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Plan Your Trip to Kyoto: Best of Kyoto Tourism

A passageway to Japan's past, full of World Heritage sites and traditional arts
The shrines and temples of Kyoto offer a rare link between modern life in the city and its very ancient past. The Shimogamo Shrine dates to the 6th century and seems suspended in time, its serenity and spiritual power still palpable. Visit Fushimi Inari Shrine, then see the life-sized Thousand Armed Kannon statues of Sanjūsangen-dō. Take in traditional geisha performances, then savor a tranquil meal at a restaurant overlooking the Kamo River.

Travel Advice

Essential Kyoto

Traveler Guides

Kyoto Is Great For

Major matcha sweets

Sleek and modern capsule hotels

Authentic Zen temples

Kyoto Travel Guide

Travelers' pro tips for experiencing Kyoto

Kyoto is a wonderful walking city. But plan carefully. Kyoto is also a large city and you will want to work out what areas you will want to visit and when. You may also want to consider changing accommodations based on the areas you want to explore. For example, if you are intending to spend a day in Arashiyama, why not find a nice hotel there, as opposed to staying in Gion and making the long journey back and forth. Hoteliers in Japan are very used to guests staying only one or two nights.

Kyoto is extremely popular with tourists so if you are hoping to get that perfect selfie, plan ahead. You won’t be able to visit destinations like Fushimi Inari or the Bamboo Forest during peak hours and expect to have no one appearing in your photographs. Research what are the best hours to visit if you want to avoid other tourists in the Kyoto forums here.

While touristy, Kyoto is still conservative and outside of the main tourist areas. If you are not or don’t speak Japanese, you might be turned away from some restaurants. This is because owners don’t want to embarrass themselves due to their inability to communicate with you. Try to book restaurants in advance if possible. Or stick to dining in tourist areas.

This page also has very useful research links to enable your trip planning.

In the words of those who've been there before ...

singinggigi
Kyoto is a haven for photographers. This ancient capital of Japan offers thousands of temples, shrines and museums; each offers its unique accents.
Madison S
Kyoto is a beautiful, classic city, rich in Japanese history and resplendent in temples, shrines, and natural beauty.
Yume A
While Kyoto is a very traditional city, with more than 1,000 years of history, it is also an open-minded place, and full of hidden romantic spots to enjoy with your loved one.
Peter A
Kyoto was the capitol city of Japan for over 1200 years. While the court moved to present day Tokyo in 1868, the city remained to this day the center of traditional culture. To really appreciate Japan's heritage, one should visit the cities Buddhist temples, most dating back at least five centuries. World War II bombings destroyed many of the core, traditional city centers in Japan, Kyoto was fortunately spared. It has more old temples as any other place in the country. One could spend weeks visiting the prominent temples without exhausting the list.
blueflag08
Kyoto is a great insight to History of Japan and a great way to experience the culture, food, people and sights that Japan has to offer. Kyoto is a must visit destination in Japan and I believe there is something for every kind of traveler here!

What is the best way to get there?

Flying

The closest airport to Kyoto is Osaka International Airport (Itami Airport), although Kansai International Airport is just a few minutes further. From the airport, there are various ways to get to Kyoto. The quickest is by train, but you can also consider bus, taxi and shared shuttles.

More information here, and on the station website.

Train

If arriving by train from other cities in Japan, Kyoto Station is well located in the southern part of the city. There is always an abundance of taxis at the station. The local subway is also convenient.

For detailed train information, read here.

Do I need a visa?

Currently, citizens from 68 countries can travel into Japan visa free. Please check on your eligibility and visa information here.

When is the best time to visit?

One of the best times to visit Kyoto, and Japan for that matter, is in the fall during the foliage season. On average, the leaves in the Kyoto area start to change colors at the end of October and the middle of November. It is truly amazing to see Japanese temples, many of which are set in the lush foresty hills, in the kaleidoscope of fall colors. The contrast of the bright yellow and scarlet leaves and the blue sky just adds to the romance. Average daily temperatures this time of year are highs around 73° F (23° C) and lows near 56° F (13° C).

Similarly, springtime, especially the period coinciding with the blooming of the cherry blossom trees, is equally beautiful, with cool temperatures and usually clear skies. Note though that cherry blossom period is peak season and you may find the city uncomfortably crowded. Temperatures in spring are generally highs of 67° F (19° C) and lows around 48° F (9° C).

On the ground
What is the timezone?
Japan Standard Time, JST or UTC +9.
What are the voltage/plug types?
110 Volts / 50-60 Hz. Plugs are Type A and B.
What is the currency?
The Japanese Yen.
Are ATMs readily accessible?
Yes.
Are credit cards widely accepted?
Yes and no. Many higher-end restaurants and small shops are cash-only. Major departments stores and hotels will usually accept credit cards. It is always advisable in Japan to carry cash.
Is it easy to find a bank?
Yes.
How much do I tip?
Tipping is accepted on very limited occasions.
Tipping
Restaurant
High-end ryokans or traditional restaurants may accept some tips (normally by 1000yen bills).
Taxis
Drivers don’t expect anything beyond rounding the fare up to the next yen.

Are there local customs I should know?

Be Polite
Frequently say "sue-me-massen," which means excuse me and shows you acknowledge you’re unsure of proper Japanese etiquette. Don’t blow your nose in public, don’t eat or drink on the streets and be quiet and respectful in public.
Handshakes
Shaking hands is not a custom among older Japanese. Don’t shove your hand out at someone out. See if they prefer to bow or shake hands first.
Shoes:
Remove when entering private homes, ryokans, temples, and even some restaurants and offices.
Geishas
If you intend to look for geishas in Gion (it has become a popular thing for many tourists to do), please don’t interfere with their routines. Do not get in their way; they are, after all, going to work.
Frequently Asked Questions about Kyoto

We recommend staying at one of the most popular hotels in Kyoto, which include:


Kyoto is known for some of its popular attractions, which include:


If you're a more budget-conscious traveler, then you may want to consider traveling to Kyoto between June and August, when hotel prices are generally the lowest. Peak hotel prices generally start between December and February.