Getting Around, Kyoto Travel, Transport and Car Rental
(Kyoto, Kansai, Central Honshu, Japan)
Getting to Kyoto is easy, despite the city not having an international airport. With both Osaka
and Tokyo's international airports no more than two hours away by high-speed train transport, visitors can easily travel to the city of Kyoto, with a direct rail connection in place between Kansai International Airport and Kyoto Station.
Once you are in the city, travelling around is a breeze, with the subway system, tourist-friendly bus transport and spotless taxis all easy to locate. Kyoto's main transport options are detailed below.
Kansai International Airport (KIX) / Arriving by Air
As Kyoto does not have its own international airport, it is necessary to fly into Osaka's Kansai International Airport, the nearest international airport. From here, JR West's Haruka express trains travel to Kyoto twice an hour, with trains departing from Kansai Airport Station. A cheaper ground transport alternative is to take a limousine bus, which also travel twice every hour and deliver passengers at the south entrance of Kyoto Station in less than two hours. Arriving passengers are not advised to use taxis, as they are very expensive, although shuttle vans provide an affordable mode of transport if you don't mind sharing.
Kansai International Airport is located approximately 40 km / 25 miles south of Osaka
and within easy reach of Kyoto, featuring just a single terminal. Situated on the first floor is Arrivals, while Departures is located on the fourth floor. ATMs are widely available, as well as exchange facilities. Additional facilities include restaurants, shops and an amusement room. Shower rooms, massage and lounges are available for those who have time to spare. There is one hotel located on-site, while there are plenty of other choices nearby.
Few visitors arrive in Kyoto by car, since renting a vehicle can be expensive and difficult. However, if this is your preferred method of travel, the city can be reached via the Meishin Expressway, which runs between Nagoya
and Kobe, or alternatively from Osaka
on Route 1. Car rental agencies can be found in the central districts of the city, at major airports in Tokyo
and Osaka, and through your hotel.
Kyoto Travel by Bus and Coach
Bus transport operates both day and night, providing travel between Kyoto and many other Japanese destinations. Buses tend to be cheaper than trains and serve more destinations. Services to Tokyo
are primarily operated by JR Bus Group and take around eight hours. Tickets can be reserved in advance, with bookings made 21 days ahead of departure making significant discounts.
Within Kyoto, bus transport is often the only way to reach an attraction. Most buses depart from Kyoto Station and have a fixed fare, although day passes are available for those who plan to travel on the city buses extensively. There is a bus information centre inside Kyoto Station, which can provide assistance on routes and tickets. All buses have electronic signs in English and are therefore extremely easy to use.
Kyoto Travel by Train
Kyoto Station is one of the largest train stations in the whole of Japan and you will find excellent amenities here. The Tokaido Shinkansen Line connects here, providing easy access to both Tokyo
(two hours) and Osaka
(one hour). There is also a direct connection to Kansai International Airport in Osaka.
The subway system is one of the easiest ways to travel around the city, but unfortunately it does not access all of Kyoto's attractions. With several different lines and clear English-language signs, subway transport is simple to use. Regular tickets and transfer tickets can be purchased at ticket machines in all stations.
The north-south Karasuma Line runs below Kyoto Station, the west-east Tozai Line connects with the city center, the Tozai Line links with the Keihan Line, the Eidan Eizan line travels to Mount Hiei and Kurama, and the Hankyu Line connects Shijo-Kawaramachi.
Kyoto Travel by Taxi
Travelling by taxi is not recommended as it can be very expensive. However, taking a taxi in Japan is an experience not to be missed, with taxis having automatic doors, spotless interiors and drivers that wear suits and gloves. If you are burdened with a lot of luggage, hailing a taxi in the street or at one of the ranks, which are situated outside the subway stations, can be a convenient way to travel to your destination.