So, you’re going from Tokyo to Kyoto with a JR pass.
Or maybe Hiroshima to Kyoto.
Can you use your JR pass for buses in Kyoto?!
Yes, there ARE some top Kyoto attractions that you can visit using your JR pass.
There are a number of different types of buses in Kyoto, with the regular buses being the “city bus” and “Kyoto bus.”
There’s also the “Raku bus” which is basically a tourist bus with bus routes going near main tourist attractions.
And then there’s the “JR bus” which is the ONLY bus you’ll be able to use your JR pass.
The JR bus route is a bit more limiting, but if you want to get around to some of Kyoto’s top spots ONLY using your JR pass, you can make it work!
There is also a JR train in Kyoto and it does go near some top spots too.
Another option might be to go for a one day bus pass (you’d pay extra for this – it’s like US$5).
And if you haven’t yet bought your JR pass, see the current price of a JR pass from an official JR pass vendor (and partner website). There are 7-day, 14-day, and 21-day passes available.
First, the quick list of the best places to visit by taking a JR bus.
Then, the more complete list of places you can go by bus in Kyoto with a JR pass.
3 best places to visit by bus in Kyoto with a JR pass
1. Nijo Castle (+ teahouse)
2. Kinkakuji Temple
3. Ryoanji Temple
These 3 places are among the top UNESCO world heritage sites in Kyoto.
You can also go to the popular Kyoto neighborhood called Arashiyama with a JR pass (there’s a JR train), and here’s a one day Arashiyama itinerary for that.
And if you’ll be in Kyoto for cherry blossom season, here’s a one-day cherry blossom photo walk.
List of where you can go by taking the JR bus
- Kyoto Station
- Kyoto Aquarium
- Kyoto Railway Museum
- Nijo Castle
- Kitano Tenmangu Shrine
- Kinkakuji Temple
- Ryoanji Temple
- Ninnaji Temple
- Jingoji Temple
- Kozanji Temple
JR bus route map
Photo was taken summer 2018.
And if you’re not committed to the JR bus, also consider…
Kyoto with a 600 yen (US$5) one day bus pass!
It’ll get you to a few more of the top spots in Kyoto!
- Kyoto Station to Nijo Castle bus
- Nijo Castle (+ teahouse)
- Nijo Castle to Kinkakuji bus
- Kinkakuji Temple
- Kinkakuji to Ryoanji bus
- Ryoanji Temple
- Ryoanji to Yasaka Shrine bus
- Gion to Kiyomizu-dera walk
- Kiyomizu-dera to Kyoto station bus
JR train in Kyoto
There are also a few trains in Kyoto that are on the JR line.
Once again, this may be a bit more limiting compared to if you allow yourself to ride on any subway or train in Kyoto.
HAPPY JR BUS RIDE IN KYOTO!
Use this Kyoto tourist map to plan out your 5 days in Kyoto!
- Day 1: Top tourist spots with one day bus pass
- Day 2: Fushimi Inari Shrine hike through 1,000 torii gates
- Day 3: Philosopher’s Path walk
- Day 4: Arashiyama and Sagano
- Day 5: Kurama Kibune Ohara with one day pass
More quick tips for planning your trip to JapanThere are affiliate links on this page that take you to partner websites.
For more on planning your trip to Kyoto, see the 1-day, 2-day, and 5-day Kyoto itineraries. If you'll be in Kyoto in the spring, also see the 1-day cherry blossom photo walk.
Hotels in KyotoSearch for deals on Kyoto hotels here.
For hostels across Japan, try this top backpacker's hostel chain.
Kyoto can also be a good place to stay at a Japanese-style ryokan, like this one. Or if you're on more of a budget, try this one.
Also use the map below to see more hotels in Kyoto!
Shoes for JapanFor summer travel, hiking sandals can be perfect for walking around cities and for many of the short day hikes! See travel sandals like these for women and these for men.
Japan is a mountain country so be sure to get in some hikes!
See trail running shoes too (for women - for men) for other solid hikes including climbing Mt Fuji.
Speaking of hiking, I love this daypack.
The super fast train in JapanIn general, 2 long-distance shinkansen train trips will likely end up making it so the JR pass will be worth it.
See the current price of a JR pass from an official vendor.
See an example of traveling by the fast train from Tokyo to Kyoto.
Natural disasters in JapanUnfortunately, Japan can be prone to natural disasters which means risk for travel delays. So be sure to look at travel insurance for natural disasters.
My travel insurance took care of my accommodation and food costs when I was forced to stay extra days in Japan because of a typhoon.
See how much insurance costs for your trip.
Best travel guides for JapanIf you're at step 1 in your planning process, have a look at this Discover Japan book.
For "books" that won't take up space in your suitcase, see the best PDF guides.
See more of the best books for Japan trip planning.
Cheap(er) flights to JapanI used this website to find the cheapest flight and to book my recent flight to Japan.
Sometimes it makes sense to book direct - my preferred way!
But this booking site will search a combination of airlines, including those who aren't partner airlines, which means that they can help you find cheaper flights by booking individual flights for you as part of one flight itinerary. This can be especially helpful if you're not flying out of a major hub with direct flights to Japan.
I've missed a flight booked through them and it was taken care of with hotel and new flight.
See more tips for finding cheap flights to Japan.