How to Make an Unforgettable Day Trip to Nara from Kyoto

How to make a day trip to Nara from Kyoto! Nara boasts some of the most impressive shrines and temples, not to mention, the cutest deer that roam freely around the streets. Despite being Japan’s first capital, Nara is often overshadowed by its nearby cities. However, you should not write Nara off, as it makes for a perfect day trip from Kyoto or Osaka. Read on to find out how to get there, all about the bowing deer, and the most beautiful temples and shrines.

Feeding deer in Nara, Japan

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How to get to Nara from Kyoto

We started our day trip to Nara from Kyoto. The best way to get to Nara is by train. The cheapest way to get there from Kyoto is by taking the JR Line. From Kyoto Station to JR Nara Station, the journey takes around 45 minutes and costs 710 Yen ($6.56). Once you arrive in Nara, the train station is about a 10-minute walk from the main attractions and a park full of deer.

Deer chasing people for food - Nara, Japan
Deer chasing Jake around the park for crackers

Things to do on a day trip to Nara

Feed the deer at Nara-Koen Park

Whilst the park itself is pretty and a great place to take in nature, the main attraction, and one of the best things to see in Japan, is the 1,200 deer that roam freely around the park. Crazy right? Why are there so many deer roaming the streets? Well, local belief is that a man named Takemikazuchi (a god) arrived in the former capital on a white deer to protect the city. From then on, the deer have been considered messengers of the gods. Since this legend arose, deer have been thought of as sacred animals, and have been carefully protected.

Deer food stall - Nara, Japan
A stall that sells deer crackers

Upon arriving at the park, there are many street vendors selling crackers, specifically for the deer to eat. You can buy a pack of deer crackers for 150 Yen ($1.38). We must have bought 4 packs, as we couldn’t get enough of walking around and feeding the little cuties. The coolest thing about feeding the deer is that if you bow to them, they bow back. Try it!

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Visit the most beautiful temples and shrines

After spending a couple of hours lazing in the park and having fun with the deer, we finally pulled ourselves away and went to explore the surrounding area. Nara is a small place and you can easily see the main attractions on foot. There is no need to get on buses or trains. There are many pretty shrines, temples, and gardens to see. However, if you only want to visit one of them, make sure to visit the ancient Todai-Ji Temple which dates way back to 1709 AD. Inside the temple, you will also find the world’s largest bronze Buddha statue.

Todaiji Temple in Nara, Japan
There are plenty of temples to explore around Nara

Aside from Tadaiji Temple, here is a quick list of other temples in the area:

  • Kasuga Taisha
  • Toshadai-Ji
  • Kofuku-Ji
  • Horyuji Temple
  • Yakushi-Ji Temple
  • Todai-Ji Nigatsu-do
  • Shin-Yakushi-Ji Temple

All of which you can find more about right here!

Relax in a zen garden

After visiting a few other temples, we headed to the famous Isui-en garden. The garden is supposed to be utterly stunning with many flowers in full bloom. However, the cost to enter the garden is 650 Yen ($6), so we opted out on this occasion. Instead, we strolled through the beautiful Yoshiki-en garden, which is FREE to enter for international tourists. The grounds are tranquil, and because the garden is relatively unknown, you will pretty much have the place to yourself. It’s the perfect way to end your Nara itinerary before heading back to Kyoto.

Yoshiki-en Garden in Nara
Yoshiki-en Garden in Nara

Where to stay in Kyoto

Feeling luxurious: The Thousand Kyoto – The rooms are well equipped with TVs and coffee machines. The hotel also boasts a fitness centre.

Budget private room: The Pocket Hotel – Great location and friendly staff. The rooms are small but are well-kept.

Dorm life: Guest House Kyoto Inn – Great value for money and breakfast is included. There are mixed dorms and female-only dorms available.

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For more prices and deals on other properties in Kyoto, CLICK HERE.

Essential resources for travelling in Japan

Travel Insurance – No matter where you’re travelling to, it’s a good idea to make sure you’re covered for any accidents or losses. We spent days and weeks searching for insurance, but most insurers would not allow us to take out a policy as we were already abroad. Our personal choice is Safteywing. You can opt for automatic monthly payments, just like a subscription. More importantly, it is available in 180 countries and can be purchased whilst already travelling. There is no cap on the duration of travel.

Visa – Before you travel to any country, make sure to check if you need a visa. iVisa is a fantastic website that is super easy and quick to use. Just type in where you are from. and where you are going. to check if you need a visa. If you do, you can quickly make an application online.

AccommodationBooking.com is our go-to when looking to pre-book accommodation online. Booking.com tend to almost always have the best rates and a FREE cancellation policy for most properties.

Tours & Activities – If you want to book tours and activities online, make sure to check out Get Your Guide. Get Your Guide takes the stress out of booking activities abroad. You will also find a range of benefits, such as skip-the-line passes, lunch included in your tours, and so much more.

Travel tips ebook -Before you head off on your adventure, make sure to download our free ebook. It has a whopping 109 budget travel tips to help you make your hard-earned cash go further. Click here to download your FREE ebook.

There you have it, a day trip to Nara! What more could you ask for; temples, gardens, and cute little deer. No matter if you’re in Japan for a week or a month, Nara is a great addition to your itinerary.

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Cool Things to do in Nara, Japan on a Day Trip

20 thoughts on “How to Make an Unforgettable Day Trip to Nara from Kyoto

  1. Nathan says:

    I’ve heard so much about Nara – how cute is it that the deer bow back to you when you do the same! I would love to visit someday and experience it for myself 🙂 Glad you had fun!

  2. Kristine Eva says:

    My husband has always wanted to visit Japan. I did not know tons of deer roam freely in a park in Nara. This is definitely something I’ll show my husband so we can include in our Japan itinerary. They look so cute!

  3. Honey @ The Girl Next Shore says:

    Oh deer, this looks like an awesome experience! Japan is still on my bucket list, and the Japan bucket list on its own has lotsa things to tick now thanks to posts like this!

  4. Fairuz says:

    I heard a lot about this deer park. I don’t think I can handle that much cuteness. (Just kidding. I can). Can’t wait to go there, and the garden looks super zen.

  5. Edith says:

    That is a lot of deer roaming around the park!! That would be so cool to get near and take pictures though. The only other place I can think of a bit similar is at the Grand Canyon, many deer get close. But this place seems to have way more deer. Hope to visit Kyoto one day and possibly make the day trip to see the deer and shrines!

  6. kumamonjeng says:

    Oh, the video look great! I didn’t know Japanese deer will bow when asking for food. What a great manner. Been to Nara many years ago while I was studying in Kyushu. Will be back end of year and your blog has helped me to do the bow when I go. Thanks!

  7. chloe lane says:

    this is perfect! I’ve only been to Kyoto for a day trip so I didn’t know how to get to the deer park from there until now! thanks for the tips 🙂 looks like you guys had fun!

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