Two days in Kyoto

Holidayen is all about travel planning and creating automatic itineraries, and as we prepare ourselves for the launch, we would love to share itinerary ideas for some of the wonderful destinations around the world. Starting in the series today, we have here, a two day itinerary for the beautiful city of Kyoto.

First, a primer on how to get around the city. Subway and buses are your best bets, cabs fare are on slightly higher side, so the recommended way is to grab a two-day unlimited subway and bus card for 2000 yens from your nearest subway station and forget about the hassles of buying tickets for each ride. While subway rides are pretty standard with maps and station names in English, buses can be tricky, names and routes are almost never in English, and English knowing locals are not as ubiquitous as you might expect. But nothing to worry, take a copy of this document http://www.city.kyoto.jp/koho/eng/access/img/basunabieigo-omote.pdf and you will never need to worry about anything else about traveling. Armed with your unlimited travel card and the Bible of bus rides, let’s begin!

Day 1

In case you are not aware, Kyoto is world famous for its temples, so will begin the trip with some of its most popular temples and shrines. Begin your day with an early morning walk through the thousands of torii gates at Fushimi Inari shrine. The trail takes you through the wooded area to the summit of the mountain, entire trip taking around 2-3 hours.

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You can return from Yotsutsuji intersection (around halfway point with a good view of Kyoto) if walking 2-3 hours is not your thing.

Grab something to eat in the bustling shops of Kyoto station on the way to next stop, Nijo Castle. You can get good shots of the castle and grounds from the old foundation stone.

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You can also walk to the Kyoto Imperial Palace nearby, however, you can enter the castle grounds only through prior online booking. For lunch, head to Nishiki Market for some authentic local street food. 

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Spend the evening at the famous Golden Pavilion temple or Kinkakuji. The temple complex and the landscape are a unique picturesque combination of natural and architectural beauty. A perfect place for photography indeed!

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You can visit around the neighborhood around the temple thereafter and head to Pontocho for dining. You can find a wide range of dining options there. from inexpensive street food to expensive establishments.

Day 2

Begin the day from Ginkakuji, beautiful temple on the Eastern side of the city. It is also known as Silver Pavilion, and you guessed it right, modeled after the Golden Pavilion of Kinkakuji.

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From Ginkakuji, walk to the Philosophers’ Walk, especially beautiful during the Cherry Blossom season, when it is full of tourists and locals. There are a number of temples around which you can visit on the way. The walk ends at Nanzenji Temple, which is another good temple to visit.

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In the afternoon, explore Higashiyama district just south of the Nanzenji. It is an excellent place for some souvenir shopping as well as exploring the way to the Kiyomizudera temple complex through the maze of streets going up and down the hills of Higashiyama. Like any other major tourist areas, plenty of options for eating and a good place to sit and eat before visiting Kiyomizudera, the next stop.

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Kiyomizudera is especially beautiful during Fall and Spring illuminations, but definitely a must see regardless of that during other seasons.

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After marveling at the beautiful wooden architecture, head back downhill through Higashiyama towards Gion, which offers plenty of options to spend the evening sipping sake or tea with geiko and meiko entertainment. Most popular street for dining is Hanamikoji street which houses a number of restaurants serving traditional Kyoto cuisine. A perfect place to end the scenic trip of Kyoto!

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Feel free to comment with your suggestions for improving this trip and happy traveling!

Image Courtesy: Japan-Guide