Since Kansai WIDE Area Pass was released in April, 2012, this deal has been very popular for the tourist who wants to travel outside Kansai, like Kinosaki Onsen, Kii peninsula and Okayama/Kurashiki. This pass covers much bigger area than other Kansai area passes, like JR West Kansai Area Pass, Kansai Thru Pass. I am very happy that tourist tries to visit not only Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe but also outside Kansai.
In this post, I would like to show you the details of this pass and make sure the difference from other passes.
Kansai WIDE Area Pass covers not only Kansai area, such as Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe, Kansai airport, Nara and Himeji but also many places outside Kansai area. I would like to introduce some popular spots. Please see the map below:
- Kinosaki Onsen (城崎温泉) – One of popular hot springs resort in northern Hyogo prefecture. It can be accessed by limited express Kounotori from Osaka and limited express Kinosaki from Kyoto.
- Amanohashidate (天橋立) – It is connected directly with Kyoto by limited express Hashidate. You need to pay some extra because this train goes through Non JR line. But even Japan Rail Pass do not cover it either. Please see the details about extra at limited express Hashidate.
- Shirahama (白浜) – This popular hot springs area is located in Kii peninsula. It can be accessed by limited express Kuroshio from Kyoto, Shin-Osaka and Tennoji.
- Shingu (新宮) – This town is located at the south end of Kii peninsula. It is the gate town of UNESCO World Hertage Site, “Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range”. This can be accessed by limited express Kuroshio from Kyoto, Shin-Osaka and Tennoji too.
- Okayama (岡山) – This city is located in Chugoku region and have one of three best landscape garden, Kourakuen Garden. It can be accessed by Shinkansen from Shin-Osaka in one hour.
- Kurashiki (倉敷) – It is 15 minutes away from Okayama by local train. The preserved “Canal Area” is quite popular. There is Shin-Kurashiki station on Sanyo Shinkanse. But this station is not located in Kurashiki area. And Sanyo Shinkansenn between Okayama and Shin-Kurashiki is not covered by Kansai WIDE Area Pass either. Get on local train from Okayama when you get there.
- Takamatsu (高松) – It is a gate city in Shikoku. It has Takamatsu castle and very popular Udon noodle.
- Tottori – It is very well known as the city which has the biggest sand dune in Japan.
I recommend you to stay in these places. But you can visit all above spots as day trip. If you are looking for something different in your trip other than Kyoto, Kobe, Osaka, Nara and Himeji, this pass gives you access and a huge saving.
You can purchase and use this pass in all year round.
Valid trains and bus routes
- Sanyo Shinkansen (Shin Osaka-Okayama only)
- Limited Express Haruka (Kansai airport-Shin Osaka/Kyoto)
- Limited Express Kuroshio (Kyoto/Shin Osaka-Shirahama/Shingu)
- Limited Express Kounotori (Shin Osaka/Osaka-Kinosaki Onsen)
- Limited Express Kinosaki (Kyoto-Kinosaki Onsen)
- Limited Express Hamakaze (Osaka-Tottori)
This express trains goes to Tottori. And this is only train to get Tottori from Osaka directly. Tottori was not in coverage area but it was included as of mid April, 2017.
- Limited Express Thunderbird (Osaka-Tsuruga)
This express trains goes to Kanazawa and Toyama. But these areas are outside of the area where is covered.
- Limited Express Hashidate (Kyoto-Fukuchiyama)
This express trains goes to Amanohashidate. You can get Amanohashidate directly from Kyoto by this train. Amanohashidate is located on Kyoto Tango Railway which was not covered by this pass. But as of mid April, 2017,
the coverage area was expanded. Kyoto Tango Railway is not covered by this pass fully.
- Limited Express Super Hakuto (Kyoto-Tottori)
This express trains connects Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe, Tottori and Kurayoshi. This train is the most convenient and the fastest way to get Tottori from Osaka and Kyoto. JR Pass does not cover this train fully. This train ride is one of the big advantage of Kansai Wide Area Pass.
- Limited Express Super Inaba (Okayama-Tottori)
This train connects Okayama and Tottori. It takes same way to get Tottori as Super Hakuto between Kamigori and Tottori. This train is not covered by JR pass fully either. This train ride is one of the big advantage of Kansai Wide Area Pass too.
- Limited Express Wide View Hida (Osaka-Maibara)
This express trains goes to Takayama. But this is obviously outside of the area where is covered. And this train is not mentioned on the official page. But technically you can take this train between Osaka and Maibara with no charge. However there is only one round trip a day. It is not much useful.
As of mid April 2017, this pass started to cover JR bus in Kyoto and Fukui. In Kyoto, you can get Ryoan-ji temple, Kitano-Tenmangu shrine, Takao area via Nijo. This pass also covers Obamba to/from Omi-Imazu bus service and Sonobe to/from Fukuchiyama bus service.
As I mentioned above, Kyoto Tango Railway is now covered. You also can take Wakayama Dentetsu Railway between Wakayama and Kishi by this pass.
There will be two different prices, purchase outside Japan and inside Japan. If you purchase it outside Japan, price is slightly cheaper. Please see the details at the below:
|Purchasing from the travel agent overseas|
|Purchasing from JR West online|
|Purchasing from JR West station|
|Adult||9,200 yen||10,000 yen||10,200 yen|
|4,600 yen||5,000 yen||5,100 yen|
The validity of a rail pass starts from 12 O’clock at night, midnight to midnight.
Compare with regular fare
This is very attractive price. It is very easy to pay off. The following sample fares includes base fare and non reserved seat limited express surcharge:
- One way trip from Kansai Airport to Shin Osaka by Limited Express Haruka — 2,330 yen
- One way trip from Kansai Airport to Kyoto by Limited Express Haruka — 2,850 yen
- Round trip between Shin Osaka and Himeji by Shinkansen — 6,440 yen
- Round trip between Shin Osaka and Okayama by Shinkansen — 11,000 yen
- Round trip between Osaka and Kinosaki Onsen by Limited Express Kounotori — 10,160 yen
- Round trip between Kyoto and Kinosaki Onsen by Limited Express Kinosaki — 8,640 yen
- Round trip between Shin Osaka and Shirahama by Limited Express Kuroshio — 10,160 yen
- Round trip between Shin Osaka and Shingu by Limited Express Kuroshio — 13,380 yen
As you see above, if you take Haruka from Kansai airport to Shin-Osaka and have round trip by Shinkansen to Himeji from Shin-Osaka, it is pay off. It is very very attractive price.
Compare Kansai WIDE Area Pass and other passes
I have already written about JR West Rail Pass – Kansai Area Pass and Kansai Thru Pass (Surutto Kansai Pass). Please refer my post, How to choose discount railway ticket and pass in Kansai (Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe, Nara) area.
Compare Kansai WIDE Area Pass and Kansai Area Pass
You can choose 1 to 4 days from Kansai Area Pass. Please refer the post, How to use JR West Kansai Area Pass. Compare pass and single fare. The prices are 2,060 yen, 4,110 yen, 5,140 yen and 6,170 yen. Kansai Area Pass covers only Kansai area and does not allow you to take any express trains other than Airport Express Train Haruka. I recommend you to use 1 days pass for transfer from Kansai airport to Shin-Osaka/Kyoto. As you saw the regular fare above, 1 day pass rate 2,330 yen is cheaper than one way trip to Shin-Osaka from Kansai airport. But there is ICOCA and Haruka that includes Haruka one way ticket and 1500 yen ICOCA e-money. This is better deal than Kansai Area Pass one day.
If you compare both passes, the price is less than 2,000 yen difference. Kansai WIDE Area Pass covers many more places and more trains. In my opinion, Kansai Wide Area Pass has much greater value than Kansai Area Pass.
Even if you stay and travel in Kansai area only, Kansai Thru Pass may be better choice because it covers subway and bus services in Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe.
Compare Kansai WIDE Area Pass and Kansai Thru Pass
As I mentioned on my post, How to choose discount railway ticket and pass in Kansai (Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe, Nara) area, Kansai Thru Pass is the best rail pass for sightseeing in Osaka, Kyoto, Nara and Kobe. This deal includes Kyoto municipal transportation (subway and bus) and Osaka municipal transportation (subway and bus). This is a huge asset to explore in Kyoto and Osaka. Especially you cannot go to any popular spots without subway and bus services in Kyoto. All JR rail passes, Kansai WIDE Area Pass, Kansai Area Pass, even Japan Rail Pass, do not cover any subway and city bus services. Kansai Thru Pass covers all major private rail lines too. In Kansai area, there are many private rail lines. When you go to Kyoto and Nara from Osaka, private lines, Hankyu (Umeda-Kawaramachi), Keihan (Yodoyabashi/Kyobashi-Shijo/Sanjo), Kintetsu (Namba/Tsuruhashi-Nara, Kyoto-Nara) are more convenient.
So if you are sure that you stay and travel in Kansai area only, I don’t recommend you to use Kansai WIDE Area Pass. But if you are interested in the area other than Kyoto, Kobe, Osaka, Nara and Himeji to visit, this pass may be suitable for you. Kansai Thru Pass is a good rail pass. But this pass does not cover the area other than Kansai area, such as Kinosaki, Okayama and Shirahama.
If you stay in Kansai area for 3 days or less, you do not have enough time to explore outside Kansai. You should stay and enjoy sightseeing in Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe and Nara. But if you stay for 4 days or more, you may have an extra time to enjoy both Kansai are and outside of Kansai.
If you stay in Osaka for 5 nights,
Day 1 Kansai airport – Shin Osaka (Kansai WIDE Area Pass)
Day 2 Day trip to Shirahama (Kansai WIDE Area Pass)
Day 3 Day trip to Kurashiki (Kansai WIDE Area Pass)
Day 4 Day trip to Kyoto (Kansai Thru Pass)
Day 5 Day trip to Nara (Kansai Thru Pass)
Day 6 Osaka – Kansai airport (Kansai Thru Pass)
In above sample plan, I use Kansai WIDE Area Pass for 3 days only. Of course you can use this pass for day 1 to 5 and add the regular fare or other deal to get Kansai airport. But even though you use Kansai WIDE Area Pass for 3 days, you get your money worth.
I hope this pass encourages you to explore outside Kansai area. I love Kinosaki and Kurashiki. If you have an extra time, I strongly recommend you to visit these places.