Ok, i was about to say something lame like “get off the plane”, but i’ll go straight to the point: the one thing you must do is decide on how you want to get out of Narita Airport. The second thing you might want to consider doing is getting an internet connection subscription.

There is an elaborate description of the options available for getting out of (and back to) Narita Airport here, so i don’t want to duplicate the effort. I will just recount how what i did made sense in my case. I actually landed in Narita Airport twice on my trip. The first time i landed, i headed straight to Kyoto and travelled around the region for six days. The second time, i stayed in Tokyo for three nights.

To travel around Japan, especially for Honshu between Tokyo and Osaka, the best deal is to use the JR Pass. In some cases, it may be cheaper to use budget flights. Like everyone would advise or warn you, if you plan to stay in Tokyo for the first few days after landing in Narita, it is wise not to activate your JR Pass right away. I think the better advise is to NOT PLAN your itinerary that way. Leave Tokyo to the last few days of your itinerary. Take advantage of your JR Pass by using it to get on the Narita Express to get out of Narita Airport, then go on further. Yes, you may have had a long flight, but since it will already take you about an hour to get from Narita Airport to Tokyo, it wouldn’t hurt much if you add on another hour or two of travel. In my case, i went straight to Kyoto, which is a 2 hours and 40 minutes journey, long enough for catching a nap.

On my second flight into Narita, i got the 5100 yen combo deal of the Keisei Skyliner return trip plus two days Tokyo Metro pass. As advertised, this saves me 1840 yen per adult. You can look at it this way – as it is, the 1000 yen one day metro pass is actually quite inexpensive and worthwhile. This special combo deal has the effect of reducing the cost of a single trip on the Keisei Skyliner from 2480 yen to 1550 yen. It’s a good deal, because the Keisei Skyliner is truly fast, and the 15 to 20 minutes savings in travel time as compared to the Narita Express did make a difference (although to be fair, the Narita Express departs from Tokyo station which is slightly further away). Believe me, the travelling between Tokyo and Narita Airport is boring, and you want to keep it as short as possible. Since i was using the Keisei Skyliner, i made Ueno (the terminal station of the Keisei Skyliner) my base for Tokyo (to avoid moving luggage on and off subway trains) and it was a good choice.

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A note on exchanging the JR Pass exchange order: unless your flight arrives way before 815 (like mine did), you will have to do the exchange at the Travel Service Centre (as stated on the notice board in the photo). I was fortunate to have been able to do the exchange and also make reservations for all the train trips i was going to take at the ticket office. Doing all the reservations at one go gave me peace of mind and also saved me time, from not having to visit the JR ticket office at all during the rest of the trip. Unless your trip is totally ad-hoc, i think it is advisable to just reserve your seats upfront.

Now, regarding getting an internet connection subscription, the most popularly advocated option is to rent a Mobile WiFi. My advise is, DON’T! UNLESS, you have no confidence in doing any technical configuration of your phone (setting the APN). I was quite surprised to find out from the Narita Airport webpage that there are 19 companies offering phone and WiFi rental in the Airport. It must be a very lucrative business! The cheaper option is to get a prepaid SIM. So-net is probably the deal to go for, with low rates, long validity period (minimum 30 days) and no daily limit on data usage. The normal retail price is ¥3,000 for 1GB¥4,000 for 2.2GB, and ¥5,000 for 3GB. I tried getting the SIM card at the Mobile Center shop at Narita Airport and was told it was out of stock, and at the same time it was ¥4,500. A rip-off! Definitely no go. You’re better off getting the SIM card at a Yodobashi Camera store (they’re everywhere), or if you can manage it, buy it from Amazon.jp and have it shipped to the hotel you are going to stay at in Japan.

In the end, we settled for having no internet on the go. There are free WiFi hotspots throughout Japan which I managed to use a few times. Installing some of the suggested WiFi connection apps (i used Japan Wi-Fi) and doing prior registration do help you get connected, so make sure you do that beforehand.

Update

For Singapore Telco Singtel and m1 subcribers, the data roaming services offer even better deals and convenience.

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