Our first trip to Japan including going to Kyoto, Mt. Fuji and Nara along with the bullet train. Our hotel was across the street from the Kyoto rail station and is a five minute walk to the hotel. Our room is nice, but a little to warm at night.The next day, we're off and running by bus to Mt Fuji. The clouds broke away and we were able to see the top of the mountain with snow on it. We received a free bell with a coupon, brings good luck. along the way, the road has section the plays a song to U.Lunch was next. we tried the veg menu. Very good and different for us as we are not veg eating normally. After lunch, a short ride to the boat on the river. 15 min ride. We next take the tram to the top of the mountain and a great view. Here we head off to catch the bullet train and Kyoto. Personal guides meet you at station to be sure you are on the right train and how many stops you must go. the same going back to Tokyo two days later.The next day is also a busy day. If you are not use to doing a lot of walking, it may be to much for you. We only walked into the garden, but couldn't go up and down the stairs. Next was lunch. If you are one of the late ones going in at the restaurant the line can be long. two bus loads were here and the line is not moving very fast. By the time we got our meals, we had maybe 25 to 30 mins before are going for the afternoon tour. We saw deer running wild at Nara. Our guide would hold food out to the deer and have bow to us. We opted out at the last stop. my poor feet couldn't make it anymore.We got back to the hotel around 6:30. We left around eight that morning, so it can be a long day for some, but not all. If you tire easily like I did, look into half day tours instead.The last day we meet with a friend at the train station. We checked at the hotel the best way to go to the bamboo gardens. The JR train was the best bet. At y230 per person and a fifteen minute ride. It was about fifteen minutes to walk to the gardens and the walkway is well marked. I would suggest this as place to visit. Many sights to see along here. When we got to the top of the hill, our friend walked down a path and found a tourist train that we could ride. 25 minute ride, great views of the river, trees and some fall colors starting to come in. At the second stop, you get off and walk another fifteen minutes to the JR train station. The cost Y340 is the fare back to the last stop in Kyoto. We enjoy our dinner in the train station.
This was a busy trip! The guides for all parts of this journey were excellent. While on the bus, they gave information about where we were going, the areas we were passing through, and sights along the way. While at the various locations, they did a great job with explaining the layout of the place, the history of the place, and tips about how to get around the place. There were a lot of moving parts with this trip, between getting picked up on day 1 and 2, having to get back on the bus at a certain time after free time at the sight, and the traveling via shinkansen to Kyoto. There was always someone at the location we were at, so I never felt lost at all, even when I was transferring trains in between Mt. Fuji and Kyoto. It was a 100 worry-free trip on my part because they took care of everything else. The guides always took the time to talk to us on the bus if we had any questions about how we were getting to the next location when this phase of the tour ended. This tour was actually a combination of 3 tours, with different people's trips ending or starting at different times, but it was all done so smoothly that you didn't really notice it. There was free time at each sight after the guided tour part, but since we were visiting many locations each day, it wasn't as much free time as you would have if you were visiting somewhere at your own pace. Sometimes you did wish you could have more time at each location.
On the first day, I ended up in Kyoto around 10pm, while the description made it seem like you'd get there early enough to go out and eat somewhere. Instead, I ate dinner at the shinkansen station around 6pm after the Mt. Fuji part of the trip and before boarding the shinkansen.
I got the one-way option because I wanted to wander around Kyoto a bit in the morning before heading back to Tokyo. You could easily stretch that last day into a full day, though, and walk around with a backpack like I did and get a late train into Tokyo. I walked to Kyoto station, got a shinkansen ticket on a machine, and headed back.
Also, if you do get a return train back to Tokyo after the trip, I'd recommend getting off at Shinagawa and transferring to the Yamanote line there if you're going somewhere on the west side of the city, because you don't have to pay any extra fare since it's still a JR line.
I was very impressed with the quality of this tour. It was run so efficiently with attention every little detail. All the staff were so friendly and extremely helpful.
Our tour guidelines, esp Yuki, were amazing. There was someone to guide you at every stop, starting from your hotel lobby and to your return, so you were never left alone to struggle in a foreign country.
I would definitely use this tour again if/when I return back to Japan.
This 3 day tour overall was a fantastic experience. We not only met some great people on the trip from around the world that we became friends with, but what we found to be exceptional was the logistics. All of the transportation and luggage handling from the moment we met our day 1 tour guide to the moment we checked out on day 3 was seamlessly handled and very professional. Along the way, every single train ride, taxi ride, or bus ride was accompanied by a uniform-wearing staff, so there is not one single moment where you felt lost or on your own. They even have someone wait for you as you exit a train to walk you to your next transfer train - for us that was at 10 PM on a Sunday night. Incredible! The sights were fantastic. While we were initially excited to see Mt Fuji, we found it to be mostly OK because it took a lot of driving and you end up only being at the fifth transfer station. So, you only see the top of Mt. Fuji, while the majority of your short 15 minute stop is spent battling tourists in what amounts to a gigantic bathroom and gift shop stop. We thoroughly enjoyed Nara and wish we had another hour to feed the deers that were on the ground. Kyoto was a great city - don't forget to check out Nashiki Market on your own, during free time. If I had one gripe, it's that much of the 3 days were spent travelling, whether on a bus or on a train. While that might be inevitable, I felt like the time spent a each stop was a little short. For example, some gift shop stops or shrine visits were only 10 or 15 minutes long. If you consider that the bus has to first park, and it takes a few minutes to get off the bus, you're only spending 7 or 8 minutes at a stop. Before you get to really get your footing or see anything, you're expected to be back on the bus. Maybe this is a universal downside to all group-style tours? Finally, for hotel choice, I would not recommend choosing the Karasuma Kyoto hotel if you don't like hot rooms. The location of the hotel was fantastic close to Ippudo, NIshiki Market, Tokyu Hands department store however, there is no air conditioning in the room. Each room has a switch that says low-medium-high, but there is not temperature adjustment. The entire hotel is set to one temperature, the front desk explained, and more likely than not it will be blowing hot air or some temperature not to your liking. In our 2 night stay, our room was so hot that I barely slept - it felt like I was in a humid sauna. We met another guest who had exactly the same comments about their room. Otherwise, this is a trip worth taking especially if it is your first visit to each of these locations. The tour certainly takes the thinking and planning out of your hands, and you are guided by some fantastic, nice, and knowledgeable tour guides!
This tour was more than I imagined. We had spectacular weather, beautiful cherry blossom viewing, and terrific information about Japan and its people. The Golden Palace and its beautiful grounds were a high point. Our guides and drivers were expert, and provided wonderful information. We enjoyed the tour tremendously and recommend it to anyone who wants an overview of these cultural treasures.