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World Travel Guide > Guides > Asia > Japan > Kyoto

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Travel to Kyoto

Flying to Kyoto

Japan's national airline is Japan Airlines; other airlines include All Nippon Airways, Jetstar Japan and Peach Aviation. The nearest airport to Kyoto is Osaka International (Itami) Airport; however, this airport only takes domestic flights leaving international travellers finding Kansai International Airport more convenient. From there, the JR Haruka Limited Express train can take you to Kyoto in 70 minutes. However, if there are no direct flights to Kansai, it is advised to fly to Haneda and taking a connecting flight to Itami.

Flight times

From London - 12 hours 10 minutes; New York - 17 hours 10 mins (including stopover); Los Angeles - 12 hours 30 minutes; Toronto - 17 hours (including stopover); Sydney - 9 hours 55 minutes.

Travel by road

Traffic drives on the left in Japan and the legal driving age is 18 years (16 for a motorbike). Speed limits are up to 100kph (62mph) on expressways and 40kph (25mph) in built-up areas. An International Driving Licence and a valid national licence is required, along with a minimum of three months' driving experience and basic travel insurance.

The Japan Automobile Federation (JAF) (tel: +81 570 00 2811; www.jaf.or.jp/e), provides an English-language ‘Rules of the Road' booklet. JAF Road Service offers 24-hour breakdown assistance for both members and non-members. In the case of an accident, you must inform the police (tel: 110).

Emergency breakdown services

JAF (tel: #8139, in Japan only).

Routes

Kyoto has good road connections as it is situated almost at the crossroads of the transport lines running between Tokyo and the southwest of Japan. It is connected to Osaka and Nagoya by the Meishin Expressway, which connects with expressways heading east, west and north.

Coaches

Highway bus services run regularly between Kyoto and Tokyo, Nagoya, Hiroshima, Fukuoka and several other cities across Japan. The trip from Tokyo to Kyoto by highway bus takes around 7 hours. Both daytime and overnight buses are available.

J R Bus Kanto (www.jrbuskanto.co.jp) operates regular coach services between Kyoto and Tokyo, while J R Tokai (www.jrtbinm.co.jp) runs coach services to and from Kyoto, Osaka, Nagoya and several other cities.

Time to city

From Tokyo - 5 hours 30 minutes; Osaka - 50 minutes; Yokohama - 5 hours 20 minutes; Kōbe - 1 hour 10 minutes.

Travel by Rail

Services

Rail services in Japan are among the best in the world, with modern trains that are clean, efficient, frequent and punctual. Kyoto Station, located in Shimogyo ward, is the city's main railway station and is served by all Japan Railways trains. Tokyo and Kyoto are connected by the JR Tokaido Shinkansen line.

Operators

Central Japan Railway Company (http://english.jr-central.co.jp) operates the bullet trains that stop in Kyoto on their way between Tokyo and Shin Osaka, while the West Japan Railway Company (www.westjr.co.jp/global/en) runs the Tōkaidō Main Line between Tokyo and Kōbe, the San’in Main Line across western Japan to Shimonoseki Yamaguchi, and the Nara Line commuter route between Osaka, Kōbe and Kyoto.

Other lines to pass through Kyoto Station include the Kyoto Line run by Kintetsu (www.kintetsu.co.jp/foreign/english) which connects the city to Uji and Nara and the Kyoto Municipal Subway which joins the outer wards of the city.

Journey times

From Tokyo - 2 hours 15 minutes; Osaka – 1 hour 30 hours; Yokoshima – 3 hours; Nagoya – 1 hour 40 minutes.

A digital image at https://illuminoto.com

Book Accommodation

Featured Hotels

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Hyatt Regency Kyoto

A leader for luxury in Kyoto, the Hyatt Regency is superbly located next to the Sanjūsangen-dō Temple, with the Kyoto National Museum across the road and the Gion district within walking distance. The 178 rooms and suites are tastefully decorated with natural tones and traditional Kyoto fabrics. There are various in-house restaurants and bars, a Japanese garden, a relaxing spa and yoga studio.

Hiiragiya Ryokan

The Hiiragiya is one of the most exclusive ryokans in Kyoto. Since the mid-19th century it has hosted the rich and famous in its exquisitely decorated rooms. There are two wings – the oldest is full of traditional aesthetic charm and the more modern (completed in 2006) is a compliment of modern Japanese design. The service is impeccable and truly an experience in itself.

Shunkoin Temple Guest House

For a sacred night's sleep, Shunkion is located within the Myoshin-ji temple complex in the northwest of the city. Its eight simple and serene rooms are decked out with tatami mats and offer shared kitchen facilities; some have en suite bathrooms. The real draw is that guests can enjoy morning meditation classes and strolls in the temple by night. There's also free bicycle rental on offer.

Hotel Mume Kyoto

Set in a sleek four-story building in Gion, this warm and welcoming boutique stay has seven rooms decorated around the nature-inspired concept of 'ka-cho-fu-getsu' (flower, butterfly, wind, moon). In Flower, guests gaze up at cherry blossom karakami ceiling panels, Butterfly is defined by sumptuous red antique furniture, Wind is bright and breezy and Moon plays on a lunar theme with monochrome tiling.

Hotel Granvia Kyoto

A well-designed hotel for both business and leisure, Hotel Granvia Kyoto is conveniently located in the JR Kyoto Station building. The hotel is spread across 15 floors with 545 tastefully decorated rooms, an indoor pool, sauna, and fitness room as well as 12 different restaurants and bars. Local artwork is on display in the lobby and guest rooms.

Kyoto Royal Hotel & Spa

Snap up an early-bird discount for a great value stay at this large modern hotel found within walking distance of an array of historic landmarks restaurants and nightlife spots. Its 355 well-equipped rooms appeal to both business and leisure guests with high-speed Wi-Fi tea stations and comfortable beds. The restaurant has buffet-style lunch and dinner and a Western and Japanese breakfast spread.