I rarely run tourist photos on Head for Points – it isn’t what we do. However, as a counterpart to my review of The Ritz-Carlton Kyoto today, I thought it was worth an extra 4th article with a few shots from our 48 hours in the city.
Feel free to ignore if you’re not interested!
The fastest bullet train services from Tokyo take 2 hours and 15 minutes. The train tickets are eye wateringly expensive however – close to £1,000 return for two children and two adults in ‘Green Car’ business class.
You can use the Japan Rail Pass but if your only trip is Tokyo-Kyoto then it isn’t worth it, especially as the fastest bullet trains are exempt. We also saw long lines at Rail Pass counters at stations for people looking to reserve seats.
There are taxi ranks at the major Kyoto temples so it is easy to get around the key sites. Some are also accessible by metro and tram or on foot from the centre.
English seemed more widely spoken than it did on my two previous trips to Japan, which were probably 10 and 20 years ago. Railway stations and the like are effectively multi-lingual and you won’t struggle. There is now an Oyster card-equivalent for the subway in Tokyo and Kyoto which makes life easier and saves you spending time at the ‘Fare Adjustment Machine’ each time.
It is definitely somewhere you should visit once. Avios availability to Tokyo on BA is difficult to get if you have a 2-4-1 voucher, but Seoul (a 2 hour connection via JAL which can be done on Avios) always has seats. If you don’t have a 2-4-1 voucher, you have additional options – JAL direct from Heathrow, Finnair with a change in Helsinki or Qatar with a change in Doha. You can even route yourself via Moscow (on BA) with a connection to JAL.
Alternatively, a routing like our Hong Kong to Tokyo to Kyoto (rail) to Beijing one gives you some extra variety. I would recommend Shanghai instead of Beijing but we had personal reasons for going through there on the way home.