Home >> Itineraries,Japan Travel >> Hokkaido Self-drive with kids (June 2014) Part 9: Tomamu (Hoshino Resort, Unkai Terrace) -> Obihiro -> Chitose Airport

We arrived in Tomamu pretty late at night from Furano.  We checked in to our accomodation, Hoshino Resort, and rested because we were planning to wake up early the next morning to go up to Unkai Terrace. There was an onsen at the resort, but it required a shuttle bus ride from the hotel tower to get there, which was too much of a hassle with kids involved so we passed.

The next morning, we woke up bright and early to go up to Unkai Terrace.  Unkai means ‘sea of clouds’ in Japanese and this postcard of Unkai Terrace shows you what you can see on a perfectly good day.

Unkai Terrace Hoshino Resort Tomamu in June 01

According to their website, there is only a 40% chance of seeing the sea of clouds. They have a (not very accurate) prediction the day before on the chances of seeing unkai on their website and the hotel room TV also has a channel dedicated to unkai predictions.  The night before, we checked the channel and it said we only had a 30% chance of seeing unkai the next morning.

Nevertheless, we woke up bright and early (the gondola only operated from 4.30 to 7am in June, so I mean REALLY early) and dressed everyone up warmly and headed out. But we actually weren’t that early, by the time we dressed the kids and took the resort shuttle from the hotel tower to the gondola station, it was about 6am.

When we arrived at the gondola station, there was a poster showing the current unkai condition, so you can still change your mind before buying the expensive gondola tickets if there is no unkai the day you are there. Lucky us, it said there was beautiful unkai that day!

Unkai Terrace Hoshino Resort Tomamu in June 03

So up the gondola we went! The kids LOVE gondola rides.

Unkai Terrace Hoshino Resort Tomamu in June 04

And through the clouds we went..

Unkai Terrace Hoshino Resort Tomamu in June 05

Higher, higher…

Unkai Terrace Hoshino Resort Tomamu in June 06

And we were above the sea of clouds!

Unkai Terrace Hoshino Resort Tomamu in June 07

We arrived at the terrace and went around taking photos non-stop! It was pretty cold at the terrace, so if you did not pack warm clothing (since it’s summer), don’t worry, there were many winter jackets available for guests to help themselves to for free.

Unkai Terrace Hoshino Resort Tomamu in June 08

There are two levels to the terrace but they were all packed with people on this beautiful morning!  The kids managed to squeeze their way to the front.

Unkai Terrace Hoshino Resort Tomamu in June 10

There was a mailbox at the terrace. We received a postcard that could be sent to anywhere in Japan for free, but they did not sell stamps there so that we could mail it back to Singapore.  So if you want to mail your postcard overseas, bring your own stamps!

Unkai Terrace Hoshino Resort Tomamu in June 09

There were polaroid shots taken from the terrace every morning on display.  You can see how lucky we were, there had not been any unkai and it was all foggy for the past few days!

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But this was our day! :)

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There was a short walking trail beside the terrace which offered beautiful views of the unkai with the surrounding mountains and allowed us to get away from the crowd.

Unkai Terrace Hoshino Resort Tomamu in June 13Unkai Terrace Hoshino Resort Tomamu in June 15

By the time we came back from the walking trail, many people have descended the mountain and it was significantly less crowded.

Unkai Terrace Hoshino Resort Tomamu in June 16

We found a table and had a hot drink while enjoying the scenery.

Unkai Terrace Hoshino Resort Tomamu in June 17

We took the gondola back down and went for breakfast.  There were three venues within the resort where we could have breakfast and we chose the buffet venue.  There was a long queue of people waiting to go in, so we took a number and went around the take photos of the resort.

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After a 20 minute wait, we finally got in and had our breakfast!

Hoshino Resort Tomamu Breakfast Buffet

After eating, we went back to the room where MY went back to sleep.  I brought MF to the resort centre.  There were free balance bikes for kids to play with.  I also signed him up for ice-cream making class!

Hoshino Resort Tomamu Activity for Children in June 2Ice-cream Making Hoshino Resort Tomamu in June 13Ice-cream Making Hoshino Resort Tomamu in June 18

By then it was almost time to check-out, so we went back to the hotel and bid farewell to Tomamu. We had a very enjoyable stay at Hoshino Resorts Tomamu!

Hoshino Resort Tomamu Shuttle Bus

From Tomamu, we drove to Obihiro where we had lunch at my favourite buta don (pork rice bowl) shop, Panchou, which was located near Obihiro station.

After lunch, we visited Rokkatei’s main store in Obihiro.  Unlike other Rokkatei stores throughout Hokkaido that sells their snacks in pre-packed boxes of fixed quantities, you can buy their snacks individually at the main store.  So I grabbed a basket and grabbed a variety of snacks.  Personally, I’m not a fan of Rokkatei’s snacks, none of the snacks I picked out was truly memorable. It was more for the shopping experience and checking out the sheer variety of snacks they offered.

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After we were done shopping at Rokkatei, we also hopped over to the Ryugetsu shop to grab some more snacks.

obihiro-ryugetsu

Both Rokkatei and Ryugetsu shops offer free coffee in their store, so you can sit down, relax and have a cup of coffee with your snacks. However, we decided to just snack in the car because we had a long drive ahead back to New Chitose Airport.


Other posts for this trip:

Complete summarized itinerary
Part 1: New Chitose Airport -> Lake Toya

Part 2: Lake Toya -> Hakodate
Part 3: Hakodate -> Niseko
Part 4: Niseko -> Otaru
Part 5: Otaru
Part 6: Sapporo
Part 7: Furano
Part 8: Furano -> Biei -> Furano
Part 9: Tomamu -> Obihiro -> New Chitose Airport

 

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84Comments

  1. Mildred Koh says:

    Hi bumble mum, is nov a gd time to visit Hokkaddo? We are planning a self drive trip w my 4yo daughter & my elderly mother. Our 1st time to Hokkaddo & we don’t speak jap. Any suggestions on the itinerary? Tks!

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Hi,

      To be very frank, no, November is not a good time to visit Hokkaido. Are you able to go earlier, say October? You will still be able to catch some autumn foliage in October. By Nov, they will be all gone and it may start to snow, causing some difficulty in getting around with a young child and an elderly.

      • Mildred Koh says:

        Hi, I see. How about Jan or Feb? We are trying to avoid the school holiday period. Tks.

        • bumblebeemum says:

          February is the best! That’s when all the snow festivals are taking place. The biggest one is Sapporo Snow Festival (5 -11 Feb). And there are Otaru Snow Light Path, Asahikawa Winter Festival, Lake Shikotsu Ice Fall Festival, Onuma-Hakodate Snow Festival and many many more, depending on how much time you have.

          You can refer to the link below for the dates of this year’s festivals. 2016 dates are not confirmed yet, but it won’t differ much.
          Hokkaido Winter Festival 2015 Schedule

  2. Adeline says:

    Dear Bumblebeemum
    Our family of 3 adults are planning to go Hokkaido in mid July and will travel on our own. Still cant decide where to visit becos too many places to go with such a short stay. 8 days 6 nights. We will be staying in Susukino Sapporo for 6 nights but do not know whether we can manage to pay day trip to all these places
    Day 1 Sighting see in Sapporo
    Day 2 Otaru by train and back to Sapporo
    Day 3 Noboribetsu, lake toya back to Sapporo
    Day 4 Furano Biei, Ashikawa, and maybe to Unkai Terrace (maybe need to stay 1 night near Tomanu,
    Day 5 tour Ashikawa if stay 1 night in Tomanu and back to Sapporo
    Day 6 back to Chitose airport to fly off

    Undecided whether to stay a night in Nobribetsu or to go to Tomanu. Please assist to comment through your experience whether the itinerary is workable.

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Have you booked your accommodation? I don’t advise staying in Sapporo for all 6 nights and making day trips to Asahikawa / Furano / Biei /Tomamu region. You should spend at least 1 night in the region, maybe even 2.

      For the places you want to visit, I would go in the following order:
      New Chitose Airport to Noboribetsu to Lake Toya to Sapporo (with day trip to Otaru from Sapporo) to Asahikawa to Biei to Furano to Tomamu to New Chitose Airport.

      And I would change hotels along the way. Actually, I would skip Asahikawa. Is there any specific reason you want to visit Asahikawa? The only thing interesting there is the zoo, but I would only go there if I was travelling with kids.

      If you can provide me your flight arrival and departure time at Chitose, I can give you a more specific day by day recommendation.

  3. Ken says:

    Hi Bumblebeemum, I’m planning a 9D7N trip to Hokkaido with my wife and this is our first time to Hokkaido and we don’t speak Jap. We will arrive at CTS airport at 8.30am and will head to Noboribetsu right away(what do we do with the luggage since we can’t check into hotel at this hour?).

    Is it a must to rent a car or can we just commute using the railways if we plan to change hotel at different areas every one or 2 nights ? If we just use the railways how abt our luggage when we sight seeing, shopping etc?

    Here’s our planned itinerary :
    Day 1 Noboribetsu
    Day 2 Hakodate
    Day 3 lake Toya
    Day 4 furano, Biei
    Day 5 otaru, tomamu
    Day 6 & 7 Sapporo

    Looking at the places that I plan to visit are 7 nights too long or 6 nights would be just nice ? Is the itinerary workable ? Would u have arrange it this way? Appreciate your valuable feedback thanks

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Personally, I find public transport a real hassle in Hokkaido. The onsen towns like Noboribetsu and Lake Toya do not have train stations, you will still need to catch a bus from the nearest train stations. And buses are not that frequent. Of course it is not a MUST to rent a car because sometimes the onsen resort you book may even provide free shuttle services from the nearest train stations. But I just like having the freedom of moving around (e.g. at Lake Toya, it is so much easier to have a car to drive to the ropeway, or the Lake Hill Farm, or the Silo Observatory, or to Sobetsu Fruit Village) rather than be constrained to the immediate vicinity of the resort I’m staying at.

      As for the itinerary, I would go in this order:

      Day 1 Noboribetsu
      Day 2 Hakodate
      Day 3 Lake Toya
      Day 4: Otaru
      Day 5: Sapporo
      Day 6: Furano / Biei
      Day 7: Tomamu

      7 nights is not too long. The above itinerary looks just about right. In fact a bit tight for Sapporo and Furano / Biei. It really depends on what you want to see in Sapporo and which season you are visiting (if you are visiting in Summer / Autumn, Furano and Biei warrants 2 days of sightseeing).

  4. ms shu says:

    Dear bumbeemum,
    I am plainning 9 days to hokkaido,me and my friend will arrive in hakodate and depart at sapporo.
    We are planning to rent a car.
    Day 1 hakodate [hotel book]
    day 2 lake toya [hotel book]
    day 3 noro [hotel book]
    day 4 otaru [hotel book]
    day 5 unkai + furano
    day 6

    then i abit unsure whether to plan further up as i want to see Shiretoko famous site.
    can u kindly advise?

    many thanks
    ms shu

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Hi, when is your period of travel? Hokkaido is very different in the various seasons and you should choose your destinations based on the season.

      Btw, what noro? Noboribetsu?

      • ms shu says:

        hi..we are going in mid october..
        yes noro is noboribetsu.

        • bumblebeemum says:

          For mid-october, I recommded spending some time at Jozankei Onsen, visiting Houheikyou Dam. It is very beautiful at this time of the year. The flower fields around Furano and Biei will still be blooming (though no lavender), so I recommend spending 2 days at least in the region. They may (or may not – it really depends on mother nature) be autumn foliage around Tokachidake and Shirogano onsen at that time.

          In 9 days, you will not have the time to go all the way from Hakodate to Shiretoko.

          A possible itinerary would be as follows:

          Day 1 hakodate [hotel book]
          day 2 lake toya [hotel book]
          day 3 noboribetsu [hotel book]
          day 4 Visit Jozankei / Houheikyou dam enroute to Otaru [hotel book]
          day 5 Sapporo
          day 6 Sapporo
          day 7 Furano
          day 8 Furano (day trip to Biei / Shirogane Onsen)
          day 9 Tomamu

  5. Motherof3 says:

    Hi Bumblebeemum,
    I am traveling with 3 kids in tow in the second week of October. My plans are as follow
    Day 1
    arrive Chitose at noon time
    Head to Noboribetsu hotel.
    Visit Hell Valley

    Day 2
    Head to Hakodate
    -Goryokaku Tower/ Mt Hakodate Night View/Bay area

    Day 3
    Hakodate morning mkt/ Lake Onuma
    Head to Lake Toya Hotel
    Mt Usu Ropeway/Mt Showa Bear Park

    Day 4
    (Head towards Otaru)
    Kyogoku Water Park/ Lake Hill Farm or Niseko Milk kobo
    Cape Kamui/ Shakotan
    Otaru Hotel

    Day 5
    Yoichi Fruit Orchard/ Otaru City
    Otaru Hotel

    Day 6
    Sapporo Central Mkt/ Chocolate factory/ Sapporo Beer Factory/ City
    Sapporo Hotel

    Day 7
    Jozankei/ Mitsui Outlet / Takino Suzuran Hillside Park
    Sapporo Hotel

    Day 8
    Depart for Tokyo

    Any opinion on the above or suggestions? Too much with 3 kids? I am worried Day 4 may be too tiring. Between Yoichi Fruit Orchard and Sobetsu Fruit Village, which would you recommend?
    Thanks in advance.

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Your itinerary looks pretty well planned out.

      By October, daylight hours would be pretty short, so I would not go to Cape Kamui and Shakotan on Day 4. Jozankei Onsen is actually along the way if you go direct from Lake Toya to Otaru, skipping Niseko and Shakotan. The drive from Jozankei Onsen to Otaru is very scenic during the time you are visiting, I would do that drive instead of the drive via Shakotan.
      > See scenic route on google map

      Looking at your itinerary, I would opt for Yoichi instead of Sobetsu for fruit picking. Because the time you have in Lake Toya is more limited compared to the time you have in Otaru.

      • Anonymous says:

        Ah..I forgot about the shorter days. Distracted by your Cape Kamui post. So from Lake Toya to Otaru I could do the Kyogoku water park and Jozankei. Anything else along that route?
        Do you think for Day 7 I could do a day trip to Furano or too short to see much?

        • bumblebeemum says:

          It is a slight detour to go to Kyogaku water park (Fukidashi Park), but not by too much. So I guess it can be done.

          There are LOTS to be seen along the Jozankei onsen – Otaru route, particularly during your dates because it is autumn foliage season. You can stop by the following:
          – Houheikyou Dam
          – Sapporo Lake
          – Sapporo Kokusai Ski Area
          – Asari Dam

          I have mapped out the route on google map (including the detour to Fukidashi Park) >HERE< In particular, Sapporo Kokusai Ski Area has an autumn foliage gondola, which I was too late for when I visited in late Oct and was super disappointed. But your dates look perfect for it! http://kouyou.sapporo-kokusai.jp/

          If I were you, I would just skip the detour to Fukidashi Park and spend the time soaking in the autumn foliage around Jozankei.

          Furano is a tad far. With 3 kids, I would spend the day at Takino Suzuran Hillside Park instead.

  6. pam says:

    Dear bumblebee mum,

    would appreciate yr advice on my itineray for my upcoming trip to hokkdaido family of 3 with 6 years old child .

    arrive CTS Airport 3pm 14 DEC , leaving 21 Morning CTS

    So far already booked hotel in Sapporo Day1-Day3

    Day4-5 2 nights in Tomamu

    Plan to stay in Sapporo again last 2 nights..
    Any suggestions?
    We will not be driving though.

    Thanks in advance.

  7. Ann says:

    Hello BB mum: I am very happy to have read thru all your travelling around Hokkaido.
    I will be visiting nxt July 2016, to my surprise all the lodging in Furano or Biei are fully booked. How many days would you suggest for me to be in Furano/Biei in a relax manner?
    i like am also very keen to visit Unkai Terrace. But the Hoshino hotel has no room available thru out July/Aug.
    Can you suggest a place to stay in Tomamu or some where near Unkai Terrace cable car?
    We will be driving 15 pax in total.Thank

    Ann

    • bumblebeemum says:

      I don’t think they are fully booked. They may not be open for booking yet for next year’s summer. Try booking again about 6 month before your travel dates. I would say to spend at least 3 days in the region.

      Again for Tommau, they probably haven’t opened for booking yet. Check again later to see if they have opened their booking for Green Season 2016.

  8. XinDi says:

    Hi BB mum,

    Happened to chance upon your blog and it is really interesting and detail. However, I have some questions which need answers but can’t really decide which directions/answer to follow… Need your help on the following:-

    1) I’ll be taking ana flight from sg to new chitose via narita. My transit time is 1hr20min, will there be sufficient time to do so? (I’ll be moving with a group of 8 which includes 3 kids). Am I required to clear customs pick-up my luggage and check-in again?

    2) We have no one driving as none of us are comfortable driving overseas. Currently, I have otaru, Sapporo factory, wholesale market, ishiya choco factory tanuki street, underground shopping in my itinerary which can be covered over 3 days. I have 3 more days being empty, meaning I’ll be in hokkaido for 6 days and later heading to tokyo for another 4 days. Where to go during end may – 1st week of june in Hokkaido that can be accessed by public transport? I wish to visit a hot spring (if there are private ones even better), fruit farms & flower parks/garden.

    3) I’m looking at local tours or land tours, do you have any recommendations?

    Sorry to trouble you, I might have more questions coming u 😛 & many thanks!

    • bumblebeemum says:

      1) Yup, you should have enough time if it’s ANA all the way and your arrival and departure is both at Narita. You would have gotten both boarding passes at Singapore airport so there is no need to check-in again at Narita. The only thing you need to do is pick up your luggage, follow the direction signs to ‘Domestic transfer’ and drop your luggage off again at the counter. There is no immigration to clear for the domestic sector so you just proceed to board your domestic flight.

      2) I don’t think you can visit fruit farms in Hokkaido in end May as they probably just finished scrapping off the snow and planting seeds for the year. As for flowers, it is definitely too early for the famous flower fields in Furano / Biei, BUT it is the best time for shibazakura at Takinoue and tulips at Kamiyubetsu. You can join a day trip from Sapporo if nobody wants to drive:
      http://www.yokoso-japan.jp/en/22880.html

      Otherwise, for train travel, I recommend going South to Hakodate.

      3) You can try to same website above for day trips. I have never joined any of them though, since I always self-drive. No idea how well they cater to non-Japanese speaking travellers. But they have a good English website so that at least is a good start. :p

  9. XinDi says:

    Thanks alot! I’ll go thru the yokoso web to see any day tours!

    Btw the location to pick up my luggage is it pretty far away from the domestic area? (because i know of some airport it is almost from 1 end to another which is almost 20-30min walk)

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Nope, it’s not far if you are transferring from ANA to ANA. You basically pick it up from the belt, walk out the door and you’ll see the counter to drop off your luggage again. Just remember to follow the sign that says ‘Domestic Transfer’.

  10. JJ says:

    Hi Bumblebee mum, Glad to know/read your travel blog here especially Hokkaido self drive trip with kids. The blog is so informative and useful tips!

    I am planning to travel to Hokkaido with my husband and a 5 year old child. Initially was thinking to go for Cherry blossom end April this year. However, my friend told me Japan weather is getting warmer and really hard to predict when is the blooming time.
    Thus, I don’t wanna take risk and decided to plan for Tomamu Resort Unkai (sea of clouds) experience.

    I need your help here :)

    1. Can you suggest when is the best time to see Unkai at Tomamu? Staying at Hoshino resort Alpha tower?

    2. My itinerary : Hakodate – Noboribetsu – Sapporo – Furano – Biei – Tomamu – Obihiro. The sequence okay?

    3. I rented a car before from Mazda Hokkaido in Abashiri last time. Any good car rental to suggest?

    4. Should I self drive with kids or take train in Hokkaido as I know there are Hokkaido pass.

    Thank you very much :)

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Umm… If cherry blossom is hard to predict, I think unkai is even harder to predict. Please be aware that even if you go Tomamu Resort, there is not guarantee that there will be unkai on the day you are there because it depends on Mother Nature’s mood that day. Furthermore if you are going end April, the unkai terrace is NOT open. It is only open from mid May – mid October.

      1. The best time to see unkai is early in the morning. But like I said, no guarantee. You will have to stay at Hoshino Resort Tomamu, wake up early in the morning and catch the shuttle bus to the gondola station and take the gondola up to the sky terrace. Again, remember the gondola only operates mid May – mid Oct.

      2. Yup, the sequence looks right.

      3. So far all the car rental companies I have used in Japan are fine. I would just go with whichever company is the cheapest.

      4. Looking at the places you want to go, I don’t think you need to drive, except in Furano / Biei. But then again, what do you want to do in Furano / Biei in end April? It is a summer place, not a place I would visit in other seasons.

      • JJ says:

        Thank you very much for Bumblebee mum!

        Early June says 3 June is it good time to visit Furano and Biei? I have not been there b4. Was wondering whether i can see any flower.

        Most probably I will drive from Sapporo to Tomamu – Obihiro – Noboribetsu – Hakodate.

        Japan toll fees are quite expensive as you have highlighted. Thus, u bought HEP. May I knw hw to use HEP? Same as ETC card?

        Need ur advise :)

        Thank u ^_^

        • bumblebeemum says:

          Nope, I do not think early June is a good time to visit Furano and Biei. The flower season will only be in full swing in July and August.

          Yes, HEP works the exact same way as ETC card. You just insert the card into the ETC reader and drive through the ETC toll gates.

  11. JJ says:

    Hi Bumble bee mum,

    Forgot to ask:-

    1. When is good time to travel to Hokkaido? end May to beginning of June? or Mid June?
    2. Most probably I will travel via ANA. Need to take luggage to check in again at Narita Airport for transferring to domestic flight to Hokkaido?

    Thank you very much :)

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Oh.. now I see this. So I guess you’re not going end April? hehe.. Between your 2 options, I would go for end May to beginning June. If I go at that time, I would focus my travel on shibazakura at Takinoue and tulips at Kamiyubetsu:
      http://takinoue.com/?english
      http://www.town.yubetsu.lg.jp/tulippark/en/

      You may also be able to catch the Yosakoi Soran Festival, though the dates fluctuate year to year between early to mid June:
      http://www.welcome.city.sapporo.jp/event/summer/yosakoi_soran_festival/?lang=en

      If you fly ANA from SIN to CTS with a transit and NRT, what happens is that you will check in for both flights and receive both boarding passes at Singapore airport. But when you arrive at NRT, you will have to clear customs and collect your luggage from the luggage belt upon arrival. As you leave, look for the sign that says “DOMESTIC TRANSFER”, follow the sign and you will see a counter to drop off your luggage again for the domestic flight. Once you have dropped off the luggage, you can proceed directly to the boarding gate for your domestic flight since you already have your boarding pass with you.

      • JJ says:

        Thanks Bumblebee mum for your quick reply!! You are so kind to share all useful info here^_^

        1. I have decided to visit end May to Early June. Thanks a lot for ur suggestion on Shibazakura season at Takinoue. Is it okay to join day trip via Yokoso Japan website? As I have came across few days from mid May to early June.
        Or you would advise self drive?

        2. I plan to stay 2 nights at Tomamu Hishino Resort. I think the reservation is not available yet?
        Any good activities for kids / family bonding time at Hoshino resort? :)

        3. I saw your Sobetsu Fruit village. When can I go for the strawberry plucking?

        Thank you very much! Have a great weekend.

        • bumblebeemum says:

          1. Depends on how willing you are to make the long drive yourself. The day trip is not cheap, so I would think if I have anything more than 2 adults, driving is probably cheaper. But there is a lot of driving to be done, so if you prefer to take it easy, joining a day trip will be more relaxing.

          2. My main purpose of visiting Tomamu was for the unkai terrace, so that’s one. They have classes like ice-cream making, bread-making. You can also rent a bicycle to cycle around (which I didn’t do so not sure what’s there to see). And they have the big indoors pool.

          3. Strawberry picking would be mid June to early July:
          http://www.town.sobetsu.lg.jp/kanko/english/midokoro/kudamono.html

          • JJ says:

            Hi Bumblebee mum,

            Noted! :)

            1. May I know where did you stay in Furano?
            2. Tomamu Hoshino Resort reservation has not out yet? When did you make reservation last time? 1 month ago?
            3. May I know any bus limousine from Hotel Mercure Sapporo to New Chitose airport? Which bus stop to board the bus? :)

            Thank you very much

  12. JJ says:

    Hi Bumblebee mum,

    1. May i know where you dinner while ur stay at Tomamu Hoshino Resort, The Tower? Room plan normally only breakfast.

    2. What is the shuttle bus operation timing to Gondola station for unkai?

    3. Thanks for ur suggestion to Takinoue. I would visit mini version of Shibazakura only this time round as it is nearer to Sobetsu for fruits plucking :)

    Thank u very much :)

    • bumblebeemum says:

      1. There are some restaurants within Hoshino Resort. You can take your pick from them. :)

      2. The bus runs continuously between the Tower and Gondola station in the morning when the Unkai Terrace is open. Just go to the lobby and look for any staff and tell them you want to go to Unkai Terrace, they will direct you to the waiting point for the bus or call a bus for you if there isn’t already one on the way.

      3. Yeah, the mini version is much more accessible. Hope you get good weather and catch a view of Mount Yotei in the background!

      • JJ says:

        Thanks for ur quick reply! Yeah, must pray hard for gd weather throughout the trip :)

        Tomamu breakfast that includes in room plan only at The Tower or and pick any from Risonare too?

        Btw, where can I rent HEP or ETC as I’ll self drive. Thanks

  13. JW says:

    Hi Bumblebee mum
    We will be going Hokkaido this Sep. Is it worth visiting Tomamu/Obihiro in Sep with kids?

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Unkai Terrace is still open in September, so yes, you can still visit Tomamu. But it really depends on how much time you have. If it’s autumn foliage season, I would give priority to Daisetsuzan region, followed by Furano & Biei. Only if I still have time after that would I go to Tomamu and Obihiro. Actually Obihiro is not very exciting, I go there only for the food. :p

  14. Jovin says:

    Thank you, Bumblebee mum. We shall give it a miss in staying at Tomamu and concentrate more on Furano/Biei. Thank you :)

  15. Gloria Kah See Ying says:

    Dear hi Bumblebee mum,

    Love your Japan travelling blogs especially this Hokkaido self driving trip.

    We are planning to do the same thing in this summer. Hope you can give me some advise.

    We are a family of eight. I have 6 girls. Hubby is going to rent a 9 seated car.

    My itinerary as follow:

    21/7 landed Chitose 4pm. Chitose-Noboribetsu.
    22/7 noboribetsu- Lake Shikotsu – Lake Toya.
    23/7 Lake Toya – Hakodate.
    24/7 Hakodate – Niseko.
    25/7 Niseko – Shakotan Peninsular- Yoichi – Otaru.
    26/7 Otaru – Furano.
    27/7 Furano – Biei – Tomamu.
    28/7 Tomamu – Obihiru – Sapporo.
    29/7 Sapporo.
    30/7 Sapporo.
    31/7 Sapporo – Chitose.

    Can you advise me on the accommodation with car park facility?

    Thanks a lot.

    Gloria.

    • bumblebeemum says:

      6??!!! How do you all manage??? Okay, sorry. That’s besides the point.

      Does you husband have a license to drive a 9 seater? Our class 3 license can only rent up to an 8 seater in Japan.

      22/7: Going back to Lake Shikotsu seems like a bit of a detour. I would go CTS – Lake Shikotsu (spend the night) – Noboribetsu – Lake Toya

      Looking at your dates, I would spend 1 more day at Furano and 1 less day in Sapporo.

      Ryokans in onsen towns like Noboribetsu / Lake Shikotsu / Lake Toya will have their own carpark. It’s the hotels in the big cities that may not have. The ones I stayed in before that have carparks are Mercure Sapporo, Hakodate Kokusai Hotel and Hotel Vibrant Otaru.

      • Gloria Kah See Ying says:

        Hi bumblebee mum,

        Yes. 6 girls. Haha…actually I don’t know how I handled them. But times flies..my youngest is 12 this years.

        I think I overlooked the license issue. Will check it out.

        Yes. Might need to detour on 22/7.

        Spending 1 more day in Furano will be a very good idea.

        Might add Obihiru in my itinerary on 29/7. Worth going for the buta don lunch? :p

        Thinking of add Jouzankei in my itinerary also. On 22/7?

        I am so happy I found your travel blog. Enjoy reading it.

        Gloria.

        Ps. I seem to have problem posting.

        • bumblebeemum says:

          I’m a total foodie so yes, I did drive all the way to Obihiro just to eat buta don. Paying toll fees and all. Whether or not it’s worth it depends on how much you love food. :p

          I will skip Jozankei in July. It is more of an autumn destination.

          It’s not that you have problem posting. Just that I need to approve your comments before you can see it if you are using a different I.P. address. I received all your previous comments.. haha.

          • Kah see ying says:

            Huh…oh. Ok. Thought I have problem posting…

            Haha..we love good food. Might drive to Obihiro and try out the buta don.

            Thanks for your helpful info and quick reply. Really appreciate.

            Gloria.

  16. Tan Seok Keng says:

    Hi, Bumblebeemum

    Enjoying reading your blog and very useful for reference. Thanks!

    I am going to Hokkaido from 7 Jul to 18 Jul 16 and would like to seek your advice whether my itinerary is feasible or not

    7 July – Reach Chitose at 7 pm and head to Otaru (Stay in Otaru)
    8 July – Chocolate factory/Otaru (Stay in Otaru)
    9 July – Drive from Otaru to Yamamoto Sightseeing Orchard for fruit picking
    Then head down to Cape Kamui (Stay in ezo 365)
    10 July – Mt Yotei/Lake Toya (Stay in Kohan Tei)
    11 July – Lake Toya (Stay in Kohan Tei)
    12 July – Sobetsu Farm Village/ Noboribetsu (Stay in Hosiro Hotel)
    13 July – Hoshiro Hotel /Sahoro Bear Museum (Stay in Shaoro Resort hotel)
    14 July Lake Akan/Mashu
    15 July – Furano
    16 July – Furano
    17 July – Hokuryu Sunflower Field in Hokuryu town
    18 July – Chitose airport catch 2 pm flight back to Osaka

    Do you know when can I start booking rooms for Hoshino Resort?

  17. Peggy lui says:

    Hi, Bumblebeemum

    Enjoying reading your blog and very useful for reference. Thanks!

    I am going to Hokkaido from 9 Jun to 13 Jun (5days only)and travel 2 adults n 2 kids (9 n 13 years old)

    This is our first time in Hokkaido. 5 days is a bit rush for us. Hope to get your advice. I know early of Jun is no a good time to go Furano . I wonder any place can we to go beside Furano by day trip and straight to Tomamu ?

    9 Jun – reach Chitose at 8.30pm head to sapporo by train .(stay in Sapporo )

    10 Jun – from sapporo take train to Otaru ( day trip ) come back sapporo (stay in sapporo)

    11 Jun – rent a car from sapporo drive to Furano -Biei – Tomamu ( hotel booked at Tomamu )

    12 Jun – Tomamu -sapporo. (Stay in sapporo)

    13 Jun – sapporo (return car) – Chitose. (3pm flight )

    Thanks a lot

    Peggy Lui

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Hmm.. There’s nothing much in between Sapporo and Tomamu. Your dates aren’t the best for Furano and Biei. I would just spend more time in Sapporo if I were you because your dates coincide with the Yasokoi Soran Festival:
      http://www.yosakoi-soran.jp/

      But I guess if you really want, you can drive around Biei. It is pretty scenic in all season. But don’t expect too much from the flower fields.

      • Peggy lui says:

        Hi Bumblebee mum.

        Thanks for your advised. I think I will spend more time at sapporo . What do your think if I rent a car for my sapporo to tomamu trip ?

        Thank you

        Peggy Lui

  18. Chew Se Hong says:

    Hi Bumblebeemum,
    I am going to Hokkaido from 16th August 2016 to 24th August 2016. with my 3 girl friends. Our flight ETA in Hokkaido is 17th August 9am.
    This is my first time to Hokkaido trip.
    Could you advise as below my planning trip? :)
    1st day : We will be renting the car from New Chitose Airport and will drive to Hoshino Resort Tomamu and stay 1 night (Easy drive there)
    2nd day : Drive to Furano and Stay 1 night in Biei
    3rd day : Asahikawa day trip and drive to Otaru & stay 1 night
    4th day : Otaru and drive to Hokodate and stay 1 night
    5th day : Hokodate and take JR to Sapporo (stay 3 nights)
    Is my itinerary will be rush? Or any suggestion on my itinerary?
    I have booked the Room in Sapporo & Biei.
    Hope hear you soon.
    Thank you.
    Ms. Chew

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Yeah, I feel it is too rushed. I will spend more time in Furano and Biei given your dates in best for flowers in the region. This is what I would do:

      1st day : CTS – Tomamu
      2nd day : Tomamu – Furano / Biei
      3rd day : Furano / Biei
      4th day : Furano / Biei – Lake Toya
      5th day : Lake Toya – Hakodate
      6th day: Hakodate – Sapporo
      7th day: Sapporo (day trip to Otaru)
      8th day: Sapporo

      But if your last 3 nights booking in Sapporo cannot be changed and you really want to squeeze in Hakodate, this is what you can do:

      1st day : CTS – Tomamu
      2nd day : Tomamu – Furano / Biei
      3rd day : Furano / Biei – Lake Toya
      4th day : Lake Toya – Hakodate
      5th day: Hakodate – Sapporo
      6th day: Sapporo (day trip to Otaru)
      7th day: Sapporo
      8th day: Sapporo

  19. Sarah Eng says:

    Hi Bubblebeemum,
    My family w kids n mom gg to Hokkaido next month. Rushing out the bookings n itenary out 😛
    Pls help to take a look at my itenary.

    15-Jun Lake Toya
    16-Jun Hakodate
    17-Jun Noboribetsu
    18-Jun Furano
    19-Jun Biei
    20-Jun Asahikawa
    21-Jun Sapporo
    22-Jun Sapporo

    I am not sure if 3 days is too much for Furano/Biei/Ashikawa. if not where should we go, Tomamu?

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Neh, it is not too much. Furano and Biei is nice to just slowly drive around and chill out at cafes along the way. If you want to visit Asahiyama Zoo, then you would need that 1 day in Asahikawa.

  20. Vikki says:

    Dear BubbleBee Mum

    Love your blog and all the practical advice. We are planning a trip to Hokkaido and planning to go south as we have been to Furano, Biel, Asashikawa, Sounkyo and Noboribetsu. Didnt want to visit the same places again and we want to see the autumn foliage since we are going early October.

    I have included Noboribetsu as we need a break for the drive to Hakodate. Do you have any suggestion which town to visit if we decide to skip Noboribetsu. What about stopping at Muroran and Yakumo then heading to Hakodate.

    Day 1 3-Oct Singapore to Chitose Airport
    Day 2 4-Oct New Chitose Airport to Lake Shikotsu (1) night in Lake Shikotsu
    Day 3 5-Oct Lake Shikotsu to Noboribetsu (1 ) night in Noboribetsu
    Day 4 6-Oct Noboribetsu to Hakodate (2) nights in Hakodate 6/10 & 7/10 stay in Hakodate
    Day 5 7-Oct Hakodate
    Day 6 8-Oct Hakodate to Lake Toya (1) night in Lake Toya
    Day 7 9-Oct Lake Toya to Jozankei (1) night in Jozankei. Go around Lake Toya then drive to Jyozankei and Hoheikyo Dam to see the autumn foliage.
    Day 8 10-Oct Jyozankei to Sapporo (3) nights in Sapporo 10/10, 11/10 & 12/10 stay in Sapporo
    Day 9 11-Oct Sapporo Day trip to Otaru
    Day 10 12-Oct Sapporo Day trip to Mitsui Outlet Park.
    Day 11 13-Oct Sapporo to Chitose
    13/10 – Arrive in Singapore Home Sweet Home

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Your itinerary looks good. Noboribetsu and Lake Toya are pretty much the standard places to break up a drive from Sapporo / CTS to Hakodate. Another possible place to break up the drive is Niseko. So if let’s say you don’t want to go to Noboribetsu, you can use Lake Toya to break up the drive on the way South and use Niseko to break up the drive on the way North.

      • Vikki says:

        Hi Bubblebeemum,

        Thanks for the advice.

        But I remember you mentioned in one of your blogs that Niseko is expensive to visit as it is a Skiing resort. Also since our party are in the 60s age group, we will not be able to do adventurous stuff like hiking, skiing or canoeing, etc. So do you think we can go to Yakumo instead to break up the drive. Have you been to Yakumo? Anything to do there or food that is worth a stopover.

        Thanks for your advice again.

        Warm Regards
        Vikki

  21. Gkly says:

    Hi Bumblebeemum,

    Does it make a difference if I plan to visit Hokkaido (Particularly Furano and Biei for the flowers) from 13-18 Aug or 18-23 Aug? I heard that it will be crowded during the Obon Holidays but the blooming lavenders will only be until Mid-Aug. So I plan to visit Hokkaido from 13-18Aug and Tokyo 18-23 Aug..

    What do you suggest? :)

    • bumblebeemum says:

      I would opt for 13-18 August in Hokkaido. It is going to be crowded during the Obon holidays whether you are in Hokkaido or Tokyo. Might as well be in Hokkaido for the peak of lavender and flowering season.

  22. jenny lim says:

    Hi bumblebeemum,
    Your blog had been very useful. For a first timer to hokkiado, i am still confuse about the driving routes. Can you kindly advise me a itinery that is good for mid oct to early nov .
    I will depart from sin on 22oct n return on 5nov with my husband and my 20mth old gal then.

    Day 1 -arrive cts @ 1655
    Day 15-departs @ 1930

    We will love to do some scenic drives along the way, some activities like to zoo, factories…n shopping. Thank you very much.

    • bumblebeemum says:

      You can do something like this:

      Day 1: CTS (I suggest you spend the night at Air Terminal Hotel because it would be getting dark by the time you arrive.)
      Day 2: CTS – Furano
      Day 3: Furano – Biei – Asahikawa
      Day 4: Asahikawa (Asahiyama Zoo)
      Day 5: Asahikawa – Sapporo
      Day 6: Sapporo
      Day 7: Sapporo
      Day 8: Sapporo – Otaru
      Day 9: Otaru – Jozankei – Lake Toya
      Day 10: Lake Toya
      Day 11: Lake Toya – Hakodate
      Day 12: Hakodate
      Day 13: Hakodate – Onuma Koen
      Day 14: Onuma Koen – Noboribetsu
      Day 15: Noboribetsu – CTS

      • Jenny Lim says:

        Thank you so much for your reply!
        As my hubby wants to stop in sapporo towards end of trip (for more shopping) before returning to CTS airport.
        He plan his route like this instead. Is it alright?

        Day 1-22 oct- CTS
        Day 2-23 Oct-CTS (pick up car at airport) -chitose outlet mall, Noboribeisu (Jigokudani) -Lake toya
        Day 3-24 Oct- Lake Toya Full Day (Usuzan Ropeway, Showa Shinzan)
        Day 4-25 Oct-Lake Toya – Hakodate (Mt Hakodate)
        Day 5-26 Oct-Hakodate Full Day (Fort Goryokaku/Red Brick Warehse)
        Day 6-27Oct-Hakodate-Otaru (Canal area)
        Day 7-28Oct- Otaru Full Day (Sakaimachi Street)
        Day 8-29Oct-Otaru-Asahikawa (Ramen Village)
        Day 9-30Oct-Asahikawa Full Day (zoo)
        Day 10-31Oct-Asahikawa-Furano/bei
        Day 11-1Nov-Furano-Sapporo
        Day 12-2Nov-Sapporo
        Day 13-3Nov-Sapporo
        Day 14-4Nov-Sapporo
        Day 15-5Nov-Sapporo-CTS

        Should we consider few factors?
        1) go to furano/biei area direction first becos we may still see some flowers there. In late oct, will it still be nice to drive over to Furano/Biei Area?
        2) Not sure if we should drive around in Sapporo for the sightseeing,activities & Shopping. So either we return the rental car in sapporo or in CTS.
        3) Is this route longer and more time wasting?
        Kindly help advise . Thank you again for taking time to read my post and questions.

        • bumblebeemum says:

          1) Yeah, it makes sense to go to Furano and Biei first because I’m not sure how much flowers will be left by the end of October.
          2) You don’t really need the car in Sapporo. I would return the car.
          3) The order of the current route works fine. You may want to reverse everything to start with Furano. i.e.

          Day 1-22 oct- CTS
          Day 2-23 Oct-CTS – Furano
          Day 3-24 Oct- Furano – Asahikawa
          Day 4-25 Oct- Asahikawa
          Day 5-26 Oct- Asahikawa – Otaru
          Day 6-27Oct- Otaru
          Day 7-28Oct- Otaru – Hakodate
          Day 8-29Oct- Hakodate
          Day 9-30Oct- Hakodate – Lake Toya
          Day 10-31Oct- Lake Toya
          Day 11-1Nov- Lake Toya – Sapporo
          Day 12-2Nov-Sapporo
          Day 13-3Nov-Sapporo
          Day 14-4Nov-Sapporo
          Day 15-5Nov-Sapporo-CTS

          You will be spending a bit more time on the road, but not too significant difference. It will be worthwhile with the money saved from not needing the car for the last few days.

  23. Desi Broadhurst says:

    Hi Bumblebeemum, I’m planning to visit unkai terrace early october. How much does the gondola cost roundtrip? Since my budget is limited, I’m planning to rent a room at condo at hoshino resort from airbnb instead of staying at the hotel(they said it’s at hoshino resort condo). Do you know how much the hotel will charge for the shuttle bus to and from tomamu station? Airbnb host said it should be free, but just in case it’s not, I should be prepared.
    Also I’m planning to visit otaru and sapporo. I can only stay in hokkaido for 3 days top. So my plan is
    Oct 4 arrive evening at Tomamu, spend the night at Tomamu
    Oct 5 Wake up super early to see unkai hoping weather permit. breakfast, head to Otaru. 4 or 5 hours at otaru, head back to sapporo to spend the night there.
    Oct 6 Sapporo to Tokyo.
    Any good sightseeing spot at sapporo for autumn leaves? Thanks in advance for your awesome blog.

  24. Madhatter says:

    Hello, my husband, son (3yo) and I will be spending 7 nights in Niseko at a friend’s lodge mid sept. We’ll be visiting Hakodate and the Sapporo autumn festival while staying there. We’ve been to otaru many times.
    However, we don’t have accomodation for 2 nights and was thinking of driving to asahikawa and tomamu and staying overnight in those places. Are there anywhere else I should go to? Should I forget tomamu and try furano instead?

  25. Joe says:

    Dear BBM, my flight from Sg will arrive CTS at 830am 4th Oct. I’d rented car from OTS and planned to drive to Tomamu after picking up the car.

    May I know how long will the custom clearance etc take in the period from early to mid Oct? Also, do you know how frequent is the free shuttle bus from CTS to OTS outlet?).

    I googled that the non-toll way from CTS to Tomamu that the distance is not much different from taking expressway, is it worth saving the cost for it? If so, will there be any good eateries along the way should we need to grab a brunch before reaching Hoshino? Any good recommendation would be awesome!

    In addition, with regards to hotels in Hokkaido do they allow free early check-in? and what time does breakfast usually starts should be have to leave early next day?

    Thanks and look forward to hear from you!

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Custom clearance really depends on how many flights are arriving at that time. But CTS doesn’t have that many international flights arriving (they cater more for domestic flights) so I don’t think it’ll take very long.

      For car rental shuttle buses, the ones I encountered usually come upon request. So after I reach the car rental desk, they will call their shuttle to come over to pick us up. It would take about 10-15 min max for the shuttle to come?

      You can try using the non-toll way and if the traffic is good, then just stick to the non-toll way. When I made the drive in winter 2010, I used the non-toll way all the way, it was pretty smooth. But subsequently for some reason, I kept getting stuck behind big vehicles driving at like 40km/h or slower on one-lane roads when I try to use non-toll ways. Ended up I got frustrated and just turned back onto the expressway and paid toll fees to spare myself the agony if I have a long distance to cover.

      Tomamu has nothing much, so you would probably be dining in the resort. I actually think the best place for brunch is at the airport. CTS is a food galore!!

      Most hotels don’t allow free early check-in. When we arrived in Hoshino resort early, we had to wait to get our room. That’s why I suggest you have your brunch at CTS. Or do some shopping at Chitose Rera Outlet if shopping is your cup of tea.

      Check out time for Japan hotels are usually quite early, like 10am. 11am if you’re lucky. So their breakfast generally starts quite early too, like 6.30am? But it really differs from hotel to hotel.

      • joe says:

        Dining in CTS sounds great!

        That said, we will change the timing for our car rental pick up. Btw, would cutting back couple of hours car rental save some cost for us?

        Also, would shopping for souvenir in the airport cheaper than elsewhere?

        • bumblebeemum says:

          Car rental usually goes by day. So for e.g. if you pick up the car at 10am on the first day and return before 10am on the last day, there is no difference between picking up at 12noon on the first day and returning before 10am on the last day. Howeverm if you pick up at 10am on the first day and return at 12noon on the last day, then there is a difference between picking up on 12noon on the first day and returning at 12noon on the last day. Geddit?

          I usually shop for souvenir at the airport right at the end coz I don’t want to carry my souvenirs around. Price wise it should be the same as any other tax free shops in town.

  26. Murshy says:

    Hi Bumblebeemum

    I love your Hokkaido travel blog! My friend and I will be in Hokkaido on 2-12 Nov. Would appreciate your advice on our itinerary.

    Day 1 & 2: Sapporo (Arrive at noon from an overnight flight from SG – I cant sleep on planes so we want to take it slow today). Clock Tower, Hokkaido Govt Off, Odari Park, Sapporo TV Tower, JR Tower, Nijo Market etc.
    Day 3: collect car. Drive to Takino Sazuran Hillside Nat’l Park, Jozankei/ Hoheikyo Dam, Otaru. Night at Otaru.
    Day 4: Drive to Shakotan Peninsula, Cape Shakotan/ Kamui, Hakodate. Night at Hakodate.
    Day 5: Hakodate & Yunokawa Onsen.
    Day 6: Drive to Lake Toya, Mount Usu, Shinnoboribetsu Bridge/ Jugokudani/ Oyunuma. Still undecided on where we will be sleeping.
    Day 7: onsen day. Undecided yet.
    Day 8 & 9: Furano, Biel, Asahikawa. Night at Furano for both nights.
    Day 10: outlet shopping. Night at Sapporo. Return car.
    Day 11: sapporo to tokyo.

    Do you think that we are being overly ambitious? Would you remove/add-on any place due to the weather/ season. We initially thought of doing Daisetsuzan for whatever is left of Autumn Foliage but we are not certain now.

    Appreciate your advice! Thanks..

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Day 3: Sounds very rushed. Looking at your plans for Day 4, I suggest you just spend this day at Otaru and skip Takino Suzuran Hillside Park and Jozankei.

      Day 4: This is a very long drive to do in a day. You probably need to set off very early.

      There is unlikely to be any autumn foliage left at Daisetsuzan for your dates – it may even be snowing there already. Your best chance of seeing autumn foliage for your dates is at Onuma Koen (near Hakodate).

      I’m not sure what you plan to do at Furano and Biei, but if you want to go there to see flowers, it’s a bit too late for that in November as well. So if you want a much more relaxing trip, I suggest you drop Furano and Biei.

      Do bear in mind that by November, daylight hours are going to be very short. You are looking at the sun setting at 4+pm:
      https://www.timeanddate.com/sun/japan/sapporo?month=11&year=2016

      So try not to pack too many places or do overly long drives in a day.

      • Murshy says:

        Hi Bumbleemum

        Thanks for the advice! Appreciate your help. And many many thanks for the great travel blog and food/ hotel recommendations!!

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