Kyoto has an intricate network of bus routes providing an efficient way of getting around at moderate cost. Most of the routes used by visitors have announcements and bus-stop information displays in English. Most buses run between 7am and 10pm, though a few run earlier or later.
One-day unlimited travel passes There’s a one-day card valid for unlimited travel on Kyoto City buses and some of the Kyoto buses (these are different companies) that costs ¥600 and a one-day subway pass that also costs ¥600. A one-day unlimited bus and subway pass costs ¥900.
Kyoto Sightseeing Pass Allows unlimited use of the Kyoto City buses, subway and some of the Kyoto bus routes for one day ¥900 or two days ¥1700.
One-day bus and Kyoto Sightseeing passes can be purchased at major bus terminals, at the Kyoto Bus Information Centre at Kyoto Station or at the Kyoto Tourist Information Center. The one-day subway pass can be bought at subway ticket windows and the Kyoto Tourist Information Center.
ICOCA The prepaid rechargeable ICOCA card has a magnetic chip, which you wave over the reader at the ticket gates, and it is valid on most trains, subways and buses in the Kansai region (Osaka, Kyoto, Nara etc). It can be bought from ticket machines and at the Kansai International Airport and costs ¥2000, including ¥500 refundable deposit. The ICOCA & Haruka (¥3600) is a set including the ICOCA card preloaded with ¥1500 (including ¥500 refundable deposit) plus a discounted ticket for the JR Haruka Express train from Kansai International Airport to Kyoto Station.
Kansai One Pass (https://kansaionepass.com/en) An ICOCA card (¥3000, including ¥500 refundable deposit) with an image of Astro Boy on it specifically for foreigners that offers discounts at selected tourist attractions and some temples.
Bus entry is usually through the back door and exit is via the front door. Inner-city buses charge a flat fare (¥230 for adults, ¥120 for children ages six to 12, free for those younger), which you drop into the clear plastic receptacle on top of the machine next to the driver on your way out. A separate machine gives change for ¥100 and ¥500 coins or ¥1000 notes.
On buses serving the outer areas, take a seiri-ken (numbered ticket) on boarding. When alighting, an electronic board above the driver displays the fare corresponding to your ticket number (drop the seiri-ken into the ticket box with your fare).
Kyoto's main bus terminals are also train stations: Kyoto Station, Sanjō Station, Karasuma-Shijō Station and Kitaōji Station. The bus terminal at Kyoto Station is on the north side and has three main departure bays (departure points are indicated by the letter of the bay and number of the stop within that bay).
Bus stops usually have a map of destinations from that stop and a timetable for the buses serving that stop.
The main bus information centre is located in front of Kyoto Station. Here you can pick up bus maps, purchase bus tickets and passes (on all lines, including highway buses), and get additional information.
The Kyoto Tourist Information Center stocks the Bus Navi: Kyoto City Bus Sightseeing Map, which shows the city’s main bus lines.