Last updated on September 23rd, 2023
Planning on traveling in Kansai on a budget but not sure which is the best Kansai Transport Pass? Find the most valuable Kansai train pass and maximize the usage of ICOCA, JR West Pass, Kansai Thru Pass, Osaka Amazing Pass when visiting Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, Uji, Kobe, Himeji and many other interesting places in Kansai region.
Kansai Region is home to some most popular sightseeing places in Japan, including Kyoto, Osaka, Nara, Uji, Kobe, Himeji and many more. Thanks to well connected Japan’s rail system, Kansai region is served by various railway companies to help travelers access to their destination in a convenient and fastest way. It can be expensive if you are traveling around the Kansai region by train. So most of the railway company will be released on own version of best Kansai train pass and tickets to help travelers save some money.
However, most of the travelers will be confused about which is the best Kansai train pass that best suits my travel plan and itinerary? Do we need to purchase the ICOCA, Kansai Thru Pass, JR Wes Pass, Osaka Amazing Pass when traveling around? And which is the most budget way traveling around in the Kansai region?
In the Kansai transport guide, we will break down all the best Kansai train pass and help you figure out the best Kansai transport pass that you need for your Kansai itinerary.
Kansai On A Budget
The most well-known railway company in the Kansai region is Japan Rail (JR), Hankyu and Keihan. These three main railway companies served almost 99% coverage in the Kansai region. It might be complicated and confused on which is the best Kansai Train Pass for your trip. But it is easy and simple to plan on Kansai on a budget trip when you understand their usage in more detail.
Below are the best Kansai Transport Pass on getting around in Kansai Region:
- Prepaid IC Card: ICOCA
- Kansai City Passes: Osaka Amazing Pass, Osaka Unlimited Travel Pass, Kyoto One Day Bus Card
- Regional Kansai Train Pass (Private Railway): Kansai Thru Pass, Kintetsu Rail Pass, Hanshin Tourist Pass, Hankyu Tourist Pass, Kyoto-Osaka Sightseeing Pass (Keihan)
- Regional Kansai Train Pass (JR Train): JR West Kansai Japan, JR Wide Kansai Pass
Sound confusing? No worry. We will break down each transport pass and usage with money-saving tips for your Kansai adventure.
Prepaid IC Card: ICOCA
Transport Pass Overview: IC Card is not a transport pass. It is the type of prepaid card that can be used on trains, subways, buses and also e-payment at convenient stores in the Kansai region and even the whole of Japan. You can make payment by just simply touch the IC card at the reader without cash. Reload or recharge the IC card also can be simply found at most of the railway stations.
Almost all region has their version of IC Card, such as Suica, Pasmo in Tokyo, Kitaca in Hokkaido and Icoca in Kansai region. Nowadays, most of the IC cards are compatible across Japan.
Money Saving Tips: Generally IC card does not provide discounted over regular tickets. The main purpose of IC cards is to provide convenience over cash payment instead of money-saving. Still, you can get a Discounted ICOCA card when getting from Klook. Added, a traveler can get the discounted Haruka ride by showing the ICOCA card when purchasing the ticket.
Why and Who Should Get This Transport Pass: The IC Card is suitable who stay in a single city for several days without traveling around the Kansai region. It is convenient to travel in a single city without cash payment when riding on a train, metro, bus in the city. Moreover, ICOCA card can be use in entire Japan.
Kansai City Pass
There are a variety of day passes for designated transportation in individual cities that are available to choose from. It depends on the transportation option that best convenient for getting around in the city. For example, Osaka is more relying on the subway system and Kyoto is best to travel by using a bus. If you are planning to get around in the given city, then consider getting the day pass if you are getting for more than two or three rides.
Kyoto Historical City:
- One Day Kyoto Bus Card with unlimited bus ride in Kyoto.
- Kyoto One Day Buss for unlimited Kyoto subway, Kyoto and Keihan bus ride in Kyoto.
Osaka Bustling City:
- Unlimited subway ride with OSAKA Unlimited Travel Pass (1-Day at ¥650 or 2-Days at ¥1,200)
- While Osaka Amazing Pass offered free access to up to 40 attractions in Osaka with an unlimited subway ride. Choose from 1-Days (¥2,700) or 2-Days (¥3,600) to best suit your Osaka itinerary.
Further Read on: How To Plan Your Osaka itinerary with Osaka Amazing Pass
Kansai Regional Train Pass (Private Railway)
The Kansai Region Transport Overview: The great thing about traveling in Japan is there are a variety of railway companies to provide a comfortable and convenient ride. So no surprise that there are various private railway companies to help travelers getting around in the Kansai region. The best thing is they also offer their version of Kansai transport pass for unlimited ride.
Below is the popular usage of train route from the private railway company in Kansai region:
- Hankyu Railway (Kobe – Osaka – Kyoto)
- Hanshin Railway (Kobe – Osaka)
- Keihan Railway (Osaka – Kyoto)
- Kintetsu Railway (Osaka – Kyoto – Nara)
- Nankai Railway (Osaka – Kansai Airport – Koyasan)
- Sanyo Railway (Kobe – Himeji)
- Keifuku Railway (Kyoto) and more.
Hanshin Tourist Pass
The Hanshin Tourist Pass provides unlimited access to the Hanshin Electric Railway lines, which connected between Osaka and Kobe. It is the most affordable pass and convenient to use with unlimited Hanshin train ride within one day. It is much cheaper than buying individual tickets for each destination in Kobe.
Hanshin Tourist Pass at ¥700 for 1 day.
Hankyu Tourist Pass
Similar to Hanshin Tourist Pass, the Hankyu Tourist Pass provides unlimited access to the Hankyu train ride which connected between Tokyo, Kyoto, and Kobe for one day or two days tourist pass. Easy redeem and save you a lot of money by riding with the Hankyu train. Take note, it does not apply to Kobe Kosoku Line.
Hankyu Tourist Pass at 1-Day at ¥800 and 2-Days at ¥1,400.
Kyoto-Osaka Sightseeing Pass (Keihan)
Lastly, Kyoto-Osaka Sightseeing Pass (Keihan) provides an unlimited train ride for the Keihan Railway, which connected between Osaka and Kyoto. It is very similar to the Hankyu train. But the difference is Keihan line can take you to Fushimi-Inari Shrine but not to Arashiyama (Hankyu).
Kyoto-Osaka Sightseeing Pass (Keihan) at 1-Day at ¥800 and 2-Days at ¥1,200.
Kansai Transport Tips: Get a further discount at Klook for valuable train pass. Easy redeem at KIX or Osaka. What a bargain!
- Hanshin Tourist Pass with discounted price from Klook at ¥500. (Original ¥700).
- Hankyu Tourist Pass from Klook with promo price at 1-Day at ¥700 and 2-Days at ¥1,200.
- Kyoto-Osaka Sightseeing Pass (Keihan) from Klook at 1-Day at ¥700 and 2-Days at ¥1,000.
Kintetsu Rail Pass
Transport Pass Overview: The Kintetsu Rail Pass is a ticket that will give you unlimited access to the Kintetsu railway network (except limited express) between Osaka, Kyoto, and Nara. It even extended the usage from the Kansai region to as far as to Mie Prefecture or Nagoya.
Kintetsu Rail Pass (1 Day/2 Days/5 Days/Plus)
- Unlimited rides on Kintetsu Railway (except limited express trains) and Nara Kotsu Bus Line.
- 1-Day at ¥1,500, 2-Days at ¥2,500 to visit Osaka, Kyoto, and Nara.
- 5-Days at ¥3,700 and Plus at ¥4,900 if you wish to extend your visit to Mie Prefecture or Nagoya.
Get the Discounted Kintetsu Rail Pass from Klook compare with purchase in Japan. Easy redeem in KIX and Osaka Kintetsu Station.
Why and Who Should Get This Transport Pass: The Kintetsu Rail Pass is beneficial for travelers to Osaka, Nara, and Kyoto with a day trip by using Kintetsu Railway. Moreover, the 5-Days Kintetsu Rail Pass which covered to Nagoya is truly a deal. Just the train trip between Osaka and Nagoya already worth the ticket price.
- Pros: Wide coverage area to Nagoya and Ise. Ideal for those plans to use Kintetsu extensively especially to Ise and Nagoya.
- Cons: Not ideal on the popular Kansai region and within cities. Only valid on the Kintetsu railway.
Kansai Thru Pass
Transport Pass Overview: The Kansai Thru Pass is a rail pass that provides unlimited use of trains, subways, and buses in the Kansai Region which expanding to Osaka, Kobe, Kyoto, as well as the lesser-known, but equally interesting cities of Nara, Uji, Wakayama, and Koyasan. Almost all trains run by the private railway company and even subway ride are covered in this Kansai Thru Pass. It is also the most popular and best Kansai train pass in the Kansai region.
Kansai Thru Pass Coverage (2-days and 3-Days):
- Ride on subways, railways, and buses throughout the Kansai district (Osaka, Kobe, Kyoto, Nara, Uji, Wakayama, and Koyasan).
- Almost all train ride run by private railway company in the Kansai region except JR Train.
- It can only be used by foreign visitors to Japan.
- For 2-Days at ¥4,300 and 3-Days at ¥5,300 (non-consecutive days within the validity period).
- Please refer to the official website for more coverage information.
Pro Tips: Get the Kansai Thru Pass from Klook. Slightly cheaper compare with purchase in Japan. Hassle-free Collection and easy redeem at KIX and Osaka.
Why and Who Should Get This Transport Pass: Kansai Thru Pass is a practical Kansai Transport Pass if you plan to visit Kansai region cities with a non-JR Train itinerary. The non-consecutive feature help travelers to maximize the value of Kansai Thru Pass. Take note, separate reserve seat tickets required if you are taking limited express train on the Nankai, Kintetsu, Semboku Rapid, or Keihan Railways. Example the Rapi:t train from KIX.
- Pros: Wide coverage on trains, subways, and buses inside and between cities. The nonconsecutive usage is a great plus.
- Cons: Not cover on JR Pass which is faster than private train.
JR Rail Pass
The popular Japan Rail Pass is truly a good deal for oversea travelers who plan to visit Japan via a long journey JR train. It allows you to ride on all major forms of transportation provided by the JR group. For example, from Tokyo to Kyoto, the shinkansen ride cost you about ¥14,000 for reserved seats. The regular train ride cost about the same for a round trip with JR Pass. But take note that Nozomi Shinkansen is not covered under JR Pass.
However, if you are only visiting the Kansai region, you don’t need the JR Pass. There is the same regional JR Pass that designed for the Kansai region.
JR Rail Pass (Whole Japan)
- Easy explore the entire Japan with unlimited travel across JR lines including local buses, Miyajima Ferry, and more
- Conveniently collect your JR Pass exchange order by post to your doorstep or designated JR counter in Japan
- Ride on all shinkansen (bullet train) except Nozomi and Mizuho train
- JR Rail Pass Price: 7-Days at ¥39,600/14-Days at ¥64,120/21-Days at ¥83,390.
- Best option with global mail delivery: Reserved JR Rail Pass from Klook
JR West Kansai Japan
- Enjoy unlimited rides on special rapid services, rapid services, and local trains on the JR West lines including airport express Haruka on non-reserved seats.
- Experience up to 4 consecutive days of non-stop journeys and adventures in the Kansai region.
- Coverage area including Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe, Nara, Himeji, Wakayama, Shiga, Tsuruga, Iga-Ueno.
- JR West Kansai Pass: 1-Day at ¥2,300/2-Days at ¥4,600/3-Days at ¥5,600/4-Day at ¥6,600
- Cheaper purchase online. Easy redeem with e-voucher from Klook.
- Click to check for Best Price For JR West Kansai Pass
JR Wide Kansai Pass
- Unlimited rides on rapid, local and express trains on JR West lines in the Kansai region.
- Access unlimited rides on the Sanyo Shinkansen and the Hello Kitty Shinkansen between Osaka and Okayama.
- Free seating section of limited express Haruka from Kansai Airport
- 5 consecutive days to adventures in Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe, Himeji, Nara, and a lot more.
- Coverage up to Kinosaki Onsen, Amanohashidate, Kobe, Himeji, Kyoto, Okayama, Amanohashidate, Wakayama.
- JR Wide Kansai Pass: 5-Days at ¥9,200. Easy redeem at JR Office via e-voucher from Klook
Which is the Best Kansai Train Pass?
For Travelers visiting Kyoto or Osaka only
Regional travel pass is not practical for your itinerary. Using an IC Card with a combination of city passes such as Osaka Amazing Pass, Osaka City Pass or Kyoto One Day Bus Pass is the most budget way. If you arrive with Kansai Airport, consider getting the JR Haruka Airport express ticket.
For Travelers visiting Kyoto, Osaka, Nara, Uji, Kobe
The major cities are located within 1 hour of a train ride and well connected with inexpensive local trains. The most convenient and best Kansai train pass is Kansai Thru Pass as it covered most of the train ride within the Kansai region. However, this regional past does not pay off the train ride unless you are traveling extensively. In this case, make good use of each private railway line and ICOCA card are efficient for your Kansai itinerary.
- From Osaka and day trip to Kobe: Get the Hanshin Tourist Pass
- Visiting Osaka(Fushimi-Inari Shrine) and Kyoto: Kyoto-Osaka Sightseeing Pass (Keihan)
- Visiting Osaka (Arashiyama), Kyoto and Kobe: Hankyu Tourist Pass
For Travelers plan to visit Himeji or Mount Koya
The Himeji is far enough and worth getting the Kansai regional rail pass such as Kansai Thru Pass or JR Kansai Area Pass.
For Travelers plan to visit Kinosaki, Amanohashidate or the Kumano Region
The JR Kansai Wide Area pass is the best transport pass for you to travel to the Kumano region. It is suitable for travelers visiting the less central region to Okayama, Kinosaki Onsen, Naoshima or the Kumano Region.
For Travelers plan to visit Kansai region, Nagoya, Ise Shrines
Grab the Kintetsu Rail Pass which is the valuable best Kansai train pass for those who take a side trip to the Ise Shines from any a major city in the Kansai Region.
Getting Around in Kansai Region
Last but not least, hopefully above Kansai on a budget tips are helpful. And you can find the best Kansai Transport Pass that meet your adventure and budget. Getting around in Kansai by train sounds complicated. But it is super easy once your itinerary is ready. From there, look for the best Kansai train pass that suits your Kansai on a budget trip. My sincere advice, don’t rush. There are so many hidden gems that worth slowing down to a pace to explore. Enjoy your Kansai trip!
Osaka Itinerary: Things to do in Osaka: Ultimate Travel Guide Blog
- Osaka Amazing Pass Itinerary: A Travel Guide Blog
- Where to Stay in Osaka: Namba or Umeda?
- Osaka food review: Top 8 Unique Food To Eat in Osaka
Kyoto itinerary: 15 Things To Do and Eat for 3 Days in Kyoto
Day Trip From Osaka or Kyoto: