The Narita Express is one of the most direct and quickest routes into the city. However, something to consider when you're choosing how to get into Tokyo is how much further you need to travel once you reach the city.
If you are traveling with children or heavy luggage and will need to change trains more than once, it may be better to take the airport limousine bus.
From Narita To Tokyo Or Downtown
In the airport look for the signs for JR Narita Express. You should go downstairs from the arrivals lobby and make your way to the ticket desk.
You need to pre-book tickets for the Express and reserve your seats even if you are standing. If you are a smoker, you are able to book a smoking carriage if you're dying for a ciggie after your long flight.
The sign on the right can be found on the platform for the Narita Express and is particularly important when you are travelling from Narita to Tokyo - coming the other way doesn't pose the same problems.
The Narita Express travels to different locations in Tokyo and one of the ways it manages the range of destinations is to divide the train in two halves.
The first 6 carriages may be going to Ikebukuro while cars 7 - 12 may be going to Yokohama. You don't want to end up heading in the wrong direction!
Ask at the desk for confirmation when you are buying your tickets to avoid any hassle and check your carriage number to make sure you get on the right part of the train.
Traveling From Tokyo To Narita
You will be given two tickets, one to enter the metro system (it has a small arrow on it in direction it should be fed into gate). The other ticket is your Narita Express seat confirmation.
Make a note of your carriage number and seat number if you've booked a reserved seat. Also make a note from your airline ticket of which Terminal your flight departs from - Terminal 1 or Terminal 2. This is important if you are going to get off the train at the right place!
On the Narita Express platform where you wait for the train it can be a little confusing. However the carriage numbers are on the wall of the tunnel and on the platform.
Look for the red and white signs (NEX or Narita Express). There are often signs for up to 2 or 3 different trains that stop at the same platform so if in doubt ask one of the station attendants.
When you are stood in the right place, and the Narita Express is announced, don't be alarmed if the train seems to go past you. Stay where you are! The second half of the train will join up in a few seconds and your allocated carriage will pull up in front of you.
The train may or may not have stops on the way to the airport. Airport Terminal One and Two will be announced and there is also a (not so clear) progress chart at the front of the carriage.
When you hear the announcement "We will soon stop at Narita," this is not for the airport. It is for the town of Narita prior to the airport.
Wait until you hear the train is stopping at your terminal. From Tokyo the train stops first at Terminal 2 and then terminates at Terminal 1.
On arrival at your terminal, have your train tickets ready (one to feed through gate) and both to give to the ticket collector who is standing just beyond the gates.
Finally, have your passport ready as there is a security check just after the train exit before you are able to enter the airport. Follow the signs to Departures (or Arrivals if you are meeting someone!) and you're on your way.
Japan Rail Pass
So how much will this trip cost you?
If you hold a Japan Rail Pass then your costs are covered by the Pass - there is nothing extra to pay.
You will need a seat allocation though so you still need to go to the reservation desk to organize this. Also don't forget you need to exchange your Pass voucher for the real Pass before you are able to use it.
JR Nex Suica Card Deal
For ¥3,500 you will receive a one way journey to Tokyo on the Narita Express in a regular carriage plus a pre-paid card with ¥2,000 credit ready for you to use. To be eligible for this deal you must hold a non-Japanese passport and the offer is limited to one purchase per person.
If you just want to purchase a regular one way ticket into Tokyo on the Narita Express the cost will be approximately ¥3,000 depending on your final destination.
The journey takes just under 1 hour to get to Tokyo Station. Add another 30 minutes or so if you are going to Shinagawa, Ikebukuro, Yokohama or other stations.
To check how these prices convert in your own currency check the currency convertor at the bottom of our Tokyo prices page.
Food and Drinks
Once you're on the train your holiday has well and truly started.
There's a trolley that comes round so if you fancy kicking back and having a drink you can have a beer or a glass of wine as you watch the scenery pass you by ; )