On a flight home to the Uk we are stopping off at Tokyo for 5 nights, arrive friday evening and leave wednesday afternoon. Really want to see Tokyo and Kyoto. was wondering if anyone had any ideas of itenarary? We will be on a little bit if a budget but want to see and do as much as possible.
Oh also if anyone has any recommendations for cheap/nice-ish accomodation in tokyo and maybe a nice ryokan in Kyoto (again not too pricy) that would be awesome. Thanks
If you are on a budget, then in my opinion the easiest way to save yourself some money would be by not travelling to Kyoto Rail travel (in particular the speedy variety), which is the preferred way to get to Kyoto, is really quite expensive. The cheapest option (from what I understand) is to catch a bus, but that would take quite a while to arrive and eat into the time you have in Japan. To give you an idea, a one way ticket on the Shinkansen costs ¥12710 (roughly AU$140). The trip takes just over two hours. The alternative, non-shinkansen trains require connections and can take around 10 hours. A Japan Rail pass, which would cover any rail travel on JR lines in Japan for 7 days would cost you ¥28,300 per person (roughly AU$310). You can see why people opt to get the rail pass if they are just planning a round trip to Kyoto. So my point is basically that if you are going to Kyoto, you will need to add on an extra AU$560 or so to your total budget - no small amount for a 5 day trip! Check out Hyperdia Japan for detailed information about schedules and prices of trains.
All that said, Kyoto is indeed a beautiful place and absolutely worth visiting at some point. Then again, so is Tokyo. In fact, there is more than enough to do in Tokyo for 5 days without getting bored. We spent over a week there on our Japan trip a few years ago and enjoyed every moment of it.
Hope it helps.
Skipping kyoto isnt an option, its where I am most looking forward to going the most, I really want to see the gardens, geishas and temples. Really want to see Tokyo too. Soo will just have to factor that into the cost(or the good old credit card).I know 5 days isnt long but I think it will be the last chance we get to travel for a while.
How would you work the trip? Any must see places ideas for itenarary? Would you recommend getting the pass if going to Tokyo and Kyoto, or should I just buy the tickets for bullet train when I get there?
Thanks for all your help x
Ok, fair enough Kyoto won't disappoint!
It's a good question about the train. The other train trip you will end up making is from the airport to Tokyo and back. I *think* it is possible to do this on JR trains, which would mean you can use the pass for that as well. But I'm not entirely sure.
Otherwise, if the only trip you are making is to Kyoto and back, then it would be cheaper just to buy tickets when you get there.
As for what to do, I can only base that on the things I saw and did. In Tokyo, we stayed in Ueno, so spent quite a bit of time exploring that area; the zoo, some museums, etc. A trip to Shibuya and Harajuku was well worth the effort, as was a wander down to Akihabara (the crazy lights there make NY look like a backwater). The Asakusa district, and the Sensoji temple in particular, was also very nice. Basically, there's plenty to see - best to do some research and decide on the things that interest you.
In Kyoto, there is a never-ending supply of temples. If it is the main thing you are looking forward to, I'd recommend spending a good portion of your time there, maybe 3 of the 5 days. Apart from the temples, I liked Nijō Castle, the Kyoto residence of the Tokugawa Shoguns. And a day wandering along the river was very pleasant as well, even though it was raining at the time. The Kiyomizu Temple seems to be the main attraction in the city and for good reason. The walk up there alone is quite enjoyable, along some very quaint streets. Hmm, there really were a lot of temples. They're all a bit of a blur, but I'm sure you will get your fill of them You'll love it!
if you must see both - then the one week unlimited JR rail pass is the only way to go. make sure you purchase it before entering the country and have it validated when you arrive at Narita airport. You can use it to get into Tokyo and all around the city. The JR Line - from Narita Airport to Tokyo - is the fastest and most expensive method of public transport. Take Narita Express (N'EX) into central Tokyo Station. The ride takes 55 minutes, costs ¥2,940 and offers the best connections to Shinkansen bullet train (if you choose to go straight to Kyoto) or connects to all other local JR lines. As you can see, you'll use get ¥6,000 worth off just a round trip to the airport. Aside from local buses in/around Kyoto, it should provide for most of your transportation needs over the course of your trip - so will be well worth it.
In order to get the most out of your time-limited stay, I would suggest a city tour in Kyoto, Tokyo or both. It will maximize the things you see - unless you would be happy just to soak up the ambience (easier done in Kyoto). The sakura cherry blossoms will be in full bloom the first week of April. If you are there then, your trip can't go wrong.
thanks for all your fantastic suggestions, really appreciate everyones input. Cant wait for my trip