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Kyoto and environs 2018/3/2 07:08
Hello all, I need your help with the itinerary. We (two agile travellers) will have 6-7 nights in the region. What we want to see is Kyoto, Hiroshima and Miyajima, Osaka, Nara and possibly Koyasan. Now, everything is quite easy to fit in, but Koyasan is tricky. Here is the rough plan, please feel free to suggest any changes. Our timeframe is 4.5. - 11.5.

Day 1: arrival by midday in Kyoto from Tokyo by shinkansen, see part of the city, spend the night (recommendations where to stay in Kyoto considering our itinerary?)

Day 2: Miyajima (gate, cable car, lunch), Hiroshima (park, museum, dinner), back to Kyoto to stay for the night (is there a direct shinkansen to Hiroshima?)

Day 3: Kyoto whole day and sleep in Kyoto (only a day and a half in Kyoto, which I suppose isn't that much, I know)

Day 4: Travel in the morning to Nara, and afterwards go to Koyasan, sleep in Koyasan in a temple (can we realistically get to Nara by, say, 9h? When would we need to leave Kyoto in that case and is that enough time to see the Nara park, have lunch, and get to Koyasan by 15-16h?)

Day 5: Travel in the morning to Osaka, see aquarium, castle; Dotonbori in the evening, night in Osaka (Universal Studios would be very nice, but here I have big doubts how manageable this is)

Day 6: Osaka in the morning to see whatever is left if we want, head for Fuji-Q, spend the night near the park

Day 7: Fuji-Q, and Shibazakura if possible, if not Shibazakura the next day. Spend one more night at the same place to give ourselves better chances of good weather in the park (I don't understand how fastpasses work. If we buy just an entry to the park, and we buy fastpasses, is that enough to try the attractions? Or do we need to buy an all-inclusive pass and fastpasses on top of it? And can we buy fastpasses online?)

Day 8: Fuji-Q if necessary, in any case head back for Tokyo (where we still have 4 nights)

Some background. We will get a 7-day JRP, so day 8 we will take a bus back most likely. There is also an option to go back to Tokyo Day 7, but I think it is unlikely, if nothing else because of Shibazakura.
We made advanced reservations already (mainly on booking.com), but the choice for Kyoto and Tokyo is quite poor in our opinion. So we are thinking of Airbnb (but of course, reservations there cannot be cancelled so we didn't book anything yet).

What do you think? So many things :) But thank you in advance for all of the help you can provide us with!

by val9299  

Re: Kyoto and environs 2018/3/2 11:07
Hi!

Generally speaking to get a good reservation in Kyoto especially close to sakura time it helps to book 3 months in advance. Since you're not given your budget or dates it's very hard to recommend someplace.

There are plenty of people who have not had an AirBnB issue here, but do be aware that the vast majority of AirBnBs in Kyoto and Tokyo are illegal and if the person renting to you wants to cancel 2 days before you arrive they can and AirBnB is really not going to do much for you. I've only used AirBnB once for a trip within my home country and my "host" cancelled 3 days before arrival. I can't imagine wanting to take this risk on International travel.

As you already said, you're only giving yourself a day and a half in Kyoto. That seems awful short to me.

In terms of your itinerary:

There are some direct shinkansen from Kyoto to Hiroshima that rail pass users can use, they're just aren't terribly many and they're not frequent. Most Hikari end in Shin-Osaka or Okayama. I think you really underestimate travel times. I took a 8 am direct shinkansen from Kyoto to Hiroshima and still didn't make it to the ferry until close to 10:30. That gives you two hours to see the shrine and walk to the cable car before you want to eat lunch?If you make lunch 30 minutes, you won't get back to Hiroshima until 13:00 at the absolute earliest. giving you 4 hours at the most to do the park and museum not including getting to them from Hirohima Station.

Getting to Nara by 9:00 is doable, if you leave Kyoto around 8:00. But I've no idea if you can get to Kyoto Station by 8:00. What will you even have time to see in Koya-san if you get there at 16:00 if you plan to leave for Osaka the next morning? Even if you eave Nara at 12:37 you're not going to reach Hashimoto until 14:19 and you then have a 45+ minute trip from Hashimoto to Gokurakubashi by train or bus depending on when you travel.

No, you're not going to have time for USJ and if you go late in the day the lines can be very very long.

Good luck!

by rkold rate this post as useful

Re: Kyoto and environs 2018/3/2 12:04
You won't have time for Mt. Misen with only half a day on Miyajima. The cablecar is very popular and often bottlenecks, and you haven't properly considered travel time to get there. A Miyajima/Hiroshima single day is usually quite packed and means you rush both areas.

I'd skip Koyasan - you don't have time.
by / (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Kyoto and environs 2018/3/2 15:11
Agree with previous posters that this plan is way to rushed. Add 2 days or delete 2 destinations.

At Koyasan you will want MINIMUM half a day for sightseeing better a full day. If you canft make that time in your schedule then skip Koyasan for your next trip.

If you are staying also in Tokyo I would skip Osaka for an extra day in Kyoto and a night in Hiroshima would be a good idea to.

Best way of action you can take, is to research exactly the travel times ADDING the travel times within each city and adding some time for getting lost. Japan is well organized and well indicated but donft expect that you can make all transfer times that google maps thinks are possible. They are often not even if you know exactly where to go, are standing at the right exit door of the train and you donft have a queue for the escalator.

Also with JR pass you canft take all Shinkansen but only the slower ones. Itfs not so much a problem of time but frequency of service. While normal Shinkansen pass eg ever 5 min, the waiting time for the next JR pass compatible one might be 20 min or more.

Slow down and enjoy your trip to Japan!
by LikeBike (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Kyoto and environs 2018/3/2 15:57
Hi,

As previous posters wrote, your itinerary is too rushed. I would concentrate on Kyoto, Nara, Miyajima and Hiroshima. To go to Hiroshima (and Miyajima) you might better base in not Kyoto since as mentioned above, Kyoto to Hiroshima usually require transfer which will take time.

So I will suggest an alternative itinerary with accommodations in Kyoto and Kobe.

Day 1: arrival by midday in Kyoto from Tokyo by shinkansen, see part of the city, spend the night.
Stella Inn Karasuma Gojo, two nights.

https://www.hotels.com/ho658733/?pa=1&q-check-out=2018-04-07&tab=descr...

Day 2: Kyoto. Day 1 and Day 2 are likely to be the best days in Kyoto for cherry blossomes. These two days are weekdays so the crowds should be less heavy.

Day 3: Third day for Kyoto. Check out the hotel and then go to JR Kyoto station where you can leave your baggage.

http://carry-s.com

Use JR to go to Fushimi-inari, Arashiyama etc. Move to Shinkobe at night by Shinkansen. Stay at ANA Crowne Plaza hotel Kobe for three nights.

https://www.hotels.com/ho231122/?as-srs-report=HomePage%7CAutoS%7CHOTE...

Day 4: Travel to Miyajima and Hiroshima.

http://www.hyperdia.com/en/cgi/en/search.html?dep_node=SHIN-KOBE&arv_n...

Day 5: Travel to Nara

http://www.hyperdia.com/en/cgi/en/search.html?dep_node=SHIN-KOBE&arv_n...

On the way back, stop at Tennoji to see the Harukas tower.

Day 6: Kobe, Himeji or Osaka, and then take Shinkansen to Mishima and then bus to Kawaguchiko.
by frog1954 rate this post as useful

Re: Kyoto and environs 2018/3/2 16:13
Wow, thank you all!

@rkold
The budget for Kyoto and Tokyo is around 50 EUR per person for accommodation.

I will keep it in mind for Airbnb.

This was the idea for Hiroshima/Miyajima:
Shinkansen leaving Kyoto Station 7:20A, arrival at Miyajima just past 10A. Leave Miyajima just after 13:30 or so for Hiroshima. Stay in Hiroshima until 19:20, take the Shinkansen bound for Shin-Osaka then continue to Kyoto arriving just before 21:30.

For Koyasan, it's really all about the temple and the cemetary. The centre is not a must, although we could perhaps stroll through it in the morning.
Can you tell us a bit more about the Nara-Koyasan connection.
USJ is off, you are right.


@guest
Yes, we will still think about Koyasan.


@LikeBike
I would really like to see the aquarium, that is the primary reason for Osaka. But we don't need to stay there, Hiroshima could also work.

So true about travel times.


@frog1954
Thank you, I will check it out and come back to you, I have to run now! :)


Thank you all



by val9299 rate this post as useful

Re: Kyoto and environs 2018/3/2 18:06
If you want to stay in a temple on Koyasan calculate that you should arrive to the monastery no later than 17:00 to have dinner. The next morning will be an early start, likely prayers around 6:00 or something like that, then breakfast and then you should at least allow half a day better one full day to visit Koyasan.

It is your choice at the end where you want to go, but just being on Koyasan for a night is not worth it.

Regarding the aquarium in Osaka, you could do that while staying in Kyoto. No need to change hotels. Kyoto-Osaka is an easy commute.

For hotels it might actually be cheaper to stay in Osaka rather than Kyoto.
by LikeBike (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Kyoto and environs 2018/3/2 22:44
Hi!

The trains from Nara to Hashimoto are just all local trains so they all just take a long time. If timed correctly, it is actually about 15 minutes faster to back track to Shin-Imamiya on the JR Yamatoji line (which is in Osaka) and catch a Nankai Limited Express for Hashimoto vs. taking JR, you'll just be paying out of pocket for it. My first trip to Japan I traveled from Wakayama to Hashimoto. I thought going up through Nara would get me back to Kyoto faster. I was wrong.

If we're talking May 4-May 7 in Kyoto, well... everything is super expensive and a lot is full because you're talking Golden Week, which is a huge vacation time for Japanese people. Perhaps I would start my trip in Hiroshima as there are a few direct trains from Tokyo to Hiroshima for Rail Pass holders and then move to Kyoto on the 6th when GW is done. Not checking into Kyoto until May 6th drops prices tremendously and has a lot more on offer. I saw one hotel go from over $900 for 3 nights to $286 for 2.

I personally don't like Osaka. I can navigate most train stations quite well except a lot of the ones in Osaka which are mazes. Rebuilt Osaka/Umeda and Namba are the two prime offenders. It feels like coming from Umeda you have to go through so many shopping arcades to get to JR. The only easy to use train station is Shin-Osaka and the area is not somewhere I would stay again.

I think your Hiroshima plans won't work. Even if you catch a ferry close to 13:30 you're not going to be in Hiroshima until after 14:00 at the earliest and then you need to get from the station to the tourist sites. I don't remember the park being as interesting at night so you only really have the daylight hours/17:00 to do things outside eating and shopping.

I think you need to spend some time just looking at train routes and seeing the times of trains. And in the case of the shinkansen make sure you are looking at Hikaris/Sakuras/Kodamas because you can't take Nozomi or Mizuhos with a rail pass.

I stayed at a temple once in Koya-san. It didn't require morning prayers. But they still serve breakfast early and since it tends to be included in the price, you will need to get up for it.

I think with so many early mornings and late nights you are going to be exhausted. But yes, some of your hotel issues are because you are booking for Golden Week (assuming those dates are May and if you're talking early April that is height of sakura season.)

I agree with Frog1954, you're going to need to take the bus from Mishima (and pay for it out of pocket) if you're trying to get from Kansai to Kawaguchiko.

Let me think if I can sort out a better itinerary for you. Are you traveling with a lot of luggage?

by rkold rate this post as useful

Re: Kyoto and environs 2018/3/2 23:10
If we're talking May 4-May 7 in Kyoto, well... everything is super expensive and a lot is full because you're talking Golden Week,

I am sorry for my mistake. I was mixed up it is April. Maybe I am not used to the way to describe the dates :). Then, in Kyoto, Golden Week is less crowded than the cherry blossoms days (early April) so the hotel rate is less expensive, in general. If you really want to stay in Koyasan, then I would recommend 1 night in Kyoto, 1 night in Nara, 1 night in Koyasan and then two nights in Kobe (including day trip to Hiroshima/Miyajima). You might better go via Shin-Imamiya to Koyasan. At this moment, Nankai train is suspended between Hashimoto and Gokurakubashi (nearest train station to Koyasan) but Nankai announced they will recover it by early April. However you can't find the recovered timetable at present.

If you leave Koyasan around noon, you can reach Osaka aquarium Kaiyukan by 15:00.
by frog1954 rate this post as useful

Re: Kyoto and environs 2018/3/3 04:53
Suppose we put it like this. The interval needs to stay the same (leaving Tokyo early Day1, arriving to Fuji late afternoon/evening Day6).

Essential parts of Kyoto are, well, essential to see:), but we don't need to see a dozen temples (bamboo forest and the nearby temple, Golden temple, Fushimi-inari, Kiyomizu, Gion, is probably sufficient). Also, a must are Nara park, Hiroshima, Miyajima and Osaka aquarium. Koyasan is not so essential, especially considering its remoteness. Having that in regard, could you propose an itinerary with and without Koyasan, if possible with accommodation?

We travel very light, backpacks only, are young and pretty fast-paced :). We will not get tired, we do not aim to have long evenings, but although we researched so far quite a lot we are still, as mentioned, less familiar with the feasibility of train connections.
by val9299 rate this post as useful

Re: Kyoto and environs 2018/3/3 08:28
Up to you if you take on the advice or not. If you response to the suggestions and advice given is what it was above. Then I probably wouldn't have typed up a question in the first place. Cos you just seems to be ignoring it as it is not what you wanna here.

I also think you are going too fast. You aren't going at a fast pace, you are going at a lightening pace. You'll be needing to each you lunch and dinner while walking.

I would drop one of either Hiroshima/Miyajima, Koyasan or Fujikawago area. So you can add another day to the others.
by hakata14 rate this post as useful

Re: Kyoto and environs 2018/3/3 08:40
Then we will drop Koyasan.
by val9299 rate this post as useful

Re: Kyoto and environs 2018/3/3 19:04
Oh God, I hope you didn't get mad, it wasn't my intention, I am so sorry. It is just out of lack of knowledge, not because I am here to waste your time because I already made up my mind.

Here is a new idea with Koyasan out, and perhaps an attempt to avoid Kyoto during Golden week (frog1954, you recommended Kobe, but that was during cherry blossom season, would you also include it in May? Truthfully, we know nothing about Kobe):

Day 1 (May 4th) : arrival to Hiroshima, see what there is time to see, night in Hiroshima

Day 2: Miyajima, Hiroshima what is left, train to Osaka, night in Osaka (or in Hiroshima?)

Day 3: Nara, return to Osaka to see what there is time to see, night in Osaka

Day 4: Osaka whatever is left to see, train to Kyoto, see what there is time to see, night in Kyoto

Day 5: Kyoto all day, night in Kyoto

Day 6: Head for Fuji-Q by noon or so, spend the night near the park

Day 7 and 8: no change
by val9299 rate this post as useful

Re: Kyoto and environs 2018/3/3 19:39
(frog1954, you recommended Kobe, but that was during cherry blossom season, would you also include it in May? Truthfully, we know nothing about Kobe):

I recommended ANA Crown Plaza Kobe because it is very close to Shinkansen Shin-Kobe station and at the specific date it was very affordable as compared to hotels in Kyoto. Even for early May it's convenience and the affordable rate make it to be considered. Have you checked the hotel rate in your itinerary? In Kyoto, "hotel" seems to be difficult to book in your budget. In early April most of affordable and nice (as judged by the accumulation user reviews) "hostels" are booked out, but if it comes to early May, there seems to be nice hostels even in Kyoto.

https://www.booking.com/hotel/jp/kyoto-morris-hostel.en-gb.html?label=...

The same date for ANA Crown Plaza Kobe.

https://www.booking.com/hotel/jp/ana-crowne-plaza-kobe.en-gb.html?labe...
by frog1954 rate this post as useful

Re: Kyoto and environs 2018/3/3 19:59
One more note. The most expensive date in your itinerary is 4th May, followed by 5th. And the hotel rate is different among cities: Kyoto is not necessarily the most expensive place.
by frog1954 rate this post as useful

Re: Kyoto and environs 2018/3/4 01:39
Hi again,

I tend to be one of those people who moves at a faster pace than some, so I get it. It's just very few attractions are that close together and you need to give yourself time to get from one location to another. Even if you take taxis everywhere (which will really add up, things still take some time.)

If it were me... I would probably:

Day 1 May 4 Take a 7:03 Shinkansen from Tokyo to Hiroshima. You will need to transfer in Shin-Kobe, but it's an easy transfer and taking an early shinkansen like that might give you a nice view of Fuji-san. I know others have not had this experience, but I've gotten some stunning views in May when I am up early enough.

You'll get to Hiroshima ~11:35 and can go find some lunch. See what you want to see in Hiroshima over night in Hiroshima. With your budget I would stay someplace like the Sansui Ryokan or Chisun Hotel. Both should be within your budget. I am pretty sure I've stayed at a Chisun at one point. They're a pretty basic business hotel.

Day 2 May 5 go to Miyajima, come back and do anything you want to do in Hiroshima, night in Hiroshima or take a late (19:23 post dinner) shinkansen back to Osaka. There are lots of options in your price range, just make sure to pick somewhere you can check in at 22:00. Since you are two adults I would probable go onto Osaka, just because taking a 19:23 or 19:24 shinkansen puts you in a better location for Day 3, where you're not wasting daylight hours. Also, if you finish earlier than expected in Hiroshima, you're where you want to be.

Day 3 May 6 If you're still in Hiroshima, take a morning shinkansen back to Osaka and see the aquarium and then take an afternoon train to Nara (night Nara) If you're in Osaka, go to the aquarium and then go to Nara (night in Nara) If you do the night in Osaka on Day 2, then Dotembori then, otherwise skip it or visit when you are in Kyoto, it's really not that interesting. Outside the Nara hotel and the Kasuga Hotel, there should be quite a bit in your price range.

Day 4 May 7 see whatever you still want to see in Nara and then take the train up to Kyoto and see what you have time for in Kyoto (night Kyoto)
Day 5 May 8 see what you want in Kyoto (night Kyoto)
Day 6 May 9 Leave from Kyoto for Kawaguchiko.

This itinerary isn't so different from your original one, but by starting in Hiroshima, I think you get a little more time in each destination and get around the fact the Friday and Saturday of Golden Week are relatively booked and many hotels have increased their prices for it.

You should find a lot in Kyoto in your price range with this change.

I've stayed in the Dormy Premium for 1 night. The room was small, but the staff was lovely, it was near Kyoto Station and the baths were pleasant it's $265 for 2 nights

There are a large number of places that are under $200 for 2 nights, like two of the Mitsuis which seem to be in nice locations or spend $225 for the Citadines Karasuma Gojo, which is generally well liked. I would not take anything larger than a purse on a Kyoto City bus, so I would pick someplace to stay you can walk to and/or take a subway or train to. Being near a bus stop is great for sightseeing, but not when you have bags.

Many people would consider this a fast paced itinerary, but it should give you a chance to do everything you wanted to do outside of USJ/Koya-san and has the flexibility if you're moving faster to add some more. You won't be able to add Koya-san, it's a 2 hour+ one way from Osaka, but I guess if you wanted to splurge you could maybe squeeze in an hour or three in USJ. I would not do it though unless you have Express Passes or are arriving before park opening. I went on a "quiet" day and by 11:00 am most rides had a 40 minute or longer line outside rides explicitly meant just for children and you would be going during Golden Week. There was a 1 hour wait for Jaws by 13:00. I don't want to know how long the line for Harry Potter was.

If you don't mind paying out of pocket, can sleep on a bus, and didn't have big plans for the day you arrive in Kawaguchiko, you can always take the night bus between Kyoto Station and Kawaguchiko.
I'm too old for night buses, but many budgetary travelers love them. It would give you a little longer in Kyoto.

http://bus-en.fujikyu.co.jp/highway/detail/id/9/

Good luck
by rkold rate this post as useful

Re: Kyoto and environs 2018/3/4 04:33
I've followed your advice and managed to get this. Maybe you could help with the accommodation, to make sure I'm not missing something (location for instance)? (cca. 50 eur max per person, no dorms, twin beds)

4.5. Hiroshima. There is virtually nothing available except this capsule hotel, Sansui and Chisun are booked. If you think that this is ok, it is fine with us, because we wanted to try a capsule for one day anyway.
https://www.booking.com/hotel/jp/grand-sauna-hiroshima.en-gb.html?aid=...

5.5. Osaka.
https://www.booking.com/hotel/jp/chisun-inn-osaka-hommachi.en-gb.html?...
or
https://www.booking.com/hotel/jp/hotel-wbf-yodoyabashiminami.en-gb.htm...
or
https://www.booking.com/hotel/jp/chisun-shin-osaka.en-gb.html?aid=3041...

6.5. Nara
https://www.booking.com/hotel/jp/peoples-inn-hanakomichi.en-gb.html?ai...
or
https://www.booking.com/hotel/jp/oak-hostel-nara.en-gb.html?aid=304142...
or
https://www.booking.com/hotel/jp/nikko-nara.en-gb.html?aid=304142;labe...

7.5., 8.5. Kyoto
https://www.booking.com/hotel/jp/kyoto-morris-hostel.en-gb.html?label=...
and there seem to be plenty other options for this period.

by val9299 rate this post as useful

Re: Kyoto and environs 2018/3/4 07:11
I would do like this.

4th May

NARA Visitor Center and Inn
Twin Room with Sofa Bed 12,600 yen.

https://www.booking.com/hotel/jp/nara-visitor-center-and-inn.html?aid=...

5th May

Grand Prince Hotel Hiroshima
Standard Twin Room 17,820 yen
This is somewhat outside of your budget, but is very cheap as compared to other same class hotels in Hiroshima.

https://www.booking.com/hotel/jp/grand-prince-hiroshima.html?aid=30414...
by frog1954 rate this post as useful

Re: Kyoto and environs 2018/3/4 07:29
That would look like:

4th train to Osaka/Kyoto, another to Nara? How does this connection work?
5th head for Hiroshima early, presumably Miyajima this day? If we do it the next day, will we have any time really left for Osaka?
6th Osaka
7th head for Fuji
by val9299 rate this post as useful

Re: Kyoto and environs 2018/3/4 08:15
4th train to Osaka/Kyoto, another to Nara? How does this connection work?

Hikari Shinkansen to Kyoto and then transfer to JR Nara line.

http://www.hyperdia.com/en/cgi/en/search.html?dep_node=TOKYO&arv_node=...

JR Nara line is a commuter line, not Shinkansen or Limited Express. You don't need or can't reserve seat for this train ride. Since it is in Golden Week, the train might be congested. You will be in Nara around 11:00 so you will have enough time to see the deer park, great buddha etc.

5th head for Hiroshima early, presumably Miyajima this day? If we do it the next day, will we have any time really left for Osaka?

If you go direct to Miyajima, it will be like this.

http://www.hyperdia.com/en/cgi/en/search.html?dep_node=NARA&arv_node=M...

Instead you can go to Kaiyukan aquarium but note that it opens at 10:00 and it will take less than one hour from Nara to Osakako (nearest subway station).

http://www.hyperdia.com/en/cgi/en/search.html?dep_node=NARA&arv_node=O...

If you go directly to Miyajima and go to the peace museum next day, you will leave Hiroshima around noon and reach the aquarium around 14:30 which will give you enough time to see it.

http://www.hyperdia.com/en/cgi/en/search.html?dep_node=HIROSHIMA&arv_n...

6th Osaka
7th head for Fuji


Maybe 6th and 7th Kyoto and 8th head for Fuji.
by frog1954 rate this post as useful

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