Neon-lit Shinjuku features on many Tokyo travel wish lists. More than 3.5 million people flow through Shinjuku Railway Station every day (making it one of the busiest in the world), and the area is known for its mega department stores, tiny izakayas (Japanese pubs) and ramen shops marked with traditional lanterns. It's also a hotspot for a wide range of nightlife; while away a few hours in a quirky bar or dance until dawn in vast, pulsing clubs.
Shinjuku hostels tend to be lively and modern. You can stay in a cosy hostel, contemporary dorms with capsule-style bunk beds or in a traditional tatami mat room. Free Wi-Fi is standard, and you'll also find hostels in Shinjuku with heating and air con for a comfortable night's rest. Bunks come with curtains for extra privacy in most dorm rooms. Some hostels have a free breakfast, while a few run events where you can learn about Japan's culture.
Head west from Shinjuku Station for Nishi Shinjuku, a futuristic neighbourhood full of skyscrapers. Another area to know is Kabukichō – a red light district and entertainment hotspot where you'll find themed restaurants, lively bars and karaoke rooms. Squeeze into one of the tiny eateries along Golden Gai alley or look out for the giant sculpture of Godzilla, Kabukichō's unofficial mascot. Omoide Yokocho teems with atmospheric bars and the Arakicho neighbourhood is known for gourmet restaurants.
Many visitors come to Shinjuku for nightlife and shopping, but there's plenty more to see and do here. Get an aerial view of the city at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, with observation decks 45 floors up, or get back to nature at Shinjuku Gyoen – one of Tokyo's largest parks and a popular place to see cherry blossoms in spring. The Yayoi Kusama Museum celebrates Japan's zany pop-art queen, and you can explore Tokyo's past at the hands-on Samurai Museum or head to a show at the retro Puk Puppet Theatre.
From Tokyo's Narita International Airport, you can take the JR Narita Express (N'EX) train direct to Shinjuku station (journey time 1.5 hours). From Haneda Airport, you can take a train into Tokyo and change to the JR Yamanote line at Hamamatsuchō (on the Tokyo Monorail) or Shinagawa Station (on the Keikyu Main Line). Shinjuku Bus Terminal (BUSTA) is a major transport hub for long-distance buses with connections to cities across Japan. To get around Shinjuku you can hop on the metro or hail a taxi. For shorter distances, it's easy to explore on foot.