When you travel to Kyoto should you take the bullet train or fly? With a limited subway system what is the best way to get around Kyoto? Here are the answers!
How To Get To Kyoto
Option 1 - The Bullet Train (Shinkansen)
From Osaka you can take the bullet train to Kyoto in around 12 minutes and about 1,420 Yen (about $13 USD). You can get more information about booking a ticket or the Osaka Station here.
From Tokyo you can take the bullet train to Kyoto in around 2.5 hours for about 13,080 Yen (about $120 USD) for a non reserved seat which you don't need to reserve out of peak hours. You can get more information about booking a ticket or the Kyoto Station here.
Option 2 - Fly
If you are in Tokyo you are able to fly to Osaka for relatively cheap. Looking right now, a round trip is about $150 USD from Tokyo. The flight is about an hour and fifteen minutes but keep in mind that you'll then have to figure out how to get up to Kyoto.
Option 3 - Bus
There is a bus that goes from Tokyo to Kyoto and takes between 7 and 9 hours and can range from 1700 ($15 USD) to 10,000 Yen ($91 USD) with the average being between 6000-9000 Yen ($55-$82 USD)
What's the best option? Bullet Train
I'm talking from personal experience as I chose to fly. I looked at the prices and thought, 'I don't need to pay more and the flight is faster!'. Wrong! Overall the flight may be cheaper but I wish I would have taken the bullet train and here is why
1. The flight time plus the time it takes to get to Kyoto is about the same as the bullet train. You'll also need to pay for your way up there and a bus is about $13 USD and takes about 40 minutes if you don't hit traffic.
2. You won't waste time having to get to the airport early to check in.
3. There isn't a chance of any delays due to weather or plane troubles.
4. The bullet train is just an iconic experience and it goes right by Mt. Fuji so you may be able to see that also!
Getting Around Kyoto
Option 1 - Walk
This is an obvious one and it's super easy especially in the down town area. It probably isn't the best option if you are trying to get to multiple temples in a day though.
Option 2 - Bike
This was the main option for one of my days there and recommend it. They had a bike rental at my hostel and figured I'd give it a try. It allowed me to do so much! On the Eastern most side of Kyoto there are a lot of temples and with my bike I was able to just start up top and cruise all the way down.
Option 3 - City Bus
I used the city bus to get around for one of the days I was there and found it to be easy to use. I did have trouble on occasion finding the stops but overall a good experience. They have English notifications which make it extremely easy. Just make sure you have coins to pay for it.
Option 4 - Taxi
There are a lot of taxis, and I used one, but they are expensive and there they may use limited English like mine.
Option 5 - Uber
There are Ubers but they are also expensive and are not as common.
Option 6 - Subway
There are two lines that run north and south and east and west. I never used it but seems like it could be a solid option.
What's the best option? Biking and City Bus
Okay, full disclosure, I am choosing these options because they are the ones I used. You may not have access to a bike but if you able to get ahold of one I would use that for all the temples on the East side of town.
Walking is obviously the cheapest option but its not feasible to get everywhere you'd want to go. For the buses I found them easy to use and very cheap. I have no idea what it would have cost to hire a car but I know the taxis were expensive. Like $20 for a 15-20 minute ride.
See what to do, where to eat, how to get to the bamboo forest, what I did, my complete guide, or a minute video of my trip!
To see a video of the Top 10 of what to do in Kyoto click here or a video on the Best Way to Spend $40 in Kyoto click here.
HELLO AND WELCOME!
I'm Jake, a dude interested in personal finance and travel creating the life I choose.
In 5 years I went from living in a basement with Craigslist roommates to paying off 90k of debt, backpacking 3 continents, getting a house for myself and 5 rental units.
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