February 25, 2019: Last updated. Here is our latest, most comprehensive OSAKA TRAVEL GUIDE BLOG with sample Osaka itinerary for 4-5 days, list of things to do, hotel recommendations, list of expenses, and other useful travel tips!
We were about to approach the platform when we noticed a woman running after us. At first, we didn’t think it was us she was chasing, but she stopped and talked to us. She couldn’t speak English, but we recognized just one word, ticket. Apparently, we left our tickets by the entrance. We thanked the woman profusely, who responded with, “It’s okay.” Her smile never faded.
We were at Kansai Airport Train Station, and it was our first time in Japan. Barely an hour in Japan and we already witnessed firsthand the hospitality and helpfulness of the people of Kansai. It wasn’t the last time. In the seven times we have visited the city over the past few years, we have met locals who would go out of their way to help: a shopkeeper who left her store to accompany us to the start of a walking trail, a food vendor who brought us to the bus stop, a passerby who helped when he saw I couldn’t understand the writings on a vendo.
Osaka doesn’t have the breathtaking landscapes and spectacular sights that other destinations in Japan are known for, but it has the warmth and kindness of its people. And that’s always something to return to. That and the food. Oh yes, the food.
WHAT'S COVERED IN THIS GUIDE?
Osaka is the third largest city in Japan in terms of population, next only to Tokyo and Yokohama. But because Yokohama is part of the greater Tokyo metropolitan area, Osaka is widely regarded as Japan’s “second city.” It is the capital of Osaka Prefecture which — together with Kyoto, Nara, Hyogo (Kobe) and a few others — is part of Kansai Region.
Osaka has something to offer to almost any type of traveler. For tourists seeking family-friendly fun, one of the most popular attractions is Universal Studios Japan, which is one of the most visited theme parks in the world. Historic and cultural landmarks also dot its tourism map, including the enormous Osaka Castle and Shitennoji. For the shopaholic, there’s always the Dotonbori-Shinsaibashi area.
Osaka is also a great base if you want to explore other parts of Kansai Region. From here, you can easily travel to other cities within the region including Kyoto, Kobe, and Nara. If you want to go farther, you’ll find plenty of transportation options that can take you to Himeji, Hiroshima, and Tottori. There are also buses that can connect you straight to Tokyo.
Other info you need to know:
- Language: Japanese (Nihongo). The majority of the locals seldom speak English, but most of the signs and other tourist promotional materials have English translations.
- Currency: Japanese Yen (JPY, ¥). JPY 1000 is around PHP 470, SGD 12.21, USD 9, EUR 8 (as of February 2019).
- Money Exchange. There are a lot of money changers throughout Osaka and Kyoto, but save yourself the trouble and just exchange currencies before your trip. SANRY’S has good rates. You can also withdraw from ATMs when you’re there, but they’re pretty hard to find. Most of the ATMs we saw didn’t accept international cards.
- Modes of payment: Most establishments prefer cash payment, but many of them also accept credit card transactions.
- Electricity Info: 100V. Type A sockets. Plugs have two flat pins. Type B is sometimes used but not that common.
BEST TIME TO VISIT OSAKA
When is the best time to visit Osaka? Early April for the cherry blossoms and mid to late November for the autumn foliage.
Kansai enjoys a temperate climate with strong seasonal variations. Spring and autumn are perfect if you’re after fantastic views. During spring (specifically last week of March to first week of April), cherry blossoms adorn the otherwise plain green canopies.
Autumn (specifically mid- to late November) is ideal because the crowd begins to thin and the prices drop. It’s also interesting as the foliage turns fiery orange and red. Temperature is also pleasant and comfortable for sightseeing.
If budget is a concern, look away from peak season: late March to August, especially the following dates:
- Golden Week (April 29 – May 5)
- Obon Festival (August 13–15)
- Cherry Blossoms Season (Late March-Early April)
These dates bring the biggest crowds and steepest prices.
HOW TO GET A JAPAN VISA
If you’re from the Philippines, we created three dedicated posts for the visa application process.
- How to Apply for TOURIST Japan Visa
- How to Apply for a Visa for VISITING FRIENDS or RELATIVES
- How to Apply for a MULTIPLE Entry Japan Visa
- Japan Visa Frequently Asked Questions
HOW TO GET TO OSAKA
Kansai International Airport (KIX) is the primary gateway to Osaka and the rest of Kansai Region. A lot of airlines fly from Manila to Kansai Airport. If you book way in advance, you’ll get the best deals from Cebu Pacific Air. CEB flies to Osaka five times a week. Their lowest year-round fare is at P6399, which is a great deal already.
You can also wait for a SEAT SALE! For one of our trips, I was able to score a roundtrip Cebu Pacific ticket from their P20 SALE. The base fare per leg was only P20, but including all the taxes, I only paid PHP 5984 for the roundtrip ticket (PHP 2992 per way). That includes a prepaid baggage allowance of 20 Kg. Not bad. Not bad at all.
Search for cheap flights here
WHERE TO STAY IN OSAKA
I highly recommend staying in Namba district or Umeda district because they are in central, most convenient and most accessible locations.
- Namba. Staying in Namba means Dotonbori and Shinsaibashi are within walking distance. There are also direct trains from the airport to Namba Station, which means you won’t be transferring multiple times with heavy luggage in tow. The area is also bursting with restaurants, food stalls, markets, shops, and convenience stores. When you stay in Namba, you’re at the very center of all the action.
- Umeda. Also centrally located. Both Osaka Station and Umeda Station, two of the biggest and most connected stations in Kansai, are located in Umeda district. These stations are usually the starting points of trains going to other cities including Kyoto and Kobe. If your itinerary includes destinations outside Osaka, Umeda is a good base.
Top Capsule Hotels
- First Cabin Midousuji-Namba. Check Rates & Availability.
- Y’s Cabin Osaka Namba. Check Rates & Availability.
- Capsule Hotel ASTIL Dotonbori. Check Rates & Availability.
Top Hotels and Apartments Under $85
- HOTEL ASIATO. Check Rates & Availability.
- Hotel Kelly. Check Rates & Availability.
- Nissin Namba Inn. Check Rates & Availability.
HOW TO GET FROM KANSAI AIRPORT TO OSAKA CITY CENTER
Kansai Airport is almost an hour from downtown Osaka, so make sure you take that into consideration when building your Osaka itinerary. Fortunately, there are plenty of transportation options that you can take to reach the city center.
There are two railway operators ferrying passengers from the airport to Osaka city center: JR and Nankai. If your hotel is in Namba, take Nankai, which has a direct line to it. If your hotel is in Umeda area (near Osaka Station or Umeda Station), take JR instead.
There are also airport buses that can take you directly to these two districts! See the details below.
Kansai Airport to Namba by Train
Kansai Airport is directly connected to Namba by Nankai trains. The train terminals are on the second floor of the building next to the Arrival Hall. Just take the escalator and use the bridge to get to the other side.
There are two main types of Nankai trains running from the airport:
- NANKAI AIRPORT EXPRESS
This is the regular train. It looks like your regular subway train. It is cheaper but slower. You can’t reserve seats on this train. Just hop in and find a spot.
Travel time: 45 minutes
- NANKAI LIMITED EXPRESS RAPI:T (Rapit)
This is the premier train. It’s the deep blue train that looks like it came from the future. LOL. It’s a little bit faster than the Airport Express, but much more comfortable. If you want to make sure you’re seated comfortably throughout the journey, book this train.
Travel time: 38 minutes
Fare: ¥920 + ¥510 seat fee
If you decide to go with the Limited Express Rapi:t, you can reserve a seat via Klook. Here’s how to use it:
- Book a ticket with Klook. Reserve a ticket here
- When the transaction is complete, you will be emailed a mobile voucher. You can print it out or save it on your phone.
- On the day of your trip, upon arrival at Kansai Airport, find the HIS Counter at the Arrival Hall. There is usually a small KLOOK logo displayed in front of the counter. Show your mobile voucher to the staff. You will be given a physical voucher.
- Proceed to the Train Station (in the other building), find the Nankai Ticketing Counter, and exchange your voucher with the actual train ticket. Do it at least 30 minutes before your schedule.
- Enter the Nankai train station using the ticket.
Kansai Airport to Namba by Bus
You can take the bus to Osaka City Air Terminal (OCAT), which is located in the Namba area. Note that the first bus leaves Terminal 1 at 6:10am, last train at 10:40pm.
Travel time is about 1 hour, but varies depending on the traffic conditions.
- At the Arrival Hall, approach the counter for AIRPORT BUS to OCAT.
- Purchase a ticket to OCAT. Fare: ¥1050. They will need your passport so make sure you have it ready. You will be given both the ticket (white) and a receipt (green).
- Proceed to Departure Platform 11 (or whatever platform number you’re told).
- Wait for the bus at the platform. If you have big bags, the staff will take them and tag them. You will be given a slip that you’ll need to claim your bags upon arrival at OCAT so don’t lose them.
- Board the bus when it arrives. The driver will check your ticket. Find your seat number and get comfy. The travel time is around 1 hour, depending on traffic.
- Alight at OCAT.
That’s it! You’re at OCAT. From here you can walk to your hotel.
If your departure time is beyond 10:40pm, you can take the Nankai midnight bus which is scheduled to leave Terminal 1 at 2:54am, 3:54am, and 4:54am.
Kansai Airport to Umeda (Osaka Station) by Train
If your hotel is in the Umeda district, you can take the JR Kansai Airport Express, which will take you directly to Osaka Station (which is located in Umeda).
From the airport’s Arrival Hall, travel on foot to the train terminals on the second floor of the adjacent building. Just take the escalator and use the bridge to get to the other side. The JR Station is just next to the Nankai Station. Make sure you enter the right gate.
- JR KANSAI AIRPORT EXPRESS
This is a regular train. No need to reserve a seat. Just board the train and look for an empty seat.
Travel time: 62-65 minutes
If your hotel is close to Osaka Station, you can just walk. If your hotel is along a subway line, you can walk to Umeda Subway Station and take the subway to the closest subway station to your hotel.
Kansai Airport to Umeda (Osaka Station) by Bus
If your hotel is located near Osaka Station, you can take the Airport Limousine Bus, which will have three stops around Osaka Station. Two of these stops are hotels, but you don’t need to be staying in these hotels to take the bus. You just need to figure out which of these is the closest to your hotel. Here are the stops:
- Hotel New Hankyu Osaka
- Herbis Osaka
- Hilton Osaka (only 4 trips per day)
All buses will stop at Hotel New Hankyu Osaka and Herbis Osaka, but only a few will stop at Hilton Osaka.
Travel time is about 1 hour and 15 minutes, which can vary depending on traffic.
- At the Arrival Hall, approach the counter for AIRPORT BUS to OSAKA STATION or UMEDA.
- Purchase a ticket. Fare: ¥1550. They will need your passport so make sure you have it ready.
- Proceed to Departure Platform 5 (or whatever platform number you’re told).
- Wait for the bus at the platform. If you have big bags, the staff will take them and tag them and store them in the luggage compartment below. You will be given a slip that you’ll need to claim your bags after disembarking so don’t lose them.
- Board the bus when it arrives. The driver will check your ticket. Find your seat number. The travel time is around 85 minutes.
- Alight at Hotel New Hankyu or Herbis Osaka.
From here you can walk to your hotel.
POCKET WIFI & LOCAL SIM IN OSAKA
Pocket Wifi Rental
You will find wi-fi rental booths at the Arrival Area of Kansai Airport. Rates are usually between JPY 800-900 per day. However, they are very in demand so there might not be any more available if you arrive in the late afternoon or evening. Some establishments accept only credit card transactions.
If you really want to make sure you get a mobile wifi, you can reserve one in advance via Klook for only PhP 389 per day for unlimited 4G access. That’s a lot cheaper than those you will find at Kansai airport. The best part, if you’re a group, you can connect multiple devices hassle-free. You can then split the cost with your friends. You can pick up the device at the airport. No deposit is required.
If you opt with a 4G Data SIM, you can choose between two packages: unlimited 4G data for 8 days (around ¥3360) and 3GB data for 8 days (around ¥2160). If you’re a heavy data user, best to go with the Unlimited Plan. You can pick up the SIM card at Kansai Airport.
HOW TO GET AROUND OSAKA
The easiest way to get around Osaka is by train or subway.
Osaka is linked to the rest of the island by an expensive (and expensive) train system. In theory, traveling around is easy and hassle-free. In practice, however, it is difficult. Besides the language barrier, these train lines are as complicated and challenging as your previous relationship. You might think you’re on the right side of the right platform at the right station, but there’s still a chance that you board the wrong train and in some cases the wrong car. Some trains even split into half at one point, and they choo choo in separate directions.
But thank heavens for the Internet. So here’s a tip. If you own a smartphone or a tablet, do yourself a favor and get connected to the Internet!
You will need access to Hyperdia, a web-based search engine that would tell you train schedules and routes instantly. Just make sure you know the closest train station to your destination and let Hyperdia do the rest. Here’s more info: How to Use Hyperdia
If you want to score some savings, you can use any of the train passes available. Just pick one that best matches your Osaka itinerary.
We have a more detailed post about the passes here: KANSAI PASSES: WHICH IS BEST FOR YOU?
For more details, keep on reading. I explained each pass below.
Osaka Amazing Pass
If you’re sightseeing around Osaka, we strongly recommend this!
The all-inclusive Osaka sightseeing pass, available in 1-day and 2-day versions! It gives the holder unlimited use of the subway, tramway, and bus systems in Osaka. It also gives FREE access to certain attractions including the following:
- Osaka Castle Main Tower
- Umeda Building’s Floating Garden Observatory
- HEP FIVE Ferris Wheel
- Natural Hot Spring Naniwa no Yu
- Tombori River Cruise
- Dotombori Tour
You can reserve one via Klook. However, know that there are two types on Klook, depending on where you wish to pick it up. Make sure you book the one that is more convenient for you.
✅ If you want to pick up the pass at Kansai Airport, RESERVE HERE.
✅ If you want to pick it up at Kuromon Market in Namba, RESERVE HERE.
JR West Kansai Rail Pass
This pass offers unlimited rail and bus rides to and in many cities in Kansai Region including Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe, and Nara. You can also use this to travel from Kansai Airport to Osaka or Kyoto and back. Available in 1-, 2-, 3- and 4-day validity variants.
Note that this pass is only accepted on JR Trains. This won’t work on Nankai lines or subway lines.
Do you need this pass?
- If you plan on staying within Osaka and not visiting other cities, this is not for you. Get the Amazing Osaka Pass instead.
- If you plan to visit Kyoto, Nara, Kobe or other cities in Kansai, this could be great for you.
IMPORTANT! Best to purchase this pass ONLINE. This pass is meant for foreign nationals traveling as a temporary visitor (tourist) in Japan. Thankfully, there’s Klook. You can book below:
- 1-Day Pass. RESERVE HERE
- 2-Day Pass. RESERVE HERE
- 3-Day Pass. RESERVE HERE
- 4-Day Pass. RESERVE HERE
How does it work? How do you use it? Oh, easy, easy.
- Book a ticket with Klook.
- When the transaction is complete, you will be emailed a mobile voucher. You can print it out or save it on your phone.
- On the day of your trip, upon arrival at Kansai Airport, find the HIS Counter at the Arrival Hall. There is usually a small KLOOK logo displayed in front of the counter. Show your mobile voucher to the staff. You will be given a physical voucher.
- You don’t have to use it immediately. The count will begin on the day you first use it. For example, if you purchase a 2-day pass and you claim it on Monday, it doesn’t mean that you have to use it on Monday and Tuesday. You may choose to use it any day before expiration. If you use it for the first time on Thursday, you can use it on that day and Friday.
- When you use it for the first time, approach the staff at the counter at any of the station and he will stamp the final date you may use the pass.
- For succeeding uses, simply show the stamp on the pass at the staff at every JR station.
You can use it together with Osaka Amazing Pass too! On my last trip, I used an Osaka Amazing Pass when roaming within the city and then used my JR Kansai Pass on days when I traveled to Kyoto and Kobe.
Kansai Thru Pass
Offers unlimited rail and bus rides in many cities in Kansai Region including Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe, and Nara. You can also use this to travel from Kansai Airport to Osaka or Kyoto. JR Lines are not covered, though.
Available in 2- and 3-day validity variants. Unlike the JR West Kansai Pass, the Kansai Thru Pass doesn’t require consecutive days, making it much more flexible.
So which is better: Kansai Thru Pass or JR West Kansai Pass? Only you can answer that because it depends on your Osaka itinerary. If most of your stops are along JR lines, then the latter makes more sense. But if your destinations are far apart and closer to non-JR lines, then get the Kansai Thru Pass. Also consider your schedule. Kansai Thru Pass’s “non-consecutive” feature will allow you to maximize it better.
✅ RESERVE KANSAI THRU PASS HERE
The ICOCA Card isn’t a pass. It’s a prepaid IC card. It’s sort of Kansai’s version of Tokyo’s SUICA or PASMO Card.
When you use an ICOCA card, you still pay for every trip. (Again, it’s NOT a pass.) You can also use it to snag some discounts, but the real convenience is that you don’t need to get a ticket each time you’re using the train. You just need to quickly hover the card over the reader and you’re through. It functions like an MRT stored-value ticket (because that’s exactly what it is, a stored-value ticket).
You can also use it not just on trains but also on buses, lockers, vending machines, and even convenience stores. Yep, lockers. The ICOCA card works on lockers at train stations!
Although ICOCA is a product of JR West and is the primary IC card for Kansai and Chugoku region, you can use it in other places in Japan that has an IC card reader: in Tokyo, Nagoya, Fukuoka, or even as far as Sapporo. However, you can’t use it to travel between regions. The entry station and exit station both have to be within the same region. Yes, you can use it WITHIN Osaka. Yes, you can use it to travel from Osaka to Kyoto or Nara. BUT you CAN’T use it to travel from Osaka to Tokyo or Osaka to Nagoya, because Osaka, Tokyo, and Nagoya are not in the same region.
To get one, you just need to approach one of the ICOCA machines at the station. There’s no use for me to enumerate the steps here because it’s so easy. Just choose ENGLISH on the welcome screen and follow the instructions.
But if you want a discount, you can get an ICOCA card from Klook, which is already preloaded with ¥1500 + the deposit of ¥500. You can get the deposit when you return the card.
JR Pass (Nationwide)
If you’re visiting Osaka, Nara and Kyoto ONLY, you don’t need a JR Pass. It’s only for those who will make multiple long-distance journeys. If you’re staying within the Kansai Region, get a JR KANSAI RAIL PASS INSTEAD.
When is it wise to purchase a JR Pass? If you’re visiting multiple cities in Japan and you’re staying for at least 7 days. If your Osaka itinerary is more like that, purchase a pass before your trip. Klook offers the cheapest JR Passes available. If you live in the Philippines, the pass will be delivered to you in 7 days.
THINGS TO DO IN OSAKA
Universal Studios Japan
Nearest Station: Universal City Station (JR Yumesaki/Sakurajima Line)
As you already know, it’s a movie theme park that could bring a lot of fun to kids and adults alike. USJ is the first US branch in Asia, but it has been given a new life when they opened the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Despicable Me Minion Mayhem.
The problem with USJ is that it can get a bit too crowded especially on weekends. You can waste over an hour falling in line for just one attraction. If you want to get the most out of your time, an Express Pass is recommended. It costs extra, but it is worth it, in my experience. Express Passes sometimes sell out especially during peak season so it’s best to reserve online.
Are there DISCOUNTED TICKETS?
YES! Klook sells so-called 1.5 Day Pass. Basically, this pass will allow you to visit Universal Studios Japan at 3pm on Day 1 and then you can still use it for the entire day the following day. This gives you enough time to try more rides and enjoy more of the park.
WHERE TO BUY TICKETS
Book online! Here are the links to where you can get tickets:
Osaka Castle Park
Built in the 1500s by Toyotomi Hideyoshi and opened to the public in 1931, it is now a museum that showcases the rich and intricate history of Osaka and the life of Hideyoshi. A view deck perched on top of the castle offers a refreshing vista of the surrounding park and city.
The castle grounds, which is transformed into a public park, is worthy of exploring. Locals and foreigners alike enjoy the drastic changing of colors every turn of the season.
Tanimachiyonchome (4-chome) Station (Tanimachi Subway Line, Chuo Subway Line)
Osakajokoen (JR Loop Line)
9am-4:30pm from November to February
9am-9pm during Cherry blossoms season
9am-5pm the rest of the year
More info: Osaka Castle
The place to be for shopaholics and food lovers! This shopping-and-dining hotspot in Namba is a maze of countless restaurants and stores! Located in Namba, one of Osaka’s two major downtowns, it is known for its colorful lights and over-the-top store signages like the Kani (Crab), pufferfish, Asahi beer, and of course, the iconic Glico Man. Aside from the restaurants, Dotonbori is also peppered with bars and street food stalls. Get your share of sukiyaki, shabu-shabu, ramen, crab, takoyaki, kobe beef kebab, and fugu. You can also hop onto a boat and cruise down the river.
Nearest Station: Namba Station
More info here: Dotonbori
HEP FIVE Ferris Wheel
HEP FIVE is a shopping complex that targets mostly the younger market. It houses dozens of stores, but it is most famous for its 106-meter bright red Ferris Wheel that enable a marvelous view of the surrounding Umeda district. You can also see Osaka Harbor from here.
Nearest Station: Umeda (HS01)
Admission Fee: ¥600
Hours open: 11:00am to 10:45pm
Abeno Harukas (Harukas 300)
Standing at 300m, Abeno Hakuras in Osaka’s Tennoji district is Japan’s tallest building and third tallest man-made structure (next only to Tokyo SkyTree and Tokyo Tower). Its observation deck called Harukas 300 is the second highest observation deck in the country, perched on the 58th to 60th floor, and is open to the public!
Osaka-Abenobashi Station, JR Tennoji Station
Daily from 9:00am to 10:00pm.
Last entry is at 9:30pm.
Junior High/High School: ¥1200
You can buy at the entrance to Harukas 300, which is located on the 16th floor of the building.
You can also buy online via Klook to score a discount!
Kuromon Ichiba Market
Open: Daily, 9am-6pm
How to get there: Closest stations are Nippombashi and Namba
For over 190 years, Kuromon Market has been known as Osaka’s kitchen for its almost endless array of gastronomic options, ranging from rare fruits to mouth-watering seafoods that you can eat or have prepared on the spot. Compared to other markets I have visited in Japan, Kuromon is actually a bit pricier, but the experience make up for it. They sell items in small servings, which allows visitors to get a taste of a wide variety of products, something that a regular restaurant can’t give you. There’s just so much to see and taste here. If you want to try Kobe beef but not flush enough to afford a proper cut, you can get hold of small slices here. Even the deadly fugu (pufferfish) is sold in one of the corners.
Built in the 6th century by Prince Shotoku, Shitenno-ji Temple is Japan’s oldest state-constructed temple. Although most structures were repeatedly reconstructed after being burned several times, the original design and details were followed and retained with every rebuilding.
The outer temple ground complex is free for all, but there are three places that requires entrance fees: Chushin Garan (inner temple complex), the Treasure House, and the Gokurakujodo Garden.
Nearest Station: Shitennoji-mae-Yuhigaoka Station (Tanimachi Subway Line)
Open Hours: 8:30am-4:30pm
Admission Fee: 300 yen
Umeda Sky Building
Towering at 173 meters in height, the Umeda Sky Building is quite an imposing sight on the Umeda skyline. The structure is composed of two 40-story towers, linked by the Floating Garden Observatory on the 39th floor.
To get to the Sky Walk (open-roof observation deck), from the third floor of the East Tower, take the elevator to 35th floor, where the escalator connecting the two towers can be found. The escalator will then take you to the West Tower’s 39th floor. Purchase the ticket and proceed to the Sky Walk.
Nearest Station: Osaka and Umeda Stations
Opening Hours: 10am-10pm
Admission Fee: 1000 yen
DIY TOURS OUTSIDE OSAKA
Osaka is a great base for travelers who plan on exploring other parts of Kansai Region. From Osaka, you can easily travel to Kyoto, Kobe, Nara, Himeji, and even as far as Tottori and Hiroshima.
Here are some detailed DIY day tour itineraries that you may follow.
- KYOTO DAY TRIP ITINERARY from Osaka
- KOBE DAY TRIP ITINERARY from Osaka
- MIE OVERNIGHT ITINERARY from Osaka
For more destinations that you can visit from Osaka, check out this post with information on how to get there by taking public transportation.
Read it here: PLACES TO VISIT NEAR OSAKA
ORGANIZED DAY TOURS FROM OSAKA
This section wasn’t in the original version of this guide because we often advocate DIY Travel, but we’ve been receiving a lot of inquiries from people who will be traveling with kids or seniors (parents). Here are some tours that Klook has tested and is offering.
Kyoto Day Tour from Osaka
- Kiyomizu-dera Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage site
- Kinkaku-ji and its gardens
- Fushimi Inari Shrine and its thousands of orange tori gates
- Traditional Japanese meal for lunch (optional)
- Tour bus transportation to and from Osaka (Meet up with guide at assigned location, usually at Hearton Hotel Nishi Umeda)
- English-speaking guide
Nara Afternoon Tour from Osaka
- Nara Park and meet the famous deer
- Todai-ji Temple
- Kasuga Taisha Shrine
- Nara Nagomikan, the largest souvenir shop in Nara
- Hotel pick up (hotel drop-off not included. Tour ends at Osaka Namba Station, near Dotonbori)
- English speaking guide
- Admission fees
WHERE TO EAT IN OSAKA
Osaka is considered the culinary capital of Japan, boasting several signature dishes including okonomiyaki and takoyaki. Because of its location, its food and culture in general have influences from adjacent prefectures. Shabu-shabu, for example, is always attributed with the city but actually originated in Tottori. Kobe beef is also available at countless restaurants in Osaka, but the beef is supplied by its neighbor. It’s also one of biggest port cities, ensuring a steady supply of ocean bounty and products from other parts of the country.
We created a separate post dedicated to the best cheap restaurants in Osaka. You can find that here: OSAKA CHEAP RESTAURANTS.
SAMPLE OSAKA ITINERARY
In a perfect world, I would exhaust all the 15 days I was allowed. But you know, this world has shortcomings, much like my wallet.
Below is a sample 4-day 4-night itinerary which involves spending 2 nights in Osaka and another 2 nights in Kyoto.
To better understand the Kyoto leg of this itinerary, read this first: KYOTO TRAVEL GUIDE.
It assumes the following:
- You’re taking Cebu Pacific flight scheduled to arrive in Osaka at 8:10pm.
- IMPORTANT! In this case, make sure that the first thing you do after going through Immigration and picking up your bags is to head straight to the HIS Office to collect the passes and/or mobile wifi that you booked with Klook because it closes at 10pm.
- You have an Osaka Amazing Pass, from hereon shall be referred to as OA Pass (¥2500), to save some yen. Having the Osaka Amazing Pass will waive the entrance fees to some of the attractions and unlimited access to the subway. It costs ¥2500 if you book with Klook. RESERVE HERE
- You have a 2-Day Kansai Thru Pass for the last 2 days. This will give you unlimited access to non-JR lines including Hankyu Lines which can take you to Arashiyama and Gion in Kyoto and Kintetsu Lines which can take you to Nara. It also covers your airport transfer on your last day. RESERVE HERE!
- You DON’T need a JR Pass or Kansai Pass for this itinerary. The OA Pass for the Osaka leg and Hankyu Pass for Kyoto are enough. Using the JR Pass will cost much more.
- You’re staying in a capsule hotel in Namba, like Capsule Hotel ASTIL Dotonbori or Y’s Cabin Osaka Namba (¥3250 per night).
- You’re skipping breakfast. It’s healthy (according to intermittent fasting advocates, hehe) and you’re poor!
Please take note that the times and costs indicated here are just estimates. For the exact train schedule, check Hyperdia. Make the necessary adjustments to match your schedule and preferences.
08:10pm – Arrival at Kansai Airport
09:10pm – Collect Klook passes at Arrival Hall
09:54pm – Board Nankai Airport Express to Namba, ¥920
10:30pm – Check-in at the hotel
Day 1: OSAKA
07:00am – Wake up call
08:30am – Subway to Tanimachiyonchome Station (Osaka Castle), FREE (OA Pass)
09:00am – Osaka Castle, FREE (OA Pass)
12:00nn – Subway to Nakatsu Station (Ramen Yashichi), FREE (OA Pass)
12:30nn – Lunch at Ramen Yashichi, ¥730
02:30pm – Subway to from Nakatsu to Umeda, FREE (OA Pass)
03:00pm – Umeda Sky Building Observatory, FREE (OA Pass)
04:30pm – Subway from Umeda to Namba, FREE (OA Pass)
05:00pm – Walk around Dotonbori
06:00pm – Japan Night Walk Tour, FREE (OA Pass)
08:00pm – Dinner at Tokisushi or Menya Jorouku Ramen, ¥1200
09:00pm – Back to hotel, sleep
Day 2: UNIVERSAL STUDIOS
05:00am – Wake up call
06:00am – Subway to Tamagawa Station, ¥230
07:00am – Breakfast at Endo Sushi, ¥1242
09:00am – Train from Noda Station to Universal City, ¥160
09:15am – Universal Studios Japan, ¥7900 + ¥1500 lunch
08:00pm – Train to Osaka-Namba Station, ¥360
09:00pm – Dinner, ¥1000
Day 3: KYOTO
07:00am – Wake up call
08:00am – Subway to Umeda Station, FREE (KT Pass)
08:30am – Hankyu train to Arashiyama, FREE (KT Pass)
09:30am – Explore Arashiyama, Tenryuji Fee: ¥500
12:00pm – Train to Kawaramachi Station, FREE (KT Pass)
12:30pm – Lunch at Butaya ton Ichi Teramachi, ¥1200
01:30pm – Walk to Gion District
02:00pm – Yasaka Shrine, FREE
03:00pm – Walk to Higashiyama District
04:00pm – Kiyomizu-dera Temple, ¥400
06:00pm – Walk to Kiyomizu-michi Bus Stop
06:30pm – Bus 207 to Shijo Kawaramachi Bus Stop, ¥230
07:30pm – Hankyu Train to Umeda Station, FREE (KT Pass)
08:30pm – Subway to Namba Station, FREE (KT Pass)
09:00pm – Dinner, ¥1000
Day 4: NARA, DEPARTURE
06:30am – Check out, walk to Osaka-Namba Station
07:30am – Store luggage in locker, ¥700
08:06am – Train to Kintetsu-Nara Station, FREE (KT Pass)
09:00am – Explore 2 temples, entrance fee budget: ¥1300
12:00nn – Lunch, ¥1000
01:30pm – Nara Park
02:30pm – Kintetsu Train to Osaka-Namba, FREE (KT Pass)
04:00pm – Nankai Train to Airport, FREE (KT Pass)
05:30pm – Check in
08:30pm – Flight out
If you follow this Osaka itinerary, prepare to shell out around ¥43,000 (USD 387, PHP20,500, SGD 525) per person including possible miscellaneous expenses like bottled water and some snacks but excluding airfare, visa fee, and travel taxes. Please add some allowance to cover anything we might have missed.
Universal Studios Japan eats up the biggest chunk of the budget. You can save a lot by skipping it if it’s not your priority anyway. A fantastic alternative is to just stay in Osaka and visit other attractions within the city. You can buy a 2-day Osaka Amazing Pass instead. This way, the cost goes down to only ¥36,000 (USD 440, SGD 324, PHP17,000) per person excluding airfare, visa fee, and travel tax.
Another way to further reduce the cost is by limiting your food budget to only ¥500 per lunch/dinner. Convenience stores and supermarkets offer cheap meals for much lower. But you’re in Japan! It would be such a shame to visit Osaka and not eat out!
You can also find an early morning flight so you can save one hotel night.
This itinerary may also be too dense for you. It was for me, haha. In fact, I skipped a few of these because my legs were this close to falling off. That’s because I’m old and lazy. Again, that’s me.
For more sample itineraries, check out: OSAKA-KYOTO SAMPLE ITINERARIES
MORE TIPS FOR THE POOR TRAVELER
Here are more tips to help make your trip go smoothly.
- Lockers. In major stations in Osaka and Kyoto, you’ll find them in many corners. There are two types: electronic and coin lockers. Electronic lockers require an ICOCA card to work, which will serve as the key. If you use your ICOCA card, don’t lose or return the card before you collect your bags. Coin lockers are better choices because you just need to take note of the locker number. Take a photo of your locker details and the surrounding shops so you could easily find them again. Locker rental costs ¥300-¥700 depending on the size.
- Tipping is unusual in Japan. Most restaurants have the cashier stationed by the exit so you pay after your meal, on your way out.
- When in doubt, ask. The people of Osaka and Kyoto are some of the friendliest I have ever met. When we were lost and asked for direction, they went out of their way to help us. Some even walked us to our destination. And when we expressed our gratitude, they would just smile at you as if it was nothing. They really were the nicest!
OUR OSAKA SLAM BOOK
- Best thing about Osaka: Two things: convenience and its people. Osaka is a major tourism hub, so it is well-connected to other cities in Japan by train and by bus. From here, you can easily reach Kyoto, Nagoya, Hiroshima, and even Tokyo! Second, its people. The people of Kansai Region are some of the kindest, most helpful, and most polite I have met.
- Something about Osaka that you don’t like: Expensive accommodations. Sure, there are cheap options out there, but they are still relatively pricey compared to other parts of Japan.
- Most unforgettable moment: As mentioned in this post’s intro, on our first night, we made a mistake and unintentionally left our ticket at the gates. A local ran after us to let us know that we made a mistake and that we must come back to avoid any trouble. Within an hour upon landing in Osaka, I already fell in love with its people.
- Favorite meal. Endo Sushi. I always drop by every time I’m in the city.
- Favorite spot. Osaka Castle Park. Every time I see the Osaka Castle, I am reminded that many of the things I enjoy now were just “distant dreams” when I was younger. I used to just read about Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Japanese history in general, but now I get to return to these historic places over and over again. It still feels unreal to me.
- Biggest surprise. Food! I have something to confess. Prior to my first trip to Japan, I disliked Japanese food. Not really dislike, I just didn’t prefer it. If there was another choice, I would go the other way. But my first trip to Osaka introduced the Japanese cuisine to me. I enjoyed it tremendously and never looked back! I am now a big sucker for Japanese food and I crave it all the time!
- Biggest disappointment. Prices. Hahaha. Japan is an expensive destination, so it’s really no surprise. It just bums me out sometimes that I don’t have much purchasing power here.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT OSAKA
Is Osaka safe?
Yes, Osaka is very safe. Sure, it’s not crime-free, but it is one of the safest major cities in the world. The people of Osaka are also very polite, helpful, and kind.
But we would still advice that you keep an eye on your belongings and don’t leave it just anywhere.
What is the tipping policy in Osaka?
Tipping is not practiced in Osaka or Japan in general. If anything, it can be seen as an insult, so we don’t recommend it.
Most restaurants have a counter by the entrance/exit door. To pay, just approach it on the way out.
Is Osaka a better base for travelers than Kyoto?
Well, that depends on your itinerary. If most of the attractions you want to visit are located in Kyoto, by all means, book a hotel in Kyoto. Another great thing about Kyoto is that accommodations are generally cheaper.
But if all things are equal, I would recommend Osaka. It’s closer to the airport, located centrally, and has more transportation options.
How long to stay in Osaka?
If we’re talking about just Osaka City, 2-3 days is enough to see the top attractions. If you’re also visiting Universal Studios, add another day.
If you’re visiting Kyoto, I would recommend adding 2-3 more days, but would be best to just stay in Kyoto for these days.
If you want to see just a glimpse of Kyoto, Kobe, and Nara, then add a day for each. A week is usually a good length to see what Kansai region has to offer.
What is the power socket used in Osaka?
100V. Type A sockets. Plugs have two flat pins. Type B is sometimes used but not that common.
What is the best pass when touring Osaka and Kansai Region?
Okay, this is a little bit complicated. There are a lot of tourist passes available out there. And I mean A LOOOOOT! So it can be extremely confusing.
There is no ULTIMATE PASS, one pass to beat all the other passes. The best pass for you is the one that best fits your itinerary: how long your trip is and what your stops are. Often, the best way to go about it is to use a combination of two or more passes. Osaka Amazing Pass is something I always recommend if your itinerary involves sightseeing around Osaka. But if you’re visiting other cities, here are our suggestions.
- OSAKA ONLY. OSAKA AMAZING PASS.
- OSAKA + KOBE. OSAKA AMAZING PASS + HANSHIN TOURIST PASS.
- OSAKA + KOBE + KYOTO.
– Option 1: OSAKA AMAZING PASS + 2-DAY HANKYU TOURIST PASS, if you’re not going to another city on your last day.
– Option 2: OSAKA AMAZING PASS + 2-DAY KANSAI THRU PASS, if you’re visiting another city on your last day.
- OSAKA + KYOTO.
– Option 1: OSAKA AMAZING PASS + HANKYU TOURIST PASS, if you want to see Arashiyama, Gion District and Kiyomizu-dera.
– Option 2: OSAKA AMAZING PASS + KYOTO-OSAKA SIGHTSEEING PASS, if you want to see Fushimi Inari Shrine, Gion District, and Kiyomizu-dera.
– Option 3: OSAKA AMAZING PASS + KANSAI THRU PASS, if you want to see Arashiyama, Fushimi Inari Shrine, Gion District and Kiyomizu-dera in one day AND you’re visiting another city on your last day.
- OSAKA + KYOTO + NARA.
– Option 1: OSAKA AMAZING PASS + 2-DAY KINTETSU RAIL PASS if Arashiyama is NOT part of your itinerary.
– Option 2: OSAKA AMAZING PASS + 1-DAY KINTETSU RAIL PASS (Nara) + 1-DAY HANKYU TOURIST PASS (Kyoto) if Arashiyama is non-negotiable for you and you’re not visiting another city on your last day.
– Option 3: OSAKA AMAZING PASS + KANSAI THRU PASS if Arashiyama is non-negotiable and you’re visiting Kyoto or Nara on your last day.
- OSAKA + KYOYO + NAGOYA or MIE. OSAKA AMAZING PASS + 5-DAY KINTETSU RAIL PASS.
- OSAKA + MULTIPLE OTHER CITIES IN KANSAI REGION.
– Option 1: OSAKA AMAZING PASS + KANSAI THRU PASS, if you’ll visit the other cities on non-consecutive days and one of them is on the same day you’re going to the airport.
– Option 2: OSAKA AMAZING PASS + JR WEST KANSAI RAIL PASS, if you’ll visit the other cities on consecutive days and one of them is on the same day you’re going to the airport.
- OSAKA + OTHER JAPANESE CITIES OUTSIDE KANSAI REGION. JR NATIONWIDE PASS.
If none of the above apply to you, just get an ICOCA Card or none at all.
You’ll notice that whenever I recommend Kansai Thru Pass or JR West Kansai Rail Pass, there’s always a condition that you’ll be visiting another city on your last day. That’s because it’s the best way to maximize its value. Both these passes cover airport train transfers, which means you’ll get the most savings if you do another day tour outside Osaka on your arrival or departure day.
Anyway, here’s where you can buy these passes.
- Osaka Amazing Pass. Reserve here!
- Hanshin Tourist Pass. Check rates or reserve here!
- Hankyu Tourist Pass. Check rates or reserve here!
- Kintetsu Rail Pass. Reserve or check rates here!
- Kansai Thru Pass. Reserve or check rates here!
- JR West Kansai Rail Pass. 3-Day Pass. Check rates or reserve here!
- JR Pass (Nationwide). Check JR PASS rates here!
This post is co-presented by Cebu Pacific Air.
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Very helpful and detailed. i will definitely save this one for my October Osaka trip!
Do you have similar blog for Fukuoka and Hiroshima?
Hi, thank you so much for this very helpful and detailed blog!
Question lang, ano difference ng 5 Day JR Kansai WIDE Area Pass (KIX Pick Up) sa 4 Day JR West Kansai Pass (KIX Pick Up)?
Yung 5-Day Kansai WIDE Area Pass covers a larger area including Okayama, Tottori, etc. And 5 days nga sya. Yung regular JR West Kansai, smaller yung scope tapos 1-4 days lang.
What a great blog. All the details are very helpful! I’m gonna bookmark this blog and will be my favourite travel guide blog <3
Hi Beth! Hiroshima, very soon!
Thank you for this post. Very informative and helpful. I love that you included your itinerary. That’s half of the work for me. Haha! Thanks so much! More travels to you.
You’re welcome! Enjoy Osaka!
Super informative. Thank you so much. :)) I’m an avid fan of your blogs. Though i have one problem, when i click the link on how to apply visa for tourist it led me to the link of relatives guide. the rest, kudos!
Hi Rein! Nice catch! Nag-switch lang yung dalawang links (tourists and visitors). But okay na! Corrected na. :D
Hi! Just wanted to follow your sample ite to Tokyo + Kyoto + Osaka for 8 days. I would like to ask if you would still recommend the JR Pass? or its better to use the SUICA and ICOCA?
Hi Ian, no, I don’t recommend the JR Pass if your trip is only 8 days and Tokyo/Osaka/Kyoto lang. Just take the bus. :)
SUICA and ICOCA are not really passes. They’re more like stored-value cards, so yep, they’re great kasi it will make your train journeys convenient kasi no need to take a ticket each time.
Hi! Thanks sa reply :) ung SUICA and ICOCA ba pwde rin naming magamit sa lahat ng trains? pati shinkansen and airport train express?
Hi Ian, generally, you can’t use IC cards on shinkansen. There are some exceptions but too complicated. Better to just buy Shinkansen tickets at the station. It’s easy lang din naman. :)
As for airport express, depends. For non-reserved seats, usually the SUICA/ICOCA/PASMO can be used to settle the fare. But when there are reserved seats involved, I think you’re gonna have to pay for the “seat fee” separately. For example, in Tokyo, sa Keisei Limited Express, pwede yung SUICA. Pero for Narita Express or Skyliner, seat fee eh kailangan pang bayaran sa counter/machine.
This is what I remember. I could be wrong, though.
Ok thanks a lot. makakatulong sa amin lahat ng tips mo hehe plano pa naman sana namin na mag avail na ng JR Pass sa klook kasi included na yung shinkansen. buti nabasa ko page mo :)
If Osaka-Tokyo lang, di sulit ang JR Pass. Ang lagi ko nirerecommend talaga if kaya nyo naman, overnight bus para tipid pa kayo ng 1 hotel night. hehe
oo nga pero gusto kasi namin sana ma-try din ung shinkansen kasi minsan lang kami punta Japan hehe
Hi! ask ko lang kung paano kayo nakapag charge ng mga gadgets sa Japan… kasi di ba 220v ang outlet natin dito sa Pilipinas… salamat… :)
Hi Toni, depende sa gadgets mo. Yung gadgets namin, nakalagay pwede 100-240V, so no problem kasi safe whether sa Pinas or sa Japan. Check your device or adaptor.
Very informative. Have ideas now for an Osaka trip someday. Japan is not really that expensive, just do some researching before traveling. Been to Fukuoka, used the city/tourist pass , buy meals and water on supermarkets bcoz cheaper than convenience store and I saved a lot.
yep, the supermarket trick really can help save money!
Hi, what night bus can you recommend from Osaka to Tokyo?
Willer Bus! Tried it, it was pretty smooth.
Hi! My entry is exit is in Nagoya. Will be staying in Japan for 8 days (moving around Nagoya-Kyoto-Osaka-Nara) and considering Kintetsu Pass + Kansai Thru Pass. I get confused with all these passes. Help? :(
Hi Josh. Kintetsu Pass only covers Kintetsu line only.
Kansai Thru Pass covers all non-JR lines but within Kansai only. I don’t think you can use it for travel to and in Nagoya.
Whether or not you need a pass depends on your itinerary talaga. Check yung mga places that you want to visit and tingnan mo ung nearest station and kung anong line ang dumadaan dun.
Hello, anu po advisable.. Ppalit n diretso ng peso to ¥ dito s pinas or papalit muna ng $ then pagdating sa japan tyka papalit ng $ to ¥.. If the latter, san po kya mgndang shop n currency exchange sa osaka?
Hi Apolkizh, it’s not a good idea na ipalit pa sa dollars bago yen kasi twice ka mawawalan sa conversion. Papalit ka na dito sa Pinas.
Hello, medyo confused po ako. Ano po purpose ng ICOCA Card? Yung Osaka Amazing Pass po ba ay hindi pwede i-tap pag sasakay ka ng bus or subway, like yung sa ibang country? Hehe. Thanks
Hi! Ang ICOCA card ay stored value card. Hindi sya pass. Pag may ICOCA card ka, pede ka nang pumasok nang hindi bumibili ng ticket. Tap/hover lang ung card. Hindi sya unlimited use. Nilo-loadan mo sya and every time you use it nababawasan ng load yung card.
Ang Osaka Amazing Pass ay unlimited pass sa subway and bus within Osaka only + free entrance to some attractions. Pagdating sa transportation, it’s a pass. Unlimited use yan. Kahit ilang beses ka sumakay basta within Osaka, wala ka nang pwedeng bayaran. Hindi sya tina-tap. You insert it dun sa slot sa gate.
Hi! Just want to know how is the train commute within the osaka area? We’ll be travelling with our 3yo daughter and my concern is baka too crowded ang train rides going to the tourist spots mentioned in your itinerary? Thanks!
Hi Tin! It’s not as bad as in Tokyo, faaar from it. But it’s best to avoid rush hours kapag papasok and pauwi na yung mga nagwowork, around 7-9am and 5-7pm. And even then, not all lines are crowded.
Anu po ang pagkaiba nang single entry and multiple entry sa japan visa? If bigyan ka po nang single entry nang japan embassy hindi ka na po pwde maka punta sa kyoto or nara?
Single entry, you can only use it to enter Japan once. Kung single entry hawak mo, pwede ka pa ring magpunta ng Kyoto and Nara from Osaka. Basta pag nasa loob ka na ng Japan, pwede ka nang pumunta anywhere sa Japan, basta wag ka lang lalabas ng Japan tapos papasok ulit.
Pag lumabas ka ng Japan, di ka na makakapasok ulit using the same visa. Pag ganun, dapat multiple entry.
Hi, your kind assistance please :)
e.g. on the third day of the trip I’m planning to visit Kyoto for a day tour and back to Osaka just in time for the midnight bus headed to Tokyo – 1) would you consider this doable? 2) should I avail of the JR Kansai Rail Pass though it’ll be only for 1 [Kyoto] use?
Appreciate the time and response.
Hi Soyfresh, yep, that’s doable.
Some buses also pass by Kyoto on the way to Tokyo. Something to consider para di ka na bumalik pa ng Osaka just to catch the bus. Meron naman from Kyoto. Yung bus na sinakyan ko dati, nagstop and nagpick up ng passengers sa Kyoto. Basta reserve ka na lang para sure na may seat.
we have 6 days stay in japan including arrival at @8PM at KIX airport, we plan to stay in kyoto upon arrival, 2nd & 3rd day to explore kyoto, 4th day nara & nagoya (just for the Nabana No Sato), 5th day & 6th day will be osaka. . Mas mabuti ba ang ICOCA card for these itinerary? practical lang ba yung mga days of stay namin sa mga places in kansai region?
Hi Evelyn, I personally think Nagoya is too out of the way for a half-day visit.
We have a sample 6 day itinerary here with recommended passes: https://www.thepoortraveler.net/2017/07/osaka-kyoto-itineraries/#DIY_Osaka-Nara-Kobe-Kyoto_Itinerary_6_Days
If you still want to go to Nagoya, you can just insert it somewhere. :)
Good day ! We want to stay in Osaka for 4 days to explore the city can we buy 2 tickets of Osaka Amazing Pass for 2 days which amounting to 6,600 yen to save money for sub-ways and entrance fee . Thank you.
Hi Jonalyn, if you’re planning to explore only OSAKA (and not other parts of Kansai like Kyoto or Nara), yes, that’s okay.
Note that you won’t be able to use Osaka Amazing Pass outside Osaka.
Hi. Need your advise please. We sill stay at Osaka for 2 days, then 1 day at Kyoto. Is it best to get the OA pass and ICOCA instead of JR West 3 day pass (if I understand it correctly).
Also is it doable to go to Kyoto and Nara on a 1 day tour? Basically just to go to Inari Shrine, Gion, Nara Park and Todaiji Temple. Is ti possible? hehe. Then will need to go back at night to Osaka.
By the way always rely on your blogs. Just recently went to South Korea. Really helpful and informative.
Thanks in advance :)
Hi Zel, check out Itinerary #3 in this post: https://www.thepoortraveler.net/2018/09/osaka-kyoto-itinerary-days/
Nakalagay na rin dyan yung passes na kailangan mo. :)
Kaya naman ung Nara and Kyoto in one day, hindi nga lang talaga advisable kasi sa Kyoto pa lang andaming makikita na. Balikan mo na lang ang Nara and maybe even Kobe or other nearby destinations next time. :)
Hi! This is informative :) Do you also have a Osaka-Kyoto-Tokyo blog or sample itinerary for a 7day trip? Also, I would like to ask your recommendation what is the most okay and cheapest hehe transpo to Tokyo. Thanks!
#6 here: https://www.thepoortraveler.net/2017/05/osaka-kyoto-tokyo-sample-itinerary/
Bawasan mo na lang ng 1 day. :)
I will be flying in to Osaka this Feb 8 and stay there overnight, then travel to Kyoto the following day. Then will leave for Tokyo on Feb 11 (where I will be flying out also on Feb 13). Can you please advice me what transport/travel pass to get na sulit gamitin to/from/in those areas. Thank you very much!
Hmmmm. From Kansai Airport, travel by Nankai Airport Express to city center. If you’re arriving in the morning, you can get an Osaka Amazing Pass. Otherwise, no need for a pass for Osaka.
Then the next day, get a Hankyu 1-Day Pass, which can take you to and around Kyoto.
Take Willer Bus to Tokyo.
Then in Tokyo, depends on your itinerary. If you feel like you’re taking the subway a lot, get a Tokyo Subway Ticket.
Thank you.. However, there has been a change in plans, I will be coming in a day early, Feb 7, and will arrive via Narita then will head to Osaka the following day (then Kyoto, then back Tokyo on the 11th). Is it advisable to get a JR pass so as to cover the fare to and from those places? If not? Can I ask you again for any/other recommendations? Thank you ulit.
Hi Faye, this should answer your question: https://www.thepoortraveler.net/2017/03/is-jr-pass-worth-it/
I will be traveling to osaka with my family and we will be staying in shinsaibashi area (Hotel Trusty). We will be taking the Nankai Limited Rapit express to namba. My question is, from namba, what do we need to take next so we can reach shinsaibashi station? Thanks in advance.
Hi Patrick, looks like Hotel Tsusty is near Shinsaibashi Station. You can take the subway from Namba Station to Shinsaibashi Station.
You can also walk if you have the energy and you don’t have too much luggage.
Hello, do I need a JR pass to travel to USJ? Will the ICOCA suffice? Thanks!
The ICOCA will suffice.
Hi sir. Would like to ask lang po if youre familiar which pass po ang pwede if we’re staying in himeji? We’re planning to have a day tour po in osaka. Then punta rin po kami sa usj the next day nman po after exploring osaka. Medyo malayo po ata sya sa osaka. Ask lng po if alam nyo po kung anong pass ang pwede po to less yung expenses po namin sa transpo. Thank you po.
Hi Louie, the pass for that is JR West Kansai Rail Pass because it covers Himeji, Osaka, and Kyoto.
More info here: https://affiliate.klook.com/jump/activity/3275-3-day-jr-west-kansai-rail-pass-jr-pass/?adid=16627&af_wid=825
Hi sir! reg lang po sa pass, can i book for all of us po? Or kailangan po individual booking?
Hi this is very informative, we paln to goto japan this october for stay for 5 nights, other than nara & kyoto is there other place you recommend?
Hi Katherine, since 6 days, 5 nights lang yung trip, I think enough na yung Osaka, Nara, and Kyoto. Sa Kyoto and Osaka pa lang kasi, andami nang makikita and mapapasyalan. If you really want more, pwede ring Kobe.
hi sir! would like to ask if you have a link where we can book a night bus from tokyo to osaka or vice versa? thanks!
Hi Cynthia, willerexpress.com/en/
Hi! Thanks for this blog, it’s really informative!
I’ll be travelling to Kansai with my sibling for almost 9 days. What pass do you recommend that we get? We’ll be staying at Hyogo, and will be exploring Osaka, Kyoto and Nara. I was thinking of getting two of the JR West Pass (for 8 days), will that be cost effective?
Thanks in advance!
Where in Hyogo will you be staying? Kobe? Himeji?
Though I also put Himeji in our draft itinerary, thinking it is near our accomodation
Ok. Will you touring every single day of those nine days?
I’m not sure if this is the best way to go since I have never tried exploring Kansai from Kobe as base and I don’t know your exact itinerary, but I think you should just take it one day at a time.
For example, when exploring Osaka from Kobe, you can use a combination of Hanshin Tourist Pass and Osaka Amazing Pass.
For Kyoto, try Hankyu Tourist Pass.
For Nara, combination of Hanshin Tourist Pass and Kintetsu 1 Day Pass. Or if Nara Park lang ang pupuntahan mo sa Nara, just use Hanshin Tourist Pass to get to Osaka (and back) and then regular tickets na lang.
Thanks! This post enlightened me:
Will finalize my itinerary first, then take it from there. Thank you for your input!
Hi Sir Yoshke! Tanong ko lang, sabi sa ticket ko, aalis ako ng 3:05 PM tapos makakarating ako ng 8:05 PM sa KIX. Ang oras na 8:05 PM ba ay JST or PST? Kung JST, ibig sabihin makakarating ako ng around 9:00 PM doon? Excluded pa ang mga delaysssssssss. Ang concern ko po kasi, may kinuha po ako through klook. Kung ang HIS Travel ay hanggang 10:30 PM JST lang, makakaabot pa po kayo sa redemption ng mga vouchers? Kung hindi po ba ako makaabot, pwede ko pa rin kaya iredeem the next day?
Hi Airashi, pag sa flights, whether sa ticket or sa website, ang indicated na time is local time. So in that case, yung 8:05PM, Japan time yun. :)
Hi, is it cheaper to stay and travel to osaka than in tokyo? Our family is planning to travel to Japan but we are still debating whether to go to osaka or to tokyo. Also during our application for our visa, we put in our itinerary that we will enter in osaka, will we be in trouble if we enter in tokyo instead? Thank you.
Hi Orly, yes, Osaka is a lot cheaper than Tokyo.
I think it’s okay if there are changes to your travel plans after the visa issuance.
Hello, I will be travelling to Osaka this April.
3D3N lang. I booked a 1 day tour to Kyoto, Arashiyama and Nara. Then planning to do Osaka castle and USJ as well. How much money should I bring? Is 10K yen per day would suffice? (Just for food, transpo, entrance fees). Thank you!
Hi Mary Rose, yep, sa day na punta ka ng USJ, pwedeng mabitin ung 10K. Pero sobra-sobra naman yan sa mga non-USJ days. So tama lang. :)
How about adding medical travel insurance for a foreigner who visits Japan at your next blog? Thou we may easily be caught terminal ill in a foreign country at any time. This is what my previous homestay Japanese host has advised me to have to do so.
I love this blog. Informative talaga. Dami ko natutunan. Just have few questions Sir. First, sa sample itinerary nyo, wala po yung sa fushimi inari shrine? O kasama sya sa day 3 ng Kyoto? 2nd, ang plan namin ay May 24 friday ang flight to Japan. Saturday po ang start ng Day 1. Mas advisable ba na mag Kyoto sa Day 1, Day 2 Osaka tour at Day 3 Universal Studios, day 4 Nara kahit 9 pm.pa ang flight to the Phil? What would you recommend po? Kasi weekends ang start namin. Gusto sana namin ma maximize sa universal Studios na hindi pipila ng mahaba. 3rd po, kung may Kyoto kami, kelangan ba magstay sa Kyoto for 1 night o mas recommended na magstay na lang sa Osaka all throughout? Thank you in advance Sir.
sa sample itinerary nyo, wala po yung sa fushimi inari shrine?
— Wala. Medyo siksik na kasi ung Day 3. If you have an extra day, you can add another Kyoto Day tapos punta ka sa Fushimi Inari Shrine and Toei Movie Park or Golden Pavilion. Marami pa ring kaming ibang sample itineraries here: https://www.thepoortraveler.net/2018/09/osaka-kyoto-itinerary-days/
Mas advisable ba na mag Kyoto sa Day 1, Day 2 Osaka tour at Day 3 Universal Studios, day 4 Nara
— Kung day tour lang ang Kyoto, mas okay na hindi sya ung Day of Arrival nyo para mas marami kayo makita. Andami kasi pwede puntahan sa Kyoto. Mas okay nga kung 2 days eh. Skip nyo na lang Nara.
kung may Kyoto kami, kelangan ba magstay sa Kyoto for 1 night o mas recommended na magstay na lang sa Osaka all throughout?
— Ok lang kahit alin. Di naman sya ganun kalayo sa isa’t isa. Pero if 2 days of exploring kayo sa Kyoto, mag-overnight na lang kayo. Medyo hassle lang ung check-in check-out ulit.
Hi! Yep, we advocate travel insurance. We have lots of posts about it on this website. :)
A very big thanks to you, going to japan is simple and easy.
Me and my family will be traveling to Osaka this May after the Golden Week Festival … and will be staying mainly and touring in Osaka for 3 days/3 nights. Is it advisable to use only the Osaka Amazing Pass?
Hi Erwin, if you’re exploring Osaka City only, yep, Osaka Amazing Pass should be enough. :)
Medyo nalilito pa po ng konti, ano po kaya ang Pass or Card na pwedeng gamitin sa ganitong iti:
1. arrive in Fukuoka ( 1 day only as we will be going to Osaka on the next day)
2. Osaka (5 days & 4 nights) – Osaka,,Nara, Kobe, Wakayama perhaps
a. pass from KIX airport to Tennoji
b. Pass to go around Osaka for Dotonbori, Abeno’s, Osaka Castle
c. Pass to go to Nara
d. Pass to go either KObe or Wakayama?
3. Kyoto ( 4 days & 3 Nights ) Arashiyama, Fushinari, & others
4. Back to Fukuoka ( 1 .5 days) as we will be back in Manila in the evening the following day
Thank you so much po.
Medyo weird kasi ung itinerary nyo kasi sa Fukuoka entry/exit nyo tapos Kansai ang ieexplore. Sobrang layo nila sa isa’t isa.
Ay sir, sorry, nasama ko pa ang Fukuoka pala..
Sir what if po if excluded ang Fukuoka? ganito po
1. Osaka (5 days & 4 nights) – Osaka,,Nara, Kobe, Wakayama perhaps
a. pass from KIX airport to Tennoji
b. Pass to go around Osaka for Dotonbori, Abeno’s, Osaka Castle
c. Pass to go to Nara
d. Pass to go either KObe or Wakayama?
2. Kyoto ( 4 days & 3 Nights ) Arashiyama, Fushinari, & others
Thank you again.
Get a Kansai Thru Pass and use it to get to Wakayama, Nara, Kobe and Kyoto.
Within Osaka, use Osaka Amazing Pass.
Within Kyoto, use Kyoto Bus and Subway Pass, City Bus Pass, or no pass at all if konti lang ang pupuntahan per day.
I’m confused with the passes that we need to get for our 4 days Travel to Osaka. Will be visiting Kyoto too for 1 day, balikan lang. What is the best pass that you can suggest for us?
Thank you in advance.
Check nyo na lang po yung recommended passes sa FAQs sa taas. :)
Thank you so much for this very detailed and informative post. Kudos to your effort!
Do you have a sample itinerary for Osaka only? Planning to go on a solo trip this November, maybe 5D4N :)
If you have 5 days tapos Osaka lang, pwede mo i-spread around yung itinerary. Konti lang ung pupuntahan per day para mas relaxed. Ganyan din kami madalas kasi nagtatagal kami talaga sa destinations.
So for example:
Day 1: Arrival + Namba Area (Dotonbori, Shinsaibashi, Kuromon, etc.)
Day 2: Universal Studios
Day 3: Umeda area (Umeda Sky Building, Hanshin Snack Park, Hep Five, etc)
Day 4: Tennoji area (Abeno Harukas, Tennoji Temple, etc.)
Day 5: Osaka Castle, departure
Wow! This is great! Thank you so much for your response. Do you think I can squeeze in a day trip to Harajuku to shop during this 5 days or is there any place in Osaka similar to Harajuko?
Thank you so much! Such a great help :)
Harajuku, as in Harajuku in Tokyo? That’s waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too far, especially for a day tour.
The closest thing to Harajuku that Osaka has is probably Amerikamura in Namba.
Hello po, ask ko lang po if there is a big language barrier in osaka? Like kailangan ba magprepare ng mga translator app/ google translate to communicate with them? If so, do you have a recommended website/app?
Thanks in advance!
Hi Sheila, I use Google Translate.
hi! 5 days kami sa osaka, dating namin sa osaka is around 1:30 pm.. masusulit ba namin pag nag-avail kami ng osaka amazing pass(OAP-1day) & kansai thru pass(KTP-3flexible days)? ganto yung sample itinerary namin
day1- Kix to hotel (KTP), Namba area then harukas 300
day5-Nara(KTP), then flight back (KTP) to airport
or may mas ok ka bang suggestion. thanks!
Hi Suzy, your itinerary looks good. :)
thanks! BTW your blog is amazing! it helps a lot!!!
Hello! Thank you for the tips. We find it very informative and useful.
4D3N is our itenirary to Osaka .We are travelling as a family. We just want to know what pass are we goin to get if we want to go to USJ on our second day if we are staying at Umeda or Namba? Aside from the OAP 1day and KTP 2 flexible days (fr/to KIX)?
Hi Ann, what time are your incoming and outgoing flights?
Hi! Does the Osaka Amazing Pass cover the route to Universal Studios Japan? Thank you!
Hi Ricka, no. The closest station to USJ is Universal City which is a JR Station. JR lines are not covered by Osaka Amazing Pass.
Will be travelling to Osaka on January 2020, Ive been watching Osaka youtube vlogs for 2weeks now (ganun ako kaexcited) and i just found your blog waaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyy more informative that all the vlogs ive watched. super helpful ng page mo. It helped me a lot on planning with our itinerary and budget.
Welcome to our blog! Thank you rin sa pagbisita! Ine-effortan talaga namin ung mga travel guides para helpful talaga!
If you need more help, comment ka lang. Or join our Support Group on Facebook! :)
Ang ICOCA card ba ay parang OCTOPUS sa Hong Kong?
Hi We will be travelling in Osaka this coming November. We are 4 in the family (Papa, Mama, Ate and Me). Though my Ate opted to go to USJ kasi nanghihinayang siya since hindi makakasakay ng rides si Papa and Mama kasi 65 years old na sila. I just want to ask if ever meron po bang ticket sa USJ and Harry Potter na without rides? Thank you! :)
Kudos to your team po! Sobrang useful po ung Blogs and Vlogs niyo to all travelers. Nakakainspire po magtravel lalo kapag pinapanuod ko ung mga videos niyo… :D Super nakakaexcite po ung places na pinupuntahan niyo… :) Looking forward to more Blogs and Vlogs from your team! Congrats po! :)
Hi Margaret, thanks for your message.
Wala akong alam na ganun. :( Di ko alam if merong ganun talaga.
Parang ung best option for you is avail na lang ung senior discount.
Hi! I’m still confused sa JR pass. I will be entering Tokyo then exit at Osaka. Side tripa to Lake Kawaguchicko, Kyoto, Kobe Nara in between (in 8days).
Sulit ba if mg JR pass? Gsto kasi nmin itry un Shinkansen Bullet train. What can you recomment? TIA!
Btw, thansk for this blog, very informative. Gsto ko lng malinawan if bili kmi JR kc may kamahalan xa talaga.
Halos sulit na rin yung JR Pass sa case nyo. Kasi 1-way lang from Tokyo-Osaka ay 15,000 yen na agad.
But if I were in your shoes, I’d just take the bus from Tokyo to Osaka then use regional/city passes. Mas tipid. Di naman ganun ka-wow ang bullet train experience, in my opinion.
Hi, were going to Osaka this coming sept 2 till Sept 7 and will stay at Namba. Our itenarary is for osaka, kyoto and USJ only.
Im planning to get these pass:
Nankai Line Airport Express Train – for kansai to namba
Osaka Amazing Pass – for osaka day tour
Kansai thru pass – for kyoto day tour
But what pass should I use going to USJ?
By the way, wanna thank you for your very helpful blog. Last year, we had a Europe tour and I’ve got a lot of travel tips from your blog. I followed your advices and had a successful tour. Thank you so much.
For USJ, okay lang kahit walang pass. You can just purchase single-journey tickets at the station.
For Kyoto day tour, di sulit ang Kansai Thru Pass. Use Hankyu Pass or Osaka-Kyoto Sightseeing Pass.
Hi we’re going to osaka this coming Sept 2 to 7, 2019. We will stay at Namba. Im planning to buy these passes:
Sept 2 – arrival at kansai 8:00 pm Nankai Line Airport Express Train
Sept 3 – osaka amazing pass – day tour at osaka
Sept 4- kyoto
Sept 5- USJ
Sept 6-Osaka day tour again
Sept 7- flight bck to mnila at 9:15 pm
Aside from Osaka amasing pass, what are the best passes should I get for kyoto and USJ?
Hi Lyn, for USJ, there really isn’t a pass na sulit. Best to just buy single ticket or use ICOCA.
For Kyoto, use Hankyu Pass or Osaka-Kyoto Sightseeing Pass (Keihan), depending on what attractions u want to visit.
Hi, we are going to Osaka this November, a group of 10 with mostly 50 years old and above, can you recommend a sample itinerary for 5D 4N? Also, any travel and tours recommendation?
Thank you so much.
Hi Ashley, if you’re a group of 10 with mostly 50yo, parang better to have a private tour with your own vehicle? Unfortunately though, wala akong tour operator na kilala sa Osaka. :S
I’ve only traveled with my mom (who is 60+ years old) but she’s just one person. I don’t know how much harder it will be if you’re a group of 10.
what are your tips regarding money exchange? Is it best to exchange my pesos here in the PH for yen or have it exchanged for USD and just bring the USD there?
Thank you! :)
Hi Nine, it’s generally best to do direct conversion kasi you might lose more pag double conversion. If kaya mo na to exchange direct to yen here in PH, ok yun. :)
Hi! I still can’t decide what’s the best passes to use for our itinerary. We’ll be based in Osaka during our whole stay.
Day 1: KIX to airbnb(near Dobutsuen-Mae Station), explore Dotonbori area – ? Pass
Day 2: Kyoto (Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kiyomizu-dera Temple, Gion District) – ? Pass
Day 3: USJ – ? Pass
Day 4: Kyoto (Arashiyama, Golden Pavillion, Nijō Castle) – ? Pass
Day 5: Nara – ? Pass
Day 6: Osaka – OA Pass
Day 7: Osaka – OA Pass
Day 8: airbnb to KIX – ? Pass
Thank you! :)
Thanks for the Information.
Can you suggest for one week how much ¥ yen should we carry ?
Hard to say with no info. Depends on your specific itinerary.
Hi Sir, thanks for this. We want to opt for osaka-kyoto-nara itinerary and we’ll be going next week. Booked na po kami ng 3 day KT pass and 1 day OA pass. Still confused tho with the transpo system. I’d like to ask po sana if you have any phone app recommendation po aside from hyperdia na pwede namin ma gamit? Thanks Sir! :)
Hi! We are going to Japan next year (2nd week of May) and I am just wondering where do you usually stay in Osaka? Do you have a particular hotel to recommend? Thank you!
Hi sir thanks for this. I’d like to ask po sana if there’s any app you can recommend with comprehensive train system? We just booked kansai pass and osaka amazing pass for our trip. Thank you, it would be very helpful
Hi K, we just use Hyperdia and Google Maps all the time. :D
We are travelling to Japan for a week sometime next month and at first, we only want to see Tokyo. However, having gone thru here we are in love to see neighbouring Osaka and historic Hiroshima as well. My question is: Are the itineraries, port of entry and flight timing we submitted mandatory or not. Can we change it accordingly? Thanks for your reply in advance.
Hi Orlando, submitted for visa application? You can deviate from it as long as you don’t exceed the allowed number of days.
Please note, however, that if you’re in Tokyo, Osaka is not a “neighboring” city. It is very far from Tokyo. Hiroshima, even farther.
Hi, question about Abeno Harukas. How busy is the obervatory? Can I always have the chance to get a good photo opp like Vins’ photo above? Thanks.
Hi Red, in our experience, it wasn’t too crowded. There are moments when we had to wait a bit for our turn, but we never waited long. Note however that we visited in January. Not sure how crowded it would be in other seasons.
Awesome blog. Many many thanks for sharing.
Have a good day.
Thank you! :)
hi do you have a tokyo sample itinerary and tips when visiting in december/january?
Hi your blog is really nformative. I just want to know regarding visa. I am working in singapore and plan to apply visa here. My plan for our japan trip is SIN-MNL-KIX-MNL-SIN as I will be travelling with my family from manila. Is it possible? Or magkakaproblema ako regarding sa point of origin? Thank you in advance
Hi Mitchie, sorry, pa-clarify. When you say you plan to apply “here,” you mean SG or PH?
If sa PH, I don’t think magkakaproblem.
If sa SG, di ko alam ang policy ng embassy nila sa SG .
Hi. Very helpful blog! Good pointers. Thank you!
Would just like to ask about the Kansai Thru Pass. I’m planning to purchase the two-day pass. Paano ba nila binibilang yung araw ng usage? Calendar day kasi yung nakalagay sa Klook so does it mean na kahit late ko na siya ginamit (say around 11pm just to get to my hotel from the airport) ay counted na siya as isang araw? Hindi siya yung counted as one day yung within 24 hours of the first usage? Nalito lang talaga ako. Hope you can help me. Sent an e-mail to Klook na rin to clarify. Thank you! :)
Your blog is very helpful. I’m planning to travel alone in Japan. May I ask few questions : do I need to book different hotel if I’m going to Osaka and Kyoto? Or is it ok to just stay in one place while visiting these places. Also. Is September a good time to visit Osaka? Thank you.
Hi Princess, you can stay in one hotel because Kyoto is very accessible from Osaka. But if you’re spending at least 2 days in Kyoto, okay lang din to move to a hotel in Kyoto.
Your tips are very helpful. Thank you : )
Hi po. Sana matulungan niyo po kami. Eto po itinerary namin ng wife ko. Dalawa lang po kaming pupunta ng japan.
Accommodation in osaka 5days
Day 1. Kyoto day tour then back to osaka.
Day 2. Nara day tour then back to osaka.
Day3. USJ Full day
Day 4 Osaka attractions
Ano pong sulit na PASS ang pwede namin bilhin? TIA
Day 1: Hankyu Pass or Keihan Kyoto-Osaka Sightseeing Pass
Day 2: If Nara Park lang and nearby temples, no pass. Single tickets or ICOCA na lang.
Day 3. no pass. Single tickets or ICOCA na lang.
Day 4: Osaka Amazing Pass.
hi sir avid fan nyo po ako hehe.. ask ko lng po sana plan ko po mag tour ng 4 to 5 days sa osaka first time ko po travel alone ask ko lang po kung mga magkanong budget ang magagastos tutal ako lang naman po mag isa saka may sample itinerary po ba kayo kung sa osaka lang naman din po ang punta at hndi ko din po kasi plan mag usj salamat po
Hi. In regards to your Kobe day trip, how much did you spend on you Rokko Snow Park ski experience (gear/ropeway/etc)?
@The Poor Traveler, super thank you po sa blog niyo. my first time travel in Japan was seamless. Your blog helped me a lot in my day to day itinerary especially on the transport, my God their train system is massive pero nasimplify niyo po talaga siya at hindi ako nawala. From day 1 to day 10, yung blog posts niyo lang talaga ang reference ko kaya naikot ko ang buong Kansai region.
more power to your blog and happy travels.
Yayyy! We’re always happy that our blogs get to help other travelers! :)
Thanks for taking the time to share this with us! :D
Thank you so much for your tips! I really hope to go back to Japan soon to use some of them!!
Osaka is always a beautiful city to travel. Their people are amazing. such an incredible blog. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge. keep sharing, your positivity is infectious.