Getting around Kyoto
As Kyoto is laid out in a grid system, the city is fairly easy to navigate. It's also easy to underestimate distances, but the local transport network covers all parts of the city quite well. The Kyoto Subway Line is easy to use but limited in reach. There are just two lines: the south-north Karasuma Line and the east-west Tozai Line, with intersection at Karasuma Oike station.
The bus network is more comprehensive. The green Kyoto city buses are numerous and convenient and cover central Kyoto very well, and the white Kyoto Bus services offer access to more outlying parts of the city. Bus information is available at the Kyoto Tourist Information Center (tel: +81 75 343 0548;www.tourist-information-center.jp/kansai/en/kyoto) in front of Kyoto Station.
For some attractions, it is necessary to use local trains, for instance, the JR Nara Line to the get to Fushimi Inari Shrine. Passes are available at automatic subway ticket vending machines and Kyoto City Bus and Subway Information Centres.
The Kansai Thru Pass is valid for two or three days and offers unlimited travel on all subway and bus services in Kyoto, while the City Bus All-day Pass offers unlimited travel on city buses within a central area outlined on the back of the pass.
Kyoto has a great number of taxis, and it is rarely difficult to get hold of one in the city centre. A vast fleet of taxis wait in front of Kyoto Station, and there are usually taxi ranks close to major sightseeing places. Also, taxis can be hailed from the street, with a red light indicating that they’re available. Taxis all have meters; however, some taxis do not accept card so ensure that you have the appropriate amount of cash. To pre-book, call MK Taxi (tel: +81 75 778 4141;www.mk-group.co.jp/index.html).
Driving in Japan is not as daunting as might be expected because drivers in Kyoto are generally disciplined and courteous, and major signs are in both Japanese and English. However, parking can be very expensive, traffic tends to be heavy, and many roads are narrow, so driving in Kyoto is not recommended. Taxis and public transport are better options.
There are numerous car hire companies operating in Kyoto, including Hertz (tel: +81 3 6204 3091; www.hertz.com). Recommended Japanese companies are Nippon Rent-A-Car (tel: +81 36859 6234; www.nipponrentacar.co.jp) and Nissan Rent-A-Car (tel: +81 75 661 4123; http://nissan-rentacar.com).
Cycling is popular in Kyoto, and as many of the city's major attractions are located within cycling distance of the city centre, it can be a convenient and pleasant way of going sightseeing. Furthermore, Kyoto sits on predominantly flat land, making cycling easy regardless of experience.
Kyoto Cycling Tour Project (tel: +81 75 354 3636;www.kctp.net/new/en/index.html) has five bicycle terminals, one of which is just three minutes west of Kyoto Station's Central exit (north side). Kyo no Raku Chari, near Sanjo station (tel: +81 75 761 5828;www.rentacycle.jp), offers half-day, daily or multiple-day rental rates and also rents out electric bicycles.