Which express is better for you?
If you are going to start your travel in Japan in Tokyo, Narita international airport would be your first gate to Japan.
Maybe you know that this airport is not in Tokyo. In order to reach the centre of Tokyo, most international tourists use the train, we think. There are 2 possibilities, riding the Narita Express from JR or the Skyliner from Keisei.
The Narita Express needs no transfer to several stations in Tokyo
In their first visit in Japan, most international tourists ride the Narita Express (NEX) with their Japan Rail Pass, we think. We already used the NEX several times.
It is the big advantage of the NEX that access to Tokyo, Shinjuku, Shibuya, Ikebukuro or furthermore to Yokohama needs no transfer.
With the NEX you can reach Tokyo in around 1 hour and it costs around 3000 Yen. The NEX runs generally 2 times per hour.
- Access to Tokyo, Shinagawa, Shibuya, Shinjuku, Ikebukuro and Yokohama without any transfer
- 2 trains run each hour
- You can use your Japan Rail Pass to ride it
- Around 1 hour to Tokyo, 1,5 hours to Shinjuku, 2 hours to Yokohama
The Skyliner is much faster than the NEX
Another express which connects Narita airport to centre of Tokyo is the Skyliner from Keisei.
It is important to know that you can’t ride the Skyliner with your Japan Rail Pass, the Skyliner is not from JR but a private railway company. The Skyliner only runs to Nippori and Ueno station.
The Skyliner is really fast, it takes only 40 minutes to Ueno station (terminal) and 3 expresses run each hour. The ticket price is only 2520 Yen.
- Access only to Nippori or Ueno station
- 3 trains run every each hour
- You can’t use your Japan Rail Pass
- Around 40 minutes to Nippori or to Ueno
We generally recommend the Skyliner
We used NEX sometimes, but after riding the Skyliner we never used NEX anymore. Why? It is really simple, the Skyliner is faster, cheaper and runs more often.
If your accommodation is in the East side of Tokyo, the Skyliner really has better access. For example, we went to Ikebukuro station with NEX some years ago, it took around 1,5 hours! With the Skyliner, it takes under 1 hour and the tickets price is lower. A transfer was needed, but it was not so tiring. We recommend to transfer into a JR train at Nippori station, not at Ueno station, because the entrance of Skyliner of Ueno is far away to the entrance of other trains, but JR. Nippori station is connected to Keisi and JR, so it is easy to transfer.
With little kids or some heavy luggages? Or rush hour time? Then the NEX is better for you
If you have some heavy luggages or travel with little kids, then it would be better to avoid a transfer. Also if you have to start your way to the centre of Tokyo in rush hour (7:30-9:00, 17:30-19:00) the NEX is the better choice. You can reach major stations from Tokyo without transfer.
If you are going to travel with your Japan Rail Pass just after arriving, it is surely good to ride the NEX, but please consider if it is really worth using your pass only for the way to the centre of Tokyo? If your first accommodation is ex. in Ikebukuro, it would probably be better riding the Skyliner.