching a flight back; a photography enthusiastic who carries 3 different big medium small cameras and tripod and stabilizers; or a shopaholic who just… shops too much.
Because now, you can bring everything with you and just leave them in the car. No muscle pain and feeling like your back is breaking at the end of the day. Can traveling sound more luxurious than this?? 😀
Also! Depending on the car type, you also get to charge your phone AND pocket wifi so you will never miss out any social media opportunities. (Bring along your cables just in case!)
This is a bonus – you can wear heels!!! Unless you are going to climb a mountain, you can finally wear that pair of gorgeous kicks and not worried about your legs breaking as you will do very little walking since you have a taxi to bring you everywhere now.
5. Worry-free itinerary
Lots of things can go wrong even if you are an experienced traveler, especially if you are using the public transport.
Am I at the right platform for the train? Are we getting off the right station? Do I have enough time for transits? Can we make it on time for all the itinerary?!?
It could get really overwhelming. Trust me. Been there done that. Countless of times. Haha.
With a taxi, the only worry you have is probably road traffic. Even so, you are still going to make it to your final destinations instead of wasting time waiting for the next train or bus or think of an alternative solution if you missed the one you are supposed to take.
6. English Speaking Personal Guide
This is one of the most important points. All Tokyo Sightseeing Taxi Drivers are certified drivers by the Tokyo Hire-Taxi Association and have completed a set of trainings. They are not just taxi drivers. They are highly qualified drivers who have obtained 3 official certifications: Tokyo City Guide Examination, Universal Driver Training, and Tokyo Sightseeing Taxi Certification Training.
Your driver will accompany you to give you a guided tour through all your sightseeing spots, unless the venue does not allow this. (Please note that you will have to cover all the admission tickets to attractions, and your driver’s too if you’d like him to be with you.)
All drivers can confidently provide guidance about the attractions of Tokyo. Our driver Yoshi (only 26 years old, he is so young!) was so well-versed with Hakone he could even tell us the history of each sightseeing spots and could gave us many useful recommendations. I was very impressed. And of course, he speaks perfect English and guided us only in English.
He’s also very friendly and helpful, it really made our trip very pleasant. For those who are worried about communication and language, your driver will always be happy to help you out to make sure you have the best of your journey.
7. Freedom to customize your course
You can of course plan your own itinerary and determine a schedule at your own comfort, but there are also some model courses you can use as reference!
I have picked Model Course 9 – Spa Time: Rejuvenate yourself in famous onsen waters just a short ride from Tokyo but I did slight modification to it (yes! You are totally allowed to make last minute changes or add in other locations).
Here’s our itinerary:
09:00 – Depart from original location
10:40 – POLA Museum of Art
12:00 – Hakone Shrine
12:30 – Lunch at Terrazza Ashinoko
13:30 – Hakone Sekisho
14:30 – Naraya Cafe
15:30 – Return to Tokyo
17:00 – End of tour
It was such a beautiful day we could see Mt Fuji so closely and clear! 😀
POLA Museum of Art
Our first stop.
Our first stop was Pola Museum of art. Hakone is famous for all its art museums, and I haven’t been to this one before. It is a museum blended in the nature in Hakone featuring paintings of impressionists such as Monet, Renoir and Gogh.
RinRin was quite a fan of art and she was really excited to see some of the renowned paintings in real life.
By Alfred Sisley.
Autumn coming to winter.
It’s really a very refreshing short stop, recommend to talk a walk in the serenity of Hakone woods.
My favorite power spot.
I’m here again! I can’t even remember how many times I’ve touched this tree. But this time is just to come back and give thanks and pray for family happiness and safety. 🙂
The main shrine is currently under renovation. This is the newly renovated Kuzuryu Shrine, said to give really good luck in terms of business and wealth.
This is out of the driver’s job scope but… hey if you need someone to help you with a photo or two, I’m sure your driver will be so happy to help you out!
This is the photo Yoshi took. Amazing!! This is an extremely popular photo-taking spot so do expect a mini queue. 🙂
I’d really recommend this cozy little restaurant for lunch if you visit Hakone Shrine! It’s just a very short drive away.
Enjoy the view of Hakone mountains and the entire lake!
It’s a newly opened pizzaria serving really good food with ingredients sourced locally. Love their pasta!!
I had the Shirasu & Negi Fettuccine (1,300 yen), it was really good!
Hakone Sekisho (箱根関所)
Next stop, we are on our way to Hakone Sekisho.
Hakone Sekisho was a gateway, installed during the Edo period to observe people traveling on the Tokaido road (sort of like the immigration & custom of olden days!) and was a place of trial for travelers for some 250 years. This gateway passage has been faithfully restored to how it was.
Spotted a pirate ship!
Immigration of Edo.
We are in jail!
Actually it’s not too bad. Just really cold without heater haha.
There’s also a tax free shop if you’re looking for some local souvenirs!
My favorite in the store is this series of “Himitsubako” – Trick box. It’s like magic+puzzle box. Check them out it’s really super cool!
If you don’t have time for an overnight stay in onsen ryokan, enjoying ashi yu (onsen footbath) at a unique cozy cafe might be something you’d like to put on your list in Hakone!
Naraya is a cafe with a gorgeous view of the mountains, it’s especially beautiful during autumn.
Almost everything is made of different kinds of woods.
Cute little display.
This is a shared space for foot bath! It’s free of charge and you can enjoy it as long as you order something from the cafe 🙂
A soak in natural hot spring! Ahhhh feels sooo good! Remember not to wear stocking when you come here!
If the foot bath is full, you can also head down to the basement to sit next to the fireplace to warm yourself up in cold winter time.
Play area for kids.
It’s like a book cafe!
A mini “loft”.
Our hot matcha, soft cream and Monaca (bean paste filled wafer).
Fill your own bean paste!
Heading back to Tokyo
It’s a little sad but it’s time to say goodbye to Hakone! I had another meeting in Tokyo after this so we gotta head back, but if you are looking for extensions, that’s also of course possible! 🙂
That’s all for our day trip to Hakone!
On the journey back RinRin also took a little nap haha.
Arrived back at Harajuku before RinRin and I went on to enjoy the night illumination at Omotesando.
Bye bye! Thank you so much for your hospitality, Yoshi!
What are the rates like?
The fees depends on the chartered hours, but here are some samples for your reference!
This is my course for example:
6-8 hour course for 30,000-40,000 yen!
It’s costly if you travel alone, but imagine going with a group of friends of 4, you will each pay only 10,000 per person!! TO HAKONE! That’s really not too bad considering if you buy the public transport tickets individually. Also, I was told that some taxi companies can provide 6 or 7 seaters at no additional charge even (what is this awesomeness, Japan??!), so imagine splitting the cost with even more people, making it super affordable!!
To be honestly I’d most definitely recommend using this service for Hakone day visit. Many readers have asked me before what’s the best transport to travel to Hakone, and I was not sure because all I know is that it is not easy. It involves trains, buses, cable cars, ropeways and boats to access from one place to another among all the popular attractions in Hakone.
Another reason I couldn’t really give any advice is because almost every time we rented a car and self-drive. But it’s tiring of course. So I think Tokyo Sightseeing Taxi is definitely your best bet when it comes to Hakone!
How to book Tokyo Sightseeing Taxi
There are actually not one but many taxi companies providing this service. So you will choose from a list of companies below:
*click to see webpage*
Reservation is needed for the service and there are different ways to make a reservation depending on the taxi companies. You can either call in, write an email or use their application forms.
You can go to Tokyo Sightseeing Taxi’s website for more info!
I definitely think it is one way to enrich your travel experience in Tokyo for better comfort, smoother journey and most of all, lots of attractions covered!
Happy sightseeing in Tokyo, my favorite city in this world!!! I’ll be sharing another model course using Tokyo Sightseeing Taxi in Tokyo on my next blog post. ^^
Thanks for reading this blog post, it is supported by Tokyo Metropolitan Government to encourage the usage of taxi for better sightseeing experiences for all travellers!