The best of Kansai

Aside from Tokyo, the Kansai region is easily one of the most-visited places in Japan! Home to ultra-popular cities like Osaka, Kyoto, Nara and Kobe with plenty of excitement, yummy food, and beautiful sights to see, it’s no wonder Kansai is a huge must-visit spot.

A popular travel route in Kansai typically involves the usual suspects – Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, Kobe – but many visitors also like to include certain further destinations into their itinerary. The big question is, which Kansai transport pass should you get? Read the breakdown of each transport pass below to find the perfect one for you!

Klook pro-tip: Make sure to also read up on the differences between ICOCA, Kansai Thru Pass & Osaka Amazing Pass.

Transport Passes

1. JR West Kansai Pass / JR Kansai Area Pass

Exclusively for foreign tourists to Japan, the JR West Kansai Pass provides unlimited travel on local JR trains and West JR buses in the Kansai region around Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, Kobe and more for one to four days. It is also inclusive of the Kansai-Airport Express Haruka train.

Valid on:

  • Non-reserved seats on Kansai-Airport Express Haruka train
  • Special Rapid Services, Rapid Services, and local trains on JR-West Conventional lines
  • West JR Bus services within the area

Not valid on:

  • Shinkansen or other Limited Express trains, except for Kansai-Airport Haruka train

Separate Express tickets are required for:

  • Reserved seats on Kansai-Airport Express Haruka train
  • Reserved and non-reserved seats on other Express trains

How to use: Purchase your JR West Kansai Pass from Klook. When in Japan, show your passport and Klook e-voucher to collect your rail pass. After collection, you may access unlimited journeys within the validity date and valid area. Please present your passport to the station staff when using your rail pass.

Cities covered: Designated Kansai areas – Kansai International Airport, Universal City Station, Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, Kobe, Himeji, Wakayama, Shiga, Tsuruga, Tennoji, Iga-Ueno and more. Refer to JR West train route map for more details.

Who is it for?
The JR West Kansai Pass is great if you’re a foreign visitor to Japan who wants to explore the Kansai areas stated above. It’s especially useful and worth it if you’re combining your Osaka-Kyoto-Nara-Kobe trip with a visit to a further destination like Himeji, Iga-Ueno and more.

You can opt for the 1 day, 2 day, 3 day or 4 day pass to easily accommodate your itinerary.

 

2. JR Kansai WIDE Area Pass

jr kansai wide area pass

The 5 Day JR Kansai WIDE Area Pass is eligible only for foreign visitors to Japan. With this transport pass, you can get unlimited travels on specified trains and bus lines for 5 days within the designated Kansai area. It’s also inclusive of unlimited travels on the Sanyo Shinkansen and can be used for non-reserved seats on the Hello Kitty Shinkansen!

Valid on:

  • Non-reserved seats on Sanyo Shinkansen (Shin-Osaka to/from Okayama)
  • Non-reserved seats on Express Trains Haruka, Kuroshio, Thunderbird, Kounotori, and Super Hakuto (Kyoto to/from Kamigori)
  • Special Rapid Services, Rapid Services, and local trains on JR-West Conventional Lines
  • Kyoto Tango Railway, Wakayama Electric Railway, the San’in Main Line between Hamasaka and Tottori, and West JR Bus services within the area

Not valid on:

  • Tokaido Shinkansen (Shin-Osaka to/from Tokyo)
  • Sanyo Shinkansen (Okayama to/from Hakata)
  • Kyushu Shinkansen (Hakata to/from Kagoshima-Chuo)

How to use: Purchase your JR Kansai WIDE Area Pass from Klook. When in Japan, show your passport and Klook e-voucher to collect your rail pass. After collection, you may access unlimited journeys within the validity date and valid area. Please present your passport to the station staff when using your rail pass.

Cities covered: Extensive areas in Kansai region – Kansai International Airport, Universal City Station, Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, Kobe, Himeji, Wakayama, Kinosaki Onsen, Koyasan, Kurashiki, Shirahama, Takamatsu in Shikoku, and more. Refer to JR Kansai WIDE train route map for more details.

Who is it for?
The JR Kansai WIDE Area Pass is great if you want to explore the Kansai region extensively, especially if you want to add on to your Osaka-Kyoto-Nara-Kobe route with a further trip to Kinosaki Onsen, Okayama, the Kumano Region and more.

 

3. Kansai Thru Pass

kansi thru pass

The Kansai Thru Pass allows you to enjoy unlimited rides on designated trains, subways and buses in the Kansai region. Applicable only to foreign visitors to Japan and Japanese nationals who fit the criteria, the Kansai Thru Pass comes in a 2-day pass and 3-day pass.

Valid on:

  • Non-JR trains in the Kansai Region which include but are not limited to Hankyu Railway, Hanshin Railway, Keihan Railway, Kintetsu Railway, Nankai Railway, Sanyo Railway, Keifuku Railway, Kobe Railway, Osaka Monorail, subways in Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe, and more
  • Buses in the Kansai Region like city buses in Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe, as well as the Nankai, Hankyu, Kintetsu, Wakayama and Keihan buses
  • Selected cable cars in Hieizan and Koyasan

Not valid on:

  • Any trains operated by JR

Extra fees are required for:

  • Limited express trains of Nankai Railway and Kintetsu Railway
  • Premium cars on Keihan Railway

How to use: Purchase your Kansai Thru Pass from Klook. When in Japan, show your Klook e-voucher to redeem the pass. With the physical pass, you may start using to get unlimited rides within the validity period.

Cities covered: Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, Kobe, Himeji, Hieizan, Koyasan. Refer to the complete Kansai Thru Pass transport list for more details.

Who is it for?

The Kansai Thru Pass is very useful and works out to be a better value if you are looking to travel extensively around Osaka, Kyoto, Nara and Kobe. Compared to the JR Kansai passes, Kansai Thru Pass covers a denser transport network in Kansai’s most-visited cities namely Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe and more.

 

4. ICOCA IC Card

icoca ic card

ICOCA is a prepaid IC card, pre-charged with JPY1,500 that can be used on transportation as well as for shopping in the Kansai region and beyond. Much like the Octopus Card in Hong Kong, Easy Card in Taiwan, and EZ-Link in Singapore, simply reload your ICOCA Card when it’s running low on funds.

You can also use your ICOCA to get discounted ticket for the Kansai-Airport Express ‘Haruka’. Here’s a fun fact – ICOCA is a play on the phrase ‘Iko ka’ (行こか) g ‘Shall we go?’ in the local dialect!

Valid for:
Discounted Haruka rail ticket for the Kansai Airport Express (incl. Tennoji, Shin-Osaka and Kyoto) on presenting your ICOCA card (temporary visitors with foreign passports only)

How to use: Purchase your ICOCA IC Card on Klook. Flash your Klook e-voucher and redeem for the prepaid card when in Japan. You can start using immediately since it’s already pre-loaded. Before leaving Japan, you can return the card to get a refund of your balance and deposit.

Cities covered: Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, Kobe and more. Simply look out for the ICOCA logo. Refer to the ICOCA user guide for more details.

Who is it for?
The ICOCA card is great for all visitors to Kansai. Even if you’re getting other rail passes, the ICOCA is a great supplement card to use on transportation not covered by certain travel passes or on days where your passes haven’t been activated or have expired.

You can also use it to make purchases in convenience stores, taxi rides, and more. If you have remaining funds in your card, you can also get it refunded together with the deposit!

 

5. Osaka Amazing Pass

The Osaka Amazing Pass is a travel pass which not only covers unlimited travel on selected subway, tramway, and bus system within the city, it also includes free admissions to 30 iconic tourist sites in Osaka within the validity period! It’s available in 1-day and 2-day options.

Valid on:

  • Unlimited travel on Osaka Municipal subway and Osaka City Bus
  • Private railways (Hankyu Railway, Hanshin Railway, Keihan Electric Railway, Kinki Nippon Railway, Nankai Railway)
  • Free entry to 30 Osaka attractions as listed on the Osaka Amazing Pass website

Not valid on:

  • Travel on JR transport line

How to use: Purchase your Osaka Amazing Pass on Klook. Present your Klook voucher to redeem your physical ticket. The pass is activated upon the first use on transport or entry to one of the attractions listed.

Cities covered: Osaka

Who is it for?
The Osaka Amazing Pass is great if you will be in Osaka for a day or two and want to see all the best of the sights without breaking a bank.

 

6. Kintetsu Rail Pass

kintetsu rail pass

The Kintetsu Rail Pass allows foreign visitors unlimited use of trains on Kintetsu Railways with exception to limited express trains. Kintetsu Railways is Japan’s largest non-JR railway network and covers a wide network of routes in the region. There’s a “Plus” option which also covers buses around Nara and the Shima Peninsula.

The standard rail pass comes in consecutive 1-day, 2-day, and 5-day options. The ‘plus’ option is available only in consecutive 5 days.

Valid on:

  • Unlimited travel on Kintetsu Railway
  • Depending on which pass you pick, the designated zones and additional routes may differ. For a full list, refer to the package details of your chosen Kintetsu Rail Pass

Not valid on:

  • Limited express (tokkyu) trains

How to use: Purchase your Kintetsu Rail Pass on Klook. Present your Klook voucher and passport to redeem your physical ticket. The pass is activated upon the first use and you may start using to enjoy unlimited rides on the selected networks within the validity period.

Cities covered: Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, Yoshino, Iga, Yunoyama, Nagoya, Mie, Ise-Shima

Who is it for?
The Kintetsu Rail Pass is a great option for travellers who are looking travelling mainly in Osaka, Kyoto and Nara. The pass pays off if you’re taking day trips during your validity period between Osaka and Kyoto, Nara and further destinations like Shima Peninsula, Nagoya, Yoshino and more.

7. JR Hokuriku Arch Pass

jr hokuriku arch pass

The Hokuriku Arch Pass is valid only for foreign visitors to Japan which provides unlimited travels on JR trains between Tokyo and Osaka via the Hokuriku route. Slightly cheaper than the Whole Japan Rail Pass, the Hokuriku Arch Pass is a great alternative for visitors looking to travel between Tokyo and the designated Kansai area.

Valid on:

  • Reserved seats on Hokuriku Shinkansen (Tokyo to/from Kanazawa)
  • Reserved seats on the Limited Express, Rapid Services, and JR-West Conventional Lines
  • Non-reserved seats on Haruka and all Tokyo Monorail Lines within the area

Not valid on:

  • Sanyo Shinkansen
  • Tokaido Shinkansen

How to use: Purchase your JR Hokuriku Arch Pass from Klook and receive your Exchange Order either by mail or physical pick up. When in Japan, show your passport and Exchange Order to collect your rail pass. After collection, you may access unlimited rides within the validity period and valid area.

Cities covered: Tokyo, Narita International Ariport, Kansai International Airport, Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, Kobe, Fukui, Kanazawa, Toyama, Nagano, Karuizawa, Tennoji and more. Refer to the Hokuriku Arch Pass website for more details.

Who is it for?
The Hokuriku Arch Pass is one you should get if you’re looking to extend your trip around Osaka Kyoto Nara and Kobe to include a roundtrip visit to Tokyo as well. The pass is only valid for the trip between Tokyo and Kyoto/Osaka via the Hokuriku region as opposed to the more popular Sanyo/Tokaido Shinkansen.


8. Hankyu Tourist Pass

The Hankyu Tourist Pass is a rail pass which allows unlimited train travel on the Hankyu railway lines which covers Osaka, Kyoto, and Kobe. Available in 1-day and 2-day options, the Hankyu Tourist Pass is one of the more affordable options.

Valid on:

  • Hankyu Railway Kobe Line
  • Hankyu Railway Takarazuka Line
  • Hankyu Railway Kyoto Line

Not valid on:

  • Kobe Rapid Transit Railway

How to use: Purchase your Hankyu Tourist Pass from Klook. When in Japan, show your Klook voucher to redeem the pass. With the physical ticket, you may start using to get unlimited rides within the validity period on the selected railways.

Cities covered: Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe

Who is it for?
The Hankyu Tourist Pass is for you if you’re sightseeing in the Kyoto, Osaka and Kobe area for a day or two. While it’s on the lower end on the price scale, you will only be limited to the selected Hankyu railway networks. So, if it suits your itinerary and sightseeing routes, this rail pass is a great option!

 

Kansai highlights

Osaka

What to do/see:

What to eat:

  • Takoyaki
  • Okonomiyaki
  • Kushikatsu
  • Kitsune Udon
  • Yakiniku

 

Kyoto

What to do/see:

What to eat:

  • Kaiseki ryori
  • Shojin ryori
  • Kyo-wagashi
  • Tofu
  • Yuba

 

Nara

What to do/see:

  • Nara Park
  • Todai-ji Temple
  • Koriyama Castle
  • Kasuga-taisha Shrine
  • Yoshino
What to eat:

  • Kakinoha-zushi
  • Chagayu
  • Kuzu mochi
  • Asuka nabe
  • Miwa somen

 

Hyogo

What to see/do:

  • Kobe
  • Himeji
  • Kinosaki Onsen
  • Takeda Castle Ruins
What to eat:

  • Kobe beef
  • Akashiyaki
  • Sobameshi
  • Ikanago no Kugini (sand lance)
  • Taimeshi

 

Wakayama

What to see/do:

  • Mount Koya
  • Kumano
  • Wakayama Castle
  • Shirahama beach
What to eat:

  • Wakayama ramen
  • Meharizushi
  • Kue nabe
  • Kishu plum sauce
  • Kujira no tatsuta-age