Using the subways was the most efficient means of moving about and even to the outskirts of Osaka. They are punctual down to the minute, frequent and perfectly timed for smooth transitions between stations and subway lines.
During my maiden trip to Osaka in June 2013, I was there for only four days and had every intention of visiting all the main attractions within the city and also Nara and Kyoto. With intensive research, I found out that Osaka offered several travel passes for foreign travelers that allowed us to ride the subways and public transportation as many times as we wanted within a stipulated period and also free or discounted entrances to various attractions.
My four days itinerary was as following:
Day 1 - Arrival in Osaka, shopping at Dotonbori and Shinsaibashi-Suji.
Day 2 - Nara and Kyoto.
Day 3 - Osaka Exploration: Osaka Castle, Musuem of History, Kuromon market, Neko no Jikan cafe and Umeda Sky Building.
Day 4 - The Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum at Ikeda, return to Kuala Lumpur.
|Osaka unlimited pass (blue) & Kansai Thru Pass (yellow)|
From the departure floor, head to the second floor to get to the connecting train station. There are three train lines that travel to the Nankai station: JR Limited Express Haruka, JR Kansai Airport Rapid and the Nankai Electric Railway. The JR Haruka and Kansai lines are convenient if you are traveling beyond the Namba area to Tennoji, Shin-Osaka or Kyoto.
Using the Kansai Thru Pass, we rode the Nankai Airport Express to the Nankai station where our hotel, Swissotel Nankai Osaka was strategically located. The Nankai Airport Express departs the airport station every 30 minutes and takes about 45minutes to Namba due to the frequent stops it makes along the way. It can get crowded at peak hours because working people and students also use it to commute. Without the pass, ticket price is 890 yen.
*I recommend checking with the station attendant first before buying a ticket or boarding a train as they could suggest a train that was leaving earlier and could save you time and money.
Day 2: Osaka - Nara - Kyoto - Osaka
The Kansai Thru Pass was immensely useful in getting us to Nara and Kyoto as well. All we had to do was board the Kintetsu Nara Line from the Namba station and it was a quick 40 minutes ride to the Kintetsu Nara station.
|Osaka to Nara or Kyoto.|
|Nara icons - deers.|
When in Kyoto, taking the buses are the best way travel, unless you would like to join a cycling tour. The Kansai Thru Pass lets your ride the Kyoto Municipal buses as many times as you want. If uncertain, just look out for the Kansai icon, a green fairy at the ticket gate or at the bus door.
The passes removed the need to rummage through our purses to pay for subway and saved us a lot of moolah especially when we got lost and got off at the wrong station or took the wrong bus...which we did a lot in Kyoto and on the way back to Osaka.
To get back to Osaka, we used the same route in reverse and got off at the Yamato-Saidaiji to take the Kintetsu Nara train back to Namba.
|Kintetsu Nara stops.|
Price: 2days:Adult 3,800yen Child 1,900yen
3days Adult 5,000yen Child 2,500yen
Benefits: Unlimited train and bus rides in Osaka, Nara, Kyoto, Hyogo, Wakayama and Shiga.
Special rates and discounts at certain tourists attractions.
You'll get: Pass, Guide book, coupons.
Note: Can be used unconsecutively (eg: Day 1 & Day 4)
Osaka Unlimited Pass
The Osaka Unlimited Pass allowed us unlimited rides on the trains, buses and new trams within Osaka for two full days and gave us free entry into several main attractions. On Day 3, we visited the Osaka Castle, Musuem of History, Tombori River Cruise and the Umeda Sky Building at night, all without paying a single yen.
To get to these places are really simple especially if you are commuting from Namba.
|Museum of History.|
For Osaka Castle (600yen) and the Museum of History (600yen), you have two options. Option A would be to take the Midosuji subway line to the Hommachi stop, one stop away and transit over to the Chuo line to Tanimachi 4-chome station. At the station, take exit 1B or 9 to to find your way to the museum and the Osaka castle. Option B would have you taking the Sennichimae line from Namba to Tanimachi 9-chome before you make a train change to the Tanimachi line which will also take you to the Tanimachi 4-chome station.
|Tombori River Cruise.|
|Umeda Sky building.|
The next day, we took the same line back to Umeda station and boarded the Hankyu train line to Ikeda in order to visit the less-known Momofuko Ramen Museum. From the Umeda main station, you will still need to maneuver your way through the station to the Hankyu Umeda station and pay only 260yen for a single passage to Ikeda as the pass does not cover the Hankyu line.
Ticketing machines are in Japanese only but fret not as all you need to do is insert the amount in and select 260yen on the screen as they charge you according to distance traveled as opposed to specific stops. Charge is possible. From there is a roughly a 30 minutes ride to Ikeda. Hankyu is also the line you would take if you are coming to or from the Osaka International airport.
Price: 1day：2,000yen（Adult only）
Benefits: Unlimited train and bus rides in Osaka.
Free admission at 28 facilities and discount rates at listed stores and restaurants.
You'll get: Pass, Guide book, coupons.
Note: Must be used consecutively (eg: Day 1 & Day 2 only)
Apart from bicycles, public transportation especially the trains and subways are definitely the cheapest, fastest and more convenient way of moving about Osaka due to the simple efficiency and punctuality of its trains. Bare in mind though that talking on handphones are frowned up as it is viewed as rude. Besides these two passes, Osaka has also other travel passes to suit your schedules worth checking out:
- Yokoso! Osaka ticket
- Osaka Visitors ticket
- Kaiyu ticket
Transportation around Osaka tips - Getting around and about Osaka
Osaka 2013 Day 1: Shinsaibashi and Dotonbori
Osaka 2013 Day 2: Nara & Kyoto
Osaka 2013 Day 3: A Day in the City
Osaka 2013 Day 4: The Last Day and also, Momofuku Ramen Museum
Osaka Flight & Accommodation: Osaka Flight & Hotel package
I just found out about your blog as I am travelling to Osaka next week for a 4 days 3 nights trip. Your blog has been most helpful but I do have one question. I will not be travelling outside of Osaka and will mostly be going to inner city locations similar to your itiniary above, would it be wiser to purchase Osaka 2 day unlimited pass instead of Kansai Thru Pass? After a bit of online research what I gather is the Kansai Thru Pass is only worth it if we are travelling between towns, but for within Osaka travels Osaka 2 Day Unlimited pass is much more useful. if possible I would like to use the pass to travel from the airport to the hotel which is at Namba station, does the Osaka 2 day unlimited pass allows this?
Appreciate if you can assist with some suggestions! Thanks!
The Osaka Unlimited Pass (now called the Osaka Amazing Pass for 2014) is definitely your best bet for traveling within Osaka. But based on my research, it does not include traveling between airport and Osaka. But you opt to take the Nankai Rap;t trains to Namba at only 1100yen (there has been a price reduce) and it's fast and comfortable too.
Thank you for your help and keep up your blog!
Glad I could help. Have a great trip!
Hi, I'm planning to visit Japan next year. I've read different blogs and most are talking about JR passes. It's too expensive and luckily, I've seen yours. Is this Osaka Unlimited pass better than JR Pass? Is there a chance that I'll just buy a one-way ticket for every destination that I will visit? Or just purchace a card and top-up just like ez-link in SG?
Hi Stephanie. If you are planning of traveling outside of the Kansai area like between Osaka and Tokyo, then the JR is recommended. But if you are remaining within Osaka, then the Osaka Unlimited Pass is best as it gives you unlimited rides on the subways and free entry to many of their main attractions. One way tickets will accumulate to quite a lot at the end of the day. If you are traveling around the Kansai area, then I would recommend the Kansai Thru Pass. Hope this helps.
Hi, I am visiting The Kansai area in Dec with my aged parents and 3 young kids. Are the trains and buses convenient for luggage and stroller? I was initially thinking of renting a car.
Might be hard to move about with luggage and strollers but not impossible. A car might be more convenient but bare in mind, it will be pricey.
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