HWZ Forums

Login Register FAQ Mark Forums Read

HOKKAIDO (Experts & Novices Alike Please Come In!)

Like Tree4Likes
Share This Page
HardwareZone.com on Facebook
Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools
Old 29-05-2016, 12:53 AM   #1
Arch-Supremacy Member
 
kosongice's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 19,581
HOKKAIDO (Experts & Novices Alike Please Come In!)

So I recently came back from Hokkaido and am SMITTEN by the country. You can find out more about my trip in this thread:

Kosongice 北海道 Hokkaido GPGT Adventure!

Suaku as I may be, I am completely enchanted and mesmerized by the place, and am planning for a return visit in May 2017, thus the birth of this thread. I'm hoping people can share their experiences, advice, itineraries and everything else about Hokkaido in this humble thread.

My recent trip was with a group tour, and as much as I enjoyed it, there were certain restrictions and simply not enough time to thoroughly soak in everything each destination has to offer. As such, I'm planning for a free and easy vacation.

Some of the more memorable areas during the group tour are:

Lake Toya
Otaru
Sapporo

I'm hoping to cover these areas again, but at my own pace. The following are some of my concerns:

i. How useful/worthwhile are rail passes if I'm not covering a large area?

ii. What are some affordable and good hotels in the Sapporo area? I previously stayed at New Otani Inn Sapporo, enjoyed it.

iii. Would it be difficult to go around the island, especially Lake Toya, without a vehicle?

iv. When should I start purchasing and planning for my plane tickets?

v. What is the estimated budget (All-In) to plan for a 10-day trip? I'm thinking $4000-$5000?

vi. When should I start booking for hotels? Heard the rooms get snapped up quite fast, especially in the peak season.

vii. Is it crazy to go there alone (or maybe with just another friend) when we both don't speak any Japanese? No tour guide this time.

viii. How should I roughly plan my days? Are 4-5 days in Sapporo too long?
kosongice is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 29-05-2016, 05:20 AM   #2
Member
 
hgkiaboon's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 483

i. How useful/worthwhile are rail passes if I'm not covering a large area?

ii. What are some affordable and good hotels in the Sapporo area? I previously stayed at New Otani Inn Sapporo, enjoyed it.

iii. Would it be difficult to go around the island, especially Lake Toya, without a vehicle?

iv. When should I start purchasing and planning for my plane tickets?

v. What is the estimated budget (All-In) to plan for a 10-day trip? I'm thinking $4000-$5000?

vi. When should I start booking for hotels? Heard the rooms get snapped up quite fast, especially in the peak season.

vii. Is it crazy to go there alone (or maybe with just another friend) when we both don't speak any Japanese? No tour guide this time.

viii. How should I roughly plan my days? Are 4-5 days in Sapporo too long?
1. depends where you wanna go; if you're gonna stay in Sapporo, then hell no. If you're gonna be travelling to Kushiro/Hakodate/Wakkanai/Asahikawa, then the Hokkaido rail pass might work out for you since it covers all JR trains and buses apart from the shinkansen.

2. Best Western Fino is really good and ideally located; be prepared to pay though. Sunroute New Sapporo is cheap and located at Tanukikoji.

3. No. You can take a train from Sapporo Station to Toya Station, then change to a bus bound for Lake Toya (about 10mins ride iirc).

4. Depends on when you wanna fly? I usually book mine about half a year in advance. JAL/ANA usually costs me 700-800 SGD to Tokyo + 10k yen to Sapporo. You can look into taking Delta/Thai/whatever cheapo airline to Tokyo, then take Peach lowcost carrier from Narita to New Chitose.

5. 4k all-in for a 10day trip is doable in relative comfort. Flight 800$, Accomodation 700~1500 depending on where you stay, remainder on food and shopping.

6. check Jalan.net/expedia/whatever else a few months in advance. The only time the hotels are fully booked out is during the Sapporo Snow Festival; other than that I've had no problems finding accommodation in all the times I've been there.

7. why is it crazy? I've been to JP over a dozen times. Never joined a tour group, always gone F&E. I've been to Hokkaido twice on my own, once with my gf's family and once with my parents/grandmother. They didn't have any issues either, apart from the incessant complaining about the cold (Winter both times). You don't need to speak Japanese to get around/order food.

8. It's all up to you. How about you come up with an itinerary and get the people here to check it? 4-5 days is easily doable in Sapporo; a trip to any of the ski resorts will burn about 2-3 days easy. Add in Otaru as a day-trip, and wherever else you wanna go. Don't worry about being bored.

Nice pictures in the other thread, by the way.

edit:
places you can look at -
Takino Suzuran, a park that has flowers in summer and offers skiing/bobsledding in winter.

Sapporo Factory, a lot of clothing/souvenir/craft shops. I didn't really like the place but the gf loved it.

Apia/Esta/Paseo/Stellar, there are a crapload of underground malls branching out from Sapporo Station. Pretty sure you haven't been to them since you joined a tour group.

Teineyama, ski resort.

Moerenuma, a park where you can rent bicycles outside of winter.

Curb market/Nijo market, you've probably been to one of them since you went with tour group, but you can go explore the inner market instead of the chopcarrot stalls on the exterior. Same fking packet of scallops (brand/weight/size) cost 30k outside and 19k inside.

Add Otaru/Toyako to the mix and you'll easily burn a week.
__________________
why are people so stupid?
the best is yet to be; the worst is yet to come.

Last edited by hgkiaboon; 29-05-2016 at 05:37 AM..
hgkiaboon is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 29-05-2016, 10:11 AM   #3
Arch-Supremacy Member
 
MajiMax's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 15,582
i. How useful/worthwhile are rail passes if I'm not covering a large area?

There are a few passes for Hokkaido, you can refer this site to see worth the cost or not.

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2361_01.html


ii. What are some affordable and good hotels in the Sapporo area? I previously stayed at New Otani Inn Sapporo, enjoyed it.

Hakodate I stayed at Smile Hotel Hakodate approxi $36 a night per pax. The hotel just across a road from JR Hakodate station.

Sapporo I stay Hote Route-Inn Sapporo Ekimae Kitaguchi, approxi $98 a night per pax. The hotel just outside JR Sapporo station.

Winter time I went, choose hotel nearby station so no need to walk in -10 ~ -15 deg in snow.


iii. Would it be difficult to go around the island, especially Lake Toya, without a vehicle?

Got bus services from Toya Station.

iv. When should I start purchasing and planning for my plane tickets?

If you know exact dates when will you be going then see if the flight fare is it within your budget can just buy it.

My trip was in Feb 2016 and I purchased my ticket in Apr 2015.


v. What is the estimated budget (All-In) to plan for a 10-day trip? I'm thinking $4000-$5000?

Went earlier this year to 9days trip to Winter Hokkaido for Snow festival.

About 2.7k total less Souvenir expenses and shopping,

Big items are,
-Flight via ANA $912
-Hokkaido 4 day flexi Pass 22k yen, approxi $275
-Day trip to Sapporo Teine Ski Resort for Skiing, approxi $200
-8 nights accommodation, approxi $600


Places I went Hakodate, Otaru, Sapporo, Asahikawa, so definitely worth to get passes.


vi. When should I start booking for hotels? Heard the rooms get snapped up quite fast, especially in the peak season.

The moment hotel open for reservation, I start my booking as the period I went is consider peak. Snow festival alot of ppl travel to Sapporo, since domestic traveler will visit Sapporo as well.

vii. Is it crazy to go there alone (or maybe with just another friend) when we both don't speak any Japanese? No tour guide this time.

I have traveled 12 / 47 prefectures in whole Japan alone, no issue at all despite I don't speak Japanese at all. My 13rd prefectures was with a friend which also doesn't speak any Japanese.


viii. How should I roughly plan my days? Are 4-5 days in Sapporo too long?

Can use site to see what are the things you wanna see and plan accordingly instead of limit yourself by setting the days.

http://www.japan-guide.com/list/e1101.html
__________________
Money's only something you need in case you don't die tomorrow...
MajiMax is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 29-05-2016, 12:22 PM   #4
Arch-Supremacy Member
 
kosongice's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 19,581
Thanks for the lengthy replies! Haven't planned for any trip before, so here's a very sketchy itinerary in its infant stages.

ANA - Tokyo - Hokkaido
Day 1/2: Lake Toya - Onsen Hotel
Day 3 - 10: Hotel/AirBnB in Sapporo, with side trips to Otaru/Hakodate/Asahikawa.
ANA - Tokyo - Singapore

Am I placing too much emphasis on Sapporo? Also, are railway passes overkill for my relatively short trip? Also, should I stay in a slightly better hotel (willing to do up to $200+/- a night) since I'm sharing with a friend, with WIFI and comfort secured, or rent a WIFI device from Changi Airport?

Sent from my toaster oven using GAGT
kosongice is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 29-05-2016, 01:20 PM   #5
Arch-Supremacy Member
 
MajiMax's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 15,582
It takes approxi 220mins to take train from Sapporo to Hakodate, time wasted if you go front and back like that.



Take openjaw flight route.

SG night flight -> Hakodate airport, reach around afternoon then return via Chitose airport to SG.

Day 1 - SG -> Hakodate (afternoon)
Day 2 - Hakodate
Day 3 - Hakodate -> Toya (train fare 5490 yen, 1way), activate Hokkaido 5 Day Pass
Day 4 - Toya
Day 5 - Toya -> Sapporo (train fare 5920 yen, 1way)
Day 6 - Sapporo -> Asahikawa -> Sapporo (train fare 9620 yen, round trip)
Day 7 - Sapporo -> Otaru -> Sapporo (train fare 1280 yen, round trip)
Day 8 - Sapporo
Day 9 - Sapporo
Day 10 - Chitose -> SG

Hokkaido 5 Day Pass cost 22,000 yen, based on the route route is around 22,310 yen.

If you wanna make the Pass worthwhile, then can see if you wanna go Furano or Biei.

Identify the places of interest you would like to visit first then decide which pass to get.

Usually I just get data simcard in Japan, if need to share data, just tether hotspot, device troublesome as still need to charge battery.
__________________
Money's only something you need in case you don't die tomorrow...
MajiMax is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 29-05-2016, 01:45 PM   #6
Master Member
 
deodorant's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 3,720
Day 3 - 10: Hotel/AirBnB in Sapporo, with side trips to Otaru/Hakodate/Asahikawa.
No good. Many places in Hokkaido you need to (at least) overnight, can't do day trips. Otaru can day trip, but other further-away places like Furano, Asahikawa, Biei, Sounkyou, Noboribetsu, etc much better to relocate there and overnight.

BTW why no consider renting car and driving?

Anyway if you're interested, give you some sample itinerary from my last year autumn trip: http://look-see-eat.blogspot.sg/2015...ket-ramen.html
__________________
deo's travel, food and cooking adventures: http://bit.ly/1slRYV5
deodorant is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 29-05-2016, 03:36 PM   #7
Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 151
You've got quite a few replies, but I still very kaypoh!

i. How useful/worthwhile are rail passes if I'm not covering a large area?
JR Pass is generally poor value if you don't cover a large area, but regional passes are worth considering. You can decide after you kind of set your itinerary. If mainly moving within cities, you won't need a rail pass.

ii. What are some affordable and good hotels in the Sapporo area? I previously stayed at New Otani Inn Sapporo, enjoyed it.
Depends on your budget. I usually stay in business hotels. No frills. Just the room and everything else that you can want for a night's stay. Usually about SGD 80 for one night in a single room.


iii. Would it be difficult to go around the island, especially Lake Toya, without a vehicle?
Others have replied about trains. Having a car is flexible, and is a viable idea if you have 3 or 4 people around. Else, train is probably better.


iv. When should I start purchasing and planning for my plane tickets?
Hokkaido is generally not busy so you don't have to plan very much in advance UNLESS you plan to go in July. If you want to go in July, please start 6 months ahead or your preferred accommodations may be booked out (especially if you go with a few people and need 2 or 3 rooms).


v. What is the estimated budget (All-In) to plan for a 10-day trip? I'm thinking $4000-$5000?
I have just finished tabulating the estimated expenses for my 8 day trip this July. So far, the expenses are around SGD 1900. Includes airfare, accommodation, trains, car rental and toll fees. My airfare is slightly expensive at $1050 because I am flying in and out on weekends.

For reference on distance covered, I will be in the following places: Sapporo, Otaru, Shakotan, Noboribetsu, Furano, Asahikawa, Daisetsuzan, Hokuryu.


vi. When should I start booking for hotels? Heard the rooms get snapped up quite fast, especially in the peak season.
As mentioned above, if you choose July, please book 6 months ahead so that you can get your choice of good rooms in your budget. Even Grand Sapporo gets booked out very early in July. So doesn't mean that you will get a room as long as you willing to pay.


vii. Is it crazy to go there alone (or maybe with just another friend) when we both don't speak any Japanese? No tour guide this time.
My first trip to Japan, I only knew 3 phrases and 2 of these 3 were not nice things to say to someone lol. I survived 17 days.
There is no need to speak Japanese really.


viii. How should I roughly plan my days? Are 4-5 days in Sapporo too long?
Really depends on what you like to see. Probably more stuff outside of Sapporo will interest you, unless you are a city shopper.
Silverelf is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 29-05-2016, 03:44 PM   #8
Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 151
Thanks for the lengthy replies! Haven't planned for any trip before, so here's a very sketchy itinerary in its infant stages.

ANA - Tokyo - Hokkaido
Day 1/2: Lake Toya - Onsen Hotel
Day 3 - 10: Hotel/AirBnB in Sapporo, with side trips to Otaru/Hakodate/Asahikawa.
ANA - Tokyo - Singapore

Am I placing too much emphasis on Sapporo? Also, are railway passes overkill for my relatively short trip? Also, should I stay in a slightly better hotel (willing to do up to $200+/- a night) since I'm sharing with a friend, with WIFI and comfort secured, or rent a WIFI device from Changi Airport?

Sent from my toaster oven using GAGT
You might not want to plan Hakodate as a day trip. I did that the last time... I only had time to go eat at Lucky Pierrot and walk around the shopping areas. Hakodate doesn't have all that much to do, but we stood on the train for nearly 4 hours from Sapporo to Hakodate (we did not manage to gets seats) and then when we reached Hakodate, we were absolutely pooped.

Yu might want to stay at least one night in Hakodate so that you can go to the morning market, and I hear that the night scenery is beautiful (I did not manage to catch that).

Asahikawa is about 2 hrs away by train, so do keep that timing in mind when you plan.
Silverelf is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 29-05-2016, 06:49 PM   #9
Arch-Supremacy Member
 
kosongice's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 19,581
It takes approxi 220mins to take train from Sapporo to Hakodate, time wasted if you go front and back like that.



Take openjaw flight route.

SG night flight -> Hakodate airport, reach around afternoon then return via Chitose airport to SG.

Day 1 - SG -> Hakodate (afternoon)
Day 2 - Hakodate
Day 3 - Hakodate -> Toya (train fare 5490 yen, 1way), activate Hokkaido 5 Day Pass
Day 4 - Toya
Day 5 - Toya -> Sapporo (train fare 5920 yen, 1way)
Day 6 - Sapporo -> Asahikawa -> Sapporo (train fare 9620 yen, round trip)
Day 7 - Sapporo -> Otaru -> Sapporo (train fare 1280 yen, round trip)
Day 8 - Sapporo
Day 9 - Sapporo
Day 10 - Chitose -> SG

Hokkaido 5 Day Pass cost 22,000 yen, based on the route route is around 22,310 yen.

If you wanna make the Pass worthwhile, then can see if you wanna go Furano or Biei.

Identify the places of interest you would like to visit first then decide which pass to get.

Usually I just get data simcard in Japan, if need to share data, just tether hotspot, device troublesome as still need to charge battery.
thanks for this! btw, pardon me being noob, but what's an openjaw flight route?
kosongice is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 29-05-2016, 06:51 PM   #10
Arch-Supremacy Member
 
kosongice's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 19,581
No good. Many places in Hokkaido you need to (at least) overnight, can't do day trips. Otaru can day trip, but other further-away places like Furano, Asahikawa, Biei, Sounkyou, Noboribetsu, etc much better to relocate there and overnight.

BTW why no consider renting car and driving?

Anyway if you're interested, give you some sample itinerary from my last year autumn trip: http://look-see-eat.blogspot.sg/2015...ket-ramen.html
I can't drive, and my friend (if he decides to join me), isn't comfortable with driving in a foreign place. Your blog is lovely!
kosongice is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 29-05-2016, 06:53 PM   #11
Arch-Supremacy Member
 
kosongice's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 19,581
You might not want to plan Hakodate as a day trip. I did that the last time... I only had time to go eat at Lucky Pierrot and walk around the shopping areas. Hakodate doesn't have all that much to do, but we stood on the train for nearly 4 hours from Sapporo to Hakodate (we did not manage to gets seats) and then when we reached Hakodate, we were absolutely pooped.

Yu might want to stay at least one night in Hakodate so that you can go to the morning market, and I hear that the night scenery is beautiful (I did not manage to catch that).

Asahikawa is about 2 hrs away by train, so do keep that timing in mind when you plan.
You've got quite a few replies, but I still very kaypoh!

i. How useful/worthwhile are rail passes if I'm not covering a large area?
JR Pass is generally poor value if you don't cover a large area, but regional passes are worth considering. You can decide after you kind of set your itinerary. If mainly moving within cities, you won't need a rail pass.

ii. What are some affordable and good hotels in the Sapporo area? I previously stayed at New Otani Inn Sapporo, enjoyed it.
Depends on your budget. I usually stay in business hotels. No frills. Just the room and everything else that you can want for a night's stay. Usually about SGD 80 for one night in a single room.


iii. Would it be difficult to go around the island, especially Lake Toya, without a vehicle?
Others have replied about trains. Having a car is flexible, and is a viable idea if you have 3 or 4 people around. Else, train is probably better.


iv. When should I start purchasing and planning for my plane tickets?
Hokkaido is generally not busy so you don't have to plan very much in advance UNLESS you plan to go in July. If you want to go in July, please start 6 months ahead or your preferred accommodations may be booked out (especially if you go with a few people and need 2 or 3 rooms).


v. What is the estimated budget (All-In) to plan for a 10-day trip? I'm thinking $4000-$5000?
I have just finished tabulating the estimated expenses for my 8 day trip this July. So far, the expenses are around SGD 1900. Includes airfare, accommodation, trains, car rental and toll fees. My airfare is slightly expensive at $1050 because I am flying in and out on weekends.

For reference on distance covered, I will be in the following places: Sapporo, Otaru, Shakotan, Noboribetsu, Furano, Asahikawa, Daisetsuzan, Hokuryu.


vi. When should I start booking for hotels? Heard the rooms get snapped up quite fast, especially in the peak season.
As mentioned above, if you choose July, please book 6 months ahead so that you can get your choice of good rooms in your budget. Even Grand Sapporo gets booked out very early in July. So doesn't mean that you will get a room as long as you willing to pay.


vii. Is it crazy to go there alone (or maybe with just another friend) when we both don't speak any Japanese? No tour guide this time.
My first trip to Japan, I only knew 3 phrases and 2 of these 3 were not nice things to say to someone lol. I survived 17 days.
There is no need to speak Japanese really.


viii. How should I roughly plan my days? Are 4-5 days in Sapporo too long?
Really depends on what you like to see. Probably more stuff outside of Sapporo will interest you, unless you are a city shopper.
Haha no worries about being kaypoh, it's all good! Thanks very much for the detailed reply!
kosongice is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 29-05-2016, 07:00 PM   #12
Arch-Supremacy Member
 
kosongice's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 19,581
I am basically interested in Hakodate just for the much acclaimed Lucky Pierrot haha. As much as I love the scenery, nature and flowers; I'm more of a food, shopping and culture person.

I hope to spend at least a night in an onsen hotel - preferably in Toya.

Asahikawa, Otaru and Sapporo are relatively nearby, and can be done within day trips right?

So maybe, my 7-10 days itinerary will be something as such:

Day 1: Hakodate/Toya (Overnight)
Day 2: Hakodate/Toya (Overnight)
Remainder of the days: Sapporo (main accommodation) with trips out to Asahikawa/Otaru/etc.

Does this seem feasible? Would I be better off getting the rail pass this way, or should I pay the one time fare?
kosongice is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 29-05-2016, 07:32 PM   #13
Arch-Supremacy Member
 
MajiMax's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 15,582
thanks for this! btw, pardon me being noob, but what's an openjaw flight route?
Round trip flight is arrival airport and return airport = same.

Open jaw is arrival airport and return airport = diff.

Price are more or less the same between the two unless you take stop by Tokyo for few days.

Alternative you can purchase flight to Tokyo Haneda or Narita airport then purchase additional domestic flight to Hakodate or Chitose, but you have to manage the transit time between those flights.
__________________
Money's only something you need in case you don't die tomorrow...
MajiMax is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 29-05-2016, 08:06 PM   #14
Arch-Supremacy Member
 
MajiMax's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 15,582
Since you have stayed Toya Onsen, you may wanna consider go Noboribetsu onsen.

You only can go during May period?

https://www.tsunagujapan.com/10-must...s-in-hokkaido/

https://www.tsunagujapan.com/20-superb-hokkaido-views/

https://www.tsunagujapan.com/50-thin...o-in-hokkaido/
__________________
Money's only something you need in case you don't die tomorrow...
MajiMax is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 29-05-2016, 08:11 PM   #15
Arch-Supremacy Member
 
kosongice's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 19,581
Since you have stayed Toya Onsen, you may wanna consider go Noboribetsu onsen.

You only can go during May period?

https://www.tsunagujapan.com/10-must...s-in-hokkaido/

https://www.tsunagujapan.com/20-superb-hokkaido-views/

https://www.tsunagujapan.com/50-thin...o-in-hokkaido/
Haha thanks for the heads up bro! Been to 2 onsen hotels during my group tour.

Toya Sun Palace
Sounkyo Onsen Hotel Taisetsu

Didn't do Noboribetsu much except for Hell Valley. The view at Toya Sun Palace is gorgeous.

Sent from my toaster oven using GAGT
kosongice is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply
Important Forum Advisory Note
This forum is moderated by volunteer moderators who will react only to members' feedback on posts. Moderators are not employees or representatives of HWZ. Forum members and moderators are responsible for their own posts.

Please refer to our Terms of Service for more information.


Thread Tools

Posting Rules

Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On