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Immerse yourself in the cultural and architectural splendor of Kyoto on this private 7-hour tour, ideal for first-time visitors. Choose from two different routes, both of which cover major Kyoto attractions including Nijo Castle and Kiyomizu Temple, and explore the city with a personal guide. On the northwest-bound route, you’ll visit the Golden Pavilion, Nishiki Food Market, and the bamboo groves of Arashiyama Park. Alternatively, the southeast course covers the Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kiyomizu Temple, and the Gion area. Receive undivided attention from your guide on this private tour.
Regardless of the itinerary chosen, your private tour begins at Hotel Granvia Kyoto near Kyoto Station. From here, you’ll take public transport in order to immerse yourself in local life.
If you’ve opted to follow the northwest-bound itinerary, your first stop is Arashiyama Park — famed for its array of temples and inviting bamboo groves — before proceeding to Japan’s most famous rock garden at Ryoan-ji.
Following a lunch break (own expense), you’ll continue to the Golden Pavillion, a 3-storey pagoda that floats on a lake surrounded by lush forest. Then, choose to visit the culinary wonderland of Nishiki Food Market or Nijo Castle, whose interior walls are adorned with gold leaf and elaborate sketches.
Alternatively, the southeast-bound course gives you the chance to visit Gekkeikan Sake Brewery to discover the secrets behind Japan’s iconic rice wine, and then behold thousands of red tori gates at the Fushimi Inari Shrine, replete with stone foxes and shrines.
See, too, Sanjusangendo temple before revitalizing with lunch at your own expense. Then, you’ll continue to Kiyomizu Temple, a hilltop landmark dating back to the 8th century, before ascending the steep slopes in the Ninenzaka and Sannenzaka neighborhoods for spectacular views.
Both tour options conclude in the Gion area of Kyoto.
Despite the rain, my wife and I had such a good time on this private tour! Our guide took us to all the best sites, provided us with really good background information, and answered every one of our questions. She also took us to a delicious okonomiyaki restaurant, which was a real treat since we got to make it on a grill built into the table. I highly recommend the northwest-bound route to anybody visiting Kyoto!
An excellent day trip with the bonus that it ended up being a true 'private' tour with just me and my husband joining this one on the day whereas normally it is small groups - our guide was excellent in terms of her knowledge and adaptability to small or larger groups as she was heading off to a larger tour that night a real hard worker. We were fortunate that all of the smaller tours we took felt like we were out with friends and we treated it like that - having lunch together and sharing small gifts. Our guide also went above and beyond helping me at the train station and on the phone when I needed to make bookings for upcoming train travel and additional hotel accommodation given that I was having trouble explaining myself fully.
This was a perfect introduction to Kyoto first-time visitors. Our guide Mie was caring, knowledgeable, and professional. We felt like we had a friend showing us around her country. We saw all the highlights listed, plus Mie gave us so much additional information during our in-between travel times. We weren't sure which level of guide to book, and decided on the most experienced for a little extra money. We were very happy with our decision. Thank you, Mie, for a great day!
The tour was absolutely amazing! The sights were great, but what set the tour apart and made it great was the guide. Yuri, our guide, completely exceeded our expectations. She was extremely knowledgeable about the history and significance of all the sights we saw during the tour, but her knowledge and expertise went well beyond. She never tired of our endless questions about Kyoto, Japanese culture and Japanese history. She seemed to be able to answer anything we asked and was constantly enlightening us with fun facts AND doing so in excellent English. In a word, she was outstanding! My only complaint is that we didn't have another day or two in Kyoto to do more tours. Has we had at least one more day I think we would have tried the Southeast tour and we would definitely request Yuri by name. On our Northwest tour we had the option of Nijio Castle or Nishiki Market. We chose the castle and I'm glad we did. It is so nice having a guide with you at the castle explaining the historical significance of what your are seeing. Yuri was nice enough to ride the bus with us to Nishiki Market at the conclusion of our tour. Once she got us there I think we were able to get the flavor of the market without a guide.
Tour takes in a lot, so you dont spend a lot of time at the venues. But you can go back and visit the sites you particularly liked on another day. Lots of good information given while on the bus. Lunch was OK.
Loved this tour! We had an amazing time and an awesome guide! It aws great to be with a person who had such great knowlege and communication skills! She showed us the sights we asked to explore, plus a few others as well. It was nice to have a private tour as well.
We took the North option for our tour. Yumi was our guide and she was awesome. She was very knowledgable on the history of the bamboo forest, the Golden Pavillion, the zen garden, and Nijo Castle. She even took us to a great omurice restaurant for lunch which we loved. We recommend taking private tours like this because they are less rushed and you learn a lot more.
Saw all the important sites - bamboo forest, golden palace, etc - plus cherry blossom was in full bloom. The pace of the tour was good - not too rushed. It was all brought alive by our guide Mia who was well informed and could provide the background story.
Our guide was fabulous and the gardens were BEAUTIFUL
Yuri was our guide on this tour and we had an amazing day. All our entry fees and travel costs were included which was great. We went to Arashimaya Bamboo Grove, Ryoanji Temple, Kinkakuji Temple and Nijo Castle. It was a busy day, but Yuri was extremely organised and our transition from one place to another via public transport was seamless. Her knowledge of the sights was excellent, and we felt so lucky to see so much of Kyoto in one day. We would highly recommend Yuri as a guide on any tour.
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