Touring Kyoto, Japan

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I would like some guidance about how to get around on my 3 days in Kyoto that I have free after a tour in Japan in May, 2017. Thoughts I have had are (1) figuring out the public transit myself to get around (2) hiring a guide to take me on the public transit to the sights I want to see (3) hiring a guide/driver to take me around for the 3 days. i would be happy to hear any comment, suggestions about how to manage these days. I already have a list of sights to see but would love to hear others favorites. Thanks Bill

Greetings from Kyoto.

The transportation system here is pretty easy to figure out and one does not need a guide. For example, there are only 2 subway lines -- the north / south Karasuma line and the east-west Tozai line. there are a few other railway lines and many buses. There are transportation maps readily available. Sometimes to save time a taxi is worth it.

In any event, a lot of sightseeing here is done by walking around.

My suggestion to sightseers is to concentrate on different areas of the city during each of their sightseeing adventures (e.g., northern Higashiyama, southern Higashiyama, Arashiyama, etc.). Good walking plans are available at: -- Click the Kyoto Walks icon.

You might want to arrange for a Goodwill guide or other volunteer guide to take you around if you'd prefer, but a guide is not necessary.

I recommend the Kyoto Visitor's Guide for further info, online at The print version has useful maps.

If your tour doesn't visit Nara or Himeji, day trips to those places are recommended.

Hope the above info helps.

I just visited Kyoto for the second time, and I used public transport both times. The first time I also had a Welcome guide, which I highly recommend.

The subway isn't of much use, and often involves a lot of steps and/or a long trek. The buses are much more useful but paying for them can be a pain, as exact change is required and you don't know how much until you are ready to get off. You board from the rear, taking a numbered slip from the machine at the door. You exit from the front, paying into a coin box, The coin box has a change machine attached. You match the number on your slip to the electronic board at the front to see how much to pay. You can buy a transport pass from the excellent T.I. at Kyoto station if you expect to ride several times in one day.

To reach Arashiyama I recommend using the Keifuku or "Randan" railway. If you buy a day pass for that you could visit Kinkaku-ji the same day. Do not miss the Okochi Sanso garden.

I recommend using the Rough Guide as your guidebook. The maps app on my smart phone was useful for getting around - I have a month by month data plan from T-Mobile that worked in Japan.

As others have already stated, the Kyoto transport system of buses, subway, and independent trains is excellent. Kyoto is used to a lot of tourists and you will find everyone very friendly. You may want to do some of the sights on your own, but my experience (I've done 10 trips to Kyoto, most on my own) is that a guide will be able to tell you in detail what signs and tour books don't. Also, if you have a specific interest, a guide will give you entre to places guide books don't mention. If you are interested in a guide, I can give you the name of someone whom I highly recommend.