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Is Kyoto worth visiting?

Kyoto is one of Japan’s most culturally rich cities, known for its historic temples, the famed 10,000 gates and some beautiful outdoor spaces. Kyoto is definitely worth visiting, even if only for a few days. If you have limited time in Kyoto, check out my 2 day itinerary for Kyoto. There are many ways to enjoy Kyoto without spending a fortune. Here are some budget tips for travel to Kyoto to make your money go further!

jordan smiling off toward distance with the torii gates behind her

Budget Tips for Kyoto Travel

Use Public Transportation

Kyoto's extensive bus and subway network makes getting around the city convenient and affordable. Consider purchasing a Kyoto City Bus One-Day Pass for unlimited rides on city buses or opt for a Kyoto Subway and Bus Pass for combined subway and bus travel. Public transportation is very easy to use; however, Uber is also readily available if you are looking for a stress-free travel option in Kyoto.

Stay in Guesthouses or Boutique Hotels

Accommodation in Kyoto can be expensive, especially during peak seasons. Save money by staying in guesthouses or hostels, which offer budget-friendly rates and the opportunity to meet fellow travelers. Japan is also known for capsule hotels, which offer no-frills, but private accommodations. As I was traveling through Kyoto with a friend, we opted to enjoy a little pampering at a boutique hotel. We used our loyalty with to receive discounts and were able to stay at OneFive Kyoto Shijo for less than $100/night.

Dine Like a Local

Look for eateries frequented by locals, such as izakayas (Japanese pubs) and mom-and-pop restaurants, where you can enjoy delicious meals at reasonable prices. Don't miss out on Kyoto's traditional dishes like kaiseki ryori (multi-course meal) and yudofu (tofu hot pot). If you are looking for some truly authentic ramen, head to Wajoryoman Sugari in the city center. This small 10-top restaurant usually has a line, so come early and be prepared to wait. We spent 2150 yen for two people (~$14). The chefs prepare the food right in front of you, so it’s a great deal for a little dinner and a show.

Take Advantage of Free Attractions

Kyoto is home to numerous temples, shrines, and parks that offer free entry or are accessible at minimal cost. You can check out my itinerary for 2 days in Kyoto, that includes many different free attractions, including the 10,000 gates at Fushimi Inari Shrine and the Bamboo Forest (Arashiyama). Plan your itinerary around these attractions to maximize your budget.

Explore on Foot or by Bicycle

Many of Kyoto's attractions are within walking or cycling distance of each other. Rent a bicycle or simply lace up your walking shoes to explore the city at your own pace while saving on transportation costs. Generally speaking, we took public transportation first thing in the morning to get the neighborhood we were exploring and then continued throughout the day on foot, exploring activities nearby.

Shop Wisely

From souvenirs to traditional crafts, Kyoto offers plenty of shopping opportunities. Compare prices at different stores and markets before making a purchase, and don't forget to haggle for the best deals, especially at flea markets like Toji Temple Market and Kitano Tenmangu Flea Market. As a backpacker with limited space, I purchase a Christmas ornament in each country I visit. This souvenir is unique, budget-friendly and takes up minimal space in my bag. Then, each Christmas I can unpack my souvenirs and enjoy remembering each place.

Kyoto is worth visiting and beckons with its timeless beauty, inviting budget-conscious travelers to explore its rich tapestry of culture, history, and natural wonders without breaking the bank. With a bit of planning and savvy budgeting, you can embark on an unforgettable journey through this captivating city while keeping your finances in check. So pack your bags and get ready to discover the magic of Kyoto on a budget!


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