If you only have one full day in Kyoto then you should spend your time very well. Let me give you some guides on what are the best things to do in Kyoto but before we are going to the list of places, here are some tips you might want to know when you only have one day in Kyoto.
First thing first if you visit Kyoto and bring your luggage with you before visiting another place, don’t worry you can simply store your luggage in luggage storage or lockers provided in Kyoto Station. There are small, medium up to large storage room available inside and outside Kyoto station. Price generally range from 300 – 700 yen.
One Day Bus Pass
The easiest way to travel in Kyoto is by using either subway or bus, but I will recommend you to use buses due to its range to various stops at top tourist attractions. Most of the buses in Kyoto cost 230 yen per trip, so it is much cheaper for you to use bus pass. One day bus pass available for 500 yen, you can buy it using vending machine outside Kyoto station or in bus information center at Kyoto station.
When you already have your bus pass with you, the next thing you should do is looking for Raku bus no 100 stand. One thing you must aware when you are using bus in Kyoto is you have to use rear door to hop on the bus and use front door to exit from the bus. If you use bus pass for the first time, put your bus pass to machine provided beside bus driver and it will print the date and this pass can only be used during that date. Next time you hop off the bus you just need to show the date behind the card to the driver.
I suggest you to visit this place for you first stop considering this temple open from 6 AM. You need to walk uphill to reach the temple so if you go to this temple in the morning the weather is still cool and your still have so much energy with you. From Kyoto Station, ride Raku bus no 100 and hop off at Kiyomizudera stop, continue by walking uphill to the entrance. Entrance fee for this temple is 300 yen. This temple is really unique, its huge 12 meter pillars were built without using nails at all. If you visit this temple during cherry blossoms season, this temple will have a very beautiful scenery. Beside Kiyumizudera’s main hall, in this area there are Three storied pagoda, Bell tower, Gautama Buddha hall and Amithaba hall. Don’t forget to visit Ottawa waterfall which located at the base of Kiyomizudera’s main hall. Its water divided into 3 different streams that believed to have three different benefits from cause longevity, success at school and a fortunate love life. Many people queuing to drink water from the stream using special designed cups with a long stick. However, you should not drink from all streams since it is considered as greedy.
Catch another Raku bus no 100 from your previous stop to go to Ginkakuji Temple who also known as Silver Pavilion. This silver pavilion surrounded by a beautiful zen garden. Ginkakuji zen garden is maintained really well, I met the gardener creating the flow of the white sand very carefully. Although this temple really famous with its Silver Pavilion name, Ginkakuji Temple is not cover with any silver. People came out with Silver Pavilion name to contrast it with the Golden Pavilion (Kinkakuji Temple) which located in Northern Kyoto. The entrance fee to Ginkakuji temple is 500 yen.
Next stop is Kinkakuji temple and this one is my favorite. To reach Kinkakuji temple you better ride Raku bus no 102 (wait for the bus on 1 bus stop after Ginkakuji temple bus stop). The entrance to the temple is easy to find by following the directions from bus stop. Kinkakuji Temple is also known as Golden Pavilion and yes you will find gold color covering the temple. Kinkakuji temple is previously use by the shogun AshikagaYoshimitsu as his retirement villa. This temple also surrounded by a beautiful garden and a large pond. One thing I love the most beside the temple is its rest area right after temple’s exit gate. You can find various vending machines from soft drinks, coffees, bottled water, ice cream even you can find cup noodle vending machine. The entrance fee to Kinkakuji temple is 400 yen.
If you finish visiting 3 previous temples before lunch time then you have enough time to visit Arashiyama. Arashiyama is located in Western Kyoto and the best way to visit it is by using JR train. While you are in Arashiyama, you can visit Arashiyama bamboo groves, Togetsukyo bridge, Monkey park Iwatayama, Tenryuji temple and ride Sagano romantic train to Kameoka. Arashiyama bamboo groves is a must visit place in this area, you can choose between walk or hire a rickshaw ride to enjoy the scenery along the walk paths. Togetsukyo bridge is Arashiyama’s most iconic landmark, if you visit this area during autumn season the background of the bridge will really beautiful.
Before you catch your bus or train to next destination don’t forget to visit Gion. It is filled with shops, restaurants and teahouses which called Ochaya. Gion area is mostly filled with wooden shops and houses. This area is famous for its Geisha and Maiko. If you lucky enough, you can meet Geisha and Maiko on the street rushing to or from their workplace. But if you really want to see performance from Geisha and Maiko you can simply reserved a seat in Ochaya (teahouse), which is will cost you quite expensive. Gion area is really beautiful at night, lampion will brighten the streets and you will feel traditional ambiance of Kyoto.