Arriving in Tokyo
I was overwhelmed when I first got to Narita airport. “Wow! There are so many people!” – I first thought. Several customers are waiting for flights or people who just arrived like me. It was chaotic.
Although I had already searched for how to get from the airport to Tokyo, I still struggled to find the subway. I had to ask for help.
Things to do in Tokyo on the first day
a) Ueno Park
I decided to spend my first day at Ueno Park, a popular park with lovely walking paths and several museums.
There were so many people at the park that day, so I had to wait in a long line to get into a dinosaur museum.
It was pretty weird at first when being alone and seeing only couples or friend groups around, but I had a good time exploring the museum and the park on my own.
b) Shibuya crossing
I spent an evening in the Shibuya area and visited the famous Shibuya crossing.
It was crazy to see how many people were crossing that intersection at once. At some point, I did not feel lonely anymore. Instead, I felt happy that I could explore a new place on my own.
c) Time for Sushi
On that day, I also went to a restaurant alone for the first time and enjoyed some Japanese food.
It was great because that sushi restaurant offered single chairs for solo travelers. I could enjoy my dinner at my speed and not worry whether I ate too fast or too slow.
So, how did I sleep at night?
Trying to catch free wi-fi at McDonald’s, I found the nearest Internet Cafe to sleep. I paid for a small area (2×2 square meters) for 8 hours and spent my first night there.
The Internet Cafe had a corner for female travelers, so I didn’t need to worry about safety. Some Japanese guys stared at me when I first checked in, but it was nothing more.
After resting a bit, I planned the following day’s activities while eating free ice cream from this place.
Things to do in Tokyo on the 2nd day
Meiji Shrine, Yoyogi Park & Takeshita Street
The next day, I woke up early at 6 am, caught a train, and visited Meiji Shrine, Yoyogi Park, and Takeshita Street. Even though I got lost at first, I figured out where to go thanks to the help of a local man.
It’s an interesting part of traveling, right? Getting lost and let the road be your guide.
I spent tons of time wandering around Takeshita Street. Every shop is unique, so you should make sure to check out all of them!
At night, I chose to stay at the Internet café just like the previous day, but I couldn’t find the place.
A Japanese girl offered to help me, and she even took me along the way to the Internet café. It was so lovely of her to do so.
Things to do in Tokyo for the 3rd day
a) Shinjuku Gyoen
I visited Shinjuku Gyoen in the morning and enjoyed beautiful nature. You’ll need to pay a small entrance fee, but it’s worth it.
b) Lunch & Joining the Festival
Because I have a goal to try Vietnamese Pho around the world, I had my lunch at a Pho restaurant in Tokyo.
I was surprised when the owner suggested I visit a Vietnamese festival nearby. “Wow, what a coincidence! I’m in Tokyo, and now there’s a Vietnamese festival”.
I was so happy to attend my home country festival in this country since I missed Vietnamese food a lot.
Although it was a Vietnamese festival, there were food stands from all over the world and many performances. I had a good time at the festival, talking with people and making new friends.
The most memorable experience during my trip to Tokyo
When visiting Tokyo, one of my bucket lists is to buy cheesecake from Pablo – the famous cheesecake brand that I saw several times on Facebook.
However, I got lost and couldn’t find the way without the Mobile data. I tried to ask an old lady for the instruction, but she didn’t know the location.
Luckily, a Japanese man nearby just offered to help me find that store. We walked together for around 30 minutes, crossed many streets and buildings, and finally got to the place.
But we were not there yet cause that mall has seven floors and five underground floors!
I was thinking about giving up, but he still wanted to help me. We walked around the mall, went to 6 different floors, asking tons of people to find the place! We finally found this cheesecake stand on the 2nd underground floor after that.
That man asked me “How did you know about the place?”
I said “Ah… I saw the cheesecake on Facebook”
He was surprised by my answer and said that I knew more about Tokyo than him (haha!). He said goodbye to me because he had to get back to work. The cheesecake was yummy, but 1-hour walking was just too much.
The impression from my first solo trip to Toyko
I was so surprised by how friendly the people in Tokyo were. They spent their time helping other people.
That guy was a stranger, but he was willing to help and spent his lunch break finding the cheesecake shop with me.
I heard the story from my friends that a guy went with them the whole way on the train to guide them to the correct place, and I doubted it, but this experience made me believe in the kindness of people :)
Before visiting Tokyo, I’ve never had any solo trips.
At that time, I didn’t start traveling alone or think about doing a solo trip.
In Vietnam, I just traveled to some cities with my family, and in Japan, I did camping, field study trips, weekend trips, but I was always with a group of people.
I was in my comfort zone and didn’t try to break it. With me, traveling alone was lonely and dangerous.
Preparation for visiting Tokyo
Since it was my first time traveling alone, I decided to do something differently.
- No Mobile Data during the trip
- Using Maps and asking people if I got lost
- Not booking any accommodation beforehand
- Preparing a small plan for the first day about what to do, where to go, what to eat
That’s it. I took a small backpack I used daily to school and went on a solo trip to Tokyo.
Why did I travel solo to Tokyo?
Even though I live in Japan, Tokyo is different from my place, a small onsen town in Kyushu – the South of Japan.
I was thinking of visiting Tokyo for a long time but didn’t have a chance to do it. Eventually, I had to go to Tokyo because I had to apply for a visa to Denmark for my exchange. (I studied at Copenhagen Business School for one year as an exchange student)
How my first solo trip to Tokyo changed my life
Remember how I thought about a solo trip?
I never expected to travel alone, and now I’m more than happy to do that. Now, I feel comfortable going everywhere on my own. Also, I know how to take care of myself while on a solo trip.
The freedom to decide where to go, what to eat, and when to do it made my trip unforgettable. I’m not tied to anyone’s plan or schedule when traveling solo and don’t need to worry about others’ feelings.
Also, I can travel in my space and enjoy the destination in my style. I’m growing my love for solo trips <3
Communication & New friends
At that time, I was still super introverted and didn’t spend time outside my circle.
When I traveled in a group, I just talked to my friends or family and didn’t try to communicate with anyone else or even local. I didn’t try to see the place in local eyes at all.
When I travel alone, I start to talk to different people on the road.
I start making lots of new friends and learning how to interact with different people. I never thought that I could talk to a random person and have a good time with them.
Talking to different people out of my circle helps me become more open-minded. I started to accept the differences in people and value the differences in cultures and living styles.
Also, I tried different activities on my solo trip, rather than just being a “normal tourist.” I let the road be my guide.
Now, I’m a big fan of solo travel. I’ve been traveling alone since then, and I’ve visited 30 countries on my own.
Traveling alone gives me the power to do things that I cannot imagine, and being a travel blogger is one of these. Now, I’m using my voice to encourage more women to explore the world.