Kyoto, Japan is a top destination for many tourists. It is a fantastic city to indulge in the rich history, arts, and culture of Japan. One of the main forms of transportation in Kyoto is the extensive bus system. Buses run to the majority of sight-seeing destinations. However, figuring out the correct bus number and route can be quite challenging.
Understanding Kyoto Bus Routes
The most important piece of advice for any tourist is to get an English language copy of the Kyoto Bus Route Map. You can get one at the main hub at Kyoto Station. You can also download the front and back side from this link. It is highly recommended to print off a color copy to take with you, download to a mobile device, or get a paper copy when you first arrive at Kyoto Station. It is normal to feel overwhelmed looking over the bus route map. The bus routes are color-coded to help understand their loops. Try to focus on a few specific bus routes rather than everything available. The main tourist buses are the Raku Bus #100, #101, and #102. They go to the major tourist sites. Be aware that they stop running between 4:30 and 5:00 p.m. After that time frame, you need to board one of the other bus numbers along the route that run through the evening. Buses in Kyoto stop running around 11 p.m. Some other good bus options for sightseeing are the #205, #206, and #208. These buses also stop around 5 p.m. Once the main loop buses mentioned stop running for the evening, buses can fill up quickly and not allow you on (especially during peak tourist season). When this happens, you should consider other transportation options such as the subway, taxis, or even walking.
Payment Methods and Riding Kyoto Buses
A easy to follow guide on how to board the bus and pay a fare can be found here. Most importantly, you enter from the back of the bus and exit from the front after paying for a fare. It is highly recommended to buy a one-day bus pass for ¥500. Generally, one-way fares will cost ¥230. You can save some money simply by boarding a bus three times with a one-day pass. You may also purchase a one-day pass (¥900) or two-day pass (¥1,700) that covers rides on buses and subways. One thing worth noting is that buses and cars are driven on the left side of the road. It is very easy to board a bus going in the wrong direction if you are not familiar with left-side driving.