Kyoto Vs Hakone – Which One Should You Visit?

Kyoto Vs Hakone – which one is worth adding to your Japan itinerary? Read on to find out!

When it comes to planning a trip to Japan, deciding which cities to visit can be a challenging task. Two popular destinations that often captivate travelers are Kyoto and Hakone. Both cities offer unique cultural experiences and breathtaking natural beauty. 

In this article, we will compare Kyoto and Hakone in various aspects, helping you make an informed decision on which city to prioritize during your visit to Japan.

Kyoto Vs Hakone

Historical and Cultural Significance


Known as Japan’s cultural capital, Kyoto boasts a rich history that spans over a millennium. From 794 to 1868, Kyoto served as the imperial capital, and its status as the seat of power and culture has left an indelible mark on the city. 

Kyoto is home to numerous UNESCO World Heritage Sites, showcasing its historical and cultural treasures.

  • Temples and Shrines

Kyoto is renowned for its temples and shrines, which are scattered throughout the city. These sacred sites offer a glimpse into Japan’s religious traditions, including Buddhism and Shintoism. 

Notable examples include the magnificent Kiyomizu-dera, a wooden temple perched on a hillside offering panoramic views of the city; Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion), a stunning Zen temple covered in gold leaf; and Fushimi Inari Taisha, famous for its thousands of vibrant torii gates.

  • Gardens

Kyoto is also celebrated for its exquisite gardens, which have been meticulously designed to create serene and harmonious landscapes. 

These gardens, often associated with temples and palaces, are ideal for meditation and contemplation.

The renowned rock garden of Ryoan-ji, the idyllic moss gardens of Saiho-ji (also known as the Moss Temple), and the stunning gardens of Kinkaku-ji are just a few examples of Kyoto’s captivating green spaces.

  • Geisha Culture

Kyoto is synonymous with geisha culture, and the traditional districts of Gion and Pontocho are where you can catch a glimpse of these iconic figures. 

Geisha, known as geiko in Kyoto dialect, are highly skilled entertainers trained in traditional arts such as music, dance, and tea ceremony. 

Visitors can witness the grace and elegance of geisha as they make their way through the atmospheric streets, particularly during the springtime cherry blossom season and the Gion Festival held in July.

  • Traditional Arts and Crafts

Kyoto has long been a center for traditional arts and crafts. The city is known for its exquisite kimono textiles, intricate pottery and ceramics, delicate lacquerware, and refined tea ceremony utensils. 

Traditional craft shops and workshops are scattered throughout Kyoto, offering opportunities to witness the craftsmanship firsthand and even participate in workshops to create your own pieces.


Although Hakone may not possess the same historical significance as Kyoto, it offers its own unique cultural experiences, especially in relation to nature and hot springs.

  • Hot Springs and Ryokans

Hakone is famous for its hot springs, known as onsen. These thermal waters are believed to have healing properties, and visitors can indulge in the relaxation and rejuvenation they offer. 

Hakone is dotted with traditional ryokans, where you can experience the quintessential Japanese hospitality. 

Staying in a ryokan allows you to immerse yourself in Japanese customs, such as sleeping on futon bedding, wearing yukata robes, and enjoying multi-course kaiseki meals.

  • Hakone Shrine

The Hakone Shrine is an important Shinto shrine located on the shores of Lake Ashi. It has a history dating back over a thousand years and is known for its iconic red torii gate, which appears to float on the water. 

Visitors can explore the shrine’s peaceful grounds and soak in the spiritual atmosphere.

  • Hakone Open-Air Museum

This unique museum showcases an extensive collection of contemporary sculptures set amidst beautiful natural surroundings. 

The museum features works by renowned artists such as Picasso, Henry Moore, and Rodin. It offers a fascinating blend of art and nature, with sculptures positioned throughout expansive gardens, providing a captivating outdoor art experience.

  • Mount Fuji Views

While not directly within Hakone, the area offers stunning views of Mount Fuji on clear days. The sight of Japan’s iconic volcanic mountain towering over the surrounding landscape is awe-inspiring. 

Hakone provides various vantage points, such as Lake Ashi and the Hakone Ropeway, from which visitors can admire the majestic beauty of Mount Fuji.


  • While Kyoto holds a deeper historical significance with its imperial heritage, temples, shrines, and traditional arts, Hakone offers a cultural experience intertwined with its natural beauty, hot springs, and iconic Mount Fuji views.
  • Both cities provide distinct cultural encounters that contribute to the diverse tapestry of Japanese history and tradition.

Natural Beauty


Despite being known for its historical and cultural significance, Kyoto is also blessed with stunning natural landscapes that enhance its charm.

  • Mountains and Forests

Kyoto is surrounded by mountains, which contribute to its picturesque setting. The Higashiyama and Arashiyama districts are particularly renowned for their scenic beauty. 

The Higashiyama mountain range offers breathtaking views and hiking trails, with notable spots like the Philosopher’s Path, where cherry trees line a canal, creating a magical atmosphere during the cherry blossom season. 

Arashiyama, located on the western outskirts of Kyoto, boasts bamboo groves and the enchanting Arashiyama Bamboo Forest, where towering bamboo stalks create an ethereal ambiance.

  • Cherry Blossoms

Kyoto is famous for its cherry blossoms (sakura) and is considered one of the best places to witness this natural spectacle in Japan. 

During springtime, cherry trees throughout the city burst into delicate shades of pink, creating a captivating scene. 

Some of the popular cherry blossom viewing spots in Kyoto include Maruyama Park, where a massive weeping cherry tree stands as a centerpiece, and the Philosopher’s Path, mentioned earlier, which becomes a picturesque tunnel of cherry blossoms.

  • Autumn Foliage

Kyoto’s natural beauty is further highlighted during the autumn season when vibrant colors paint the landscape. 

The city’s numerous temples and gardens, such as Tofuku-ji Temple and the Kiyomizu-dera complex, become ablaze with hues of red, orange, and gold. 

The Arashiyama district, with its scenic river and mountain vistas, is also a popular destination to witness the breathtaking autumn foliage.

  • Gardens and Zen Landscapes

Kyoto is renowned for its meticulously designed gardens that embody the principles of harmony and tranquility. 

These gardens serve as tranquil retreats amidst the bustling city. Notable examples include the renowned rock garden of Ryoan-ji, the enchanting moss gardens of Saiho-ji, and the serene gardens of the Golden Pavilion (Kinkaku-ji). 

These landscapes feature carefully arranged rocks, ponds, moss, and meticulously pruned trees, providing a serene atmosphere for contemplation and reflection.


Hakone’s natural beauty is characterized by its unique volcanic landscape and its close proximity to Mount Fuji.

  • Mount Fuji Views

Hakone is one of the prime locations to catch awe-inspiring views of Mount Fuji. On clear days, the iconic symmetrical cone of Japan’s highest mountain stands majestically against the backdrop of the surrounding countryside. 

Lake Ashi is particularly renowned for its panoramic views of Mount Fuji. Taking a boat ride or strolling along the lake’s shores provides an unforgettable perspective on this natural wonder.

  • Volcanic Landscapes

Hakone is situated within the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, a region known for its volcanic activity. Owakudani, a geothermal valley, is a must-visit attraction in Hakone. 

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Here, you can witness steam vents, hot springs, and bubbling pools of sulfuric water. The area’s unique topography, created by volcanic activity, gives Hakone a distinct character that sets it apart from other destinations in Japan.

  • Hot Springs and Onsen

ddHakone is renowned for its hot springs and is a popular destination for onsen (hot spring) enthusiasts. 

These natural hot springs offer relaxation and rejuvenation while surrounded by the region’s scenic beauty. 

Many ryokans and hotels in Hakone have their own private onsen baths, allowing guests to indulge in the therapeutic waters while enjoying views of the surrounding nature.

  • Lake Ashi

This picturesque lake, formed within a volcanic crater, is a major attraction in Hakone. Visitors can take boat cruises across the tranquil waters and admire the scenic views of Mount Fuji and the surrounding hills. 

The serene atmosphere and beautiful landscapes make Lake Ashi a favorite spot for nature lovers and photographers alike.


  • Both Kyoto and Hakone offer distinct natural beauty that complements their cultural and historical significance.
  • Kyoto captivates with its mountains, cherry blossoms, and meticulously designed gardens, while Hakone fascinates with its volcanic landscapes, Mount Fuji views, and hot springs.
  • Whether you prefer the serene beauty of Kyoto’s temples and gardens or the dramatic landscapes of Hakone, both destinations offer a delightful retreat into the natural wonders of Japan.


Accessibility is an important factor to consider when deciding between Kyoto and Hakone.


Kyoto is a major transportation hub and is easily accessible from various parts of Japan. The city is served by Kyoto Station, which is well-connected to major cities like Tokyo and Osaka.

  • By Air

The nearest international airport to Kyoto is Kansai International Airport (KIX), located approximately 100 kilometers away. 

From the airport, you can reach Kyoto by taking a direct train or bus, which typically takes around 75-90 minutes. There are also domestic flights available to Itami Airport (also known as Osaka International Airport), which is closer to Kyoto and offers convenient access.

  • By Train

Kyoto is well-connected by train, and the Shinkansen (bullet train) is an efficient and popular way to reach the city. 

The Tokaido Shinkansen line connects Kyoto with major cities like Tokyo, Osaka, and Hiroshima. From Tokyo, the journey to Kyoto takes around 2.5-3 hours on the fastest Shinkansen trains. 

Additionally, there are regular train services that connect Kyoto with other parts of Japan.

  • By Bus

Kyoto is also accessible by long-distance buses, which are a more affordable option compared to trains. 

Various bus companies operate routes to and from Kyoto, connecting it with major cities and tourist destinations across the country. Bus terminals are usually located near Kyoto Station, making it convenient for travelers.

  • Within the City

Kyoto has an extensive public transportation system, including buses and subway lines, which make it easy to navigate the city and reach its major attractions. 

Buses are particularly convenient for exploring the city, as they cover a wide network and offer multilingual signage and announcements. Kyoto also has a bicycle-sharing system, allowing visitors to rent bicycles and explore the city’s sights at a leisurely pace.


Hakone, while not as centrally located as Kyoto, is still relatively accessible and offers various transportation options to reach the area.

  • By Air

The most convenient airport to reach Hakone is Tokyo Haneda Airport (HND), which is a major international and domestic airport. From Haneda Airport, you can take a direct train or bus to Hakone. 

The journey typically takes around 2-3 hours, depending on the mode of transportation chosen.

  • By Train

Hakone can be reached by train via the Odakyu Line from Shinjuku Station in Tokyo. The Odakyu Romancecar is a limited express train that offers a direct route to Hakone-Yumoto Station, the main gateway to the Hakone area. 

The journey takes approximately 1.5-2 hours, depending on the train service chosen. Once you reach Hakone-Yumoto Station, you can transfer to local transportation options to explore different parts of Hakone.

  • By Bus

Buses are a convenient option for reaching Hakone from various locations. There are direct highway bus services available from Tokyo, Yokohama, and other major cities. 

The buses usually terminate at Hakone-Yumoto Station or other key points within the Hakone region.

  • Within the Region

Once you are in Hakone, the Hakone Tozan Railway, buses, cable cars, and ropeways form the local transportation network. 

These modes of transportation allow you to explore the different attractions within Hakone, such as Lake Ashi, Owakudani, and various hot springs. The Hakone Free Pass is a popular option for visitors, as it offers unlimited travel on designated transportation within Hakone for a specified period.


  • Both Kyoto and Hakone are accessible destinations, with Kyoto having more direct transportation options and being well-connected to major cities.
  • Hakone, although located further from major urban centers, still offers convenient access via trains and buses from Tokyo.
  • Once in each respective destination, both cities provide reliable local transportation networks to explore the surrounding areas.

Accommodation Options

The accommodation options in both Kyoto and Hakone cater to a range of preferences and budgets. Here’s an elaboration on the accommodation options in each destination:


Kyoto offers a wide variety of accommodation options, ranging from luxury hotels to traditional ryokans and budget-friendly guesthouses. 

Here are some of the common choices:

  • Hotels

Kyoto has numerous hotels that cater to different budgets and preferences. From upscale international chains to boutique hotels and traditional Japanese-style accommodations, there is a wide range of options available throughout the city. 

Hotels in central areas such as Kyoto Station, Gion, and downtown Kyoto provide convenient access to major attractions, transportation hubs, and dining options.

  • Ryokans

For a truly authentic Japanese experience, staying at a ryokan is highly recommended. Ryokans are traditional Japanese inns that offer a unique blend of comfort, hospitality, and cultural immersion. 

These establishments typically feature tatami-matted rooms, futon bedding, and communal baths (onsen). 

Some ryokans serve kaiseki (traditional multi-course) meals, allowing guests to savor exquisite Japanese cuisine. Ryokans can be found in various parts of Kyoto, including Arashiyama and Higashiyama districts, offering a serene atmosphere amidst the city’s historical sites.

  • Guesthouses and Hostels

Kyoto also has a range of guesthouses and hostels, which provide budget-friendly accommodation options, particularly for solo travelers or those on a tight budget. 

These establishments often offer dormitory-style rooms or private rooms with shared facilities, providing a social atmosphere and an opportunity to meet fellow travelers.

  • Machiya Townhouses

Machiya is a traditional wooden townhouse that has been converted into accommodations. These historical buildings offer a glimpse into Kyoto’s traditional architecture and lifestyle. 

Staying in a machiya allows guests to experience a blend of modern amenities and traditional aesthetics. Some machiya accommodations come with self-catering facilities, making them suitable for families or longer stays.


Hakone offers a range of accommodation options that allow visitors to immerse themselves in the natural beauty and hot springs of the region. Here are some popular choices:

  • Ryokans and Onsen Resorts

Hakone is renowned for its onsen (hot springs), and many accommodations in the area feature their own hot spring baths. 

Ryokans in Hakone provide a traditional Japanese experience with tatami-matted rooms, futon bedding, and kaiseki meals. Some ryokans have private open-air baths (rotenburo) where guests can relax while enjoying views of the surrounding nature. These accommodations often offer a tranquil atmosphere and beautiful views of Mount Fuji or Lake Ashi.

  • Western-Style Hotels
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Hakone also has a selection of Western-style hotels, including luxury resorts and boutique hotels. These accommodations provide modern amenities, comfortable rooms, and a variety of services and facilities to cater to different tastes. 

Some hotels offer scenic views of Mount Fuji or Lake Ashi, allowing guests to enjoy the natural beauty of the area.

  • Guesthouses and Hostels

Budget-conscious travelers can find guesthouses and hostels in Hakone as well. These accommodations typically offer dormitory-style rooms or private rooms with shared facilities, making them affordable options for solo travelers or groups.


  • Both Kyoto and Hakone offer diverse accommodation options to suit various preferences and budgets.
  • Kyoto presents a mix of hotels, traditional ryokans, guesthouses, and machiya townhouses, providing a range of choices for travelers.
  • Hakone’s accommodations focus on onsen resorts, ryokans, and Western-style hotels, allowing guests to indulge in the hot springs and natural beauty of the area


The cuisine in both Kyoto and Hakone showcases the flavors of Japan with unique regional specialties. 


Kyoto is renowned for its traditional and refined cuisine, which reflects the city’s historical and cultural heritage. Here are some highlights:

  • Kaiseki

Kyoto is known for its kaiseki cuisine, a multi-course dining experience that showcases the seasonal flavors and artistic presentation of each dish. 

Kaiseki meals typically consist of small, beautifully arranged dishes prepared with local and seasonal ingredients. The emphasis is on balance, harmony, and the appreciation of each ingredient’s natural flavors.

  • Yudofu

Yudofu is a simple yet flavorful dish that Kyoto is famous for. It consists of soft tofu simmered in a kombu (kelp) broth and served with dipping sauces or condiments. Yudofu is a vegetarian-friendly dish that highlights the delicate flavors and textures of tofu.

  • Obanzai

Obanzai refers to the traditional home-style dishes of Kyoto. These dishes often feature seasonal vegetables, tofu, seafood, and simmered or grilled preparations. Obanzai showcases the simple yet refined flavors of Kyoto’s local ingredients.

  • Matcha and Wagashi

Kyoto is known for its matcha (green tea) culture. You can enjoy matcha in various forms, such as matcha tea ceremonies and matcha-flavored desserts like matcha-flavored wagashi (traditional Japanese confections). 

Wagashi are often made with sweet bean paste and are beautifully designed to reflect the seasons.

  • Kyo-kaiseki and tea houses

Kyoto is also known for its historic tea houses where you can enjoy kyo-kaiseki, a more elaborate and luxurious version of kaiseki cuisine. These dining experiences often include cultural performances such as tea ceremonies and traditional music.


Hakone offers a different culinary experience, influenced by the local ingredients and the region’s natural surroundings. Here are some culinary highlights:

  • Black Eggs

One of the iconic food items in Hakone is the “black eggs” or “kuro-tamago.” These eggs are boiled in the region’s natural hot springs, turning their shells black due to the mineral content of the water. It is believed that consuming these eggs can extend one’s life by seven years.

  • Hakone Cuisine

Hakone’s cuisine often incorporates ingredients sourced from the region, including freshwater fish, mountain vegetables, and locally grown produce. You can find various dishes such as grilled fish, tempura, and hot pot dishes that highlight the flavors of the local ingredients.

  • Soba Noodles

Hakone is known for its high-quality soba noodles made from buckwheat flour. You can enjoy these noodles in various preparations, including hot or cold dishes. Soba noodles are often served with a dipping sauce or in a broth with toppings.

  • Hakone Beer

Hakone is home to several craft breweries that produce local beers. You can visit breweries and pubs in the area to sample a range of craft beers, including seasonal and specialty brews.

  • Hot Spring Cuisine

Many ryokans and accommodations in Hakone offer kaiseki-style meals that incorporate local ingredients and showcase the flavors of the region. These meals often feature seasonal ingredients and are designed to complement the relaxing atmosphere of the hot springs.


  • Both Kyoto and Hakone offer distinct culinary experiences. Kyoto presents refined and traditional cuisine with its kaiseki, yudofu, and matcha culture.
  • Hakone, on the other hand, provides a taste of local specialties such as black eggs, Hakone cuisine, soba noodles, and hot spring-inspired meals.
  • Exploring the unique flavors of each destination adds an enriching dimension to your visit.

Tourist Crowds

The tourist crowds in Kyoto and Hakone can vary depending on the time of year and popular attractions. 


Kyoto is a popular tourist destination and can experience significant crowds, especially during peak seasons. The city’s historical significance, iconic temples, and traditional charm attract visitors from around the world. 

Here are some factors to consider regarding tourist crowds in Kyoto:

  • Peak Seasons

The peak tourist seasons in Kyoto are during the cherry blossom season (late March to early April) and the autumn foliage season (late October to early December). 

During these periods, the city can be crowded with tourists, particularly in popular spots like Kiyomizu-dera Temple, Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, and Fushimi Inari Shrine. 

It is advisable to expect larger crowds and plan accordingly, such as visiting popular attractions early in the day or exploring lesser-known spots.

  • Golden Week and Holidays

Golden Week, which typically falls from late April to early May, is a series of public holidays in Japan. During this time, Kyoto can experience a surge in domestic tourists. 

Other major holidays like Obon (mid-August) and New Year’s (late December to early January) can also attract increased numbers of visitors.

  • Weekends and Japanese School Holidays

Kyoto can be busier on weekends and during Japanese school holidays, as local visitors often take the opportunity to explore the city’s attractions. If possible, consider visiting on weekdays to avoid larger crowds.

  • Off-Peak Seasons

Visiting Kyoto during the off-peak seasons, such as winter and summer (excluding major holidays), can result in fewer crowds. While some popular attractions may still have visitors, the overall tourist volume tends to be lower compared to peak seasons.


Hakone is a popular destination for both domestic and international tourists, particularly due to its natural beauty and hot springs. 

However, the crowds in Hakone are generally less dense compared to Kyoto. 

Here are some factors to consider regarding tourist crowds in Hakone:

  • Weekends and Holidays

Like any tourist destination, Hakone can experience increased visitor numbers on weekends and during Japanese holidays. It is advisable to expect more tourists during these times, especially at popular attractions like Lake Ashi and Owakudani.

  • Day Trippers

Hakone is a popular day trip destination from Tokyo due to its proximity. Visitors often come for a day to enjoy the hot springs, cruise on Lake Ashi, and take in the views of Mount Fuji. 

As a result, the crowds in Hakone tend to peak during the daytime, particularly in the areas close to major transportation hubs like Hakone-Yumoto Station.

  • Timing

Planning your visit during non-peak hours, such as early morning or late afternoon, can help avoid larger crowds. 

Additionally, exploring less popular areas or off-the-beaten-path attractions in Hakone can provide a quieter experience.

  • Seasonal Variations
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The tourist crowds in Hakone can also vary depending on the season. For example, the cherry blossom season and autumn foliage season can attract more visitors seeking to enjoy the natural beauty of the area.


  • While both Kyoto and Hakone can have tourist crowds, Kyoto tends to be busier and more crowded, particularly during peak seasons and holidays.
  • Hakone, while still popular, generally offers a slightly more relaxed atmosphere, especially during weekdays and non-peak times.
  • Planning your visit strategically and considering the factors mentioned above can help you navigate the tourist crowds in both destinations.

Side Trips and Nearby Attractions

Both Kyoto and Hakone offer excellent opportunities for side trips and exploring nearby attractions. 


Kyoto is centrally located in the Kansai region of Japan, making it a convenient base for exploring other nearby cities and attractions. 

Here are some popular side trips from Kyoto:

  • Nara

Located just a short train ride away from Kyoto, Nara is known for its historical and cultural significance. It is home to the famous Nara Park, where you can encounter friendly deer roaming freely, as well as iconic landmarks like Todaiji Temple and Kasuga Taisha Shrine.

  • Osaka

Osaka, a vibrant and modern city, is easily accessible from Kyoto. It offers a contrasting urban experience with attractions such as Osaka Castle, Dotonbori district known for its lively food scene, Universal Studios Japan, and the vibrant nightlife of Umeda and Namba.

  • Kobe 

Known for its scenic waterfront, delicious Kobe beef, and the iconic Kobe Port Tower, Kobe is another city worth exploring. It has a distinct cosmopolitan atmosphere and offers attractions like the Kobe Harborland, Mount Rokko, and the Kobe Nunobiki Herb Gardens.

  • Hiroshima

While it requires a longer journey, Hiroshima is accessible from Kyoto via the Shinkansen (bullet train). This historic city is famous for the Peace Memorial Park, the iconic Itsukushima Shrine on Miyajima Island, and its moving history related to World War II.


Hakone is nestled in the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, surrounded by stunning natural landscapes and iconic Mount Fuji. While it is a destination in itself, there are also nearby attractions and side trips you can consider:

  • Lake Kawaguchi

Located near Mount Fuji, Lake Kawaguchi offers breathtaking views of the iconic mountain. Visitors can enjoy boat cruises, visit museums like the Kawaguchiko Museum of Art, and explore the Fuji-Q Highland amusement park.

  • Gotemba Premium Outlets

For shopping enthusiasts, the Gotemba Premium Outlets, situated at the foot of Mount Fuji, is a popular destination. It features numerous international and local brands, offering a wide range of shopping opportunities.

  • Hakone Open-Air Museum

This outdoor museum showcases an extensive collection of sculptures and artwork set amidst beautiful gardens and natural scenery. It is a unique cultural attraction that combines art appreciation with the tranquility of nature.

  • Izu Peninsula

If you have more time, you can explore the nearby Izu Peninsula, known for its scenic coastlines, hot springs, and beautiful beaches. It offers attractions such as the Jogasaki Coast, Shimoda City, and the stunning Atami Onsen.

These are just a few examples of the side trips and nearby attractions you can consider when visiting Kyoto and Hakone. 

Whether you’re interested in historical sites, natural beauty, or cultural experiences, both destinations provide a gateway to explore other captivating places in Japan.

Budget Considerations

Budget considerations are important when planning a trip to Kyoto or Hakone.


Kyoto, as a major tourist city, offers a range of options to suit different budgets. 

Here are some budget considerations to keep in mind when planning a trip to Kyoto:

  • Accommodation

Accommodation prices in Kyoto can vary depending on the type of lodging and location. While luxury hotels and ryokans can be more expensive, there are also budget-friendly options such as guesthouses and hostels. 

Staying in accommodations slightly away from the city center or popular tourist areas can often be more cost-effective.

  • Transportation

Getting around Kyoto is relatively affordable. The city has an efficient public transportation system, including buses and trains, which offer reasonably priced fares. 

Consider purchasing a Kyoto City Bus Pass or using a rechargeable IC card like Suica or ICOCA for convenience and potential cost savings.

  • Food

Kyoto offers a wide range of dining options to suit various budgets. You can find affordable eats at local restaurants, street food stalls, and food markets. 

Exploring the local neighborhoods and trying local specialties like street-side takoyaki or ramen can be a more budget-friendly dining experience.

  • Attractions

While some popular attractions in Kyoto may have entrance fees, there are also numerous temples, shrines, and gardens that can be enjoyed for free or at a nominal cost. 

Additionally, consider taking advantage of discounted combination tickets or passes for multiple attractions to save on admission fees.


Hakone, being a resort town, can have a range of budget considerations to take into account. 

Here are some factors to consider when planning your budget for a trip to Hakone:

  • Accommodation

Hakone offers a variety of accommodation options, ranging from luxury ryokans to budget-friendly guesthouses. Prices can vary depending on the type of accommodation, location, and amenities. 

Consider staying in accommodations slightly away from the main tourist areas or considering mid-range options to help manage your budget.

  • Transportation

Getting to Hakone from Tokyo can involve additional transportation costs, such as the Hakone Free Pass or separate train and bus fares. 

The Hakone Free Pass, which includes transportation within Hakone and access to various attractions, can be a cost-effective option for exploring the area.

  • Food

Dining in Hakone can range from affordable local eateries to high-end restaurants. Exploring local markets or trying local specialties like soba noodles or onsen tamago (hot spring eggs) can provide a more budget-friendly dining experience. 

It’s also worth considering accommodations that include meals, as some ryokans offer half-board or full-board options.

  • Attractions

Hakone offers a range of attractions, including hot springs, museums, and scenic spots. Some attractions may have entrance fees, so it’s advisable to plan your itinerary and consider any additional costs. 

The Hakone Free Pass can offer value by including transportation and discounted or free entry to select attractions.

It’s important to note that personal spending habits and preferences can greatly impact overall expenses. Being mindful of your budget and researching cost-effective options in advance can help ensure a more affordable and enjoyable trip to both Kyoto and Hakone.


Choosing between Kyoto and Hakone depends on your preferences, interests, and the type of experience you seek during your visit to Japan. 

Kyoto offers a deep dive into Japan’s history, culture, and spirituality, with its temples, shrines, and traditional atmosphere.

On the other hand, Hakone provides a peaceful retreat amidst stunning natural beauty, hot springs, and magnificent views of Mount Fuji.

Consider the historical and cultural significance, natural landscapes, accessibility, accommodation options, cuisine, and tourist crowds when making your decision. If time allows, combining both destinations will provide a well-rounded experience, showcasing the best of Japan’s historical heritage and captivating landscapes.

Ultimately, whether you choose Kyoto or Hakone, or even both, your visit to Japan will be a memorable journey filled with cultural immersion, natural wonders, and warm hospitality.

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