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

Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe and Nara
It is Must-See spot in Kyoto. ©Sue Ann Simon/©JNTO
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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

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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.


  1. Huiling says:

    Hi Takashi

    I am planing my Japan trip 28 April to 4 May 2017 and is my 1st time travel to Japan.

    1st day -chubu Nagoya, go to Osaka straight. Will stay there for two nights, will be traveling between Osaka and Kyoto during day time.

    3rd day will go to takayama from
    Osaka and stay 1 night at takayama.

    Back to Nagoya from takayama and stay at Nagoya for 3 nights.

    Do you think I should purchase 5 days JR takayama-hakuriku area tourist pass (maybe cheaper)?

  2. Min says:

    I plan to use takayama horikuri pass, if i want to book bus to shirakawago,did i have to book erarlier or at the same day?and can i buy tateyama tickets from tateyama st to dainkabo at dentesu toyama st?


    • Hi Min,

      Regarding the transportation schedule, please see the link below:

      If you use Tateyama Kurobe option ticket and miss the bus to Nagano, you still can get Shinano-Omachi. But after Shinano-Omachi, you have to pay by yourself. If you intend to go back to Toyama, it’s a long long way because there is no direct train or bus to Nagano from Shinano-Omachi. You have to go to Matsumoto and then Nagano, or take local train to Minami-Otari and Itoigawa. It’s a long long way anyway. It’s very hard situation and don’t miss the last bus to Nagano if you want to go back to Toyama.

      You can take Tateyama Kurobe option ticket from Dentetsu Toyama. You can purchase it at JR Toyama station. JR and Dentetsu Toyama stations are located side by side.

      If you use regular ticket to Daikabnbo, you can purchase it at Tateyama station, not Dentetsu Toyama.

      You can book a bus to Shirakawago over the phone.

      Online booking is not available for pass user. Reservation is strongly recommended. If you intend to take bus from Kanazawa, reservation is required.


      Takeshi /

      • Min says:

        Hi takeshi,
        Thanks for you information, i plan go to tateyama on 17 april,if i buy tickets from tateyama to dainkabo(round trip) at the same day at the tateyama station at about 9 am,can i still get the tickets?,cause its very crowded
        And for yokoso osaka tickets , i get nankai electric railway ticket+Limited express rapid reserved ticket ,its mean i gets two tickets from kansai airport to namba?

        • Hi Min,

          It’s not recommended to purchase a ticket on the spot. You should purchase it online in advance. Online reservation is not opened yet but it will open soon in the link below:

          You will have only one ticket that includes base fare and express surcharge for KIX to Namba.


          Takeshi /

          • Min says:

            Hi takeshi,
            THanks for your information,how can I know when they start to sell online tateyama kurobe tickets? And whats the different of yokoso osaka tickets and osaka city subway to kansai airport (1000 yen). Can i buy osaka city subway to kansai airport at kansai airport on 10 april 2017?and if i buy iti get ticket from kansai airport to namba and ticket from namba to umeda?


            • Hi Min,

              I don’t know when alpine route online will start. Just keep checking to find it.

              Yokoso Osaka ticket includes KIX-Namba base fare, limited express “Rapi:t” seat fee, and one day unlimited subway ride.
              Osaka city subway (1000 yen deal) includes subway ride for Namba-any subway station and KIX-Namba base fare. It does not give you subway unlimited ride and limited express seat.

              You can buy either tickets at Kansai airport station and you can use it to get Umeda.


              Takeshi /

              • Min says:

                Thanks for your information. I buy Kyoto osaka sightseeing pass at:
      ,is that is the official web?
                And can i buy osaka amazing pass at kansai airport?if i buy it on 10 april 2017 at kansai airport and i use it on the same day,did i get the 2017 version(cause i plan go to lego osaka).
                And can i buy osaka amazing pass 2017 version from web?

                • Hi Min,

                  You can buy Kyoto sightseeing pass at Nankai railway website. But both Kyoto sightseeing pass and Osaka amazing pass can be purchased at Kansai airport tourist information center at same time.

                  You don’t need to use these pass on same day as purchase date. You can start using it later.

                  Even if you purchase the pass online, you still need to exchange it at Kansai airport or other location. It’s much easier to buy both on the spot.


                  Takeshi /

          • Min says:

            Thanks f or your information,I already check tateyama web tickets online reservation,but for 17 april 2017 tickets tateyama to dainkabo roundtrip already sold out,is there any other place/web sell these tickets? If I don’t get the advance tickets,can i still buy the ticket On the spot?

            • Hi Min,

              Sorry that you could not purchase it.
              The ticket will be sold on the spot too. Buy the number of ticket may be limited and you may not be able to buy it on the spot either. Mid April is super busy season. It will be very hard to get it.


              Takeshi /

          • MIn says:

            Hi, thanks for your information,if i use Tateyama options tickets from toyama to nagano,can i use takayama horikuri pass to take a train from nagano to toyama?if I cannot use this pass,then how much its the train fare from nagano to toyama?and what time its the last train?

  3. Min says:

    I stay at toyama for 2 days(17-18 april),and i plan go to tateyama kurobe on 17 April use tateyama kurobe option tickets (i can use this ticket from dentesu toyama to nagano station?),from nagano st to dentesu toyama,can i use train&what the last time the last train?
    From ogizawa to nagano st the last bus is 16.30,what should i take if i miss the last bus?can i take a local bus after 18.00 to shinano omachi or to nagano for my trip to dentesu toyama?


  4. David says:

    Dear Takeshi,
    Thank you for useful information. I currently stay in Kobe and would like to visit Mount Yoshinoyama and Nara Park. I have checked Hankyu-Hanshin 1-day pass and think that it is too good for 1day unlimited rides. I would like to know if it true for riding all Hankyu-Hanshin lines for 1 day? and what is your idea for cheapest way to visit above-mentioned places?

  5. Min says:

    My trips is
    Day 1 kansai airport to osaka station or osaka castle
    Day 2 osaka sightseeing
    Can i use yosoko osaka for that

    • Hi Min,

      Yes, but you need to add single fare for Namba to Osaka or Osaka castle. Yokoso Osaka ticket includes KIX-Namba by Nankai railway and subway one day pass. You can use these two portions separately for day 1 and 2. But if you use subway portion on day 2, you can get Namba only.


      Takeshi /

  6. John Patrick says:


    I have been doing quite a few research but I think I need your expertise when it comes to the proper transportation I should take.

    7th April: Arrive at NARITA @11am (Tokyo/Shinjuku tour the rest of the day)
    8th April: Hakone Area for the day
    9th April: Kyoto Area for the day
    10th April: Nara in the morning, Osaka in the afternoon leaving at Osaka Airport in the evening.

    It’s a tight schedule but I’m going to make it happen. My question is: Is it reasonable to but the 7-day pass since I’m travelling such distances and probably be using most of the transportation systems more often than just buying tickets for buses and trains as I go along?

    Hope you’d reply soon.


  7. Mainak Ray says:

    My Japan travel itinerary as below:
    7th Apr, 2017: Arrival at Kansai Airport/ Travel to Kyoto by Haruka Limited/ Check in at Kyoto Hotel
    8th April. 2017: Visit Sagano-Arishiyama (travel by JR local train)
    9th April, 2017: Check-out/ Day visit to Nara (by JR local trains from Kyoto-Nara-Kyoto); Kyoto to Shin-Osaka by Haruka Limited/ Check-in at Osaka Hotel.
    10th April, 2017: JR Shinkansen to Hiroshima-Miyajima Island
    11th April, 2017: Visit to Universal Studio
    12th April, 2017: Sight Seeing around Osaka (Osaka Castle-Keihan Line/ Dotonburi vis Namba Station)
    13th April, 2017: Check-out/ Shin-Osaka-Kansai Airport by Haruka Limited.

    If I buy a 5-Day JR Rail Pass for Kansai-Hiroshima Wide Area (activated on my day of arrival at Kansai Airport), can I use it to travel on Haruka Limited from Kansai Airport to Kyoto on my day of arrival?
    Or do I have to buy the IOCCA & Haruka ticket separately online apart from the Kansai-Hiroshima Wide Area 5 day Pass?

  8. Annie says:

    Hi Takeshi-san,

    SIN-KIX-SIN (22-29 Mar)

    This is our first time visiting to Japan. We total have 8 person.
    We plan stay at Kyoto (2night) & Osaka (5night). Can you recommend some suit itinerary for us.
    (We have budget for this trip, if we go Tokyo or Mt Fuji cost will quiet higher right?)

    Which transport should we take and what are the passes that we should purchase?

    Waiting for your reply.

    Thank you.

    Have a nice day.

  9. Louis says:

    Dear Takeshi,

    I have planned my itinerary for my Japan Trip (OSAKA,KYOTO & TOKYO)

    DAY 1 –
    Kansai airport – shinimamiya station by yokosa osaka pass + keihan pass

    DAY 2 – OSAKA sighseeing – yokoso osaka

    DAY 3 – Osaka sight seeing + Kyoto
    Actually at first I intend to use osaka sightseeing pass
    but I saw that kansai thru pass 3 days is worth to use it.
    Please advise which is suit for me..?

    DAY 4 – Kyoto Sightseeing by using kansai thru pass/Kyoto Sightseeing One and Two-day Pass Card
    This is my kyoto sighseeing list please help me advise which pass is suit for these.-
    Kiyomizu-dera (清水寺)
    Nijo Castle (二条城)
    Nanzen-ji (南禅寺)
    Arashiyama (嵐山)
    Fushimi Inari-taisha (伏見稲荷大社)
    Kyoto Imperial Palace
    Ginkakuji Temple (銀閣寺)

    DAY 5 – kyoto – Tokyo by JR trip pass
    Tokyo can I use ICOCA or I need to buy any pass?
    cus actually I want to use tokyo metro pass.
    but DAY 6 I want to go kawaguchiko i feel that not worth it.

    DAY 6 – tokyo station – KAWAGUCHIKO by bus

    DAY 7 – Tokyo – tokyo disneyland by JR

    DAY 8 – Explore tokyo sightseeing .

    Please do advise me.. thank you! 🙂

    • Hi Louis,

      You can just purchase a ticket ticket from KIX to Shin-Imamiya by Nankai railway. It’s 920 yen.

      And then you can use Kansai thru pass 3 days from day 2 to 4. It’s easier and all trips are covered.

      You mentioned that you will use JR trip pass to Tokyo. But it’s not pass. It will be regular ticket. If you are okay to spend more time and may need transfer at Nagoya, you can use the deal in the link below. It’s a bit cheaper.

      Subway pass is most recommended in Tokyo. ICOCA or other cards is not required.


      Takeshi /

      • Louis says:

        Dear Takeshi,

        actually I did calculated that you suggested to purchase nankai railway -920 yen and buy the kansai thru pass 3 days 5200 yen for my osaka and kyoto trip. total is 6120 yen

        but I saw the yokoso! osaka pass has provided Nankai Electric Railway Train ticket + Limited Exp.Rapi:t reserved-seat ticket (one-way) and Osaka city subway, new tram and bus 1-day unlimited pass only cost 1,500 yen

        if i get kansai thru pass 2 days for my kyoto trip is only 4,000 yen.
        total is 5500 yen.
        which is better to me? or is that any additional charges? sorry
        I just want to clarify.

        and for the bullet train from kyoto to tokyo.
        is it the platt kodama from kyoto to tokyo? the fare is 10,100 yen travel time is 3.5 hrs
        if nozomi train from kyoto to tokyo is 13,910yen travel time is 2.5 hrs.
        I would like to choose kodama. but seems you say need to transfer at nagoya? I cannot find any cheaper train from nagoya to tokyo.. please advise!
        thank you so much

        • Hi Louis,

          You are right. I miscalculated. You can use Yokoso Osaka for the first 2 days.
          And also even Kansai thru pass 2 days is not required. You can use Osaka visitors ticket (550 yen) on day 3 and pay single fare for Osaka to Kyoto. Total cost for day 3 will be around 1200 to 1300 yen. (depends on departure staiton and arrival station) You may add other deals in Osaka on day 3, such as Amazing pass.

          And you can add Kyoto sightseeing card one day at 1200 yen. I think this combination is most affortable.

          When you use Platt Kodama, you may get a direct train. It depends on the availability.

          You can find which train you can take when you purchase this deal. There is no other deals available for taking Shinkansen.


          Takeshi /

          • Louis says:

            Dear Takeshi,
            I think your suggestion for osaka is better !
            But may I know which pass is suitable for travel day4&5
            Cus I’m going to NARA, arashiyama and others sightseeing. Is it kansai thru 3 days pass for day 3-5 is better?

            For transport in Tokyo.
            May I know metro pass is it more worth it? But where can I purchase the pass?
            Because I intend to buy 3 days pass but I saw official website only selling in Tokyo airports..

            Please advice !

            Thank you

            Warm regards

            • Hi Louis,

              It depends on your trip plan on day 3, 4 and 5. You have mentioned that you have sightseeing in Osaka and travel to Kyoto on day 3. Are you going to take subway or bus after arrival in Kyoto. Are you going to explore night in Kyoto. If you take subway or bus, you will spend 300 to 400 yen at least. If you want to get the right one, you have to make sure how many times you will take train or bus.

              Regarding trip to Nara, are you going there on day 5? If so, are you going to Nara only? Or you might add a few places in Kyoto?

              If you have no idea about it, just choose Kansai thru pass 3 days for day 3 to 5. It covers all Non JR trains, subway and city buses. It gives you flexibility. But Kansai thru pass may not be the cheapest choice.

              You can purchase Tokyo Subway Pass at many places in downtown Tokyo. Please see the link below:

              I don’t think you need 3 days. Because you will go to Lake Kawaguchi on day 6. And subway pass is valid by hours, not 2 days but 48 hours. If you start using it after trip to Lake Kawaguchi sometimes in evening, it will be valid until evening on day 8. 48 hours may be okay.


              Takeshi /

  10. Belle says:

    Hi Takeshi,
    I plan to buy takayama hokuriku area tourist pass. So when I visit kyoto what pass is most affordable? I’m coming to Kyoto from Osaka, will stay one night in Kyoto and left the next day to go Kanazawa. Can I use the hokuriku pass in Kyoto?

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