a VirtualTourist member from Banbury
Planning to visit Kyoto in July/August. Have heard that Nara is just as interesting but less touristy. Can anyone recommend fairly cheap places to stay, preferably Japanese style in a good location? Any other advice/information greatfully received.
Really, its so close to Kyoto (1/2 hour on train) you can make several day trips, no need to stay in Nara if you have somewhere to stay in Kyoto.
I think in one day you can probably see the best parts if you really go at the walking, two days tops.
I absolutely love Nara! It is much calmer and less touristed than Kyoto. It also has loads of charm and deer. While, Nara is very close to Kyoto and can be seen in a day, I recommend giving yourself a day or two in Nara, as the two best temples to be seen are not very near to each other. Also, Nara has something that most other places in Japan don't---a park with actual grass. Sounds silly I know, but Japan really doesn't have much grass or real parks for that matter. There are also tons of deer, its like walking onto the set of Bambi. Overall its just a really lovely place.
With that said, I can recommend two ryokan in Nara. One is the Kasuikan. It is a basic ryokan with tatami mat flooring and shared bath. While the exterior isn't all that nice, the interior is very clean and quaint. Good value for the money as it has the advantage of being a very close walk to the famous Hase Temple and Hasedera train station. I stayed there last fall and I have no complaints about the service or accommodation. But, if you want the ultimate in traditional Japanese accommodation, set in the most beautiful surroundings, then I highly recommend a stay at Chikurin-in Gumpo-en. After my first two visits to Nara, I decided to try something different and special and this ryokan delivered the goods. The Japanese garden alone is worth the stay. The ryokan itself was once a buddhist temple and the rooms are the epitome of simple, understated charm and elegance. It is only a short bus ride from the Kintetsu Yoshino train station or you can arrange a free pick-up from the station with the ryokan staff. This has now become my ryokan of choice when I go to the Nara, Kyoto area, because it is just that fabulous!
Ok, well I hope this was helpful. Have a wonderful visit!