Take in some of Kyoto’s most famous sights and some of its secret spots too, all in one four hour private Kyoto walking tour
This walk is ideal for people who want to see some of Kyoto’s most famous sights, as well as some secret back lanes and one lesser visited temple. Also good for kids who need a lot of stimulation.
The Tour Itinerary
This walk really packs it all in. You’ll start at the famous Kiyomizu-dera Temple, then descend via atmospheric Sanen-zaka and Ninen-zaka lanes, before exploring Ishibei-koji Lane (my favorite lane in all of Kyoto), before emerging into Maruyama-koen Park. You’ll then explore the “Vatican of Japanese Buddhism”: Chion-in Temple, and then wind down with some quiet time at Shoren-in Temple. This is really the quintessential Kyoto route, but with some interesting route choices that keep you away from the crowds where possible.
Your Own Private Tour Guide
Don’t forget this is a private walking tour, just for you and your friends and family. There will be no-one else on the tour with you, so you have the guide to yourself. We have some of Kyoto’s best English-speaking guides, helping you maximise your time and enjoyment of the city and also get a deeper understanding of the history and significance of each place you visit. The tour price is for the whole group, not per person!
- Time: Four hours
- Cost: ¥35,000 for 1 to 6 people per private group. The cost is NOT per person
- Difficulty: Easy (only one small climb, but this can be done by taxi if necessary) and some steps to descend
- Highlights: Kiyomizu-dera Temple, Ninen-zaka Hill, Sanen-zaka Hill, Ishibei-koji Lane, Maruyama-koen Park, Chion-in Temple and Shoren-in Temple
- Ideal starting time: 9am (walk concludes at 1pm) or 1pm (walk concludes at 5pm)
How To Book A Kyoto Private Walking Tour
Please send us an inquiry using the form below. We will then quickly respond to you by email confirming availability and any other requirements you may have. You can pay either in advance online using your credit card, or you can pay at the conclusion of the tour in cash. Japanese Yen, US Dollars or Euros are acceptable for cash payments.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Why Hire A Private Guide?
You don’t need a guide to enjoy Kyoto, but having a guide will add a lot of depth to your understanding of the city. A guide will also free you from having to think about the logistics of getting around and making the most efficient use of your time. A guide can also help you enjoy local restaurants without any communication difficulties.
Hiring a guide for a tour on your first day will give you the confidence to explore on following days on your own and a guide can give you some advice about what to see later in your trip.
Who Runs These Tours?
My company Chris Rowthorn Tours provides these tours. We have been running licensed tours in Kyoto for 10 years. I have spent years finding and training the best guides in all of Kyoto. Licensed, professional bilingual guides who love Kyoto as much as I do. But, don’t take my word for it, have a look at reviews of Chris Rowthorn Tours on TripAdvisor.
Is The Price Per Person?
No! This is the PER GROUP price, i.e., it’s the price for a private group of 1 to 6 people. For example, if there is one person booking a four-hour walking tour, the price is ¥35,000 total. If there are six of you, the price is still ¥35,000 (making it much cheaper per person). The tour group is private. That means there is only you and your family or you and your friends on the tour and no one else. Please note that we do NOT put different individuals or groups together, even upon request.
Do I Get A Discount If We Are Less Than 6 People?
The price is for a private group for 1 to 6 people. There are no discounts if there are less than the maximum number of people.
How Do I Pay For My Private Kyoto Walking Tour?
Payment is in cash at the conclusion of the tour or by credit card in advance of the tour (we can set up credit card billing). If you choose to pay in cash, please note that we accept yen cash or the equivalent amount in US/Euro cash.
Can I Cancel A Tour After Booking It?
You can cancel a tour with no penalty up to 48 hours before the scheduled start of the tour. If you cancel between 24 and 48 hours of the scheduled start, we charge you 50% of the price of the tour. Cancellations made fewer than 24 hours from the scheduled start of the tour incur a full 100% charge.
What’s Not Included In The Tour Price?
The tour fee covers the price of the guide. Transport to and from the tour and during the tours, drinks and snacks along the way, and temple/garden/entrance fees are not included in this price (these costs are usually minimal). Please note that for full-day tours and six-hour tours, the guide will join you for lunch and we ask that you cover the cost of the guide’s lunch and their transport during the tour (usually a minimal expense).
How Do We Meet With Our Guide?
Your guide can meet you in the lobby of your hotel, ryokan, guesthouse or at any other convenient spot. They can also drop you off there if you wish at the conclusion of the tour.
Will My Guide Speak Fluent English?
My guides all speak high-level international-standard English and most have studied abroad. They have all passed the Japan National Guiding License, which includes a very strict English language section.
Do We Stop To Eat?
On two- or four-hour tours, you most likely will not stop for a proper sit-down meal (although, since it’s a fully private tour, if you chose to do so, you could). On six- and eight-hour tours, you will most likely stop for lunch en route. You might also stop for a drink at a teahouse or coffee shop en route. Please remember that these are fully private tours – the choice is up to you!
Where Can I Rest Along The Way?
Please do not feel that you have to walk at a certain pace for the entire tour. Or, for that matter, that you have to walk the complete distance or even finish the tour. Because these are fully private tours, you can rest as often as you wish: on park benches, in teahouses, at temple gardens, in restaurants and so on. And, if you tire of walking, you can always jump in a taxi.
Is It Easy To Find A Restroom?
Restrooms are very easy to find in Japan. Almost all attractions like temples have them, as do parks and shopping malls.
How Do We Get Home At The End Of Our Tour?
It is your choice: Your guide can escort you back to your lodgings or can simply explain the best way to get there on your own. Or, if the day is not yet over, your guide can point you in the direction of additional sightseeing. Please keep in mind that if you choose to have your guide accompany you to your lodgings, this will be on the clock, so that you will have to leave some of the sights a little early to make it back before the end of the tour.
Kyoto Walking Tours
- Kyoto Walking Tour Overview
- Kyoto Walking Tour 1: Nanzen-ji Temple to Yoshida-jinja Shrine
- Kyoto Walking Tour 2: Tofuku-ji Temple to Fushimi-Inari Taisha Shrine
- Kyoto Walking Tour 3: Classic Southern Higashiyama
- Kyoto Walking Tour 4: Gion Evening Walk
- Kyoto Walking Tour 5: Arashiyama
Kyoto Vacation Checklist
- For all the essentials in a brief overview, see my First Time In Kyoto guide
- Check Kyoto accommodation availability on Booking.com – usually you can reserve a room with no upfront payment. Pay when you check out. Free cancellations too
- Need tips on where to stay? See my one page guide Where To Stay In Kyoto
- See my comprehensive Packing List For Japan
- Buy a data-only SIM card online for collection when you arrive at Kansai International Airport (for Osaka and Kyoto) or Tokyo's Narita Airport. Or rent an unlimited data pocket wifi router
- Compare Japan flight prices and timings to find the best deals
- If you're visiting more than one city, save a ton of money with a Japan Rail Pass – here's my explanation of why it's worth it
- A prepaid Suica card makes travelling around Kyoto easy – here's how
- World Nomads offers simple and flexible travel insurance. Buy at home or while traveling and claim online from anywhere in the world