Want to go to Kyoto from Tokyo but unsure of the best way to get there? Getting to Kyoto may seem a daunting task (especially as a foreigner) since the most popular option, Shinkansen, may be a bit out of tourists’ price ranges. But fear not! There are other ways to get to the old capital of Japan.
So what are the options? There are many ways to get to Kyoto from Tokyo, and the price depends on how fast and comfortably you want to get there.
The cheapest option would be taking an overnight bus, you can find out more info by searching for “yakou bus” or “overnight bus to Kyoto”. Willer Express seems to be one of the most popular companies, and their website does have an English option for those who are not fluent in Japanese. The rates usually are from 30 to 80 US dollars, but it does take almost 9 hours. If spending the least amount of money is your goal, the overnight bus is the way to go for you.
Another way is to fly. Kyoto does not have its own airport, but there are direct trains from the nearby Kansai International Airport in Osaka to Kyoto. Round trip flights from Low-cost carriers, often called LCC such as Jetstar or Peach can go for as little at 90 US dollars from Narita and take under two hours. There is about another hour and 20 to 30 dollars from Kansai International Airport to Kyoto though. But flying is still a quick and relatively comfortable way to get to Kyoto. You can book flights directly on the airlines website (all have multiple language options) or on a third party site like Expedia or Kayak.
The last way is to take the shinkansen, or bullet train. Now, shinkansen tickets can be quite pricey. If you take the fastest train, it can get you from Tokyo Station to Kyoto Station in two hours but might set you back several hundred dollars. The less fast trains are still quick and will get to Kyoto Station from Tokyo in less than three hours and are a bit less expensive. However, if you can fit it into your budget, the Shinkansen is by far the most comfortable and direct method. Seats are comfortable, there is wifi in the train cars, and there is lots and lots of leg room. As for rapid trains and Shinkansen, you can always purchase your tickets directly before departure right at the station.
Depending on your priorities, it’s easy to find a method of transportation that suits you. Whether by bus or Shinkansen, traveling to Kyoto can be a new adventure to add to your stay in Japan!
Travel on a budget: Japanese Low–cost Airlines