An action packed one day itinerary for culture seekers in the heart of the traditional & beautiful Kyoto, Japan.
The best option is to rent a bicycle. Here is a list of places. Alternatively, there are plenty of bicycle rental hubs located immediately outside of most subway station's (Sanjo is a good choice due to its central location for the sights). Click the English option and follow the on screen instructions to get one at the machine. You are charged when you return the bike and complete the on screen check in.
Price : 1000 yen per day ($13)
Bus : 220 yen per trip ($3)
2. Kinkakuji (Golden Pavilion)
This is probably the farthest temple from Kyoto station. Located towards the North West of Kyoto, it may take you a while to cycle towards. However, the Kamagowa river runs almost all the way and has a cycle path which makes for a pleasant and flat ride. A couple of blocks to the left of Sanjo is the imperial palace and the royal grounds if you wish to stop off. Much like most things in Kyoto, the temple has burnt down several times, most recently because of a fanatic monk. Be sure to try the green tea ice-cream for 200 yen. On your way back towards Sanjo you can work in at least two other points of interest with shrines and Zen temples on both sides of the roads becoming quite common..
Entrance fee : 500 yen ($6)
3. Nijo - Jo Castle
After a short while heading south from Kinkakuji you'll reach Nijo-jo castle. The castle has unsurprisingly been burnt down a number of times with the most recent being in 1890. Parts of the building were actually moved here from another location in the 1600's. The grounds are huge and it'll take you a while to wander.
The floor is interestingly designed in that it purposefully creaks to raise awareness of intruders. Regardless, you don't have the opportunity to test it out due to the large footfall accompanying you through the corridors. There is also a tea garden located behind the palace. (an additional 700 yen - $9) Here you can partake in the traditional tea ceremony which overlooks a lily pond.
Entrance fee : 500 yen ($6)
4. Kiyomizu dera
Arguably the most famous and certainly one of the most visited of all the temples in not just Kyoto, but all of Japan. The name given to this temple translates as pure water due to it's natural spring it sits upon. It's traditional wooden walls jut out over the cliff side contrasting with the modern up rises of Kyoto in the background. Sunset makes for an excellent photo as does a visit during spring or fall due to the cherry blossom and changing leaf colours. Head back down the hill and into the busy narrow street. Take your time and browse the shops, all of which are selling local goods and souvenirs. The samurai sword shop is particularly impressive.
Entrance fee: 600 yen ($7)
Free wheel down the rest of the hill and enjoy the last bit of daylight as it flickers over Kyoto. Cycle towards the river and head north until you reach Zaimokucho. You'll be greeted by a plethora of restaurants and bars as well as waitresses trying to entice you into them all. Park up your bike and choose a lively looking restaurant before finishing off the evening by looking over your pictures with a few beers, some sake and a good quality meal.
Travel tip shared by Ladventurers