Kyoto, the old capital of Japan, is known for its rustic and traditional charm. As extensive as the train network is, some of the temples and attractions are more accessible by bus. Bicycles are also available for rent and are usually priced around 1000 yen a day which gives you the opportunity to soak in the views even more as well as providing a great workout.
Also, the Kansai Thru Pass is another great option which covers trains (excluding JR lines) and buses in the main areas of Osaka, Nara, Kobe, Kyoto, and other cities in the vicinity. On top of that, there are also day passes available for Kyoto alone that cover bus and/or trains.
Firstly, don’t be alarmed if the bus driver appears to ignore you as they inch the bus forward whilst you’re waving frantically at him. Don’t worry, they’re not ignoring you – the entrance and exit doors are reversed in Japan. You enter via the back and exit through the front, so that the conductor is able to help if you have any questions about the fare.
The fare is paid when you’re alighting from the bus; you don’t have to do anything when boarding. Purchase a 1-day bus pass from the bus conductor as you exit. It is 500 yen for adults and 250 yen for children which cover the Flat-Fare Zone of Kyoto City Bus and Kyoto. You will be required to insert the card into the machine to activate it and the date will be imprinted on the card so for all your subsequent rides you just need to show it the conductor and you’re good to go.
For more information on the passes available, please check out the City Kyoto website here.
Kyoto is renowned for having more than 2000 shrines and temples and although, you won’t be able to visit all of them in two days, there is a list of must-see attractions that everyone needs to fit into their Kyoto itinerary.
Based on your location and how long you have to explore the beauty of Kyoto, I would suggest separating the attractions into two groups to cover over two days:
Day 2: Kiyomizu-dera, Philosopher’s Path, Kinkaku-ji, Ginkaku-ji and also Nijo-jo if times permits. It is convenient to travel to these places by bus. Depending on the time of year, there may be traffic jams, however, the buses still generally arrive and depart on time.
Last but not least, be sure to stop by traditional Japanese restaurants on the way for authentic Kyo cuisine called kaiseki, which is a traditional multi-course meal that is exquisitely prepared, with a variety of seasonal dishes surrounding the main dish in an intricate setting. Take your pick from family style inns to Michelin starred restaurants!
So make the most of your trip to Kyoto by preparing early, using the discounted day passes, experiencing authentic Japanese cuisine, and really soaking in one of the most beautiful cities in Japan!