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You cant ask for more! The Kyoto tour was very good! I am amazed at the effortless experience these tour operators provide us with meticulous planning!! The full day tour included the most important places out of the innumerable historical places in Kyoto. English speaking enthusiastic guide gave basic information of Japan and Kyoto in a lighter vein. We had 45 mins stop for most places that included Nijo Castle, Kinkaku-ji Temple, Buddhist temple of Sanju-Sangendo Hall and the Kiyomizu Temple that offered panoramic views of Kyoto. Kiyomizu being the last stop, we left the tour to soak in the environment. I would have liked more time in each place but that is the compromise you need to do.
All in all, a great way to see Kyoto if you only have a day. Our guide was great fun and very helpful. The most impressive place was by far the Kiyomizu-dera temple complex.
A perfect introduction to the most spectacular temples and shrines in my favorite city in all of Asia. Kiyomizu is a must-see especially for the first timer in Kyoto.
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.
Pacheco Ohana USA
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.
Francisco G USA
Excellent tour, all of it is worth it. The last area visited for the Kiyomizu temple was amazing and the tour guide was wonderful.
Kaylene W Singapore
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.
Adam C USA
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.
Michael P USA
Kiyomizu Temple was our favorite.
Margaret T Australia
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.
The guide was knowledgeable and congenial. We did not go to the Imperial Palace. We were told it was closed since the day before was a holiday Sports Day. We took a tour bus to Nijo Castle, which was the former center of the shogun's rule before he returned power to the emperor in 1866. It has several buildings and extensive gardens. The buildings are known for the artwork inside on the walls, ceilings, and sliding screens. The building is also know for the nightingale floors, which chirp when walked on. With a tour group, the was a lot of chirping. No photos were allowed inside. We had to take off our shoes as well. My husband wears special orthopedic shoes, so he toured the gardens while we toured the castle. We later found out he could have used shoe booties like shower caps for shoes. The castle was undergoing renovations, but it did not affect the interiors or the gardens. We were able to buy a booklet with photos of the interiors. Next the bus took us to another temple Nishi Honganji, I think, then to Kinkaku-ji Buddhist Temple Golden Pavilion. The bus parking was near the lake. Across the lake is the temple, so you can admire its reflection on the lake. Then we walked around the lake to the other side where the temple was, but it was not open for visitors, so we continued around the lake and through the greenery to a pathway to a small shrine and then back to the parking lot.
The bus then took us to the Kyoto Handicraft Center where we were able to browse until lunch. The Center has two buildings. The first building has armor, ornamental swords, fans, dolls, jewelry, and more. Upstairs is where lunch was provided, in two shifts. The second building has books, postcards, and souvenirs. Lunch was cafeteria style and included fried chicken, a hot dog/sausage without bun, French fries, noodles, rice, soup, and soft drinks.
The afternoon tour took us to the Heian Shrine Shinto Shrine first. This is a place where people go to ask the spirits for good fortune. It was built as a replica of the Kyoto Imperial Castle, so the architecture is beautiful and it has gardens around it. Next we went to Sanju Sangendo Buddhist Temple, which has the 1,000 life size statues of Sanju Kannon Buddhist deity. Each statue has 40 arms and each arm has 25 eyes in the hands, so they each have 1,000 ways of seeing. There is an 11-foot tall Sanju Kannon in the middle and there are 28 statues of guardian deities. No photos were allowed inside and we had to take our shoes off, but here we were provided with shoe booties for my husband. We were able to buy a booklet with photos of the inside. Then we went to Kiyomizu Buddhist Temple. The bus parked in a lot at the foot of the street leading to the temple. The street goes uphill to the temple steps and was jampacked with people, with stores lining both sides of the street all the way to the temple steps and several shrines. Once at the temple steps, the crowds were less. The temple is open to anyone and has a vista over Kyoto. Behind the temple is a terrace with steps leading downhill to a waterfall and eventually a pagoda, but we didn't have time to go there. After leaving the temple, the bus took us back to our starting point next to Kyoto Station.
We enjoyed both tours. Some places we would have liked to linger for longer, but in a quick tour like this there really isn't time. The lunch was good and the Handicraft Center was an interesting place. Not knowing much about Kyoto, we found it helpful to pick up booklets along the way to help fill in the gaps - otherwise we would have a hard remembering which place was which.
Could have been a five star but crush of crowds in afternoon at Kiyomizu due to Sakura was scary. Plus it took away from time that could have been spent enjoying the temple. Maybe it would have been better to switch the morning tour itinerary with afternoon during Sakura blooms.
Really great tour, wish I had more time. The spots chosen for the tour are all interesting and beautiful, particularly if you are appreciative of both culture and natural beauty. The guides were friendly and informative. I was particularly appreciative of the guide on our afternoon tour. She was a retired primary school teacher and did a very good job and used lots of visual props you could see the teaching coming out. I just wish that there has been more time at each of the stops, particularly the Golden Pavilion and the Kiyomizu Temple and then this would be a 5 star rating. I had a short time in Kyoto. If I had stayed longer, this would have been a good prompt to go back to a number of places and spend more time taking in the beauty.
Kyoto is a beautiful city with so much to see and take in, and in a sense I had the feeling that this particular tour tried to cover too much ground for just one day. You would go to one UNESCO world heritage site take a look around and immediately be on route to the next one. the full-day tour is even comprised to two separate tours, the morning half-day and the afternoon half-day which further added to the fractured atmosphere.
The lunch was also rather disappointing by Japanese cooking standards the saving grace of the day however was kiyomizudera.right at the end. The perfect place to take a pic from up high of the whole city and pick up yatsuhashi omiage. The shop-lined streets and geisha-clad tourists added to the ambience and was a highlight not just of this tour but of my vacation as a whole.
Really good tour. Our guide, Mariko, had strong English which was really helpful. Construction going on in Nijo Castle and Kiyomizu at the moment which while unavoidable was a bit of a shame. Tour was enjoyable and would recommend it as one of the easier ways to see what Kyoto has to offer. Bear in mind though, it felt rushed at parts so if you have two days in Kyoto it might be worth doing the tour on the first and using the second to go back to the places that you liked.
The tour was a Great way to GET to Know Kyoto i only Wish we had a bit more time to visit the Kiyomizu area Since it was a highlight for us. The tour guide was very knowledgeable and helpful when it came to recommandations. We were a little disappointed With the lunch but over all would recommend!
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.
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.
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