A Travel Price Comparison for Japan Kyoto vs. Koyasan for Attractions, Old Town, Couples, and Food

Should you visit Kyoto or Koyasan?

Which is cheaper to visit? Which is more expensive for vacation?

Trying to figure out where to travel next? This travel comparison between Kyoto and Koyasan can help. It includes a travel cost comparison in addition to other factors. For many travelers, the cost of a destination is a primary consideration when choosing where to go.

Kyoto

Kyoto is a fascinating, traditional, and historic city. It's a large city, so you'll find plenty of things to do around town. The famous beauty of this place is one of the main draws. And you can't forget about the shopping, museums, and nightlife.

Koyasan

Koyasan is a peaceful, serene, and spiritual town. As this is a charming small town, visitors also come to explore the sights and local activities. It's a beautiful place to visit, too. And you can't forget about the hiking, museums, and food.

Kyoto and Koyasan: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Fun shopping
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Good for students
  • Impressive beauty
Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Small town charm
Things to Consider
  • Less popular for nightlife


Is there more to do in Kyoto or Koyasan?

Visitors will usually find more to do in Kyoto than Koyasan, as it offers more sights, attractions, and activities. Kyoto is better known for its museums, food, nightlife, historical sights, shopping, big city activities, and impressive beauty, while Koyasan is more popular for its hiking and small town charm. Kyoto is well known for its Buddhist temples, cultural activities, and rich history. Also, Kyoto is famous for Kinkaku-ji. Koyasan is well known for its temple complex, spiritual history, and being the birthplace of Shingon Buddhism in Japan.

How is Kyoto different from Koyasan?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Koyasan and Kyoto. Then, you can decide for yourself which place is better for your next trip.

Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Kyoto or Koyasan?

Kyoto
Koyasan

Kyoto is a world-class destination for its museums and landmarks. Also, Koyasan is still popular, but not quite as popular for its historical sights.

The museums, monuments, and landmarks in Kyoto are among the most recognizable in the world. With its long-running history, there are many traditional buildings and temples in town. Nijo Castle is stunning to explore, but also make sure you visit the Fushimi-Inari Taisha Shrine, the Golden Pavilion, and Kiyomizu-dera Temple.

Koyasan offers many unique museums, sights, and landmarks that will make for a memorable trip. This spiritual destination is filled with temples. Some of the most notable are Okunoin Temple, Torodo Hall, Kongobuji Temple, Danjo Garan, and Daimon (the Great Gate).


Is the Food Better in Kyoto or Koyasan? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Kyoto
Koyasan

Kyoto is a great destination for its restaurant scene. Also, Koyasan is still popular, but not quite as popular for its local flavors and cuisine.

Eating is part of the travel experience when you visit Kyoto. The local cuisine is as beautiful as it is delicious. There is a long running history to many of the dishes, and the recipes are expertly prepared by world class chefs at many of the restaurants. You can enjoy everything from a tea ceremony to multi-course meals, referred to as kyo kaiseki.

Koyasan is becoming an appealing option for foodies. There are cafes in town that serve simple udon noodle dishes and other local options. If you do a temple stay, it will likely include a meal, which is usually vegetarian and prepared by Buddhist monks. A typical menu includes miso soup, soba, pickled vegetables, tofu, tempura vegetables, rice, tea, and melon. Breakfast is similar but smaller in size.

Is Kyoto or Koyasan Better for Nightlife?

Kyoto
Koyasan

Kyoto is a good destination for nightlife and partying. However, Koyasan is a town with minimal options for its evening party scene.

Kyoto has an active nightlife scene for those who seek it out. While it isn't known for its wild nightlife scene, there is a relaxed and active energy in the evenings here. You can visit the beautiful Arashiyama Kimono Forest or explore some of the riverfront areas such as Kamo Riverside.

The nightlife scene is quiet in Koyasan This spiritual town is not a place for nightlife, but it is fascinating to take a night tour of the area.

Is Kyoto or Koyasan Better for its Old Town?

Kyoto
Koyasan

Kyoto is a world-class destination for its old town. Also, Koyasan is still popular, but not quite as popular for its historic old town charm.

The historic old town of Kyoto is revered around the world. This is among the most historic cities in Japan and there are many traditional buildings and temples. Higashiyama is filled with interesting districts and it has many UNESCO World Heritage temples.

Many visitors explore the old town while visiting Koyasan. The town center is filled with spiritual temples and many people prefer to do a temple stay for a night.


Is Kyoto or Koyasan Better for Hiking?

Kyoto
Koyasan

Koyasan is a town with good options for its hiking experiences. However, Kyoto is not a hiking destination.

Plenty of visitors go hiking around Koyasan. Most people arrive by cable car, but this area has been a long running pilgrim destination and you'll find many historic pilgrimage trails that are still in the area. The Koyasan Choishi Michi trail is one of the most well known.

Kyoto is not a hiking destination.

Is the Shopping Better in Kyoto or Koyasan?

Kyoto
Koyasan

Kyoto is a great destination for its shopping opportunities. However, Koyasan is not a noteworthy shopping destination.

Kyoto is a popular shopping destination with plenty of stores. There's a mix of modern shopping venues and traditional boutiques. Shijo Street is a popular shopping area, as is the area around JR Kyoto Station.

Koyasan is not a noteworthy shopping destination.

Is Kyoto or Koyasan Better for Families?

Kyoto
Koyasan

Kyoto is a great destination for its family-friendly activities. Also, Koyasan is still popular, but not quite as popular for its kid-friendly activities.

Kyoto is a very kid-friendly city. Kids will enjoy exploring Nijo Castle as much as adults. If the weather isn't great, you can head to the Kyoto International Manga Museum which is a bit like a library and is perfect for Manga fans. There are also markets to explore such as the Nishiki Markets, which are lined with shops and restaurants.

Koyasan offers lots of family activities. It's filled with history, so its best to recognize your kid's limits when it comes to that sort of thing. If you're planning to do a temple stay, then consider how your child might handle the situation and make sure you reach out to let them know you have a child before reserving.


Is Kyoto or Koyasan Better for Couples?

Kyoto
Koyasan

Kyoto is a world-class destination for its romantic activities. Also, Koyasan is still popular, but not quite as popular for couples.

Kyoto is fantastic couple's destination with fun and romantic activities. This is one of the most historic cities in Japan, and it has many romantic neighborhoods where you can enjoy the atmosphere. Visit Sanneizaka Slope for its traditional shops and restaurants or take a ride on the Sagano Romantic Train. Other romantic highlights include Kimono Forest, which is an art exhibit, and Suzumushidera Temple.

Koyasan is a great city if you're traveling as a couple. A temple stay in Koyasan is a truly unique experience that immerses you in the culture and lifestyle of the area. It's a truly one-of-a-kind experience for couples who like to do things outside of the box.

Is Kyoto or Koyasan Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Kyoto
Koyasan

Kyoto is a great destination for backpackers. Also, Koyasan is still popular, but not quite as popular for backpackers and budget travelers.

Kyoto is a great city to visit for backpackers. It's a popular destination in Japan and there are plenty of hostels and free activities that backpackers can enjoy.

Plenty of budget travelers visit Koyasan. It's not your typical backpacker destination and most visitors prefer to experience a temple stay while in the area. If that's not your style, there is a hostel nearby.

Is Kyoto or Koyasan Better for Students?

Kyoto
Koyasan

Kyoto is a great destination for students. However, Koyasan is not popular with students.

Many students visit Kyoto. It's a great student city with world class universities and a large student population.

Koyasan is not popular with students.


Is Kyoto or Koyasan Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Kyoto
Koyasan

Kyoto is a great destination for its public transit. Also, Koyasan is still popular, but not quite as popular for times when you don't have a car.

Kyoto has some very good public transit options. The city has an extensive system of trains, subways, and buses that make it easy to get around.

While Koyasan offers some public transit options, it might not be your first choice. To get to town you'll take a cable car and then a bus (or taxi, but you can't walk). Once you're in town, almost everything is in the town center and doesn't require transit.

Is Kyoto or Koyasan a more walkable city?

Kyoto
Koyasan

Kyoto is a world-class destination for its high level of walkability. Also, Koyasan is still popular, but not quite as popular for its ease of walking around.

Getting around Kyoto on foot is easy. It's one of the most walkable cities in Japan and there are many sidewalks and pedestrian-friendly areas.

Koyasan is a very walkable destination. Once you reach the town its relatively flat and easy to explore on foot.

For even more information, also check out Is Kyoto Worth Visiting? and Is Koyasan Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Koyasan or Kyoto?

How long in Kyoto or Koyasan?

You'll be able to find lots of things to do in Kyoto or Koyasan to fill your time. Many travelers usually spend more of their time in Kyoto than Koyasan because of the number of activities and things to do in the area. Usually, 2-3 days is a good amount of time for Kyoto, and 1-2 days is enough time in Koyasan.

Families should spend more time in Kyoto than Koyasan. Because of the many family-friendly attractions and fun things to do for kids in Kyoto, it's a great place to visit with the whole family.

Couples should spend more time in Kyoto than Koyasan. You'll find plenty of romantic sights and fun activities in Kyoto that are great for a weekend getaway or a longer couple's trip.

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Kyoto than Koyasan if your budget allows for it. With a larger number of budget-friendly sights, good nightlife, and active things to do, anyone traveling on a budget would have a good time in Kyoto.


  • How many days in Kyoto or Koyasan? Ideal Length of Stay
    Kyoto 2-3 
    Koyasan 1-2

One day in Kyoto or Koyasan?

In Kyoto, you'll find nightlife and food. Most visitors spend time around the old town while in the area. One reason most visitors come is for the museums. This city offers something for everyone. One day is usually not enough time for a trip here as there is plenty to do.

Even though Koyasan is a small town, it has plenty of activities to choose from. Make sure you visit the old town while you're here. This town offers a variety of activities to choose from. Because of this, one day is usually enough time for a trip here.


A weekend in Kyoto or Koyasan?

In Kyoto, you'll find food and shopping. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel. A weekend here is typical. Visiting the old town is also a must. One reason most visitors come is for the museums. A weekend is a great amount of time to relax and see the many things that Kyoto has to offer.

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Koyasan. For many, it makes a great getaway for a weekend. Most visitors spend time around the old town while in the area. This would be the perfect place to spend a weekend, as it has just the right amount of activities. The length of your ideal trip is an individual decision.

Five days in Kyoto or Koyasan?

Kyoto is a great place to explore. The old town is one of the main draws for visitors. Five days is more than enough time to enjoy everything. Take some day trips to nearby places to fill the extra days. Anyone can find something fun to do here.

Koyasan is a fun place to experience. Koyasan is a small town, so it's a great destination if you're short on time. Visiting the old town is also a must. Most people find that five days is more than enough time to see everything.

A week in Kyoto or Koyasan?

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Kyoto. Many people enjoy the museums and nightlife when visiting Kyoto. One reason most visitors come is for the museums. Exploring the old town is a popular activity. One week may feel like too much time unless you plan to do a lot of relaxing.

Koyasan is a small town, so you can explore the area with less time. The old town is one of the main draws for visitors. Take your pick from the many activities offered here. One week is plenty of time to see everything, even with extra days to spare.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best 10-Day Tours from Tokyo, The Best 2-Week Tours from Tokyo, The Best Family-Friendly Tours to Japan, and The Best Hiking & Trekking Tours in Japan.


Which place is cheaper, Koyasan or Kyoto?

These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.

The average daily cost (per person) in Kyoto is $96, while the average daily cost in Koyasan is $78. These costs include accommodation (assuming double occupancy, so the traveler is sharing the room), food, transportation, and entertainment. While every person is different, these costs are an average of past travelers in each destination. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for Kyoto and Koyasan in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Kyoto $63
    Koyasan $39
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Kyoto $126
    Koyasan $78
Compare Hotels in Kyoto and Koyasan

Looking for a hotel in Kyoto or Koyasan? Prices vary by location, date, season, and the level of luxury. See below for options and compare which is best for your budget and travel style.

Hotels in Kyoto


Hotels in Koyasan


Kayak helps you find the best prices for hotels, flights, and rental cars for destinations around the world. Compare prices for multiple destinations when planning your next trip.


Our Analysis
We've analyzed the average and typical hotel prices based on guest reviews, star ratings, and hotel amenities here: Kyoto Hotel Prices and Koyasan Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Kyoto $7.56
    Koyasan $33

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Kyoto

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Kyoto:

  • Chubu Centrair Airport to/from Kyoto Private Transfer: $562
  • From Private 1-Way Transfer to Kansai Airport: $321
  • Kansai Airport (KIX): Private One-Way Transfer to/from Kyoto: $208
  • Kansai Int Airport to/from Kyoto City Private Transfer: $269
  • Kyoto City to Osaka City Private Taxi Transfers: $174
  • Kyoto Early Bird Half Day Private Tour with Transfer: $294
  • Kyoto hotels to Kansai Airport (KIX) - Departure Private Transfer: $67
  • Kyoto to Osaka Kansai Airport (KIX) - Departure Private Transfer: $73
  • Customizable Private Tour with Hotel Transfers: $506
  • One-Way Private Transfer to/from Itami Airport: $321
  • Osaka (Itami) Airport to/from Kyoto City Private Transfer: $139
  • Osaka City to/from Kyoto City Private transfer: $225

Is it cheaper to fly into Kyoto or Koyasan?

Prices for flights to both Koyasan and Kyoto change regularly based on dates and travel demand. We suggest you find the best prices for your next trip on Kayak, because you can compare the cost of flights across multiple airlines for your prefered dates.





Food
  • Food Meals for one day
    Kyoto $24
    Koyasan $19

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Kyoto

Also, here are some specific examples of food and dining related activities in Kyoto.

  • Private Cooking Class Udon in Kyoto Japan: $41
  • Japanese Washoku Bento Cooking Class with Lunch: $45
  • Nishiki Market Brunch Walking Food Tour: $46
  • Japanese Home Cooking Lesson with Local Hosts in Peaceful Kyoto Suburb Otsu: $49
  • Kyoto Nishiki Market & Depachika: 2-hours Food Tour with a Local: $59
  • Morning Japanese Bento Cooking Class: $60
  • Afternoon Japanese Izakaya Cooking Class: $60
  • Japanese Cooking Class: $60
  • Japanese Udon and Sushi Cooking Class with Tastings: $63
  • Japanese Udon and Sushi Cooking Class with Tastings: $64
  • Wagashi(Japanese sweets) Cooking :Kyoto near Fushimiinari: $64
  • Kyoto near Fushimiinari : Wagashi(Japanese sweets)Cooking Class : $65

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Kyoto $13
    Koyasan $13

Tours and Activities in Kyoto

Here are a few actual costs in Kyoto for available activities, ticket prices, and tours:

  • Arashiyama self guided tour app multilingual audio guide: $2.17
  • Kyoto Tower Admission Ticket: $6.28
  • Arashiyama: Self-Guided Audio Tour through History & Nature: $6.42
  • Audio guide tour of the Kyoto Imperial Palace & surroundings: $6.42
  • Audio Guide Tour: Unveiling Kyoto Station Surroundings: $6.42
  • Audio Guide Tour through Gion: Kiyomizu-dera and Kodai-ji: $6.42
  • Audio Guide Tour of Kinkaku-ji & Ryōan-ji Areas ~ Zen Echoe: $6.42
  • Nijo Castle & Kitano Tenmangu Shrine: Auidio Guide Tour: $6.42
  • Audio Guide Tour Sanjusangen-do & Chishaku-in: $6.42
  • Kyoto self-guided tour app with multi-language audioguide: $8.70
  • Kyoto Self-Guided Audio Tour: $9.00
  • Kyoto Gion Night Walking Tour. Up to 6 people!: $9.63

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Kyoto $12
    Koyasan $4.90

Sample the Local Flavors in Kyoto

Also in Kyoto, these are the prices for nightlife and alcohol related activities from various tour providers:

  • Japanese Sake Brewery and Fushimi Inari Sightseeing Tour: $18
  • Sake Brewery &Great Yakitori Experience: $77
  • Sake Brewery and Tasting Tour in Fushimi: $81
  • Kyoto Sake Brewery & Tasting Walking Tour: $82
  • Insider Sake Brewery Tour with Sake and Food Pairing: $83
  • Rural Brewery Town Walk: Half-Day Private Tour Near Kyoto: $99
  • Kyoto Sake Brewery Tour: $156
  • Rural Villages & Brewery Town: Private 1-Day Cycling Near Kyoto: $184
  • Kyoto Sake Bar and Pub Crawl (Food & Sake Tour): $193
  • Kyoto Sake Bar and Pub Crawl (Food & Sake Tour): $196
  • Private Guided Local Bar Crawl Experience in Kyoto: $225
  • Kyoto Nightlife: Local Bar Crawl Experience: $442


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Kyoto and Koyasan, we can see that Kyoto is more expensive. And not only is Koyasan much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Koyasan would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Koyasan and be able to afford a more luxurious travel style by staying in nicer hotels, eating at more expensive restaurants, taking tours, and experiencing more activities. The same level of travel in Kyoto would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Kyoto than you might in Koyasan.

If you're trying to decide if either of these two destinations are within your price range, also see Is Kyoto Expensive? and Is Koyasan Expensive?.



When is the best time to visit Kyoto or Koyasan?

Both destinations experience a temperate climate with four distinct seasons. And since both cities are in the northern hemisphere, summer is in July and winter is in January.

Should I visit Kyoto or Koyasan in the Summer?

Both Koyasan and Kyoto are popular destinations to visit in the summer with plenty of activities. The city activities and the family-friendly experiences are the main draw to Kyoto this time of year. Also, many travelers come to Koyasan for the hiking, the small town charm, and the family-friendly experiences.

Kyoto is around the same temperature as Koyasan in the summer. The daily temperature in Kyoto averages around 27°C (81°F) in July, and Koyasan fluctuates around 27°C (81°F).

Kyoto usually receives around the same amount of sunshine as Koyasan during summer. Kyoto gets 183 hours of sunny skies, while Koyasan receives 183 hours of full sun in the summer.

It rains a lot this time of the year in Koyasan. It's quite rainy in Kyoto. In July, Kyoto usually receives more rain than Koyasan. Kyoto gets 236 mm (9.3 in) of rain, while Koyasan receives 156 mm (6.1 in) of rain each month for the summer.


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    Kyoto 27°C (81°F) 
    Koyasan 27°C (81°F)

Should I visit Kyoto or Koyasan in the Autumn?

Both Koyasan and Kyoto during the autumn are popular places to visit. Many travelers come to Kyoto for the city's sights and attractions, the shopping scene, and the natural beauty of the area. Also, many visitors come to Koyasan in the autumn for the hiking trails, the small town atmosphere, and the natural beauty of the area.

In the autumn, Kyoto is around the same temperature as Koyasan. Typically, the autumn temperatures in Kyoto in October average around 18°C (64°F), and Koyasan averages at about 19°C (65°F).

In the autumn, Kyoto often gets around the same amount of sunshine as Koyasan. Kyoto gets 159 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Koyasan receives 159 hours of full sun.

Koyasan gets a good bit of rain this time of year. It rains a lot this time of the year in Kyoto. Kyoto usually gets around the same amount of rain in October as Koyasan. Kyoto gets 111 mm (4.4 in) of rain, while Koyasan receives 105 mm (4.1 in) of rain this time of the year.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Kyoto 18°C (64°F) 
    Koyasan 19°C (65°F)

Should I visit Kyoto or Koyasan in the Winter?

The winter attracts plenty of travelers to both Kyoto and Koyasan. Many visitors come to Kyoto in the winter for the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine. Also, most visitors come to Koyasan for the museums and the cuisine during these months.

Kyoto can get quite cold in the winter. In January, Kyoto is generally cooler than Koyasan. Daily temperatures in Kyoto average around 5°C (40°F), and Koyasan fluctuates around 6°C (42°F).

Kyoto usually receives around the same amount of sunshine as Koyasan during winter. Kyoto gets 140 hours of sunny skies, while Koyasan receives 140 hours of full sun in the winter.

In January, Kyoto usually receives more rain than Koyasan. Kyoto gets 50 mm (2 in) of rain, while Koyasan receives 45 mm (1.8 in) of rain each month for the winter.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Kyoto 5°C (40°F) 
    Koyasan 6°C (42°F)

Should I visit Kyoto or Koyasan in the Spring?

The spring brings many poeple to Kyoto as well as Koyasan. Most visitors come to Kyoto for the activities around the city and the natural beauty during these months. Also, the spring months attract visitors to Koyasan because of the small town charm and the natural beauty.

Kyoto is around the same temperature as Koyasan in the spring. The daily temperature in Kyoto averages around 14°C (58°F) in April, and Koyasan fluctuates around 15°C (59°F).

In the spring, Kyoto often gets around the same amount of sunshine as Koyasan. Kyoto gets 176 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Koyasan receives 176 hours of full sun.

It's quite rainy in Koyasan. Kyoto receives a lot of rain in the spring. Kyoto usually gets more rain in April than Koyasan. Kyoto gets 153 mm (6 in) of rain, while Koyasan receives 135 mm (5.3 in) of rain this time of the year.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Kyoto 14°C (58°F) 
    Koyasan 15°C (59°F)

Typical Weather for Koyasan and Kyoto

Kyoto Koyasan
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 5°C (40°F) 50 mm (2 in) 6°C (42°F) 45 mm (1.8 in)
Feb 5°C (41°F) 63 mm (2.5 in) 6°C (42°F) 57 mm (2.3 in)
Mar 8°C (47°F) 110 mm (4.3 in) 9°C (47°F) 102 mm (4 in)
Apr 14°C (58°F) 153 mm (6 in) 15°C (59°F) 135 mm (5.3 in)
May 19°C (67°F) 154 mm (6 in) 19°C (67°F) 139 mm (5.5 in)
Jun 23°C (73°F) 251 mm (9.9 in) 23°C (74°F) 208 mm (8.2 in)
Jul 27°C (81°F) 236 mm (9.3 in) 27°C (81°F) 156 mm (6.1 in)
Aug 29°C (83°F) 146 mm (5.7 in) 29°C (84°F) 97 mm (3.8 in)
Sep 24°C (75°F) 196 mm (7.7 in) 25°C (76°F) 162 mm (6.4 in)
Oct 18°C (64°F) 111 mm (4.4 in) 19°C (65°F) 105 mm (4.1 in)
Nov 12°C (54°F) 68 mm (2.7 in) 13°C (55°F) 62 mm (2.4 in)
Dec 7°C (45°F) 40 mm (1.6 in) 8°C (46°F) 35 mm (1.4 in)