Narita Express (N’EX): How to get from NRT to Tokyo (and vice versa)

The Narita Express is no doubt one of the best and most efficient ways that you can get from Narita International Airport (NRT) to Tokyo and back – add to that the fact that that by choosing N’EX you get to ride in that iconic red and white train that looks so modern and high-tech, yet gives off this 90’s anime vibe so much that it makes me wonder if the train will suddenly transform into a real life mechanical robot. 😀

The Narita Express is also affordable (pretty much) and it’s very easy to figure out how to get your ticket and how to actually get yourself to the city (and back again to the airport) using the N’EX train, and I’m here to show you the 101. Ikimashou!

Table of Contents:

  1. What is the Narita Express (N’EX)?
  2. Where to Buy Narita Express (N’EX) Tickets
  3. Narita Express ticket price (and discounts)
  4. Schedule and Travel Time
  5. The Narita Express Experience
  6. Getting back to Narita Airport via N’EX
  7. Narita Express (N’EX) VS Keisei Skyliner: Which is the better option?
The Narita Express (N'EX) arriving.

What is the Narita Express (N’EX)?

The Narita Express (a.k.a. N’EX) is operated by the JR East (East Japan Railway Company) and provides direct access from Narita International Airport Terminals (1, 2-3) to major train stations in Central Tokyo, including the popular ones: Tokyo Station, Shinagawa Station, Shibuya Station, and Shinjuku Station, to even as far as Yokohama Station which is another popular tourist destination near Tokyo – if these stations are not your main destination already, them being major stations allow for quick and easy train transfers to get you to your destination.

Note that N’EX serves both Terminals 1 and 2-3 of the airport, so no need to figure out which terminal you need to go to in order to catch the N’EX train.

Route Map inside Narita Express train
General guide on the routes and destinations served by the Narita Express as seen on board the train.

Given its direct access from the airport to popular stations in Tokyo (which probably will be your destination as a tourist), you can just buy a ticket, ride the train, and then sit back and relax and just wait to arrive at your chosen destination. No need to worry about train transfers or traffic. Easy peasy.

Read more: Once you’re in Tokyo and you want to go to as much popular spots as you can, you probably will want to take advantage of the unlimited Tokyo Subway Ticket – for more info on this do check out my blog post about the 24, 48, and 72-hour Tokyo Subway Ticket.

Where to buy Narita Express (N’EX) tickets

Getting tickets for the Narita Express (N’EX) is quite convenient actually. You basically can buy online in advance or if you’re the last minute type of traveler, you can even get your ticket right at the Narita train station.

Passengers buying Narita Express tickets from Vending Machine
You can get your tickets at these vending machines at the Basement 1 Floor (entrance to the train stations) of the Narita Airport Terminals 1 and 2-3.

To buy in-person at Narita Airport train station, just go to Narita Express ticket machines beside the ticket office to purchase your ticket. If you don’t want to have to figure out the machine or need any assistance buying the ticket, just head to the ticket office just beside the machines and someone will be happy to assist you with your ticket purchase and seat reservation. You’ll easily find the ticket office and machines as they’re located just before the train station entrance at level B1F (Basement 1) of both terminals 1 and 2-3 of Narita Airport.

JR Ticket Office
If you don’t want to have to figure out the machines 😛 or if you’re just in general confused how to get your ticket, just head on to the JR Ticket Office and they’ll help you out with your ticket purchase.

The more convenient option is to buy your N’EX tickets online in order to skip the lines, book in advance, and avoid the hassle of having to figure things out after arriving at the airport with all your luggage with you. Another great thing about buying your tickets in advance online is that you’re guaranteed a ride at your chosen timeslot – because we’ll almost never know when it’s gonna be a full ride so I highly recommend you get your tickets online in advance.

To buy online via the official Japan Rail website, check out below official sites:

You can also check out and compare the prices over at Klook.com as you can also get your tickets there and sometimes they offer additional discounts.

Narita Express ticket price (and discounts)

Narita Express tickets are affordable and very cost-effective for the service that you get. Regular-price Narita Express tickets (adult) bound for Tokyo Station is priced at ¥3,070 (child tickets are half the price of adult tickets), and the fare increases as the destination gets farther out. See below price table for reference.

Narita Airport to:

  • Tokyo Station – ¥3,070
  • Shinagawa, Shibuya, and Shinjuku Stations – ¥3,250
  • Yokohama Station – ¥4,370
  • Ofuna Station – ¥4,700
Buying Narita Express N'EX ticket from the ticket counter
Buying your N’EX ticket at the JR Ticket Office? Yes it’s doable 😀

If you plan to use the Narita Express train to the city and then back to the airport, you can get discounted tickets if you buy their “N’EX Tokyo Round Trip Ticket” option – it’s only priced at ¥5,000 for adults and ¥2,500 for children and the price remains the same regardless of destination (covers the same major stations as the regular ticket), so it’s a pretty good deal if you’re planning to take the same train to and from. Just note that the discounted Round Trip ticket option is for foreign passport holders only so be prepared to show or scan your passport, and also the ticket is valid for only 14 days (meaning you have to complete your trip in 14 days).

Important note: If you already have the unlimited JR Pass, no need to buy Narita Express tickets as the JR Pass already covers for your Narita Express ride (Narita Express is operated by JR, remember?).

Just also consider the fact that using your JR Pass for your Narita Express trip effectively activates your JR Pass, meaning the number of remaining "unlimited-ride" days on your JR Pass gets used up right away, so make sure to plan ahead to make the most out of your JR Pass.

Check out my JR Pass guide for more info on this unlimited-ride ticket.
JR Narita Express Entrance
Entrance to the JR Narita Airport station that serves JR East Trains and shinkansen as well as the Narita Express, all covered by the unlimited JR Pass.

Schedule and Travel Time

A N’EX train departs one to three or even four times every hour (during peak hours) starting at around 7:10AM with the last train leaving at around 9:40PM (no it doesn’t run 24 hours), but this is only a rough estimate – to be sure that you’ll make it to your desired schedule and destination on time, make sure to plan around these times. Do note that this is for general information only and can change any time – to help you plan, check out this Narita Express timetable for the actual schedule.

Also as much as possible reserve your seats when purchasing your tickets so that you get a dedicated seat and more importantly, a secured schedule – if for any reason you miss your train due to delays, in the next departing train just take any empty seat in the cabin dedicated for unreserved seats and you’re good to go.

To give you an idea how long a one-way trip takes, an estimate trip from Narita Airport Terminal 1 to Tokyo Station is only roughly around 53 minutes to an hour, making it one of the quickest ways you can get from the airport to the city and back – this is especially helpful if you’re trying to catch a flight in time. 😉

JR Narita Express Car Number Navigation Signs
Right after passing the train station entrance, check your ticket for the “Car Number” then just follow the signs leading you to your train car.

The Narita Express Experience

Passengers getting onboard the Narita Express

The Narita Express experience for me was exactly as I had expected – it was peaceful and very comfortable, and did its job of taking me from point A to B without any hassle whatsoever. After getting the tickets at the station entrance which was hassle-free and pretty straightforward, getting to the retro-futuristic and iconic N’EX train was a breeze since the station entrance was just beside the ticket counter.

Luggage Storage Inside Narita Express Train
Each N’EX train cabin has a spacious area dedicated for luggage storage just before the seating area and just overhead the seating area there’s also a space where you can store small bags.
Lavatory Inside Narita Express Train
The train is also equipped with spacious private restrooms with sink as well as a standalone sinks.

As for the seating area, the seats were of course clean, spacious and very comfortable and had large windows to ensure you get the best view of the countryside and watch as the view gradually change to a city scene (or the other way around) – it’s so peaceful and quiet inside the train, the calmness plus the amazing views make this trip an tour experience in its own.

Inside Narita Express Train
Narita Express_Conductor checks on passenger tickets
The train conductor will sometimes conduct ticket inspection while en route, so please don’t discard your train ticket and keep it with you so that you can present it for stamping when requested by the conductor.

Each seat is equipped with foldable tables and power outlets for charging your devices, and you also get free WiFi on-board the train, making your seat a convenient mini-office if you wish to do some last-minute trip planning while en route to your destination.

No need to worry about missing your stop as well – there are audio announcements as well as clear signs on-board to help you figure out when to exit.

Overall it was a delightful experience – it’s simple, comfortable, efficient, and hassle-free, and it does the job wonderfully.

Getting back to Narita Airport via N’EX

It’s basically the same process when getting back to Narita Airport – just do the same steps backward. 😀

If you have not purchased the discounted Round Trip ticket already, at the same N’EX stops in the city (Tokyo, Shinagawa, Shibuya, Shinjuku stations, etc.) you’ll also find ticket machines and counters to buy your N’EX tickets from. From there you just need to follow the signs to get to the N’EX platform and board the next train bound for the airport.

Passengers buying Narita Express Tickets in Tokyo
Don’t panic: you can also get your N’EX tickets at the train stations served by the Narita Express in Tokyo.

Narita Express (N’EX) VS Keisei Skyliner: Which is the better option?

Although both the Narita Express and Keisei Skykiner serves the same purpose of getting you from Narita Airport to the city and back, they both differ in some ways that you might want to take note of to get the most out of your trip, depending on your actual travel plans. I wrote a separate blog post about the Keisei Skyliner that you can check out if you want to know more about this other option.

I also wrote another blog post comparing Narita Express VERSUS Keisei Skyliner to help you decide which one to take – do check this out! 🙂

Do you have any questions, or have any tips to share on the Narita Express? Feel free to comment down below! 🙂

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