Tour is a bit pricey. However, if you are in Kansai for a short trip, would recommend this, as its impossible to travel so many places on your own. We did not follow the grp back to hotel as we decided to walk from Kiyomizu temple to Gion area. Very walkable. In addition, if you need to catch the bus back to the hotel, you will find that you do not have enough time at Kiyomuzu temple. There is a street of snacks and gift s you can buy. Stopped over for a bowl of kyoto udon as well!.. nice
As the different historical sites in Kyoto are not within walking distance of each other, unless you're a confident cyclist, a full day organised tour is a good idea. The guide we had was excellent. She spoke English well, was helpful and knowledgeable about the different sites. The Japanese-Chinese buffet lunch was nice and a quick visit of Kyoto handicraft centre allowed us to purchase some different souvenirs in one place albeit a little pricey. Ninjo Castle and Kiyomizu temples are definite must-sees.
Bottom line there is no way you could hit this many great sights on your own, unless you were a local. Many of the sights require reservations and other hassles to get into - the tour bypasses all that. Pros great sights, tour guide speaks good English, gives you a good 'sampler platter' of Kyoto. Cons mediocre lunch as expected, a bit too much time at the Handicraft Center, which is just where you can buy your tourist junk. Tips if you like lovely streets, don't take the bus back to your hotel at the end of the tour. Instead, walk down the shopping street at the base of Kiyomizu temple, then go to Ninnen-zaka and Sannen-zaka, two beautiful restored streets. You can walk to Gion from here in about 30 mins. The Southern Higashiyama Walking Tour in Lonely Planet's Japan book explains further or just ask your tour guide - they'll know what I'm talking about.
Kiyomizu Temple was our favorite.
The Golden Pavilion shone in the sun and with the lake in the foreground to give a reflection in the water -- it was a photographer's delight. Our guide told us of the purpose of each room in the Niji Castle which gave meaning to what we were seeing. Of course the the 1,000 images at Sanjusangendo was impressive. The serenity of the Kiyomizu Temple and its surrounding gardens made me feel I could stay there forever it was the most beautiful place.
If like us you are time limited, this is a good tour to do. We did think that it was somewhat unbalanced with the places in the morning feeling rather rushed as they warranted more time whilst the pm session could have been better paced with more time at Kiyomizu. The morning tour guide was excellent: very informative and with very good English. Our lady in the afternoon was very pleasant but seemed less assured and was thrown by the traffic problems at Kiyomizu. Lunch was rather chaotic and the serving staff should have organised it more effectively. That being said, we thought the food was excellent, and plenty of it so that it definitely made the whole day tour good value.
The tour guide was given a very detail and clear explanation. But due to tracffic issue, the time spend at Kiyomizu Temple was too short. So end up it was quite rush during visit to Kiyomizu Temple.
The three sites are historical and terrific in the evening with maples trees, but the time staying in Kiyomizu Temple was too short. The tourist guide was responsible and humurous with a high standard of spoken English.
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.
Experience was amazing! The scenery at Kiyomizu Temple was just breath taking. Sadly, we ran out of time to properly experience everything to its full potential.
This tour was a great way to cover the really beautiful sights of Kyoto - especially the Golden Pavilion! Both our guides for the day were friendly, helpful and informative. The last stop at Kiyomizu felt like you needed more time because the souvenir shops and the ice cream and candy stalls here are amazing. I would see if I could leave the tour here and find my own way back.
The best part of the tour was the transportation and Kiyomizu Temple. Definitely worth doing it. Thank you!
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!!
Great tour, places chosen were worth seeing, although I had already seen Kiyomizu Temple the night before without knowing it...but nice to see it during the day.
This was an interesting and varied tour. Kiyomizu Temple has terrific city views and Sanjusangendo is different from anything else we saw on our trip. If you have the time, it's worth the visit.
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