Kiyomizudera is one of those famous temples that almost everyone visits (yeah, it took me a few years to finally go there). It’s a rather big temple that is quite nice overall. It’s famous for waterfalls (the name means pure water temple) and it’s quite common to have some sort of family tomb here (I know a few people who have family interred here).
It’s more of a series of temples rather than just one, and it’s spread out a bit. The scenery is nice, but the first thing that struck me about Kiyomizudera was how crowded it was. There were people everywhere and it was really crowded. There were some really nice views though, and you can get a good view of Kyoto from Kiyomizudera.
One of the ironic things was that some parts were really crowded, but you can walk in one direction for a few minutes and wind up with nobody else around. In general it was quite crowded though, especially with tours of people going through.
Part of Kiyomizudera is undergoing repairs now, so you unfortunately can’t see all of it. Also, there aren’t any signs, but you can’t drink anything inside the temple.
Kiyomizudera hours vary a lot based on the season, day and whether there are special events. However, it usually is open from 6:00 AM until 6:00 PM (it might close earlier, if there are special night events). In March and November there are special night events; at these times it will usually close early in preparation for these events (to reopen for them later). Having gone to most of the temples during these events, I recommend it – they’re usually quite nice.
Entrance costs 300 yen for adults and 200 yen for elementary and middle school students. During special night events, it is 400 yen for adults and 200 yen for elementary and middle school students.
Kiyomizudera can be reached by walking from Kiyomizu Gojo on the Keihan line (it takes around 25 minutes) or by bus. From Kyoto station, take bus 100 or 206. From Gion or Kawaramachi, take bus 207. Note that taking the bus still involves around 10 minutes of walking uphill. It’s also around a 20 or 30 minute walk from Yasaka Shrine and the walk is quite pleasant. It is in Higashiyama, and there are numerous other temples in the area – it is more than possible to visit several in one day (and I actually recommend this, as you’re already in the area).
The walk from the bus stop or train station takes you past a ton of touristy places – I just walk past them, as they are really touristy.