Signing-up for credit cards through partner links earns us a commission. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.
Emily: 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 with American Airlines miles and ~$110 in Business Class per person. He was raised in Japan and had not seen his family for ~20 years! And for 3 weeks of lodging (including some fancy 5-star hotels), I spent ~$450! In this series, I will show you how you can do it, too!
Those tools, as well as our daily newsletter, will give you tips and tricks for how you can take your own amazing (and nearly free) journey!
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
What to Do in Kyoto
Kyoto is one of my 2 favorite cities in Japan (the other being Tokyo).
Kyoto was the most beautiful city we visited, and we never ran out of things to do. Here are some of my favorite activities:
1. Bikeride to Arashiyama
Our favorite activity was riding bikes all around town! Biking down the streets felt safe. We tried to take the back roads to avoid the busier main streets.
Bikes are everywhere in Kyoto. Our favorite destination was to Arashiyama, which is a neighborhood on the outskirts of Kyoto. It took ~1 hour to reach with a bike. But we could have arrived twice as fast by car if we wanted.
The ride may seem like a long one, but it went by very fast because there was so much to see on the way there. There are also LOTS of vending machines on street corners & sidewalks, which make for excellent rest stops along the way!
We passed the Ninna-ji Temple, and had a quick stroll before continuing our journey.
It was very beautiful and peaceful!
After another ~30 minutes, we arrived in Arashiyama. It’s a beautiful small neighborhood that you can easily explore on foot. I loved that it didn’t feel too overwhelming.
In Arashiyama, we spotted some ladies dressed in traditional clothing. They looked so beautiful, and were very nice to let us take their picture!
You can also rent boats and float down the river.
The river ran through the middle of the town, and looked especially beautiful at sunset.
We loved Arashiyama so much that we biked back again before our trip to Osaka.
2. Iwatayama Monkey Park
The Iwatayama Monkey Park is one of the top rated things to do in Arashiyama. The tickets were ~$10 per person.
After you purchase your tickets, you begin your walk up the hill. It’s not a bad walk, but it can be strenuous for some people (especially on a very hot day, like it was for us!). It took us ~20 minutes to reach the top.
We loved taking in the views and breathing in fresh air as we ascended the hill. It really transported us into another world!
Along our walk, we saw wild monkeys hanging out. They were not aggressive at all, but we didn’t reach out to try to pet them.
Once you reach the top, there is a small station where you can buy food to feed the monkeys through the fence. I didn’t feed any monkeys, but I snapped a few pics!
I’ve never seen monkeys so up-close before. Wow! There were even little babies there. 🙂
Alfy got a great shot of a mother and baby together.
We loved visiting the Monkey Park and highly recommend it to others!
3. The Bamboo Forest
There’s a Bamboo Forest also in Arashiyama. This is free to walk through, and is best viewed as the sun begins to set, or in the early morning. There are also fewer tourists.
The Bamboo Park is located in town, and it’s only a ~15 minute walk through the forest.
There are lots of other things to do in Kyoto. Check out your guidebook or TripAdvisor for more ideas. I tried booking us a cooking class, but the ones I wanted were booked a month in advance!
Visiting Kyoto, and especially Arashiyama, was an amazing experience! If I had to pick 2 cities to visit in Japan (of the 6 I visited), Kyoto and Tokyo would be my favorites! I’ll always remember seeing the monkeys and the natural beauty of the bamboo forest.
What tips and tricks do you have for what to do in Kyoto?