If you travel, sooner or later you’ll ultimately transit through NRT, Tokyo’s Narita Airport. Even with the weakened Yen, Japan can be considerably expensive so a layover there could certainly dip into a conservative travel budget really fast.
Whether it’s a layover of several hours, an overnight run to take advantage of a cheap fare, or a disruption in your travel itinerary, here’s a budget-friendly way to survive, even thoroughly enjoy, your layover in Narita, Japan.
If you’re there for the day, consider a hotel. Believe it or not, in contrast to the $300+ rooms in Tokyo, you can get the Narita ANA Crowne Plaza for around $70 most days. I just priced it this morning at 6200 Yen, approximately $67 USD, and paid $72 last weekend. The Hilton is another option for about the same price. There is a free scheduled shuttle to either hotel and it only takes 10 minutes to transit from the airport. Ask for a high room and you can view take offs and landings at the airport.
Next, let’s get a bite to eat. If you’re at the Crowne Plaza, it’s going to be easy and cheap. While hotel restaurant menus and room service are budget breaking ($30 for a burger), there is a hidden gem of a gift shop at the CP that holds a culinary secret. Along the back wall is an extensive selection of freshly prepared food items. Each item is time-stamped and monitored for freshness. When an item exceeds its maximum shelf hours, it is removed by the staff – I watched it happen. Also, ANA has an extensive airline catering operation on-site so although I don’t know this to be a fact, it is possible the fresh food items are prepared right there. Regardless, you can purchase a half dozen pork/vegetable pot stickers for around $2.50 and they are excellent, or try four giant shrimp spring rolls for around $4.00 and a full noodle meal for around the same $4.00. Additional options include salads, sushi, breakfast, and dinner entrees. They will also heat up your selection for you.
If you’re fed and have taken a refreshing nap and shower but still have hours left to spare, you will certainly want to explore the area. I highly recommend taking the free circle bus to Narita Station and walk to the Naritasan Shinshoji Temple. This large must-see temple has free entrance and it is just 10 to 15 minutes away. Additionally, the traffic-free streets lined with restaurants and quaint shops that lead to the temple make for a pleasant walk. If you’re lucky you’ll catch the fire ritual at the temple or, in my case, I encountered an exciting international drum festival and a martial arts competition on separate occasions when walking to the temple. You can also get to the temple directly from the airport via the Keisei train line at NRT, around $3.00 each way, and 10 to 15 minutes. Jump off at Narita station and walk from there.
The circle bus from the Crowne Plaza also stops at AEON mall, perhaps not the most cultural experience, it may still be insightful. The mall is another inexpensive option for dining and you’ll certainly find it entertaining. Check out the sake shop and the store that sells nothing but socks.
Keeping with our mission here at FTG, sharing information to help you see the world at prices you can afford, what are your tips for a budget-friendly layover in Japan?