3 Nights for Tokyo and Kyoto?

Apr 2nd, 2013, 09:52 AM
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3 Nights for Tokyo and Kyoto?

Hi folks,

Coming off a trip to Thailand and will be spending a few days in Japan, trying to figure out an itinerary but I've hit a couple of roadblocks in the planning, any help would be greatly appreciated.

We'll be arriving in Narita at 8:45AM on the 18th of August and flying back from Narita at 5PM on the 21st. Unfortunately, these flights are set in stone so I have no movement there. Here's the itinerary I have in mind so far but it's very open to adjustments, I've never been to Japan (and neither has anyone else in my party of four), so everything right now is simply based off internet research.

Aug 18th Arrive Narita 8:45AM
Train to Kyoto with transfer in Tokyo Station
Arrive Kyoto mid-afternoon
Spend nights of the 18th and 19th in Kyoto (thinking Hyatt Regency)
Early on 19th, train back to Tokyo Station
Check into hotel/drop of luggage (thinking of something near Tokyo Station, Four Seasons perhaps?)
Take metro to Shinjuku
Spend entire day checking out Shinjuku/Harjuku/Shibuya areas
Take metro (from Shibuya most likely) back to Tokyo Station after late dinner
Spend night of the 20th at Four Seasons
Wake up early and spend morning of the 21st checking out the area surrounding hotel (Ginza, maybe Imperial Palace)
Train to Narita around lunch time for 5PM flight.

My gut instantly tells me I'm trying to fit in too much but the only other option seems to be to skip Kyoto entirely which I'd hate to miss out on it. I may not get back to Japan for another decade. We'll be coming off a slow-paced trip to Phuket so a little haste may not be a bad thing.

I also had the thought of 1 night in Kyoto and 2 in Tokyo but that would pack a lot of travelling into that first half of our stay. This would be unwise, right?

I've also thought that staying in the Shinjuku area as oppose to near Tokyo Station may be the better bet. I've read that Shinjuku is the more interesting area to stay but it does it really matter much if we're only in Tokyo one night anyway? Staying at Tokyo Station would seem to be the more efficient choice here, correct?

Thanks in advance for any replies
A4A4A4 is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2013, 10:59 AM
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With a mere three nights, I'd say spend them all in one place, either Tokyo or Kyoto.
Kathie is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2013, 11:46 AM
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When you say your flights are set in stone, does that preclude tacking on flights to and from Osaka? You might save some time that way.

As you know, Tokyo is not very close to Narita and I would recommend skipping it, if Kyoto is a must do. Kyoto is a large city and the itinerary you laid out really only gives you one full day there, barely enough time to see anything. Also, you would be spending much of your time on trains between airports and cities.
Craig is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2013, 12:02 PM
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i would stay in tokyo the entire time..
rhkkmk is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2013, 12:11 PM
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Going to Kyoto adds about 4 hours (total) to your travel, and I think it's worth it. For most 1st-time visitors, I'd say that Kyoto is far more interesting and approachable than is Tokyo. And, unless you have something specific that you want to see or do in Tokyo, I see no benefit in splitting the time between cities. It's hardly as if you'd run out of things to do in Kyoto. Only exception is if you're looking for an ultra-great hotel experience -- while the Hyatt Regency is a pleasant place to stay in Kyoto, it doesn't begin to match the service you'd get at any of the elite hotels in Tokyo (four Seasons, Park Hyatt, etc.).

On your budget, I would not bother with a rail pass if you go to Kyoto (sorry, mr w.). It would save you a very few $$, but cost you time in arranging for the pass, going through the paperwork after you arrive in Japan, slower trains, and fewer trains to choose from.
DonTopaz is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2013, 03:44 PM
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Well, as I suspected, most here seem to think that doing both cities would be too much for the 3.5 days. It's hard for me to give up either of the cities as both just seem to encompass such an interesting part of Japan for me.

I think if choosing between the two though, I'd probably have to lean towards Tokyo. Besides it being that much easier and efficient for us, it just seems to be what I think of when I think "Japan". I can't imagine a trip to Japan and NOT spending time in Tokyo. Obviously I'll miss out on the serenity and history of Kyoto but I think I'll at least be able get in some shrines and parks in Tokyo which will somewhat make up for it.

Eating good Japanese food (particularly Sushi) is very important to us as well which seems to tilt towards Tokyo. I'm also hugely interested in big city/high density living so I think I'll very much enjoy Tokyo in that sense.
A4A4A4 is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2013, 05:20 PM
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You'll be arriving in Tokyo on the last day of the Obon travel period. http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2286.html

Tokyo is probably the best place in the world for sushi. My advice for Tsukiji is to not go there at lunch time unless you like waiting in line in August heat. Go earlier or later and avoid the rush.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2013, 05:43 PM
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I didn't realize our visit would coincide with Obon, in fact, I'm not very familiar with Obon at all. What exactly does this entail for us? I assume travel will be more difficult. Will we have problems getting from Narita to Tokyo? Would it be prohibitively busy for us to go to Kyoto if that's the route we decide to go? The lanterns floating in the river sounds like something I'd actually really like to see, is there a specific place in either Kyoto or Tokyo where we could witness this?
A4A4A4 is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2013, 07:38 PM
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good decision. kyoto can wait till your next visit
rhkkmk is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2013, 08:46 PM
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Going to Kyoto would cost about $1000 more than just going to Tokyo and would add 6 hours of travel time.

August 18: arrive NRT after a redeye flight from Thailand. Go to the ATM and then drop off some luggage. Then:

option A
Buy airport bus tickets, maybe 3000 yen each. Find the bus stop for the bus that goes to your Shinjuku hotel. Maybe 2 hours later you are checked in to your hotel and heading to Meiji Jingu.

option B
Find the JR station and purchase tickets to Kyoto, about 16,000 yen each. You don't want a JR Pass for this as it would not be worth the minor savings to give up the flexibility (you wouldn't be able to take the Nozomi train with a JR Pass on this busy travel day and to make it economical you would have to use it to get to NRT for your trip home, just to save 4000 yen or so).

So you buy your Narita Express and shinkansen tickets, take the train to Tokyo. Being wide awake and relaxed after your redeye flight, you have no trouble shepherding your gang to the shinkansen gate, to the platform, board the correct car, and find your seats. This is assuming you were able to get four reserved seats in the same railcar. Probably about 5 hours after buying your tickets at Narita Airport station you arrive at Kyoto station.

January 19th:

Option A:
You wake up in Shinjuku with $1000 to spend on sushi.
Spend entire day checking out Shinjuku/Harjuku/Shibuya areas

Option B:
Get people and luggage from hotel to Kyoto station, get tickets (if you didn't get them at Narita), etc.
Train back to Tokyo Station
Check into hotel/drop of luggage (thinking of something near Tokyo Station, Four Seasons perhaps?)
Take metro (or JR Chuo Line) to Shinjuku
Spend entire day afternoon checking out Shinjuku/Harjuku/Shibuya areas
mrwunrfl is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2013, 08:50 PM
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I don't know why I wrote January and not August for the 19th. And that would be the 20th anyway.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2013, 08:54 PM
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I'm still not entirely decided but the more I think about it, the more it seems to make sense to stick to Tokyo.

I didn't put much thought into climate before but I'm now thinking that it may not be quite as swelteringly hot as Kyoto. I figure there are more indoor activities to keep us occupied in Tokyo as well. It may be tough to spend all day looking at temples when it's 35*C out.

mrwunrfl has me a little worried about travelling on the 18th due to the Obon Festival as well.
A4A4A4 is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2013, 09:26 PM
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Some excellent points mrwunrfl.

I think I'll try to convince my group to skip out on Kyoto this time around and stick to Tokyo.

Thank you everyone for the excellent advice.
A4A4A4 is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2013, 09:27 AM
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I will planning a trip to japan there are i want see Tokyo&Kyoto city. i will planning stay in Tokyo 3 night and 4 days and in Kyoto 2 days. anybody to tell me who is best hotel to stay in both city.
steevennsmithh is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2013, 09:30 AM
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I adored Kyoto and if I had to choose between the two cities, I'd choose Kyoto, though I very much enjoyed Tokyo too. HOWEVER, that would be on the assumption that I wasn't locked into flights and could fly into / out of whichever of the two cities I chose.

Given your flights are already booked and into Tokyo, I would definitely stick to just Tokyo for this trip.

... and try and make it back to Japan in less than a decade! Which you probably will do once you've had that little taste!!!

There's so much to do in and around Tokyo that 3.5 days will be PACKED.

Kavey is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2013, 03:07 PM
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Stick to Tokyo this trip....you'll be back sooner than you think. If you want a little of Kyoto's feel near Tokyo take the subway or train to Kamakura for a few hours.


hawaiiantraveler is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2013, 07:55 PM
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It would make a bit more sense to stay in Tokyo on the 18th near Tokyo station or maybe Shinagawa. Hire an MK van in Kyoto. Train from Kyoto to NRT on the 21st.

I looked and didn't find good NRT<-> OSA air connections that work with your Japan arrival or departure times.

I think your gut instinct was right and this is coming from a person who doesn't mind making multiple short visits. I just would not want to visit both with only 3 nights. Not after a long redeye flight three days before a long haul flight. You all can have a ton of fun in Tokyo. And you can stay where you want in Tokyo without having to be concerned about location near a shinkansen station for getting to or from Kyoto.
mrwunrfl is offline  

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