Our Fabulous Fridays topic this week is the very good discount foreign visitors to Tokyo receive when they purchase a ticket for the Narita Express or Airport Limousine Bus.
This discount system has only once catch: It’s available for round trip transfer only and has a validity of max 14 days, so if you’re looking for a one way from Narita or return to the airport beyond these 14 days then this promotion is relatively useless. There was a one way fare promotion that also included a SUICA card several years ago but that unfortunately didn’t come back.
Narita Express offers a round trip discounted fare to Central Tokyo for 4,000 JPY.
The regular fare to Shibuya, Shinagawa or Shinjuku would be 6,380 JPY so there is a significant savings component here. You’re also not subject to the heavy traffic during peak hours and Narita is far to begin with.
Tokyo Limousine Bus offers the round trip for 4,500 JPY, it’s a little bit more expensive than the train and you’re subjected to traffic conditions but you can go directly to your hotel.
Travelers who arrive/depart from Haneda Airport can also buy promotional tickets, however there is no major discount apart from being able to pair the bus ticket (one way) with a multi day Tokyo Subway ticket. That can make sense, however if you use JR a lot then this can’t be used either.
By train one would use the Monorail or Keikyu Line from Haneda to Central Tokyo. It requires a change of trains in most instances.
If you’re staying near one of the train stations or don’t mind to take a shuttle/taxi from there then the Narita Express is a good option. It has also longer operating hours compared to the Limousine Bus. The last bus for example leaves Shinjuku/Shibuya at 17:30 and the last train at 19:30.
In the case you have a late flight or stay at a Narita Airport hotel, then the train would be my preference. With a lot of baggage I’d likely choose the bus and go directly to/from the hotel.