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KYOTO | OSAKA | NARA TRAVEL GUIDE & ITINERARY


Hey guys! Today I'm going to blog about my Kyoto, Osaka and Nara trip, which I just went recently (2nd October - 10th October) with my family. We spent 2D1N in Kyoto and the rest in Osaka (one day in Nara).

 I'll be sharing with you the places to go, what to eat, where I stay, info on transportation in the Kansai region, and other travelling tips that might be useful for you. So let's begin!

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Before I share my itinerary, I just want to tell you guys that it's really EASY to get around in the Kansai region. Many friends who went to Kyoto and Osaka told me that the transportation system is confusing, and to be honest, when I was doing my research at home, I was just as frustrated and confused as you probably are. I read so many blogs about it but I still couldn't really figure out which subway line I'm supposed to go for when I go to Osaka from Kyoto and vice versa.

Many of you DM-ed and asked me for more info regarding the transportation. So here, let me tell you one small (but super useful) tip:

- USE GOOGLE MAPS 

Yes, I use Google Maps pretty much every day when I was in Kyoto and Osaka. If you don't have the app in your smartphone now, DOWNLOAD IT. With this app (and, of course internet connection), you can just go any destination you want easily. Forget about reading all those blog posts telling you which subway line to take (I truly appreciate their explanation and details in analysing the subway lines, but too much details sometimes may lead to confusion).

For example, I use Google Maps to search how to go to NARA from Osaka. 

Why I do recommend using Google Maps in Japan? 
1) It provides real-time information, which tells you what time the train is reaching, and how long your journey would be.
2) It provides costing information, which allows you to prepare your $$ first before purchasing the tickets.
3) It suggests the best route to you based on your location, which saves your time and cost.

I LOVE YOU, GOOGLE MAPS (and no, this is not sponsored lol).

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HOW TO GET INTERNET ACCESS IN JAPAN? 
Well, I would recommend you guys to get a pocket wifi in Japan. For this trip, I got myself one from TravelRecommends. It offers unlimited data, and the data can be shared among 5 people. With this device, I don't have to "borrow wifi" from restaurants hahahaha and I was always able to get access to the internet whenever and wherever I want. Internet is just so important to me because I always rely on it to use Google Maps or search for information.

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FROM KANSAI AIRPORT TO KYOTO (INFO FOR LATE/NIGHT FLIGHTS)
We arrived Kansai airport at 10pm on the 2nd of October. Right after collecting our baggage, we headed to the MK Shuttle Service counter in the arrival hall to meet our chauffeur, who would drive us straight to our Kyoto Airbnb. As recommended by my friend, I made an online reservation with MK Shuttle Service before my trip. They will require you to fill in some details like your arrival time, your accommodation full address, etc. It's completely reliable but a bit too pricey (in my opinion). A one-way fare to Kyoto from the airport costed us 4300YEN (which is around RM160) PER person (you don't have to pay anything until you get on the ride though). Our arrival time in Kansai airport was too late for us to catch the train, so we decided to book this shuttle service, which sent us to our Kyoto Airbnb safely. 

So technically speaking, 2nd of October wasn't really counted as our official day as we already spent the day on the plane, in the airport and transferring to Kyoto. 

We decided to visit Kyoto for one and a half day, which means we checked-out our Airbnb on the 4th of October. So on the 3rd of October, we travelled to all the major attractions in Kyoto, which will be listed down below.

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WHERE TO STAY IN KYOTO



The Airbnb that we stayed in Kyoto was really, really small. You can't even imagine how small the toilet is hahaha. Do take note that there's NO elevator, so you will have to carry your luggages up to the 4th floor. But given the fact that houses in Japan are pretty small in general, we were okay with it. Plus, we only stayed there for 2 nights, so it wasn't a big deal for us. Though the room was pretty crammed, the location of this Airbnb was great. You can easily find convenience stores, Starbucks, restaurants and cafes nearby the apartment. Also, the subway station is just 5-6 mins walk away.
[Get RM55 credit if you are a first-time user of Airbnb by clicking THIS link] 

Link to this Airbnb: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/10618193?s=51
Price: RM239 per person, per night, including taxes and other fees.

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WHERE TO GO IN KYOTO 

1) Kinkaku-ji Temple (金閣寺, Golden Pavilion) 
 in Northern Kyoto 

The Kinkaku-ji Temple is one of the most iconic landmarks in Kyoto. You will have to pay 400YEN (around RM16) as the admission fee. Covered in glittering gold leafs, the temple is really awe-inspiring. And I find the adjoining "mirror pond" reflection really beautiful and magical. 

Tip: Try to get there as early as possible (opening hour is 9am) before the crowds start coming in, otherwise it will be super hard for you to take nice pictures here. 

Breathtaking view of the Kinkaku-ji Temple.

So, so, so lucky that I managed to capture this picture without anyone beside me lolol. 过后接下来拍的照片全部都不能接受因为太多人了!!

Get an ice-cream from the ice-cream vending machine! We randomly picked one, and it surprisingly tasted good! *在日本什么都好吃就对了

Also, don't forget to try out the Matcha soft-serve ice-cream in Kyoto! You can find this almost everywhere around Kinkaku-ji Temple hahaha.
Don't rush to other places yet after visiting Kinkaku-ji Temple. Instead, take some time and walk leisurely to explore the streets around the temple. You will find yourself getting attracted by the quaint little shops that sell all these adorable and intricate handmade dolls that you can bring back as souvenirs.


2) Fushimi Inari Shrine 
in Southern Kyoto 
We took the cab (yea, bad choice because it costed us a bomb lol) to Fushimi Inari Shrine from Kinkaku-ji Temple. The JR Inari subway station is actually right in front of the entrance of Fushimi Inari, so you can take the subway instead of taking the cab. What's so famous about the Fushimi Inari Shrine? It is famous for its thousands of vermilion torii gates, which form a network of trails behind. The trails eventually lead you to the wooded forest of the sacred Mount Inari, which stands at 233 meters and belongs to the shrine grounds. Articles say that the hike to the summit of the mountain and back takes about 2-3 hours, but you can actually choose to just explore the miniature torii gates at the front. Admission fee is free



Before entering the shrine, there's a place called chozuya for you to purify yourself.

There are also quite a few food stalls selling Japanese street snacks in the shrine! 


*在这里拍照也是要趁机会






Take your time to stroll around the Kyoto streets around Fushimi Inari Shrine. Somehow the streets in Kyoto make me feel really calm and peaceful. 

For lunch, we just randomly walked into a restaurant to fill up our tummy. The food in this restaurant was not cheap though, the unagi rice was about RM80+ per bowl and the chicken and egg rice was about RM30+. (to be honest, the taste was just mediocre).

3) Arashiyama Bamboo Forest
in Western Kyoto 

After lunch, we took the train to Arashiyama, which is famous for its bamboo forest. The journey from Fushimi Inari to Arashiyama took us about an hour by train. By the time we arrived the bamboo forest, it was already 4pm+ so we had to seize the opportunity to take some good pictures before the sun set hahahaha. 

Along the way to the bamboo forest, we spotted these cute little shops that make us fall in love with Kyoto even more. Oh Kyoto, how can you be so #aesthetic? 


We sauntered in the forest, freeing our mind from all the stress. It felt totally serene. 

We casually walked into a dessert shop nearby, and got ourselves a bowl of Matcha goodness with taro balls. So good.

4) Other places in Kyoto 

As we left Arashiyama, we hopped on a bus back to our Airbnb. While we were on the bus, we were actually clueless which station we should get down. So I approached a Japanese girl who was sitting next to me and asked for help. The girl can speak a bit of English and she was soooooo kind that she offered to show us the way back to our Airbnb. She even brought us to this restaurant nearby our Airbnb, which was also one of her favourite local restaurants. T____T I love how helpful and kind Japanese are and that's the reason why I keep revising this country. 

The dish on the left was something like squid and it wasn't raw but it wasn't really cooked as well. I felt as if I was chewing on a candy omg that's really a special dish. 

Food was unique and tasted very Japanese lol. It's definitely not the usual Japanese delicacies so it's something new for us to try. 

The next day, which was also our last day in Kyoto, mommy and I woke up early for breakfast and we shot this picture on the street nearby our Airbnb. 

If you thought Kyoto is all about traditional and old-school stuffs like temples and forests, you're wrong. There are many cafes, drugstores selling cosmetics and even big branded shops such as LV, Gucci, Armani Exchange, etc in the central Kyoto. 

After breakfast, we checked out our Airbnb and headed to OSAKA by train. 

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FROM KYOTO TO OSAKA 
Not sure how to go to Osaka from your Kyoto accommodation? USE GOOGLE MAPS. Yes, just use this powerful app and you will find your way to Osaka easily. Besides, there are information counters at the station, and usually the staffs can understand and speak English!

HOW LONG & HOW MUCH DOES IT TAKE TO TRAVEL TO OSAKA FROM KYOTO? 
The journey from Kyoto to Nippombashi station (the station nearest to our Osaka Airbnb) took us about an hour by train via the Hankyu-Kyoto line, and the fare was only 630YEN per person (which is around RM24). 

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WHERE TO STAY IN OSAKA? 

Our Osaka Airbnb was way better (and cheaper) than the Kyoto one. Location wise, the famous shopping districts such as Dotonburi, Shinsaibashi, Namba, Kuromon market, OIOI mall, etc are all within walking distance (about 10-15 mins) from our Osaka Airbnb. With this great location, we saved a lot of money on buying train tickets as we can just walk to all the aforementioned places from our Airbnb. Apart from the location, the room is also way bigger than the Kyoto one. There are two double beds, one sofa bed, and the toilet and bathroom are separated. The host also prepared enough towels for us. Besides, there's also a complimentary pocket wifi from the host!! 

Yes, I will totally recommend this Airbnb for those of you who want to travel to Osaka. Although the host stated that this Airbnb can accommodate up to 6 people, but I think it's ideal for 4 people. Personally, I think it's a bit too small for 6 people.  




Price: Around RM118 per person, per night, including taxes and other fees.

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WHERE TO GO IN OSAKA
1) Kuromon Market (黑门市场) 
After we checked in our Airbnb, we walked to Kuromon Market for lunch!! As we were starving like shit, everything in Kuromon Market just looked so appetising to us hahaha. Little did you know, Kuromon Market has more than 190 years of history, so it's considered a must-visit in Osaka! In this food market, you will be exposed to seafood, seafood and seafood. Get your cash ready, and sapu all the fresh salmon sashimi, toro, sea urchin, etc!



2) Dotonburi 
As one of the most principal tourist destinations, Dotonburi is a very lively street that is full of restaurants, snacks shops, and clothing stores. *不怕没东西吃 只怕你没钱吃!



Gyoza from 大板王将
Grilled crab leg (990YEN for these two small crab legs...personally I don't think it was worth the price)

Takoyaki 
At night, the bright neon signs and flashing billboards set the Dotonburi street ablaze, making it more lively than ever. 

The famous Glico man sign can be found on the Ebusu-bashi bridge, which connects Dotonburi and Shinsaibashi. 

3) Don Quijote (tax-free shop)
If you want to shop for tax-free items, remember to go to Don Quijote, which is a very popular tax-free shop in Osaka. They have a few branches in Osaka and the one in Dotonburi is the most crowded one. There are 6-7 floors of products, ranging from Japanese snacks to medicines, makeup, skin care, hair care, daily necessities, electronic products, household products and even watches and second-hand branded goods. They have E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G. Note that you will have to queue up to pay, and also queue up again for tax-refund lolol.


4) Ichiran Ramen 
来到日本怎可以错过一蘭拉麵?! There are a few Ichiran branches in Osaka and there's one nearby Don Quijote in Dotobunri. Do expect a long queue in front of this shop because it's too popular. While we were queuing up, a staff actually approached and brought us to their 2nd branch with lesser queue, which is just a 3-min walk away hahahaha. 



5) WEGO clothing store 
If you adore Japanese fashion, you must visit WEGO in Japan. It's one of my favourite clothing stores to shop at! 


6) Shinsaibashi 
Being one of the most popular shopping districts in Osaka, Shinsaibashi is just right across Dotonburi. Yes, you can just walk to Shinsaibashi from Dotonburi. There are countless of fashion stores, ranging from local Japanese urban street brands (like WEGO, GU) to high-end brands (such as Zara, Samantha Thavasa, Uniqlo, Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren, etc) in Shinsaibashi. The Daimaru department store, which is also located at the Shinsaibashisuji street, carries international cosmetic brands (such as Jill Stuart, YSL, NARS, La Mer, Paul & Joe, etc) and fashion brands (like Gucci, Celine, etc).



Jill Stuart's products always stole my heart away!! 

7) Luke's Lobsters 
Luke's Lobsters - A must-eat in Japan!! I had this lobster roll last year in Tokyo and fell in love with it. So I was really excited to have it again in Shinsaibashi! 



8) SPINNS (clothing store) 
Apart from WEGO, I also like to shop in SPINNS, a clothing store that sells both trendy and vintage garments at prices ranging from RM80 - RM300. You can find this store in the Shinsaibashisuji shopping street as well!



9) Eggs' n Things (pancake & waffle cafe) 
Eggs' n Things actually hailed from Hawaii, but apparently it's a very popular breakfast & pancake house in Japan. We visited their branch in Shinsaibashi and were actually impressed by the quality of the food. Not only did they look appealing (and Instagram-worthy), but they actually tasted awesome as well. And I guess that's why they have been so popular! 
Price wise, it definitely gravitated to the higher end. But personally, I think it's worth the money. 
Here's what we ordered: Halloween Special Burger and Strawberry Mille-feuille Pancake. Accompanied with roasted potatoes and bacon, the burger was grilled to perfection. The pancake was really fluffy, soft and it went so well with the whipped cream that felt like snow.
10) Universal Studios Japan (USJ) 
If you're a theme park person like me, of course you have to visit Universal Studios Japan. Visiting USJ has been on my bucket list for years, and I'm just beyond ecstatic that I made my wish came true this year. I will blog about USJ in a separate blog post as I have too many pictures to share!




11) Osaka Castle
Having more than 400 years of history, the Osaka Castle is one of the most popular landmarks in Osaka. It's open to public every day from 9am to 5pm, and the admission fee is 600YEN (which is approx. RM24). There are 8 floors in this castle, and each floor consists of historical and interesting artifacts and even mini movie theatres about the Japanese history. So if you are interested in learning more about Japanese history, the Osaka Castle is definitely worth a visit. 


The view from the observatory deck on the 8th floor.


Also, you can wear these headgears and take photos for a certain fee.


Miniature figures
12) Osaka Kaiyukan (Aquarium) 
I don't know about you, but I always find the idea of visiting an aquarium fascinating!!! The Osaka Kaiyukan is one of the world's largest aquariums. With over 15 large tanks, each recreating a specific region of the Pacific Rim, the Osaka Kaiyukan wil take you on a virtual tour of the Pacific Ocean. 

There are more than 30,000 creatures encompassing 620 species—including otters, sea lions, penguins, dolphins, whale sharks, rays, and jellyfish, just to name a few, in this aquarium. Also, there's an exhibition level that offers you sensory experience which you can TOUCH the stingrays and baby sharks!! 


The admission fee for visitors above 16 years old is 2300YEN (about RM87) (kindly check out their website for more pricing info!). We bought an Osaka Kaiyu Ticket for 2550YEN at the train station, and this ticket is a special one-day ticket that includes the entrance to the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan and unlimited travel on trains and buses. So if you plan to travel to other places within the designated area after visiting the aquarium, definitely get yourself this pass! *The Osaka Kaiyu Tickets are not sold online or at the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan ticket office.
It's just so exciting discovering and seeing the underwater sea creatures gracefully swimming around in their naturalistic habitats. 

Sea otters and penguins - such adorable creatures! 

I called this the Kylie Jenner fish (I mean, look at the lips yo) 

Hammerhead shark 
Don't forget to take a selfie with those friendly stingrays! 
Dive into the wonderful coast of chile - for a moment I felt as if I was a mermaid. 

Oh hi, whale shark, it was nice meeting you. (The whale sharks are the reason why I wanted to visit this aquarium as they are known as the largest fish in the sea)

13) Tempozan Ferris Wheel 
The enormous Tempozan Ferris Wheel is located just beside the Osaka Kaiyukan. It offers an amazing aerial view of the Osaka area; a romantic place to catch the sunsets!   


14) Pokémon Centre 
If you're a fan of Pokemon, you will surely go crazy in the Pokémon Centre in Osaka! Located in Daimaru Umeda (a department store), Pokémon Center is the official site for Pokémon shopping, featuring original items such as plush toys, clothing, figures, Pokémon TCG trading cards, and more.




15) Umeda Sky Building 
From the Daimaru Umeda department store (where we visited the Pokemon Centre), we walked to the Umeda Sky Building, a spectacular high rise building that offers a stunning panoramic of the city in an open-air observatory deck. The 173 meter tall building consists of two towers that are connected by the "Floating Garden Observatory" on the 39th floor.  
Admission fee to the observatory deck is 1000YEN (around RM38).


The "mid-air escalator" that leads to the Floating Garden Observatory. I called this the "staircase to heaven".


This is how the escalator looks like from a bird's eye perspective. 


The architecture just looks so futuristic to me! 




16) Matsuzakagyu Yakiniku M (Matsusaka beef)
On our last night in Osaka, we splurged a little bit more on food and had Matsusaka beef in Matsuzakagyu Yakiniku M. It's recommended by my friend, @jessytheklchic, she told me that this beef is even better than Kobe beef. Having heard that, of course we had to give it a try! The branch we went to is located in Namba (nearby Dotonburi). Do make a reservation first to avoid disappointment. 

We ordered a Matsusaka beef course that costs us 3800YEN/person (about RM143). The course comes with an appetiser, salad, Matsusaka beef and rice.



Forgot what this beef is called but it tasted so good with the garlic. 

Um, yeah, this is the serving portion for 2 pax yo. So, one person gets to eat about 5 slices of meat. Though the portion is pretty small, the texture and taste of the beef was really impressive, I mean, look at those marbling! Besides, it's SUPER TENDER!! Well, this meal is slightly expensive but definitely worth the price that you are going to pay for. 

17) Orange Street (for streetwear brands) 
Orange Street is just nearby Shinsaibashi, it's a street with a lot of streetwear brands, hipster cafes and interior designer's stores. This street is also known as the "vogue street" in Osaka. We stumbled upon a retailer store called Rinkan, and it carries a lot of premium streetwear brands like Supreme, Balenciaga, LV, etc. So, do drop by this street if you are a hypebeast kind of person yo. 



18) Other food 
Well, here are some other food pictures that I had during my trip! 
Maison de Gigi waffles at Shinsaibashisuji Street
Fresh sushi from 大起水产 

Tempura bowl from 大起水产  as well 

This is how the shop looks like. It's located at Namba! 

Beef bowl from Yoshinoya. Cheap and satisfying! *this bowl is only 360YEN omg 
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FROM OSAKA TO NARA 
Okay, so as mentioned above, I went to Nara for a one-day trip from Osaka. Nara is just one hour away from Osaka by train, and it's very easy to go! If you have time, I do recommend you to spend half a day / a day in Nara to see the deers and visit some temples.

A one way ticket from Osaka to Nara only costed us 560YEN (about RM21). 

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WHAT TO DO IN NARA? 
Go to Nara Park and feed the deers, of course! It's an extraordinary experience that one should try once in a lifetime, I would say. The deers are allowed to roam freely in Nara, and they are super adorable (and voracious) hahaha. There are people selling deer cookies for 500YEN per pack, so just buy one pack and start interacting with the deers!

Gentle reminder: Remember to wear comfortable shoes as you will have to walk a lot in Nara. 




Aww, look at those doe eyes!  

If you have time, feel free to visit the Todaiji temple in Nara, which is a historical Buddhist temple with the world's largest wooden structure. Admission fee to the museum and Daibutsuden Hall is 800YEN and it closes at 5pm! 
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WHERE TO EAT AND SHOP IN NARA? 

There are actually a lot of restaurants in Nara. This street, which is just beside the train station, has a lot of restaurants and shops selling souvenirs!


All these packaging, ugh. 


Highly recommend you guys to try out this 鸡白汤 ramen in 元喜神! The broth is rich and thick, but not to the point that you feel repulsed by it. 
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HOW MUCH YOU SHOULD BRING TO THIS TRIP???
Personally, I spent about RM3500 on food, transportation and some shopping on souvenirs, drugstore products and clothes from WEGO and SPINNS. RM3000 (excluding flight and airbnb) should be enough if you're not a shopaholic. And if you stay in Namba/Dotonburi/Shinsaibashi area in Osaka, you save a lot of money on transportation too!

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HOW MANY DAYS IS ENOUGH? 
OK. Personally, I think you should spend 1 day (or 2 days if you love exploring more about Kyoto's heritage and historical places) in Kyoto, then maybe 4 or 5 days in Osaka, and 1 day in Nara.

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Extra shoutout for this Houjicha Latte from Starbucks. IT WAS REALLY GOOD. T_T 



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OK, after spending 2 days writing this post, I'm finally done!!!! I hope y'all find this post useful, and feel free to ask me any questions about travelling to Osaka / Kyoto / Nara in the comment section down below and I will try my best to answer y'all. Thanks for reading and love y'all!!

Ok now I'm going to edit my Japan vlog, so stay tuned! ;) 

8 comments

  1. Thank you for sharing your trip plans! I'm currently saving up to go to Japan and this gives me an idea how to construct my budget. And those photos are bomb, love love love it x

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    Replies
    1. You're most welcome!! Hope you enjoy your trip in Japan!

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  2. Did you use any pass (e.g. icoca card / osaka amazing pass) for the transportation around kansai area?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi! I actually didnt use any of the passes that you mentioned hehe

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    2. Hi pretty ;) since u spend the last day in Nara, so you took the flight from Nara back to Msia?

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  3. This blog will provide great help to all those who are planning to visit Kyoto, Osaka and Nara anytime soon.They got to know now which places they should visit during their trip.

    ReplyDelete
  4. All of your photos are so nice! May I know what camera you are using? Thanks

    ReplyDelete

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