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Self drive in Kii Peninsula from Wakayama

Kuala Lumpur...
Level Contributor
16 posts
Self drive in Kii Peninsula from Wakayama

Hi,

My husband and I (in our 50s) are arriving in Osaka very early in the morning on a week day in mid Jan. We have a total of 10 full days. We would like to explore the Kii Peninsula. We read that driving in the countryside in Japan is doable and so we are taking a chance.

We would be pleased if we can get some response, suggestions or advice to the following:

1) Upon arrival, where should we base ourselves? Should we start in Wakayama or further most on the East coast or somewhere else?

2) We plan to rent a car from our base as we would like to return it there before going to Osaka for our last 1 to 2 nights. (We have been to Osaka previously, so it is not a must for this trip.) But the car drop off location has to taken into consideration in the event we go to Osaka.

3) If time permits, we would like to go to Tokushima. Which transportation would be best? Should we return the car and take other transportation to Tokushima?

4) Please suggest the best routes and itinerary that enable us to see more scenic spots.

5) Which are the places we should stay for the night?

6) Which are the must DOs, VISITs, EATs and BUYs in each place?

7) There are so many onsens to choose from. We heard Katsuura and Shirahama are the top places to consider? Are there any particular onsens which are known for their high therapeutic healing powers?

Appreciate any other suggestions please.

Thank you.

8 replies to this topic
Hong Kong, China
Level Contributor
6,782 posts
190 reviews
1. Re: Self drive in Kii Peninsula from Wakayama

>>We read that driving in the countryside in Japan is doable and so we are taking a chance.

Indeed driving in the countryside of Japan is more relaxed and less chance of getting stuck in heavy traffic. There is no need to take any chance unless you have not driven before. Beware to present an IDP+passport for each person intending to drive during car pick up. Otherwise, your rental will be rejected.

2. I have visited the same area twice both by car picked up and returned in Wakayama city. Refer to my trips below.

Feb 2013 trip - Wakayama > Shirahama > Kii Katsuura > Nachi Taisha+falls > return

japantravelinsights.com/2016/…

May 2017 trip - Wakayama > Koyasan > Kumano kodo covering all 3 Taishas > return via Kii Katsuura and Shirahama

japantravelinsights.com/2017/…

>>But the car drop off location has to taken into consideration in the event we go to Osaka.

In Japan, if your pick up and return locations are in different prefectures, an extra drop-off fee will be charged and not cheap. Note that KIX is in Osaka prefecture whereas Wakayama city is in Wakayama prefecture.

It takes about 1hr+ from Wakayama city to Osaka/Namba - served by frequent express trains.

7. Indeed, though I prefer Shirahama onsen more. refer to my trips to both onsen.

Kuala Lumpur...
Level Contributor
16 posts
2. Re: Self drive in Kii Peninsula from Wakayama

Hi Dli,

Thank you very much for your kind advise.

If u didnt inform me about the need for an international driving license, I guess it would have spoiled our entire holiday.

I read all your posts on japan and interesting to note you have driven to quite a number of places.

1) I noted your 2 separate trips in 2013 and 2017. My question is if I want to do a loop from Wakayama to Kii Peninsula and all the way to Ise and then east to Koyasan, would that be advisable? If I can do that, it will be great and i can rent a car at wakayama and return at same location.

2) Can you recommend another drive out of Osaka for maybe 2 nights pls?

Thanks.

Kobe, Japan
Level Contributor
3,951 posts
17 reviews
3. Re: Self drive in Kii Peninsula from Wakayama

1. Yes, it's very possible.

2. To Shikoku via Awaji-shima would be a great trip.

https://www.japan-guide.com/list/e1107.html

https://www.awajishima-kanko.jp/en/

Hong Kong, China
Level Contributor
6,782 posts
190 reviews
4. Re: Self drive in Kii Peninsula from Wakayama

1. doable as mentioned by Nishin, though driving distances and duration can be considerable from Shingu all the way eastward to Ise-Shima. Use Google Map to evaluate. In planning for my last driving in last May, I considered that but dropped it as it's too far away and we already visited twice.

Note Koyasan is at around 1000m. Not only the mountain roads leading up there are narrow and curvy, but also it might be covered by snow/ice in mid-Jan.

2. As you want to visit Tokushima in Shikoku as well, you may take express bus from Kobe/Sannomiya direct and spend 2 days there w/o driving at all. If you really want to drive, better pick up a car near Kobe/Harborland, which is closer to the Akashi-Kaikyo bridge. This is to avoid heavy traffic in Osaka/Kobe/Kyoto, and not to get lost in the spider-web road networks even equipped with GPS and Google map.

refer to Japan guide on car rentals.

https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2024.html

ps. If my memory was correct, several women from Malaysia once posted on this forum asking for advice to visit Hokkaido by car. Subsequently on one day, they posted another topic asking for urgent help when they were in Hokkaido - none of them possessed any IDP and thus their car rental was rejected. They had to travel by public transports to checkin hotels already booked in Central and far-away Hokkaido East.

Edited: 05 January 2018, 10:41
Kuala Lumpur...
Level Contributor
16 posts
5. Re: Self drive in Kii Peninsula from Wakayama

Hi Nishin,

Thanks for the confirmation. We have decided that we will drive around the countryside. I'll do some research on the shikoku via awaji-shima route. Thanks for the recommendation.

Kuala Lumpur...
Level Contributor
16 posts
6. Re: Self drive in Kii Peninsula from Wakayama

Hi DLi,

If Ise-Shima is not to be missed, then we would like to drive there. Our trip is relaxing, free and easy. Just the 2 of us. So we can change our plans as we go along.

1) I believe Jan is not a peak month to visit Kii Peninsula, so if i don't pre-book my accommodation, would I be able to find acceptable accommodation?

2) As for Tokushima, we will take a bus as suggested by you.

My husband has obtained international driving license. Thanks.

Hong Kong, China
Level Contributor
6,782 posts
190 reviews
7. Re: Self drive in Kii Peninsula from Wakayama

>>1) I believe Jan is not a peak month to visit Kii Peninsula, so if i don't pre-book my accommodation, would I be able to find acceptable accommodation?

Indeed Jan is not in peak season but not a good idea in general in Japan, especially if you want to stay in onsen ryokans/hotels with 2 meals included in room rates. Even if rooms are available, they might reject your attemped stay at last minute request as they won't be able to source/serve meals.

If you could understand and communicate in Japanese to make local phone calls to smaller ryokans/minsukus during the day as some locals do, that might work. Otherwise, you'd end up spending more time to look for available lodgings in your next destinations than on proper sightseeing. And that won't be relaxing but stressful for a first time drive.

Note that unlike in big cities like Osaka, Wakayama where there are local chain restaurants that open till 2200 - due to much higher demands, most eateries in small towns are family run with limited choices and they usually close fairly early by 2000 or earlier.

Edited: 06 January 2018, 13:35
Kuala Lumpur...
Level Contributor
16 posts
8. Re: Self drive in Kii Peninsula from Wakayama

Hi DLi,

Thanks for the valuable tips. I will book my accommodation before I leave for Japan.

Once again, thank you very much for your valuable information. Truly appreciate your kind efforts.

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