Why is it amazing to take Tokyo Hop-on-off bus ride?

You aren’t a fan of “Hop on, hop off buses? Then why did you take the Tokyo Sky hop bus? Many of you may have already wondered about this!

You know I am a history buff if you have about me and my other stories. I mostly pick places that are home to historical architecture. But, on the contrary, Japan is famous for its advanced technology – Ashrith loves this!. So I broke my self-laid barrier and dived into the ocean of technology. Surprisingly, I found both modern and history there.

We both love using public transport – They are cheaper and allow us to travel with locals. I always thought Hop-on, Hop-off buses weren’t my thing until I planned a week in Tokyo with a minimum of 50 things to do in Tokyo! – This was an impractical plan, and we needed to know if all those 50+ things were worth it!

This post is about how taking a Sky Hop bus tour in Tokyo changed my mind. And helped us explore Tokyo better.

Is Tokyo big or small?

Tokyo ranks number one as the highest populated city in the world. It is the third largest city area-wise! Why and how it became such a popular city. And how is it related to me taking the hop-on/off bus in Tokyo? I will tell you.

What attracts people to Tokyo?

Tokyo was called Edo until 1868. Then, it was a city of canals. Slowly it westernized. But a bad earthquake hit it. The hardworking and determined Japanese rose to the peak sooner. The history, castles, Japanese gardens, Shinto shrines, weird cafes, clean streets, pubs and street food – I can list 100 more things that attract people to Tokyo.

What to do when you want too many things?

Sit back, relax and prioritize the things you want to do. So how do we do it in Tokyo?

Is there a bus tour in Tokyo?

This is what we googled 15 days before leaving for Tokyo

Luckily, the answer was yes and for a reasonable price! But there was a shock awaiting us –December 11th was the last day of Tokyo -hop on/off bus operation until March 2023! So I immediately contacted Rakuten, and I received the ticket with the QR code and a brochure.

Tokyo sky hop red bus standing on the road lined with trees of colourful leaves

So on our first day in Tokyo, the two excited souls hit Shibuya to see the busiest square in the world. Getting to Shibuya from Asakusabashi wasn’t tough. It was only when we had to get to Nihombashi for our walking tour from Shibuya; we realized Tokyo Metro was an entangled bundle of spaghetti. That is when a Japanese woman on her way to the office rescued two humans whose faces looked like lost pups standing at the Shibuya subway station. She helped us to get on the right line and left!

At the end of our walking tour at Nihombashi, we got a clear picture of how beautiful Tokyo was with all its canals – Like Amsterdam. After learning about Edo history, we headed to a nearby shop in older Tokyo to have Taiyaki – Fish shaped red bean stuffed snack, to relook at our “Week Long Tokyo Plan (over) filled with 50+ things to do and see.”

Moral of the summary is –

  • Tokyo is a monster in terms of its size. A pretty beast who has too many things to show off to tourists and one who consumes people’s money a lot.
  • But the monster’s people are the kindest and the warmest.
  • So, discovering all those things I had listed is impossible in a week – Because the beast is way too interesting and gigantic!
  • Trust me, Tokyo distracts you a lot. While on the streets, we were distracted by their pretty manhole covers and that perfect squared road repair patch. We already understood their metro stations serve as a mall or mini-malls. We could not see/do/experience everything we wanted.

We sighed in relief because we had the bus tour, which shows Tokyo for first-timers like us.

Ginza area of Tokyo with fancy shops with unique lighting

Without a worry, we went wandering in Ginza and had steamed hazelnut.

Walked into Shinjuku at night in a floaty mood after having Sake. We could see why Tokyo is a party place – The Shibuya energy was impeccable.

As a vivacious planner, I read more on the Tokyo Sky hop bus on our way back to Asakusabashi by subway. The Shibuya energy got replaced with a little worry, as there were more negative reviews on Tokyo Hop-on/off the bus than good ones!

We had the tickets which can’t be returned. So, there was no other choice other than to go on the tour – Thank god we did take the time the next day. Because Tokyo’s Sky Hop bus was one of the most incredible and laid-back experiences in the bustling city.

Here is why we recommend you spend time on the Tokyo Sky Hop bus if you are a first-timer.

This tour runs on three different coloured routes -Blue, Red and Green.

detailed map of hop on hop off bus tokyo tour with infographics and timing
  • Blue is the shortest in terms of duration and the number of attractions it passes by. This route shows you the new Tokyo by the bay – The skyline silhouette shows how beautiful Modern Tokyo is! For some reason, this became my favourite line!
  • The red line covers more attractions on a historical route. The duration is shorter than green, but it covers major historical attractions.
  • The green line is longer in terms of time and covers more spots than the blue – It is like a combo of both old and new! The avenues boulevard and watching Shibuya crossing from the bus’s top deck are super fun.

I love to watch people in love – We must have seen at least ten couples in scenic spots across Tokyo during our Sky Hop Bus Tour.

Which line ticket should I buy on the Tokyo Sky Hop Bus tour?

You can buy either a single-line pass or a combo pass. The whole point of the Tokyo Sky Hop bus is to get introduced to the world’s largest city.

Treat Tokyo like you are at an ice cream store with 100 flavours, and this bus tour as your tasting session.

The shop owner may say pistachio is their best. But you aren’t into nuttiness. You are more of a berry lover. You must have a visual experience of 100 flavours, taste many and decide what you want to eat. So buying a combo ticket is better than going for only one line.

Should you go for one day or two-day pass?

It depends on what you want to do in Tokyo and how long you are in Tokyo. If you are in town for three days, buy a two-day pass. So that you can get off at your place of interest, explore, wander and get back to the next bus. Suppose you are in Tokyo for a week like us and buy a one-day Sky Hop bus pass. Do not get off anywhere. Sit back and relax. Click pictures. Observe/listen so you can pick suitable places to explore in the coming days.

How to use the Tokyo Sky Hop Bus Tickets?

We didn’t know there is a Godiva Cafe in Tokyo. Until we sat on this bus!

There was a lot online about how picky and particular Japan is regarding printed vouchers/tickets! So I carried prints of our access with a QR code. But most other tourists showed the QR code to the tour organizer on the phone!

Here are a few things to know before planning your Tokyo Sky Hop Bus Tour –

  • The route is such that you can see Tokyo’s famous landmarks from the bus. Disembarking is an option. You can sit through the whole trip, and nobody will question you!
  • The tours run at different times as per season. It was from 9AM-6PM in December.
  • Every route starts and ends at the Mitsibushi building, which is 100m from Tokyo Main station. So it is easier to get to the pick-up point. Other pick points are located near the respective metro station.
  • It is convenient to change into different routes, as their brochures clealry shows the timings.
  • I enjoyed taking time-off between the tours – We could stretch our legs, sue bathrooms in a near by mall. eat something and get back to the next bus.
  • Whatever negative online review was there was found to be false. Or things have changed now.
    • Because people mentioned, there is no indoor seating. But there are! – The bus is half top on the second floor and can use the first floor too. If it rains (June-October), you can use it comfortably.
    • The bus has both rooftop seating for sunshine and open air. When it gets colder, you can sit under the covered area.
  • It’s very convenient transportation to go around sightseeing spots in Tokyo. The bus departs/arrives at the stated time, despite traffic.
  • The English audio guide is very clear and useful – Including us, most tourists plugged their ears to listen.
  • The crew on each bus was very friendly; they explained each stop; They even gave heat packs to keep in their pockets when it got chilly in the evening.

Did the Tokyo Sky Hop made our Tokyo experience easier?

Oh yes! Trust me, some vloggers may have listed 100 things to do in Tokyo. A few bloggers may suggest 50 amazing things to do in Tokyo.

Then there are opinions which say Tokyo isn’t worth the hype as it is too touristy and busy! This bus tour showed us a nice and detailed trailer. So we could understand which places are touristy and which aren’t!

For example, Tokyo tower is advertised everywhere! Many say it is the best place to see the Tokyo view. But once we saw the entrance fees, crowd and line waiting outside the tower, we realized we could get a better view of Tokyo from other skyscrapers like the Metropolitan building for free when we took the Green bus.

What is the prettiest place in Tokyo?

The famous Ueno park looks like a paradise during Sakura had barren trees. Instead, the Kokyo Gaien National Garden we saw on the red tour told us that it is perfect for snoozing on a busy sightseeing day.

The bus went beside canals and parks – We could see and listen to some streetside musicians! When we visited the imperial hotel, we realized it is one of the most famous locations depicted in Death Note. So we could go there on the next day – Because we knew what exists where.

It was easy and laid back.

On the first day, we realized Tokyo’s busy vibe was at some other level. I found Vienna to be the busiest. But there is nothing faster than the Tokyo lifestyle. The Tokyo Sky Hop bus tour let us enjoy the city view without worrying about which train to catch! We took the earliest bus, so we didn’t rush, and it worked perfectly. We had an elaborate lunch in a nearby mall.

We walked the streets around Mitsibushi building while waiting for the next route bus. One of the staff suggested that they sell nice strawberry cheesecakes at the underground Tokyo station. The purpose was to eat cheesecake. But we ended up playing ““Gacha-Gacha” only to collect many cute and weird toys!

I am sure we would not have seen this much of Tokyo otherwise. We could plan perfectly in the next six days and avoid/add many things. We saw Tokyo from the bus deck, which made us experience Tokyo for the next few days.

Would you take the Tokyo Sky Hop Bus like we did? Let us know in the comment section below

indian couples standing in Tokyo Sky Hop bus deck

Heads up – we are very honest and keep it no secret.

This specific tour was sponsored by Rakuten Travel Experiences. But the opinions are unbiased and our very own. Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. If you buy or book something with our links, we’ll get a small commission at no extra cost to you. Think of it as a way of saying thanks for helping you plan better!
Don’t fear – We only recommend something if we use it for ourselves. The hard-earned money and time should always be well-spent.

Published by Sahana Kulur

Traveller | Blogger | Architecture and history

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