There are numerous ways of getting from Kansai Airport to Kyoto. The easiest way is by train though there are alternatives which may be cheaper or convenient depending on your circumstances.
Kyoto is an incredible destination which is a must-see. It is considered to be the cultural capital of Japan and a major tourist destination and its numerous temples, shrines, gardens, and palaces are listed collectively as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Kansai International Airport (KIX) is located on Osaka Bay, a man-made island which is 25 miles (40km) from central Osaka. It is Japan’s third-busiest airport and is well-connected to Kyoto and other nearby cities. Osaka lies between Kansai Airport and Kyoto, visitors often go to Osaka first (either getting off at Osaka or Shin-Osaka Station).
This guide will explain the various ways of making the journey from Kansai Airport to Kyoto including by train (and the best way using your Japan Rail Pass), bus, and taxi.
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Kansai Airport to Kyoto by Train
There are numerous train routes which operate between Kansai Airport and Kyoto. Here are the best ways of making the journey by train.
JR Haruka Limited Express train
The JR Haruka Limited Express takes around 70 minutes to get from Kansai Airport to Kyoto and there are departures every 30 minutes. It is the quickest way and it’s covered by the Japan Rail Pass. For those without the pass, tickets cost 2,850 yen (for non-reserved seats) and 3,500 yen (for reserved seats).
The earliest Haruka service from Kansai Airport is 6:30 am (or 6:40 on weekends and holidays) and the latest is at 22:16. From Kyoto Station, the earliest service is at 5:46 am and the latest is at 20:15.
Fans of Hello Kitty should look out for the special-edition Hello Kitty Haruka which is currently operating.
JR Rapid trains
There are a number of ways of getting from Kansai Airport to Kyoto. However, the second quickest way (100 minutes) is to take the JR Airport Rapid train from the airport to Osaka Station and then transfer to a Special Rapid train on the JR Kyoto line to Kyoto. It’s covered by the JR Pass but normally costs 1880 yen.
If you don’t have a Japan Rail Pass and are looking for a cheaper alternative you can travel by Nankai and Hankyu Railways as the journey costs between 1230 and 1600 yen. You take the Nankai express train from Kansai Airport to Tengachaya Station (40 minutes) and then take the Sakaisuji Subway line and the Hankyu Kyoto line to central Kyoto (60 minutes).
Traveling by Bus
A Limousine Bus runs regularly between Kansai Airport and Kyoto. The bus makes several stops along the way so it’s worth checking beforehand which one is the most convenient for you.
The journey takes approximately 1 hour 30 minutes. It costs 2,550 yen for adults and 1,280 yen for children. Tickets can be reserved any time between 1 month to 1 hour before departure.
At Kansai Airport you can catch buses at bus stop 8 at Terminal 1 or bus stop 1 at Terminal 2. Be careful you don’t board a bus for Osaka Airport as the departure point is nearby.
For buses departing from Kyoto Station, the bus stop is in front of the Avanti building which is directly opposite the Hachijo-guchi southern exit of Kyoto Station. You can reserve tickets at the Keihan Bus center.
Catching a taxi between Kansai Airport and Kyoto isn’t recommended as it’s very expensive. However, it is an option. There are companies which run relatively economical services between the 2 locations but they are still very expensive compared to trains or buses.
With an advanced booking, it’s possible to catch a taxi for approximately 3,500 yen. Prices are considerably more during the night. The big advantage of catching a taxi is the convenience of being dropped at your door. The journey takes around 2 hours 30 minutes which is considerable slower than one of the faster train services.