Jan 18, 2016

How much does it cost to travel from Tokyo to Kyoto?



What more needs to be said about Kyoto?  Temples and shrines? Check!  History and culture? Check!  Museums, galleries, and performance?  Check!  World class dining? Check!   No, enough has been said already.  Now it’s time to go.  Getting there from Tokyo couldn't be easier.  There are myriad of transport options available down to Kyoto from Japan's capital.  If there is any difficulty here, it might be deciding which is best for you.  Hopefully, we can help with this guide; "How much does it cost to travel from Tokyo to Kyoto?"  Well, in short, travellers are looking at somewhere between around 5,000 and 20,000 yen (one way) which gives us a lot of scope in terms of options, and their convenience and comfort.


(All the fares below are based on making bookings a month in advance, directly with the operator. Fares are listed in Japanese Yen)


(*NB - This post was updated as of September 2017)





Flights to Kyoto


The closest airport to Kyoto is Osaka’s Itami Airport (aka, Osaka International Airport / ITM). Kyoto is also accessible from the much larger, Kansai International Airport (KIX).


Flights from Tokyo to Kyoto arriving at the above airports take around 1 hr 10-20 min.




Low cost carriers


Both Peach and Jetstar operate services between Tokyo and Kansai. 


Fares for flights from Tokyo (Narita) to Kansai (Kansai International)


One wayReturn
Peach4,290 - 8,0208,630 - 16,090
Jetstar4,370 - 6,8708,740 - 12,440




Flag carriers


The majority of ANA and JAL services operate from Tokyo’s Haneda Airport (HND).


Fares in the tables below include taxes / surcharges



ANA - (Haneda Airport to Itami Airport)



One way Return
Flex Fare 25,49050,980
Flex Roundtrip Fare N/A46,380
Basic Fare 11,49026,080
Value Fare 8,59021,080
Premium Flex Fare 34,49068,980
Premium Basic Fare19,99043,080

Cost of flights to Kansai International Airport (KIX) are largely the same.  




JAL


Flying with JAL from Tokyo to Kansai will likely be cheaper but there is less choice (although this could be a good thing).  There is far more choice if flying from Haneda rather than Narita.  The table below details how much the flights cost to Itami Airport.


AirportOne way

One way

J Class charge

Return

Return

J Class charge

Haneda9,990 - 13,3905,100 - 6,50020,980 - 27,8803,600 - 5,500
Naritafrom 7,8401,000 - 8,90030,480 - 31,1804,200 - 12,500




A possible train route from Itami Airport to Kyoto Station is detailed below.  This is one of the cheapest routes we could find ...




OSAKA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT - Osaka Monorail Main Line - HOTARUGAIKE  - Hankyu Takarazuka Line Exp. - UMEDA(HANKYU) - walk - OSAKA - JR Special Rapid Service (980 yen / ~ 66 min)




Getting out of the airport facility and waking to nearby Itami Station will make things much easier;




ITAMI - JR Takarazuka Line Local - OSAKA - JR Special Rapid Service - KYOTO (970 yen / ~ 50 min)



For an extra 970 yen you can reserve a seat on the limited express trains between Osaka and Kyoto stations but the time is the same (~ 25 - 30 min). 


From Kansai International Airport to Kyoto, fast trains to Kyoto Station like the Limited Express HARUKA take 1 hr 20 min.  


Unreserved seat2,850Reserved seat3,170Green seat4,130



A cheaper, slower route from Kansai International Airport to Kyoto might be thus:




KANSAI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT - JR Kansai Airport Rapid - OSAKA - JR Special Rapid - KYOTO  (1,880 yen / ~ 2 hrs)





(Shinkansen from Tokyo (above) may not be the cheapest way to get to Kyoto, but they could well be the most convenient)





Shinkansen to Kyoto


Kyoto’s main train station is a massive operation which handles plenty of services arriving from Tokyo.  This hulking building in no way matches Kyoto’s image, but it is an important point of entry to the city.



The JR Tōkaidō Shinkansen handles services from Tokyo (depart Tokyo Station) to Kyoto (Station).  Nozomi are the fastest, taking 2 hrs 10 mins.  The table below details the costs from Tokyo Station.



ServiceUnreserved seatReserved seatGreen seat
Nozomi13,08013,91018,690
Hikari13,08013,60018,380
Kodama13,08013,60018,380



First departure from Tokyo Station - 6:00 (Nozomi, arrives Kyoto 8:08)


Last (direct) departure from Tokyo Station - 21:23 (Nozomi, arrives Kyoto 23:31)





For cheaper Shinkansen from Tokyo to Kyoto try to make use of the Platt Kodama (ぷらっとこだま).  Run by JR Tokai Tours, this plan can save 2,000 yen on fares for the Kodama Shinkansen to Kyoto.  Tickets available from JR Tokai Tours offices and need to be booked in advance.


How much does it cost to get back from Kyoto?   No special ‘return fares’ with the Shinkansen.  Just double the price of getting there.


The Japan Rail Pass can be used on Hikari and Kodama Shinkansen.  It is not valid for Nozomi.





Express / Rapid / Local trains from Tokyo to Kyoto


A combination of a express, rapid and local train can get the adventurous (or foolhardy) traveller down to Kyoto in around eight or nine hours without much in the way of breaks. The cheapest routes will be around 8,000 yen. Greater use of express / rapid trains will bring journey costs up to around 14,000 yen. Given that Shinkansen fares start from around 13,000 yen and take only about 2.5 hrs there seems little point in using express / rapid / local trains to make the run.  


That being said, during holiday periods, budget travellers / adventurers can get good value out of the Seishun 18 Kippu. Travel as far as one can bare on local trains for as little as 2,370 yen per day. The trip from Tokyo to Kyoto could be broken into a couple of days to make things more pleasant. See an earlier post about this ticket on City-Cost here.



Buses to Kyoto


Buses between Tokyo and Kyoto take  ~ nine hours (day and night services available).  In Tokyo, most departures are from Shinjuku (Busta) Station.  One way fares start from 3,000 yen.  Going up to the 10,000 yen range will buy plenty of comfort.  


WILLER, have plenty of information in English.  Below are examples of some of their fares (one way, based on bus/seat type).




Day time - Shinjuku Station (Busta)

RELAX[NEW]4,430



Night time - Shinjuku Station (Busta)

NEW PREMIUM 2 rows6,480
NEW PREMIUM Economy7,600
NEW PREMIUM Single8,600



Night time - Tokyo Disneyland

RELAX (extra space)
5,200
NEW PREMIUM 2 rows6,480
NEW PREMIUM Economy7,600
NEW PREMIUM Single8,600



Night time - Ikebukuro

RELAX[NEW]4,650
Comodo7,400





With BUSReserve.JP you might be able to find slightly cheaper fares than those above, but you'll have to be able to do it in Japanese.  We found fares to Kyoto for as low as ~ 2,500 yen.


Night bus booking site Bus-Channel can get you started in English and give you an idea of fares for buses from Tokyo to Kyoto.  However, it will ultimately direct you to a particular bus company homepage which will likely be in Japanese only.


We also took a look at Japan Bus Lines (English available) but were ultimately taken through to a booking platform that looks like WILLER (with the same services and prices).





Driving from Tokyo to Kyoto



How much does it cost to drive from Tokyo to Kyoto?  Well, expect to pay around ~ 11,000 yen in highway tolls (source: NEXCO - Nippon Expressway Company).  The drive takes about 5 hrs 30 mins for those who know the way.  Starting from Shibuya in Tokyo, a likely driving route would be to exit the city on the Metropolitan Expressway No.3 Shibuya Route before joining the Tomei Expressway.  Just north of Nagoya, join the Meishin Expressway exiting at Kamogawa-nishi (鴨川西) 2-3 km south of the Kyoto Station area.  


Renting a car isn't necessarily expensive in Japan ... if you return it to where you picked it up.  For a Tokyo pick up / Kyoto drop off on the same day costs might be in the 35,000 - 40,000 yen range for a simple k-car.  By way of contrast, the same car might be rented with a pick up / drop off in Tokyo over four days for around 20,000 - 25,000 yen.




(NB* This post was updated as of September 2017)






How much does it cost to travel from Tokyo to Kyoto?  We want your answers, too. Join the conversation below and share your travel tips.





Looking for the best things to do in Kyoto?


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