23 days in Japan Itinerary

23 days in Japan Itinerary

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Route & dates

23 days in Japan Itinerary

Start: Kuala Lumpur
Fly + train:  10​h 30​min
1
Nara
— 2 nights
train:  30​min
2
Osaka
— 4 nights
train:  30​min
3
Kyoto
— 6 nights
Drive:  3​h
4
Kyotango
— 4 nights
Drive:  3​h
5
Kobe
— 6 nights
bus + Fly:  10​h 30​min
End: Kuala Lumpur

2
nights
Nara

Nara ©
The country's first established capital, Nara houses some of the most storied buildings and natural attractions in Japan, with eight World Heritage Sites in total.
Start off your visit on the 26th (Wed): steep yourself in history at Tōdai-ji, then take in the spiritual surroundings of Nigatsu-do Temple, then identify plant and animal life at Nara Park, and finally soak in some Japanese tradition at some of the top local onsens. Keep things going the next day: explore the striking landscape at Wakakusa Hill, then take in the dramatic scenery at Akame Shijuhachi Waterfall, and then take in the spiritual surroundings of Toshodaiji Temple.

To find traveler tips, ratings, more things to do, and other tourist information, refer to the Nara vacation planner.

Sandakan, Malaysia to Nara is an approximately 21.5-hour flight. The time zone difference when traveling from Sandakan to Nara is 1 hour. Plan for cooler temperatures traveling from Sandakan in April, with highs in Nara at 22°C and lows at 15°C. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 27th (Thu) so you can go by car to Osaka.

Things to do in Nara

Parks Nature Historic Sites

Side Trip

Akame Shijuhachi Waterfall
Find places to stay Apr 25 — 27:
Highlights from your plan
Nigatsu-do Temple ©
Nigatsu-do Temple
Toshodaiji Temple ©
Toshodaiji Temple
Todai-ji Temple ©
Todai-ji Temple

4
nights
Osaka

Osaka ©
Proud of their hometown's distinct culture and dialect, many natives of Osaka describe their city as "Japan's anti-capital." An antidote to Tokyo's hectic energy, Osaka marches to the beat of its own drum, serving as the country's longtime commercial and industrial hub.
You'll discover tucked-away gems like Mount Koyasan and Koyasan Danjo Garan. Do some cultural sightseeing at Dotonbori and Osaka Castle. Venture out of the city with trips to Koya-cho (Kongobu-ji Temple & Okunoin) and Mizukoshitoge (in Chihayaakasaka-mura). And it doesn't end there: take a stroll through Minami (Namba), get great views at Tempozan Ferris Wheel, find something for the whole family at Universal Studios Japan, and get to know the fascinating history of Hozenji-yokocho Yakizen.

For ratings, reviews, traveler tips, and other tourist information, read our Osaka trip itinerary builder.

Osaka is just a short distance from Nara. In April in Osaka, expect temperatures between 22°C during the day and 15°C at night. Finish your sightseeing early on the 1st (Mon) to allow enough time to take a train to Kyoto.

Things to do in Osaka

Historic Sites Neighborhoods Shopping

Side Trips

Koya-cho, Mizukoshitoge
Find places to stay Apr 27 — May 1:
Highlights from your plan
Koyasan Danjo Garan ©
Koyasan Danjo Garan
Kongobu-ji Temple ©
Kongobu-ji Temple
Dotonbori ©
Dotonbori

6
nights
Kyoto

Kyoto ©
The national capital for over a thousand years, Kyoto retains much of the charm of old Japan, boasting numerous temples and shrines that seem completely untouched by the modern world.
Shop till you drop at Kyoto Station Building and Mitsui Outlet Park Shiga Ryuo. Step out of the city life by going to Philosopher's Walk and Lake Biwa. Change things up with a short trip to Chikubushima in Nagahama (about 1h 40 min away). There's still lots to do: steep yourself in history at Fushimi Inari Taisha, take in the spiritual surroundings of Kinkaku-ji, take a stroll through Gion, and explore the activities along Kamogawa River.

To find reviews, traveler tips, other places to visit, and more tourist information, go to the Kyoto trip generator.

Kyoto is just a short distance from Osaka. Traveling from Osaka in May, Kyoto is a bit cooler at night with lows of 17°C. Wrap up your sightseeing by early afternoon on the 7th (Sun) to allow time for travel to Kyotango.

Things to do in Kyoto

Historic Sites Parks Nature

Side Trips

Lake Biwa, Chikubushima, Mitsui Outlet Park Shiga Ryuo
Find places to stay May 1 — 7:
Highlights from your plan
Nijo Castle ©
Nijo Castle
Kiyomizu-dera Temple ©
Kiyomizu-dera Temple
Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine ©
Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine

4
nights
Kyotango

Kyotango ©
Step off the beaten path and head to Street of Kinosaki Onsen and Takeno Coast. Give yourself a bit of retail therapy at Toyooka Sanchoku Magokoro Market and Surumeya. Get out of town with these interesting Kyotango side-trips: Onsen Resorts (in Shinonsen-cho), Daijoji Temple (in Kami-cho) and Uradome Coast (in Iwami-cho).

To see photos, where to stay, and tourist information, go to the Kyotango custom trip planner.

You can drive from Kyoto to Kyotango in 2.5 hours. In May, daytime highs in Kyotango are 26°C, while nighttime lows are 19°C. Finish your sightseeing early on the 11th (Thu) to allow enough time to travel to Kobe.

Things to do in Kyotango

Parks Beaches Outdoors

Side Trips

Miyazu, Toyooka, Daijoji Temple, Onsen Resorts, Uradome Coast
Find places to stay May 7 — 11:
Highlights from your plan
Uradome Coast ©
Uradome Coast
Street of Kinosaki Onsen ©
Street of Kinosaki Onsen
Nariaiji Temple ©
Nariaiji Temple

6
nights
Kobe

Kobe ©
Walkable, small, and aesthetically charming, Kobe has served as Japan's first and premier international trading outpost since opening to trade with China in the mid-19th century.
Himeji Castle and Tomogashima Lighthouse will appeal to history buffs. Kobe Harborland and Ikuta Shrine are good opportunities to explore the local culture. Get out of town with these interesting Kobe side-trips: Himeji (Mt Shosha hiking & Kokoen Garden), Wakayama (The Kuroshio Market & Tomogashima Island) and Akashi Kaikyo National Gorvernment Park (in Awaji). There's still lots to do: relax and rejuvenate at Arima Onsen, tour the pleasant surroundings at Port of Kobe Earthquake Memorial Park, take in panoramic vistas at Kobe Port Tower, and get a taste of the local shopping with Chinatown (Nankinmachi).

For photos, maps, more things to do, and more tourist information, read our Kobe vacation trip planner.

You can drive from Kyotango to Kobe in 2.5 hours. Expect a daytime high around 25°C in May, and nighttime lows around 19°C. Wrap up your sightseeing by early afternoon on the 17th (Wed) to allow time for travel back home.

Things to do in Kobe

Parks Nature Historic Sites

Side Trips

Himeji, Wakayama, Akashi Kaikyo National Government Park
Find places to stay May 11 — 17:
Highlights from your plan
Himeji Castle ©
Himeji Castle
Arima Onsen ©
Arima Onsen
Kobe Harborland ©
Kobe Harborland

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