I'm trying to decide whether to book a van to take me to my Kyotoel Hotel (Okura) from Kansai International Airport (KIX) or if the ICOCA/Haruka train journey would be a better option. The van is roughly twice the cost but neither is out of my budget. In some ways I'd rather take the train for better people-watching, more excitement (it's kind of fun trying to navigate public transportation in a new country when you don't know the language! Or at least I think so). The van would be more direct. But if the driver is not good it could be a queasy hour and a half. It would help me make up my mind if I knew more about the exact train route I'd take from KIX to my hotel, but so far I haven't been able to determine that from the available materials.
Direct Airport Bus is easier/cheaper.
From Kyoto station, route search site below is convenient.
It is hard to determine the train trajectory from Kansai International Airport to Kyoto because KIX is in a different city (Osaka). I have done the train route from Kyoto to KIX and it is not easy.
You have to navigate through different train systems. Because these are two different cities and each city has its own trains from different operating companies, the transits are not interlinked.
This means you will have to walk out completely of one train line, get out the right exit, onto the streets, find the entrance of the other line, get to the right platform, etc. On top of it, if you carry luggage, many stops do not have elevators/escalators. Also be careful of rush hour, the trains get packed and locals might not like you taking up so much space in the wagons.
If travelling from the airport into Kyoto is your only chance at people watching, it might be worth it. Else, I'd recommend take the van. Do your people watching while in Kyoto. You will have plenty of opportunities there.
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