Other than the mountain of amazing things to do in Tokyo, there are also quite a few day trips from Tokyo that are worth taking! Below are my three favorite day trips from Tokyo.
Mount Fuji is Japan’s highest mountain at 3777m and famous for its perfect snow tip. The most popular time to go to Mt. Fuji is during Cherry Blossom season from late-March to late-April. However, you can go anytime of the year and the mountain still looks majestic and captivating. I went in the winter time and thought it was well worth it. However, I didn’t climb the mountain, so for those who want to climb, it’s probably better to go when the weather is warmer.
I highly recommend taking the Mt. Fuji 1-day Golden Tour by JapaniCan. Instead of renting a car by yourself, the tour picks you up from Keio Plaza Hotel, takes you to Fuji and you’ll be back by dinner time. The tour takes you to the 5th station of Mt. Fuji (2300m) plus 3 other locations around Mt. Fuji where you can capture the mountain from 3 different angles and backdrops. Check out my photos below! My only complaint about the tour is the lunchbox is not very good at all, but at least they give you one. They even have a vegetarian option. You’ll be able to purchase other foods at each stop if you don’t want to eat the free lunchbox.
Jigokudani Monkey Park
The Jigokudani Park is in Yamanouchi and it is home to wild Japanese snow monkeys and a few hot springs. In the winter time, the snow monkeys bathe in the hot springs to warm up. This was probably my favorite day trip out of the three I have listed here. You can get up close and personal with the snow monkeys. They don’t mind other people checking them out while they bathe in the hot springs. From my experience, they’re not scared of people at all! We were able to get quite close to them. However, they do have some rules to make sure that both you and the monkeys stay safe.
- Don’t feed the monkeys and don’t bring food with you
- Avoid making direct eye contact with the monkeys
- Refrain from touching the monkeys or screaming at them, they may perceive you as a threat
How to get there from Tokyo? Take the Shinkansen (bullet train) to Nagano station, it’ll be around 1.5hrs and JPY 8000 unless you have the JR Pass, then it’s covered by the JR Pass. From Nagano, I would recommend taking the express bus (40 min), but there are only about 10 busses per day so make sure you take note of the schedule. Make sure to buy the Snow Monkey 1-day Pass for JPY 3200. It covers both transportation to the park and the park entrance fee. You can purchase this right next to the JR Nagano station.
When you get out, you’ll see signs or even people holding signs for the Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park. The express bus will be filled with foreigners since the locals tend to take the local train + local bus to get to the park. Once the bus drops you off, follow the Snow Monkey Park signs and you’ll reach the entrance to the park. From there, you’ll need to hike for around 30 min before you reach the main hot spring where all the monkeys will be hanging out. It isn’t a difficult hike, and it isn’t very steep except the beginning where they have ropes on the side for you to use.
PROTIP: I do recommend wearing shoes fit for both the snow and hiking. I was just wearing regular boots and ended up sliding all over the place in the snow. You would be more comfortable if you had something with more grip and is waterproof. Better to be safe than sorry!
I highly recommend visiting in the winter (Dec – Feb) when the park will be covered in snow. Not only will the hike up to where the monkeys are be more beautiful, but also when the weather is warm, the monkeys will not want to bathe in the hot springs.
Onsen (hot springs) resorts – Hakone
This wouldn’t really be a day trip, but more of a 1 day 1 night trip. There’s two ways to enjoy Hakone if you’re limited on time. One is to splurge on a luxury onsen hotel where you have your own private onsen so you can enjoy it with your special someone and stay there all day and all night. The second is to stay at a onsen hotel where you only have a shared public onsen and spend the day exploring the town of Hakone. The second option is recommended if you’re traveling with children. Most of the ryokan onsen hotels you’ll sleep on the floor tatami style. It’s quite fun if you’ve never tried it and surprisingly comfortable. If you’re bringing your kids, they would love it also.
I’ve been twice and both times chose to spend extra and stay at higher end onsen hotels. I’ll talk about the two hotels I stayed at. If you want to find out other things to do in Hakone, check out this guide.
Hotel Manatei (rated 3 stars but I think it is closer to a 4 star)
For a romantic getaway, I would recommend booking Suite room B with your own private onsen and shower area. It is pricier but worth the privacy. The price of the rooms generally include dinner. Their dining area is beautiful. Each table is in it’s own private booth surrounded by wooden walls. And as Japan is known for their service, the service here is impeccable. Unfortunately, the food was average. Don’t expect your taste buds to be too excited. We stayed in January 2015 on a weeknight for 2 people cost ~US$400.
How to get here from Tokyo? Take the Shinkansen from Tokyo to Odawara station. It’s only a 35 min ride. Then transfer to the Hakone Tozan Line and get off at the Kowakudani station. The hotel will give you a phone number to call when you get to the Kowakudani station and they will come pick you up.
PROTIP: Stay overnight on a weekday, it’ll save you at least US$100. Weekends are high in demand for locals.
Gora Kadan (rated 4 stars but I think it is worth a 5 star)
I loved this hotel! Well, it’s not really a hotel, it is a traditional Japanese ryokan. You’ll be sleeping on the “floor,” tatami style. It was ~US$1000 for 2 people in December. And this was many years ago! I just checked the prices now, and it is unfortunately more expensive.
I booked the room with open-air big stone bath and it was perfect for a romantic stay. The stone bath is situated in the outdoor garden with natural hot spring water flowing in. To get from your room to the garden, you’ll walk through a steam sauna. In winter, it’ll be super cold outside, therefore when hopping from the inside to the stone bath, you’ll be happy to have the steam sauna so you’re only freezing for 2 seconds.
The price of this hotel includes breakfast and dinner. Unlike Hotel Manatei, I can vouch for the food here. They can serve it to you in your room. You get a plethora of choices – numerous little plates with different Japanese dishes. I didn’t know where to start! One more thing, they had a karaoke room when I went. Sadly, I don’t think they have it anymore or if they do, they don’t show it on their website.
How to get here from Tokyo? Take the Shinkansen from Tokyo to Odawara station. Then take the Hakone Tozan line from Odawara to Gora station. Then when you get to Gora, call the hotel and they’ll pick you up in a Mercedes!
There’s a ton more other day trips you can make from Tokyo, but start with these three. They’re easy and showcases the different sides of Japan. Enjoy your trip!
This article is not affiliated with or sponsored by any of the above mentioned brands.