If you are planning a trip to Kyoto, Japan and are unsure what you can do outside of Kyoto, this article is perfect for you. With five easy day trips and tour options, this article makes planning your trip to Kyoto both enjoyable and non-complicated.
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Things you should know before going to Kyoto
Visa for Japan
Check that you do not require a visa for Japan. The visa website is a quick and easy way to check whether your passport requires a permit.
Travel Insurance for Japan
SafetyWing is the World’s first International Travel Medical Insurance developed to meet the needs of entrepreneurs and remote workers travelling or living abroad. However, if you do not fall under this category, do not worry; SafetyWing also suits all vacation types.
The best time to travel to Kyoto
The best time to visit Kyoto is during the Cherry Blossom Season from late March to Early April. The weather is typically mild, with temperatures ranging from 10°C to 18°C (50°F to 64°F). Light layers and comfortable walking shoes are recommended. During this magical time, the city’s parks and temples come alive with delicate pink blooms, creating a picturesque atmosphere. Don’t miss spots like Maruyama Park, Philosopher’s Path, and Kiyomizu-dera for breathtaking views.
Another wonderful time to visit Kyoto is during the Autumn Foliage Season from late October to Early December when Kyoto’s landscapes transform into a red, orange, and gold canvas. The weather is cool and comfortable, with temperatures ranging from 10°C to 20°C (50°F to 68°F). Layers and a light jacket are recommended. This season offers stunning autumn foliage displays (koyo) at iconic spots like Kiyomizu-dera, Arashiyama, and Tofuku-ji. The city exudes a peaceful, serene atmosphere, ideal for strolls and temple visits.
Tipping in Japan
In Japan, tipping is not a common practice and can be considered rude or inappropriate in certain situations. Generally, excellent service is expected and included in the price of goods or services. Japanese hospitality is deeply rooted in the culture, and the service provided is already high quality. Attempting to tip may cause confusion or embarrassment for the recipient. However, if you want to show appreciation for exceptional service, a polite thank you or a compliment to the staff is more than enough.
Currency in Japan
The Japanese Yen (¥) is the official currency in Kyoto. While credit cards are accepted in many places, having some cash on hand is wise, especially when visiting smaller shops, street vendors or participating in cultural experiences.
Remember to check the current exchange rates before your trip, and consider using a currency exchange service for the best rates. Additionally, notify your bank or credit card provider about your travel plans to avoid any transaction issues while in Kyoto. With the correct currency prepared, you’ll be ready to fully enjoy your visit to this enchanting city, whether you’re captivated by cherry blossoms or the fiery hues of autumn leaves.
How to get to Kyoto
Transport: You can order a private transfer here. The drive time from Kansai International Airport to downtown Osaka is just under 1 hour.
Train or bus: From Kansai International Airport (KIX) to Kyoto, the travel time by train and bus typically takes just over an hour. However, if you decide, you can hop on the Shinkansen bullet train from Shin Osaka Station to Kyoto City, which will get you there in 15 minutes. Once you arrive, navigating this enchanting city is easy thanks to the well-developed and efficient transport options from Kyoto Station, including JR trains, privately operated railways and bus lines.
Travel times may vary slightly based on train schedules and traffic conditions.
Hiring a car is also an option if you plan to spend a few days here and want to do it at your own pace.
Five of the best Day Trips from Kyoto
1. Hiroshima and Miyajima Island
Take advantage of the Shinkansen bullet train and head to Hiroshima, home of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial and Peace Memorial Park. The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum provides a poignant insight into the devastating effects of the atomic bomb. From there, catch a ferry to Miyajima Island, known for its iconic Itsukushima Shrine and stunning floating torii gate. Enjoy a scenic stroll through the island’s picturesque streets and soak in the peaceful atmosphere.
Recommended Tour –From Osaka or Kyoto: Hiroshima and Miyajima Train & Bus Tour
Just a short train ride from Kyoto Station, Nara is a must-visit city for history buffs. It is home to the famous Todaiji Temple, which houses the World’s largest bronze statue of Buddha. Explore the serene Nara Park, where you can encounter wild deer roaming freely. Remember to visit Kasuga Taisha, a beautifully preserved Shinto shrine surrounded by thousands of stone lanterns.
Recommended Tour – From Kyoto: Guided Day Trip to Kyoto and Nara with Lunch
3. Himeji Castle
Hop on the bullet train and travel to Himeji, where you’ll find one of Japan’s most spectacular castles – Himeji Castle. This UNESCO World Heritage site dates back to 1333 and is renowned for its elegant white appearance. Wander through the well-preserved complex, including its impressive defensive systems, beautiful gardens, and breathtaking views from the top of the main keep.
Recommended Tour – Himeji Perfect 1-Day Bus Tour from Kyoto/Osaka
4. Arashiyama Bamboo Grove and Kinosaki Onsen
Travel westward from Kyoto and explore the enchanting Arashiyama district. The highlight here is the mesmerizing Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, where towering bamboo stalks create a tranquil atmosphere. Afterwards, take a scenic train ride to Kinosaki Onsen, a charming hot spring town known for its traditional architecture and relaxing baths. Immerse yourself in the soothing waters and indulge in local delicacies.
Recommended Tours – Arashiyama Bamboo Grove Day Trip from Kyoto with a Local: Private & Personalized
5. Lake Biwa and Osaka Castle
Head to Lake Biwa and Osaka for a day trip combining natural beauty and historical landmarks. Lake Biwa is the largest freshwater lake in Japan and offers various outdoor activities like boating, cycling, and hiking. Afterwards, take a short train ride to Osaka to explore
Recommended Tours –Sailing Experience in the biggest lake in Japan with BBQ Option
Thanks for taking the time to read this article. I hope this post has given you the information you need. If you have any recommendations, tips or advice, I would love for you to share them in the comment section below!
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