Saturday, May 10, 2014

Kyoto: Our 5-night, 6-day Itinerary

If you are thinking of going to Kyoto, I highly recommend spending at least 4-5 days there. Many of the package trips offered at the on-base travel office are for 3-days, 2-nights, and honestly, I have NO IDEA how people see everything in that amount of time. There are so many great sights in Kyoto, and it was nice to have plenty of time to see them all. So, in case it might be helpful to you, I'm posting our itinerary from our trip. I grouped things into areas of Kyoto to save time on traveling throughout the city. There are two great websites to use to plan your trip:, and Inside-Kyoto was by far the best website I found for in-depth knowledge of Kyoto.

Good luck, and have a great trip!

Day 1: Arrival & Central Kyoto
  • Ride the shinkansen into Kyoto (a 2-hour trip from Tokyo) and arrive around lunchtime.
  • Once in Kyoto, we grabbed a taxi and checked-in to our rental home.
  • We went to Nijo castle this afternoon. It’s one of the only things that’s on the tourist list for central Kyoto. 
    • Open from 8:45am-5:00pm (last admission 4pm).
Day 2: Southeast Kyoto
  • Kiyomizu-dera Temple (“must-see” temple with balcony)
    • Open 0600-1800
    • Adults 300 yen, children 200 yen
  • Ninen-zaka & Sannen-zaka streets
    • Many shops don't open until 10:00am
  • Chion-in Temple (Pureland Buddhist temple, staircase featured in “The Last Samurai”)
    • Open 0900-1630
    • Free admission to grounds
    • For temple: Adults 300 yen, children 150 yen
  • Nanzen-ji Temple
    • Open 0840 to 1700
    • Free grounds
    • 500 yen to go up in the huge front gate. It's worth it!
    • 500 yen admittance to Hojo and rock garden
  • Sanjusangendo ("Hall of 1,000 Buddhas" - it's located in Southern Higashiyama, so we took a cab from Kyoto station and then took a train to Northern Higashiyama)
    • Open 0800-1700
    • Adults 600 yen, children 300 yen
  • Philosopher’s Path
  • Honen-in Temple (a favorite among locals, special Amida Buddha statue)
    • Open 0600-1600
    • Free admission
  • Ginkaku-ji Temple (silver pavilion)
    • Open 0830-1700
    • Adults 500 yen, children 300 yen
  • Kinkaku-ji Temple (golden pavilion)
    • Open 0900-1700
    • Adults 400 yen, children 300 yen
  • Ryoan-ji Temple
    • Open 0800-1700
    • Adults 500 yen, children 300 yen
  • Tenryu-ji Temple, with lunch at the temple restaurant (vegetarian, Buddhist cuisine!)
    • Open 0830-1730
    • Free admission to grounds
    • Hojo garden and temple admission: Adults 500 yen, children 300 yen
    • Lunch set starts at 3,000 yen and is worth every penny.
  • Monkey Park
    • Open 0900-1700
    • Adults 550 yen
    • Food for monkeys 200 yen (I think...)

  • Nishiki Market (traditional food/shopping)
  • Head home on the shikansen!

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