Are you planning a trip to Japan and wondering about the best way to travel from Tokyo to Kyoto? Look no further, as we have put together a comprehensive guide to help you plan your journey.

Tokyo and Kyoto are two of the most popular destinations in Japan, each offering unique experiences that attract millions of tourists every year. Tokyo, the bustling capital city, is known for its cutting-edge technology, fashion, and vibrant nightlife. On the other hand, Kyoto, the ancient capital, is famous for its temples, gardens, and traditional culture.

Both cities are located on the main island of Honshu and are connected by a well-established transport network. In this article, we will explore the different modes of transportation available, recommended routes, and essential tips to help you plan your journey from Tokyo to Kyoto.

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Train – The Fastest and Most Convenient Option


The most popular and efficient way to travel from Tokyo to Kyoto is by train. The Shinkansen, also known as the bullet train, is a high-speed train that operates between Tokyo and Kyoto, making the journey in just over two hours.Here are some things to keep in mind when traveling by train:

  • You can purchase tickets at the train station or online, but it’s recommended to book in advance, especially during peak travel periods.
  • The Japan Rail Pass is a cost-effective way to travel around Japan, but it must be purchased before entering the country.
  • The Shinkansen has reserved and non-reserved seating options, so make sure to select the appropriate ticket.

Bus – A Budget-Friendly Option

The overnight bus usually depart at 20:00-24:00 and arriving at 05:00-09:00 next day. (Source: KLOOK)

If you’re looking for a more affordable option, traveling by bus is a great alternative. Buses operate between Tokyo and Kyoto and can take around eight hours, depending on the traffic.

Here are some tips for traveling by bus:

  • You can purchase tickets at the bus station or online, but it’s recommended to book in advance.
  • Most buses offer free Wi-Fi and charging outlets, making it a convenient way to stay connected during the journey.
  • Bus tickets can be considerably cheaper than train tickets, but it’s important to factor in the longer travel time and potential discomfort.

The bus is quite comfy and you could possibly get some sleep during the night.

Car – For Flexibility and Freedom

Renting a car and driving from Tokyo to Kyoto is another option, providing the flexibility to stop along the way and explore other areas. However, it’s important to note that driving in Japan can be challenging, especially for foreigners who are not accustomed to the rules of the road.

Here are some things to keep in mind when driving in Japan:

  • International driver’s licenses are required to rent a car in Japan.
  • Japan’s roads have tolls, and it’s important to factor in these costs when planning your trip.
  • GPS navigation is recommended, as it can be difficult to navigate Japanese roads without it.

Plane? Not a Good Choice

While traveling by airplane may seem like an intuitive way to travel, it’s not necessarily the best option. Firstly, the two cities are relatively close together, making air travel less efficient than other modes of transportation. Additionally, when you factor in the time spent getting to and from the airport, checking in, and going through security, the time saved by flying is minimal.

Moreover, air travel has a negative impact on the environment, and taking a train or bus is a more sustainable way to travel. By taking the train or bus, you’ll also have the opportunity to see the beautiful scenery and rural landscapes of Japan, something that you would miss out on if you were to fly.

Bottom Line

Whether you choose to travel by train, bus, or car, the journey from Tokyo to Kyoto is an experience not to be missed. Along the way, you will be treated to stunning views of Japan’s picturesque countryside, and both Tokyo and Kyoto offer unique cultural experiences that will leave you with lasting memories.

No matter what mode of transportation you choose, it’s important to plan your trip in advance and make sure you have all the necessary information and tickets. With our guide, you’ll be well-equipped to enjoy a comfortable and unforgettable journey from Tokyo to Kyoto.


How long does it take to travel from Tokyo to Kyoto by train?

The Shinkansen takes just over two hours.

Is it worth purchasing a Japan Rail Pass?

It can be cost-effective if you plan to travel extensively and intensively throughout Japan.

How much does it cost to travel from Tokyo to Kyoto by bus?

Prices vary depending on the bus company and time of year, but it’s generally cheaper than traveling by train. Plus, you might also save up 1 night of hotel / hostel.

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