How to choose discount railway ticket and pass for the trip in Kansai area

Dotonbori (道頓堀) is one of the popular spot around Osaka Namba area. ©JNTO
Dotonbori (道頓堀) is one of the popular spot around Osaka Namba area. ©JNTO

There are JR lines and lots of private railway lines, such as Hankyu, Hanshin, Kintetsu and Keihan in Kansai area. There are so many kinds of ticket or passes as well. It makes you confused to choose it.

In this post, I would like to share the information about the discount tickets and passes that cover Kansai area.

Kansai Thru Pass

  • Online purchasing price (2-day) – Adult : 4,300 yen / Child : 2,150 yen
  • Online purchasing price (3-day) – Adult : 5,300 yen / Child : 2,650 yen
  • Coverage – All Non JR lines, subway lines and city bus in whole part of Kansai area
  • Valid period – 2 or 3 days (not required using in consecutive days)

This is the most recommend one. This pass includes all major private lines and subway lines, such as Hankyu, Hanshin, Keihan, Kintetsu, Nankai, Osaka Metro and Kyoto Subway. You can access Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe, Nara, Himeji, Mt. Koya, Kansai airport, Wakayama and many more place. This pass is sold at 5,300 yen for 3-days and 4,300 yen for 2 days. It gives you the greatest value in any railway pass of Kansai area. But if you think about only round trip between Kyoto and Osaka, the regular fare may be cheaper. Please see the details at the post in the link below:

JR West Rail Pass – Kansai Area Pass

  • Price (1-day) – Adult : 2,200 yen / Child : 1,100 yen
  • Price (2-day) – Adult : 4,300 yen / Child : 2,150 yen
  • Price (3-day) – Adult : 5,300 yen / Child : 2,650 yen
  • Price (4-day) – Adult : 6,300 yen / Child : 3,150 yen
  • Coverage – All JR railway lines in whole part of Kansai area
  • Valid period – 1 to 4 days (midnight to midnight)
Limited Express Haruka connects Kansai airport and Kyoto via Tennoji and Shin-Osaka. This is covered by Kansai area pass.
Limited Express Haruka connects Kansai airport and Kyoto via Tennoji and Shin-Osaka. This is covered by Kansai area pass.

This pass includes most of JR lines in Kyoto, Nara, Osaka, Kobe, Himeji and Kansai airport. But the Shinkansen and all express trains are not covered except Kansai airport express “Haruka”. Please see the details about this pass in the link below:

Hankyu Tourist Pass one day and two days

  • Price (1-day) – Adult : 700 yen / Child:Not available
  • Price (2-day) – Adult : 1,200 yen / Child:not available
  • Coverage – All Hankyu railway lines
  • Valid period – one day (midnight to midnight) and two days (must be used in consecutive days)

Hankyu Railway operates trains among Umeda (Osaka), Takarazuka, Kawaramachi (Kyoto near Gion), Arashiyama (Kyoto) and Kobe (Sannomiya). The price of this deal is very attractive to cover three cities, Kyoto, Osaka and Kobe. If you access to Kobe-Sannomiya from Umeda, single fare is 320 yen. If you access to Kyoto-Kawaramachi from Umeda, single fare is 400 yen. You can get the worth of one day pass by one round trip to Kyoto-Kawaramachi from Umeda. If you look for deal to access to just Kobe, Arashiyama and Gion area, this is a good choice.

But if you want to visit all part of Kyoto and many places in Kobe, Kansai Thru Pass is better choice. Because you have to take other train or bus than Hankyu Railway. Kansai Thru Pass covers all.

Please see the link below to find more information:

Hankyu Railway official site- Hankyu Tourist Pass

Kyoto-Osaka Sightseeing Pass one day and two days

  • Price (1-day) – Adult : 700 yen / Child : 350 yen
  • Price (2-day) – Adult : 1,000 yen / Child : 700 yen
  • Coverage – All Keihan railway lines
  • Valid period – one day (midnight to midnight) and two days (must be used in consecutive days)

Keihan Railway connects Yodoyabashi (Osaka) and Demachiyanagi (Kyoto). It covers Kyoto and Osaka only but the price is cheaper than Hankyu Tourist Pass. And many places in Kyoto are located along Keihan Railway. Fushimi Inari shrine, Uji, Kiyomizu-dera temple and many places in Higashiyama area can be accessed from Keihan Railway stations.

This pass has same issue as Hankyu Tourist Pass. You may have to take subway to get Keihan Railway station in Osaka, such as Yodoyabashi, Nakanoshima, Kitahama, Temmabashi and Kyobashi. And when you visit western part of Kyoto, such as Arashiyama, Kinkaku-ji temple, you have to pay extra to access this place. Kansai Thru Pass may be better choice if you have another trip(s).

Please see the link below to find more information about Kyoto-Osaka Sightseeing Pass:

Keihan Railway official site – Kyoto-Osaka Sightseeing Pass

Kintetsu Rail Pass one day and two days

  • Price (1-day) – Adult : 1,500 yen / Child : 750 yen
  • Price (2-day) – Adult : 2,500 yen / Child : 1,250 yen
  • Coverage – All Keihan railway lines
  • Valid period – one day (midnight to midnight) and two days (must be used in consecutive days)

This deals covers Kintetsu Railway in Osaka, Kyoto and Nara.

In Nara, many of places can be accessed by walk from the station. But this deal can take you to Kyoto station only You cannot use this deal to access to most of places in Kyoto.

Please see the link below to find more information about Kintetsu Rail Pass:

Kintetsu Railway official site – Kintetsu Rail Pass

Hanshin Tourist Pass

  • Price – Adult:700 yen / Child:Not available
  • Coverage – All Hanshin railway lines
  • Valid period – one day (midnight to midnight)

Hanshin Railway operate trains among Umeda (Osaka), Osaka-Namba, Kousoku-Kobe and Kobe (Sannomiya). The price of this deal is very attractive. If you access to Kobe-Sannomiya from Osaka-Nmaba, single fare is 410 yen. It is paid off by just one round trip. If you look for deal to access to just Kobe, this is the one for your trip.

However if you access to Arima-Onsen and/or Himeji, Kansai Thru Pass or Kansai Area Pass may be better choice.

Please see the link below to find more information about Hanshin Tourist Pass:

Hanshin Railway official site – Hanshin Tourist Pass

Kansai Wide Area Pass

Kyushu Shinkansen Sakura and Mizuho give you direct trainsfer to Shin-Osaka from Kyusyu.
All Shinkansen trains non reserved seat on Sanyo Shinkansen are covered by this deal.

If you may travel both inside and outside of Kansai area, Kansai Wide Area Pass is the best choice. You can get same coverage as Kansai area pass in Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, Kobe, Himeji and Wakayama. And also this pass covers Kinosaki Onsen, Shirahama, Kii-Katsuura, Shingu, Okayama, Kurashiki and even Takamatsu in Shikoku. You can take non reserved seat on limited express trains and Sanyo Shinkansen between Shin-Osaka and Okayama. Please find more information in the post below:

ICOCA and Kansai One Pass

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 all Kansai area. 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 ride.

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.

However if you have day trip to other cities, such as day trip to Kyoto from Osaka, Kansai Thru Pass or Kansai Area Pass is better choice in most of cases.

Kansai One Pass

This is same type of card as ICOCA. You can use this pass by same way as ICOCA. But this card is designed for overseas tourist. Preload amount is 2,500 yen (plus 500 yen deposit and sold at 3,000 yen) and you can get 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 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 Kansai area is covered. You may have same or better coverage than Kansai Wide Area Pass. If you use these passes, please try to use this pass as much as you can. I think you may add only city deal, such as bus pass in Kyoto.

For the traveler who stay in Kyoto or Osaka and visit inside city only

These above deals are too much for the city sightseeing only. You may find the deals in the links below:

How to choose the best train pass for sightseeing in Kyoto
How to choose the best train pass for sightseeing in Osaka

I hope you get the best deal in this post and enjoy your trip in Kansai area.

987 thoughts on “How to choose discount railway ticket and pass for the trip in Kansai area”

  1. Hi Takeshi
    Can I use an IC pass to travel from Osaka to Tanabe? At the end of the Kumano walk I plan to travel to Matsusaka then onto Takayama and Kanazawa before returning to Osaka for a few days. Can I also use IC card between these places? The JR Pass seems an expensive option since I am having a number of days in each of these places.
    Thank you.Ann

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