We devote thousands of hours of research to help you get Big Travel with Small Money. You support us by signing-up for credit cards through partner links which earn us a commission. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.
Emily: For me, the best part of traveling is seeing new places and experiencing things I’d never get to see back home. Kyoto is a fantastic place to explore old temples, see natural beauty, and meet friendly people. And you can ride all around the city (safely!) on a bike! These experiences made Kyoto a very unique place to visit and a place I would love to return to!
Miles and points earned from just a few credit cards can help get you to Japan — or anywhere else you might want to go — for a fraction of the price! My partner, Alfy, and I flew from the US to Japan round trip for ~$110 in Business Class. He was raised in Japan and had not seen his family for ~20 years. And for 3 weeks of lodging (including some fancy five-star hotels), I spent ~$450! In this series, I will show you how you can do it, too!
How to Use Miles for a Trip to Kyoto Index:
- Part 1 – Introduction and Planning
- Part 2 – Kyoto Airbnb Review
- Part 3 – What to Do in Kyoto
- Part 4 – Where to Eat in Kyoto
- Part 5 – Day Trip to Nara
Day Trip to Nara
It takes a little over an hour to reach Nara from Kyoto via the train. Nara is known for its deer, called sika deer, that freely roam Nara Park. The park itself is one of the oldest in Japan, and dates back to the 1300s! To me, it’s a “must do” day trip from either Kyoto or Osaka.
We rented bikes while in Nara so that we could see more while we were there.
We rode all around the park, but our first stop was to see the deer! You can pay for a little bit of food so that you can easily feed them.
Some deer can get very aggressive though, so be careful if you decide to feed the deer. And be especially careful if you are around them with small children.
The female deer were much more friendly than the males.
After we greeted the deer, we continued our bike ride around the rest of the park.
We saw some old temples…
…and a beautiful lake.
This was my favorite bike ride in all of Japan!
Before we left, we said goodbye to the deer.
Where to Eat
We decided to grab a bite to eat before heading back to Kyoto, so we chose Mellow Café.
The pizzas averaged ~$10, and were a bit small. So I recommend ordering 2 pizzas for 2 people.
The pizzas were the best I had in all of Japan. Yum!!
They also had a small shop filled with stuff from local artists. It was a great place to shop for gifts for friends and family back home!
Matcha Café Mannendo
After dinner, we decided to get dessert at Matcha Café Mannendo. I can’t resist Japanese shaved ice, so here we were!
There were 4 different flavors on the menu.
I ordered the green tea shaved ice, and it was divine! The shaved ice cost ~$8. This is a little bit expensive, but you can share one dessert between two people. Or if you are greedy like me, you’ll want it all to yourself!
Nara is a perfect day trip from Kyoto or Osaka. I loved riding bikes around Nara Park, visiting the deer, eating delicious pizza, and of course, enjoying some Japanese shaved ice!
What are your can’t miss things to do in Nara?