First here are some quick tips for a trip to Kyoto!
1. When you’re actually in Kyoto and in the major tourist areas, you’ll see local sightseeing maps all over!
2. The Google Maps app is also a reliable way to figure out how to get around Kyoto by bus and train
3. The Japan Travel Navitime app can be good if you’re trying to figure out the best way to get around with a JR pass (or to help you decide if it’s better to get around without your JR pass)
4. The Google Translate app has a feature where you can take a picture of Japanese writing and it will translate it for you
6. The ICOCA card is SO worth it to get if you’ll be taking the bus or train to get around Kyoto. (No cost savings, but it’s highly convenient so you won’t have to go through the hassle of buying individual tickets! They are basically recharge cards.) If you’re coming from Tokyo, you can use a SUICA card or PASMO card in Kyoto too.
7. If you’re traveling with a JR pass, there’s a JR bus in Kyoto and a JR train in Kyoto that you can take to travel around Kyoto for FREE! The routes are limited, but there ARE some top spots in Kyoto you can get to with your JR pass!
8. “Kyoto Station” is where you’ll find both the main train station of Kyoto and the main bus station of Kyoto.
9. Kyoto used to be the capital of Japan, and as a result it’s full of history and tons of UNESCO world heritage sites.
10. Kyoto is basically THE city in Japan known for matcha green tea! So if you love matcha, be sure to try some matcha-flavored food (you’re sure to come across plenty walking the streets!), and also be sure to visit a teahouse!
11. The main international airport near Kyoto is Kansai airport KIX. There’s a direct train that runs between Kyoto and the airport. There are many budget airlines within Asia that fly in and out of KIX. I think Kyoto can make a good entry point for a first trip to Japan, and maybe give you less overwhlem compared to Tokyo!
12. If you’re traveling with a JR pass, you can’t take the fastest shinkansen bullet train (called Nozomi) to get to Kyoto. Instead, you can take the Hikari shinkansen bullet train which has enough frequent timings for it to be convenient. It will take around 2.5 hours to travel by shinkansen from Tokyo to Kyoto.
13. If you won’t be traveling with a JR pass and you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option, there’s also a bus from Tokyo to Kyoto.
14. As one of Japan’s top international tourist destinations (second to Tokyo I’d say), Kyoto is traveler-friendly. You’ll see plenty of English signs around.
15. Also as one of Japan’s top international destinations, be prepared for CROWDS! (Better to manage your expectations so you won’t feel so negatively about the potential amount of people around!)
16. The summer Olympics are in 2020, July and August. While the majority of events will take place to the north in and around Tokyo, it could still lead to greater crowds all across Japan, including Kyoto.
17. If you’re in the US and haven’t bought your flight to Japan yet, consider signing up for alerts so you can be notified of price drops on flights to Japan.
More Kyoto travel tips!
50+ Kyoto travel blog posts to plan the perfect trip to Kyoto!
This is what you can find on this website!
- One day in Kyoto
- 2 days in Kyoto
- 5 days in Kyoto
- One day Kyoto cherry blossom walk
- One day in Arashiyama
- One day trip to Kurama – Kibune – Ohara
- One day trip to Nara
Getting around Kyoto
- JR bus in Kyoto (places you can get to by bus with a JR pass for FREE)
- JR train in Kyoto (places you can get to by train with a JR pass for FREE)
- How to use the Kyoto bus
- Raku bus (where the Kyoto tourist bus goes)
- Kyoto one day bus pass
- Where to buy the Kyoto bus pass
- Kyoto station to Nijo Castle by bus
- Kyoto station to Fushimi Inari by JR train
- Kyoto Station to Ginkakuji by bus bus
- Fushimi Inari to Ginkakuji by train and bus
- Kyoto Station to Arashiyama by JR train
Getting to/from Kyoto
- Tokyo to Kyoto by train
- Tokyo to Kyoto by bus
- Kyoto to Nara by train
- Kyoto to Hiroshima by train
- JR Haruka train from Kyoto to Kansai Airport
Things to do in Kyoto
- Cherry blossom walk
- Places to visit in Ancient Kyoto (world heritage sites in Kyoto)
- Nijo Castle (world heritage site)
- Nijo Castle teahouse
- Ginkakuji Temple (world heritage site)
- Ginkakuji tea room
- Tenryuji Temple (world heritage site)
- Philosopher’s Path
- Yasaka Shrine
- Gion to Kiyomizu-dera walk
- Ninenzaka and Sannenzaka slope
- Fushimi Inari Shrine through 1,000 torii gates
- Arashiyama and Sagano
- Kurama to Kibune hike
- Ohara village
- Sanzen-in Temple
- Jakko-in Temple
Things to do in Arashiyama (Kyoto neighborhood)
- Arashiyama bamboo forest
- Tenryuji Temple (world heritage site)
- Okochi Sanso Garden
- Okochi Sanso teahouse
- Togetsukyo Bridge
- Arashiyama monkey park
- Sagano scenic railway (Sagano romantic train)
- Arashiyama torokko station
- Hozukyo torokko station
- Kameoka torokko station
- Hozugawa river rafting
HAPPY KYOTO TRAVEL PLANNING!
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More quick tips for planning your trip to JapanThere are affiliate links on this page that take you to partner websites.
Among the top 3 things people get specific for a trip to Japan
- JR pass for quick and easy long distance train travel (see price here and see here how to calculate train routes to figure out it's worth it for you)
- Pocket wifi to make travel in Japan easier (see price here)
- Travel insurance for natural disasters just in case especially for travel disruptions (see price here and see here for past natural disaster that affected foreigners)