Total Kyoto Tour: Culture, Lanes & Lanterns

  • Best price guaranteed
  • No booking fees
  • duration 8 hours
  • tour type Group
  • tour_type Group tour
  • age requirement 20+ yrs
  • age_requirement 20+ yrs
  • guiding method Live Guide/Instructor
  • Starts Kyoto, Japan
  • Ends Kyoto, Japan
  • See the contrast of Kyoto by day and Kyoto after dusk
  • Visit the famous Fushimi Inari Shrine with its many red torii gates
  • Explore the famous Gion geisha district, and learn about where the geisha live and work
  • Taste some of the best traditional local street snacks
The Total Kyoto Tour: Culture, Lanes & Lanterns tour starts and ends in Kyoto. The Total Kyoto Tour: Culture, Lanes & Lanterns is a cultural, religious and historic sites tour that takes 8 hours.

Experience an afternoon and evening packed with Kyoto highlights in the magical former capital of Japan. Take in a serene Buddhist temple and unique Shinto shrine, see where geishas brighten up dark backstreets, and explore beautiful lantern-lit laneways while enjoying some amazing local food.
5 - Excellent
Based on 802 reviews
Mrs. Lisa's review for another Urban Adventures tour
5 - Excellent
  • Mrs. Lisa
  • On Feb 14 2016
“I went on the Culture Vulture Delhi Tour in June 2015. It was a great experience, taking in many of the sights of Old Delhi that I otherwise would not have had the opportunity to see or certainly wouldnt have gone to on my own. My guide, Konika, was excellent. She explained every detail all the places we went to; temples, streets and alleys; food stalls; spice market, travelling on the Metro. Konika was great fun to go on tour with; so personable. It was like being taken on tour by a friend. As a solo traveller, I thoroughly enjoyed this tour and would highly recommend it to others.”
Mr. Marc's review for another Urban Adventures tour
5 - Excellent
  • Mr. Marc
  • On Jul 06 2016
“I did the Mexican Night Out: Cantinas, Mariachi & Lucha Libre tour and it was great fun - drinks in an historic cantina, complete with a mariachi band and then onto the wrestling, which was hilarious. A great night out. Thanks to Pilar, who was an excellent guide!”
Ms. Linda's review for another Urban Adventures tour
5 - Excellent
  • Ms. Linda
  • On Feb 09 2016
“Between my partner and I we have been to Bangkok multiple times but surprisingly this urban adventure took us to places we hadn't yet been to. The local temples and shrines were interesting with fortune telling and monk blessings thrown in. The street food stalls were a hit with our 16 year old son who even attempted some of the best vegetable dumplings found in Chinatown if not the whole of Bangkok. The Black Chicken Soup with tasty medicinal herbs was my favourite. We really enjoyed our Urban Adventure and our leader Gof was terrific. Thank you for a wonderful experience.”

Experience the temples, shrines and gardens that make Kyoto Japan’s capital of culture on this unique tour of the city. This Total Kyoto Tour is a combination of two of our best-selling Kyoto tours, City of Culture and Lanes & Lanterns, giving you the ultimate local experience in one epic adventure!

Founded as the national capital more than 1,200 years ago, Kyoto originally developed as a centre of aristocratic culture, and is most famous for its zen gardens and geisha traditions.

On this full-day Kyoto tour, you'll discover some of the magic of the city through cultural explorations and local experiences. First we'll head to one of the city’s must-see sights, the Tofukuji Temple. Originally built in the 13th century, and famous for its traditional yet modern garden, this is a great place to escape the city. Learn about the origin and inspiration for the garden, and what it means to the monks who continue to live and study here.

Next, we’ll walk through a nice local residential neighbourhood to the Fushimi Inari Shrine. Home to a seemingly endless stretch of iconic red torii gates spread across a thickly wooded mountain, this shrine is a world unto itself. Walk through snaking corridors of red gates, made famous in the film "Memoirs of Geisha," stopping to admire the shrines and many fox statues. Major photo opportunity alert!

As the sun begins to set on the toriis, we leave behind the foxes and head to Gion, famously known as Kyoto’s geisha district. This area was the model for Memoirs of Geisha, and it comes alive with people and lights in the evening. Stroll past the 17th-century traditional restaurants and teahouses, many of which are still exclusive establishments for geisha entertainment. See the theatres and traditional shops, and soak up the atmosphere of this historic quarter.

You’ll have free time of about an hour to explore on your own before we regroup for the second half of our tour, exploring Kyoto by night. Walking through the old town’s lantern-lit wooden streets is an otherworldly experience not to be missed!

We’ll avoid the crowds and traverse the serene wooded backstreets through to Yasaka Shrine, where there’s an explosion of light and noise. Famous Yasaka is eternally alive, brought to life by bright lights and buzzing crowds, and lined with street food stalls selling Japan’s favourite evening snacks — everything from frozen bananas to skewered squid.

We’ll then avoid the crowds a second time as we dart into the backstreets of northern Gion, walking through the narrow streets lined with smaller and more modern clubs and bars — a fascinating contrast to the quarter’s old buildings and historical air.

Crossing the Kamo River, we’ll take in the sprawling view of Kyoto’s restaurant district as it stretches into the distance along the river, before crossing into Pontocho. A centuries-old entertainment district now lined with bars and restaurants, Pontocho is lit almost entirely by traditional Japanese lanterns of every shape and size.

From Pontocho, we’ll cross to Teramachi, a traditional Japanese-style arcade strip that stretches off into the distance. Roofed with glowing, cathedral-like arches, Teramachi is home to a countless variety of merchants and restaurants, including traditional Japanese bookstores and the ubiquitous, brightly lit Manga comic shops. Here, you can find everything from statues of ancient gods at a Butsudan-ya (Buddhist altar shop) to high-quality sushi knives and vintage clothing.

Leaving Teramachi’ arcade, we’ll head past the Nishiki food market to check out a tachinomiya — translated in English, ‘tachinomiya’ literally means ‘stand and drink shop.’ Bars with no seats offer locals a chance to enjoy drinks and light snacks en route to home or engagements elsewhere.

  • Public transport fees during the tour.
  • Local English-speaking guide
  • Snacks and one drink during the evening portion of the tour
  • Entrance fees for sights mentioned in the itinerary
  • Additional food and drinks
  • souvenirs and personal shopping
  • tips/gratuities for your guide.
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Cancellation for this Total Kyoto Tour: Culture, Lanes & Lanterns tour is free up to 48 hours before the chosen start date - full refund will be given. If cancellation is made less than 48 hours before the chosen start date, no refund applies.


For any tour departures within 18 January 2021, full payment is required. For tours that depart later than 18 January 2021, a deposit of 100% is required to confirm this tour, and the remaining balance will be charged 0 days before trip departure.

Travel Insurance

Total Kyoto Tour: Culture, Lanes & Lanterns tour requires that you have adequate and valid travel insurance covering medical and personal accidents, including repatriation costs and emergency evacuation. We recommend using World Nomads' travel insurance.


For this Total Kyoto Tour: Culture, Lanes & Lanterns tour getting the required visa(s) is the responsibility for each individual traveller, as visa requirements vary depending on your nationality. We recommend to check with your local embassies representing the countries that you are travelling to, as part of this itinerary.

Meeting start point :

In front of the Central Post Office on the north side of Kyoto station. "Chu-o yu-bin-kyo-ku" (Central Post Office) is less than a minute walk from the station. Please meet in front of the door with the vending machine and traditional red mail box.

Meeting end point :

Shijo - Karasuma Station.

COVID-19 Safety Measures

This trip incorporates the following COVID-19 measures:

  • This tour follows established guidelines that are in line with the World Travel and Tourism Council’s ‘Safe Travels’ framework against COVID-19.
  • This tour follows the local government(s) recommendations for gatherings and group sizes.
  • Wearing a mask, hand washing and sanitizing is highly encouraged on this tour. Frequently touched surfaces are regularly disinfected.
If you have any question about this tour or need help with planning a trip, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us. We're ready to help.
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