This was an excellent tour. Kyoto is a quaint city in some respects but unless you are prepared to really study the history and spend some serious time walking and taking the metro, you won't see these sites with this much information and this efficiently. The guide was excellent. All of the stops were extremely interesting and the guide explained all of the history. The time allotment was good. We traveled with kids (7 and 14) and they were interested in everything. Beware that if you have those who cannot climb a lot of stairs or walk an incline at the last stop, Kiyomizu Temple, they may have to wait at the bottom. It is an inclined road, leading to a lot of stairs with a very large and interesting complex at the top. The view is incredible and the site very interesting so don't skip it if you can handle the stairs. There is great shopping on the small streets below if you want to leave the tour there and make your way back to your hotel on your own. The last stop is right next to the Gion District. Our hotel was there so we shopped, tested sake, ate green tea ice cream and slowly walked back to our hotel. All other stops were fine for those with moderate walking ability.
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.
Excellent tour, all of it is worth it. The last area visited for the Kiyomizu temple was amazing and the tour guide was wonderful.
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.
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.
Our all day tour of Kyoto was informative and interesting. We visited many sites and were fortunate enough to walk through the grounds of the Imperial Palace, which I understand is open only a few times a year. Our tour guide, I belive his name was Casey, made the tour fun and gave us so many interesting tips.
It rained in the afternoon which made the traffic so heavy so we had difficulty driving up to Kiyomizu Temple. By the time we got there is was getting dark so did not get to see much of it.
Our lunch break was too long which cut our tour shorter and would recommend that you make it shorter. Other than that, the tour was good and I would recommend it to friends.
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.
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