How to choose the best train and bus pass for sightseeing in Kyoto

Toji temple is just 10 minutes away from Kyoto station. © Q.Sawami/© JNTO

There are several deals for sightseeing in Kyoto. I would like to show you the deals for the tourist who stays in Kyoto and want to visit the places there. I believe you will find most suitable for your trip.

By the way, if you intend to have a day trip to Kyoto from other cities, such as day trip to Kyoto from Osaka, from Kobe, Kansai thru pass and other deals are available. Please find the detailed information about the deal that covers Kyoto and other cities in the link below:

How to choose discount railway ticket and pass in Kansai (Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe, Nara) area

Kyoto City Bus & Kyoto Bus One-Day Pass

Kyoto city bus
Kyoto city bus
  • Price – Adult:600 yen / Child:300 yen
  • Coverage – Kyoto city bus and Kyoto bus in allocated area
  • Valid period – one day (midnight to midnight)

This pass is most affordable deal in Kyoto. It covers the bus lines in most part of Kyoto city. It does not cover any trains and subway lines. Please see the link below to find the bus route map. You will find the allocated area.

Kyoto city bus route map

The single fare of bus ride is 230 yen. If you make three trips by bus, it is paid off. It is quite easy and this deal is so reasonable.

However the traffic in Kyoto is heavy and Kyoto is very popular city. The bus is stuck by traffic and is behind the schedule very often. Especially when Kyoto hold an event or festival, the bus is very crowded. If you want to visit many places in one day and have very tight schedule, I recommend you to take a train and/or a subway as much as you can. The train is much faster and much more reliable.

Subway, Bus One-day and Two-day Pass

Kyoto station platform (C) もんじゃ (own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Kyoto station platform (C) もんじゃ (own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
  • Price of one day pass – Adult:900 yen / Child:450 yen
  • Price of two days pass – Adult:1,700 yen / Child:850 yen
  • Coverage – All Kyoto subway lines, Kyoto city bus and Kyoto bus in allocated area
  • Valid period – one day (midnight to midnight) or two consecutive days

This deal covers both bus and subway in Kyoto. The subway lines run from west to east and from south to north. This deal gives you more convenience than Kyoto city bus pass and gives you more smooth movement.

If you pay a single fare, it costs 210 to 340 yen to take the subway and 230 yen to take the bus. So if you take a bus or subway more than 4 times a day, this pass is worth the price. Even if you are not sure how many times you make trips in one day, I recommend you to purchase this pass. It is not such a bad deal. You will get more convenient and save your time to calculate the fare at the station.

Please see the links below to find the subway route map and all trains system map in Kyoto.

Kyoto subway route map

You also can find the train network in Kyoto in the link below:

Kyoto City Subway One-day Pass

  • Price – Adult:600 yen / Child:300 yen
  • Coverage – All Kyoto subway lines
  • Valid period – one day (midnight to midnight)

This deal covers only subway lines in Kyoto. The price is cheaper than Subway, Bus one day pass but the price difference is only 200 yen. And the coverage of subway pass is very limited. You cannot visit many places in Kyoto by subway only. This pass is not very useful in my opinion.

ICOCA, Kansai One Pass and other IC cards

ICOCA is most popular IC card in Kansai area. (C) タンジェント (own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
ICOCA is most popular IC card in Kansai area. (C) タンジェント (own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

You may use these cards to take any trains and buses in Kyoto. You can use even other area’s card, such as Suica, Pasmo too. These cards give you convenience. You can avoid to purchase a ticket whenever you make a train trip. You can take any kinds of trains, such as JR, subway and Non JR trains. However these cards do not give you any discount and unlimited travel.

If you meet these following things, IC card is your choice.

  1. You intend to visit a few places in a day.
  2. You need to take several kinds of trains and buses, like subway, Hankyu, Keihan, JR.
  3. You cannot fix your plan and want to have some flexibility.

If you visit three places in bus coverage area, you may need to take a bus at least 4 times. It costs around 800 yen that is much more than Kyoto City Bus & Kyoto Bus One-Day Pass.

Please see the link below to find more information about IC card in the link below:

Kansai One Pass

This is same type of IC card as ICOCA. You can use this pass by same way as ICOCA. But this card is designed for overseas tourist. The preload amount is 2,500 yen (plus 500 yen deposit and sold at 3,000 yen) and you can get a discount at many attractions. ICOCA is sold at any JR stations throughout Kansai area. But Kansai One Pass is sold in the designated stations only. Please see the link below to find the detailed information at official site.

Kansai One Pass official site

For traveler who visit Osaka and other cities in same day

As I mentioned at the top of this article, there are some deals available, such as Kansai Thru Pass. But if you move other city after sightseeing in Osaka, Kansai Thru Pass and other deals may not be suitable.

Sightseeing in Kyoto, move to Osaka and stay (no sightseeing in Osaka)

In this case, the combination of one of the deals in Osaka and single fare between Osaka and Kyoto is usually cheaper than Kansai Thru Pass or other pass. But if you do sightseeing in two cities, Kansai Thru Pass is your choice.

Sightseeing in Kyoto, move to Osaka and sightseeing in Osaka

But sightseeing in two cities in one day is very tight and not very recommended.

For traveler who use national or regional pass

If you use JR pass (national pass) or other regional deal, such as Kansai Hiroshima Area Pass, JR train network in Kyoto is covered. You may visit some places by these passes, such as Arashiyama, Nijo and Fushimi. You may not have any other passes beside these deals if you intend to visit these places. Please see the link below to find the coverage of these national and regional deals in Kyoto.

I hope this post helps you to find the best deal in Kyoto.

172 thoughts on “How to choose the best train and bus pass for sightseeing in Kyoto”

  1. Hi Takeshi-san,
    Please give me advise about which pass to choose on my (kinda ambitious) Kansai itenerary as follow:

    Day 1:
    Arrive at Osaka
    Go to Kobe
    Sightseeing Osaka
    Stay in Kyoto

    Day 2:
    Sightseeing Kyoto arround gojo-gion
    To Ginkakuji Temple
    Stay in Gojo

    Day 3:
    To Nagoya Castle
    To Nara Deer Park
    Stay in Gojo

    Day 4:
    To Kinkakuji Temple
    Sightseeing arashiyama
    Stay in Arashiyama

    Day 5:
    To Hachiman bori
    To Hikone
    To Chikubu Island
    Stay in (maybe) Higashiyama area

    Day 6:
    To Kifune shrine
    To Nijo Castle
    To Kyoto Imperial Palace
    To Fushimi Inari
    Stay in (maybe) Higashiyama area

    Day 7:
    Planning to see Toei Studio
    And repeat what I like the most about Kyoto

    I think I need 3 days kyoto pass, and kansai pass… also thinking do I need Kintetsu rail pass to cover the nagoya-nara trip?

    Thanks for the enlightment 🙂

    1. Hi Ratri san,

      I recommend you to visit Hikone, Hachiman bori and Chikubu island on day 2. You can use Kansai area pass 2-day for day 1 and 2.

      Otherwise you have to buy 2 x 1 day Kansai area pass.

      You need Kintetsu rail pass for Nagoya ana Nara as you think.

      In Kyoto, you can use one day bus pass. But when you take a train or a subway, just use a regular fare ticket.


      Takeshi /

      1. Hi Takeshi-san,

        Thank you for your kind reply and advise… ☺

        I am curious with one more thing,
        After the 7th day, I am planning to visit Hokkaido and Tokyo (using my JR Pass)
        For local transport, can I buy IC card in Kyoto/Osaka which is ICOCA?
        and Whether I can use ICOCA in both Hokkaido and Tokyo?

        Thank you in advance for your reply and help

  2. Hi Takeshi-San, can you kindly recommend on the most suitable passes for my trip as follows:

    Day 1: Kyoto
    – Arashiyama
    – Fushimi Inari

    Day 2 : Kyoto
    – Kiyomizu-dera
    – Kinkakuji

    Day 3 : Nara
    – Nara Deer Park

    Day 4 : Osaka
    – Universal Studios

    Day 5 : Osaka
    – Umeda Observatory
    – Tempozan Ferris Wheel
    – Osaka Castle

    Day 6 : Osaka
    – Dotonbori

    My plan is to use Osaka Amazing Pass & Kansai Thru Pass.

    Thank you very much.

Before you leave your comment, please see the conditions below.
  • Your comment will not be shown until I approve. When you submit your comment, the page will be reloaded but nothing happens. Your comment will be shown when I approve. Please click submit only once and wait for my approval.
  • Please do not ask me to make your itinerary. Because I am not your personal travel agent. I am very happy to check your itinerary. But please try to make the plan by yourself. In this website, there are lots of resources to make your plan.
  • Please do not ask me about the access to your hotel. You can google your hotel and find it at hotel website or google map easily.
  • I cannot recommend any hotels other than which I have stayed. Basically I cannot talk about hotels in this site. The number of hotels are too many to talk about by my experience.
  • If you want to ask me which pass suits your plan, please tell me your detailed itinerary and location to stay. I cannot choose any deals without the detailed itinerary because I have to compare the total single fare and deals.
  • Please do not ask me to reply to your inquiry by email. In this website, I would like to share all information with any readers. I do not communicate with you directly.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *