Many of the sightseeing spots in Kyoto are scattered around the city, so you might not be sure how to get around. Here are some recommended tour buses so you can have a smooth sightseeing experience in the old capital.
1. Kyoto World Heritage Loop Bus (K'LOOP)
This is a perfect bus to take if you wish to see each location thoroughly. It is an express tour bus that operates during the day, allowing tourists to visit the major locations efficiently.
■What kind of bus is this?
While the local route bus can be used to visit most of the sightseeing locations, routes and transfers can be complicated for tourists. With The Kyoto World Heritage Loop Bus, routes and schedules are very simple. The bus visits places in a sequential order, so there is no risk of getting lost. This bus can be used as many times as you like during operating hours.
■Routes and Highlights
The route of the bus is different depending on the time. The bus will go through the west route during morning hours, the circular route during lunch hours, and the east route during afternoon hours. The bus is available every half an hour, and departs from the Hachijo exit of Kyoto Station. You may get on and off at any bus stop on the route.
The majority of the locations that the bus will pass are very well known and popular places, including World Heritage sites like Kinkakuji Temple, Ginkakuji Temple, Nijojo Castle, Toji Temple, and Kiyomizudera, and other popular places like Kitano Tenmangu, Yasaka Shrine, and Sanjusangendo. The bus will also stop at an art museum, a science museum, and at a shopping area. Audio guidance featuring Kyoto facts and history is available in 4 languages (Japanese, English, Chinese, and Korean).
■Bus operation and fares
The Kyoto World Heritage Loop Bus operates on Saturdays, Sundays, and public holidays. The fare is 1,800 JPY (incl. tax) for adults. The ticket is available at the bookstore Futaba Shobou, near the bus stop at the Hachijo exit of Kyoto Station. The ticket can also be bought on the bus if you're boarding from other locations.
2. Kyoto Night Cruise Bus Tour
This is a very popular bus tour that operates at night. This tour is recommended for those who are visiting Kyoto whether it be their first time or not, as it gives a range of different scenic views during the day.
There are five bus stops available in the city. The 90 minute tour will commence at 7:50 pm at Shijo Karasuma →7:55 pm at Karasuma Oike → 8:00 pm at Kawaramachi Oike → 8:15 pm at the Kyoto Station Hachijo exit → 8:20 pm at New Miyako Hotel.
There is famous night scenery of the five story pagoda of Toji Temple, Heian Jingu and Chion-in, which are specially lit up for this cruise tour. There are also other various locations like Nishi Hongan-Ji Temple, Nijojo Castle, Yasaka Shrine, Gion, etc. Please enjoy the scenes of temples and shrines in the darkness, the elegant view of the old capital city, and the light of modern Kyoto.
Narration with guidance and Kyoto trivia is also available. A rented receiver (500 JPY) will translate this narration to English, Chinese, and Korean. *The tour is only available on the bus (touring off the bus is not permitted).
■Bus operation and fares
The bus operates on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and the day before a public holiday. The fare is 1,600 JPY for an adult. Reservations can be made through the website, from 14 days prior to before 6 pm on the day. The bus can become fully booked during the spring and autumn seasons, so it is best to make an early reservation.
* The departing locations and routes may change depending on traffic conditions.
* The illuminations may be canceled depending on seasons and times.
You can enjoy the scenery from the window of the bus, or you can visit a temple or shrine to have a more thorough look. Please select a bus that will suit your journey.
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.