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How Much Does it Cost to go to Kyoto?

Tags: kyoto hotel

Do you want to know how much does it cost to go to Kyoto? If you’re contemplating a trip to Japan, there’s a high probability that you’ll end up in Kyoto. With hundreds of temples, Kyoto is a stunning contrast to modern Tokyo. The question is, how much does it cost to go to Kyoto? Overall, I would say it’s about the same as any other city in Japan, which is pretty reasonable.

Unless you live in Asia, most people don’t travel all the way to Japan just to visit Kyoto. They usually do it as part of a bigger trip which lowers your daily costs. When you exclude airfare, Kyoto is cheaper than other major cities such as Boston, Toronto, and London. I personally love Kyoto and don’t know a single person who didn’t enjoy their time there. Here’s what a Kyoto trip cost looks like.

Table of contents
 [show]
  • Airfare
  • Accommodations
    • Budget hotels/hostels in Kyoto
    • Mid-range hotels in Kyoto
    • Luxury hotels in Kyoto
  • Local transportation
  • Attractions
  • Food & drink 
  • Random spending
  • Final thoughts
  • Is Kyoto on a budget possible?
  • Is Kyoto expensive?
  • How much time should I spend in Kyoto?
 Estimated cost
Airfare$800
Accommodations$500
Local transportation$80
Attractions$75
Food and drink$160
Random spending$100
TotalUS $1,715

The above estimates are in US dollars. The local currency is the Japanese Yen, but I use American dollars since most people know what their home currency is relative to US dollars. If you’re not sure, use XE.com to compare rates. Remember, these are just estimates. You can spend less, or you can spend much more. It really depends on what type of traveller you are.

For the purpose of this how much does it cost to go to Kyoto guide, I’m recommending 4 nights. During this time, you’ll likely make a side trip to Nara. Some people will also opt to go to Osaka or even Hiroshima and Miyajima. I’ll go over those options below.

Airfare

My estimate of $800 for airfare is based on my experience living on the east coast of North America. Obviously, the cost of airfare will differ depending on your departure city and season. As mentioned, most people who visit Kyoto are seeing it as part of a bigger trip so the airfare estimate here may not even matter. If you’re travelling from within Asia, it should not be hard to find flights in the $200-300 range on a budget carrier. 

Kyoto sees very limited direct flights from outside of Asia. Most people will either take a stopover in Tokyo or somewhere else in Asia. Alternatively, many people just take the train from Tokyo. The closest airport to Kyoto is Osaka International Airport, but most people who fly in arrive via Kansai International Airport.

If you’re Canadian, you may want to consider applying for one of the best travel credit cards in Canada to help offset your costs by collecting points. For example, the American Express Platinum Card gives you a generous welcome bonus that’s often worth more than $900 (potentially more if you transfer your points to Aeroplan or Marriott Bonvoy). There’s also the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite card that has no foreign transaction fees, and it comes with airport lounge access.   

Accommodations

What I love about Japan is the fact that there are so many options when it comes to accommodations. You can easily find a capsule Hotel or you can go all out for luxury. Finding a mid-range hotel in the $125 a night range shouldn’t be too difficult. That means you should estimate about $500 for your hotels.

That may seem incredibly low, but it really depends on your expectations. There are many local Japanese hotel brands that have reasonable prices. Their rooms may be small and you’ll get basic amenities, but the price is right.

I personally find staying near Kyoto station to be ideal since it gives you easy access to public transportation and shopping. Staying south of the station is a bit cheaper than staying north of it. Staying around Kawaramachi station (often referred to as downtown Kyoto) is also convenient. Central Kyoto has some cheaper hotels, but you’ll have to take transit to get to any of the main sightseeing areas. If you’re looking for some hotel recommendations in Kyoto, these are some of my favourites.

Budget hotels/hostels in Kyoto

  • Kyoto Hana Hostel
  • Sakura Terrace
  • APA Hotel Kyoto Ekimae

Mid-range hotels in Kyoto

  • Hotel Hokke Club Kyoto
  • Karasuma Kyoto Hotel
  • Daiwa Roynet Hotel Kyoto Ekimae

Luxury hotels in Kyoto

  • Ritz-Carlton Kyoto
  • Four Seasons Kyoto
  • The Westin Miyako Kyoto

If you have the right credit card, you can save a fair amount of money on hotels. Americans should strongly consider the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card since you can earn up to 150,000 Marriott Bonvoy points and $300 back at U.S. restaurants as a welcome bonus.

Canadians should consider the Marriott Bonvoy American Express which gives you up to 55,000 Marriott Bonvoy points. That’s enough points for a few free nights at some hotels which could easily have a value of over $500.

Local transportation

If you’re travelling within Japan, the odds are you’ll have a JR Pass which has some use in Kyoto. You essentially get access to four lines:

  • JR Sagano (takes you to Arashiyama)
  • JR Kyoto (takes you to Osaka)
  • JR Tokaido Shinkansen (takes you to Shin-Osaka)
  • JR Nara (takes you to Fushimi Inari Shrine and Nara)

While these lines do get you to a few tourist areas, it won’t get you to everything. The best way to get to all the other tourist areas including the Golden Temple, Nijo Castle, and Higashiyama is to use the Kyoto tourist bus. There are three lines and a one-day pass costs 500 yen (US $4.75).

While the tourist bus is convenient, it can take quite a bit of time to get across the city. This is especially true for the Golden Temple and northern Higashiyama areas. You may want to take a taxi there which costs about $1 a minute.

If you’re coming from Kansai International Airport, the only direct train is the Limited Express Haruka operated by JR West. The cost is about $30 for a one-way trip. There are a few cheaper options, but it’ll take longer.

Since I’m assuming you’ll have a JR Pass, you should budget $80 for local transportation. That’ll cover 4 bus passes and 3 taxi rides. If you’re travelling from/to the airport, budget another $60.

Attractions

Kyoto has literally hundreds of temples and shrines. You could walk in any direction and you would find something within a few minutes. Kyoto Station is arguably an attraction of its own since it has shops, art, and restaurants. Some of the top attractions in Kyoto include:

  • Kinkakuji (Golden Temple)
  • Nijo Castle
  • Arashiyama
  • Fushimi-Inari Taisha Shrine
  • Kiyomizu-dera Temple
  • Higashiyama 
  • Gion
  • Nishiki Market
  • Heian Shrine
  • Nanzen-ji Temple
  • Philosopher’s Path
  • Ginkakuji

When in Kyoto, you really need to be smart about what sites you do in a day since the city is so big. I like to breakdown what I see into the following:

  • Kinkakuji / Nijo Castle / Arashiyama
  • Higashiyama / Gion / Nisihi Market
  • Philosopher’s Path / Nanzenji Temple / Ginkakuji
  • Day trip to Osaka, Nara, or Hiroshima

Many temples and shrines have no entry fee. Even the ones that do won’t cost more than $10. I recommend budgeting $75 for attractions, but there’s a good chance you don’t spend that much unless you’re trying to enter every temple and museum. That said, if you plan on making a run to Universal Studios Osaka, you’ll need to budget a bit more.

Food & drink 

Overall, food costs in Kyoto are pretty reasonable. Since Japan is a no tipping culture, it’s arguably cheaper than many cities in the world. I recommend budgeting the following for your meals.

  • Breakfast – $7
  • Lunch – $12
  • Dinner – $21

That works out to $40 a day which is honestly more than you’ll likely spend. There are many cheap food options in Japan such as beef on rice or ramen that won’t cost you more than $10. I like to budget a bit higher since you shouldn’t go to Japan with the mindset of spending as little as possible. The food in Japan is excellent, so it’s worth splurging. 

It’s worth noting that you can find every type of cuisine possible in Japan. Obviously, you’ll want to try authentic Japanese food, but I also had some of the best Indian food in my life in Nara. I also had some amazing Italian food in Osaka.

That said if you want to keep your expenses low, it’s pretty easy. All the supermarkets have inexpensive bento boxes that will fill you up. There are also bakeries everywhere if you just want a bun to keep you going.

Random spending

When it comes to random spending in Kyoto, it sort of depends on what type of person you are. The shopping here isn’t as good as Tokyo, but there are plenty of things to blow your money on. For example, many tourist buy Japanese knives to bring home for cooking. I personally bring back as many matcha products as I can fit in my suitcase.

If you need a data plan when you’re in Japan, many people rent a pocket Wi-Fi. This will give you mobile data for multiple devices at a cost of about $45. Sometimes this is cheaper than the data roaming plans that your home carrier offers.

Final thoughts

So how much does it cost to Kyoto? I recommend budgeting $1,715 for a 4-day trip. If you’re seeing Kyoto as part of a bigger Japan trip, your costs will drop considerably. For more travel inspiration, check out my guides on Tokyo, Hong Kong, Bali, Bangkok, Vietnam, and Dubai.

Is Kyoto on a budget possible?

Overall, I don’t think of Kyoto or Japan as an expensive destination. There are plenty of ways to see Japan on a budget, but I wouldn’t recommend flying all the way here just to spend as little money as possible. If you want to keep your costs down, you can look for cheaper accommodations and focus just on the free attractions. You could also eat for cheap by just going to bakeries and convenience stores. That said, food in Japan isn’t very expensive, so you can still get authentic Japanese food without spending a fortune.

Is Kyoto expensive?

Like any city or country, it can be expensive if you want it to be. If you’re staying at luxury hotels, doing private tours, and taking taxis everywhere, then you can expect to spend. However, if you have a reasonable budget, there’s no reason why you can’t see everything you want to in Kyoto. Most attractions only cost a few dollars for admission and the Kyoto tourist bus will get you to just about every location.

How much time should I spend in Kyoto?

Kyoto has a lot of attractions and is a pretty spread-out city, so you probably want to budget at least 3-4 days. One or two of those days could be used for day trips to Nara, Osaka, or Hiroshima. When visiting Kyoto, your best bet is to separate things based on location. For example, you might spend one day exploring Arashiyama and Higashiyama another. Adding extra days to Kyoto during your Japan trip is never a bad idea as there are so many things to do.

The post How Much Does it Cost to go to Kyoto? appeared first on Money We Have.



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