Take a break in Tokyo

If you are a traveller with a penchant for the more exotic and unusual destinations, Tokyo is a must-see. This fast-paced and bustling city is an intriguing blend of the extremely high tech and traditional culture, and the sights and sounds range from the astonishing to the frankly bizarre.

Holiday in Tokyo

Pic: Getty

When to go
With cold winters and humid summers with the odd monsoon burst of torrential rain, the top times for a visit to Tokyo are spring and autumn. Not only are the temperatures more comfortable, but spring sees the arrival of the cherry blossoms, while the autumn colours bring a mellow tinge to the city.

What to see
As with any capital city, there is more to do in Tokyo than you can reasonably expect to squeeze in on a short break.

Shopaholics might just find themselves in heaven here, and Japan's renowned love of all things electronic means the areas such as Shinjuku and Ikebukuro, and the aptly named Akihabara Electric Town are worth visiting, if nothing else, to see what tech is up and coming in the world of gadgets.

If the hustle and bustle of a traditional market is more your thing, then head to the Tsukiji Central Fish Market for a glimpse of exotic seafood in astonishing quantities, or visit the market at Ameya-yokocho, a lively bazaar-style shopping arcade near Ueno Station.

Culture and history
Should the hectic pace of Tokyo life become overwhelming, you might want to take a well-earned chill-out break at some of the city's cultural and historical sights.

Meiji-jingu, the city's largest Shinto shrine, located within an evergreen forest of 120,000 trees, is well worth a visit. If you're lucky, you might catch preparations for a wedding complete with traditional Japanese dress, but even a gentle stroll through the forest or moment in the iris garden will be remembered for years to come.

For a glimpse into the Japan of days gone by visit Higashi-Gyoen, the East Garden of the Imperial Palace. Entry is free but visitor numbers are limited so that you can enjoy the ruins of the gigantic castle walls and take in more than 5,000 artworks at the Museum of Imperial Collections in relative peace.

Alternatively, take time out to visit Roppongi Hills, where modern architecture is enhanced by vast pieces of public art. Furthermore, Roppongi is home to the city's various art museums and the Tokyo City View observatory so there's plenty to keep tourists entertained.

As you would expect in such a high-tech, vibrant city, Tokyo's nightlife is buzzing and there's something for everyone. Roppongi is a hub for young people who dance the whole night away at the bars and clubs, which feature a variety of musical styles.

If hitting the dancefloor isn't your thing, watch the world go by at one of Shibuya's many pubs, or izayakas, where you can taste a huge range of food and drink, or visit the narrow lanes of Golden Gai in the Shinjuku district and squeeze yourself into one of the myriad but very tiny bars.

Getting around
Since Tokyo taxis can be expensive, it's best to take advantage of the top-class public transport system for getting around. The rail network and subway are fast and frequent, but tourists are well-advised to avoid the rush hour. For a more relaxed look at the city, try a water taxi, while bicycles are great for getting from one place to the next without braving the trains, and can be rented by the day in Asakusa.

Have you visited Tokyo? What would you recommend seeing and doing in this incredible city? Leave your comments below...