πŸ‡―πŸ‡΅ Kyoto Travel Guide πŸ‡―πŸ‡΅ | Travel better in JAPAN!


I’m Dan and this is Kyoto. I’m going to let you in on a secret… Kyoto
is my favourite place in Japan. Its 17 UNESCO world heritage sites, made up
of temples, shrines and gardens are everything I wanted to Japan to be. Traditional… beautiful…
peaceful. But what gives Kyoto its understated edge
is the blend of old and new. Sitting alongside the ryokan, pagodas and kagai flower streets
is a modern city that may not have the buzz and general craziness of neon neighbour Tokyo,
but I think it’s the perfect introduction for your first time in Japan. As you can see, Kyoto is a pretty awesome
place, and for me it’s probably one of the most unique destinations I’ve ever been
to. So, let’s take a look at how I got here. Flights from the UK will arrive at Osaka Kansai
International airport 60 miles south of Kyoto. From here you can take one of Japan’s super-efficient
trains into the city or hop on the Airport Limousine bus. The JR Haruka Express takes 75 minutes to
Kyoto Station, stopping at Shin-Osaka along the way. My one-way ticket cost 1,880¥. The Limousine Bus departs from the first floor
of both terminals and takes 90 minutes to reach Kyoto Station, after which it makes
several further stops across town. If one of these stops is near your hotel, the bus
may end up being quicker than the train, so check their online timetable before making
your journey. If you hold a British passport you will not
need a visa to enter Japan and can stay for up to 90 days as a tourist. You’ll need
to fill out a landing card when you arrive and may need proof that your departure flight
is booked. When it comes to discovering new cities, I
am a massive advocate of getting the bus. Why? Because it’s a great way to do some
cheap sightseeing, and in Kyoto it’s also a particularly good option and here’s why. Somewhat surprisingly for Japan, Kyoto does
not have an extensive subway network. Yes, there is a metro, but we found that when visiting
Kyoto’s tourist sites it generally worked out quicker to get the bus. And like I said,
you get to really see the city. When boarding, get on at the back and off
at the front. Kyoto buses have a single flat fare of 230¥ that you must pay as you get
off. The driver will not have change, so make sure you have the exact money when buying
a single. However, I recommend doing what I did and picking up a 24-hour pass for 500¥. I picked mine up from one of those vending
machines right there, which are outside Kyoto train station, which is super nifty because
as you can see, the buses are right there. As for navigation, get your data sorted and
use Google Maps, it’s as reliable as ever in Kyoto. Alternatively, you can use the Arukumachi
Kyoto route planner app, which is free on iOS and Android. Up next, my top tips for Kyoto’s surprisingly
busy tourist hotspots. First up is Kyoto’s old town, Gion. This
is the place to go for traditional Japan and my personal favourite; if you’re a fan of
Memoirs of a Geisha and all things historical and cultural, while topping up your Instagram
feed, this is an absolute must-visit, though it can get rather busy… Kinkaku-ji, or the Golden Pavilion, is you
guessed it, covered in gold. According to local custom the gold plating will purify
negative energy. The temple itself is stunning although there isn’t a whole lot else to
do here once you’ve got the obligatory photo. My top tip for visiting this popular tourist
attraction: go early to avoid the crowds and then move on to my personal favourite, Ginkaku-ji,
or the Silver Temple.. Now this is what I had in mind when I thought
of traditional Japanese temples. A gentle, quiet and relaxing garden with some beautiful
buildings. Next up is the Fushimi Inari shrine and its
thousands of orange torii. This legendary site is one of Japan’s most famous and most
photographed. It’s just a short hop out of Kyoto city centre. To get here, take the JR line to Inari. A
return from Kyoto Central where we got it from was 280¥.
The gates line the paths up to the Inari mountain and if you can get ahead of the crowds is
a beautifully serene experience. The walk to the top will take a couple of hours, but
the views over the city make it well worth it in my opinion. Fushimi Inari is open 24
hours a day all year round and best of all, is free to enter! Last on our list is another site further along
the line from Fushimi Inari, Nara. Or more specifically, Nara Park and its hundreds of
friendly Sika Deer. Just got off the train at Nara Park and there
are deer everywhere. I don’t know if you can see them behind me. Looks like a mum and
two babies, so I don’t want to get too close in case they eat me. So of course, I was eaten right away! You
can buy crackers to feed the deer, just be aware that once they know you have some, they’ll
go for you! Pro tip here is to stay calm and hold out one cracker at a time, just like
this. To get to Nara we took the JR Nara line from
Kyoto to JR Nara Station, which cost 690¥ each. Make sure you get the 45-minute direct
service instead of the local service which will take 70 minutes. I love pretentious food, so when I found out
Kyoto had over 100 Michelin stars, I knew this was the place for me. Now that’s a
lot of restaurants to go and try. I’d recommend starting at the department stores though.
Here’s why. Department stores in Japan are typically multi-storey
behemoths, with each floor dedicated to different sections. And while the stores in central
Kyoto can’t match the scale of those in Tokyo, they’re certainly cut from the same
cloth. Often, the top floors are dedicated to restaurants and places to grab a quick
bite. So here’s the thing about Japan – the attention
to detail and the care taken in food preparation is unrivalled. The food on offer here is nothing
short of spectacular, and the best part about sticking to the larger department stores is
the wide variety of options from which to choose. My tip for Kyoto is to head to the station.
The Isetan store in the station building has both the top and bottom floors dedicated to
food. The top is a selection of restaurants, but best of all, the bottom floor is a huge
food hall with just about anything you could imagine. This is the absolute best place to
load up your packed lunch before a day’s sightseeing. The currency here is the Japanese yen where
£1 buys between 140 and 150. Now, despite the country’s technological advances,
Japan is still a heavily cash reliant society, preferring coins and notes over credit and
debit cards, which can be a bit of a pain unless you’re prepared. My advice: work out your budget, work out
what you’re gonna bring and bring the whole lot in cash. ATMs are available in major banks, post offices
and 7-Eleven stores, though these can be closed from 9pm and not always available at the weekend.
If this is the case, some convenience stores and shopping centres are 24/7. Credit cards are accepted in most hotels and
department stores, but only some restaurants and ryokan. Another thing about money in Japan – tipping
– here it’s just not done and I can’t tell you how refreshing that is. It’s because
you’re seen as being charitable rather than generous, and in Japanese culture it’s about
delivering a fantastic service, it’s expected. So if you’re leaving a tip, you’re actually
being quite insulting, so just don’t do it. Here’s what we spent: Return flights from London with one stopover
like ours can be had for around £650. Our 3-bedroom rental house was 165 pounds
per night. Worldwide travel insurance with Holiday Extras
was £16. This pork katsu was 1,512 yen.
Entry to Kinkaku-ji was 400 yen each. This green tea ice cream was 350 yen at the
Kinkaku-ji golden temple. And entry to Ginkaku-ji was 500 yen per person. For up to date exchange rates visit xe.com,
and as our time in Kyoto comes to a close, don’t forget to subscribe for more tips
and even exciting travel guides. That’s it for Kyoto, I have had an absolute
blast and I cannot recommend you get yourselves here quick enough. If you have any tips of
your own or any questions just leave us a comment. Sayonara!

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