Booking.com. I love this website/app because:
- it is easy to use – I just enter the location, date, number of persons, and click search. And because I have a maximum budget, I filter it by price and choose from the list.
- it has a map – it shows the exact location of the hotel/hostel/guesthouse/inn and also shows other nearby accommodations (and the corresponding price).
- it encourages guests to leave reviews – guest reviews are important!
- it offers free cancellation – most accommodations on Booking.com offer free cancellation up to a certain number of days before the trip.
- it requires no down payment – most accommodations on Booking.com will only ask for credit card details to confirm the booking but won't charge it (unless you cancel the booking after the free cancellation period). There are also accommodations that don't require credit card details to book! Payment will be upon check in.
- I didn't have to search for places and reorient myself every time. Minutes saved.
- I could change around my itinerary based on my energy level, weather, and the location/proximity of the sites I was interested in. Bus/Train fares saved.
- I could find shortcuts or take less trodden paths, like alleys or through residential areas (an added adventure).
- If I find something new and interesting that wasn't part of the plan, I could pin it on my map to remember its location in case I wanted to go back. Minutes saved from searching again and/or from racking my brains trying to recall the location.
Download Japan Trains app here: Android
For Arukumachi Kyoto app, just enter the departure and arrival areas (it doesn't have to be specific, just enter the street or tourist spot) and it will give more specific suggestions (station, bus stops, or spots). Search results will give you several options to get to your destination, showing the departure and arrival times, total bus fare (and if the 1-day Kyoto City Bus pass can be used), number of transfers, and what modes of transportation to take. Click on one of the options to find out more about the route: which bus/subway/rail to take, arrival and departure times for each connection, fare for each connection, and time it takes to transfer/walk between stops. Click on a connection to view the map. What I love about Arukumachi Kyoto's map is that it shows your current location, so when you're on the bus and have no idea if your stop is approaching, just check the map and watch the dot (you) move. Don't forget to press the bus stop button nearest you lest you miss your stop.
Download Arukumachi Kyoto app here: Android | iOS
Know Before You Go
Single Entry Tourist Visa for Japan
Roam Around Japan with a Swagger (you're here!)
From Tokyo to Hiroshima (2015)
10D/9N | Tokyo, Toyama, Kyoto, Hyogo, Osaka, Hiroshima
Concentrate on Kansai (2016)