Last week, Frank and I visited Osaka and Kyoto for two days each, Osaka on Thursday and Friday, followed by Kyoto on Saturday and Sunday.
Mode of Travel
Tokyo to Osaka: Overnight bus booked via kosoku.com. It takes about 6 hours on a bus from Tokyo to Osaka. Price varies between 2000yen to 10000yen ($25 SGD to $125 SGD, yes the variance is very big). Our trip was between midnight to about 6am, and we both managed to get some sleep on the bus. I feel that it is the most economical option for long distance travel (compared to Shinkansen). It also allows us to start the day early the next morning.
Osaka to Kyoto: Regular train service, payment through Pasmo card (Ez-link equivalent in Japan. Haven’t tried the other cards like Suika but they should be okay as well). Price was about 1000yen ($12 SGD), price will vary depending on how many times you change trains between your accommodations in Osaka and Kyoto.
Kyoto to Tokyo: Overnight bus booked via kosoku.com again. Also about 6 hours, price also varies between 2000yen to 10000yen. Our trip was between 11pm to about 5am, and yes it was pretty sleep conducive. Allowed us to save a night of accommodation.
Tip for Osaka
The Osaka Amazing Pass. If you visit Osaka, this is the number one recommendation I have to give. It costs 2700yen ($34 SGD) for a single day pass, and 3600yen ($45 SGD) for a two-day pass. Since we only discovered it on Thursday night, we purchased a single day pass for Friday. We purchased it via Klook, and picked up our pass at a Tourist Information center in Osaka. It allows you to take unlimited rides on both buses and trains on the Osaka lines (JR lines are not included, but the Osaka lines can get you pretty much everywhere you need to go to in Osaka. We didn’t use buses). It gives you free entry to 40 sightseeing spots as well as discounts and benefits at other spots. (We skipped queues for some stuff!) It comes with a handy booklet showing you where you can visit with the pass. In other words, you don’t have to do so much research prior to visiting. Just pick up the pass and booklet, take some time to read it and make your plans with the suggestions on the day itself! Depending on your travel style, you may or may not find this a good idea but to me, it’s perfect. Once again, it’s called the Osaka Amazing Pass. Google it!
Tip for Kyoto
In our experience, we used buses much more than trains in Kyoto. Most buses within Kyoto run by flat fares. Whether you take a single stop or from one end to the other, it costs 230 yen for an adult ($2.90 SGD). You can pay by Pasmo (Haven’t tried the other cards like Suika, but it should be okay), or via coins in exact change. If you don’t have exact change, there’s a handy change machine at the front of the bus that allows you to change coins. Try to do it before you reach your stop though, so you don’t block the crowd exiting the bus. Okay that was a long preamble. The tip is, get the Kyoto City Bus Pass! There are various permutations. There are one-day and two-day passes, and passes for buses only, trains only or both buses and trains. They basically give you unlimited rides for bus and/or train rides. We found this out on Saturday, so we bought a one-day pass for Buses only for Sunday. That costs 600yen ($7.50 SGD). As long as you take 3 bus rides or more, it is worth it. They can be purchased at a ticket counter in the main Kyoto Station.
TLDR: Google Osaka Amazing Pass if you are going to Osaka. Google Kyoto City Bus and Subway Pass if you are going to Kyoto. Great money savers.
Whew, the tip section ran longer than I expected. My opinions on the two places? Osaka is great for good food, and Kyoto is great for visiting temples (Although it gets quite pricey since each temple’s entrance fee is somewhere between 400 to 600yen). I’ll let the pictures do the talking from here. These places are Google Maps-able, so you can look them up yourself!
Day 1: Osaka, Thursday
Day 2: Osaka, Friday
Day 3: Kyoto, Saturday
Day 4: Kyoto, Sunday
Okay, that about sums up the trip Frank and I had to Osaka and Kyoto. Until next time!