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If you are in for an adventure paired with lengthy, quirky, brutal honest thoughts then you are in the right place my friend.

My name is Arisa and was a cosplayer for 12 years before becoming a mom of 2 beautiful girls and i love sharing about Beauty, fashion and everything about Japan because i'm currently based in Kyoto!
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Is Sky Bus Kyoto Tour WORTH riding?


After living in Kyoto close to almost 2 years and passing by it almost everyday, i finally rode on this tour bus today lol. It's fun to just play "tourist" for a day despite already visiting all the major city attractions Kyoto has to offer but then again, why not just for the blog right? haha. I had a few people asking me about this before but unfortunately i couldn't give them an answer, because i personally have not experienced it myself until today; so for that i apologize :'(

It was supposed to be my mission to do  more travel related updates on my blog as frequently as possible but as usual, life happened (being a mom is exhausting enough) so things got on hold and i started feeling abit "jaded" as well which isn't a good thing because that means i'm morphing into a kyoto local that i'm no longer "in awe" with my surroundings because i see them everyday. A total yabaii* realization!!  😱😱😱😱

*dangerous (rough translation minus the nuance)

This 1 hour tour bus ride around Kyoto was exactly what i needed, a reminder that i am indeed blessed to be living in this beautiful ancient capital city. It definitely has it flaws (only those who live in Japan would understand what i mean) just like every other country but we'll put that aside and appriciate the view for now. 

So the question now, is :
"Is Sky Bus Kyoto Tour WORTH riding?"

Putting myself in a first timer tourist's shoes especially the one who has no clue about Kyoto, definitely a YES. We all heard stories from friends who traveled to Japan and came back home with sore leg muscles and as a person living in Japan, this is a true fact. We walk an average of 10,000 steps a day (very least), and walking in Japan requires training like you are preparing for a walkathon or something. Not everyone is fit, including myself lol.

Coming from a person who previously detest the idea of "bus tours" because what can you see from the bus?? But now I get it lol.

Those who only a limited time to spend in Kyoto but would very much like to visit all the main highlights of the city (within kyoto city), then the sky bus tour has it covered.

I was seriously surprised that i actually managed to pass by at least 13 of Kyoto's iconic locations within 1.5 hour bus ride. This whole journey made Kyoto city look as if it's a tiny city (maybe it is, but it always gave me the impression that it's a huge city) lol, like how is that even possible because whenever i take bus/ train to sightsee around Kyoto, i can cover maximum 3-4 locations (without a baby lol, if with a baby that's only 1-2 locations), that's less than half the amount of places covered by the tour bus and it takes me literally a WHOLE DAY!
Crawling through massive crowds, waiting in line, climibing tons of stairs (ugh! subways) etc, can really exhausting!

Makes me wonder WHY ON EARTH did i not just hop on this bus from the begining?  *bimbo moment*

Sky Bus Kyoto is literally a dedicated bus company for sightseeing around Kyoto, all of their routes are curated to cover major tourist spots. 

This bus tour company has 2 kinds of options available, one is a full tour that just drives through without stopping, this is called the "Sky Bus" (2000yen per adult) and the other allows you to hop on and off which is more flexible (3600 yen per adult), that's called "Sky Hop"
The price difference isn't too much and compared to trying to crack your head on figuring out which train line/ bus goes where and where, this bus company got you covered. Yes no doubt going on your own, is "cheaper" but it's honestly more stressful as it requires intensive route planning especially if you want to maximized the trip as much as possible.


Most people prefer the hop on and off option so they can explore abit and take more pictures but like i mentioned if you have time restriction and just looking to enjoy the overall view of Kyoto, then the normal tour (2000yen) would be perfect. 

If you have ederly members or young children (like babies) in the group , just get on the bus.
It will save you a whole lot of hassle and energy of course lol. Should have brought my mom for this last year, because at her age she doesn't want to walk and hike like the rest of us youngsters; all she wants to do is enjoy sightseeing. To her it isn't a "must" to be photographed in every visited location because it's not like she has instagram or facebook to upload on lol.  

By the way, this bus company has a few package routes available, some even includes tea session with a maiko, seasonal tour routes, etc, these changes from time to time. Information is usually updated on their website or you can check directly at their counter (in Kyoto station, next to Kyoto Post office).  
At the moment i can't comment much about Sky Hop's service because i didn't ride on that, but if need more information regarding it; you can check out their website directly. 

As for the Sky Bus, we honestly did enjoy the ride (including lil penguin too) as it gave me especially a refreshing prespective on Kyoto city. Managed to see so many places without having to struggle with crowds, it was more of a "touch & go" experience as we only got to see the exterior of each location. It has it pros and cons, depending on how you see it; for me the pros outweighs the cons because having baby along can be difficult to jump so many places in a day. Getting to see it from a certain distance is enough for me to enjoy it.
Probably when lil penguin is able to walk, we'll try the Sky Hop bus with some friends.

Sky Bus was equipped with a knowlegble local tour guide as well, but during our session it was conducted in Japanese. From what i read online, they do have foreign audio options but i wasn't sure if it's limited to only Sky Hop or Sky Bus has it as well. I'll update this entry again once i get this information confirmed.
It's confirmed, yes they do have a foreign audio device for Sky bus too.

Travel Tip #1: The best time to ride the bus according to the counter is in the morning as it isn't too hot/ bright but if you ride the last 3pm bus, there is barely any crowd so you can seat anywhere you like

Locations Covered in the Tour


Departing from Kyoto station, we managed to cover 13 locations within 1.5 hour, that's really a record for me because it took me forever to cover all of these locations previously lol.
  • Nishihonganji Temple
  • Nijo Castle
  • Reizei Family House
  • Kyoto Gyoen National Garden
  • Kamo-ohashi Bridge
  • Lake Biwa Canal
  • Heian Jingu Shrine
  • Shoren-in Temple
  • Chion-in Temple
  • Yasaka Shrine
  • Kyoto Minamiza
  • Kyoto National Museum
  • Sanjusangendo Temple
  • Kyoto Tower

Chion-in Temple

Kamogawa Delta

Finally a shot of Yasaka Shrine lol

Beautiful autumn foliage can be seen around Heian Jingu already (early Nov 2019) because it's colder there!

This is the closest i've ever been to the giant tori gate right outside of Heian Jingu!
Walking underneath it and riding a double decker bus is totally a different view 😍

What to prepare for Sky Bus?


This is a personal tip from me, and it has nothing to do with the bus company.
As Sky Bus is an open air bus, you are literally exposed out in the open for that 1.5 hour ride; make sure to dress appropriately like during spring, autumn and winter, it can get really chilly especially when it's a windy day like what i experienced. If i've known it's going to be windy i would have brought my glasses to protect my eyes lol, contact lenses don't go well with winds unfortunately. 

If you have sensitive nose especially to pollen, wear a face mask and during winter it can help keep your nose from freezing too. That's why most Japanese people wear facemask during winter.

It's always good to have a windbreaker or a nice warm jacket and scarf at hand to layer yourself.
Make sure to go for your toilet break before going on because there isn't any toilet breaks while the tour is ongoing.


Prepare some drinks* & snacks in case you get peckish, there is a Lawson konbini about less than 100meters away from the Sky Bus station. If you have children along, time to break that snack ban and let them have a snack of their choice so that they won't feel left out too. Just please REMEMBER to PICK UP your trash and mess before leaving the bus.  

* drinks please get bottled ones instead of a cup because there isn't any cupholders available onboard
Have some small cash at hand, in case you would like to purchase Sky Bus's mini toy bus as a souvenier which is sold after the tour at 1000yen each. 

Travel Tip #2: Make sure to check google forecast before hand, rough predictions are usually available up to 3 weeks ahead. Especially during summer because it's more prone to rain & typhoons. 


Where to get Sky Bus Tickets?


You can purchase the bus tickets online or on the spot like what we did because there was literally barely anyone at all. Probably it's because now is considered "low" season, but if you are visit during "peak" season then best to get them online first to avoid disappointments 


For those looking to purchase on the spot or just looking for the Sky Bus bustop, you can't miss it as it's facing right in front of Kyoto station JR Isetan (1F). If you are using google maps, the just search "Kyoto station post office", you will definitely see Sky Bus's bright red london lookalike double decker buses. It really sticks out like a sore thumb lol.



That's all for my short post on Sky Bus Kyoto Tour, hope you guys enjoyed this entry!

Disclaimer: This isn't a sponsored post, we paid for our own tickets and sharing based on our experience as a customer.


Yours Truly,

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