Compare Different Train Options From Kansai International Airport To Osaka

Kansai International Airport (KIX) is a convenient entry point for international travelers visiting the Kansai region, including Osaka and Kyoto. There are three popular train options that provide efficient ways to reach various parts of Osaka from KIX. In this post, we have put together a comparison after trying all of these train options.

Kansai Airport Station entrance.

JR Haruka Express

  • Service: Limited express, which means you will need to buy a separate ticket to board this train. Just using an IC card (such as an ICOCA) is not enough. Tickets can be bought from ticket vending machines or at ticket office. Both cash and credit cards are accepted.
  • Destinations: Major stops include Tennoji, Shin-Osaka, Osaka, and also Kyoto.
  • Travel time: See approximate travel time on JR West website here. It takes about 45 minutes to reach Osaka Station and 50 minutes to Shin-Osaka.
  • Frequency: Every 30 minutes.
  • Cost: Ticket costs vary depending on your destination and seat type (non-reserved, regular reserved, or green car seats). As an example, a regular reserved seat from KIX to Osaka Station costs about 2,900 yen.
  • Timetable: You can look up the timetable and ticket costs using the JR West Route Finder.

The JR Haruka Express is very comfortable and fast with both non-reserved and reserved seating options. This train has cute Hello Kitty theme decorations and there are dedicated areas for luggage in each car. The only downside is that it is the most expensive train option from KIX to Osaka.

a green car of the Haruka Express train in Osaka
Haruka Limited Express

From our experience, regular reserved seats on limited express trains dedicated to airports, including the Haruka Express, are usually pretty spacious. You don’t need to splurge on green car seats, unless you want to take a nap, as green cars are quieter with much fewer passengers. We did get the green car seats when heading to Kyoto last year after a red-eye flight with almost no sleep.

Besides reaching Osaka, the Haruka is also great for travelers heading to Kyoto or connecting to the shinkansen at Shin-Osaka.

Nankai Limited Express Rapi:t

  • Service: Limited express, so you will need to buy a separate ticket to board this train. Just using an IC card is not enough. Tickets can be bought from ticket vending machines or at ticket office. Both cash and credit cards are accepted.
  • Destinations: Major stop is Nankai Namba Station in Osaka.
  • Travel time: It takes about 35 minutes to reach Namba.
  • Frequency: Every 30 minutes.
  • Cost: About 1,350 yen for a reserved seat between KIX and Namba.

I think this train has a pretty cool design (kinda futuristic) featuring a head with sleek curves and cars with large circular windows. It reminds me of an airplane or submarine.

Each car has a dedicated luggage storage area and the regular reserved seats are comfortable and spacious. You can see more photos of its facilities and interior on the official website. Again, I don’t think you need to splurge on green cars as the ride is pretty short and regular seats are already generous in size.

Interior and seating on Nankai Limited Express Rapit from Namba Station in Osaka to Kansai International Airport.
Inside the Nankai Rapi:t

The Nankai Rapi:t is obviously very convenient for those who stay near Namba Station. We stayed at the Swissotel Nankai, and we just needed to take an elevator down and then walk straight to the platform. Here’s a quick review of our stay at this hotel.

Given its reasonable price for a limited express train, I think in some cases, it may be better to take the Nankai Rapi:t then take a taxi to your hotel. This could be more cost-effective and convenient than using the Haruka Express. Also, if you travel with large luggage, I don’t recommend trying to change to the subway after taking these airport express trains as it will involve a lots of steps and stairs, and major stations and subway lines in Osaka can be very busy.

Kansai Airport Rapid Service

  • Service: Rapid service with all seats non-reserved. You can just use an IC card to board it.
  • Destinations: Major stops include Tennoji, Osaka Station, and Kyobashi.
  • Travel time: It takes about 70 minutes to reach Osaka Station.
  • Frequency: Every 15 minutes.
  • Cost: About 1,200 yen between KIX and Osaka Station.
  • Timetable: You can look up the timetable and ticket costs using the JR West Route Finder.
Kansai Airport Rapid Service train from KIX at Osaka Station.

This train is obviously slower than the Haruka Express and Nankai Rapi:t, but it runs more frequently. However, its biggest inconvenience in my opinion is there is no dedicated storage area for large luggage. Besides, it can get crowded and packed during certain parts of the ride as locals also use it to get around.

Another disadvantage of this train is that it is not appropriate to eat on board. Eating is generally not recommended on local or rapid services like the Kansai Airport Rapid Service as these trains are often more crowded and used for shorter commutes. In contrast, it is okay to have a quick bite or snacks on limited express trains like the Haruka Express or Nankai Rapi:t. Just make sure to keep your eating area tidy.

Nankai Line also has a commuter train very similar to the Kansai Airport Rapid Service, called the Nankai Airport Express. This train connects KIX and Nankai Namba Station and there’s also no dedicated area for luggage.

In short, if you travel with large or multiple suitcases, taking the Kansai Airport Rapid train or Nankai Airport Express will not be a good experience. If you have no luggage or just a small carry-on and don’t mind a longer ride, these rapid trains may be an okay option.

Nankai Limited Express Rapit train waiting on the platform at Nankai Namba Station in Osaka.

Overall, the Haruka Express and Nankai Rapi:t are the best train options to travel between KIX and Osaka. If the Haruka Express seems too pricey for you, depending on where you want to reach, look into taking the Nankai Rapi:t and add a short taxi ride if needed.

a collage of Nankai Airport Rapi:t (both outside and inside).
a collage of Kansai Airport Station and Nankai Rapi:t Airport Express.

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