The post, How to choose discount railway ticket and pass in Kansai (Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe, Nara) area is one of most popular one in this site. Since I published this post, I have received many comments and questions. I have written about Kansai Thru Pass in the previous post. This pass covers most of private railway companies, subway trains and some bus services. It may give you the great value if you use it. But JR West Kansai Area Pass is more suitable for some travellers. Especially if you go to Kyoto or Shin-Osaka from Kansai Airport, this pass gives you very good deal.
In this post, I would like to share the information about JR West Kansai Area Pass with you. And I will compare the price of pass and single fare.
Who is eligible
Visitors who land as “Temporary Visitor” status can purchase this pass. If you live in Japan, you cannot purchase it. Kansai Thru Pass may be your choice.
Types and prices
You can choose from 1 day to 4 days.
|1 Day||2,000 yen||1,000 yen|
|2 Days||4,000 yen||2,000 yen|
|3 Days||5,000 yen||2,500 yen|
|4 Days||6,000 yen||3,000 yen|
*5 year old or younger child is free. Maximum 2 children per one adult.
The pass must be used in consecutive days. The validity of a rail pass starts from 12 O’clock at night.
ex) If you start to use 3 days pass on May 1, the pass is expired at 23:59 on May 3.
The pass can be purchased once per visit. So you cannot purchase multiple pass for one person, like 1 x 2 days pass.
Please refer the map in JR West Kansai Area Pass official site.
The pass cover most of points of interest, such as Osaka (Umeda), Namba, Universal Studio Japan, Kobe, Kyoto, Nara, Kansai airport, Himeji
Major spots that are not covered by this pass are Wakayama and Mt. Koya. But Wakayama is not so popular spot in Kansai area. And if you want to go to Mt. Koya, Nankai Railway is the best way. But Nankai is not covered by JR West Kansai Area Pass anyway.
Valid trains and bus lines
This pass covers all JR local trains and non reserved seat of Limited Express Haruka. You CANNOT ride any other express trains, such as Tokaido Shinkansen, Limited Express Thunderbird. But as long as you travel in Kansai area, you don’t need to ride Limited Express trains. Rapid Services Network is very convenient. It is fast and frequent. The following list shows you trains that you can ride by JR West Kansai Area Pass.
- Limited Express Haruka (Kansai airport-Tennoji-Shin Osaka-Kyoto, non reserved seat only)
- Special Rapid Service (Kyoto-Osaka-Kobe-Himeji)
- Kansai Airport Rapid Service (Kansai airport-Tennoji-Osaka)
- Yamatoji Rapid Service (Osaka-Tennoji-Nara)
- Miyakoji Rapid Service (Kyoto-Nara)
Of course, you can ride any local trains that are not shown on above list.
On the other hand, what you cannot ride by this pass? JR West Kansai Area Pass does not cover any private railway lines, subway lines and bus lines. Most of major private railway companies and subway lines are shown on the following list:
- Osaka Municipal Transportation (Subway)
- Kyoto Municipal Transportation (Subway and city bus)
- Nankai Railway (Namba-Kansai airport, Namba-Mt.Koya)
- Kintetsu Railway (Namba-Nara, Kyoto-Nara)
- Hankyu Railway (Sannomiya-Umeda-Kawaramachi)
- Keihan Railway (Yodoyabashi-Kyobashi-Shijo-Sanjo)
- Hanshin Railway (Namba-Sannomiya, Umeda-Sannomiya-Himeji)
- Sanyo Railway (Umeda-Sannomiya-Akashi-Himeji)
These above railways and bus lines are NOT covered. When you are in Osaka or Kyoto, subway trains and city bus services are very convenient. So you may have pay a single fare or purchase day pass. I think this is the biggest disadvantage of JR West Kansai Area Pass. I wrote about JR trains and Kyoto subways/buses in Kyoto at this post, Japan Rail Pass is the best way to explore Kyoto? How to use Japan Rail Pass in Kyoto. The rules of JR West Kansai Area Pass is almost same as Japan Rail Pass. The only difference to use in Kyoto, JR West Kansai Area Pass does not cover any JR bus services. If you think about use Kansai Area Pass in Kyoto, I believe this post may give you some ideas.
Compare cost between pass and single fare. Best way to use.
First of all, please see the fare table for major sections below:
*If there are two fares, basic fare is shown at the top and limited express surcharge at the bottom. For example, if you travel from Kansai airport to Shin-Osaka, basic fare is 1330 yen and surcharge is 1150 yen.
As you saw the fare table above, most of trips from Kansai airport is very efficient because of limited express Haruka. If you travel to Osaka, Kansai airport rapid may be better than Haruka because Haruka do not stop at Osaka. But if you think about getting on Haruka, Kansai Area Pass is considerable. Even one day pass is cheaper than basic fare + surcharge. If you go to Namba, you can access there by JR trains. But Nankai Railway gives you much better access to Namba. Especially if you think about transfer to subway at Namba, Nankai Railway Namba station is much easier to transfer to most of subway lines. Please see the details at the post, How to access from Kansai airport to downtown Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe.
Next, I recommend you to use this pass for the trip to Himeji. Special Rapid Service connects Osaka with Himeji in 62 minutes. This train is the fastest and most frequent service. If you think about Kansai Thru Pass, this pass do not cover JR trains. If you go to Himeji by Kansai Thru Pass, the pass cover all part of your trip to Himeji. But you will spend more than 90 minutes. Kansai Thru Pass is very efficient for the trip to Kyoto or Mt. Koya. But if you go to Himeji, I recommend you to use JR West Kansai Area Pass.
If you go to Kyoto, Nara or Kobe from Osaka, it may not be very efficient. The fare range is between 500 and 1,000 yen. The difference between 1 day pass and 2 days pass is 2,000 yen. If you will purchase 3 days or 4 days, the price difference is 1,000 yen. If you have two trips, from Kansai airport by Haruka and trip to Himeji, you will already make more than 4,000 yen worth. You can use the pass to Kyoto, Kobe or Nara. But if you use 2 days pass for trip from Kansai airport and trip to Kyoto, Nara or Kobe, you may not be able to make more than 4,000 yen worth.
JR West also sell ICOCA and Haruka. This discount ticket include trip from Kansai airport by Haruka and 1,500 yen value e-money in ICOCA prepaid card. If JR West Kansai Area Pass is too expensive for your trip, ICOCA and Haruka may be suitable for your trip. ICOCA can be used for not only JR trains but also Kyoto subway, Osaka subway and other major private railway companies. ICOCA is more flexible than JR West Kansai Area Pass. Please see the details about ICOCA at the post, ICOCA and Haruka ticket. Very flexible and good deal for tourist who stay in Kansai..
At last, if you want to explore some more places, I strongly recommend you JR West Kansai WIDE Area Pass. This pass is available in 4 days pass only. But the area where is covered is much bigger. And limited express train and Shinkansen between Shin-Osaka and Okayama are covered by this pass. And the price is only 1,000 yen higher than Kansai Area Pass 4 days. I am very happy if you are interested in other places outside of Kansai area.
Tokyo Disney Resort
Sapporo Hakodate Furano, Biei Kushiro Abashiri, Shiretoko
Sendai Hakone Yokohama Kusatsu Kawaguchiko (Fuji) Karuizawa Nagano Nagoya Kanazawa Takayama Shirakawago
Kyoto (Kyoto station Gion, Higashiyama Arashiyama )
Osaka (JR Osaka, Umeda Shin-Osaka Namba, Shinsaibashi USJ Kansai airport )
Kobe, Arima Kinosaki Hiroshima Miyajima
Hakata Nagasaki Beppu Yufuin
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