Self Guided Walking Holidays & Cycling Holidays

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  • Kyoto, the heart of Japan's traditional culture with its 1600 temples and 400 shrines.
  • Exploring the largest wooden building in the world, Todaiji temple in Nara which houses a 16-metre tall golden Buddha.
  • Feeding Nara Park's incredibly tame and free-roaming deer.
  • Taking part in morning prayers at your temple lodging in Mount Koya.
  • Exploring the atmospheric Okuno-in cemetery of Koya-San.

Nara & Mount Koya are two essential additions to any Japan trip, and this 4 night add-on combines both of them with a night in Kyoto.

Start with one night in the culturally-rich city of Kyoto with its 17 UNESCO World Heritage sites, 1600 Buddhist temples and over 400 Shinto shrines! From here it is just 2 hours by train to Nara, the first permanent capital of Japan. Featuring no less than 8 World Heritage Sites, Nara’s highlights include the world’s largest Buddha statue, Daibutsu, and Nara Park with its famously tame deer as well as numerous other beautiful temples and Japanese gardens.

A scenic journey by train and cable car will then take you to Mount Koya, located high in the mountains of the Kii Peninsula. A place of religious devotion since the 9th century and the centre of Shingon Buddhism, Mount Koya is a wonderfully spiritual place to explore and a highlight of your time here includes the chance to participate in morning prayers.

This add-on package includes all your accommodation as well as train tickets between Kyoto, Nara and Mount Koya. We will also provide you with ideas and suggestions of what to see and do including the must-visit sights and provide you with maps of walks in the area.

This package is designed to booked in conjunction with either our Kumano Kodo Trail or the Nakasendo Trail walking tours.


Overnight in Kyoto

Kyoto is one of the world’s most culturally rich cities, scattered with hundreds, if not thousands, of pockets of incredible beauty. The city has 17 UNESCO World Heritage sites, 1600 Buddhist temples, over 400 Shinto shrines and 24 museums. As home to the Japanese Imperial family from 794 to 1868, it has been central to Japanese history and is a city that must feature on your list.

Overnight: 4 * Kyoto Royal Hotel, Kyoto or similar


By Train to Nara

After arriving in Nara by train (2hrs from Kyoto), check into your hotel and then take your time to explore.

A walk through Nara Park (popularly known as ‘Deer Park’) will take you to Todai-ji Temple - its Daibutsu-den is the largest wooden building in the world, housing a 16-metre tall image of the Rushana Buddha in bronze and gold.

Overnight: 4* Nara Hotel, Nara, or similar


Explore Nara at Leisure

Take some to explore some of the smaller temples in the area or the Heijo Palace  and burial mounts in East Nara. A possible option today is to hire a Goodwill Guide. These are local guides registered with JNTO who offer tourists from overseas local tours guided in English or other languages. This is a free service and you only pay for their meals and travel expenses.

Overnight: Nara Hotel, Nara


By Train and Cable-Car to Mount Koya

From Nara, travel by regular train on to Hashimoto and then take a slow, scenic train which passes through spectacular mountain countryside to Gokurabashi, where you will board the cable car which travels up the mountain to Koya San. Arrive at around 1pm.

Explore Danjo Garan, one of the most sacred sites in Koyasan and where Koyasan was founded in the 9th century, as well as the Kongobu-ji Temple which are both a short walk from your accommodation.

Dinner & Overnight: Saizen-in Shukubo (temple lodging), Mount Koya or similar


Explore Mount Koya at Leisure

There are several short hiking trails surrounding Mount Koya to choose from, which are easy to follow. Choose from the Choishi Stupa Route, Koya Sanzen Route and the Women’s Pilgrim’s route. Alternatively you may opt to explore the inner sanctuary of Okuno-in cemetery with its thousands of graves of past feudal lords and luminaries.

Dinner & Overnight: Saizen-in Shukubo (temple lodging)


By Train to Kyoto/Onward Travel

Return by train back to Kyoto to link up with either the Kumano Kodo or Nakasendo Trail or spend more time in Kyoto.


In Kyoto and Nara, we use carefully selected 4* hotels.  And in Mount Koya you stay in monastery temple lodging. The  temple lodgings are generally simply furnished and less formal with shared bathrooms, but have excellent vegetarian food and a wonderful personal service. Here are some examples of the accommodation we use most often.

If the accommodations detailed in the itinerary are not available we will book accommodation of a similar or better standard.


Japanese cuisine is the highlight of many people’s visit to Japan and this is especially the case on this tour. Your trip includes all breakfasts and 2 evening meals.

Most meals will be Japanese cuisine, though breakfast in western-style hotels usually includes more familiar choices.

Dinner and breakfast in the temple lodging are set meals, usually with a whole succession of different dishes which will delight you. As the temple lodging is in a Buddhist temple, you will be served traditional and delicious vegetarian food. Alcoholic and soft drinks are not included with meals. Tipping is not customary at hotels and restaurants in Japan.

Single Rooms

Single rooms are available, although a single/solo supplement is payable.


Accommodations are busy and may charge extra during the following Japanese holiday periods: New Year (29 December to 04 January), Golden Week (29 April to 05 May) and O-bon (09 - 17 August). The months of April and May are also extremely busy in Mount Koya due to commemorations of the 1200th anniversary of the Monk Kobo Daishi. Please contact us with regards to availability for these dates.

Time of Year

It is tough to beat the spring months of April and May but the summer months from June to September are also great as are the autumn colours in October and November.

Single Rooms & Solo Walkers

This trip is available to solo walkers and a limited number of single rooms are available, although a single/solo supplement is payable.

Grade & Terrain

As the activity is flexible and your choice on this tour, we grade this tour as easy.


Your information pack has a detailed equipment list which includes standard walking gear such as good walking boots or shoes, lightweight clothes, waterproofs and a day pack.

Baggage Transfers

Luggage transfer is not included during this tour.  In Japan there is an overnight luggage forwarding service which is cheap, reliable and costs about £12 per bag per day if you would like to have your bags transported for you. We provide full details of this in your pre-departure information pack.

Travel Insurance

It is a requirement of booking this tour with Macs Adventure that you have suitable travel insurance which covers you for the activity and emergency evacuation and hospital care.

Getting to and from Japan

By Air: The best airport to arrive at is Osaka International Airport (KIX), which has flights from many international destinations.

Getting around

Your package includes all the train tickets required as per the itinerary. The public transport system in Japan is world class and your pre-departure information pack has detailed information on how to use your tickets and the trains. Local buses are not included and should be paid for locally. Again your information pack will have detailed information on how to do this and it is very easy.

Our specialist Laura travelled to Japan in 2014 and you can read her experience of using public transport, on the blog.


Please check your visa requirements with the foreign office or the embassy in your country of residence before travelling to Japan.

British nationals wishing to visit Japan for three months or less for business, tourism or family purposes etc (but not to work for a local employer) may do so without a visa. You must have a valid passport and an onward/return ticket. Please visit for up to date information. US Nationals can visit to check on entry requirements. 


  • 1 Night 4* hotel accommodation in Kyoto.
  • 2 Nights 4* hotel accommodation in Nara.
  • 2 Nights in monastery temple lodging (shukubo) in Mount Koya.
  • 5 Breakfasts.
  • 2 evening meals.
  • Train tickets from Kyoto to Nara, from Nara to Mount Koya, and from Mount Koya back to Kyoto.
  • Detailed information pack with local travel information and suggestions for walks and sightseeing activities.
  • Telephone support from our local, English speaking, representative.


  • International flights.
  • Travel to/from Kyoto
  • Local buses
  • Entrance Fees
  • Drinks with meals.
  • Lunches.
  • Evening meals in Kyoto and Nara.
  • Local buses.
  • Baggage forwarding is not included, though we provide instructions for how this can be easily arranged.


  • Additional nights
  • Guided sightseeing tour in Kyoto.
  • Singe room supplement if single rooms required.

How far in advance do I need to book?

We suggest you book as soon as your plans are finalised as the region is extremely popular especially during the spring and autumn months. However, we will always try our best to accommodate your plans.

Which is the best airport to fly to?

The best airport to arrive at is Osaka International Airport (KIX), which has flights to many international destinations. Train tickets are included from Kyoto (30m by train from Osaka) to Nara and from Nara back to Kyoto.

Can you accommodate specific dietary requirements?

Yes, please just let us know at the time of booking.  It is worth mentioning however that many dishes do contain the ubiquitous Japanese fish stock called dashi which is an ingredient in many soups and sauces so it is helpful if you are able to accept dishes containing this.

Do I need to speak Japanese?

No, our detailed info pack and a little bit of effort on your part will get you by. Most signs are also in English. Our specialist Laura travelled to Japan in 2014 and you can read her experience of travelling in Japan with little language skills on the blog.

When is the best time of year?

It is tough to beat the spring months of April and May but the summer months from June to September are also great as are the autumn colours in October and November.

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