There are 10 ways to get from Narita Airport to Tokyo – which is great in that you have options. But can also be a bit overwhelming if you’re not sure which is going to get you closest to your hotel, or get you there in the quickest time or for the least money. This post will help.
Japan’s Narita Airport is located in Narita, Chiba Prefecture about 66 km east of Tokyo. That means it’s not exactly on the doorstep of Tokyo and so you need to do a little bit of planning to get from your plane to your accommodation.
The good news, there are lots of ways to get from Narita to Tokyo (10 in fact), but this can also make it hard to work out which is the best one for you.
The answer to that depends on where you are staying, how much you want to spend, how many of you there are, how much luggage you have, what time you arrive –and, how tired, fed up and/or brave you might be feeling by the time you arrive in Japan
In this post we’ll outline each of the different methods so you can decide how it’s best for you to get from Narita to Tokyo.
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The 6 Easiest Ways to Get From Narita Airport to Tokyo
Some ways to get to Tokyo from Narita are more geared towards tourists than others and, if you want to make your journey easy it’s probably best to pick one of them – so, here’s the basics on each of them…
Good if you’re staying in West Tokyo
Type of Transport: Train
Takes You To: Tokyo Station, Shinjuku, Shibuya and Ikebukuro
Time: 53 minutes to Tokyo Station, 80 minutes to Shinjuku
Cost: Y3070 one way per adult, Y1530 for children under 12. A round trip is cheaper.
Booking: Yes, round trips, in advance here, or just turn up and you’ll get on the next train.
Good if you’re staying in East Tokyo
Type of Transport: Train
Takes You To: Ueno Station
Time: 36-41 minutes
Cost: Y2520 per adult, Y
Booking: Yes, in advance here or just turn up and get a seat on the next train.
Good for familes, less mobile travelers
Type of Transport: Bus service
Takes You To: Direct to hotels in many main tourist areas
Time: Up to 120 minutes
Cost: From Y3200 per adult (if you book a return), Y1600 per child
Booking: Yes, return trips (or two singles) can be booked in advance here or just turn up
Private Meet and Greet
Good for families, couples, less mobile or nervous travellers
Type of Transport: Private Car
Takes You To: Your hotel door
Time: 65-120 minutes – depending on traffic
Cost: From Y20,000 for three people (if this is too pricey, have a look at the shared cars below)
Booking: Yes, essential. Click here for prices and options.
Good for small families, couples and solos
Type of transport: Minivan
Stops at: Your hotel
Time: 80-120 minutes depending on traffic and other people
Cost: Around Y5600 per person
Booking: Yes, essential. Click here for exact prices.
The TKY-NRT Bus
Good for those on a budget
Type of transport: Coach
Stops at: Tokyo Station
Time: 65 minutes from Terminal 1
Booking: Recommended from here. Or, just turn up and buy a ticket from counter in arrivals.
The Main Transport In More Detail
That might be enough to help you make your decision but if you haven’t quite decided yet which is the best method for you, or, you have some questions, then read on while we go into a bit more detail on each method.
Great if: You’re staying in west Tokyo, particularly near Shinjuku, Tokyo Station or Shibuya. Time counts. You want to use your Japan Rail Pass. You’re getting straight on a cruise from Yokohama.
Downsides: The service doesn’t run very early in the morning or late at night. There’s some walking around the stations.It’s the more expensive train.
The Narita Express, or N’EX as it’s also known, is a speedy and efficient way to get from Narita Airport to Tokyo. It takes 53 minutes to Tokyo Station – but the train also carries on to other areas which might be closer to where you’re staying. Others stops include Shinagawa, Shibuya, Shinjuku, Ikebukuro and Yokohama.
Admittedly, I always think that once I get to Tokyo station, I’ll be at Shinjuku in about 5 minutes, but it actually takes the NE’X about 25 more minutes to get to Shinjuku. If you’re staying on it until Ikebukuro it takes about 30 minutes from Tokyo station.
Timing? The Narita Express runs every half-hour during peak hours and every hour off-peak.
It starts around 7.30am and the last train is around 10.30pm (I’m being vague as right now when I write this the airport isn’t open to international travellers so there isn’t an up to date timetable for me to link to. I’ll update it as soon as I can).
Cost: It costs around ¥3070 for a one-way adult fare from Narita Airport to Tokyo Station (Y1530 for kids under 12) and Y3250 adult fare (Y1120 for kids) to go to the other stations in Tokyo.
If you know you’re going to use the train to and from the airport, and both journeys are within 14 days, the round trip ticket which is available to foreign passport holders is cheaper than buying two single tickets Y(4070 adult return, Y2030 for kids under 12).
If you have a Japan Rail Pass, this is also valid on the NEX. You can activate your rail pass at the airport and use it to take you in to Tokyo on the Narita Express.
Note – this might not always be the best use of your pass so do check out our ‘How to Use Your Rail Pass Guide‘ for more on whether you should use your rail pass to get you from – or to – the airport.
But if it does work your trip, this is one of the big selling points of the Narita Express. Also, if you’re on a late flight, make sure you have enough time to activate your rail pass and catch the last train.
How to Use It
Every person travelling on the Narita Express needs a seat reservation so if you do use your Rail Pass make sure you book a seat at the Ticket Office (or rail pass exchange office) before you try and board.
If you’re not using your rail pass, then you just buy your ticket at one of the NEX ticket offices before you go down to the platform. If the queues are long, the machines are in English and can save you some time. Again, you must have a seat reservation and so you’ll book on a specific train when you buy the ticket.
If this is your first time in Japan, or, if you’re a bit tired and befuddled from a long flight, I don’t suggest buying a ticket for a train departing within 2-3 minutes as it can take you a while to work out where you’re going, whether you’re getting on the right carriage and how to find your seat. If it feels like you’re going to have to rush, you might be better booking the next one and getting your bearings.
Pop your ticket in the barriers (pick it up on the other side) and then find your train and seat on the platform. Once the train pulls in (and you’ve checked it’s the one you’re booked on), get on and stash your luggage – big cases should go on the luggage racks by the doors, smaller ones can go on the luggage racks above your head.
The train has wifi so, if you haven’t already got a SIM card, you can use this to work out the best route to your station – or, just look out the window – that’s your first glimpse of Japan slipping past the window after all.
Bookings and more information: You can only book a return trip in advance but this does save you money.
Great if: You’re staying in east Tokyo near Ueno or Asakusa. Time matters.
Downsides: If you have an early morning or late night flight. You want to use your Japan Rail Pass.
The Skyliner offers direct service from Narita Airport Station on the Keisei Line. The Keisei Line starts in Ueno Station in the north of Tokyo and runs south through Narita Airport and beyond.
If you’re staying close to Ueno station, the Skyliner is the fastest way to get into Tokyo. You’ll be at Ueno station in 41 minutes. It’s probably the best choice for those staying in Asakusa or Ginza. You can either change to the metro line, or, if you have luggage it’s easy to get a taxi from Ueno (which will be much cheaper than taking a taxi all the way from Narita)
Timings: There’s also more trains an hour than the Narita Express – three compared to the two offered by the N’EX.
The service from the airport starts around 8.30am and the last train is just after 11pm (again, vague due to the airport closure).
Cost: The Skyliner costs Y2520 one way to Ueno for adults. Children under 12 cost Y1270.
You can also buy a special discount ticket which also allows you 24 hours of travel on the Tokyo Metro which can work well if you want to get to your hotel easily (and don’t mind paying a couple of hundred yen extra for the privilege of not having to buy separate tickets or a Suica or Pasmo card just yet) .
How to Use It
Follow the signs to the Keisei line. When you get there you’ll find the Skyliner and Keisei ticket office.
If you have booked your ticket in advance and received a voucher you’ll need to stop at the ticket office to redeem the voucher for a ticket as again, all the seats on the Skyliner are allocated.
If you haven’t prebooked that’s okay, just buy the tickets from the ticket office or the machines. Then head to the platform.
Make sure you get on the right train as seats are allocated. Again, I’d suggest not rushing to book a train departing within just a few minutes to make sure you don’t miss your train or get on the wrong one.
Like with the N’EX the Skyliner has space for suitcases and wifi
It also offers a service where they’ll deliver your luggage to your hotel for you to save you carrying it.
If you’re not tired from your flight and just want to get sightseeing as soon as you hit Tokyo,or are on an early flight and can’t check into your hotel. Your luggage could will arrive around the same time as you do. It costs around Y4300. The details are here.
Bookings and more information: You can book return trips or packages here.
The Limousine Bus
Great if: You’re staying in a hotel in one of the major tourist areas like Shinjuku, Asakusa or Akasaka, particularly if your hotel is one of its direct stops. Or if you have heavier luggage, limited mobility or tired children. You’re worried about getting lost at the other end.
Downsides: It takes longer than the train to get to Tokyo. They don’t run at night.
The Limousine Bus is incredibly popular among first time travellers to Tokyo. The service can reduce a lot of the stress of getting from the airport to your hotel, but won’t break the budget.
They offer a door-to-door service to hotels in the major tourist areas – in Shinjuku for example, they’ll drop you at the door of the very popular Keio Plaza, Tokyo Hilton, Hotel Sunroute and the Park Hyatt (find a full list of areas and hotels with stops here) You don’t need to be staying at those specific hotels to use the bus, you just get off at your closest one and walk or take a local taxi.
Timings: Buses run regularly, but it’s not the quickest way to get to Tokyo. The journey can take as long as two hours depending on traffic and where you are in the drop off schedule. You might end up going on a tiki tour of Tokyo hotels before you get to yours – but, think of it as free sightseeing.
Cost: The price is comparable to the NEX at around Y3300 per adult to central Tokyo – but you won’t have to pay for any further transport as you’ll probably find a stop a short walk from where you’re staying.
Children aged 6-12 travel for half price. Kids under 5 go free if they don’t take up a seat. If they need their own seat, you’ll have to buy a child’s ticket.
How to Use It
You can book your bus time in advance (a good idea if there’s a few of you that need to travel together) – they say to leave at least one hour when coming in on an international flight between your arrival time and the bus departure.
Or, just go to one of the bright orange ticket counters in the airport arrivals area and you’ll be put on the first bus that has seats.
If you do book in advance and your flight is late, don’t worry. You haven’t wasted your money. Just go to the counter and they will put you on the first bus with seats.
Also, if you arrive and fly through customs in 10 minutes, not two hours, the counter can also change you to an earlier bus if there’s space.
If you know you’re going to be late before take off, or have a Japanese SIM card, you can also change the reservation online up to 5 minutes before departure and get put on a later bus.
If you have to cancel, you can also do this up to 5 minutes before departure and they will keep 100 yen transaction fee, but you will get the rest of your money back.
If you have a lot of luggage with you, the Limousine Bus offers a more comfortable ride than walking to and from the airport train stations. Each passenger can check two pieces of luggage (of up to 30kg) on the bus. They will also carry folding wheelchairs, but the bus doesn’t dip so you will have to be able to walk onto the bus.
If you have other questions, you’ll probably find the answer here.
Bookings: You can book either a return trip – or, a bunch of tickets that can each by used by a member of your party for a single journey in advance on their website here.
Meet and Greet Service
Great If: You just want a relaxing stress-free transfer to start your trip. No hassle with luggage, no getting lost, no walking miles round stations. Just sit and watch Tokyo appear in the distance!
Downside: It’s the most expensive of the main touristy options.
If you’re happy to pay a little more for convenience these are a great way to arrive in stress-free style.
Your driver will be waiting for you at arrivals with a sign with your name on and they’ll drop you safely at the door to your hotel.
You can book in advance in English on Klook, so there’s no worries about language issues messing up dates, and the driver will be there in arrivals to meet your flight as the punctuality in Japan is amazing.
Timing: You can book the car to tie in with your flight and, it will drop you directly at the door to your hotel. If you get a clear run you could be in Tokyo within 65-70 minutes, if there’s traffic it might be closer to 90-120 minutes. But, it will be faster than the Limousine Bus leaving at the same time are you’re not waiting for others.
Cost: The service is fixed price and usually costs less than a regular taxi. Expect to pay around Y20,000 for a car that seats 3 adults with three pieces of luggage. Larger cars and vans are available but cost does increase slightly the bigger the car/van.
If this sounds too expensive, but you like the sound of someone there to meet you and drive you to your hotel, have a look at the shared van option below which might work brilliantly for you.
How to Use It
Book the type of car best suited for your group, look for your name when you arrive, sit back and relax until you arrive at your hotel!
But what if my flight is late you’re asking. Well, terms and conditions vary depending on what service you book, but one of the services on Klook, for example, states that if your flight is delayed, the driver will wait for up to 2 hours for free. After that a waiting fee is applied.
Note: Drivers will wait for 60-90 minutes normally (giving you time to pick up Sims and Wifi and get some cash) and after that they will charge a waiting fee. If you can, book the pick up for about an hour after your flight lands to allow you to get through immigration, get your luggage and do any other taks with time to spare.
Your driver should know where you’re going from the booking, but it’s also a good idea to have the address printed out in Japanese. If you book with a site like booking.com, this comes with your confirmation for Japan, or, you’ll be able to find it on the hotels’ website.
You don’t need to tip your driver on top of the fare. Tipping is classed as rude in Japan.
Booking and more information: You can book via Klook which makes things easy as everything is in English. They also offer English support on the day.
Booked Shared Vans
Great if: You’re a smaller group but want door to door service. You are arriving late and worried about the trains stopping before you get there as it’s a 24-hour service.
Downside You might end up going to a few destinations before yours. But, again, think of it as a way to get your bearings.
If you like the idea of a meet and greet service, but can’t quite stretch to a private car, this could be the best option for you.
Like the private car, your driver will be waiting for your in arrivals, but you won’t be alone on your journey into Tokyo, other people from your flight, or one arriving at around the same time, maybe in the van with you. You’ll then go to each person’s address/hotel and get dropped at the door.
Timing: You book the van to meet your flight and then let the company organise the exact departure time and who else might be with you. There could be a small wait when you get there while the other people arrive – but most van services don’t wait more than about 20 minutes.
The drive to Tokyo will be about 65-90 minutes but your exact drop off time might be a bit longer if the van has a few stops before you. They will normally bundle passengers so they are all in the same area or en route though. You won’t suddenly head off to east Tokyo if you need to be west.
Admittedly, a lot of reviews from couples do talk about having the van to themselves so you might be lucky and get a private door to door service for a cheaper cost!
Again, there is no need to tip.
Cost: About Y5000 per person.
How to Use It
Book your seats in the van in advance at Klook, again, it’s a good idea to be a bit generous with your arrival time to allow for delays.
The driver might not speak fluent English, but if there’s a real issue with communication there is a phone line with an English speaker on the end to help you both. As with a private car it will help to have your destination printed out in Japanese just in case.
If you’re a solo traveller, just be aware that you might get bumped as two people must be in the van to make the trip worthwhile for the driver – but, they will inform you in advance if this happens (and, it’s very unlikely unless you’re travelling at a very off peak time or to a less touristy area).
Bookings: Are essential. You can book via Klook here.
The TYO-NRT Bus
Great if: You’re on a budget
Downside: Seats are limited (so it’s a good idea to book in advance). You might get stuck in traffic.
There used to be two buses that went between Narita and Tokyo, but now the service has combined to create the TYO-NRT Bus. If you want a cheap, comfortable service then this is a good option.
The bus travels between the various Narita Terminals so your journey time will depend which one you get on at, but once you leave Terminal 1 (the last pick up) it aims to drop you off at Tokyo station in 65 minutes. A few buses a day also continue on to Ginza.
Buses run every 20 minutes in peak hours, every half an hour off peak.
Cost: Y1300 for an adult (650 for children) during normal hours. If you are travelling between midnight and 6am this doubles.
How to Use It
If you’ve booked in advance, you’ll need to exchange your voucher for a ticket so go to the ticket office in arrivals.
Then just head to the bus stop and give your ticket to the driver. You will have an allocated seat.
Booking: You can book seats in advance here, or they have a ticket office in arrivals.
Other Options from Narita to Tokyo
While the options above are the most common ways you’ll get from Narita to Tokyo, they aren’t the only way you can do it and, if you’re on a strict budget (or the opposite and expenses are paying), or you’re a more independent traveller, you might want to also consider one of these suggestions.
Keisei Access Express Train
Great If: You’re happy to spend a bit more time, but less money. You’re staying in Asakusa or Ginza as you can go direct. You’re a more independent traveller. You have an early morning flight out of Narita.
Downside: Not the best option with luggage. Not great for big groups.
This train service is run by the company that offer the Skyliner but is part of the normal commuter service. As such, it’s more likely to be used by locals than tourists, but that does mean that it doesn’t have things like luggage racks or wifi.
Timing: Trains run regularly. These trains start running before the Skyliner – at around 5am, so if you have to be at Narita very early, or arrive on a 6am flight, they might be a better bet than the Skyliner.
It’s not quite as fast as the Skyliner, but it will get you to Ueno station in about 70 minutes, or, if you find the right train directly to Asakusa in 58. (see the route map here so you know what train to catch).
Cost: It costs between Y1270 and Y1470 depending where you’re getting off.
How to use it: You can buy your tickets at the same centre that sells Skyliner tickets at the airport.
Just turn up and buy a ticket. There are no seat reservations and so you just board the first train that arrives on the platform.
The train can be crowded and there aren’t specific luggage holding areas so it’s best to only use this service if you don’t have much luggage.
Keisei Limited Express Train
Great If: You’re on a REALLY strict budget
Not so great if: You don’t like crowds, you have more than a small suitcase
While the Skyliner travels at 160kph to Tokyo with just one stop in between, this, regular train service follows the same line, but stops at a lot of different stations.
It will take you about 80 minutes to get to Ueno, or Asakusa (check the route map again to make sure you know which train to catch. The one you need is the red line).
Cost: It costs around Y1050 to Y1450 to get into Tokyo on the Limited Express.
That’s not much less than the Keisei Acess Express and, if you’re travelling anywhere near rush hour we’d strongly suggest that you pay the difference. This train is a normal commuter train and it will get crowded.
How to Use It
Buy a ticket at the ticket machine or ticket office and board the train. Just make sure it’s the right one.
Great if: Someone else is paying! You really want door-to-door service. There’s 3 adults when it at least gets less spendy per person. You’ve arrived when every other method has stopped running and you haven’t booked a shared van or meet or greet.
Downside: Can get very pricey.
Taxis in Tokyo are wonderful. They’re clean, the driver is always polite and they will never turn off the meter halfway down the motorway and start to haggle for a new price – the downside is that they can be eyewateringly expensive.
Cost: You’re looking at a fare of around Y26,000 to get to Shinjuku or Shibuya. And with Tokyo traffic, the journey from Narita is going to be about 60-90 minutes (or possibly more in rush hour).
As such, unless you’re on an expense account, we wouldn’t suggest getting a taxi from Narita into Tokyo as the best option.
How to Use It
If you do decide to get a cab though, just follow signs in arrival for taxis and join the queue. When you get to your taxi, your luggage will go in the boot and the back door of the cab will magically open.
Have your hotel address written in Japanese in case of any language difficulties.
Remember, you don’t need to tip.
If you’re used to just arriving at an airport and booking an Uber, you can still do this in Tokyo, but it’s also probably not the best option
Uber is not as popular in Japan as elsewhere because taxis here are plentiful, clean, honest, and comfortable. You might therefore have to wait a little bit longer than you’re used to. It’s also not that much cheaper than a street taxi.
The timings and pricings are going to be roughly the same as a normal taxi. But, you’ll probably get a taxi quicker than you will an Uber.
The Wait Until Morning Option
This is my personal choice when I’m travelling solo and arrive at Narita in the evening.
As we said, Narita airport is at least 40-minute journey to or from Tokyo (plus travel time to your hotel itself) and if it’s gone 7.30pm when I land and I’ve already been going for hours, that’s the last thing I can face after getting through immigration and baggage pick up.
If all I’m going to do when I get to my hotel is sleep (which it will be if I’m travelling on my own), it doesn’t really matter where I sleep, so I normally book at night at one of the hotels near the airport.
These are normally cheaper than a night in the city – especially if you book in advance – and, all I have to do is hop onto a shuttle bus, check in – and I’m in my room.
If your flight is delayed and the hotel shuttle buses have stopped (normally around 11pm), it’s a short taxi ride to the hotel – rather that one that will blow your whole trip budget!
Thankfully I haven’t been that late yet!
If that sounds a bit sad for your first night in Japan, the hotel I choose, Hotel Nikko (click here to see rates and availablilty), has a convenience store in the lobby so, once I’ve checked in, I head straight down there and buy some snacks and a local beer and then, sit in my room watching Japanese TV before I fall asleep. It’s become my little ritual.
Once I wake up, feeling more able to cope with maps and trains and luggage, I hop back on the shuttle bus and catch the Narita Express to town.
I also choose this option if I have an early morning flight out of Narita and am travelling up from somewhere like Osaka the day before.
I’ll arrive at Narita station, jump on the shuttle bus to the hotel. And depending what time it is, some hotels offer free shuttles to the nearby town or Narita. I once spent an interesting evening here at a bar full of flight crew that had a whippet that wandered around the beer taps – but that’s a story for another day!
So there you have it. All the options on how to get from Narita Airport to the centre of Tokyo. Even I didn’t realise there was quite so many (because I usually stay in Shinjuku, I tend to just jump on the N’EX – my next trip sees me staying in Asakusa though so, I’ll be exploring a new transportation method next time).