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-   -   2 full days in Kyoto - go to Nara? (https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/japan/1474918-2-full-days-kyoto-go-nara.html)

RhubarbPie Jun 10, 13 10:17 pm

2 full days in Kyoto - go to Nara?
 
Hi folks -

I'm going to Kyoto for the first time with my husband (he has been to Kyoto multiple times) and my folks in August. We'll arrive Saturday evening (probably only with enough time and energy to grab dinner), have Sunday and Monday in Kyoto, and then head to Tokyo on Tuesday afternoon.

We are arranging private tours and are just wondering if it would be recommended to stay/tour in Kyoto for the entire 2 days? The other option is to do a 6 hour tour of Kyoto on Sunday (plus dinner and exploration on our own, prob in Gion Sunday night), and then do a 6 hour Nara day tour on Monday, and then an hour and a halfish nighttime walking tour of Gion on Monday night.

Any suggestions? I wish we had maybe one more day in Kyoto but my parents are coming to Korea, and then they really wanted to go to Hong Kong, and of course they wanted to get to Tokyo for a few days as well, all within 2 weeks. So the planning just worked out that we'd only have 2 days in Kyoto. Any ideas or suggestions are really much appreciated!

5khours Jun 11, 13 12:32 am

I would do the Nara trip especially to see Horyuji and Toshodaiji (not technically Nara).

snuggliestbear Jun 11, 13 8:25 am

That seems kind of tight to me. If I remember correctly it takes at least an hour to get between Kyoto and Nara. There is a lot to see and do in Kyoto and I think there will probably be more to do than what you have time for.

Zarf4 Jun 11, 13 10:47 am

My recommendation would be to do the guided tour of Kyoto first. If there are any absolute must-do's remaining you have the option of staying for the second day. There are beautiful places, but I tend to get a bit of temple fatigue after seeing four or five of them & appreciate the trip to Nara just to see the deer and take in the beauty of the country.

abacaxi Jun 11, 13 11:41 am

If you're visiting Nara, keep your eyes open for the tour information desk in JR station. When we visited, an English-speaking employee was there and quickly offered the services of an English-speaking guide. Without the guide, one temple would have looked like the next.
Cost? The price of soba at one of the shops at the end of the tour.

Pureboy Jun 11, 13 12:47 pm

You can skip Nara and easily fill 2 days in Kyoto with only the best sights, or short-change Kyoto by a day and have a great full day in Nara. Either one is certainly valid. Since your husband has been to Kyoto multiple times, I'd find out if he'd rather spend a day in Nara and see new things rather than revisit places he's already been for a second day in Kyoto.

I understand taking a guided tour of Kyoto since things are spread apart, public transport is tough, and there is a lot of culture and history to cover. Most of the Nara sights are in and around a large park within walking distance from the station, so unless you'd like specific information about each temple and shrine that you can't get in a guidebook, I don't think a guided tour is necessary.

ksandness Jun 11, 13 3:33 pm

Whatever you do, I would suggest a little advance reading on Japanese history and Buddhism before going to either city. It will make your visit more meaningful and lessen "temple fatigue."

One of the best sources is a now otherwise outdated guidebook (don't believe either the restaurant and hotel listings or the prices!) called Gateway to Japan. Its sections on traditional Japanese culture and history are excellent, however, down to the point of explaining the different representations of the Buddha and who all those other figures in temple art are.

Once you've read up on both cities, you'll be better able to make a decision.

If you're going in August, be aware that it's miserably hot in Kyoto at that time of year, since the city is surrounded by hills on three sides and there's no breeze to drive away the intense humidity. Dress in loose, breathable clothing, take plenty of breaks, and at the first hint of headache or nausea, go to an air-conditioned place, sip cold non-alcoholic beverages, and wipe your face with cold water if you can.

5khours Jun 11, 13 8:35 pm


Originally Posted by ksandness (Post 20905347)
One of the best sources is a now otherwise outdated guidebook (don't believe either the restaurant and hotel listings or the prices!) called Gateway to Japan. Its sections on traditional Japanese culture and history are excellent, however, down to the point of explaining the different representations of the Buddha and who all those other figures in temple art are.

"Kyoto: A Contemplative Guide" is also a good book.

RhubarbPie Jun 11, 13 10:04 pm

Thanks everyone for all of these awesome suggestions and tips. I think we will head to Nara for the 2nd day. From what everyone is saying, and from the research I've done, it seems like you can't go wrong either way.

I have heard that the heat is oppressive in the summer (I've been in Korea this time of year and it really is hot so I'm assuming it will be a similar climate). Hoping it won't spoil our trip. Definitely wishing the Hyatt in Kyoto had a pool. And will be sure to stay hydrated! Thanks folks :)

snuggliestbear Jun 12, 13 7:37 am


Originally Posted by RhubarbPie (Post 20907110)
Thanks everyone for all of these awesome suggestions and tips. I think we will head to Nara for the 2nd day. From what everyone is saying, and from the research I've done, it seems like you can't go wrong either way.

I have heard that the heat is oppressive in the summer (I've been in Korea this time of year and it really is hot so I'm assuming it will be a similar climate). Hoping it won't spoil our trip. Definitely wishing the Hyatt in Kyoto had a pool. And will be sure to stay hydrated! Thanks folks :)


When we went last August it was really hot and humid, but we made due and it definitely didn't spoil the trip. Like you said stay hydrated and make good use of all of the vending machines!

We also stayed at the Hyatt in Kyoto on our trip. The hotel is excellent, but it isn't too centrally located. There is a bus stop nearby that you can use to get around much of the city, but if you want to use the trains you'll have to take a 15-20 minute walk.

RhubarbPie Jun 12, 13 3:49 pm


Originally Posted by snuggliestbear (Post 20908715)
When we went last August it was really hot and humid, but we made due and it definitely didn't spoil the trip. Like you said stay hydrated and make good use of all of the vending machines!

We also stayed at the Hyatt in Kyoto on our trip. The hotel is excellent, but it isn't too centrally located. There is a bus stop nearby that you can use to get around much of the city, but if you want to use the trains you'll have to take a 15-20 minute walk.

This is great to hear. I'm so glad the heat didn't make your trip any less great. I've been a little stressed about it, so I'm glad to have firsthand knowledge.

I have heard that about the location. Did you utilize taxis at all? I read that a taxi from the Hyatt to Gion is only around 700 yen, which seems very reasonable to me.

abmj-jr Jun 12, 13 7:36 pm


Originally Posted by RhubarbPie (Post 20911807)
... Did you utilize taxis at all? I read that a taxi from the Hyatt to Gion is only around 700 yen, which seems very reasonable to me.

Taxis in Kyoto and Nara are plentiful, convenient and relatively inexpensive when you figure in No Tipping. In Kyoto, the drivers know all the tourist destinations and many (not all) will speak some English. You can help them if you have some form of flyer or other written paperwork showing the destination you want. Definitely keep a card or brochure from your hotel. Just get in the cab and show it to the driver. Don't open or close the cab door yourself - the driver will do that. In the heat of August, cabs could be a trip saver, getting you around in air conditioned comfort.

mosburger Jun 14, 13 4:01 pm

Concentrate on early morning until 11 am:ish, then have a long, leisurely lunch followed by an afternoon nap. Wake up when you feel like it and extend the day by a post-ofuro evening walk in Gion or the artist's blocks of northern Kyoto.

And please don't put the extra stress of visiting Nara on your shoulders. It might really seem like a good idea now, but the weather will most likely be hot and humid like others have stated. I'd much prefer to head to the mountains surrounding Kyoto and one of the onsen facilities there.

5khours Jun 17, 13 10:00 pm


Originally Posted by mosburger (Post 20924843)
Concentrate on early morning until 11 am:ish, then have a long, leisurely lunch followed by an afternoon nap. Wake up when you feel like it and extend the day by a post-ofuro evening walk in Gion or the artist's blocks of northern Kyoto.

Excellent advice.


And please don't put the extra stress of visiting Nara on your shoulders. It might really seem like a good idea now, but the weather will most likely be hot and humid like others have stated
Bad advice.:)


I'd much prefer to head to the mountains surrounding Kyoto and one of the onsen facilities there.
Good advice. Hieizan is nice.

mosburger Jun 17, 13 10:25 pm


Originally Posted by 5khours (Post 20941582)
Bad advice.:)

Do you really think the deer in Nara are worth sacrificing one of only two days in Kyoto for?


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