Kiyomizu dera is located on top of a hill, with rows of shops selling traditional crafts and food along the way up. When my friends and I visited, we grabbed snacks from the shops and ate as we made our way up. You can find food of fairly reasonable price, but you can't really expect such a touristy place to have cheap prices.
Kiyomizu dera is primarily known for two things- fresh water and its view of the city.
For some reason some of the maple trees there had already withered, although they had not everywhere else, as it was still early December when I visited.
Although this was a little disappointing, the mountain still boasts amazing greenery and there were still patches where the maple trees were alive.
There were plenty of great spots to take in the natural surroundings and take photos. The path down also had some tea houses surrounding the maple trees, where you can rest your tired feet while enjoying the view.
Along the way you can get more shots of the temple. The massive temple was, incredibly, built without a single nail.
Next was a structure that had 3 streams of water flowing down-for money, love and studies (or so I’m told).
You have to chose one to drink out of to receive good fortune in that area, but you must not drink from more than one stream as it will cancel out the effects! You had to chose one and stick with it (much like anything else in life). There was a really long queue, but was definitely worth it!
So, all in all, is Kiyomizu dera worth your time despite the crowds? In reality, the historic value of the temple alone makes it worth it. The temple is also surrounded by natural beauty and the fresh water is a must try.
But to be completely honest, I wasn't too impressed with the view of the city, and definitely was a little disappointed by the withered trees. It also was the most crowded of all the touristy places I went to.
It does offer a sort of all-in-one experience (traditional food, crafts, the view, buddhist temple, Tea houses, mountain landscape) though, and I believe that this is why the temple has endured the test of time.