December 20, 2015

Kyoto Travel Guide

Kyoto Travel Guide

Kyoto is one of the most well preserved ancient cities in the world. It was the capital of Japan before the Imperial Court transferred to Tokyo. What I love about Kyoto is that I got to experience what Japan feels and looks like in the ancient times while offering me the convenience of the modern world. For instance, inside a temple built in 16th century is an ultra-modern toilet facility that has more buttons than your cellphone.

Speaking of temples, Kyoto has thousands and if I’m not mistaken 16 of them are listed as World Heritage Site. But wait, there’s more! Kyoto is also known for its stunning landscapes and traditional houses known as “Machiya”. I almost forgot, if lucky enough you’ll get to see Geishas and Maikos walking around Gion area. Although I find their make-up weird I still find them attractive. 

The City of Kyoto was our  first destination in the Kansai region. Well my first impression of Kyoto was it was mountainous. If you're coming from Osaka you know you're approaching Kyoto when you start to see farms and mountains especially when you're riding the Hankyu Line.

We allotted three days for Kyoto and on our first day it was snowing. I was wearing 4 layers of clothes but I was still shivering! Guys, I'm from a country where the sun feels like it's just meters away. Also, this is my first time to experience winter. It was hard. 


Read Kansai International Airport entry.


Kyoto is one of the cities that offers wonderful places and experiences. I listed here the details of our three-day itinerary which could help you with yours. Read more...

Kiyomizudera Temple


The most convenient way to move around Kyoto is by bus. The city has a very extensive bus system which could be complicated and overwhelming at first, but they can get you anywhere as long as you know which bus to board. Read more...

Kyoto Bus Terminal just outside the Kyoto Station


February is a good time to travel to Japan (Kansai Region) though you have to prepare yourself for the cold winter. My friend and I are both budget conscious so we opted for a budget hotel, the Shin-Osaka Sunny Stone Hotel (will make a review on this). We decided not to stay in Kyoto because the rates are higher and besides, Kyoto is just 30 minutes away from Osaka via JR Special Rapid Services and 15 minutes via Shinkansen (but this is expensive). 

In general, check Tripadvisor, Airbnb and Couchsurfing. They have some of the best deals. 


During winter when prices of airlines and hotels are cheap. On a serious note, you can visit Kyoto anytime of the year - every month’s weather offers a unique experience. It all depends on you what you want to see and experience. As for us, Japan is the nearest to the Philippines that have snow, so we went here during winter.

Higashiyama Area. Snow :)

  • You can buy baked goods at family mart or any convenient store. For 100 yen you already have a decent bread for breakfast. Our hotel is just a couple of steps away from family mart so I buy food during the night and eat breakfast in my room before going out. Also, if you're on a tight budget, try all the food samples you'll see. :)
  • We eat breakfast and dinner in Osaka, it's cheaper and more convenient to us.
  • For day 3 (Arashiyama area), eat a heavy breakfast 'coz you'll be walking a lot. Bring a bottle of water and candies. Also, you don't have to visit all the temples I mentioned on Kyoto Itineraries but you need to see the Bamboo forest and the Togetsukyo Bridge. They're just charming.
  • Supposedly, our first stop (for Arashiyama) is Otagi Nenbutsuji Temple but we didn't know that we were right in front of its gate; it's exactly the last stop of the bus. It sucks because we walked pass the temple. Well, the first person we asked didn't know it existed. Too bad for us. :( Even if you have read all the articles and blogs on the internet and googled every travel guide, you will still get lost.
  • During winter, Arashiyama is colder than in any other part of Kyoto (I guess) so dress appropriately.
  • Wear comfortable shoes.
  • Bring a map. Maps are available at the airport, in stores and tourist spots. They're practically everywhere.  For free!
  • Don't be afraid to ask for directions. The locals are very much willing to help you out.
  • There are a lot of other places to see in Kyoto like the Fushimi Inari, Kyoto Imperial Palace, and  Museums. Plan ahead. 
  • The Kyoto City Bus is your best friend. 
  • Use Hyperdia for railway timetable.


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