Kyoto is possibly one of the most romantic places in the world, filled with countless temples, gardens and castles, with so many picturesque places that it can be difficult to know where to go. Here is a short three-day itinerary for Kyoto, travelling from Tokyo by Hikari Shinkansen train. For transportation within Kyoto for this particular itinerary, a day pass isn’t recommended because getting to the places on the itinerary require different train and bus lines.
Kyoto is very touristy. The bad thing about it is the food and souvenirs will be a bit pricey compared to Tokyo, but the great thing is it is actually really organised, well equipped with signboards, and full of helpful staff at the stations who are mostly quite well-versed in English. Buses travel to most of the tourist stops so all you need to do is plan your trip well.
HOW TO GET THERE
Take the Hikari Shinkansen, which is a convenient package inclusive of accommodation. Stay near the centrally located Kyoto Station so it’s easier for you to get around. If you’re on your honeymoon and have more time, you might want to opt for a quaint hotel.
Book your train tickets online and in advance so that they arrive at the hotel address that you’ve provided when you arrive in Tokyo. Do go early as Tokyo Station is huge and you might need time to locate the Shinkansen train. Choose seats on the right so you can see Mt. Fuji on your way there if it isn’t too cloudy.
Don’t miss this iconic Kyoto structure, and be sure to find the Jishu Shrine “Love Stones” and Otowa Waterfall. Walk directly up to Kiyomizu-dera so that you can enjoy the walk down the steep and busy lanes of shops at Higashiyama. It’s cheaper to buy souvenirs in Tokyo but you probably won’t be able to resist the street food.
You can actually walk from Higashiyama or take a bus to Gion. A night at Gion Shirakawa is a must to fully experience Kyoto’s rich culture and wonderful people. You might want to make a dinner reservation and complete the night with a stroll along the canal. If you are early, you might even spot some geishas on their way to work at around 5 in the evening. Check this story for more photos.
Instead of taking the Sagano Romantic Train twice, depart from Torokko Kameoka Station. Then, move on to the famous Bamboo Grove with its pathway that leads to Tenryu-ji Temple, which has another really beautiful garden. You have not been to Arashiyama if you don’t make your way to the Togetsu-kyo Bridge. There’s a lot of walking to be done in Kyoto but it’s so enjoyable you won’t even notice it. Another fun option is renting a bicycle and cycling around the area.
Of all the many structures in Kyoto, this one amazes us the most. The Golden Pavilion is a Zen temple with its top two floors completely covered in gold leaf. There is nothing much around the area but we think this is really worth a trip.
The faster way to get to Kinkaku-ji from Arashiyama is via the Keifuku Randen tram. It gives you a very different experience plus the opportunity to try a different route.
Kyoto is really huge with most of its famous spots spread out so it’s extremely important that you plan your trip in advance to reduce travelling time. If you have been to Kyoto, do share your experience and tips here.