Better brush up on your deer-interaction skills before stepping off the train in Nara! Some of the critters are as bold as to actually make their way through to the train station, but if the first thing you see aren't a pair of big black eyes, don't despair -- there is no way you'll leave town without an dose (or overdose!) of their charm.
Nara is the favourite of travelers to Japan (of those who go, as sadly many miss out on it) and it is for good reason! It is jam-packed with world heritage sites and has marvelous surroundings for easy hiking through picture-perfect farmland and little patches of forest. But what ignites people's passion are the holy deer dotting the central parks and the temples and shrines! Special cookies can be bought at little stalls and offered to them, but don't forget we are in Japan here, so it's all about politeness -- before handing over the cookie, you should bow to the deer and it then will bow back (no kidding!). It is so easy to get lost in this fascinating atmosphere of Nara for days. Apparently there is also all the infrastructure of a city that size with shopping and restaurants. Actually, Nara could be a lovely base from where to undertake daytrips to Osaka and Kyoto (most people opt for the other way round, though). Train connections are frequent and really affordable!
Nara's hostel scene is small but lovely -- do watch out for some real marvels! There are some hostels in really stunning traditional houses where (almost) all is in traditional style. This is otherwise usually only found in Ryokan, which should prove to be not affordable for most budget travelers. It is absolutely worth putting up with the distance to those hostels you might have to bridge to get to them from the train station (not too bad after all, just not really close)! Should those be booked solid, all other hostels in Nara can be recommended with a peace of conscience. They are spotless and often small and cute and family run. There is also a different -- quieter -- type of traveler here than in neighbouring Kyoto or Osaka. Location-wise, most Nara hostels are scattered kind of close or smack in the middle of the town centre.
Hi, I'm gagalichen,
the Hostelz.com local expert for Nara hostels. Welcome.