If you’re planning a trip to the culture capital of Japan, you might have caught on that one of the things you have to do is related to your accommodations. Instead of staying in a regular hotel or hostel, what you’re actually looking for is a very traditional form of a B&B called a ryokan. To keep your costs reasonable, here is a curated list of the top budget ryokans in Kyoto.
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What Are Ryokans?
Kyoto is one of the best cities in Japan to experience authentic dwellings of the past. These traditional Japanese inns once accepted weary travelers on their journeys at a time when samurais roamed the land and shoguns held power.
Nowadays, they’re for visitors wanting to experience old traditions and culture. Staying in a ryokan while visiting Kyoto is a must because there aren’t many places in the world where you can sleep on a futon over traditional tatami (rice-straw matting) in an undivided room floor, with a single low table being the main piece of furniture. Shoji (sliding doors) lead you into a room decorated with simple ink drawings.
Most ryokans will have communal baths, but some are en suite. You also get a yukata (traditional Japanese robe), which further adds to the experience. Another big draw with the ryokan is the traditional Japanese breakfast consisting of multiple dishes, local, and seasonal specialties.
Best Budget Ryokans in Kyoto
Here are my picks for 3 of the best ryokans in Kyoto that are considered to be for budget travellers. Don’t let the prices shock you though because ryokans are known to be very expensive. Anything that’s under $200 USD is a great price as far as ryokans are concerned.
1 – Shimizu Ryokan
While you won’t get the zen gardens, attached onsen (Japanese hot springs), or fancy meals of high-end ryokans, travelers will be able to sleep on futons in a Japanese-style room. If you book the room the night before for an extra cost, you get a traditional breakfast every morning. Location-wise, this ryokan is also within walking distance from the train station, which makes it extremely convenient.
Visitors can stay at the Ryokan Shimizu while in Kyoto. As a budget and foreign-friendly hotel, the staff is incredibly friendly and all speak English, which is helpful for directions and general assistance.
We personally stayed here as part of our 12 day Japan itinerary. As you can tell, I was very excited!
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Average Price: $184 USD
644 Kagiya-cho, Shichijo-dori, Wakamiya agaru, Shimogyo-ku
Japan Trip Planning Essentials
If you’re in the middle of booking your trip to Japan, here are the most important places you need to go to book:
- JR Pass – The two most reliable places we always check are JRailPass and JRPass. If you are taking long distance Shinkansen across multiple region, get the full JR Pass. If you’re focusing on one specific area, you only need a JR regional pass.
- Shinkansen – The JR Pass prices have gone up and for many of you, it’ll make more sense to book tickets individually. The secret is that when you buy your Shinkansen tickets through Klook offers special vouchers for Don Quijote and BIC when booking. Their tickets are super easy to redeem as well. Right now, use code SKS10OFF to save $10 USD off.
- Hotels/Ryokans – In Japan, the best website for accommodations, hands down is Agoda. When we’ve compared them against Booking, Agoda consistently came out cheaper.
- Pocket Wifi – While we do love eSIMs, having a pocket wifi is great for sharing data with a large group. The most popular is NinjaWifi which is easy to pick up at the airport. Use code AWESOME15 to save 15% (automatically applied). Alternatives are offered by JRPass and JRailPass but they aren’t as cheap. For a more global solution, consider Solis and PokeFi.
- eSIM – The best one is Airalo. Save money by getting the Japan region eSIM and use referral code WILLIA9500 to get $3 USD credit on your first purchase. From now to Feb 29, the 10GB package is half price as well! Ubigi is another one that we’ve had success with where they uniquely offer 5G coverage. Use code AWESOME10 to save 10% on your first order.
- Car Rental – Big companies like Budget, Avis, and Enterprise operate in Japan but they’re usually the most expensive. The best companies are the local Japanese ones such as Toyota Rentacar, Nippon Rentacar, Orix Rentacar, Nissan Rentacar, and Times Car Rental. To make things easier, use Rentalcars and Klook to compare prices all in one place. Don’t forget, you need an IDP to drive in Japan!
- Learn Japanese – It helps to know even a bit of the language before you go. Start your learning with Rosetta Stone Japanese.
- Cash or credit – Cash is still very important to have in Japan but when you use credit cards, make sure you’re not getting charged those extra exchange rate fees. The best card right now is the Wise Multi-Currency Card which is actually a debit card where you can convert at favorable rates beforehand. This cuts out any sneaky transaction fees.
- Travel Insurance – Make sure you’re covered in case something happens. Get quotes from Insured Nomads and if you’re from Canada, get quotes from RATESDOTCA.
- Shopping – Discovering Don Quijote is a quintessential part of the Japan experience. The secret for tax-free shopping is that they have a coupon that can help you save 10% off + additional 5% off if you spend ¥10,000 or more.
2 – Ryokan Ryokufuso
Ryokufuso is a ryokan in Kyoto that evokes a sense of class and hospitalty but at a more reasonable price compared to some of the luxury properties.
Located 15 minutes away from JR Kyoto Train Station, you’ll have free wifi, access to a public bath (onsen), air condition, TV, toiletries, and hair dryer. Rooms are incredibly spacious and clean.
Guests also opt for meal inclusive packages at Ryokufuso that can include breakfast and dinner which are a must-do if staying in a Ryokan.
A recent guest said:
From the moment you enter the hotel you are looked after by fabulous, helpful, polite and professional staff.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Average Price: $184 USD
600-8323 Kyoto, Kyoto, Shimogyo-ku, Kanayacho 490, Japan
3 – Matsubaya Ryokan
Like the others, this is another no-frills ryokan where you’ll experience what it’s like to sleep on futon-on-tatami mats. Conveniently located near Kyoto Station, Matsubaya Ryokan is also a 15-minute walk, which makes it a convenient launch pad for your adventures in the city.
the rooms are basic but have everything you’d need to have a comfortable night’s sleep. Wi-Fi is free as well. Matsubaya Ryokan does not include breakfast, but it can be added on for a fee.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Average Price: $162 USD
Nishi-iru, Higashinotouin, Kamijuzuyamachi-dori, Shimogyo-ku
With the above ryokans you not only get to save money, you also get to step out of the standard hotel routine and into a different experience that is 100% Japanese.
For more recommendations, make sure to check out the ultimate Kyoto neighbourhood guide on where to stay.
If you’re looking to do any travelling around Japan, I highly recommend picking up a JRailPass. Keep in mind that you’ll need to purchase it before your trip and ship it to your home.
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