Right after my Europe trip (read more here) for nearly 2 months, I was excited to come back to Asia for another trip! This time, it was an annual trip with my whole family, especially nice since my sister came back from her study abroad! I love spending time with them and what better way to spend it than Japan? We decided to visit Osaka and Kyoto in Japan for a few reasons. One being it close enough to get to from Hong Kong and another was so we could get experience a mixture of culture, city and nature to enjoy. I’ve also filmed a vlog during the trip, so stay tuned for that! But for now, keep reading to find out my Top 10 things to do in Kyoto!
How to Get There
From Hong Kong, we flew to Osaka with Peach Airlines and made our way to Kyoto by train. We found the best option was to buy the combination ticket with an ICOCA card (a top-up card for public transportations) and Haruka train ticket to Kyoto. Note that this special combination is only available at the JR Kansai Airport Station In Osaka (You can find more info here) . Once you get to Kyoto Station, the taxi, bus or train are very convenient to use in order to get to your accommodation.
Where to Stay
No matter if you’re going in a small or large group, an Airbnb rental is always your best bet! (Check out the best Airbnb I’ve stayed in) We rented a place for my family of six that was a little further away from the city Centre of Kyoto. However it was nearby the bus station and only a short walking distance to one of the main sights- The Kinkaku-jo temple.
- Arashiyama Bamboo Grove | Get here early to beat the crowd and enjoy the serene bamboo forest for yourselves. Afterward a stroll through the magical forest, stop by the Okochi Sanso Garden for a magnificent view on the top and enjoy some freshly brewed green tea and snacks in their tea house!
- Rent a Yukata or Kimono | To fully experience the Japanese Culture, rent a Yukata (in the summer time) or a Kimono (in the winter time) for the day and walk around city. Japanese people also where these during festival season (they have multiple events in summer) and it’s a great excuse to dress up!
SHOP THIS LOOK
- Gion district | This is the entertainment district filled with more upmarket shops and resturants. If you happen to visit here in the early evening, you may even be able to spot some Geishas on their way to their clients.
- Ninen-zaka & Sannen-zaka | This is my personal favourite spot with a long strip of traditional houses full of green tea stores, souvenir shops, restaurants and more! This is a great place to pass through before or after your visit to the Kiyomizu-dera temple.
- Arashiyama Monkey Forest | Although this is a bit of a hike up to the Forest mountain, you’ll be greeted with friendly monkeys roaming around the top of the hill with chances to feed them as well.
- Fushimi Inari | This place is open 24/7 so I would recommend to get here early as it is a bit of a hike. The best time to see this is when you have this to yourselves and enjoy the magnificent line up of Shrines (a total of 40,000 Inari shrines)!
- Nishiki Market | Eat your way around the streets lined with fresh seafood, snacks and desserts! You’ll be sure to satisfy your stomach from the abundance of choices.
- Kinkaku-ji | The famed Kinkaku-ji Temple is a UNESCO world heritage site surrounded by a beautiful scenic view of the pounds and garden. Noted as one of the top sites, this place is not to be missed when in Kyoto!
- Tenryu-ji Temple | A serene and beautiful garden that allows you to experience Japan’s heritage and traditions in its well preserved space.
- Eat Ramen! | When you’re in Japan, ramen is a must! You can literally find a ramen store in every corner. We found this place called “Ramen Sen No Kaze“. It was near the Nishiki Market where they prepare the ramen right in front of you!
What to Wear
I learnt this the hard way and was not expecting to walking so much in Kyoto. As you may have read, there are a few sights here that do require a bit of a hike as well, so make sure to pack your most comfortable walking shoes! During the summer months, Kyoto can get quite hot and humidity levels are high. I like to pack some lightweight clothing with breathable material such as this linen dress or jersey knitted tops.
Have you ever been to Kyoto? Let me know what other places you think I could check out next time!
Photography by my sisters and yours truly.