best airport to fly into Haneda vs Narita Blooming sakura tree near observation tower on sunny day

Haneda vs Narita airports in Tokyo The best airport to Fly Into

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I visited Japan on a 3 week Japan trip. Read on for a more detailed comparison of Narita vs Haneda to help choose the best airport for your visit to Tokyo!

Haneda vs Narita airports in Tokyo The best airport to Fly Into

No Time to Read the Whole Article? Here’s a Quick Highlight:

  • Haneda is much closer to central Tokyo, making it the preferred airport for business travelers and tourists staying near areas like Shinjuku and Shibuya. Narita is farther away but offers more international flights, especially on low-cost carriers.
  • Haneda has more domestic flight connections while Narita remains the larger international hub. Haneda is rapidly adding more international routes, especially to North America.
  • Transport options like the Narita Express and Tokyo Monorail provide fast connections from both airports to downtown Tokyo in as little as 36 minutes. Haneda has a location advantage for western Tokyo neighborhoods.
  • Both airports have lounges, dining and shopping options, with Haneda generally seen as having newer and nicer facilities. However most travelers don’t spend extensive time at either airport.

Related: How To Get From Haneda to Tokyo city

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my recommendation: the best airport to fly into tokyo Haneda vs Narita 

Busy Street Near Tokyo Tower, best airport to fly into Haneda vs Narita

haneda vs narita which is better which tokyo airport is better

When traveling to Tokyo, I always choose to fly into and always recommend everyone to fly into  Haneda Airport whenever possible.

For my trips staying in central Tokyo neighborhoods Haneda offers the fastest and cheapest access thanks to its location just 13 miles south of the city center.

  • The closer proximity saves both time and money – a taxi to my hotel takes 30-45 minutes and costs around $100 USD, compared to a $215 ride and 90 minutes from distant Narita.
  • Even the train is quicker with Haneda connected directly to Hamamatsucho Station on the convenient JR Yamanote loop line in under an hour for around $8 USD – an incredible bargain.

Beyond the ease of transportation, Haneda also offers great dining and shopping options airside in the airport.

  • With hot spring baths and hotel rooms even available to overnight layover passengers, Haneda goes above and beyond.

If you want fast, affordable access to central Tokyo neighborhoods plus all the comforts while you wait, Haneda Airport is absolutely the best choice.

best airports to fly to japan from us

The top airport options for flights from the US to Japan are:

  • Tokyo Haneda (HND)
  • Tokyo Narita (NRT
  • Osaka Kansai (KIX)

My recommendation for the best airport to fly to Japan from us is Haneda Airport in Tokyo should be your first choice. Thanks to its convenient location only 30-45 minutes from central districts like Shinjuku and Shibuya by car or train.

Narita International Airport serves as an important alternative Tokyo gateway, located 43 miles outside the city with good express train links taking 60-70 minutes.

Osaka’s Kansai International Airport offers direct flights from several US hubs and is a great option if visiting Osaka, Kyoto or Kobe rather than starting in Tokyo.

Haneda vs Narita: A Thorough Comparison to Choose the Best Tokyo Airport

Airports in Tokyo japan

When flying into the Tokyo area, you’ll be landing at one of two major airports – Narita (NRT) or Haneda (HND). Both airports serve domestic routes within Japan as well as long-haul international flights. If given the choice when booking, which Tokyo airport should you choose?

While Haneda is more conveniently located and has invested heavily in new international routes, Narita remains an important hub with some key advantages of its own.

This article will compare Haneda vs Narita across factors like transportation links, flight options, lounges and amenities to help you make the best decision for your trip circumstances.

How Many Days In Tokyo? The Ultimate Tokyo Itinerary Guide For 2023 View of Sensoji Temple in Tokyo, Japan best airport to fly into Haneda vs Narita

Why Do Frequent Travelers Love Haneda Airport?

For many travelers and savvy visitors, Haneda Airport is the preferred airport when flying to Tokyo. Here are some of the main reasons Haneda has a great reputation:

  • Much closer location – Haneda is only 13 miles or a 30-45 minute drive from central districts like Shinjuku, making it preferred for business travelers who rely on taxis or car services. Total travel time to downtown hotels can be 2 hours less compared to Narita.
  • Easier connections – Haneda has many more domestic flights within Japan in addition to growing international service. Connecting to flights bound for Sapporo or Fukuoka is easier here.
  • Newer facilities – Haneda’s dedicated international Terminal 3 opened in 2010 with all brand new, modern amenities. Lounges and dining options are more plentiful.

For tourists planning to stay near areas like Asakusa or Ueno, Narita can actually provide more convenient access. But for other visitors, Haneda’s location and ease of connections give it a leg up.

is haneda busier than narita

When it comes to total passenger volume, Haneda Airport is definitely the busier of Tokyo’s two major international gateways, handling over 85 million travelers in 2019 before the pandemic impacts. Narita served around 40 million passengers that same year.

In terms of aircraft traffic, Haneda topped out at over 409,000 total flights in 2018 including domestic and international traffic. Narita likewise plateaued at around 235,000 total flights including both passenger and cargo.

So while Narita retains an important role, especially for international long haul routes on foreign airlines and low cost carriers, Haneda is the primary airport for most domestic routes within Japan. This gives it significantly higher passenger numbers and aircraft operations yearly.

An important “busyness” factor is also the concentration of this traffic – Haneda’s single international terminal means higher per-gate passenger volume and aircraft density compared to Narita’s more spread out configuration.

However, Narita’s distance from central Tokyo also means facilities feel less intensely crowded with more elbow room in check-in, security, and immigration zones. Haneda’s greater passenger numbers can lead to longer lines at peak times.

Key Differences Between Haneda and Narita Airports Tokyo international airports

To help you weigh Haneda vs Narita for your own trip plans, here is a full breakdown comparing the two Tokyo airports:

narita or haneda closer to tokyo 

When it comes to proximity to downtown Tokyo districts like Shinjuku, Shibuya, and Marunouchi, Haneda Airport has a clear advantage over Narita.

Haneda is located just 13 miles south of central Tokyo, right along the coastline on Tokyo Bay. Narita lies 43 miles to the northeast, essentially in a separate prefecture of Chiba.

haneda vs narita distance

Distance from Central Tokyo & Transportation Options

  • Haneda Airport – 13 miles away, located on Tokyo Bay in Ota ward
  • Narita Airport – 43 miles away, located in Chiba prefecture

For travelers heading to western Tokyo districts like Shinjuku, Shibuya and Ikebukuro, Haneda provides much quicker access:

  • Taxi – 30-45 mins, around $100 USD for a 13 mile trip in traffic
  • Train – 36-50 mins via Tokyo Monorail to Hamamatsucho then JR Yamanote line. Total cost approx $8 USD

Reaching areas like Asakusa, Ryogoku and Ueno is actually faster from Narita Airport via the Keisei Skyliner limited express train:

  • Taxi – 60-90 mins, around $215 for a 43 mile drive
  • Train – 36 mins via JR Narita Express or 50 mins on Keisei Skyliner to Ueno or Nippori stations. Total cost around $30 USD

So while Haneda is more convenient on average thanks to its location, Narita offers competitive travel times to eastern Tokyo neighborhoods as well.

distance between narita and haneda airport

he driving distance between Narita Airport and Haneda Airport is approximately 63 miles (102 km).

To compare to central Tokyo:

  • Haneda Airport is 13 miles (22 km) from downtown
  • Narita Airport is 43 miles (70 km) from downtown

So Haneda is over 30 miles closer to major hotels, attractions and train stations in districts such as Shinjuku, Marunouchi and Ueno. This makes a significant difference in travel times and transportation costs.

Taxi prices can be 2-3x more expensive from distant Narita, while train links like the Narita Express and Tokyo Monorail take around 30 minutes longer to reach the city center.

Number of Flights and Airlines Serving Each Airport

For years, Narita was designated as Tokyo’s main international airport while Haneda catered mostly to domestic travel. But in recent years Haneda has grown quickly, adding long haul international routes and more airline partners:

Haneda International Service:

  • 12 new North America routes approved for 2023 onwards
  • Current routes to Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Paris, London
  • Service from Delta, American Airlines, Air France, All Nippon Airways, Japan Airlines and more

Narita International Service

  • 500+ weekly flights to North America before COVID-19 pandemic
  • Major hub for low cost carriers like Jetstar Japan and Zipair Tokyo
  • Additional long haul routes to Europe, Southeast Asia and Australia

So while Narita maintains an advantage for specific long haul routes on foreign airlines, the convenience of Haneda Airport will make it the entry point of choice for most US visitors once new routes launch.

Haneda vs Narita: Airport Comparison table

FactorHaneda AirportNarita Airport
Distance from Central Tokyo13 miles43 miles
Travel Time by Taxi30-45 min ($100 USD)90+ min ($215 USD)
Travel Time by Train36-50 min ($8 USD)60-70 min ($30 USD)
International FlightsGrowing quicklyMore routes, especially LCCs
Domestic FlightsExtensive networkLimited options
Airport FacilitiesNewer, more loungesAging but still good
Connection ConvenienceExcellent, nearby stationsRequires Tokyo transfer

best airport to fly into Haneda vs Narita

Quality of Airport Facilities

Amenities like airline lounges, shopping and dining options should not make or break your Haneda vs Narita decision. However it is useful background:

  • Lounges – Haneda has more branded lounges from OneWorld and Star Alliance airlines. But both airports also feature nice independent lounges.
  • Terminals – Haneda’s international Terminal 3 is newer and more modern. Narita’s terminals range from very nice (T1 South Wing) to more basic.
  • Services – Plentiful dining and shopping at both locations. Haneda has nicer landside options airside, neither airport is a destination for shopping.

Ultimately unless you plan to spend extended time at the airport, the quality and quantity of amenities should not sway your decision very much. Focus more on convenience and flight options instead.

Ease of Making Connections

If you are arriving on an international flight and continuing travel within Japan, Haneda likely offers an easier connection:

  • Domestic flights – Haneda has flights to 30+ domestic airports from Sapporo to Okinawa
  • Shinkansen trains – Quick connections to Tokyo Station via monorail
  • Subway access – Airport limousine buses go to various hotels and train stations

As Japan’s largest international airport, Narita offers more long haul connections to other Asian cities. But reaching domestic airports often requires heading back towards Tokyo on the Narita Express then transferring.

So for simple ongoing travel within Japan, Haneda’s domestic terminal and transport links provide much simpler logistics.

Frequently Asked Questions About Narita and Haneda

Is it better to fly into Haneda or Narita Airport?

For most leisure travelers staying near central Tokyo neighborhoods, Haneda Airport is preferable thanks to faster travel times and transport connections. An exception is visitors planning to spend most time in eastern districts – for Asakusa, Ueno or Ryogoku Narita can make more sense.

Business travelers also strongly prefer Haneda for the convenience factor when using taxis or car services to reach downtown financial and commercial areas.

What’s the main difference between Haneda vs Narita?

The most frequently cited distinction is Haneda’s closer proximity and minimum 30-45 minute travel time to reach central Tokyo. But it’s also important to consider flight options – Haneda continues to add new international routes but Narita has more long haul foreign airlines. Domestic connections are also far easier from Haneda Airport.

How do I choose Narita or Haneda for my trip?

The recommended thought process:

  1. Check routes from your departure city – are there nonstop flights to both Haneda and Narita?
  2. Consider your budget – low-cost carrier routes will likely fly into Narita
  3. Look at public transport times to your hotel area in Tokyo from both airports
  4. Weigh importance of easy domestic connections within Japan

Plot options in a table to compare time/convenience vs potential fare differences. No need to overthink it – both Narita and Haneda work very well as entry points to Tokyo!

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The Bottom Line

When traveling to Tokyo, you want easy airport access, great flight routes and schedules, and ideally affordable pricing. By understanding the key differences between Haneda vs Narita like distance from the city center, transportation links and flight offerings, you can fully weigh your options for which airport works better for your trip needs.

With this context, look at flying into Haneda if visiting central Tokyo and wanting a fast, seamless arrival process. Narita remains a key hub especially for foreign airlines and offers solid transport as well – you truly cannot go wrong with either choice!

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