Kyoto is a classic blend of ancient and modern, with the ordinary urban sprawl of downtown Kyoto contrasting against the ultra-modern Kyoto Station and other shiny structures. As a whole the town is quite staid, but delve a little deeper and you'll discover a wealth of beauty which sets it apart from the average Japanese center.
Central Kyoto is the most important part for tourists as it contains most of the shops, restaurants and hotels, along with the likes of the Imperial Palace. Off to the east is the ancient and fun Gion district, best known for its geishas and tearooms, and here you will also find the city's most beautiful temples and shrines.
Central Kyoto contains a great many attractions, including the Imperial Palace and numerous beautiful shrines, and is best accessed via Kyoto Station. This area also has loads of big hotels and shops, in addition to the best nightlife options.
Many first-timers head directly for this ancient district of wooden buildings and beautiful, white-faced geishas. It is in the eastern part of the city, beyond the Kamo River, and is an area of quaint teahouses and restaurants.
The fabulous Kiyomizu Temple resides in Eastern Kyoto, along with numerous other temples and Zen meditation retreats. It is home to the Gion district, of geisha fame, plus tourists can sample traditional Japanese culture at Gion Corner.
Nishijin is loaded with well-preserved streets complete with ancient wooden buildings and is known as the Weaving district. Many of the structures here were built without the use of nails, circular saws or cranes.
The Katsura Imperial Villa is the main attraction in Western Kyoto, which is also home to many fine temples. With its rural disposition it offers a nice escape from the city and you can enjoy boat tours and go hiking in the mountains, to boot.
While a little less touristy than other parts of town, Northern Kyoto nonetheless has many fine attractions and loads of shrines and pavilions (including the Golden Pavilion) and a set of hot springs. The fun Eigamura theme park is also out this way. Find more information about Kyoto and hotels in the area: Kyoto hotels
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