Can i check 'left luggage' without leaving the secure area of Narita airport?
October 20, 2011 1:35 PM   Subscribe

Next month, i'm travelling to Vietnam (via Tokyo) to be a grubby and lightly-packed backpacker for a few weeks, and then i'm flying to Tokyo to be a confident stylish city tourist for a few days before I go home. My initial theory about how to do this is to pack separate bags and put the "stylish city lady" bag in left luggage in the Tokyo Narita airport during my 2.5 hour stopover on the way to vietnam. Is this possible? Or do you have better ideas?

Usually, 'left luggage' counters are outside the secure area of the airport. I don't think I can count on having enough time to exit the secure arrivals area, leave my luggage, and go through security to get to my connecting flight. (I'm primarily concerned with my first flight being delayed and making the stopover too short, but also i'm not at all familiar with Narita airport and how big or chaotic or efficient it is.) I can't bring my 'japan clothes' to vietnam and leave them in left luggage or at a hotel there, because i'm flying in and out of two different airports at different ends of the country.

Any suggestions? Those familiar with Narita airport are especially encouraged to reply :)

(Also, yes, if push comes to shove i'll either just lug everything around Vietnam or decide to be kinda grubby in Japan or try and bring clothes that bridge both situations, if possible. But ideally i'd like to leave a small suitcase full of skinny jeans and boots and jackets in the Tokyo airport, waiting for me when i get back there.)
posted by Kololo to Travel & Transportation around Tokyo, Japan (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Do you know where you'll be staying in Tokyo? You might just ship a small bag directly to the hotel (with instructions to hold for Kololo) and then roll with your grubby clothes to Vietnam.
posted by jquinby at 1:51 PM on October 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

I did something very similar a few years ago- 10 days backpacking around Vietnam, landing in Hanoi and flying out of Ho Chi Minh City, then on to Japan.

I had not planned this, but in my travels in Vietnam I spent a few days in Hoi An with a fantastic tailor next door to the hotel who whipped up three dresses, a few blouses and a couple of pairs of pants for me for a fraction of what it would have cost at home. I only had to pack them from Hoi An to HCM and then onward to Tokyo. Just about every major stop in Vietnam seemed to be chock full of these places.

It's a bit of a gamble, but you could just *buy* your stylish Tokyo clothes bespoke in Vietnam.

Otherwise, I'd probably do what jquinby suggests, and ship ahead to your hotel.
posted by ambrosia at 1:55 PM on October 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

we DO live in the days of 'pay to check your luggage on the plane'...why not save yourself the trouble and expense, pack something semi-nice for vietnam, and hit the nearest department store upon arrival in tokyo...quite the 'not to be missed' experience...don't forget to stop by the food hall on the lower level!
posted by sexyrobot at 2:21 PM on October 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Yup, this is a good excuse to be nice Japanese clothes!
posted by carter at 2:48 PM on October 20, 2011

Response by poster: I'm going to assume that the last two answers were written either by women who wear a size two or less, or men, or people unfamiliar with Japanese clothing sizes. (I wear a US size 10, there is no way I can count on fitting into orthat buying clothes in japan. I'd rather not schedule self-esteem crisis into my trip.)

Thanks for tgethe other suggestions. Any answers about the left luggage set up in narita?
posted by Kololo at 3:28 PM on October 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Ugh. Answered using my phone. Please excuse the typos!
posted by Kololo at 3:29 PM on October 20, 2011

Left luggage counters in NRT. Last I was there, I used the one in the T1 Departure area. Sadly, to my knowledge, these are all outside of the secured zone.

If your flight is on time, I *think* 2.5 hours will be enough to get to left luggage and run back through security.

Do you have any problems with using the left luggage service in HCM Airport? A quick search indicates that they do offer the service (airport web site just doesn't mention it).
posted by brownpau at 3:31 PM on October 20, 2011

Here's something about the left luggage offices in Narita.

If you could get your bag there it looks like leaving it there for "a few weeks" would cost as much or more than just mailing it to the hotel, as others have suggested.
posted by aubilenon at 3:33 PM on October 20, 2011

Seconding the tailors in Hoi An. I wound up buying an extra duffel bag to carry the clothes I had made there as a scruffy backpacker.

(And if that doesn't suit you, I agree that shipping to your hotel will be much easier and probably cheaper than left luggage.)
posted by Pseudonaut at 4:30 PM on October 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Being a big bloke myself, shopping in Japan is not that easy. No department store will work. But there is Zen-Mall in Shibuya for example, that has all plus sizes, mostly imported. One floor for regular/college style, and one floor for suits.

The Left-luggage is outside of customs I am afraid. And to send package to hotel (which you can do at the conbini) is a reasonable idea if you ask the hotel in advance, is also on the outside.

2.5 hours you can do it though, under normal circumstances. We have never taken longer than 40 mins to exit after arrivals (although, visa holder's queue is faster than 'regular aliens'.)
posted by lundman at 6:27 PM on October 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

I would guess that are probably unlikely to be able to go in and out of security easily in NRT, as they will likely have a special international transfers process for your connecting flight to Vietnam where you do not go through customs, unless you were specifically told that you will have to go through customs in Japan.

Checking for left luggage in HCM sounds like the best idea to me.
posted by that girl at 10:19 PM on October 20, 2011

Response by poster: Just to clarify, since it seems its been missed in my original post: I am not flying in and out of the same airport in Vietnam. I am flying into Hanoi and out of Ho Chi Min. Therefore leaving luggage in a Vietnamese airport (or at a Vietnamese hotel) is not feasible.
posted by Kololo at 11:14 PM on October 20, 2011

I'd recommend sending your stuff to the hotel. I've used those Left Luggage lockers at NRT, and the service is great, but it's 500 yen every 24 hours, for each piece of luggage. At "a few weeks" that would come out to 10000+ yen. You'd probably be better off, convenience and money-wise, shipping it to your hotel.
posted by suedehead at 10:24 PM on October 24, 2011

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