Kyoto, Japan is an incredible tourist spot with an extensive history and colorful picture opportunities. It was the capital city and emperor's residence for over a 100 years and, perhaps more importantly, Nintendo originated in the city. It's that big.
And I actually preferred the city over the more popular Tokyo, as the smaller-town atmosphere - as small as you can feel in a 1.5 million resident city - meant a more authentic Japan to me. Add in the incredible food and one particularly mesmerizing Philosopher's Walk and I was in heaven.
To get there, the best mile redemptions are to either Tokyo (better availability) or Osaka (closer) using American or United miles. From there, a cheap train will get you to Kyoto. See my breakdown below:
- 50,000 American or 70,000 United miles for a round-trip ticket in economy class.
- 100,000 American or 150,000 United miles for a round-trip ticket in business class.
- Expect $15 to $90 in booking fees, depending on the airline and award type.