Kyoto in a Day Tour: From Gion to the Golden Pavillion

Your essential primer to Kyoto
From US$745 privately
Book a Tour
Tour Details
8 hours
Product Type
  • Kiyomizu-dera
  • Nishiki Market
  • Yasaka Shrine
  • Golden Pavilion
  • Ryoan-ji
Photos & Highlights
  • Fully immerse yourself in Japan's historical and cultural connections and how that has shaped the country
  • Led by expert local guide or scholar
Select a date
Tour Description
One can easily spend days discovering Kyoto. Unfortunately, time is not always on our side when traveling. We’ve carefully crafted an itinerary that allow for an enchanting look at Shinto shrines, Buddhist temples, Japanese gardens, local gastronomic delights, and UNESCO World Heritage sites. In the company of a local expert, we'll spend 8 hours unpicking the cultural and historical heart of Japan. Much of our day will be on foot, but in between sites, we'll travel either via taxi or an optional chauffeured-car service. This full-day tour offers a fantastic introduction to this former imperial capital that we’ve had a deep love for since Context launched tours in Kyoto in 2013.
We’ll meet bright and early at your hotel at 9:00. We’ll start with a short briefing on Kyoto and the surrounding area (with relevant maps) before embarking on our day in Kyoto. From your hotel, we will head to the area of Gion for an exploration of culture, history, religion, and spiritual life in a slightly condensed version of our Synchronized Spirituality tour. In the company of a local scholar, we may visit a Shinto shrine (Yasaka), a Buddhist temple (Kiyomizu-dera) perched high in the Kyoto hills, or perhaps a nearby Zen Buddhist temple (Kennin-ji).

Educated further on the basic principles of Japanese spiritual and religious life, we’ll head to Nishiki Market to taste some Japanese delicacies and have a traditional Kyoto lunch together. We’ll discuss Japanese dining practices, customs, and intricacies surrounding eating and gastronomy as we actively explore this fascinating market. This is a snapshot of our Kyoto Food Tour.

After lunch, we will embark on a Japanese garden and temple discovery. Depending on the interests of our private group, we could visit sites such as the Golden Pavilion, Ryoan-ji, and Ninna-ji, with our guide providing in-depth commentary as we wander along. This is a condensed version of our Beyond. Zen: Kyoto Garden Tour. As we finish up our time together, we will head back to Kyoto, digesting what we’ve learned.


At the end of either itinerary, we will emerge with a deeper understanding of what it means to be Japanese and the various strands that embody Japanese culture, tradition, and religion. We’ll have ventured across the city to sites relevant to Kyoto's history and cultural identity. Hopefully, our Kyoto in a Day tour will set us up for the remainder of our travel in Japan.
What happens if it's raining?
Our tours happen rain or shine. Our guides are brilliant at adapting to changes of weather. Please bring an umbrella.

I would like to start later. Is this possible?
No - the temples will be closed in the afternoon if we start any later.

Will I have to pay any for additional costs on the tour?
You are pre-paid for your tour and for the entrance fees to the venues visited. However, there may be other nominal costs on the tour, so it's a good idea to have some local currency on hand for these.

Optional Car Service: We are a bigger group and it won't let us book a larger vehicle at checkout, can we still book?
If your group needs a larger vehicle than what is displayed as options at checkout please reach out to our team in order to verify availability and pricing with our car provider. Thank you!

Is this tour suitable for people with mobility concerns?
 This tour covers a lot of ground but much of it is by either taxi or private car service, so should be fine for those who have trouble walking for long periods. However, many of the temples visited on this tour are not wheelchair accessible and Nishiki market is made up of very narrow lanes, making it difficult to maneuver in a wheelchair. Therefore we wouldn't necessarily recommend this tour for those who rely on wheelchairs. Please get in touch if you would like to discuss any mobility concerns before booking this tour.

Will the restaurant be able to accommodate those with allergies or dietary restrictions?
We do our best to accommodate everyone. If you have severe allergies to seafood or nuts, there will be items you can eat during the tasting, but cross-contamination may be a problem during lunch. The best thing to do is let us know when you book if anyone in your party has allergies or dietary restrictions. We can check in on dishes, order ahead, and do everything possible to ensure you enjoy your meal.

Is it okay to tip my guide in Japan?
Yes. Context clients generally tip anywhere from 10-25% of the purchase price of a personal service such as this, depending on the quality of the experience and their tipping habits.
Where You'll Start
(4.98) 84 Reviews

Reviews can only be left by Context customers after they have completed a tour. For more information about our reviews, please see our FAQ.

It was great. We loved the tour and our guide Kana who was very pleasant and knowledgeable
Marc is an incredibly informative guide who covered a lot of territory in one day! We enjoyed the entire itinerary and the Golden Pavilion is not to be missed. Although I am sworn to secrecy about the name of the restaurant he took us to for lunch (for fear of it becoming wildly popular) it was filled with locals having a beautiful lunch together. Thanks Marc for that special treat. We ended the day with beautiful new memories about an incredible city and its antiquities thanks to Marc.
Excellent tour. Gavin has a deep knowledge of Japanese history and culture. This was an 8-hour tour but he held our attention for the entire day. My wife and I have done 30+ Context tours and this was one of the best.