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The Great Wall of China in Mutianyu

The Great Wall of China is referred to in Mandarin as Wanli Changcheng (10,000-Li Long Wall or simply very long wall) BEIJING, CHINA- S...

Friday, May 17, 2024

Kansai Pass or Bust: Conquering Kyoto and Osaka on a Budget

Hey travel buddies!

We thoroughly enjoyed Japan's Kansai region, and we're here to spill the matcha on whether the Kansai Pass is worth it . Spoiler alert: it depends! But fear not, We'll break it down to help you decide.

No More Kansai Thru Pass...

First things first, the beloved Kansai Thru Pass is no more! As of May 2024, it's been replaced by the new Kansai Railway Pass. While it offers similar benefits – unlimited rides on trains and subways in the Kansai area – there are some key changes.

The New Kansai Railway Pass: Friend or Foe?

  • Price Hike: The new pass is a bit pricier than its predecessor. We're talking 5,600 yen for a 2-day pass and 7,000 yen for 3 days (ouch!).
  • Bus Blues: Sadly, unlike the Thru Pass, the Railway Pass doesn't cover buses anymore. This might be a dealbreaker if you planned on exploring further flung areas.
  • JR Trains MIA: Another thing to note is that the pass doesn't cover JR trains, which are a major player in the Kansai region.

So, is it worth it?

Here's our take:

  • For Budget Backpackers: If you're sticking mainly to Osaka, Kyoto, and Nara (all easily accessible by subways and private railways), and want to maximize your travel budget, the Kansai Railway Pass can still be a good option.
  • For Adventurous Explorers: If your itinerary includes places like Koyasan or Himeji Castle (which require JR trains or long-distance travel), the pass might not be the best fit. Consider buying individual tickets or a JR Pass depending on your specific needs.

June in Kansai: What to Expect

June is a great time to visit Kansai – the weather is warm but not sweltering, the rainy season hasn't quite hit yet, and the crowds are still manageable. Here are some highlights:

  • Hydrangea Heaven: June is hydrangea season in Japan, and the Kansai region boasts some stunning displays. Check out the Meigetsu-in Temple in Kamakura or the Hase-dera Temple in Nara.
  • Festival Fun: June also sees some lively festivals, like the Tenjin Matsuri in Osaka (a vibrant boat procession) and the Hozuki Festival in Kyoto (where people light paper lanterns).
  • Hiking Adventures: As the weather gets warmer, June is a good time for outdoor enthusiasts to explore the region's hiking trails, like those around Mount Takao or Mount Inari.

Our Kansai Pass Adventure

Since we focused on exploring Osaka and Kyoto, the Kansai Railway Pass worked well for us. We zipped around on the subways and private railways, hitting all the must-sees – Osaka Castle, Dotombori district, Kinkaku-ji temple, Arashiyama bamboo grove – without breaking the bank.

Final Thoughts

Whether you choose the Kansai Railway Pass or explore your options, the Kansai region has something for everyone. With its rich history, vibrant culture, and mouthwatering food, it's a destination that will leave you wanting more.

Have you used the Kansai Pass (or the new Railway Pass)? Share your experiences and tips in the comments below!

Happy Travels,



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