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Travel Guide Budget and Itinerary for Nara

Nara is one of the oldest cities in Japan, it is also a former capital. The city is an interesting place to visit because of its storied past.


If you plan to visit Nara, here is a guide for you.

Guide

I returned to Osaka after a couple of years since my first visit. At the time I only had time for Kyoto and then I immediately went to Tokyo to meet friends. This time around, I made sure to visit places I was unable to go to, one such place is Nara. This ancient capital caught my attention because of its many historic attractions. I went on a day trip from Osaka because it was convenient to do so.

Read my full post about Osaka here: Osaka guide.

Things to Do

There are many things to do and places of interest in Nara, most of them are temples though.

Todai-ji Temple





Todai-ji is a countrywide famous attraction because of its cultural and historical significance. The temple is home to the 16m high Great Buddha or Daibutsu. The statue is the main reason tourists visit this ancient temple. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Entrance fee: JPY600

Nara Deer Park




One of the things that will immediately catch your attention while in Nara is the many deer you'll see wandering around. These cute animals walk about minding their own business. You can feed them, but keep in mind that they are still animals and may become aggressive.

Entrance fee: Free

Kofuku-ji




This UNESCO-listed temple has a history that dates back several centuries. This temple has undergone renovations throughout its lifetime. If you are interested enough to enter the halls, you'll find ancient relics such as the Thousand Armed Kannon.

Entrance fee: JPY600

Horyu-ji Temple



If you are really interested in temples, maybe you can make a stop at Horyu-ji. This is another temple that is centuries old and is home to around 190 culturally significant items. The entrance fee is steep, so only enter if you are that into temples.

Entrance fee: JPY1500

Yoshiki-en Garden





Take a break from temple hopping by hanging out at Yoshiki-en Garden. This green enclave is a beautiful destination during autumn. You can walk around or just sit down and relax while soaking in the serene ambiance.

Entrance fee: Free for foreigners

Gango-ji Temple




If you still haven't templed out, Gango-ji might be an interesting addition to your itinerary. This temple is one of the 7 great temples you can find in Nara. It is also far from the usual tourist route, which means it doesn't get much foot traffic.

Entrance fee: JPY500

Kasuga-taisha Shrine





If you are ticking off UNESCO-listed sites in Japan, you might want to include the Kasuga-taisha Shrine. This ancient complex in the forest is a noteworthy stop because of its cultural and historical importance. The walk up to it was a definite plus because of the autumn colors, gates I passed and its mysterious ambiance.

Entrance fee: JPY500

Naramachi




Naramachi is a neighborhood where you can get a glimpse of old Nara. You'll find traditional houses lining the street. There are also shops and cafes where you can buy souvenirs or buy something to eat.

Where to Stay

Most people stay in Osaka, but you also have options if you decide to spend a night or so in Nara.

Hostels in Nara


How to Go

Nara is easily accessible by train. You can reach this destination with these passes:

Getting Around

It's easy to walk to the main spots in Nara, if you spend one full day. From Osaka, I alighted at Nara Station and just walked everywhere. There are buses that can take you to different parts of the city, but for me it was just an unnecessary expense. Horyu-ji is quite far from the spots listed above, but it has a train station within walking distance. I went to the temple on another day.

Getting a Visa

If you want to read more about getting a tourist visa for Japan (for Filipinos), read my post: Japan Visa Guide.

More posts about Japan:

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