With over 2000 temples, shrines and gardens, Kyoto is a treasure house of Japan‘s cultural heritage and is one of the most fascinating cities in Asia. Unlike many other Japanese towns, it escaped the ravages of both the Second World War and modern urban development, thereby keeping intact much of the spirit and architecture of traditional Japan. From the impressive Nijo Castle, built in 1603 as a residence for the Tokugawa shoguns, to the famous Kinkakuji Golden Pavilion, built in 1397 as a summer villa for the shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu (and immortalised in Mishima Yukio’s novel, ‘The Temple of the Golden Pavilion’), there is a wealth of sites to indulge in.
The famous geisha districts are also must-sees during Kyoto trips. Packed with bars, restaurants and traditional teahouses, Gion and Pontocho are at their most atmospheric in the early evening, when the lanterns are lit and apprentice geisha will flit about the back streets on their way to their appointments.
Kyoto Adventure Holidays
14 Daysfrom$ 7,379
Guided Group (Excl. Flights)
Explore Zen gardens, temples and the most iconic sights of Japan
This was an amazingly rich first experience of travelling in Japan. The trip offers an excellent balance with cycling in varied and impressive scenery, countless included visits along the way allowing insight into the history and heritage of the country, and full immersion into the culinary and lifestyle culture.
A wonderful insight to this facinating country. Seeing the country by bike is certainly the best way to do it, giving the opportunity to get an insight into the real Japan and it’s people. We travelled in late November, spot on for autumn colours but obviously run the risk of colder, wet and windy weather. That said a bit of rain and strong headwind are a price worth paying. Accommodation was a mixture local Ryokans and modern hotels. The standard of the hotels was mixed, but generally very good. The food was one of the highlights, lots of real japanese food in all its guises from formal set meals (dressed in traditional kimonos) to simple noodles or curry/rice for lunch. Another highlight was definitely the guide Tatsuya ‘Tea’ along with his driver Tiachi and assistant Akiko. Organisation was calm and slick with clearly a lot of effort going on behind the scenes. The last couple of days are in Kyoto, this is good, but the hords of fellow tourists at the big attractions make you realise how special the time cycling away from the crowds was. If you are thinking of visiting Japan and are modestly cycle fit I would wholeheartedly recommend this trip (and in our case it attracted a very pleasant, like-minded group of people to share our experience).
If ever you wanted proof that cycling is a great way to get to know a country then this is it. And what a country. So different in every respect to the UK. The upside of travelling in November is the glorious colours to be seen all around you, enhanced if you’re lucky by blue skies. The downside, and this was outside anyone’s control even our meticulous leader ‘Tea’, is that the weather can be changeable and quite cold at times.We had some challenging days cycling against a very determined headwind. If you’re a hardy northerner this will be no problem, but if you’re a southern softie bring plenty of layers. Having said that most of the rain fell at night and we were only caught out once and that was at the end of a ride, so you could say that luck was on our side. For the most part the cycling was on quiet back roads with plenty of interesting stop-offs along the way, where our knowledgeable guides shared their knowledge and passion for their country. Hotels were a mix of western and traditional japanese inns which were generally of a higher standard than you might experience on many Exodus holidays. The traditional inns were very special and allowed you to immerse yourself, sometimes literally, into this unique culture. The food was excellent, but you do have to be prepared to experiment with a cuisine that is distinctly different from ours. The phrase ‘holiday of a lifetime’ is probably overused, but if you’re prepared to soak up the culture, be experimental and are relatively fit then this holiday will probably come very close to matching that description. And of course the toilets – you’re going to be very disappointed when you return to the UK or anywhere else for that matter!!