Are you looking for tours or tour guides in Kyoto? There are so many places to see in Kyoto it feels both exciting and bit overwhelming. There are of course tour packages that include transportation to and from Tokyo, but many travelers like to sightsee on their own instead of in a big group. Hiring a local guide for a private tour is one way to go sightseeing in the ancient capital. Below are 9 different types of tours for you to consider during your search for the perfect tour.
One day tour
If you want to go see the main sightseeing spots in Kyoto in one day, the one day tour is the type for you. When there are so many temples and shrines to see, deciding the best ones to see on your own can be quite a challenge. I’m sure no one wants to miss out on seeing the best sightseeing spots, so having a local guide to provide insight on the most popular or must see spots when coming to Kyoto, is a big benefit.
The city of Kyoto itself is a historical treasure trove. Most Japanese students living in Tokyo will take a school trip during their junior high school years to see the most historically famous temples and shrines in Kyoto. Some of the popular places they visit are Kiyomizudera Temple, Kinkakuji Temple, and Ginkakuji Temple. If you really want to see the city properly, you should take 2 or 3 days to go sightseeing.
Kyoto one day tour recommendations:
My Favorite Golden Route tour by Local Guide Yoshihisa
1 Day Special Customized tour by Local Guide Toshiyo
Half Day Tour
Some people just want a short introduction to Kyoto. Other people just want a tour for a certain part of Kyoto and are fine going to see the other famous sightseeing spots by themselves. Or you could be arriving from Tokyo just before lunchtime and unfortunately don’t have the time to do a full day tour of Kyoto. Whatever the reason, a half day tour of 4 to 6 hours is a perfect fit for those who want to pinpoint the duration they hire a guide. This leads to conserving money as well as getting both the benefits of having someone local to ask your questions to and exploring Kyoto on your own afterwards. Questions you should ask a local tour guide can vary from recommended sightseeing spots, questions about the best food or restaurants to try during your stay in Kyoto, local culture and traditions, and transportation logistics.
Kyoto half day tour recommendations:
A Wonderful Half Day in Kyoto tour by Local Guide Tomoe
Private Half Day Kyoto tour by Local Guide Akira
The Arashiyama area lies to the west of central Kyoto. It’s about a 30 minute trip by train and is the second most popular sightseeing area in Kyoto. You may have heard of the area already or you may have seen a picture somewhere of the famous bamboo grove. Standing in the middle of the walls of bamboo trees is a calming experience you can’t find anywhere else. Other than the bamboo grove, this area is also full of temples and shrines. It’s quite beautiful seeing the traditional Japanese architecture amidst nature. Another famous sight is the Togetsukyo Bridge. You’ll find this bridge overcrowded with tourists though. You may also enjoy the monkey park situated near the bridge if you like animals.
Arashiyama one day tour recommendations:
Arashiyama One Day Sightseeing tour by Local Guide Ahmed
Arashiyama Sagano Bamboo Forest tour by Local Guide Hideo
For Seniors and wheelchair users
Just like in Tokyo, sightseeing in Kyoto involves a lot of walking whether you go it alone or you go on a private tour using public transportation. For the elderly and for people using wheelchairs, this is not good news. But don’t despair. You don’t have to give up trying to go sightseeing of this amazing city. There are local tour guides that can arrange a private car for you and take you to sightseeing spots that are wheelchair accessible. Having a private car greatly decreases the amount of walking that you need to do, so people with family members that require a little help benefit from this advantage.
For seniors and wheelchair users, tour recommendations:
Tasty Central Kyoto on Your Wheelchair tour by Local Guide Takehiko
Exciting Eastern Kyoto on Your Wheelchair tour by Local Guide Takehiko
I noticed that many foreign tourists like to go hiking in Japan. If you’re one of these people, you may enjoy experiencing hiking in Kyoto. Kyoto is situated in a valley so the city is surrounded by mountains, so you can easily go hiking. For people who are afraid of getting lost on the hiking trails or people who want to do some sightseeing along with walking some hiking trails, taking a tour with a local guide is recommended.
Hiking tour recommendations:
Fushimi Inari Hike and Sake Tasting tour by Local Guide Richard
Kyoto Fushimi Inari Hiking tour by Local Guide Koichi
Cycling around the suburbs of Kyoto is an exhilarating experience. Surrounded by nature, you’ll be able to see the amazing scenery and relax in the fresh air. It’s a unique experience for people who want to do something other than conventional sightseeing. You can even try tea leaf picking at a plantation if you want to on one of these cycling tours.
Cycling tour recommendations:
Tea Picking Experience & Tea Plantation Cycling tour by Local Guide Seiko
Arashiyama Cycling tour by Local Guide Keiko
People who are foodies always want to try delicious dishes wherever they go, right? I think this applies especially in Japan because traditional Japanese dishes are not only delicious but wonderful to look at. It’s like a type of art. Kyoto actually has a one of a kind food culture. This is definitely something you want to have someone local explain to you. Because a person living somewhere else just won’t have the same kind of innate local knowledge about the culture, traditions, and of course the food.
Foodie tour recommendations:
Kyoto Tailor Made Dining tour by Local Guide Mari
Kyoto Izakaya Food Tour tour by Local Guide Koichi
Sightseeing is one way to enjoy a trip to a foreign country, but participating in traditional activities is also another way to have an amazing time. Lots of people want to try experiencing a tea ceremony. This is probably because green tea has become famous all over the world. This is an amazing experience to have especially in the ancient capital of Japan. There are other traditional cultures you can experience. For example, making or dying kimono textiles, or trying your hand at pottery, experiencing Zen meditation, and tasting sake. You can also visit workshops of Japanese craftsmanship if you like and see the delicate process of crafts “made in Japan”.
Activities and tour recommendations:
Gion Area and Tea Ceremony tour by Local Guide Keiko
Personalized Kyoto Cultural Experience tour by Local Guide Katsuko
Cherry Blossom Tour
Cherry blossom season in Kyoto is a sight to see. It’s one of the two most crowded seasons of Kyoto. The other being the season of autumn when the leaves change into beautiful colors.
So, as you can imagine, Kyoto will be full of tourists from all over Japan and all over the world as well. Navigating the city in these conditions may prove stressful if you don’t know exactly where to go or how to get there. Hiring a local guide to take you around the best places may be a good idea. Local tour guides of Kyoto will know which places are not too crowded or the best places to snap a few picturesque shots. So make use of their knowledge to enjoy the most beautiful season in Japan. You cannot see the amazing collaboration of pink cherry blossom trees with historic temples and shrines all over the place in any other city other than Kyoto.
Cherry Blossom tour recommendations:
Cherry Blossom Viewing tour by Local Guide Yoshihisa
Arashiyama Cherry Blossoms tour by Local Guide Hideo
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