Itinerary help

Old May 11th, 2016, 12:26 PM
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Itinerary help

Hi,

We are thrilled about visiting Japan in July.
We are landing at Narita airport in the evening (around 7pm), and have 4 days thereafter to spend in Japan. We are first time visitors to Japan and wish to see go to a city or two. Prefer cities with a lot more interesting sites (temples, festivals etc.) such as Kyoto over busy places like Tokyo.
1. Is it better to spend the night in Narita the first day?
2. Is Kyoto a good base to stay put for 4 days? Are there alternatives? I read about Hakone which seems nice too.
3. Given that the trip really is only 4 days, is a JR rail pass still worth it?
4. Suggestions for hotels?
We are budget travelers not looking to spend much.
Thanks!
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Old May 11th, 2016, 12:28 PM
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Forgot to mention that we fly in and out of Narita.
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Old May 11th, 2016, 01:39 PM
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Spend some time on japan-guide.com perhaps the best resource on Japan on the web.

If I had just 4 days to spend in Japan, I'd choose Kyoto. But I don't know that it makes sense for you, as you are arriving and leaving from Narita. Also note that Kyoto is a very large, busy city. Hakone doesn't have enough for 4 days, I don't believe unless you have already visited many places in Japan. On the other hand, it will be very hot and humid in July, and Hakone will be cooler.

It doesn't sound like you will be taking a lot of trains, so a JR pass really doesn't make sense for you. Just buy the tickets you need.
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Old May 11th, 2016, 01:42 PM
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PS - do you really have 4 days in Japan (meaning 5 nights) or something less? That makes a difference in what you can do/see in your time there.
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Old May 11th, 2016, 03:39 PM
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Thanks Kathie.
We arrive late evening on day 1. Have 4 full days (day 2 to day 5) and leave day 6 morning.
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Old May 11th, 2016, 03:45 PM
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We are a family of 3, with a 7 year old who loves to travel and hike. The weather in Kyoto does seem to be pretty hot and humid, and I realize that we are missing Gion Matsuri.
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Old May 11th, 2016, 11:52 PM
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Like Kja, I adore Kyoto and normally would always recommend people give more time there than in Tokyo, just because it has so much to offer. Not only in Kyoto but the many places within easy reach of it - Osaka, Kobe, Uji, Yamazaki Distillery...

It also feels closer to the countryside, and you can get out to surrounding villages/ small towns where hiking may be more feasible, relatively quickly. Japan-Guide.com will have more specifics.

However, with the shortness of your trip, I'm not sure that's worthwhile. If you've never been, there's plenty to see and do in Tokyo and you could take a couple of day trips from there if you wanted to - I'm told Nikko can be done as a long day trip rather than overnight, for example.

Are the flights already booked, or do you have the option of changing one of the two (arrival or departure) to be at Osaka or Kansai airports (nearer Kyoto)?

That way you could do 2 nights Tokyo, 3 nights Kyoto. Still very tight but more feasible than a loop from and back to Tokyo.
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Old May 12th, 2016, 05:39 AM
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Thank you.
@Kavey - yes, our flights are booked in and out of Narita airport.
We do have 5 days, not counting the days we are flying in and out, its 4 full days. If in case we feel upto going to Kyoto, would you recommend it in July weather? The other consideration for going to Kyoto is budget - seems like the JR railpass will cost quite a bit for a 5 day trip.
If its Tokyo and surroundings, what places would you recommend?
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Old May 12th, 2016, 07:26 AM
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You shouldn't even be thinking about the JR pass - just buy individual tickets for the trains you take. Look at www.hyperdia.com for trains and ticket prices.

Kyoto is the most expensive city in terms of lodging costs. I, too, love the city and would spend all of my time there, but again, with your logistics I'm not sure it makes sense.

You might consider Tokyo and Hakone - so you could get out of the worst of the heat for a while. But you need to look at japan-guide and other guides and decide where you want to go.
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Old May 12th, 2016, 07:32 AM
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Hi Travel_12, I'm afraid I can't comment on July weather as I've always deliberately avoided the hotter months anywhere I travel. My trips have been in September/ October, October/ November and March/ April, in order.

With just 4 full days, I personally would suggest leaving Kyoto for a future trip, and making the most of your time in Tokyo, plus day trips to nearby places.

We spent a morning in Kamakura recently, not far from Tokyo and the giant Buddha (Daibutsu) was well worth seeing.

People also visit Nikko as a day trip, though we and many others choose to overnight there.

Likewise, you could do Hakone as a day trip or dedicate a night there to experience a traditional ryokan and onsen.
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Old May 12th, 2016, 07:43 AM
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There's plenty that will interest your hobbit in Tokyo from the innumerable options in Odaiba to a day trip to Nikko to the bunny and kitty cafes. Dragging to Kyoto and back will mean a lot of hauling around. And you can pop over to Hakone as a day trip.

Tokyo has plenty of temples and shrines (you can't swing a dead cat without hitting a shrine to somebody). Plus you can either fascinate or gross out the hobbit at the Tsukiji Fish Market too.
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Old May 12th, 2016, 08:00 AM
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If you go to Kyoto then a 7-day JR Pass will save about JPY 3000 per person vs pay-as-you-go because you can use it for the Narita Express both ways.

You can get domestic Japan flights for $102 one way on ANA. JAL has a similar discount fare for foreign visitors. There may be flights by discount airlines.

Here is a link for the ANA offer:
http://www.ana.co.jp/wws/ph/e/wws_co...experience_jp/
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Old May 12th, 2016, 08:46 AM
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1) If you fly out of Narita the next day, yes. If you want to go to Tokyo last, or not at all, yes, maybe.

2) Yes. Sapporo would also be a good base for 4 days.

3) Take Kathie's advice and go to hyperdia and see that the one-way fare from Narita Airport to Kyoto is JPY 16,000+ for an adult. A roundtrip at that fare is more than the 7-day JR Pass.

Of course, you don't have to go to Kyoto or Tokyo. Plenty to see and do in Tohoku. Use a JR East Pass.
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Old May 12th, 2016, 06:56 PM
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Thanks everyone.
I'm reading about temperatures in Tokyo and Kyoto in July and its scaring me a bit
Has anyone gone to either place in summer? Should I rethink plans and head to the Japan Alps or someplace like that - it seems really far away though!
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Old May 13th, 2016, 05:35 AM
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I think I will make a separate post about the weather.
Appreciate all the help. Thank you again!
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Old May 14th, 2016, 09:45 AM
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Thanks again for all the fantastic recommendations.
Got more info on weather, and seems like Tokyo and surroundings are more pleasant (if one can say that about summer) than Kyoto. Plus its easier on commute etc. so we'll be sticking with Tokyo.
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Old May 16th, 2016, 08:39 AM
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>

Sheeyoot, neither is Phoenix.
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