For more than 1,000 years, Kyoto was the imperial capital of Japan, and vestiges of this royal history remain in sites such as the Kyoto Gosho palace. While the year-old Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto, appeals to luxury travelers with its private Zen gardens overlooking the Kamogawa River, consider staying in a traditional ryokan, or guesthouse. You can’t see Kyoto without exploring the city’s incredible Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines—there are more than 2,000 scattered across the city—but insiders recommend Sanjusangendo, which houses 1,001 statues of the god Kannon, carved from cypress in the 12th and 13th centuries, as well as the iconic Kinkaku-Ji (Golden Pavilion). Of course, this traditional city has a touch of the modern, too. Check out the sleek new Yoshio Taniguchi-designed wing of the Kyoto National Museum, and the bustling Nishijin neighborhood for kawaii artisan shops.
From your Certified Travel Expert, Leslee Richards