This was our third Viator tour on this trip. We were picked up in Kyoto at the hotel we stayed at (New Miyako); again, very convenient. Our tour guide, Yoshi, was the best of the trip...very knowledegable and funny. Niho Castle was the highlight of the tour and it worth the trip--awesome. Heian Shrine was next and was a very spiritual place, again, worth the visit. From there, we visited the Golden Pavilion and got some great pics and good luck charms. We stopped for lunch at a restaurant (part of the tour) and had a great traditional lunch, shabu-shabu style. After this, we got back on the bus but were again plagued by the bus' inadequate AC, as it got hot and humid outside. The entire tour group resorted to opening the windows and braving the stickiness rather than the oven it had become inside. Our next stop was the imperial palace replica. It was immense and provided stunning pics and memories. Kiyomizu temple was out last stop. The shopping on the road up to the temple was another major attraction, here. At the conclusion of the tour, we were returned to our hotel at approx. 5pm, so we still had time to walk around Kyoto! Don't miss this one--imo its a good investment in time and money for what you get--experience this important area's major sites, explained by an expert, eat great local food, excellent shopping opportunities, and convenient pickup/drop-off. We'll do this one again, someday.
Our guide was excellent. Sanjusendo and the Kiyomizu temple were multi-faceted and well worth the time spent visiting them. The Heian shrine was, likewise, interesting.
Tour was good for an overview of Kyoto. Enjoyed: Nijo Castle, Golden Pavilion, Sanju-Sangendo Hall, and Kiyomizu Temple. Disappointed with Imperial Palace since only got to walk on the outside. Would have skipped Heian Shrine and used that extra time at Kiyomizu Temple instead. Didn't have enough time at Kiyomizu Temple to really enjoy it. Lunch wasn't filling enough. Tour guides were great and friendly.
Very good tour. Loved seeing Kinkakuji, Nijo Castle and Kiyomize Temple again. Didn't understand why Heian Shrine was included. Aren't there more historical sites? Also didn't understand why Kiyomizu was in the afternoon when it was the hottest time of day.
We only had a day to spend in Kyoto, and this tour allowed us to see the highlights of the city in a short time span. We specially liked the Kiyomizu Temple with its quaint street shops and fantastic view. The Heian Shrine was also captivating for its gardens, which we learned from our lively tour guide was also the setting for Memoirs of a Geisha. But I would have to say that what made this tour really special was the extra mile our tour guide took to make our sightseeing memorable. Our party had wanted to see the Gion district after the tour had ended, and had asked him to drop us off somewhere near the area. Not only did he do that, he also personally went with us to show us the side streets and points of interests in the area. In this case, what made the difference from numerous other tours is his personal touch and his generosity with his time. Thanks!!
Unfortunately, the Heian Shrine was open to all, so it was extremely crowded. There were too many people on the tour, so individuals got lost and time was wasted waiting for them. Sanjusangendo was magnificent and needed more time than we had. Kiyomizu Temple was fascinating but needed more time. The guide was good, but with too many people was really not able to cope and give all the information we wanted. The tour needs to be for no more than 30 people.
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