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?
(All the fares below are based on making bookings a month in advance, directly with the operator. Fares are listed in Japanese Yen)
Flights from Tokyo to Kyoto arriving at the above airports take around 1 hr 10-20 min.
Low cost carriers
Fares for flights from Tokyo (Narita) to Kansai (Kansai International) (one way / return)
|Peach||4,490 - 6,390||9,030 - 12,830|
Fares (taxes/surcharges included)
(Haneda Airport to Itami Airport)
Prices to Kansai International Airport (KIX) are largely the same although they are 1,000 - 2,000 yen more for Tokuwari and Tabawari specials.
Flying with JAL from Tokyo to Kansai will be cheaper but there is less choice (although this could be a good thing). Flights below arrive at Itami (Osaka). There is more choice if flying from Haneda, but flights from Narita to Itami look to be cheaper.
|Airport||One way||One way J Class charge||Return||Return J Class charge|
|Haneda||11,090||3,500 - 5,900||20,080||same as one way|
|Narita||7,840||1,000 - 8,900||15,680||same as one way|
Taking a JR train from Itami Airport is the easiest way to get to Kyoto Station. You will need to transfer at Osaka. The cheapest pattern is thus:
Itami - JR Takarazuka Line Local for TAKATSUKI - Osaka - JR Special Rapid Service for TSURUGA - 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, fast trains to Kyoto Station like the Limited Express HARUKA take 1 hr 20 min.
|Unreserved seat||2,850||Reserved seat||3,170||Green seat||4,130|
A cheaper slower route from Kansai International Airport to Kyoto might be thus:
Kansai (airport) - JR Kansai Airport Rapid Service for KYOBASHI - Osaka - JR Special Rapid Service for TSURUGA - Kyoto
(1,880 yen / ~ 2 hrs)
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.
|Service||Unreserved seat||Reserved seat||Green seat|
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.
How much does it cost to get back? No special ‘return fares’. 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.
Buses between Tokyo and Kyoto take ~9 hrs (day and night services available). In Tokyo, most departures are from Tokyo and Shinjuku Stations. One way fares start from 3,000 yen. Going up to the 10,000 yen range will buy plenty of comfort.
Willer Express, have plenty of information in English. Below are examples of some of their fares (one way, based on bus/seat type).
|NEW PREMIUM 2 rows||6,480|
|NEW PREMIUM Economy||7,600|
|NEW PREMIUM Single||8,600|
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.
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.
Using local trains to get down to Kyoto will require around 9 hrs (without a break) and some 8,000 yen.
During holiday periods, budget travelers/adventurers can get good value out of the Seishun 18 Kippu. You can travel as far as you can stand on local trains for as little as 2,370 yen. The trip from Tokyo to Kyoto will need a couple of days. See an earlier post about this ticket on City-Cost here.
How much does it cost to drive from Tokyo to Kyoto? Well, expect to pay around ~ 10,000 yen in highway tolls (source: NEXCO). The drive takes about 4 hrs 30 mins for those who know the way. Renting a car isn't necessarily expensive in Japan ... if you return it to where you picked it up. In this case you could get some 12 hours for around 5,000 - 6,000 yen for a compact car. Pick up and drop off at different locations however, and prices soar. Expect to hit around 40,000 yen for a pick up in Tokyo and a drop off in Kyoto on the same day. We looked at Times Car RENTAL.
(NB* This post was updated as of December 2016)
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See our ‘How Much | Travel’ series for more destinations from Tokyo.