How to Do 1 Day Trip to Kyoto from Tokyo!

Geisha in Kyoto, pagoda tower

Tokyo and Kyoto are the two most famous cities in Japan, and many tourists visit both cities. Even if you visit only Tokyo for a short period of time, it is still possible to visit Kyoto from Tokyo. In fact, if you have the time it will enrich your experience of Japan. Kyoto and Tokyo are very different cities and with visiting them both you will experience Japan ‘one step deeper’. You might not have thought of it, but you can even visit Kyoto from Tokyo for 1 day.

The easiest way for you would be our day-trip tour from Tokyo to Kyoto. This full-day guided tour allows you to see the best highlights of Kyoto in one day including Kinkakuji Temple (the Golden Pavilion), Fushimi Inari Taisha and Kiyomizudera Temple. The only thing you have to do is get to Kyoto yourself, which we can also arrange for you. But when you have a JR Pass, like many tourist have the Shinkansen in included. Check the link below for more details about the guided day-trip tour to Kyoto from Tokyo!

Kyoto 1–Day Private Walking Tour from Tokyo (8 Hours Tour in Kyoto)

Transportation to Kyoto

There are two options for transportation to get to Kyoto from Tokyo.
1. Shinkansen Bullet Train
2. Night Bus
Let’s check out pros and cons of each one.

Shinkansen Bullet Train: fastest and comfortable

The fastest way to travel to Kyoto from Tokyo is by Shinkansen. The fastest Shinkansen called “Nozomi” takes about 2,5 hrs and costs ¥13.080 yen per person for one way. The Nozomi, however, is not covered by the JR Rail Pass. When you have JR Rail Pass, it is better to take the second fastest Shinkansen “Hikari”. Hikari will get to to Kyoto in about 3 hrs with no extra charge! You can either board the Shinkansen at Tokyo station or Shinawaga station.

Our tips for the Bullet Train ride:
・From Tokyo to Kyoto: Reserve the seat E because you can see Mt. Fuji from the seat window on a sunny day. Mt. Fuji appears 40 mins after the departure of Tokyo.
・Tokyo station: Buy a Bento lunch box. There is a great variety of unique lunch boxes sold here and you can enjoy them during Shinkansen ride!

Bus: cheapest

The cheaper way is taking a bus, especially the overnight bus. If you take a night bus, departure time from Tokyo is around 10 – 11pm, then arriving time in Kyoto is 6 – 7 am.

The price varies on days. It costs usually between ¥1.700 and ¥6.000. The price may be higher on weekends and during the holiday season of Japan.

Recommended bus companies:
Willer Express ¥4.000
VIP liner ¥4.000
Sakura Kanko bus ¥1.700

Recommended itinerary for a day-trip to Kyoto from Tokyo

 1. Comfortable plan: Bullet Train round-trip

Transportation fee: approx. ¥ 26.000

08:00 – 11:00 Bullet train from Tokyo to Kyoto
11:00 – 18:00 Sightseeing in Kyoto for 7 hours – (Please check Kyoto itinerary here.)
18:00 – 21:00 Bullet train from Kyoto to Tokyo

Recommended hotels close to Tokyo station (Luxe and First Class)

The Tokyo Station Hotel
Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Marunouchi
Shangri-La Hotel, Tokyo

 2. KYOTO make the most out of your day: Go by Bullet train and return by night bus

Transportation fee: approx. ¥ 15.000 – ¥ 20.000

08:00 – 11:00 Bullet train from Tokyo to Kyoto
11:00 – 08:00 Sightseeing in Kyoto for 7 hours – (Please check Kyoto itinerary here)
18:00 – 22:00 Enjoy dinner and night activity in Kyoto
23:00 – 06:30 Back to Tokyo by night bus

Recommended budget hotels in Akihabara station – easy access to Tokyo station’s bus terminal.

GRIDS AKIHABARA
First Cabin Akihabara
Glansit Akihabara

3. BUDGET PLAN: Roundtrip by night bus

Transportation fee: approx. ¥ 4.000 – ¥ 12.000

23:00 – 06:30 Go to Kyoto by night bus
06:30 – 08:00 Arrive in Kyoto and have breakfast
08:00 – 18:00 Sightseeing in Kyoto for 10 hours – (Kyoto one day itinerary)
18:00 – 22:00 Enjoy dinner and night activity in Kyoto
23:00 – 06:30 Back to Tokyo by night bus

Comparative Table

Transportation Price Duration Departure station
Bullet Train Non reserved seat ¥13.080
Regular reserved seat ¥13.910
Green Car reserved seat(1st class): ¥18.690 yen
2,5 hours JR Tokyo/ Shinagawa station
Night Bus ¥1.700 – ¥6.000 about 7 hours Busta Shinjuku
Tokyo station Bus Terminal

To get most out of your visit to Kyoto, we recommend you to take a guided tour so you can see around Kyoto efficiently, especially when you are there for a short time! The local guide will tell you more about the history and culture of Kyoto. We offer many different tours in Kyoto, below the two most popular, please check them out!

Food Tour: Kyoto FooDrink Tour – Nishiki Street & Gion
Private Tour: Kyoto 4 Hour HIGHLIGHT Private Walking Tour

What is your preferred mode of traveling? If you have your JR Rail Pass, the Shinkansen will probably be your best option – it is already included in the price. Otherwise the (much) cheaper night bus is a great alternative. Recently is has become much more comfortable than before so it is definitely a great option to go to Kyoto!

If you want some advice, please feel free to ask us
Contact Japan Wonder Travel

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19 Comments

  1. Hi there! Thank you for the tip on this page! May I please ask if it’s advisable to take the Hikari there and back? And by what time should we take the Hikari at night?

    Thank you!

    • Hi Vivian-san,
      Thank you for your inquiry. Of course you could use Hikari between Tokyo and Kyoto.
      You could use Hikari with JR rail pass.
      Then last train is about 8pm between Tokyo and Kyoto.(It takes about 3 hours.)
      If you have any question, please feel free to let us know.

      Best regards,
      Yu

  2. Hi.. in regards to the bus.. is it safe for non- Japanese speaking passengers? Is it comfortable? How do I get more details on the bus? I’m flying in to Haneda.. how do I go by bus from there?

    • Hi Husna-san,
      Yes it’s safe for non-Japanese speaking passengers. I used bus last month, some non Japanese speaking passengers were in bus.
      3 seat-row is comfortable, 4 seat-row is bit tight, I think.

      Please check bus’s company page. From airport, there is an airport limousine bus to Shinjuku bus terminal.

  3. Hello! Would it be worth buying a JR pass just for this one day trip, as I am based in Tokyo and will only do one trip outside of Tokyo due to time. I’ve heard a return trip on the bullet train is as expensive as a JR Pass.

  4. Don’t use the night bus if you’re claustrophobic, afraid of the dark, or need to look out of the window when you travel. The entire seated area is boxed off with curtains (you can’t see out of the windshield in front either), lights are not allowed, opening the curtains is not allowed. It’s supposed to create a relaxed environment but there’s nothing much relaxed about it. They’ve been pretty strict when I’ve tried to see where I’m going.

  5. Hi Yu,

    Thanks for your article! We will take the night bus from Kyoto to Tokyo, arriving around 7:00 in the morning. But the hotel does not accept baggage deposit and we can not check in before 15:00. Are there places where we can “crash” with our luggages and wait/rest a bit until we can check in?

  6. Hi, of using bus, do you think 1 full day (10 hrs) is enough to tour Kyoto and Nara including travel time in between? What’s the travel duration? Thanks!

    • @Leah-san,
      Thank you for your comment.
      From Kyoto to Nara it takes about 1 hour. And you should spend at least 4 hours in Nara.
      We think it’s not enough for 10 hours in Kyoto and Nara.
      If you only have 10 hours, you should spend only in Kyoto!!
      Have a nice trip!!

  7. Hello!
    What do you mean by “no extra charges” with the Hikari train if we use a JR Pass? Does it mean once we purchase a JR Pass, we are able to go inside the train instantly without paying?
    May I also ask how much the discounts are from Kyoto to Tokyo if we have the Pass?
    Thank you!

  8. hi, i will be arriving in Narita airport Tokyo on May 24 at 5pm, i want to go to Kyoto right away overnight bus. How can i get to the Will Express station from the airport?

    • Hello Arcadio Elegado-san,

      Thank you for your comment.
      What’s “the Will Express Station”?
      Willer Express bus station in Shinjuku?

      You need take NEX(Narita Express: JR train) or Air Port Limousine bus from Narita to Shinjuku station.

  9. Hello!

    Is it possible to buy a return ticket for the bulletin train to Kyoto, or do you purchase two separate tickets for Tokyo-Kyoto Kyoto-Tokyo?

    Thank you!

    Robyn

    • Hi Robyn,

      You will need to buy two one-way tickets for the Shinkansen. Let us know if you have more questions, happy to help! Enjoy your trip!

      JWT Team

  10. Tokyo and Kyoto are the two most famous cities in Japan, and many tourists visit both cities. Even if you visit only Tokyo for a short period of time, it is still possible to visit Kyoto from Tokyo.

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