Home >> Itineraries,Japan Travel >> Hokkaido Summer Self-drive Itinerary with kids (June 2014) – The ultimate gourmet tour!

I just returned from yet another trip to my favourite part of Japan – Hokkaido! Frankly, June was not the most fantastic time to visit Hokkaido.  It was too late for sakura, too early for lavender and other flowers, and rained every single day while we were there. But we Singaporeans do not have much of a choice since our school holidays are in June.

So what is there to do in Hokkaido in June?

Well, if you are able to fly off the moment school holidays start, you will still be in time to catch the beautiful shibazakura hills at Takinoue and Higashimokoto and tulip garden at Kamiyubetsu.  You can also catch the Yosakoi Soran Festival at Sapporo.

But most Singaporean parents know that first week of holidays is usually not holidays yet – tons of camps, enrichment etc etc still going on.  So we are left with mid-June. What is there left to do in mid-June then?

EAT.

And ONSEN.  But with young kids around, it is quite difficult to go onsen, so that is secondary.

That leaves eating.  And we ate and ate and ate for 12 days straight! As my Japanese friend put it: 食べ過ぎた!! (Ate too much)

Here is a quick run-down of the places we visited and ate at:

Hokkaido Summer Self-drive Itinerary with kids (June)

 

Day 1: Singapore – New Chitose Airport

Hokkaido Summer Self-drive Itinerary with kids - New Chitose Airport

Day 2: New Chitose Airport – Lake Shikotsu – Lake Toya

Hokkaido Summer Self-drive Itinerary with kids - Lake Shikotsu

Sightseeing: Lake Shikotsu

Hokkaido Summer Self-drive Itinerary with kids Lake Shikotsu Cheese Imo Mochi

Eat: Cheese Mochi at Lake Shikotsu

Hokkaido Summer Self-drive Itinerary with kids - Sobetsu Fruit Village

Play: Strawberry picking at Sobetsu Fruit Village:

Hokkaido Summer Self-drive Itinerary with kids - Sendoan (Lake Toya)

Eat: Lunch at Sendoan at Lake Toya

Hokkaido Summer Self-drive Itinerary with kids - Wakasaimo Main Store

Shopping: Wakasaimo Main Store

Hokkaido Summer Self-drive Itinerary with kids - Lake Toya

Sightseeing: Lake Toya

Hokkaido Summer Self-drive Itinerary with kids - Lake Hill Farm

Eat: Gelato at Lake Hill Farm

Hokkaido Summer Self-drive Itinerary with kids - Toya Sun Palace

Play: Swimming at Toya Sun Palace

Dinner at Toya Sun Palace

Eat: Dinner at Toya Sun Palace

Hokkaido Summer Self-drive Itinerary wth kids - Fireworks at Lake Toya

Sightseeing: Lake Toya long-run fireworks

 

Day 3: Lake Toya – Hakodate

Breakfast at Toya Sun Palace

Eat: Breakfast at Toya Sun Palace

Hokkaido Summer Self-drive Itinerary wth kids - PA Yakumo

Play: PA Yakumo Kids playground

Hokkaido Summer Self-drive Itinerary wth kids - Lucky Pierrot

Eat: Lunch at Lucky Pierrot (Hakodate)

Hokkaido Summer Self-drive Itinerary wth kids - Goryokaku Tower

Sightseeing: Goryokaku Tower

Hokkaido Summer Self-drive Itinerary wth kids - Fort Goryokaku

Sightseeing: Fort Goryokaku

Hokkaido Summer Self-drive Itinerary wth kids - Red Brick Warehouse District

Shopping: Red Brick Warehouse District

Hokkaido Summer Self-drive Itinerary wth kids - Snaffles Red Brick Warehouse

Eat: Snaffles Cafe

Hokkaido Summer Self-drive Itinerary wth kids - Brick Labo

Play: Brick Labo

Hokkaido Summer Self-drive Itinerary wth kids - Hakodate Uni Murakami

Eat: Dinner at Uni Murakami

 

Day 4: Hakodate – Niseko

Eat: Breakfast at Hakodate Morning Market

Eat: Dango at Numa no Ya (Onuma Koen)

Eat: Lunch at Harvester Yakumo (PA Yakumo)

Eat: Dessert at Niseko Milk Kobo

Sightseeing: Mishima San’s Shibazakura Garden

Sightseeing: Fukidashi Park

Eat: Dinner at Hotel Daiichi Kan

 

Day 5: Niseko – Shakotan Peninsular – Otaru

Sightseeing: Cape Kamui

Eat: Lunch at Misaki

Sightseeing: Shakotan Peninsular

Eat: Ice-cream at Kita No Ice (Otaru)

Sightseeing: Otaru Canal

Shopping: Unga Plaza

Eat: Dessert at Le Quatrieme

Eat: Otaru Denuki

Eat: Dinner at Toppi Sushi

 

Day 6: Otaru – Sapporo

Eat: Breakfast at Kahisakan

Shopping: Pathos (Le Tao)

Shopping: Le Chocolat

Eat: Kitaichi Sangokan

Eat and shop: Kitakaro Main Store

Sightseeing: Otaru Music Box Museum

Eat: Lunch at Masazushi

Eating and Shopping: Tanukikoji (Sapporo)

 

Day 7: Sapporo

Sightseeing: Odori Park

Shop: Sapporo Central Wholesale Market

Eat: Kita No Gourmet

Sightseeing: Sapporo Festival (Nakajima Koen)

Play: Takino Suzuran Hillside Park

Eat: Snaffles Cafe (Kiyota)

Eat: Dinner at Kinzan (Susukino)

Eat: Oysters at Go Tsubo (Susukino)

 

Day 8: Sapporo

Sightseeing: Odori Park

Sightseeing: Hokkaido Government Building

Eating and shopping: Nijo Market

Eat: Susukino Ramen Alley

Sightseeing: Sapporo Beer Museum

Shopping: ARIO

Shopping: Daimaru Food Hall

Eat: Kinotoya Bake (Sapporo station)

Dinner: Tadumura (Daimaru)

 

Day 9: Sapporo – Furano

Sightseeing: Sapporo Festival at Hokkaido Shrine

Eat: Lunch at Furano Wine House

Sightseeing: Furano Wine Factory

Eat: Tomita Melon House

Sightseeing: Farm Tomita

Sightseeing: Furano Cheese Factory

Eat: Furano Delice

Shopping: Furano Marche

Eat: Dinner at Haruchan Sushi

 

Day 10: Furano – Biei – Tomamu

Sightseeing: Flower Land Kamifurano

Sightseeing: Shikisai No Oka

Sightseeing: Shinnei No Oka

Sightseeing: Sanai No Oka

Sightseeing: Hokusei No Oka

Sightseeing: Hill of Zerebu

Sightseeing: Celebrity trees of Patchwork Road

Eat: Lunch at Farm Restaurant Chiyoda

Sightseeing: Philosopher’s Tree

Eat: Sanai No Chaya Cafe Curve

Shopping: Ningle Terrace

Eat: Dinner at Kumagera

 

Day 11: Tomamu – Obihiro – New Chitose Airport

Sightseeing: Unkai Terrace

Eat: Breakfast at Hoshino Resort

Play: Summer activities at Hoshino Resort

Play: Ice-cream making at Hoshino Resort

Eat: Lunch at Panchou (Obihiro)

Shopping: Rokkatei main store

Shopping: Ryugetsu main store

 

Day 12: New Chitose Airport – Singapore

 

Detailed write-ups for this trip

I wrote two versions of posts for this particular trip: One was for my friends who were more interested to go Hokkaido to eat, and one was for families travelling with kids who were more interested to know what was there for kids to do.

For Foodie-Version

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

For Family-Version

Part 1: New Chitose Airport -> Otaru
Part 2: Sapporo
Part 3: Furano -> New Chitose Airport


This post is archived under my Japan Travel Blog:
japan-travelogue


 

 

the author

297Comments

  1. […] The closest we have ever gotten to the Eva Kitty flight was seeing one parked at Narita Airport during our June 2014 trip. […]

  2. june says:

    Hi, thanks for sharing your trip and itinerary. I will be following it for my upcoming trip in june. However I only have 9 days, and you were there for 12days. Which part or section do you think I should cut out? We’re a family with food loving grandparents to fun loving kids as young as 2yr old. Total about 8-10 of us

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Hi, I would recommend cutting out Niseko, Shakotan Peninsular and Obihiro. If you have 9 full days (starting/ending at New Chitose Airport), I would recommend an itinerary like this:

      Day 1: Chitose – Lake Shikotsu – Noboribetsu (stay at Hotel Mahoroba – it’s great for kids)
      Day 2: Noboribetsu – Hakodate
      Day 3: Hakodate – Lake Toya (stay at Toya Sunpalace)
      Day 4: Lake Toya – Otaru
      Day 5: Otaru – Sapporo
      Day 6: Sapporo
      Day 7: Sapporo – Furano / Biei
      Day 8: Furano / Biei
      Day 9: Furano / Biei – Chitose

      I’m not sure what you exact travel dates are, but there are two major festivals in Sapporo in June: Sapporo Yosakoi Festival (10 – 14 June 2015) and Hokkaido Shrine Festival (14-16 June). You may want to shift your travel dates around to catch the festivals, or even give up Hakodate to spend more time in Sapporo if you want to fully enjoy both festivals.

      You can read more about Hokkaido Shrine Festival on this post:
      http://bumblebeemum.net/2014/06/23/sapporo-festival-hokkaido-shrine-festival-in-june/
      It was a great immersion for the kids – to enjoy a traditional Japanese festival.

      • june says:

        Hi Bumble bee mum,

        thanks very much for the suggestion. we’ll only be having staying 7 days and arriving on 15-Jun. So I was thinking to start my trip the other way round, i.e start from Sapporo so that we can catch the shrine festival as you mentioned. Also we’re taking an overnight flight, I think staying in Sapporo would let us rest a bit before all the car ride (also taken from your tip :P)

        Day 1: Chitose – Sapporo
        Day 2: Sapporo
        Day 3: Sapporo – Otaru
        Day 4: Otaru – Lake Toya
        Day 5: Lake Toya – Hakodate
        Day 6: Hakodate – Noboribetsu
        Day 7: Noboribetsu – Chitose

        Actually I’m not sure if we have enough time to get from Noboribetsu to Airport in time. Our flight is 2pm. Do you think we should skip any place? I know Hakodate is quite far out but I’m very keen to bring my parents to the Morning Market. Reading your blog about the market, I think they will absolutely love it.

        • Your itinerary looks good, you’ll have ample time to get around. I suggest you do Otaru as a day trip from Sapporo so you don’t have to change hotel for the first 3 nights.

          Noboribetsu is pretty near Chitose airport (about an hour drive using the expressway). Most onsen hotel’s check out time is quite early (usually 10am). So if you check out at 10am, it’ll be just nice to return the car and get to the airport in time for check-in.

          Hakodate morning market is indeed worth a visit if you don’t mind the long drive. Hope the weather is good and you can go up Mount Hakodate, the night view there is really beautiful. (But it’s very cold up there, even in summer. Do prepare your jackets.)

          • june says:

            hehe.. seems now I may get another day in Hokkaido. I think your suggestion on Otaru as day trip is great! It’s such a hassle to change hotel with all the kids. Bumble bee Mum, which hotel would you suggest for all these places? Unfortunately toya sun palace is already fully booked for the period we’re looking at. my kids would absolutely love the pool

            • bumblebeemum says:

              My favourite hotel in Sapporo is Mercure Hotel Sapporo:
              http://bumblebeemum.net/2015/01/21/japan-hotel-review-hotel-mercure-sapporo-hokkaido/

              For Lake Toya, the other hotel I tried was Toya Kohantei. The rooftop onsen was nice but it was not particularly interesting for the kids and the food was pretty so-so. Lake View Toya Nonokaze resort looks really nice, but I have never stayed there due to the price. It is more modern and the reviews are fantastic, but it cost double of Toya Sunpalace / Toya Kohantei.

              For Noboribetsu, I would recommend Hotel Mahoroba. The onsen has slides (though not anything like Toya Sunpalace’s, just small slides, but better than nothing) which my boy loved. The kids also loved the big arcade there. The dinner was pretty good too (they had different types of Hokkaido crabs included in their buffet when I was there).

              If you have one extra day, I would really recommend spending more time at New Chitose Airport rather than rushing there on the last day just to catch the flight. New Chitose Airport has sooooo much good food and lots of stuff for the kids to play! You can spend your last night at Air Terminal Hotel which is connected to the airport.
              http://bumblebeemum.net/2015/02/21/hokkaido-new-chitose-airport-with-kids/

              Also, if you are not so rushed, maybe you can swap the date for Lake Toya and Noboribetsu to see if you can get rooms for Toya Sunpalace that way.

              You can do an itinerary like this:
              Day 1: Chitose – Sapporo
              Day 2: Sapporo
              Day 3: Sapporo (Otaru)
              Day 4: Sapporo – Noboribetsu
              Day 5: Noboribetsu – Hakodate
              Day 6: Hakodate – Lake Toya
              Day 7: Lake Toya – Chitose
              Day 8: Chitose

  3. june says:

    hi bumble bee mum, thanks for all the recommendations. I managed to find rooms for Toya Sun palace! where most hotel booking sites were full, japanican seem to have rooms reserves for them. so I booked through japanican. I also boked hotel mahoroba with the all-you-can-eat crab buffet dinner. can’t wait :)
    I also booked mercure at sapporo. looks really comfortable and cozy.

    do you think furano is worth a visit during mid june? I understand the lavender fields bloom in July but I saw some website saying that there’s other flowers blooming in june. what do you think

    • bumblebeemum says:

      You can see the photos I took of Furano / Biei in mid-June on these posts:
      Tomita Farm (Furano)
      Biei

      You can see that the flowers are all still in infancy stage. It is definitely not as spectacular as the typical photos you see of Furano / Biei which are usually taken in July and August, but it is still better than anything we get in Singapore. I really enjoyed the region, it does seem a bit of a pity to go Hokkaido in Summer and totally not visit the region.

      Given your tight itinerary, it seems if you really want to visit the region, you would have to do it as a day-trip from Sapporo. I tried doing a day-trip to Furano from Sapporo during my October visit. It is definitely doable, if not for the fact that we ran into a typhoon. It was tiring no doubt, considering it’s a 3-hour drive between Sapporo and Furano. But I would not have regretted making the trip if weather had been good. If you want to do it as a day-trip here’s my advise:

      Start the day early. Suppose you leave Sapporo by 8am, you should reach Furano by 11am.
      Start with Tomita Farm. There are two cafes there to have lunch while admiring the beautiful flower fields. After that, drop by Tomita Melon House for dessert.
      From Tomita Farm, drive up to Biei, starting with Shikisai no Oka.
      Drive around Biei’s Panorama Road and Patchwork Road and soak in the natural beauty. No photos do any justice to the beauty of the town.
      When you pass by Sanai No Oka (at Panorama Road), stop by Sanai no Chaya Curve for the affogato.
      By then it should be getting late. Drive to Asahikawa and have dinner at Asahikawa Ramen Village. After that, drive back to Sapporo using the expressway. (It should be dark by then, so stick to the expressway, it’ll be safer.)

      • June says:

        Hi Bumblebee mum, it’s me again. Was busy with work and had to take a break from trip planning but now I’m back to planning 😀

        I’ve got my itinerary as follows
        day1: New Chitose-Sapporo
        day2: Sapporo
        day3: Otaru (as day trip)
        day4: Lake Toya
        day5: Hakodate
        day6: Noboribetsu
        day7: New Chitose Airport

        I think I have enough activities planned for most places except Noboribetsu which I can’t seem to find anything interesting to do. Apart from the zoo and hell valley (which I don’t think my family would be interested in), do you know if there’s anything interesting around there? BTW, I have planned to stop by Muroran to see Cape Chikyu when driving from Hakodate to Noboribetsu.

        thank you again for sharing your knowledge so selflessly!!

        • bumblebeemum says:

          Noboribetsu is not particularly interesting, the main purpose of visiting is to enjoy the onsen. Anyway you will probably be visiting Hakodate Morning Market that day. You can also slot in Onuma Koen. So from Hakodate, go to Onuma Koen, then Cape Chikyu before finally Noboribetsu. This way, by the time you reach Noboribetsu, you can just relax, enjoy the onsen and have dinner. The next day, you can go New Chitose Airport earlier – there are tons of shopping and eating to do there!

  4. Soak Peng says:

    Hi bumble bee mum,

    You have a very detailed write up on your Hokkaido trip which had been very helpful in my planning. We will be travelling in mid June with 3 children.

    We are in the midst of hotel booking, we are considering Kohantei & Toya Sun Palace. There are some bad comments about Toya Sun Palace in Trip Advisors so we are confused. Can you let me know which is better since you stayed both before?

    Other than Maharoba in Noboribetsu, do you have other suggestions.

    Thanks

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Hi,

      Every hotel has good and bad comments on Trip Advisor / hotel booking websites. Personally, I found Toya Sun Palace extremely value for money. No doubt it is somewhat dated, but having travelled extensively throughout Hokkaido and other parts of Japan, onsen hotels in Hokkaido tend to be somewhat old and run-down compared to those at, say, Hakone and Mount Fuji region. Of course there are newer ones, like Lake View Nonokaze, that would no doubt be better than the likes of Toya Sun Palace, but they easily cost more than double in price. For the price I paid for Toya Sun Palace (less than SGD200 per night inclusive of 2 meals), I really have no complaints.

      If you are travelling with children, Toya Sun palace is definitely better than Kohantei. On top of the big swimming pool, they also have free laundry. (Kohantei doesn’t have laundry.)

      I have only stayed in Mahoroba in Noboribetsu. I liked it a lot – the buffet dinner with crab was fantastic, the outdoor onsen with a little slide was great fun for my kid, and so was the big arcade. Again, it is kind of dated. There is the much more modern Boro Noguchi, but it costs WAY more than Mahoroba.

  5. Soak Peng says:

    Hi bumblebeemum,

    Thanks for your reply. The newer hotels are very nice & very expensive too. According to what I’ve found Toya Sun is 300+ for 2 adults & 2 children while Kohantei is 200+ for us. Thats why I’m wondering which one to go.

    • bumblebeemum says:

      300+ for 1 night at Toya Sunpalace? That’s pretty expensive! How much is Lake View Nonokaze for your date? If Lake View Nonokaze costs 400 and Toya Sunpalace costs 300, I would rather pay 400 for Lake View Nonokaze.

      Kohantei has nothing much for children, but if you don’t mind that and just want a place to soak in the onsen while enjoying the beautiful view of Lake Toya, Kohantei will serve the purpose. The rooftop onsen of Kohantei is pretty nice, though the rest of the hotel facilities and room is nothing to rave about. I guess it depends on your budget for the trip. If you are on a tight budget, then Kohantei is pretty value for money.

  6. Jonathan Tan says:

    Dear Bumblebeemum, thank you for such an insightful introduction to Hokkaido!

    Admittedly, I feel slightly out of place as I’m not a mum like all the other commentators but your itinerary’s the best I’ve come across by a stretch! Hope you don’t mind me asking from a non-mum perspective 😀

    Am planning a trip to Hokkaido 21 June – 28 June, so roughly 7 days. There’re 8 of us (all adults; 4 grown ups & 4 buffalo kids!) I’m just curious if your itinerary would be different for a non-children holiday? Also, one of our aunties has walking difficulty, so are there attractions we would need to take caution to?

    Hoping to get some expert advice from you :)

    Domo arigato!
    Jonathan

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Hi,

      No need to feel out of place and thank you for dropping by my blog.

      Yes, I would plan different itineraries depending on who my travel companions are. Some places are great for kids (e.g. Takino Suzuran Hillside Park in Sapporo) but it’s not worth the time without kids. Some places are great for adults (like the glass blowing shops and music box museum in Otaru), but I would keep my young kids out of them.

      But in general, if you self-drive in Hokkaido and you do not mind spending money on parking in the cities, there will not be much walking involved. The places I remember walking a lot are Cape Kamui at Shakotan, hiking trails in Shiretoko Peninsular and mainly the cities (Otaru, Sapporo, Hakodate) because we want to save on parking so we left our car in the hotel and walked around.

      If you are visiting in end June, I’m guessing you would be hanging around Furano and Biei for the flower fields. Some of the flower fields are pretty huge (e.g. Shikisai No Oka.. the flower fields go on and on as far as the eye can see) and hilly (such as Flowerland Kamifurano which lies on a hill – walking down is fine, but walking up back up may be strenuous for your aunt). But the good thing is that they have tractors (you need to pay though) to bring you around the flower fields, so your auntie can ride on them.

      Perhaps if you have an itinerary or list of places you are planning to visit, I can give you better advice on what to watch out for. Can’t really remember off hand. But I have travelled with my friends’ mums who had difficulty walking for long on 2 separate trips, and they would just sit out at a cafe and rest whenever they’re tired while the rest of us ran along.

      • Jonathan Tan says:

        hi Bumblebeemum,

        Ok, I’ve managed to do some preliminary research – which led to some questions.

        Day 1: We land in New Chitose Airport at around 2.00pm. Probably need to get lunch and then rent a car. I was thinking of driving straight to Furano (3 hours) arriving around 7.00pm.

        Was thinking of keeping Sapporo at the end because parking in Sapporo is tough, and this way we can save money on the last 2 days by using public transport to get around. Any advice? Anyway, Plan A is to spend the night in Furano. Some sites recommend a stop at Lake Katsurazawa in Mikasa.

        Day 2 & 3: We take our time to see Furano & Biei. (Farm Tomita, Ningle Terrace, Shikisai no Oka, Hills of Zerubu etc)

        Day 4: We check out from Furano and drive to Ashikawa (1.5 hours) to spend the day (zoo?) & drive to Sapporo in the evening (2 hours). We stay the night in Sapporo.

        Day 5: We do a day trip to Otaru (might still need the car for the wheelchair if there’s a lot of walking in Otaru).

        Day 6 & 7: We return the car to a station in the city and spend the next 2 days in Sapporo just eating & chilling.

        Day 8: We check out and head to CTS to fly to NRT.

        Would love to hear your thoughts and advice :) Thank you!

        • bumblebeemum says:

          For Day 1, would you like to consider going to Tomamu instead of Furano? Tomamu is nearer to New Chitose Airport and along the way to Furano. When you get there, you can go use their beautiful open air onsen (before the tour buses come in, it gets crowded in the evening after the tour groups arrive) and swim at their nice wave pool. The next morning, you can go up to Unkai Terrace if the weather is good.

          Otherwise, your plan to drive straight to Furano via Lake Katsurazawa sounds good too. :)

          I have mapped out the two routes on Google Map for comparison:

          > Google Map route from New Chitose Airport to Furano via Lake Katsurazawa
          > Google Map route from New Chitose Airport to Furano via Tomamu

          Day 2 & 3: I don’t know how comfortable you are with changing hotels. If you do not mind changing hotels, you can consider staying Furano one night and Asahikawa the next night. This is because Biei is in between Furano and Asahikawa. If you stay at Furano throughout, you will drive up to Biei for sightseeing and then back to Furano to stay. And on Day 4 you will have to drive up to Asahikawa again, passing through Biei. It is kind of to and fro, to and fro. What I would do is on Day 2, I would do the sightseeing around Furano and stay at Furano. Then on Day 3, I would drive up to Biei and do the sightseeing around Biei and drive up to Asahikawa for the night. And I would go to Asahikawa Ramen Village for dinner. That way I would not be wasting time driving to and fro. The next morning, I can get to the zoo earlier and reach Sapporo earlier. The disadvantage of doing this is having to change hotel.

          Day 5: Yes, you may want to keep your car for Otaru because the walk from the station to the main sightseeing area of Otaru may be strenuous for your aunt.

          You are right about returning the car at Sapporo to save on rental and parking. But I would start my trip in Sapporo and do everything in reverse. So I would pick up the rental car only when I’m leaving Sapporo and return it at New Chitose Airport on that last day. This is because in June, the later you reach Furano / Biei, the better. It gives the flowers and lavender more time to bloom.

          • CCH says:

            Dear Bumble Bee,
            I would like to seek your advice in my summer trip to Hokkaido.
            My Planned itinerary=>
            30 Jun Day 1: New Chitose Airport – Asahikawa (By Train is 2 hrs)
            01 Jul Day 2: Biei / Furano
            02 Jul Day 3: Biei / Furano
            03 Jul Day 4: Biei / Furano
            04 Jul Day 5: Asahikawa – Lake Toya (Fruits farms at Sobetsu / Usuzan Ropeway / Lake Hill Farm / Silo Obeservatory). Stay Lake Toya.
            05 Jul Day 6: Lake Toya – Cape Kamui – Shakotan Peninsular – Otaru. Stay Otaru.
            06 Jul Day 7: Otaru – Sapporo
            07 Jul Day 8: Sapporo
            08 Jul Day 9: Sapporo – New Chitose Airport (By Train is 36 mins)
            And 2-3 days stop over in Tokyo.

            Is it doable? advisable to start from Sapporo and end at Sapporo?

            And I heard about New Hokkaido Shinkansen (mar-16) that will connect Tokyo station with Shin-Hakodate Hokuto station in Hokkaido in just 4 hours 2 minutes via bullet train.
            Is this a better option?
            So taking this route, i must start from Hakodate?

            Do please help recommend. Thanks!

            • bumblebeemum says:

              Day 5 looks too rushed. If you go from Asahikawa to Lake Toya, you will probably reach and mid-day and need to have lunch when you arrive. That only leaves you half a day for sight-seeing, so you need to prioritise where you want to go at Lake Toya. You won’t have time for everything you listed.

              For your dates, I would start at Sapporo and end at Furano / Biei to give the flowers and lavender a bit more time to bloom.

              I will consider using the Shinkansen if I am visiting Southern Hokkaido. But your itinerary is for Central Hokkaido. So I would just fly there. It is faster and not necessarily more expensive. Shinkansen is not cheap at all.

              • CCH says:

                HI Bumblebeemum,
                Thanks for your suggestions.

                I have re-do my plan but i intend to stay till 15 Jul 16 to depart from Chitose.
                Where else do you suggest I go? OR extend the below?

                30 Jun Day 1: New Chitose Airport
                01 Jul Day 2: Sapporo (pick car)
                02 Jul Day 3: Sapporo
                03 Jul Day 4: Sapporo
                04 Jul Day 5: Otaru
                05 Jul Day 6: Otaru
                06 Jul Day 7: Lake Toya
                07 Jul Day 8: Lake Toya – Hakodate
                08 Jul Day 9: Hakodate
                09 Jul Day 10: Biei / Furano
                10 Jul Day 11: Biei / Furano
                11 Jul Day 12: Biei / Furano
                12 Jul Day 13: Biei / Furano – Chitose Airport (return car)

                Thanks!!

                • bumblebeemum says:

                  You can go further East to the Akan National Park region with the time you have. Obihiro has lots of good food in particular buta don, Tokachigawa onsen is famous for its tsuru-tsuru moor onsen, Lake Akan is a beautiful onsen town and Lake Mashu is my favourite lake in all of Hokkaido.

                  • CCH says:

                    Thank you very much for your information and time also. i will consider your options. And it is really interesting and informative to read from your blog!

                  • CCH says:

                    Hi bumblebeemum!
                    For my trip to furano/biei for 3 nites.
                    Where would you recommend to stay in furano/biei??

                    • bumblebeemum says:

                      I would just stay in whichever hotel in the region that is the cheapest. :p

                    • CCH says:

                      Ic. Isit advisable to go by train in otaru also? So that can see more things rather than driving

                    • bumblebeemum says:

                      Let’s say you are following this itinerary:

                      30 Jun Day 1: New Chitose Airport
                      01 Jul Day 2: Sapporo (pick car)
                      02 Jul Day 3: Sapporo
                      03 Jul Day 4: Sapporo
                      04 Jul Day 5: Otaru
                      05 Jul Day 6: Otaru
                      06 Jul Day 7: Lake Toya
                      07 Jul Day 8: Lake Toya – Hakodate
                      08 Jul Day 9: Hakodate
                      09 Jul Day 10: Biei / Furano
                      10 Jul Day 11: Biei / Furano
                      11 Jul Day 12: Biei / Furano
                      12 Jul Day 13: Biei / Furano – Chitose Airport (return car)

                      Then I think you should just drive to Otaru since you have the rental car already.

                      Actually driving allows you to see more things than the train. If I have 2 days in Otaru and with a car, I can also drive to Shukutsu, Yoichi and Shakotan.

                      Btw, why do you need a rental car in Sapporo? Where are you planning to visit?

                    • CCH says:

                      O I have actually changed plan and intend to pick up car only when I leave Sapporo to Otaru.as I saw from map the places in Sapporo city can easily be accesible by foot if I am not wrong. That is why thinking if I should continue with train from sapporo to otaru.. I intend to extend till 15jul to travel back to SIN. The hotel at Lake toya is so ex..wonder if I should go hee

                    • bumblebeemum says:

                      Ah.. I see. In Otaru, if you are just staying around the city centre, you won’t need a car.

                      It’s peak period so hotels will be a bit expensive. Lake Toya is very beautiful. If you don’t have any other onsen ryokan planned for the trip, you can consider just paying more to spend a night at Lake Toya. A Hokkaido trip with an onsen ryokan stay with half-board seems to be missing something.

                      But if you are going to extend and plan to drive further east, you can try staying at Lake Akan instead which is equally beautiful. Then you can just stop by Lake Toya as a day trip to break up the drive from Otaru to Hakodate.

                    • CCH says:

                      This is my revised itinerary:

                      2 Jul Day 1 SIN – CTS

                      3 Jul Day 2 Sapporo

                      4 Jul Day 3 Sapporo

                      5 Jul Day 4 Sapporo -> Otaru

                      6 Jul Day 5 Otaru

                      7 Jul Day 6 Otaru

                      8 Jul Day 7 Otaru – Hokuryu – Asahikawa – Lake Toya

                      9 Jul Day 8 Lake Toya – Hakodate

                      10 Jul Day 9 Hakodate

                      11 Jul Day 10 Hakodate

                      12 Jul Day 11 Biei / Furano

                      13 Jul Day 12 Biei / Furano

                      14 Jul Day 13 Biei / Furano

                      15 Jul Day 14 Biei / Furano – CTS (return car)

                    • bumblebeemum says:

                      Oh, I just saw this after replying the previous comment. Day 7 seems a bit odd. Asahikawa is totally not along the way between Otaru and Lake Toya. Beginning of July seems a bit early for sunflowers at Hokuryu.

                    • CCH says:

                      Ops really ah. Then is my mistake.. at first thought i can see sunflower! then I should skip Hokuryu n Asahikawa and spend more time in lake toya n hakodate.

                    • CCH says:

                      O I know Y I plan day 7 like this. I replicate a group tour itinerary into mine.hee. they go from otaru to hokuryu to Asahikawa Ramen village to shikisai hill which is in biei? So I thought I could do the Same.lol

                    • bumblebeemum says:

                      Their route makes sense because they are going to Biei after Asahikawa. But to go to Lake Toya doesn’t make sense. If you check Google map, you will see why this is so. 😉

                    • CCH says:

                      Hi bumblebeemum,
                      I realism my plans for hakodate to furano. The distance to drive is 5 hrs 45 min. Is it realistic to travel to hakodate to furano or should I stop by somewhere.. is hakodate worth visiting.

                    • bumblebeemum says:

                      Ah.. I suggest you slot in a night at Noboribetsu between Hakodate and Furano then. I love Hakodate for the food and night scenery from Mount Hakodate. Maybe you don’t need that many days. You can move out from Hakodate to Noboribestu on Day 10.

                    • bumblebeemum says:

                      Hmm.. Actually looking at your itinerary again, I would choose to stay in Furano. It is closer to CTS.

  7. Anny Teoh says:

    Hi Bumblebeemum,

    Good day to you!

    I am planning for a trip to Hokkaido (first timer) on 16Jul2015 – 22Jul2015 (7 days).
    There are 4 of us in a family (2 adults, 2 kids age 3 & 6). I have roughly listed down some places that I wish to visit :-

    – Asahiyama Zoo
    – Farm Tomita
    – Yamamoto Fruits Farm
    -Takino Suzuran Hillside National Park
    – Historical Village of Hokkaido
    – Daimaru Sapporo
    – Shiroi Koibito Park

    Our trip is mainly to bring the kids for more natures and parks, and of course to cover some shopping places too :)

    We don’t plan to rent a car, was thinking to travel via public transports. But, will it be very hassle travelling in Hokkaido with kids by public transports?

    Wish to get some expert advice and recommendation on itinerary from you.

    Thank you so much.

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Personally, I would opt to self-drive with kids so young. They can nap comfortably in the car during the long rides and wake up fresh and happy to explore the attractions. The problem with public transport is that if the kids don’t get their proper naps, they are going to get very cranky by afternoon time and everyone doesn’t enjoy themselves.

      In Sapporo, you can plan half-day activities with a break in the middle to go back to the hotel to nap. E.g. You can go to Shiroi Koibito Park in the morning, then go back to the hotel to let the kids nap, then head out to Daimaru Station for shopping after they wake up.

      For Takino Suzuran Hillside Park, there is only one bus running into the park and it is not very frequent. If you want to take the bus from Sapporo Bus Terminal, there are only 2 buses a day. Otherwise, if you go to Makomanai station, there is a bus every hourly. Please check the bus detail on this page and this page carefully before you go.

      For Asahiyama Zoo, you need to take a train from Sapporo to Asahikawa and change to a bus.

      For Furano, I really find it a lot more convenient to get around by car. There is the twinkle bus that goes around the major tourist spots, but it is not that frequent. And I hate rushing to catch buses with kids in tow. Kids really slow us down. Imagine trying to catch a bus that comes every 1 or 2 hourly, or worse trying to catch the last bus for the day, and a kid suddenly want to poo or pee or need a diaper-change.. Know what I mean? That’s why when travelling around rural areas with poor bus frequency, I always opt for self-drive when kids are involved. You can do without a car in Sapporo and Asahikawa, but I would really advise getting one for Furano. You can take a train from Sapporo to Asahikawa, then Asahikawa to Furano and rent a car at Furano.

      As for Yamamoto Fruit Farm, I would recommend you to swap it for Ohashi Cherry Farm instead since you are planning to head to Furano. If you do that, your itinerary will be pretty straightforward. New Chitose Airport -> Sapporo -> Asahikawa -> Furano -> New Chitose Airport.

  8. Amy Leong says:

    Dear Bumblebeemum,

    I’m visiting Hokkaido with my Family in July, my parents in law, brother in law n my husband.

    We would like to visit the following places:

    -Lavender farms (main motive here)
    -Lake Toya
    -Sapporo
    -Otaru.
    -Some volcanos

    However we only have 5 days in Hokkaido.

    Hope you can advise use on the itinerary. :)

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Hi,

      If you have 5 full days, your itinerary will probably be:

      Day 1: Lake Toya
      Day 2: Otaru
      Day 3: Sapporo
      Day 4: Furano / Biei
      Day 5: Furano / Biei

      The lavender and flower farms are around Furano and Biei and you should spend at least 2 days there.

      As for volcanoes, you can go to Usuzan when you are at Lake Toya. You can take the Usuzan ropeway to the top of Mount Usu and do the crater walk. Near the foot of Mount Usu, where the ropeway station is, you can also see Showa Shinzan with smoke coming out of it. You can read about my visit to Showa Shinzan and Mount Usu > on this post < (Day 4).

  9. Soak Peng says:

    Hi Bumblebemum,

    Can I check how long does the trip to Cape Shakotan + lunch at Misaki & Cape Kamui trip take.

    We will be collecting the car from Chitose Airport at 9am then to proceed to Shakotan peninsula then back to Otaru for the night. But we are unsure the distance & time needed to travel between the above 3 places.

    The drive from Chitose airport to Shakotan is abt 3.5hrs.

    • bumblebeemum says:

      That’s a lot of driving you will be doing in a day!

      Approximate driving times:
      Chitose Airport to Cape Shakotan: 3 hours
      Cape Shakotan to Misaki: 10 minutes
      Misaki to Cape Kamui: 1 hour
      Cape Kamui back to Otaru: 2 hours

      • Soak Peng says:

        Hi Bumblebeemum,

        Thanks for the prompt reply. I was thinking if it was worthwhile to make a trip there. I thought the place looks very nice. or should I just spend the day at Otaru but we are not so interested in shopping in the city. Alternatively will it be better if I were to go there the next day b4 I proceed to Lake Toya.

        By the way how much time did u spend at each cape?

        Thanks

        • bumblebeemum says:

          Hi,

          For Cape Kamui, you should spend at least 1 hour to leisurely walk to the end of the cape. For Cape Shakotan, it is just a flight of staircase down to the beach, so you won’t expect to spend much time there. It was drizzling when we went Cape Shakotan so we spent like, 5 minutes there just to take a photo. Haha..

          Otaru was not so much about shopping for me. It was more about eating. :p The music box museum is worth a visit though.

          If you go Otaru -> Shakotan -> Cape Kamui -> Lake Toya, I would recommend stopping by Niseko between Cape Kamui and Lake Toya. You can pop by Niseko Milk Kobo or go for a walk at Fukidashi Park to take a break from the long drive.

          • Soak Peng says:

            Hi Bumblebeemum,

            Thanks for your feedback. Looks like doing Shakotan the next day will be much better & less driving as compared to my previous plan.

            ie Otaru -> (30 mins) Yoichi -> (1hr Drive) Shakotan -> (10 mins) Misaki -> (1hr Drive) Cape Kamui -> (2.5hr Drive) Lake Toya.

            I hope I can squeeze in Niseko but it looks quite tight. According to my estimation I will arrive at Lake Toya at abt 6.30pm.

            But my day 1 seems to be empty with only Otaru left. Hmmm was wondering does it make sense if I were to squeeze in Takino Park. According to ur blog It looks fun for the kids.
            ie Chitose Airport -> Takino Park -> Otaru. Alternatively is there anything I can slot in between Chitose & Otaru.

            PS : Looking at the above plan, looks like I don’t need the car on the 1st day but too bad I’ve already book the car.

            Thanks

            • bumblebeemum says:

              Hmm.. Yeah, it does look a bit tight, especially if you plan to have lunch at Misaki. Unless you leave Otaru in the morning and have brunch at Misaki (they open at 9am if I’m not mistaken). Then you will reach Niseko Milk Kobo just in time for tea break… LOL! Omy.. I’m all about eating.

              It is possible to slot in Takino Suzuran Hillside Park between Chitose Airport and Otaru, but I feel Takino Suzuran warrants more time. Another thing is, are you arriving after an overnight flight? If you are, the kids may not want to play at the park after the long flight. Doing a long drive after the flight may actually be a good idea because the kids can sleep in the car.

              How old are your children? If they are say, above 5 years old, there are things to do in Otaru such as candle craft or putting together their own music box. During my first visit to Otaru, I did glass blowing (just making a small bead) and candle making, plus a few food stops and that was all the time I had. I didn’t even make it to the music box museum because of lack of time. If you have never been to Otaru, I recommend just heading there straight away from New Chitose Airport. If you arrive at 9am, by the time you clear customs and collect the car, it may be 10am. Driving straight to Otaru, it will already be 12+, so you will have lunch. Walking along Sakaimachi and doing some craft will easily take up the rest of your afternoon. Plus stopping at Kitakaro and Le Tao for some snacks. Before you know it, it’ll be evening, time for dinner, and back to sleep.

              PS: With children, having the car is actually a good idea because they can catch some Zzzs.

              • Soak Peng says:

                Hi Bumblebemum,

                We will be arriving the night before & will be spending a night at Air Teminal Hotel (hee hee got the idea from ur blog)

                We intend to collect the car from the airport at 9am the next morning. It will be abt 10am by the time we settle & set off. I was wondering if I should drop by Takino Park followed by Otaru. I’m not sure how long is the drive from Chitose -> Takino Park->Otaru. From the map it looks like is on the way. I thought of spending abt 2 hrs at the park & abt 2 hrs at Otaru.

                My 3 gals are age 8,6 & 3.

                It should be about 12.30 by the time we reach Otaru. My elder gals should be interested in the glass blowing & Musical box activity (provided they have hands on experience otherwise I doubt they will be interested if is purely viewing.) Is it expensive?

                Now I’m stuck between 2 options. I definitely want to spend some time at Otaru. Is half a day too much or enough.

                As for the Niseko Portion, I doubt I have time cos I intend to drop by Yoichi to do Fruits Picking in the morning. But I don’t think I need so much time at Shakotan.

                0900-0930 Proceed to Yoichi
                0930-1100 fruit Picking
                1100-1200 Proceed to Shakotan
                1200-1245 Shakotan
                1300-1400 Lunch at Misaki
                1400-1500 Proceed to Cape Kamui
                1500-1600 Cape Kamui
                1830 Lake Toya

                Hopefully I’ve not taken up too much of you time by asking so many questions.

                • bumblebeemum says:

                  Hi,

                  2 hours at Takino Suzuran Hillside Park is too rushed imo. You still need to walk quite a bit from the carpark to the play areas. 2 hours at Otaru also sounds quite short to me. If I were you, I would just spend the whole day at Otaru. If I have extra time, I would just chill out at one of the many sweets cafe there.

                  The glass bead I made wasn’t very expensive. Back in 2010 it was 1050 yen for 1 bead. If you want to purchase an accessory to hang with the glass bead, it would be an additional cost. Here are some photos just to give you an idea of what it was like:

                  I made the white glass bead (1050 yen) and bought the cat accessory (around 600 yen) to hang the bead on.

                  And the candle-making I did was quite fun too. Think it cost about 1500 yen.

                  These were the candles my friend and I made.

                  The music box is more expensive, depending on design. (Which is why I didn’t make one. :p) IIRC, around 3000yen at least?

                  If you are going fruit picking, then yeah, you definitely won’t have time for Niseko. But your plan sounds good. Fruit picking would be fun for the kids!

                  No worries, feel free to pop by if you have any more question.

                  • Soak Peng says:

                    Hi Bumblebeemum,

                    Thanks a lot. You have help me a lot. :))

                    In that case we’ll spend the day at Otaru at least not so rush. Can I check where did U do the crafts? Did U do the Glass bead at Kitaichi?

                    Another question is where can we park the car or should we just leave it in the hotel. ( We r staying at Grand Park Otaru) Is all the things u mentioned along Sakaimachi,

                    We will be travelling from Hakodate to Noboribetsu on day 5. Is there anywhere that we can go to break the long drive? Is Onuma worth stopping by? It is nearer to Hakodate thus it won’t help in breaking the long drive.

                    Another long drive would be from Noboribetsu to Tomamu. Anything along the way to break the long drive. We’ll be having lunch at Kani Goten (recommended by Trip Advisor) before proceeding to Tomamu.

                    • bumblebeemum says:

                      I can’t remember where I did the glass bead honestly.. We were just walking along Sakaimachi and saw the shop and went in to do it. I googled around and found the following shop that offers similar experiences. You can even make glass animals.. so cute!
                      Otaru Advance Website

                      As for the candle, it was done at Otaru Candle Workshop (小樽キャンドル工房).
                      Otaru Candle Official Website

                      Yes, the shops are all along Sakaimachi, including Music Box Museum which is located at the Marchen Intersection which marks one end of Sakaimachi. Parking is extremely expensive in Otaru. I would just leave the car and slowly walk over, though be prepared that Grand Park Otaru is a bit far. The walk from Grand Park Otaru to Marchen Intersection looks okay. After that, you will be walking all the way along Sakaimachi to Otaru Canal. But from Otaru Canal, it is going to be a looong way back to Grand Park Otaru. There is touirst information centre at Otaru canal, you can pop in to ask them what transport you can take back to Grand Park Otaru from there. Maybe a rickshaw? Lol. Kidding.. I’m sure there are buses or something.

                      To break up the Hakodate-Noboribetsu drive, I recommend stopping at Funkawan Panorama Park. You can pull over at PA Yakumo (a rest stop along the expressway) and park there. There is an indoor play area for children, and if weather is good, you can walk out to the park behind with more stuff for the kids to play.
                      Funkawan Panorama Park Website

                      Between Noboribetsu and Tomamu, a good rest point is Chitose Rera Outlet. Again, there are indoor and outdoor play areas for children there.
                      Chitose Rera Outlet Website

                    • Choo Soak Peng says:

                      Hi Bumblebeemum,

                      Thanks a lot for the links at Otaru. I’m back with more questions again….

                      Regarding Hakodate-Noboribetsu route, is there any other place where we can stop other than Yakumo as we’ll be stopping there when we go from Lake Toya to Hakodate. We can stop there again if there isn’t.

                      Have you been to Porotokotan? Was wondering if I should go.
                      As for Noboribetsu to Tomamu, I was wondering if it is worth stopping at Chitose Rera Mall or we should proceed straight to Hoshino Resort. Cos I think I may need at least 2 hrs if we were to stop at the mall.

                      We will reach Hoshino Resort at abt 4.30Pm if we were to proceed straight after lunch.Thus was wondering if we should reach Hoshino earlier & spend some time doing some activities at the resort or to drop by Chitose Rera Mall. But I have also allocated some time to do activities at the resort the next morning too.

                      We will be dropping by Sahoro Bear mountain before proceeding to Sounkyo. is it worth going or is it as pathetic as the one at Noboribetsu.

                    • bumblebeemum says:

                      Between Hakodate and Noboribetsu, you can take a break at SA Usuzan which is a rest point along the expressway. You can get a panoramic view of the towns below from there.

                      Alternatively, when you from drive from Lake Toya to Hakodate, you can stop at Onuma Koen instead. Then when you go back from Hakodate to Noboribetsu, you can stop at Yakumo.

                      I’ve never been to Porotokotan. I’m not that big into Ainu culture (I’m a foodie and just wanna go around eating), but if you are interested in finding out more about Ainu culture and you have time, I guess you can visit.

                      For my self-drive trips with kids, a lot of time whether or not to take a rest stop depends on the kids. I will KIV places to take a break. But if let’s say the kids are asleep when we reach there, I will just continue driving and try to complete the drive before they wake up. But if they are awake and getting impatient, I would take the break. Chitose Rera Mall is a good place to KIV a rest stop between Noboribetsu and Tomamu. You can decide at that point in time whether you want to stop, depending on the children’s mood and the time. (You will not know if you will end up spending more or less time than planned at a previous stop, so play by ear.)

                      4.30pm seems a bit late to sign up for activities at Hoshino Resort. I would probably do the activities on the following day. You can, however, go to the Mina Mina Beach. If you plan to go to Mina Mina Beach, maybe you should drive straight. Because you need time to check-in, go up to the room to change and take the hotel shuttle to the pool. I advise going earlier to use the onsen, because in the evening, bus loads of tourists will arrive and head straight to the onsen before dinner and it gets pretty crowded. So maybe you should skip the outlet, go straight to Hoshino to beat to crowd to use the onsen and swim at Mina Mina Beach.

                      I have never visited Sahoro Bear Mountain, but from the photos it looks more interesting than Noboribetsu.

                    • Soak Peng says:

                      Hi Bumblebeemum,

                      Hope you have a good holiday so far.

                      We will be leaving on Sunday & my planning is finally more or less done (Phew!) Really thanks for all the help. But I have some more questions below to trouble you….

                      1) Initially I thought of going to Furano Jam Garden but realise it is close. Is there any other place which is worth going. I will covering the places below in 1 day or should I include Furano winery but not sure if the kids will be bored by it.

                      Farm Tomita & Tomita Melon House
                      Lunch at Furano Cheese Factory
                      Ice Cream/Butter/cheese making at Furano Cheese Factory
                      Furano Marche
                      Tea Break at Furano Delice
                      Niggle Terrace

                      I will be covering Flowerland Kami Furano & Biei the next day.

                      2) I’ll be staying at Mercure Sapporo. How do I get to the airport from there. I know there’s bus going to the airport. Do I need to book in advance?

                      3) How long does it take from Mercure Sapporo to New Chitose Airport. I’ll be taking a flight to Narita then to Singapore via ANA.

                      I hope to go to the Curb Market b4 proceeding to the airport. Hopefully it is in time.

                      Thanks

                    • bumblebeemum says:

                      1) Hmm, yeah, the winery is not particularly interesting for the kids. And they will probably bug you to let them drink wine there. There is a nice paper craft shop at Ningle Terrace, maybe you can get the kids to do that instead.

                      2) There is a airport limousine bus diagonally across the road from Mercure. Just ask the hotel for directions. There’s no need to book in advance, it comes pretty frequently and you can just hop on.

                      3) The bus ride is about 1 hour.

                      For Curb Market, do get the travel concierge on Level 1 of Mercure to book the shuttle bus service to go there. Go down the day before to ask them to book the earliest timing. Check the bus schedule coming back to make sure you have a bus that can bring you back to the hotel in time.

                    • Soak Peng says:

                      Hi Bumblebeemum,

                      We’ve came back last Friday. It was a good trip & luckily for us it only rained on the last 2 days.

                      You are right, Otaru had so much to see/do & EAT. Luckily I took your advice to spend my 2nd day there. I can truly understand now y you have been eating non stop. Cos we too…… Hee Hee.

                      But unfortunately we didn’t manage to catch the unkai at Tomamu. It did happened when we were queuing up for the shuttle bus but it had disperse by the time we went up. I realise later that I should drive to the Gondola station instead of queuing for the shuttle bus. “Blur me”

                      Thank You so much for all your advice. Your blog had provided me with so much information. We had a wonderful time especially eating in Hokkaido.

                      PS : I think I will be back exploring the Eastern Portion of Hokkaido or probably for winter. I simply miss all the “sweets”

                      Cheers,
                      Soak Peng

                    • bumblebeemum says:

                      Hihi, thank you for popping back to share about your trip! You’re lucky it only rained 2 days, compared to us where it rained everyday. The food in Hokkaido is truly addictive.. haha.. Real pity about the Unkai. When I was there, we didn’t have to queue at all for the shuttle bus.

                      Many people (like me) start thinking of the next Hokkaido trip right after coming back! It’s really such an amazing place – with different things to see in different seasons. And of course partly for the food too. Eastern Hokkaido is really nice in winter, especially the cranes in Kushiro. But driving there would be a lot more challenging with the snow. It would help though if you are familiar with how the traffic in Hokkaido works after this trip.

  10. Carmen says:

    Hi! We have about 10 days in Hokkaido 13 to 22 July and it’s our first time there with our 4 yr old. Thinking to cover Sapporo, Asahikawa n Biei n Furano, Otaru, Lake Toya, Noboribetsu and Hakodate. Is it possible if we stay say 2 nites at Asahikawa, 4 nites at Sapporo and 3 nites at Hakodate and then cover the above places, or we have to overnite at the other places? And which stretch can we take train n bus n which ones gotta rent car? Thank you.

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Hi,

      I recommend the following course for the places you want to visit:

      Day 1: Sapporo Sightseeing (stay Sapporo)
      Day 2: Day trip to Otaru by train (stay Sapporo)
      Day 3: Sapporo Sightseeing (stay Sapporo)
      Day 4: Take train from Sapporo to Hakodate. Hakodate sightseeing. (stay Hakodate)
      Day 5: Visit Hakodate Morning Market. Then take train from Hakodate to Chitose and rent a car. Drive to Lake Toya (stay Lake Toya)
      Day 6: Drive to Noboribetsu (sightseeing) and then to Furano (stay Furano)
      Day 7: Furano Sightseeing (stay Furano)
      Day 8: Drive to Biei (sightseeing) then to Asahikawa (stay Asahikawa)
      Day 9: Visit Asahiyama Zoo (stay Asahikawa)
      Day 10: Drive back to New Chitose Airport, return car and flight home.

      On a side note, please book your accommodation fast. July is peak season, accommodation especially in Furano is going fast.

      • Carmen says:

        Thanks bumblebeemom! Much appreciated! Do I need to book car rental now n can you send me link? Can also name me the hotels to check at Sapporo, Hakodate, Lake Toya, Furano n Asahikawa? You are right I was checking n so many are Full. I just booked airfares n came across ur blog n indeed a lifesaver. Will read thoroughly after settling accommodation. With my 10 day trip is it still possible to squeeze in any other places in Hokkaido?

        • bumblebeemum says:

          Hi,

          You can book your rental car via Tocoo:
          http://www2.tocoo.jp/enhttp://www2.tocoo.jp/en

          For Sapporo, if you want to stay around Susukino area, try Mercure Hotel Sapporo.
          http://mercuresapporo.jp/

          If you want to stay near Sapporo station, try JR Inn Sapporo or Hotel North Gate Sapporo.
          http://www.jr-inn.jp/en/
          http://sapporo-northgate.gloriahotels.com/

          For Hakodate, try Hakodate Kokusai Hotel or La Vista Hakodate Bay:
          http://www.hakodate-kokusai.jp/
          http://www.hotespa.net/hotels/lahakodate/

          For Lake Toya, try Toya Sunpalace:
          http://www.toyasunpalace.co.jp/

          For Furano, book whatever is available. I heard it’s almost all fully booked. >_< For Asahikawa, try Asahikawa Grand Hotel or Loisir Asahikawa. http://www.asahikawa-grand.com/eng/
          http://www.loisir-asahikawa.com/

          For your itinerary, if you shorten your stay in Sapporo by 1 day, you can slot in Tomamu in between Noboribetsu and Furano.
          http://www.snowtomamu.jp/summer/topics2015/index_en.html

          • Carmen says:

            Oh no after I booked all accommodation only I realised that theres 10 nites not 9 nites! What do u suggest for the last nite? Hmmm is 1 nite at Hakodate enough? The hotel La Vista didnt charge payment, only sent email confirmation – is it like that? Should we start car rental at Hakodate?

            • bumblebeemum says:

              I feel 1 night at Hakodate is enough. 1 night means you have about 2 days there: I would recommend visiting Goryokaku Tower / Red Brick Warehouse district / Mount Hakodate on the first day, and the morning market on the second day. Is there anywhere else in Hakodate you would like to visit?

              If you have 1 more night, I recommend spending 1 night at Tomamu (between Noboribetsu and Furano).

              Did you book La Vista directly from the hotel? Many Japan hotels do not charge upon booking. You will pay either during check-in or check-out. Entering credit card details is just in case of cancellations (so depending on the plan you booked, they may charge your card if you cancel the booking.) But often, I find that I do not even need to enter credit card details. Japanese are very trusting and they accept bookings in good faith. They trust that you would show up when you make a booking. So as long as you have an email confirmation, it means your booking is confirmed.

              If you do not want to incur drop-off fees, you should start your car rental at either Chitose city or New Chitose Airport. If you start your car rental at Hakodate and return it at New Chitose Airport, there is usually a drop-off fee (market rate is about 7000yen). So you need to weigh the cost and benefits of doing a one-way car rental to decide if you want to pick up the rental car at Hakodate or Chitose. Not forgetting the drive from Hakodate to Chitose uses a toll road, so you may also want to factor in toll fees in your cost calculation. Personally, I would opt to take the train to Chitose and rent a car from there.

              • Carmen says:

                Thanks n appreciate ur feedback. Yup booked La Vista via its website n it didnt ask me for card details. Did u stay at another place at Tomamu? Coz da resort u provided me link is expensive hehe.

                • bumblebeemum says:

                  Hoshino Resort Tomamu is the only resort at Tomamu. I did hear from my friend that it’s extremely expensive to book for July by now. Sigh…

                  In that case, I recommend you stay for the night at Noboribetsu (Day 6) and drive to Furano on Day 7. It’ll be more relaxing that way. Between Lake Toya and Noboribetsu, since you have more time now, I recommend you go fruit picking at Sobetsu Fruit Village. For Noboribetsu accommodation, you can check out Hotel Mahoroba.
                  http://www.h-mahoroba.jp/

                  • Carmen says:

                    Oh I think I cant cancel some of da accommodation … hmmm I think we can actually head to Hokuryu to see sunflowers. Have u done this? Then overnite there or Sapporo, what do u reckon?

                    • bumblebeemum says:

                      I haven’t been to Hokuryu before because sunflowers are only in bloom late July – August and I went in June. But it is the best place to see sunflowers in Hokkaido if you go at the right time. If you plan to go there on the last day when coming back from Asahikawa, then yup, you can go back to Sapporo for the night. What time is your flight back on the last day? If it’s early, I recommend going to New Chitose Airport and spending your last night at Air Terminal Hotel. There is a lot to eat and play at New Chitose Airport.

                    • Carmen says:

                      Oic our flight is late afternoon, how many hours should we be spending at airport? Do you have any recommendation for traditional ryokan style room n bed at Sapporo to stay? Oh yes we checked out the sunflower festival dates and it’s good timing for us. For the train tics eg to Otaru and Hakodate etc do we need to buy in advance or just on that day? Thanks!

                    • bumblebeemum says:

                      Hi,

                      If your flight is late afternoon, you should have enough time to do some shopping and eating if you go to the airport in the morning on the last day. Personally, I can easily spend one whole day at New Chitose Airport.. Haha! It’s like a shopping centre with a lot of things to eat, many souvenirs (mainly snacks) to buy and lots for the kids the play.
                      http://bumblebeemum.net/2015/02/21/hokkaido-new-chitose-airport-with-kids/

                      Hmmm… I have never stayed in ryokan style rooms in Sapporo. I usually stay ryokan style rooms at onsen hotels. I did a quick googling for you and found Sapporo Aspen Hotel which is very conveniently located near Sapporo station and has Japanese style rooms:
                      http://www.aspen-hotel.co.jp/english/room/quad.html

                      And Jasmac Plaza Sapporo which is at Susukino. It looks quite nice, with hot spring and all, but a slightly further from the stations:
                      http://www.jasmacplaza.jp/english/index.html

                      For train tickets, you can just buy them on that day.

                    • Carmen says:

                      What if after checking out Asahikawa n seeing sunflowers at Hokuryu … we drive to Lake Shikotsu n overnite at Tsuruga resort … worth to splurge? Coz I saw the lake to airport abt 1 hr’s drive?

                    • bumblebeemum says:

                      Lake Shikotsu itself is not particularly interesting in my opinion. But if your aim is to find a good onsen, then yup, you can go there if you want to enjoy a traditional onsen dinner and stay rather than a pseudo onsen resort in Sapporo. The advantage of staying at Sapporo is that you can continue shopping for the rest of the day, whereas at Lake Shikotsu you will be just staying in the hotel and enjoying the facilities. So it’s really what you prefer.

                      Lake Shikotsu is nearer to Chitose Airport, so staying at Lake Shikotsu will allow you more time at New Chitose airport the following day.

                    • Carmen says:

                      Thanks … and the sea of clouds at Tomamu only can be seen during summer?

                    • bumblebeemum says:

                      The gondola to go up the mountain only operates in Summer – Autumn. Technically the sea of clouds can appear any season, just that I’m not sure how you can go up during winter? Hehe.. But I’m sure that’s not what you’re asking. So yeah, the sea of clouds at Tomamu can only be seen in summer till autumn.

                    • Carmen says:

                      Hi bumblebeemum, finally we booked Lake Shikotsu for our last nite hehehe … I guess we prefer a relaxing hol … and coincidentally we saw a half hr feature on tv on this lake … thanks so much for ur help … still cant believe we made a mistake on the nights! If we go to airport early do they allow early check-in of bags?

                    • bumblebeemum says:

                      The onsens around the lakes (Lake Toya, Lake Akan, Lake Shikotsu etc) are indeed very relaxing! I love waking up to a view of the lake and soaking in those rooftop onsens while looking out at the lake.

                      Early check-in depends on airline I think. Pretty sure budgets airlines do not allow early check-in, but not sure about the full cost carriers. Anyway there are lots of lockers at the airport, you can always leave your luggage there if they do not allow early check-in.

                  • Carmen says:

                    Can I ask … petrol, meals n train tics n entrance fees uses cash or can swipe credit cards? Thanks!

                    • bumblebeemum says:

                      Petrol can be paid by credit card, but the price will be different (more expensive if you pay by card vs cash), so I always pay cash.

                      Entrance fee wise, major attractions usually accept credit card. Train tickets wise, I’m not sure because I always pay cash.

                    • Carmen says:

                      Can u suggest me a place to have kobe beef n also wagyu beef at sapporo or other places during my trip? Thanks!

                    • bumblebeemum says:

                      I’m not sure where you can find authentic kobe beef in Sapporo, but most yakiniku restaurants will have wagyu beef of various grades. The one I tried and liked was Kinzan きんざん located at Susukino District – South 5 West 4 (南5条西4).
                      http://www.hotpepper.jp/strJ001017162/

                      I have blogged about my visit there on this post:
                      http://wp.me/p5Fsxd-2lv

                    • Carmen says:

                      Thanks! If we r staying near Sapporo station, shd we take the train or walk to Susukino for yakiniku n also the oysters place? The buffet dinner at Sapporo Beer Museum do they serve wagyu like Kinzan?

                    • bumblebeemum says:

                      From Sapporo station, it would be better to take the subway to Susukino.

                      I’m not sure if the buffet dinner at Sapporo Beer Museum you are referring to is the Sapporo Bier Garten:
                      http://www.sapporo-bier-garten.jp/foreign/english.php
                      If it is, I don’t think they serve beef. Their specialty jingisukan is barbequed mutton, not beef.

                      Throughout Sapporo, there are many jingisukan (ジンギスカン) restaurants and yakiniku (焼肉) restaurants. Jingisukan restaurants serve mutton whereas yakiniku will have beef.

                    • Carmen says:

                      Thanks a lot. Kinzan looks good! Is it ala carte or buffet? Is mutton good (jingisukan) – duno if we shd go for it on a separate nite at asahikawa.

                    • bumblebeemum says:

                      Kinzan is ala carte.

                      I tried jingisukan only once at Sapporo Beer Hall. It was quite a memorable experience because the ambience at Sapporo Beer Hall was great – being surrounded by smoke and people, doing cheers with mugs of Sapporo beer and coming out smelling like BBQ. Maybe I drank too much beer and forgot what the meat actually tasted like because I really don’t remember how it tasted. But probably not fantastic considering I can’t remember.

                      The more popular place for Jingisukan that is supposed to be good (considering there is always a long queue outside the restaurant during dinner time) is Daruma which is located at Susukino, near to Kinzan. It is on my to-visit list, but I haven’t made it there yet.
                      http://seesapporo.com/place/genghis-khan-bbq-daruma-rokuyon/

                      Asahikawa? I thought Asahikawa was famous for its ramen.

                    • Carmen says:

                      How abt Kanechan which u mentioned was full? Oh ya coz we have 2 nites at asahikawa so thinking to try bbq 2nd nite. We decided to drive to hakodate. For Mt Hakodate shd we drive there to take the ropeway or walk fr bay area? For motomachi n goryokaku tower better to drive ya? Thanks.

                    • bumblebeemum says:

                      I tried Kanechan during my December trip and both hubby and I preferred Kinzan.

                      Icic.. Since you have 2 nights in Asahikawa, no harm trying jingisukan then. :)

                      For Mount Hakodate, you should drive up to the ropeway. The walk is uphill and extremely steep. And yup, you can drive around motomachi and to Goryokaku Tower.

                    • Carmen says:

                      Hi I juz got back yday n I wana say thank you to u for all ur tips n blog posts. For da food part i followed urs closely. Let me share some stuff w u too. We cldnt find Kinzan…we arr at Sanyo but it wasnt there? We ate at Hama Steakhse. Very good. They cook in front of u. We rented car fr Nippon very good experience. They provide Eng mapbook w mapcodes n disc vouchers. We used da disc for Mt Asahidake ropeway – da hiking is great…u must go for this if u havent. We didnt make it to Hokuryu as my hubs not well. But we saw sunflower fields at lake toya n furano n biei. Flower farms at furano n biei were gorgeous.

                    • bumblebeemum says:

                      Thank you for coming back to share about the trip! Hmm, maybe kinzan closed down then. The restaurants at Susukino tend to come and go. Too much competition I guess. I shall KIV Hama Steakhouse for my future trip! :)

                      I shall reserve hiking when my kids are older.. hoho… I cannot imagine hiking halfway and the kids decide they can’t walk anymore. -_-

                      I’m so envious of everyone who gets to visit Furano and Biei in July / August. I always recommend people to visit it but I have never gotten the chance to see it personally since I only travel during school holidays. Sad sad. Maybe after retirement. Hahaha…

                    • Carmen says:

                      We made it to Ohashi farm for cherry picking. Asahiyama zoo was good too. There is a cheap n good jingisukan at Asahikawa. Its no 1 on tripadvisor n has a few outlets. U have stayed at a Tsuruga onsen at East Hokkaido? We were so impressed by the one at Lake Shikotsu!

                    • bumblebeemum says:

                      The jingisukan is that good huh? I’ve never been a big fan of jingisukan. But I think I should give it another try after hearing you rave about it.

                      Yes, I stayed at Tsuruga at Lake Akan. Though I went for the more budget option. They allowed us to use the facilities at their more luxurious ryokan though. The Tsuruga group is pretty prestigious and reputable in Hokkaido. I can just imagine what the Lake Shikotsu one is like! I envy you to be able to stay there.

                    • Carmen says:

                      This was in fact our 1st trip to Japan. If we wana go Eastern Hokkaido how many days do I need n which season ds best? Or if we were to go main Japan side which parts shd I go first? Thanks. Oh ya we opted for HEP n was just easier. The car renting part was not complicated at all.

                    • bumblebeemum says:

                      Eastern Hokkkaido is definitely best visited in Winter. I would say give it at least 10 days, because winter daylight hours are short and driving around take double the time due to the snow. If you want to ski, then best if you have 2 weeks.

                      For mainland Japan, most people opt for the Tokyo – Kyoto – Osaka golden route for their first trip.

                      Yeah, HEP is ultra convenient. Just that I don’t think it is really that money-saving.

                    • Carmen says:

                      Wish to send u pic of the wagyu beef at Hama hehe. Oh ya the jingisukan super long q n my hubs thinks ppl r crazy to q … pls go to their branch that is less smoky. Their lamb has 3 types … raw … herb marinated n the steaks. Juz 700 or 800 yen per serving. My daughter loved it n she rejected wagyu beef! Oh my daughter is 4 n she loves hiking even at age 2 or 3 I duno y. We have done hiking elsewhere like in Western Aust last yr too. This Hokkaido truly is a good hol as we eat diff stuff evyday

                    • bumblebeemum says:

                      Haha… Eating makes up half the fun at Hokkaido for sure! All these food talk is making me hungry. If you ever return to Hokkaido again, don’t forget to visit my blog. 😀

  11. ying yin says:

    Hi Bumblebeemum!

    Firstly I would really like to thank you for putting in so much effort to write such comprehensive and detailed posts!! Really helps many people plan their trip :)

    I would like to ask you for some advice regarding my upcoming trip with my Mom! I’m 22 and my mom is 58 and it is our first trip together just the two of us haha so I really want it to be good! We have already been to hokkaido before during the winter and have done the major sightseeing stuff in sapporo/otaru/lake toya/ainu etc as we went with a tour group and covered it rather extensively so I’m not really looking at going to those places anymore.

    Where do you think we can insert ryokan onsen stays? I really love onsen!

    This is my rough outline so far:
    7 july Tuesday
    Reach 11.45am Sapporo itself for eating/walk walk/relax

    8 july
    Car from Sapporo to shakotan + kamui cape
    yoichi area fruit picking – there are farms for strawberry + cherry picking. or should i do it on the way to biei?
    Niseko – what is there to see during this period? Or should I skip this?
    Then overnight hakodate?

    9 july
    hakodate – Morning market + tour area
    back to Sapporo + overnight

    10 july
    sapporo – bibai – honeysuckle picking
    cherry picking at ohashi cherry farm?
    biei
    kamifurano
    overnight furano

    11 july
    furano – kamifurano, farm tomita, nakafurano, cherry picking at ohashi cherry farm
    campana rokkatei
    ?overnight unkai terrace/furano?

    12 july
    unkai terrace
    ? what else to do
    630pm return car & reach airport – walk around airport
    9pm: flight back

    i can extend my trip to 13 July and take the 9pm flight back, but what else do you recommend i do? Places to include do not necessarily have to be the usual tourist destinations!

    Also what else do you recommend to be inserted into the itinerary above! i don’t mind driving more/seeing stuff

    Thank you very very much for your help!!

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Hi,

      Thank you for visiting my blog. :)

      Your itinerary is WAY too rushed. If you want to cover all those places you listed, you definitely need to extend till 13th.

      7 July: I recommend you rent the car from the airport and do your honeysuckle picking on this day if you are looking at Rurumappu Natural Park. It is located between New Chitose Airport and Sapporo. You can skip backtracking to this area later on.

      8 July: That is too much you are trying to cover in a day. I recommend ending the day at Niseko. Even then you will be spending many hours in the car already. If you don’t want to visit Otaru, then Yoichi for fruit picking is a good way to break up the long drive.

      Niseko is mostly about adventure in Summer (rafting / canoeing / tree trekking / zip lines etc.) but I don’t think your mum will be interested? Anyway by the time you reach Niseko, you probably won’t have much time for those. You’ll just be looking for a place to rest for the night. There are some accommodation in Niseko that have onsen, such as Hilton, The Green Leaf and Kasara at Nisko Village and Hotel Niseko Alpen in Grand Hirafu. If you are in time, I highly recommend visiting Milk Kobo. You can also go for a stroll at Fukidashi Park, and bring your bottles to fetch some fresh spring water. You can read about our pretty idle time in Niseko where we went Milk Kobo and Fukidashi Park on this post:
      http://bumblebeemum.net/2014/10/22/hokkaido-self-drive-with-kids-june-2014/

      There is a very nice cafe called Cafe If at Grand Hirafu that I love. They have awesome hot chocolate and cheesecake, but they close at dusk during summer. It is listed on on this post:
      http://bumblebeemum.net/2015/04/15/hokkaido-best-sweets-cafe/

      9 July: After checking out, drive to Hakodate. Along the way, you can go for a stroll around Onuma Koen. Do the usual Hakodate sightseeing for the rest of the day. Be up at Mount Hakodate at night for the night view. Spend the night at Hakodate.

      10 July: Visit Hakodate morning market in the morning. Hakodate to Furano is super far. I recommend shifting Tomamu up. So spend the night at Tomamu on this day. Between Hakodate and Tomamu, Noboribetsu would be an ideal stop. Alternatively, look into Yubari since you are visiting during melon season. Yubari melons are supposed to be the most famous.

      11 July: Go up Unkai Terrace in the morning. After that, head to Furano. Do all the stuff you want to do around Furano. You may not be able to complete all the things you want to do. If you are unable to complete, leave it for 13th. Just take your time, relax and smell the flower *literally*.

      12 July: Go to Biei and do all the sightseeing around Biei.

      13 July: Complete any remaining stuff you want to do in Furano before driving back to New Chitose Airport for last minute shopping, eating and flight back.

      Hokkaido is mostly about food and the flowers and melon in July. Don’t rush the sights and try to spend some time at cafes that pop up along the way. One place I recommend visiting in Furano in July is Farm Okudaira. They have melon buffet in July!
      http://kimi-tourguide.blogspot.sg/2012/08/farm-okudaira-all-you-can-eat-furano.html

      The other cafe you should visit in Biei is Sanai No Chaya Curve. You can find it on this post, along with other cafes worth visiting:
      http://bumblebeemum.net/2015/04/15/hokkaido-best-sweets-cafe/

      • Ying Yin Chew says:

        Dear Bumblebeedmum,

        thank you so much really for your very fast and detailed reply!! Really appreciate it A LOT :)

        would just like to clarify the itinerary and ask some questions!

        7 July: rent car from airport – honeysuckle picking – sapporo (overnight)

        8 July: it is too rushed to go to shakotan and cape kamui? sapporo – yoichi – shakotan/cape kamui – niseko overnight? would really want to try uni from shakotan area haha

        10 July: i think i would go to yubari! do you have any recommendations? its either yubari or Noboribetsu right?

        11 – 13 july is for furano/biei but i went to do more research and realised that i don’t really want to go to biei as it seems that its more famous for the trees and the patchwork kind of fields which i think is not really a must-see kind of thing?

        how would you recommend i spend these 3 days? and also, for onsen only niseko will have the chance to?

        thank you for telling me about farm okudaira will look it up! :)

        once again, i really thank you so much for your help :) hope this trip with my mom will be good!!

        • bumblebeemum says:

          8 July: The route is doable comfortably in 1 day if you set off early. Since you have already collected your rental car on 7 July, you can leave Sapporo earlier on 8 July. Plan to reach Yoichi at 9am, which is the time Yamamoto Sightseeing Orchard opens. After that, drive to Cape Shakotan for a quick photo stop before going for your uni lunch. From there, continue to Cape Kamui. Since you are going with your mum, you should expect to spend 1.5 hours there to slowly hike to the end of the cape and back. After that, drive to Niseko. You may want to drop by Milk Kobo (closing time 6pm in Summer) or Cafe IF before checking in to the hotel. If you still have time, you can go for a stroll at Fukidashi Park before dinner.

          10 July: I haven’t been to Yubari, but you can check out this website (use Google translate to read it). They have some recommended places to visit.
          http://www.tabirai.net/sightseeing/tatsujin/0000157.aspx

          Depending on how much time you spend at Hakodate morning market, you may by able to cover both Noboribetsu and Yubari. Here are the approximate driving times:
          Hakodate – Noboribetsu Onsen (3 hours)
          Noboribetsu – Yubari (1.5 hours)
          Yubari – Tomamu (1 hour)

          I would actually go to Noboribetsu as a rest point for the long drive. The main thing about Noboribetsu is Jigokudani (Hell’s Valley), which won’t take up a lot of time. Furthermore, there is nothing much at Tomamu other than the onsen and wave pool which can both be visited even after dark. When we visited Tomamu in summer, the main purpose was to visit Unkai Terrace, so we only arrived at Tomamu at night, slept, and went up to Unkai Terrace the next morning.

          11-13 July: Regarding Biei, I had the same feeling as you when I saw all the websites talking about celebrity trees which are pretty yawnz. But after I went there, I really appreciated the town and it’s a place I want to go back again. It is not about the trees per say, but the whole countryside. The celebrity trees were pretty lame, but I really enjoyed the drive from point to point and just being surrounded by the hills and mountains. Between Patchwork Road and Panorama Road, Panorama Road is more scenic. The trees are mostly located at Patchwork Road. Panorama Road is where Shikisai no Oka, Sanai no Oka and Shinnei no Oka are located and they are all places I definitely recommmend visiting. If you don’t want to see the celebrity trees, you can visit Shirogane Onsen where the blue pond and some waterfalls are located. If you are a foodie, you can even drive all the way to Asahikawa to visit Asahikawa Ramen Village.

          So for those 3 days, you can consider visiting the following places:

          Furano:
          – Tomita Farm + Tomita Melon House
          – Flower Land Kamifurano
          – Nakafurano Choei Lavender Park
          – Furano Jam Garden + Rokugou Observatory
          – Furano Cheese Factory
          – Furano Wine Factory
          – Campana Rokkatei
          – Furano Delice
          – Kumagera (my favourite restaurant in Furano)
          – Farm Okudaira
          – Ohashi Cherry Farm

          Biei (Panorama Road)
          – Shikisai No Oka
          – Sanai No Oka + Sanai No Chaya Cafe Curve
          – Shinnei No Oka
          – Farm Restaurant Chiyoda + Chiyoda Farm

          Biei (Patchwork Road)
          – Hokusei No Oka
          – Hill of Zerebu
          – Celebrity Trees

          Biei (Shirogane Onsen)
          – Blue Pond
          – Shirohige Waterfall
          http://www.biei-hokkaido.jp/en/search/sightseeing/000060.html
          – Shirogane Fudo Falls
          http://www.biei-hokkaido.jp/en/search/sightseeing/000249.html
          – Mount Tokachi Observatory
          http://www.biei-hokkaido.jp/en/search/sightseeing/000239.html

          Asahikawa:
          – Asahikawa Ramen Village

          • Ying Yin Chew says:

            Hello!

            Once again, thank you so much for replying so quickly :) :) Sorry I’m replying at such weird timings haha I’m in London now!

            Thank you very much for your help for Day 8!! That makes so much sense :)

            So basically go to noboribetsu to see Hell’s valley then go to tomamu?

            You’ve really convinced me to go to Biei for Panorama Road! I’ve read quite a bit about the blue pond and was quite interested in going! Thank you for reminding me about it :)

            Was thinking of spending a bit more time in Sapporo for the food haha

            Also my mom is very concerned about driving in hokkaido haha so wanted to check with you. How do you think its like compared to Singapore? Especially with regards to traffic, how easy it is to navigate the roads, how easy it is to find parking as well as whether the roads are safe to drive? Like is it mountainous area where roads are slippery or like very narrow roads kinda thing?

            Do you think its more feasible to take public transport around instead of self-drive? I actually ruled out public transport because it will impose constraints on time spent at a place but my mom feels like driving will be quite tiring and won’t enjoy as much :/

            • bumblebeemum says:

              Hi,

              You can go Noboribetsu to see Hell’s Valley then go to Yubari first before going Tomamu. There’s no need to reach Tomamu that early and Yubari is along the way.

              The thing about spending more time at Furano / Biei vs spending more time in Sapporo is the season. To me, I can go to Sapporo easily and doesn’t make a difference which season I go. Whereas to see the flower fields in Furano and Biei, it can only be done in July and August. Hence, if I ever get to go Hokkaido in July or August, I would definitely spend more time to cover that region comprehensively because I may not have another chance to do so. And btw, food in Furano / Biei is fantastic too.

              Driving in Hokkaido is super easy because there is so little traffic (compared to Singapore). There is built-in GPS in rental cars so it’s really easy to get around. You just need to research for telephone numbers / map codes of the places you want to go beforehand.

              Parking is also much easier to find than in Singapore. In the cities, it is mostly coin parking and they are EVERYWHERE. In more rural areas like Shakotan / Furano / Biei, the parking lot of usually right in front of the attraction and mostly free. Sometimes we just pull our car over at the road to take photos since there is so little traffic. Along expressways, there are PA and SA which are rest areas. The GPS have logos to tell you what facilities are available so anytime you are tired, look for a PA / SA with a cup logo and pull over. Anyway all rest areas will at least have a vending machine which sometimes is good enough for me to grab a can of coffee. The roads, though mountainous, are very well-maintained. They are usually one-laned but not very narrow. As long as you don’t speed, you are unlikely to encounter problems. As a general courtesy, slow down when the locals attempt to overtake you (you will see them cutting into the lane in the opposite direction through your rear view / side view mirror when they want to do so) and let them pass. If it is raining, just drive slower. If there is typhoon or earthquake (it is Japan afterall), just don’t go driving around.

              Looking at your itinerary, I suggest you keep to driving. You won’t be able to complete the itinerary without a car. Driving is much less tiring than having to carry luggage on and off trains and buses imo.

              • Ying Yin Chew says:

                Dear Bumblebeemum,

                Because of some reasons, my trip now has been shortened by one day :/ what do you think I should take out?

                Also thank you very much for your assurance :) managed to convince my mom!

                • Ying Yin Chew says:

                  Dear Bumblebeemum,

                  This is the new itinerary i am considering:

                  8 july:
                  10.35am reach new chitose → Hakodate

                  9 july: morning market
                  hakodate → Sapporo
                  overnight Sapporo

                  10 july: Sapporo → Yoichi fruit picking 9am yamamoto sightseeing orchard→ cape shakotan → uni lunch → cape kamui (1.5hours to hike)
                  otaru (decided if time allows might stopover to see the canals in the summer season cos have only seen in the winter)
                  overnight sapporo

                  11 july
                  Sapporo → biei + furano
                  overnight furano

                  12 july: furano flower fields
                  drive to tomamu

                  13 july flight: tomamu unkai terrace morning
                  yubari
                  new chitose airport shopping

                  what do you think of this?

                  • Ying Yin Chew says:

                    hi! i just checked and tomamu hotel is fully booked :/ what do you suggest i do? thanks!

                    • bumblebeemum says:

                      Hi,

                      Sorry for the late reply coz I’m currently overseas.

                      Your itinerary is achievable, just that you will be driving a lot.

                      Considering there are only 2 of you and you are the only person driving, I recommend you take the train to Hakodate and back. Train is actually faster than driving, and probably cheaper with just 2 people. Find a hotel next to Hakodate station so that you minimize carrying luggage around. Then for Sapporo, find a hotel near Sapporo station. If you do that, you will probably have to pick up the rental car on 9 July night so that you can set off early on 10 July.

                      What if you do everything in reverse? Would you be able to get your accommodations?

                    • Ying Yin Chew says:

                      Hi Bumblebeemum,

                      Its okay!! Hope you enjoyed your holiday :)

                      Forgot to mention that yes I was planning on taking the train to hakodate! Tomamu hotel is fully booked for the period i’m there :/ what do you think I should do with the “extra” time?

                      Once again, really grateful for your help :)

                    • bumblebeemum says:

                      I’ll probably spend one more night in Furano if Tomamu is fully booked and go about the sights slowly. There are tons of flower fields, and if you get sick of them there are still the cheese factory, wine factory, jam factory etc to keep yourself entertained. Plus so much to eat! 11 July you can focus on Biei and Shirogane onsen area, then 12 July focus on Furano.

  12. Samuel says:

    Hi,

    I am heading to Hokkaido next week and will be driving around. May I ask how long does it take to drive from Sapporo to Furano and will it be possible to do a day trip to Tomita Farm as well as Flower Land Kamifurano? (your pictures look really nice)! If there is enough time what other places would you suggest for a day trip from Sapporo to Furano?

    Sam :)

    • bumblebeemum says:

      It is a 3 hour drive from Sapporo to Furano. Technically, it is possible to do a day trip to Furano from Sapporo, visiting Tomita Farm and Flower Land Kamifurano. Are you comfortable with driving in the dark? Like pitch dark? If not, you may just want to keep it to 2 places and head back to Sapporo before it gets dark.

  13. Sng says:

    Hi,

    Is the GPS gadget in the rented cars in English and easy to use?

    Many thanks.

    Sjs

    • bumblebeemum says:

      If you need an English GPS, you would need to put in a request for one when you make your car rental booking.

      Japan’s GPS are very easy to use because they use telephone numbers / map codes of the destinations. So you no need to worry about spellings for the name of places or deciphering between places with similar names. The input of the destination is extremely straightforward. Navigation wise, I find it works better in rural areas than built-up areas like cities. You may find yourself making a few wrong turns in the cities before finally getting on the right track because the GPS detected the wrong location (e.g. thinking you are on a parallel street) or even wrong direction.

      • Anonymous says:

        Dear Bumblebeemum,

        Grateful for your quick reply. Also found your write up on car rentals in your blog. Very comprehensive too.

        Looking forward to getting more tips and info very soon.

        Best,
        Sjs

  14. Kate says:

    Hi Bumbleemum,

    Really need your help!! I’m planning to travel to Hokkaido End Sept for about 12 days. There will be 3 Adult and 2 Children (4yr and 6yr). Planning to start off from Sapporo due to the long flight. Would you suggest your June 14 itinerary but in the reverse order?

    Sept, esp 20th-22nd seem to be a super peak season? Sapporo Mercure is fully booked in Sept on it’s website! Do you think it’s a good time to visit or should hold till Nov? Do you have any other hotel recommendation?

    I’ve some problems with the lodging. I’m hoping to book 1 room to save on cost. Should I enter 3 adult or 3 adult 2 children into the booking site? If I put 3 adults only, will there be enough room for 5? The price also differ quite abit. Between websites and between the no. of pple. E.g. Toya Sun Palace. Japanican quote 32250yen (SG$350) for 3A and 47300yen (Sg$515) for 3A2C. Rakuten quote 28350 ($308) for 3A and 33750 ($367) for 3A2C.

    Also, read in your blog that Toya Sun Palace shouldn’t be more than $300? It seems a little exp with the quotes I get? Sapporo Mercure from other booking website is more than $200 too…. Is there a booking site that you would recommend?

    For the car rental, I checked the Toyota website and it’s about $110/day? For Times Car through Tocoo it’s about $62/day, however it only has Japan GPS. Which one would you recommend for first time on budget visitor?

    Thanks you!
    Kate

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Hi,

      September 21-23 happens to be Japan’s public holiday. You can refer to this website for their public holidays:
      http://www.timeanddate.com/holidays/japan/

      But no, I would not recommend going in November. September is a much better time to visit Hokkaido than November. Just use websites like hotels.com / agoda to find hotels that are still available. Hotels in Japan are generally clean, albeit a bit small in terms of room size. Find any hotel within walking distance to Susukino / Odori / Sapporo station.

      Itinerary wise, September is a good time to visit Autumn spots. I wouldn’t follow my June itinerary which was done in Summer. For late september, the places you want to be are Asahidake and Niseko region which are most likely to have beautiful autumn foliage at that time. You should also visit Furano and Biei as the flower fields should still be blooming (though lavender season will be over).

      For accommodation, onsen resorts like Toya Sun Palace charge by per pax. Even if you book just 1 room, they do a head count (though the average cost per pax for using 1 room should be cheaper than 2 rooms). Usually the rates go like 10,000yen each for first 2 pax, then maybe 7000yen for 3rd pax, 6000yen for 4th pax, 5000yen for 5th pax in the room etc. Your kids are both above 4 and will be charged child rate which is usually 3000+yen per child per night. If you don’t enter your kids into the booking, you will still be asked to pay for them in cash during check-in. $367 for 3A2C actually sounds reasonable. When I went, I was only paying for 2 adults because both my kids below 4 did not have to pay.

      Sapporo Mercure’s rates fluctuate a lot by season. If you run into festivals and public holidays, the rates go up to $200. But lull periods, their rates can be as low as $80. Another hotel nearby you can try is ANA Holiday Inn Susukino. But for 3A2C, you definitely need 2 double / twin rooms to pack in 3A2C at these city hotels. Or you will have to find family rooms.

      The hotel I tried which had family rooms was Hotel Royal Stay Sapporo, but it was pretty far from the subway station. It is maybe 10-15min walk to Susukino? We ended up driving from the hotel to the main shopping area in Susukino and paying for parking, but it was still cheaper than booking Mercure at that time.

      Car rental wise I always book the cheapest. But please check the total cost for Times Car after adding in Tocoo insurance which is compulsory if you book through them to see if it’s really much cheaper.

      If you are on a budget, just choose the cheapest. What you want to note about smaller companies is that they may not speak English which would pose a problem if you need to call them when something happens on the road. But if I’m not mistaken, Tocoo has this translator service in case you are worried that you cannot communicate with the car rental company if *touch wood* there is an accident or emergency.
      http://www2.tocoo.jp/en/contents/info/trs

      Of course, adding in Tocoo insurance and their extra services such as translation services, you need to see if it’s still really much cheaper than Toyota. Have you checked Tocoo’s price for Toyota? It may be cheaper than Toyota website direct. Toyota does give a peace of mind if you do not speak Japanese because they have multilingual GPS and English emergency helpline.

      • Kate says:

        Thank you for your reply. Really appreciate that! Will re-look into my itinerary. :)

        • bumblebeemum says:

          You’re welcome. Feel free to pop by if you need help. :)

          • Anonymous says:

            Hi Bubblebee mum,

            My plan for this Sep fell through but I’m determine to make it happen the next Sep! Should have plenty of time for next Sep…hee

            Would like to ask where should I visit first week of Sep? Looking at 2-11 Sep. I think it’s in between season, so i’m not sure should we visit summer flower fields / autumn scenes….

            If we’ve 8-10 days, where are the must that we should visit? Thanks!!

            • bumblebeemum says:

              Yeah, first week September is in between season and not particularly exciting. It is definitely too early for any kind of autumn scenery, but the flower fields in Furano / Biei should still be blooming so I would head there. Other than that, you can visit Noboribetsu / Lake Toya / Otaru which are great in any season.

              • Kate says:

                Thank you for your reply. Will follow your suggestions. =)

                • bumblebeemum says:

                  You’re welcome. Have a great trip!

                  • Kate says:

                    Hi Bumblebeemum,

                    I’ve 10 days from 1 Sep. Tentative plan is that we’ll touch down at noon. Since it’s in between season, should I start at Furano / Biei to catch the remaining flower bed first? Or sapporo first? Or Noboribetsu?

                    In order to save on car rental and parking, should I start at Sapporo, de-tour to Furano / Biei before going to Otaru? Is there any recommended lodging to stay at Furano / Biei?

                    Should we be visiting Asahidake and Niseko region as it may be too early for autumn foliage?

                    Below is a rough plan, is it ok? Anywhere that I should stay longer or shorter?

                    Day 1: Chitose at Noon to Sapporo
                    Day 2: Sapporo
                    Day 3: Sapporo to Furano /Biei
                    Day 4: Furano / Biei to Otaru
                    Day 5 Otaru to Niseko
                    Day 6: Niseko to Hakodate
                    Day 7: Hakodate
                    Day 8: Hakodate to Lake Toya
                    Day 9: Lake Toya to Noboribetsu
                    Day 10: Noboribetsu to Lake Shikotsu to Chitose Terminal Hotel
                    Day 11: Plane back

                    Appreciate your input! Thanks!

                    • bumblebeemum says:

                      It is too early for autumn foliage at Ashidake and Niseko. But yes, you should go to the flower fields in Furano and Biei, there will still be plenty of flowers there. I would spend at least 2 fulls days in the region to cover Furano, Biei and Shirogane Onsen.

                      If you want to save on car rental, your current itinerary would work (i.e. starting in Sapporo). I would skip Niseko to spend more time at Furano / Biei.

                      Day 1: Chitose at Noon to Sapporo
                      Day 2: Sapporo
                      Day 3: Sapporo (Day trip to Otaru)
                      Day 4: Sapporo to Furano (Furano sightseeing) *start car rental on this day
                      Day 5: Furano (day trip to Biei and Shirogane onsen)
                      Day 6 Furano to Noboribetsu
                      Day 7: Noboribetsu to Hakodate
                      Day 8: Hakodate
                      Day 9: Hakodate to Lake Toya
                      Day 10: Lake Toya to Lake Shikotsu to CTS
                      Day 11: Plane back

                      For Furano, we stayed at Hotel Edel Warme. Nothing to rave about, no frills, clean and simple – which is all we really needed. We stayed there coz it was pretty cheap for our dates. The more popular place to stay is New Furano Prince Hotel which has better facilities.

  15. Ying Yin Chew says:

    Hi bumblebeemum,

    thank you very much for your help thus far :) would like to ask if i should book a car with the ETC plan in my case – driving sapporo – furano – biei – tomamu – yubari – new chitose?

    Thank you!!

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Hi,

      Yes, if the price difference between an ETC plan and non-ETC plan does not differ much. An ETC card is always good to have. It gives great discount on toll fees.

      • Ying Yin Chew says:

        Hello! Thank you very much for your reply :) also just to confirm, international driving licence is not required right?

        also are there any free parking near sapporo JR?

        thank you for your help!!

        • bumblebeemum says:

          International Driving License is required!! Apply for one at AA before you leave. Application is immediate.
          http://www.aas.com.sg/
          You need to bring BOTH IDP and Singapore driving license with you to rent a car in Japan.

          Neh.. You are unlikely to find free parking at Sapporo City Centre. If you have plans to shop or dine at any of the Department stores (e.g. Daimaru), then park at the department store’s carpark. Department stores usually give parking discount if you shop / dine there.

  16. Christine says:

    Thank you so much for your detailed write up! Your blog keeps coming up as a result for all sorts of googling I do! It has given me some good ideas about places to go. Right now, I’m looking out over a rainy Lake Toya and will head off to Niseko to stay at the Milky Inn tomorrow.

    • bumblebeemum says:

      When I was there last June, it rained everyday! Hope the weather clears up so that you get a beautiful view of the lake tomorrow. I always love the view of the lakes first thing in the morning most. Have a great trip!

  17. Tang says:

    Hello Bumblebeemum,

    Thank you for sharing you trip experience. Reading from your blog, would like to tap on your wealth of experience for Hokkaido.

    My friend & I will be arriving to Chitose (first visit to Hokkaido) from osaka on 1 Aug to 9 Aug & I intend to self drive (am the only driver) as my friend do not drive. Is it safe for two ladies?

    Below is my itinerary & would like to seek your advice whether the plan route is ok? Would like a leisure drive & would want to finish the day’s drive before it gets dark. Or would it it better to take train?

    Any suggestions on where to stay? Along the way, do let me know what is the “must try” food. Yummy… we are also game for some sea sports e.g. canoeing or rafting or whalwe watching… hmmm seems to much to cover within the short trip.

    1 Aug: Arrive chitose airport at 1420
    Drive to Asahikawa or take limited express train?
    – spend a night at Asahikawa.

    2 Aug:
    – Furano & Biei flower land (kamifurano, panorama road: shikisai no oka, shinnei no oka, sanai no oka, chiyoda farm & patchwork road… as per yput itinerary)
    – Mt Asahidake
    – Is it worth visiting the zoo or can skip?
    – Side trip to Honuryu for sunflower. Any lavender or tulip there?
    – since is summer, hope to catch summer festival with colourful parade, street performances & fireworks
    – is it too much to cover for one day?

    3 Aug:
    – Shiretoko to see UNESCO national park
    – boat tour & 5 lakes of Shiretoko

    4Aug: Hakodate
    – Lake Toya
    – what can we do in between?
    – See fireworks at Lake Toya

    5 Aug: Hakodate
    – Red brick warehouse district
    – Hokadate morning market (buy dried scallops)
    – Eat melon (Is Yubari near Hokadate?)
    – Mt Hokadate

    6 Aug: Otaru
    – Drive to Shakotan Peninsula
    – Cape kamui
    – visit steaPleasem clock

    7 Aug: Chitose

    8 Aug: Sapporo
    – Sapporo central wholesale market
    – Nakajima Koen (Sopporo Festival?)
    – Susukino district (understand the parking is expensive, shld we return the car for the rest of the trip?)
    – Odari park & underground shoppinh arcade

    9 Aug: Sapporo (leave chitose airport to osaka itami at noon)

    Appreciate if you can advice if the above plan works?

    Many thanks
    Tang

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Hi,

      Thank you for visiting my blog, and let me try to answer your questions one by one.

      1 Aug:
      Drive to Asahikawa or take limited express train? I recommend taking the train for 2 people.

      2 Aug:
      – Mt Asahidake I don’t think you have enough time for Mt Asahidake.
      – Is it worth visiting the zoo or can skip? Given the limited time you have, I recommend skipping the zoo.
      – Side trip to Honuryu for sunflower. Any lavender or tulip there? Don’t think so, think it’s just sunflowers.
      – is it too much to cover for one day? YES. I recommend you just stay at Furano / Biei area and focus on the flower fields. I don’t think you have time to visit Mt Asahidake and Hokuryu Sunflower Field.

      3 Aug: Skip Shiretoko. It is too far and too rushed. I recommend you spend 2 days in the Furano / Biei area to take in the sights of the flowers and lavender leisurely. If you have time, then visit Hokuryu Sunflower Field which is within reasonable distance.

      4Aug: Hakodate (Do you mean Lake Toya?)
      – what can we do in between? You can stop by Lake Shikotsu in between.

      5 Aug:
      – Eat melon (Is Yubari near Hokadate?) No, it is not. If you want to eat melons, there are melon farms at Furano. Okudaira Farm at Furano has melon buffet in summer. You can also buy Yubari melons at Hakodate Morning Market. There is no need (and no time) to go to Yubari.

      6 Aug: Be prepared that the drive from Hakodate to Cape Kamui to Shakotan to Otaru is extremely long. Don’t forget you should visit Hakodate Morning Market before setting off. By the time you reach Otaru, the shops along Sakaimachi will be closed. But you can visit them the next day.

      7 Aug: Chitose You should plan to stay at Sapporo on this day. Start the day exploring Otaru, since you will probably reach very late the previous day. Then go back to Sapporo and return the car when you reach Sapporo.

      8 Aug:
      – Nakajima Koen (Sopporo Festival?) Sapporo Festival is in June.

      So transport wise, you can rent the car from Asahikawa on 2 Aug and return it to Sapporo on 7 Aug.

  18. Claire says:

    Dear Bumblebeemum

    Thank you for sharing all your insights on holidaying in Hokkaido! It has been really helpful.

    My family and I (5 people in total) are planning to rent a car and have 6 days in Hokkaido from 31 July to 4 July. We will be flying into CTS on the evening of 30 July and departing on the morning of 5 Aug.

    Would you share which do you think are the best places to cover within the 6 days in Hokkaido during summer?

    Hope you hear from you soon! Thank you! :)

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Hi,

      For summer, the best places to visit would definitely be the Furano / Biei area. That is where the flower and lavender fields are. Please be prepared that accommodation in Furano for July-August may be booked out by now. If you fail to secure accommodation, your next best option is to base yourself in Asahikawa. It is a 1 hour drive to Biei / 1.5 hours to Furano from Asahikawa.

      Since you only have 5 full days, I recommend spending 3 days at Furano / Biei, 1 day at Otaru and 1 day at Sapporo. So for 30 July – 2 Aug, you can stay at Asahikawa (assuming you cannot get accommodation at Furano or Biei), 3 Aug drive to Otaru as a day trip then go back to Sapporo for the night, 4 Aug do some sightseeing in Sapporo before returning the car to New Chitose Airport and spend the night at Air Terminal Hotel since you have a morning flight the next day.

  19. Tang says:

    Hi Bumblebeemum,

    Thank you for your advice. So to recap, does the below itinerary looks more achievable now? I need your help & advice from Day 4 onwards to go to Hokadate.

    Day 1 – Arrive Chitose airport & take limited train to Asahikawa (Any hotel to recommend to stay in Asahikawa?)

    Day 2 – Collect car & drive to Furano

    Day 3 – Biei -> Hokuryu Sunflower field

    Day 4 to Day 9 – Any suggestion how to set off from Asahikawa to Hokadate?

    Would like to visit Otaru & Sapporo for the last day of my trip.

    Sorry to trouble you….
    Tang

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Hi, accommodation wise, you may not have much choice left by now since it’s peak season. Use a hotel booking website to find a hotel near JR Asahikawa station since you will be coming by train and that is where you can probably find car rental companies. I did a quick check on Agoda and only Hotel Paco Asahikawa, Asahikawa Grand Hotel and Natural Spa Hotel Paco Asahikawa are available for your dates. And they all only have small double rooms left which, please be prepared, will be very small. The two Paco hotels are much nearer to the station than Grand Hotel, but Grand Hotel’s room is 4 sqm larger. So depends which is more important to you: distance or size of room.

      For Day 4 onwards, you can go:

      Day 4: Asahikawa – Lake Toya. Stay Lake Toya.
      Day 5: Lake Toya – Hakodate. Stay Hakodate.
      Day 6: Hakodate – Cape Kamui – Shakotan Peninsular – Otaru. Stay Otaru.
      Day 7: Otaru – Sapporo
      Day 8: Sapporo
      Day 9: Sapporo – New Chitose Airport

      The drive from Asahikawa to Lake Toya and Hakodate to Cape Kamui are extremely long (approx 4 hours). I recommend taking a break somewhere mid-point for these drives. Between Asahikawa to Lake Toya, I would take a break at Chitose Rera Outlet. And between Hakodate to Cape Kamui, I would take a break at PA Yakumo (a rest stop along the expressway).

      • Tang says:

        Thank you Bumblebeemum for your recommendation on the hotels & suggested itinerary.

        May i ask base on the itinerary, do you think i need to:

        – purchase a ETC card & HEP?

        – i remembered reading one of your blog which u showed how to use a japanese GPS (with pictures) however i cant find the link. Do you think you can send me the link of the blog?

        – For the GPS, to enter the map code – does it refer to the last six digit of the address? Likewise to key in the telephone number, do i include the country code e.g. + 81…?

        – for hakodate to otaru, do you think i can insert niseko in my itinerary i.e. Stay one night at niseko instead of otaru?

        Sorry to trouble you again…
        Tang

  20. Anonymous says:

    Thanks Bumblebeemum for your insightful advice that I can come out with my itinerary.

    I will only spend one full day from Asahikawa to cover furano & Biei. Hope is not too rush?

    As for the car rental, I have a few questions to clarify:

    – Base on my itinerary, do you think I should rent an ETC and HEP?

    – I came across your blog mentioning about “how to use Japanese GPS”, can you direct me to the link again?

    – You mentioned about using postal code & telephone number for GPS. Is the postal code referring to the 7 digit e.g. (Sapporo 064-0804 is the postal code?) and the telephone number to be key in is +81 11-513-1100 (is that the way to key in telephone number?)

    Thanks & hear from you again.
    Tang

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Hi,

      One day for Biei and Furano is definitely too rushed. Especially when you are starting from Asahikawa. It is a real waste to go to Hokkaido in August and only spend 1 day in the region imo. Hokkaido is a place that changes a lot by season. Some sights are seasonal, like the flower and lavender field in Biei and Furano. Others can be enjoyed in any season, like Otaru, Sapporo, Lake Toya, Hakodate. I know many readers who have came back from Hokkaido and make plans to go again in a different season, because they enjoyed it so much. Hence I always recommend readers to prioritize going to places that are limited to the season first. E.g. If someone is travelling in Summer, I recommend spending more time in Furano and Biei. If someone is going in Autumn, I recommend Daisetsuzan region or Jozankei onsen. If someone is going in Winter, I recommend the snow resorts and kushiro for the cranes. Places like Sapporo, Otaru, Lake Toya and Hakodate, you can visit any time of the year. So if I were in your shoes, given the limited time I have for this particular trip, I would actually focus on Biei and Furano. I would go to Shakotan, because their specialty, uni, can only be found in summer. But I would leave Hakodate for a future trip. Hokkaido is HUGE and 9 days is really not a lot, given the distances you need to travel. For short trips, it is best to focus on just one area in Hokkaido, in your case Central Hokkaido. Spend less time on the road, more time soaking in the scenery and enjoying the food. You won’t regret it.

      Regarding ETC or HEP, an ETC card is usually good enough.

      My post on how to use a Japanese GPS is here:
      http://bumblebeemum.net/2015/07/07/how-to-use-japanese-gps-to-avoid-tollways/

      No, not postal code. It’s map code. Postal code and map codes are totally different things. You can read more about map codes on this post:
      http://bumblebeemum.net/2015/03/31/japan-map-code-search/

      As for telephone number, change the +81 to 0 when you key into the GPS. So for the number “+81 11-513-1100”, you will key in “0115131100”.

      • Tang says:

        Noted with thanks… I agree with you. Too little time & too much to cover.

        Can i seek your advice on where are the places to visit in central region (beside furano & biei) during summer time for my 9 days there?

        Tang

        • bumblebeemum says:

          Keeping as much to your original itinerary as possible, this is what I would propose for 9 days in August:

          Day 1: New Chitose Airport – Asahikawa
          Day 2: Biei / Furano
          Day 3: Biei / Furano
          Day 4: Biei / Furano
          Day 5: Asahikawa – Lake Toya (Fruits farms at Sobetsu / Usuzan Ropeway / Lake Hill Farm / Silo Obeservatory). Stay Lake Toya.
          Day 6: Lake Toya – Cape Kamui – Shakotan Peninsular – Otaru. Stay Otaru.
          Day 7: Otaru – Sapporo
          Day 8: Sapporo
          Day 9: Sapporo – New Chitose Airport

          For Days 2-4, play around with your time to visit the following places, prioritizing based on what interests you most:

          Furano:
          Tomita Farm + Tomita Melon House
          Flower Land Kamifurano
          Nakafurano Choei Lavender Park
          Furano Jam Garden + Rokugou Observatory
          Furano Cheese Factory
          Furano Wine Factory
          Campana Rokkatei
          Furano Delice
          Kumagera (my favourite restaurant in Furano)
          Farm Okudaira (for melon buffet)
          Ohashi Cherry Farm

          Biei (Panorama Road)
          – Shikisai No Oka
          – Sanai No Oka + Sanai No Chaya Cafe Curve
          – Shinnei No Oka
          – Farm Restaurant Chiyoda + Chiyoda Farm

          Biei (Patchwork Road)
          – Hokusei No Oka
          – Hill of Zerebu
          – Celebrity Trees

          Biei (Shirogane Onsen)
          – Blue Pond
          Shirohige Waterfall
          Shirogane Fudo Falls
          Mount Tokachi Observatory

          Asahikawa:
          Asahikawa Ramen Village

          • Tang says:

            Thank you very much for your wise advice. Have been busy the whole week & I’m back to my planning again.

            Have sort of finalize my trip itinerary. Now am looking at car booking. I have checked tocoo, Toyota & (Nissan – could not get a quote due to drop off at Sapporo minami not available.)

            Toyota seems more expensive than tocoo. Have you use tocoo before? If yes, does tocoo have good speaking English support staff? Safe to book? In tocoo website they have an item called compensation coverage, is it the same as CDW?

            Hear from you soon…
            Tang

            • bumblebeemum says:

              Yes, I have used Tocoo before. They are safe, I have never had a problem with my bookings done through them. Booking a car through Tocoo is akin to booking hotels through the likes of Agoda / hotels.com / bookings.com / expedia etc. Tocoo will help you do your booking and make any changes to your reservation. They communicate through email and are proficient in English. But once in you are in Japan, you will be dealing directly with the car rental companies.

              Hmm… I have never used Tocoo’s compensation coverage. But it is highlighted in red that “*ToCoo! Do not cover compensation fees.”? They added that “*Compensation coverage is recommended
              *You can add it when booking or directly at rental car outlet.”
              http://www2.tocoo.jp/en/contents/info/cmpns_cvrg

              So I think if you want to cover CDW, you need to get comprehensive coverage from the car rental companies.

              • Tang says:

                Thank you sooo much for your help Bumblebeemum.

                Im now ready & looking forward to my trip.

                Is there anything you need from there that i can get for you?

                Tang

                • bumblebeemum says:

                  Ooo.. so exciting!! Have fun! No need to get anything for me lah… Funny, my friend who is returning tomorrow JUST whatsapped me to ask if I wanted anything from Hokkaido as well. But I told her what I’m telling you.. No need, because I’ll probably be there again within the next 1 year. Lolol..

  21. eco says:

    Hello, I am impressed with all your sharing above.

    If we have 19 days, will it be too long to spend all in Hokkaido?

    Does the hotel allow to book for Twin Bed room and accept children to stay in without any extra charge?

    Target for the travelling will be end of July – early of August, will it be the best time?

    Usually which website you refer to make the hotel booking? How long early we should make the booking to secure the room?

    Thanks

    • bumblebeemum says:

      If you ask me, 19 days is not too long. Because I LOVE Hokkaido so much! For my first trip, I was there in 1.5 months. Though I wasn’t there entirely for travelling (I spent the mornings going for Japanese lessons and afternoons / weekends touring). Even then, I only covered a fraction of Hokkaido because it is so huge (compared to Singapore that is. :p)!

      Regarding children stay, I used Agoda and click on ‘Booking condition’ or ‘Hotel information’ to read their child policy. Some hotels in Japan do not allow children to stay, so you got to be a bit careful. If they state that children are allowed to stay for free with existing bedding, then go ahead and book a twin room for 2 adults and just bring the kids along. If they state that children need to pay, what I usually do is I still book a twin room for 2 adults (because in Agoda, when I enter 2 adults and 2 child, they will limit my room choices). Then I pay the additional fee for the children to the hotel directly during check-in. Sometimes you get lucky and they don’t even ask you to pay for the kids! Though unlikely, especially for onsen resorts – those are super strict about the number of guests and age of children and will charge accordingly.

      Yes, end of July – early August is definitely the best time to visit Hokkaido for the flower & lavender field. Please book your trip waaayyyy in advance, because accommodation in Furano and Biei (where the flower field are concentrated) get booked out months in advance for the July-August period. If you are concerned about last minute changes booking so much in advance, you can try hotel booking websites that have free cancellation policies (Agoda does not have that – they always charge for cancellation). If I’m not mistaken, booking.com usually offer free cancellation (unless it’s early bird plans).

      • eco says:

        Your are certainly expert Hokkaido advisor to me, I have booked the tickets and travelling in next Summer, anything I will refer to you for a good advice. Thanks.

  22. Izian says:

    Hi. Your blog is so informative. I’m planning a trip from 10 dec to 21 dec. initially planned to go to rusutsu but tomamu appears much more interesting after I read your post. It seems hoshino tomamu resort are only available for 2 nights. Do you think 2 nights is sufficient and if not are there any other places there u can recommend. Thank u in advance

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Are you planning to ski / snowboard a lot? If not, 2 nights at any ski resort is sufficient. You can spend the first day soaking in the onsen after checking in and visiting the Ice Village at night. Then for the full day, go for a short ski / snowboard lesson just to try out, and participating in any ski activities that are available. But if you are looking to learn skiing / snowboarding to a certain level of proficiency or you are an avid skier, then 2 nights will not be enough.

  23. charis says:

    Hi there,

    Kinda chanced on your blog and am really amazed that you visited Japan almost every year! Any particular reason?

    We are visiting Hokkaido in April – i din see that you went in Spring. Not sure if it’s a low season or? We will be there w two kids (6 and 8 year olds), for about 12-13 days.

    Do you recommend any sample itinerary for that season? Also like to ask if most hotels will accept kids to stay free?

    charis

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Not sure if there’s any particular reason.. I just like the country. The food, the culture, the onsen, the scenery.. After a while it just becomes a habit of mine to keep going back because it hardly requires much effort in terms of planning. Unlike if I go any other country, I would need to do so much research on transport, accommodation, places to go etc etc. Japan has become a place where I can just book a ticket today and fly tomorrow and have no problems getting around and knowing where to go. :p

      April is low season for Hokkaido, unless you go end April where there is a chance of catching cherry blossoms. I have never visited in Spring because I have largely restricted by Singapore school holidays. But Spring is actually the most popular season for visiting Japan due to cherry blossoms.

      Are you going early or end April? If late April, I recommend you visit the sakura spots – particularly Hakodate and Matsumae Castle in the South.

      If early April, it is kind of in between seasons – too late for snow festivals, too early for cherry blossoms. I guess you can just hang around Sapporo, Otaru, Lake Toya and Noboribetsu in Central Hokkaido. You probably also have time to go down to Hakodate for 2 days.

      But frankly, if I get to go Japan in April, I wouldn’t bother going to Hokkaido. I would go cherry blossom viewing in mainland Japan instead. You can see which region is most likely to have cherry blossoms during your period of visiting on this website:
      http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2011_where.html

      • charis says:

        Thanks for replying! Yea, well, bo bian.. tics were pretty booked up coz doing redemptions. Only Sapporo was available. But I have no probs traveling off peak ;p lesser crowds, and travel is never just about the scenic spots or must-see stuff.

        We’re actually SG staying in Bangkok haha… so a bit different w the hols. We are going to be there mid-April, so not sure if we see much cherry blossoms.

        So great you’re an insider. Lemme try to work out the itinerary and i will run that with you again hope its ok! many thanks!

        • bumblebeemum says:

          Sure, you can let me have a look at your itinerary when you’ve got it planned out. :)

          • charis says:

            Hi again… now I’ve got a bit of rough itinerary so wanna get your advice. Let me know your comments. I’ve just tried to work out this ‘geographically’ first, and then map out what to see as we go along.

            Car Rental:
            I think this will be cheapest way to travel around? Trains seemed equally ex. But is it safe driving on icy roads? We are season drivers, but not really so familiar w winter roads.

            Onsen:
            my kids are 6 and 8. They find the water too hot! so is there any point staying in ryokan?? Or going to onsen again? Also seems quite pricey.

            Drift Ice boat:
            Is it worth seeing? Good reviews? Any experience?

            Based on fact that it’s April, kinda in between season, do you recommend that we spend more days in some areas and skip others?

            6 April depart late night

            7 April day 1 Stay 1 night Sapporo

            8 April day 2 to Asahikawa (rent car)

            9 April day 3 to Soukyono

            10 April day 4 to Shikretoko/ Utoro

            11 April day 5 to Lake Akan

            12 April day 6 Furano/ Biel

            13 April day 7 Lake Toya

            14 April day 8 Hakadote

            15 April day 9 Niseko

            16 April day 10 Otaru

            17 April day 11 Sapporo (return rented car)

            18 April day 12 Sapporo

            19 April depart morning

            Look fwd to your comments! many many thanks.

            • bumblebeemum says:

              Car Rental:
              Yeah, car rental may work out to be cheaper than rail. I have written tips on driving in winter on this post:
              http://bumblebeemum.net/2015/08/29/free-easy-hokkaido-winter-trip-essential-travel-tips/

              Onsen:
              I like to go onsen in cold weather. If the kids don’t like it, just take turns with your husband to go.

              Drift Ice boat:
              I’m not sure if there is still drift ice boat for your dates. They may have ended their run by then. Furthermore, it is a no-guarantee thing. Drift ice is kinda unpredictable and they may or may not be around when you are there.

              Day 4:
              I won’t go all the way up to Shiretoko in April. Winter is not the best time for visiting Shiretoko. And I don’t think you have enough time to go all the way up to Shiretoko. I suggest you replace Shiretoko with Abashiri. Or just go to Lake Akan from Sounkyo.

              Day 6:
              What do you want to do in Furano / Biei? I wouldn’t go there in April.

              • charis says:

                Thanks for your reply! Advice is good. I think we just will give up Shiretoko as well, a tad too far away. Well, there’s probably not much to do in Furano/ Biel in April, but we have to make a stop some how in between east/ west…

                How does this look? We have to go from Lake Akan towards west, so no idea how to break up the journey. I read your post on driving, so if we really double the time taken, it may take a long time indeed.

                Wanna ask your advice on accommodation. My kids are 6 and 8, what’s the most budget friendly. Searching on booking sites we see we usually have to end up in quad rooms… which is pretty high! Have you done airbnb before?

                6 April dep 1145pm
                7 April day 1 to Sapporo
                8 April day 2 to Asahikawa
                9 April day 3 to Soukyono (1hr 15m, 75km)
                10 April day 4 to Abashiri (2hr30m, 139km)
                11 April day 5 to Lake Akan (1h38m, 88km)
                12 April day 6 to Furano (2h 125km)
                13 April day 7 Otaru (2h21m, 148km)
                14 April day 8 Lake Toya (2h, 101km)
                15 April day 9 Hakadote (2h30m, 172km)
                16 April day 10 Noribetsu (2h30m, 200km)
                17 April day 11 Sapporo (2h, 99km)
                18 April day 12 Sapporo

                • bumblebeemum says:

                  I would replace Furano with Tomamu. I love Hoshino Tomamu Resort!

                  I have tried Homeaway, which is similar to Airbnb. If your kids need a space of their own, you can consider apartments. Apartments may not be cheaper than hotel, but they give you more space and amenities like kitchenette and washing machine.

                  Alternatively you can try searching for 2 hotel rooms (double / twin). Quad rooms are very limited, so searching for double rooms will open up more options. City hotels in Hokkaido tend to be very cheap during off-peak. Your dates look like lull period, so you should be able to get twin / double room below SGD100 a night in the cities.

                  As for your itinerary, this is how I would do it:

                  day 1 CTS to Sapporo
                  day 2 Sapporo (Day trip to Otaru)
                  day 3 Sapporo
                  day 4 Sapporo to Asahikawa
                  day 5 Asahikawa to Soukyono (1hr 15m, 75km)
                  day 6 Sounkyo to Abashiri (2hr30m, 139km)
                  day 7 Abashiri to Lake Akan (1h38m, 88km)
                  day 8 Lake Akan to Tomamu
                  day 9 Tomamu – Lake Toya
                  day 10 Lake Toya – Hakodate
                  day 11 Hakadote – Noboribetsu
                  day 12 Noboribetsu – CTS

                  (I’m assuming your flight on day 12 is not super early and you have enough time to go back to CTS from Noboribetsu.)

                  • charis says:

                    wow… v impressed with your proposed change to the itinerary! i din think about that! we usually leave the city to last leg so we can massively shop! :) Will give this a good think! thanks a lot.

                    • bumblebeemum says:

                      Oh well.. If you have a car, you can just leave your massive shopping in the car. No need to take them out of the car until the very last day when you need to pack your luggage. I remembered doing that during my USA trip where our car boot was filled with bags and bags of outlet shopping loot! Lol… Only on the last night, we took ALL the shopping bags out and packed everything into our luggage.

  24. win won says:

    Hai i am so impressed of your sharing. we are six of them have planned to visit Hokkaido for 5D5N May 2016 arriving at New Chitose Airport on 25th early morning & leaving 30th at 8:30am.
    No intend on self driving. which is the best itinerary of touring Hokkaido for this short period. we interested like foods, enjoy the flower N scenery as well.
    I am highly appreciated for your suggestion.
    Winnie

    • bumblebeemum says:

      End of May, the best areas to visit would be Northern Hokkaido for shibazakura and tulips. Check out Takinoue Park and Kamiyubetsu Tulip Park:

      If you don’t drive, the easiest way to visit these two places is to join a day tour from Asahikawa. However, with 6 people, I highly recommend you all share a rental car for a day to visit these two places if one of you can drive. It will be much cheaper.

      A possible itinerary would be:

      25th: Sapporo
      26th: Otaru day trip from Sapporo
      27th: Sapporo
      28th: Sapporo. Then train to Asahikawa.
      29th: Day trip to Takinoue / Kamiyubetu from Asahikawa. Train back to CTS (spent the night at Air Terminal Hotel)
      30th: Flight back

  25. Riddos says:

    Hi Bumblebeemum,

    I am planning for a first trip to Hokkaido for my family and chanced upon your blog. I read many of your blogs and they were really detailed and interesting, keep it up!

    Here is my itinerary and hope you can give you advise on it.
    – Family of 5, parents + me(26) and 2 siblings(19, 13) – no young kids/elderly, all able-bodied.
    – Duration: 9 days, around 13-21 June (have not finalise date, might stay in tokyo for couple of days before or after hokkaido)
    – Objective: Mainly food and scenery.

    DAY1: chitose -sapporo
    DAY2: sapporo
    DAY3: sapporo – otaru (leave after lunch, rent a car)
    DAY4: otaru – yoichi – shakotan/cape kamui – niseko
    DAY5: niseko – hakodate(mount hakodate)
    DAY6: hakodate(market) – lake toya – noboribetsu(ryokan/onsen)
    DAY7: noboribetsu – furano
    DAY8: furano – biei(blue pond) – asahikawa
    DAY9: asahikawa – chitose (return car)

    *will be staying in the last destination for each day
    *will find places of attraction in between destinations if time permits
    *3 drivers to rotate

    We want a relaxed pace holiday.
    Do you think this will be too packed? Or how many days we need to enjoy all the places above? (have not book flight, can skip tokyo)

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Day 3: If you leave Sapporo after lunch, you may not have enough time for Otaru. There are a lot of nice cafes in Otaru worth visiting and they close quite early. The dessert stand at Kitakaro (北菓楼) closes at 4+ iirc (but sometimes the cream puff / ice-cream gets sold out earlier than that) and Le Tao Cafe closes at about 5.30pm. Music Box Museum closes at 6pm (unless it’s summer weekend in which they will close at 7). If you are looking for a relaxing holiday where you can chill and enjoy lots of good food, I suggest you allocate one full day for Otaru.

      Day 6: This day looks too rushed. Lake Toya warrants more time, and there are fireworks at night in June. I would skip Noboribetsu and just spend the night at Lake Toya.

      Also, you may want to adjust your dates and spend more time in Sapporo at the start of your trip to catch their June festivals:
      > Yosakoi Soran Festival (8 – 12 June 2016)
      > Hokkaido Shrine Festival (14 – 16 June 2016)

      Other than that, your itinerary looks okay. Though if time permits, I would consider spending 1 more day in Furano / Biei.

  26. Ng Kok Heng says:

    Hi mummy, I am planning a self driving 7-8 days trip to Hokkaido for a family of 6 (my parents in their 60s, 2 kids age 6 and 2 respectively and us) in mid May. Any idea of interesting places to visit during that season (avoiding school holidays) and accommodation to recommend? Is ryokan suitable for our group? P/S : I just started my research and chance upon your blog, gotten some general ideas from above, which is more for June. Appreciate if you could share some ideas. Thanks a lot

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Mid May is not the best time for Hokkaido very frankly. If you are able to visit in early May, it will be cherry blossom season and you can vist Matsumae and Hakodate for that. If you are able to visit in late May, it will be shibazakura season and you can visit Takinoue / Higashimokoto for that. But I think in Mid May, you should be able to catch the tulips at Kamiyubetsu Tulip Park, though it is a bit out of the way.

      If you travel in Mid-May, you can do a classic tour of Sapporo – Noboribetsu – Hakodate – Lake Toya – Otaru – Sapporo.

      Most ryokan I have stayed in accommodate up to 5 person in a room. You may need to book 2 rooms, or look around for one that has rooms to accommodate 6. Though I think you may be able to book a room for 5 if you child aged 2 doesn’t require extra bedding. If I were you, yes I would stay in ryokans in a room for 5 pax.

  27. Wong Cheng Heng says:

    Dear BumbleBee Mum,

    Thank you for sharing your travel experience. Your blog is so informative and interesting. Keep it on. i am your fan now.

    Below is my self-drive itinerary, and hope you can give me some advice:

    Day 1 (22nd April 2016)
    Arrive New CHITOSE Airport at 9pm. Overnight at Air Terminal Hotel

    Day 2 (23rd April 2016)
    Pick up my car at 9am, travel to Lake SHIKOTSU and overnight at NOBORIBETSU. (117km, 2 hours and 18 minutes)

    Day 3 (24th April 2016)
    Drive to Hakodate (Overnight at Hakodate) (198km, 3hours and 43minutes)

    Day 4 (25th April 2016)
    Hakodate, travel to Matsumae at the evening and overnight at Matsumae (102km, 2 hours)

    Day 5 (26th April 2016)
    Matsumae, PA Yakumo, Overnight at Niseko (240km, 4hours and 20 minutes)

    Day 6 (27th April 2016)
    Niseko, Shakotan Area, Overnight at Otaro (121km, 2 hours and 40 minutes)

    Day 7 (28th April 2016)
    Otaro (Overnight at Otaro)

    Day 8 (29th April 2016)
    Drive to Lake Toya in the early morning (overnight at Lake Toya) (101km, 2 hours)

    Day 9 (30th April 2016)
    Drive to Sapporo (91.1km, 2 hours)

    Day 10 (1st May 2016)
    Sapporo
    Day 11 (2nd May 2016)
    Sapporo, overnight at New Chitose Airport (Air Terminal Hotel)

    Day 12 (3rd May 2016)
    Back to KUL in the early morning (7.50am)

    Other than that, i travel with my wife only, Please recommend some onsen hotels for my reference. Thank you very much.

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Day 4: I would just do a day trip to Matsumae from Hakodate. Save the trouble of changing hotel. Then on Day 5 morning, I would still have some time for Hakodate sightseeing before setting off towards Niseko.

      Day 8: Your order is a bit odd. You should shift Lake Toya to in between Hakodate and Niseko. It doesn’t make sense to go back South to Lake Toya from Otaru then go back up to Sapporo again.

      Basically this is how I would adjust the itinerary:

      Day 1 (22nd April 2016)
      No change

      Day 2 (23rd April 2016)
      No change

      Day 3 (24th April 2016)
      No change

      Day 4 (25th April 2016)
      Day trip to Matsumae from Hakodate

      Day 5 (26th April 2016)
      Hakodate to PA Yakumo to Lake Toya

      Day 6 (27th April 2016)
      Lake Toya to Niseko

      Day 7 (28th April 2016)
      Niseko to Shakotan area to Otaru

      Day 8 (29th April 2016)
      Otaru

      Day 9 (30th April 2016)
      Otaru to Sapporo

      The rest no change.

      For a nice onsen stay, at Lake Toya, you can try Nonokaze.
      http://en.nonokaze-resort.com/

      And at Niseko, many of the hotels have onsen. You can try Hilton Niseko.

      • Wong Cheng Heng says:

        Dear bumblebeemum,

        Thank you for your immediate response. As i know, the firework at lake toya will be started on 28th April 2016…is it “MUST SEE” event at hokkaido? Please advise…Thank you very much

        • bumblebeemum says:

          Neh, it’s not a must see.. But it beats having nothing. Most onsen towns are pretty dark and boring at night, and everyone just retires to soak in the onsen or sleep after dark. So the fireworks is a nice addition. Even without fireworks, I would recommend spending a night a Lake Toya. It is really very beautiful and I love soaking in the onsen looking over at the lake and having breakfast with a view of the lake.

          • Wong Cheng Heng says:

            Good Morning,
            Roger That, i will proceed as per your advice. i will spend a night at Noboribetsu as well. Any good onsen hotel there? or should i skip Noboribetsu and spend more day in Hokadate?

            • bumblebeemum says:

              It looks like you have enough time for Hakodate with your current itinerary. At Noboribetsu, you can try Hotel Mahoroba. I like the dinner and onsen there.

              • Wong Cheng Heng says:

                Noted,
                Next, i have to plan for car rental and accommodation. Once again, Thank you for your sharing. I cant wait to read your latest travel blog, Keep it on. Yeah!

  28. Andry says:

    Dear Bumble Bee mom,
    Thank you for sharing your very detailed travel experience. Really helped me working out my itinerary since I’m planning to go to Hokkaido with my parents on 6-16 July. Could you please comment on the following itinerary please?

    Day 1 (Wednesday) Singapore – Hakodate
    Day 2 (Thursday) Arrive at Hakodate in the morning (should I pick the car on this day? I’m planning to just sightsee and will end the day at Mt. Hakodate)
    Day 3 (Friday) Hakodate – Noboribetsu. Overnight at Noboribetsu (or Lake Toya?)
    Day 4 (Saturday) Noboribetsu – Otaru. (Is Niseko worth seeing on summer, I read in your blog the city is empty on summer?)
    Day 5 (Sunday) Otaru – Sapporo
    Day 6 (Monday) Sapporo
    Day 7 (Tuesday) Sapporo – Furano/Biei
    Day 8 (Wednesday) Furano/Biei
    Day 9 (Thursday) Furano – Asahikawa
    Day 10 (Friday) Asahikawa – Singapore

    I haven’t bought the ticket, so this itinerary is still flexible. So feel free to comment and please let me know if there is any places and festival to see in summer at Hokkaido.Thank you very much. Love your blog =D

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Day 2: I would pick up the car on Day 3. You don’t really need a car for Hakodate.

      Day 4: I prefer Lake Toya to Noboribetsu. It is more scenic.

      Day 5: The town is pretty dead in summer, but I actually like it that way as I’m not a fan of crowds. I go to Niseko for one reason: The food. So if I have time to spare, I would pop by Niseko to visit Milk Kobo and hopefully the weather is good to catch a nice view of Mount Yotei.

      Your itinerary looks good to me. July is a good time to just relax and hang out at the flower fields in Furano / Biei. You can also go cherry picking and enjoy melon buffet.
      http://www.oh-cherry.com/foreign/english/english.html
      http://kimi-tourguide.blogspot.sg/2012/08/farm-okudaira-all-you-can-eat-furano.html

      • Andry Halim says:

        Hi Bumblebee mom,

        I finally booked my plane ticket. I will arrive to Hakodate on 6th of July, and will leave from Sapporo on the 16th. My family agreed to take JR train instead of car =(. So a few itinerary changes needs to be adjusted:

        6th July_Day 01: Arrive at Hakodate in the afternoon. Most probably will just roam around the hotel

        7th July_Day 02: Hakodate full day

        8th July_Day 03: Hakodate – Noboribetsu – a night at Lake Toya. Is this arrangement too cramped? Maybe better to put Noboribetsu in day 10?

        9th July-Day 04: Lake Toya – Otaru. JR train via Sapporo will take about 3 hours. Any other alternative itinerary? or Lake Toya – Niseko – Otaru? What’s interesting in Otaru?

        10th July-Day 05: Otaru – Asahikawa

        11th July-Day 06: Asahikawa – Sounkyo – Asahikawa. Will spend the night at Asahikawa. Or any alternatives?

        12th July-Day 07: Asahakawa – Furano & Biei – Asahikawa. Another night at Asahikawa, can’t get any hotel with reasonable price at Furano

        13th July-Day 08: Asahikawa – Tomamu

        14th July-Day 09: Tomamu – Sapporo.

        15th July-Day 10: Sapporo full day

        16th July-Day 11: Sapporo – Singapore will leave at 1.00pm

        Please let me know if there’s a way to tweak this itinerary. I’m still open for suggestion.

        Thanks all

        • bumblebeemum says:

          If using the train, I would do Otaru as a day trip from Sapporo. So after Toya, I will go to Sapporo and complete my visit of Sapporo and Otaru. I will also skip Asahikawa and Sounkyo and spend more time in Furano. It is quite hard to get around Furano / Biei without a car, so I would recommend spending more time in the region if you are using bus and train.

          When using public transport, your itinerary would have to be a lot more loose as compared to our self-driving itineraries. So I recommend you visit only Lake Toya and skip Noboribetsu.

          If I were you, I would just pay for the accommodation in Furano, especially if I am not driving. It is quite a hassle to keep taking the train between Asahikawa and Furano. And staying in Furano means you can drop your luggage off at the hotel the moment you arrive at Furano and begin sightseeing.

          6th July_Day 01: Hakodate
          7th July_Day 02: Hakodate
          8th July_Day 03: Hakodate – Toya. Stay Lake Toya
          9th July-Day 04: Toya – Sapporo
          10th July-Day 05: Sapporo
          11th July-Day 06: Sapporo (day trip to Otaru)
          12th July-Day 07: Sapporo – Furano
          13th July-Day 08: Furano / Biei
          14th July-Day 09: Furano / Biei
          15th July-Day 10: Furano / Biei – Tomamu (transfer at Shintoku)
          16th July-Day 11: Tomamu – CTS

          If you really don’t want to stay at Furano and prefer to stay in Asahikawa, then you can probably do this:

          6th July_Day 01: Hakodate
          7th July_Day 02: Hakodate
          8th July_Day 03: Hakodate – Toya. Stay Lake Toya
          9th July-Day 04: Toya – Sapporo
          10th July-Day 05: Sapporo
          11th July-Day 06: Sapporo (day trip to Otaru)
          12th July-Day 07: Sapporo – Asahikawa
          13th July-Day 08: Asahikawa (day trip to Furano / Biei)
          14th July-Day 09: Asahikawa (day trip to Furano / Biei)
          15th July-Day 10: Asahikawa – Tomamu (note that you will be going back to Sapporo to make the transfer)
          16th July-Day 11: Tomamu – CTS

  29. Ice says:

    Hi Bumblebeemum,

    Thank you for sharing such detail information on your travel experience in Hokkaido. It does help me a lot in planning a trip there.

    My family of 3 adults (hubby, daughter and me) is planning to visit Hokkaido for 7 to 8 days during the period between 5 to 18 June). This is the first time we are planning to drive while holidaying in Japan. As we do not speak or read Japanese, will it be easy for us to get around in car? Are the road signs in English? And can the people there communicate in English?

  30. Joanna says:

    hi bumblebeemum!

    we are planning to go for about 6 days in May. would it be worth making a trip to Furano and Biei so early on?

    we don’t intend to drive, so what would be the best way to get there from Sapporo? Would a day trip be do-able or should we stay the night?

    thanks for your advice! :)

  31. Adeline says:

    Hi Bumble Bee Mum!
    I am planning a self-drive trip to Hokkaido arriving 29 May and returning 5 June, so it’s 7 days full in Hokkaido. The purpose is for a relaxing holiday to see the flowers as my hubby and I are bringing our 4 year old daughter. I have the following must see/go places in my list:
    – Kamiyubetsu tulip garden
    – Takinoue Park / Higashimokoto (which one is better?)
    – Otaru
    – Sapporo
    1) How would you recommend the itinerary to be like?
    2) Where would you recommend to be the base to Takinoue and Kamiyubetsu? I am considering to make day trips from Asahikawa, alternatively Mombetsu.
    3) It Lake Akan too far out to be included?
    4) Is it worth to go to Furano in this period?
    Any feedback from you is much appreciated. And thank you so much for taking your time to write your travelogue which have been very helpful to many of us. Keep it up!

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Hi,

      You can refer to this post, think it has answers to most of your questions:
      http://bumblebeemum.net/2016/02/10/hokkaido-best-places-to-visit-in-early-summer-sample-itinerary/

      You can refer to the itinerary for end May, but omit Shiretoko since you only have 7 days. The itinerary includes Lake Akan. I do not think Furano is worth going for your dates.

      • Adeline says:

        Thanks so much for your pointers Bumble bee mum!

        1) What do you think of my draft itinerary below? Day 1 looks a bit hectic though..

        Day 1: arrive CTS airport 08.30 – Asahikawa – Kamiyubetsu – Abashiri
        Day 2: Abashiri – Higashimokoto – Lake Akan
        Day 3: Akan National Park
        Day 4: Akan – Tomamu
        Day 5: Tomamu – Sapporo
        Day 6: Otaru day trip
        Day 7: Sapporo – overnight @ CTS aiport

        2) What is there to do Tomamu during late May/early June besides watching unkai?

        3) I’m also considering Sounkyo. How would you rate Sounkyo against Akan and Tomamu? Too many places and too little time!

        • bumblebeemum says:

          1) Yup, day 1 looks too hectic.

          2) Tomamu mainly the Unkai Terrace. You can use the indoor pool and onsen, or sign up for activities like bread making / ice-cream making which are chargeable.

          3) If you want to visit Sounkyo, I suggest you just skip Otaru.

          This is what I suggest:

          Day 1: arrive CTS airport 08.30 – Sounkyo
          Day 2: Sounkyo – Takinoue – Kamiyubetsu – Abashiri
          Day 3: Abashiri – Higashimokoto – Lake Akan
          Day 4: Akan National Park
          Day 5: Akan – Tomamu
          Day 6: Tomamu – Sapporo
          Day 7: Sapporo – overnight @ CTS aiport

          • Adeline says:

            Thank you so much for taking your time to reply to my queries!

            1) Aww thanks for your recommendation but I would really love to visit Otaru. So it’s now down to choosing between Sounkyo and Tomamu 😛 If I skip Tomamu, is it ok to drive from Lake Akan to Sapporo by making a lunch stop at Obihiro?

            2) Regarding the alternative for Airport Terminal hotel, I checked even all the hotels in Chitose there are full on the date I want! (pulling my hair..) So my backup plan is I have booked Holiday Inn ANA Sapporo Susukino for now and will try to take the airport shuttle. Looking at Chuo bus website (http://www.new-chitose-airport.jp/en/access/bus/timebusc/), the earliest bus departs from Susukino at 5.29am? Not sure if I’m reading it correctly.

            3) Is it easy to search for the restaurants from GPS? Or do I have to use google map?

            4) Do hotels in Hokkaido provide self service laundry service? I need to find one with this or perhaps book into an apartment with washing machine facility halfway through the trip, so that I don’t have to bring so many clothes 😀

            • bumblebeemum says:

              1) You don’t need to skip Tomamu. It is possible to drive Akan – Obihiro – Tomamu, stopping at Obihiro for lunch. It is not that huge a detour.

              2) Hmm… That’s surprisingly to hear. I didn’t think late May – early June is that popular a time to visit Hokkaido. But yes, according to the bus timetable, the first bus is at 5.29am.

              3)To find specific restaurants on GPS, you need to find out their map code beforehand:
              http://bumblebeemum.net/2015/03/31/japan-map-code-search/

              In my Hokkaido food posts, I have included the map codes for the restaurants I recommended.

              4) Not all hotels have self service laundry. So yes, booking an apartment or a hotel with self service laundry halfway through your trip would solve your laundry problem. But looking at your itinerary, you will be at Akan halfway through your trip and onsen towns are the hardest to find accommodation with laundry. Hoshino Resort Tomamu has coin laundry. Maybe at Abashiri, you can try Tokyo Inn. Toyoko Inns will have coin laundry. So you do laundry twice: At Abashiri and Tomamu.

              • Adeline says:

                I booked my accommodation at Akan Tsuruga Resort HANAYUUKA and contacted the manager, and was told that guest can use the coin laundry at their sister hotel Akan Yuku no Sato Tsuruga :) Hopefully it’s not too much of a hassle to lug my laundry there 😛

                I checked out Toyoko Inn in Abashiri but they are left with single rooms only so I booked Kanihonjin Yuaiso instead. It’s not cheap but the crab kaiseki dinner sounds tempting! Have you heard about this hotel?

                And I finally managed to get Air Terminal Hotel for the night before I fly out! Thanks so much for the tips! :)

                • bumblebeemum says:

                  I haven’t heard of Kanihonjin Yuaiso but the crab kaiseki dinner sounds fab! I usually stick to a pretty tight budget and would stay at the more budget city hotels like Toyoko Inn if I had a choice. Only when I hit to onsen ryokans like Lake Akan, I would spend a bit more on accommodation.

                  Awesome, glad you managed to book Air Terminal Hotel! Sounds like you are all set to go.

                  • Adeline says:

                    Hi it’s me again!

                    Just as I thought my itinerary is set, I’m thinking of adding Shiretoko to it 😛 Do you think it is possible to:
                    1) Start from Abashiri to visit Higashimokoto and then Shiretoko before arriving at Lake Akan hotel?
                    1) or, make a day trip to Shiretoko from Lake Akan passing by Lake Mashu, and be back to the hotel in Akan for dinner?

                    I actually booked in room dining at my hotel in Lake Akan so don’t want to be be back too late either. The date is on 1st June so not sure if it’s still worth a visit to Shiretoko at this time.

                    Thanks!

                    • bumblebeemum says:

                      Hmmm… If you visit Shiretoko after Higashimokoto, you may not make it back to Lake Akan in time for dinner. If you really want to squeeze in Shiretoko, then stay one night at Shiretoko and one night at Lake Akan.

                      Day 3: Abashiri – Higashimokoto – Shiretoko
                      Day 4: Shiretoko – Akan

      • Adeline says:

        Hi Bumble Bee Mum,

        I wonder if you have had a chance to look at my itinerary above? :)

        I have booked my flight with a morning departure from Hokkaido (8.20am), but to my horror, Airport Terminal holel is fully booked on the night before I fly out! What other alternative do I have now? :'(

        • bumblebeemum says:

          Search for a hotel at Chitose city that has free shuttle service to the airport. I would do a booking with free cancellation and from time to time, check Air Terminal Hotel for vacancy in case someone cancels.

  32. Tan says:

    Hi bumblebeemum!

    I am planning a 5D4N trip to Hokkaido from 16 July – 20 July which coincides with the summer season. I will be reaching chitose airport at around noon time on 16 July and have a 10am flight to catch on 20 July. I am planning to visit Sapporo, Otaru and Furano, and the tentative itinerary in mind is as such:

    16 July: Sapporo
    17 July: Sapporo
    18 July: Otaru (day trip)
    19 July: Furano (day trip)

    As our base hotel will be at Sapporo and we hope to minimise any shifting of hotels if possible, could i check if a day trip to otaru and furano from Sapporo possible? Or would you recommend us staying overnight at otaru/furano instead?

    Any other cities that you would recommend us to visit (for their food/attractions) instead of otaru or furano?

    Thanks so much and looking forward to hearing from you!

  33. alan bragassam says:

    Hi, really great blog and you are putting so much effort for lazy travelers like us.
    I am heading for Hokkaido arriving 8.30am on 4 June and departing in the afternoon of 12 June. Two family groups, mine and my sister, which comprise 10 adults and 5 kids age from 1 to 7 years. I will incorporate the most/some of the places that are listed in your blog. I have a few questions:
    a) is it worthwhile visiting Furano/Biel during this period? The adults would love to see the flowers and the kids would love to pick strawberries.
    b) is Kitanomori Garden/Ice Pavilion in in Sakaemachi near Sounkyo worth a visit in June?
    c) have you been to Kitayuzawa Hot Spring Town and it is a place for our group.
    d) Lake Akan is a bit far out. Is it worth visiting? Or should we stick to places near Sopporo.
    Hope to hear from you and again thank you.

    • bumblebeemum says:

      a) Your dates may be a tad early to pick strawberries. We did manage to find a strawberry farm open in early June but that was in Sobetsu near Lake Toya, not at Furano / Biei. Whether or not to go to Furano / Biei really depends on your route. If you are heading East (Lake Akan / Sounkyo), it is possible to fit in Furano / Biei but if you are headed South (Hakodate), then I suggest you skip Furano / Biei.

      b) I don’t think Kitanomori Garden and Ice Pavilion look very interesting. Maybe because I have visited Hokkaido before in winter, hence I have never thought of going to their Ice Pavilion which is kind of artificial compared to the real thing. But in general, I think there are better things to do in Hokkaido (like eating :p).

      c) I havn’t been to Kitayuzawa hot spring. It’s a bit odd to want to go there – most people would choose Lake Toya or Noboribetsu if they are in that region. The problem with going to smaller hot spring towns is that they may not deal very well with foreigners. Between Lake Toya and Kitayuzawa, I would go to Lake Toya instead because it is very scenic. I love waking up to the view of the lake and soaking in a rooftop onsen overlooking the lake.

      d) Depends on your route. You can either choose to travel East towards Akan or travel South towards Lake Toya / Hakodate. But not both. Lake Akan is very similar to Lake Toya.

  34. Alex lee says:

    Hi bumble bee mum, as i will be going to Hokkaido in July. I’ve rented a car to travel around and is currently in search of a good travel insurance that covers the Collision Damage. Are there any recommendations to which insurance that you’ve used and are willing to share with me? Thanks alot.

  35. ka says:

    you are a great blogger!

  36. ka says:

    Dear Bumblebeemum
    Kindly give us your opinion on our following itinerary for a Hokkaido trip on July 16th – 25th 2016.

    16th – Arrive at Chitose airport, visit Doremon land and shop in airport, stay in Sapporo
    17th – Visit Sapporo hot spots
    18th – Otaru day trip
    19th – Rent a car and drive to Furano and Biei hot spots, then stay in Asahikawa
    20th – Visit Asahikawa Zoo, then drive to Sounkyo Onsen Village
    21th – Walk around Sounkyo area then drive back to Noribetsu (4 hour drive, which worries me a little but I don’t know how else to solve this problem)
    22nd – Visit Noboribetsu hot spots
    23rd – Drive to Lake Toya early morning, visit Mt Usuzan, then drive to Hakodate in the evening.
    24th – Visit Hakodate hot spots
    25th – Take Shinkansen to Tokyo.

    Do you think we should drive back from Sounkyo and return the car in Sapporo, then take trains after that to Noboribetsu, then Lake Toya, then Hakodate? Or is driving all the way a better choice (budget wise)? There will be 3 of us (adults) travelling together.

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Frankly I think your itinerary looks too rushed. It doesn’t allow you enough time to fully enjoy the scenery at each town, especially for Furano and Biei. If I go to Hokkaido during your dates, I would skip Sounkyo and even Asahikawa Zoo to spend more time in Furano and Biei. This is what I would suggest from 19th onwards:

      19th – Rent a car and drive to Furano
      20th – Furano & Biei
      21th – Furano & Biei
      22nd – Furano – Noboribetsu
      23rd – Noboribetsu – Lake Toya – Hakodate
      24th – Hakodate
      25th – Take Shinkansen to Tokyo.

      I would keep the car all the way till Hakodate.

  37. shirley says:

    Dear Bubble Bee Mum

    Appreciate your advice on my upcoming trip with my family. We have 2 kids aged 7 and 4. We will arrive Chitose on 31st May and intend to travel around Sapporo, Otaru, Agasahigawa, Biei, Furano, Noribetsu, Late Toya and finally Hakodate, to take a Shinkasen to Tokyo.

    Can you advise if the following itinereary works?

    31st May Arrive Chitose and pick up car
    Drive to Furano
    Drive to Biei (overnight Biei)

    1st Jun Drive from Biei to Asahigawa Zoo
    Drive to Sapporo
    Tour Sapporo (overnight Sapporo)

    2nd Jun Drive from Sapporo to Otaru
    Drive Otaru back to Sapporo
    Tour Sapporo (overnight Sapporo)

    4th Jun Drive from Sapporo to Noribetsu
    Tour/Onsen Noribetsu (overnight??)

    5th Jun Drive from Noribetsu to Lake Toya
    Tour Lake Toya (overnight?)

    6th Jun Drive from Lake Toya to Hakodate
    Tour Hakodate

    7th Jun Take train from Hakodate to Tokyo.
    What do you think? Does the itinerary work? I haven’t figure out where to stay and what to see. Just planning out the driving route just to make sure I don’t back track. Not even sure if the rental car allow one way drop off.

    Thanks and I look forward to your reply.

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Yup, the itinerary works, just that I feel it’s a bit rushed at the beginning. And you won’t really have much time to tour Sapporo per say since you will always only have 2 evenings in Sapporo. But I think it’s fine – Sapporo is not that exciting in terms of sightseeing.

      And yes, you should stay overnight at Noboribetsu and Lake Toya on 4th and 5th respectively. The bigger car rental companies will allow one way drop off for a fee of about 7000yen typically.

      • shirley says:

        Bubblebeemum

        Here is my planned itinerary. Can you have a look if I back track or miss any MUST SEE attraction that I should include. I seem stuck at 4th Jun finding a hotel in Noribetsu as the hotel there cost a BOMB. Any alternative?

        30May Singapore/Narita Overnight Narita
        31May Narita/Chitose Airpot/Takinoue Park
        Takinoue Park/New Furano Prince Hotel (check in)
        NFP Hotel/Farm Tomita
        Farm Tomita/Dai 3 Shinsei
        Dai 3 Shinsei/Blue Pond
        Blue Pond/Shirahige Waterfall
        Maybe I should stay for another night. So much to do and see nut I am just worried the flowers are not fully bloom just yet?

        1Jun NFP Hotel/Sapporo (can u suggest a reasonable hotel?)
        Places to cover – Odori park, Hinode Park, Tanukikoji, Central wholesale market

        2Jun Sapporo
        Places to cover – Nijio market, beer factory, daimaru, clock tower

        3Jun Sapporo/Otaru (Hotel Vibrant)
        Places to cover – Canal, Music box, Aquarium, Rokkatei, Le Tao, Toppii Shushi, etc

        4Jun Otaru/Mount Moiwa or
        Otaru/Lake Shikotu (Which one should I visit? or can do both?)
        Mount/Moiwa or Lake Shikoku/Noribetsu
        Places to cover – Noribetsu Hot spring, Marine Park Nixe, Jidagu, Spbetsu Fruit village (I am lost where to stay for the night. The hotel is quite expensive here. Any other nearby town?

        5Jun Noribetsu/Lake Toya (Toya Sun Palace)

        6Jun Lake Toya/Hakodate
        Places to cover – Mount Hakodate, Red Brick Warehouse, Morning market and market square

        7Jun Hakodate/Tokyo (Shinkansen to Tokyo)
        How to go about buying the ticket? I should get it earlier at when I landed on the 30th May in Narita? Which hotel in Hakodate is nearer to the station so I can drop the car and hop onto the train?
        I saw that your apartment in Shinjuku is superb! Can you recommend one near to Disneyland?

        8Jun Tokyo Disneyland

        9Jun Travel around Tokyo

        10 Jun Tokyo/Narita/Singapore

        My apologies for the long winded itinerary. I look forward to your reply. Thanks once again!

        • bumblebeemum says:

          31 May: What you’re planning is not possible. You are only flying to CTS on this day, after which you still need to collect your rental car. The drive from CTS to Takinoue Shibazakura Park takes 4 hours. I would say that is all the time you have for. After Takinoue, I would go to Asahikawa and spend the night there. At most put in Asahikawa Ramen Village for dinner. End of day.

          4 June: I’m not sure why Mount Moiwa is here. Are you referring to Mount Moiwa at Sapporo? If you are, you should visit it on one of the days in Sapporo.

          Your itinerary looks very messy to me. This is what I would suggest:

          30May Singapore/Narita Overnight Narita

          31 May: Narita – CTS. Pick up car, drive to Takinoue Park. After that, stay at Asahikawa.

          1 June: Drive from Asahikawa to Biei to Furano. Just pick a few locations to visit along the way, it is not flowering season so just pick 1 or 2 flower fields at most. From Furano, drive back to Sapporo. Stay Sapporo.

          2 June: Sapporo – Nijo market, Odori park, Cock tower, Tanukikoji, Mount Moiwa
          (Not: Hinode Park is at Furano, not Sapporo)

          3 June: Sapporo – Central wholesale market, beer factory, daimaru & Sapporo station area

          4 June: Day trip from Sapporo to Otaru: Canal, Music box, Aquarium, Rokkatei, Le Tao, Toppii Shushi, etc

          5 June: Sapporo – Noboribetsu: Noboribetsu Hot spring, Marine Park Nixe, Jigakudani

          6 June: Noboribetsu – Hakodate: Red Brick Warehouse, Mount Hakodate

          7 June: Hakodate (visit morning market) – Tokyo

          If you find the ryokans in Noboribetsu too expensive, I suggest you do Noboribetsu as a day trip and continue driving to Hakodate after Noboribestu on 5 June and spending the night at Hakodate.

          If you are only going to Tokyo Disneyland for 1 day, I suggest you don’t change hotel from 7 to 10 June and just stay 3 nights in central Tokyo. You can go to Tokyo Disneyland as a day trip from wherever you’re staying.

          For Sapporo, I usually stay are Mercure Hotel:
          http://bumblebeemum.net/2015/01/21/japan-hotel-review-hotel-mercure-sapporo-hokkaido/

          • shirley says:

            Hello Bubblebeemum
            Haha my apologies for the messy planning. I used googlemap to map out the attractions and somehow got Takinoue Park mixed up with another same name sake along the way… I have redo the route. Please can you have another look?

            30 Sin/Nrt
            31 Nrt/Cts/Furano – Tour the city area
            01 Furano/Farm Tomita/Hinode Park/Dai 3 Shines/Blue Pond/Shirage Waterfall Park – Hotel Park Hill Hotel (Shirogane Onsen)
            02 Hotel Park Hill/Sapporo – Mercure Hotel
            03 Sapporo
            04 Sapporo/Otaru/Sapporo
            05 Sapporo/Noboribetsu Hot Spring/Marine Park Nixe/Lake Toya – Toya Sun Palace Hotel
            06 Lake Toya/Funkawan Panorama Park/Hakodate
            07 Hakodate/Tokyo
            08 Tokyo Disneyland
            09 Tokyo
            10 Tokyo/Nrt/Sin

            • bumblebeemum says:

              Yup, the itinerary looks good now. :)

              • Shirley says:

                Thanks! Can you guide me how to purchase the Shinkansen ticket for Hakodate to Tokyo? Must I book once I landed in narita to avoid no availability?

                Also to travel around Tokyo, should I get the JR pass from Singapore which is cheaper?

                • bumblebeemum says:

                  You can purchase the shinkasen tickets from the shinkansen station (Shin-Hakodate-Hakuto station) when you are leaving. I doubt there will be no availability. Just saw on the news that occupancy for the Hokkaido shinkasen is below 30% and it is projected to be around 25% until the line extends to Sapporo in 2030. Buying it before you leave will allow you more flexibility in timing.

                  I don’t think the Japan Rail Pass is worth it if you are just staying in Tokyo.

  38. michele koh says:

    Hi bumblebeemum, i will be visiting Hokkaido in july this year and i planned to self- drive around. I will be going for 8 days with my 11 months old child. Can you recommend the places to visit during these 8 days? It is our first time bringing our child abroad. Hope you can help me. Thank You

  39. Fifi says:

    Hi Bumblebee mum,

    I’m plannning to travel to Hokkaido from 27 to 4June (9days) for my babymoon with hubby. Is the following acceptable for a 5months preg? Whole trip will be self-drive:

    Day 1: Chitose airport to Furano
    Day 2: Furano
    Day 3: Furano to Biei
    Day 4: Biei – Sounkyo
    Day 5: Sounkyo – Asahikawa
    Day 6: Asahikawa to Lake Shikotsuko / Lake Toya
    Day 7: Lake Toya to Sapporo
    Day 8: Sapporo – Shakotan Peninsular – Otaru – Sapporo
    Day 9: Sapporo to Chitose Airport

    Thanks!

  40. Fifi says:

    Hi Bumblebeemum,

    Thanks for your reply =)

    May be will choose to stay in hotel for the whole trip instead of going onsen.
    Have changed my itinenary remove lake toya and add in Takinoue and Kamiyubetsu on Day 5 as a day trip on the way from sounkyo to asahikawa.

    Day 1: Chitose airport to Furano
    Day 2: Furano (Furano Farm Tomita)
    Day 3: Furano to Biei (Biei Shikisai no Oka)
    Day 4: Biei – Sounkyo (Sounkyo Gorge/Daisetzusan mountains)
    Day 5: Sounkyo – Shibazakura Takinoue Park – kamiyubetsu – Asahikawa (Day trip)
    Day 6: Asahikawan – Sapporo
    Day 7: Sapporo
    Day 8: Sapporo – Shakotan Peninsular – Sapporo
    Day 9: Sapporo to Chitose Airport

    • Any commend or recommendation input for the itinenary?
    • Is furano and biei still worth going since I will be heading to Shibazakura Takinoue Park and kamiyubetsu?
    • Will it be too packed for day 5 or should I have a night stay somewhere (recommendation if any) before heading back to asahikawa?

    Thanks

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Your itinerary looks good.

      I think Furano and Biei are still worth going. Biei’s countryside scenery is very beautiful. Furano has lots of good food. :p

      I think going back to Asahikawa for the night on Day 5 is fine. You can have dinner at Asahikawa Ramen Village! (I usually plan my Hokkaido trips around food.. Hah.)

  41. Tuyet says:

    Hi BumbleBeeMum,
    Sorry if I disturb you. We are planning our trip to Hokkaido (our 1st JP trip) from Jun 1 to 8 (me, my husband and my 9 years old daughter). I have a few questions on the travelling time as our flight schedule seems tough to plan.

    We will arrive late on Jun 1 (8pm) but will travel out early on Jun 8 (6pm), so we will only have 6 days in between. On top of that, upon arriving, it is a bit late to travel long distance, yet we need to go back to the airport early on Jun 8. (now I realize my bad choice for selecting flights after reading most of the posts above).

    With this flight times, which town/area should we stay when we arrive and leave Hokkaido? I guess it must be Sapporo in both days, right?

    We plan to visit Lake Toya, Noboribetsu, Hokodate, Sapporo/Otaru/Furano but I bet we have to drop either Hokodate or Furano.

    Hope you could give me some advice on this.

    Thanks
    Tuyet

    • bumblebeemum says:

      When you say you need to travel out early on June 8, do you mean 6am or 6pm? I’m a bit confused because you said 6pm but that’s not early. If you need to be at the airport at 6am on June 8, I suggest you book a night a Air Terminal Hotel for the night of June 7. Air Terminal Hotel is the only hotel within CTS.

      If I arrive at 8pm, I will also spend the first night at Air Terminal Hotel. The next morning, I will pick up my rental car and begin my travel proper.

      With only 6 days, you are right, you should only choose either Hakodate or Furano, not both.

      • Tuyet says:

        Hi Bumblebeemum, sorry it was typo error. It was supposed to be 8am :). Yes I will take your advise to stay at Airport Terminal Hotel. I think we will drop the Hokodate and pick Furano instead coz you had reviews on theses places so we can follow these :).
        Thanks
        Tuyet

  42. shirley says:

    Bubblebeemum
    I need help please. As I will be arriving Tokyo from Hakodate on 8th June. I need to stay 2 nights in Tokyo. This is almost the end of the trip and we will definitely end up with more luggages. With big bags and 2 kids it can be challenging. Can you suggest a hotel which is near to Tokyo station (do I alight here from Hakodate via Shinkansen?) and also has a limousine bus to Narita Airport to catch a flight back?

  43. Teddy says:

    Dear Bumble bee mum,
    First I want to say thank you for putting together such an information travel guide to Hokkaido/Japan based on first hand experience. Your site has been very helpful towards my planning to Hokkaido this July.
    We will spend 8 nights in Japan, with 5 nights in Hokkaido and 3 nights in Tokyo.
    Our 5 nights Hokkaido itinerary is as follows:
    Night 1: Hoshino Tomamu or Log Hotel Larch in lake kanayama
    Night 2 and 3: Furano
    Night 4: Otaru (during the day, drive to Zoo Asahikawa/lunch, before the long drive to Otaru)
    Final Night in Sapporo.

    We have decided to skip Lake Toya and Noboribetsu since we wanted to spend more time in Furano.

    My question to you are as follows:
    First, do you recommend staying at Hoshino Tamamu. We have a 20 months old son traveling with us. The resort seems very big and impersonal, so I wonder if its provide a true Hokkaido experience. Unkai terrace worth getting up really early to see?
    Question 2: Alternatively we are considering staying at Log Hotel Larch Lake Kanayama, have you been? The lake seems nice and there is canoeing with kids.

    Question 3: I know that you have recommended many sites to visit, but is there any 2 or 3 sites you would highly recommend to go with a 20 months old toddler around Furano or Sapporo?

    Thank you in advance for your time.
    Best,
    Teddy

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Log Hotel Larch Lake Kanayama looks like it will be a pretty unique experience and off-the-beaten track kind of experience. If you prefer that kind of vacation versus large tourist-filled resorts, then yes, Log Hotel Larch Lake Kanayama sounds like a good alternative. Unkai Terrace has no guarantee. If you want to see Unkai, in July you can try your luck at the ropeway at New Furano Prince Hotel. No need to specially go to Tomamu for that.

      Regarding canoeing, do check the age / height requirements for it.

      In Furano, I would definitely go to Tomita Farm + Tomita Melon Farm and Shikisai No Oka. As for other places, you can refer to this post and pick from there:
      http://bumblebeemum.net/2016/04/12/hokkaido-furano-biei-best-attractions-in-summer-july-august/

      In Sapporo, if you want somewhere really friendly for your toddler, I highly recommend visiting Takino Suzuran Hillside Park (assuming you still have the car). Then at night, you can ride the Mount Moiwa Ropeway.

      For your itinerary, I would spend Night 3 in Asahikawa to reduce driving time.

      Day 2: Lake Kanayama – Furano
      Day 3: Furano – Biei – Asahikawa
      Day 4: Asahiyama Zoo – Otaru

  44. Neal says:

    Hi bumblebeemum

    Totally love your blog for the comprehensive info on Hokkaido. Helps me immensely in my planning for my July trip. Starting and ending with New Chitose airport we are going for a 8-days self-drive trip. What do you think of this itinerary?

    Day 1: New Chitose airport – Sapporo (public transport)
    Day 2: Sapporo – Otaru (day trip to Otaru via public transport)
    Day 3: Sapporo – Lake Toya (Car rental starts from Sapporo)
    Day 4: Lake Toya – Hakodate
    Day 5: Hakodate – Noberibetsu – Lake Shikotsu
    Day 6: Lake Shikotsu – Furano
    Day 7: Furano – Biei (day trip to Biei)
    Day 8: Furano to New Chitose Airprt

    What do you think of this schedule? This would mean my pit stops will be at Sapporo, Lake Toya, Hakodate, Lake Shikotsu and Furano.

    Kindly appreciate your advise. Thanks!

      • Neal says:

        Hi Bumblebeemum

        I’ve made some adjustments to the itinerary and would like to seek your advise.

        Day 1: New Chitose airport – Sapporo (public transport)
        Day 2: Sapporo – Otaru (day trip to Otaru)
        Day 3: Sapporo – Lake Shikotsu – Lake Toya (Car rental starts from Sapporo)
        Day 4 – Lake Toya – Hakodate
        Day 5: Hakodate – ???
        Day 6: ??? – Furano
        Day 7: Furano – Biei –Furano (day trip to Biei)
        Day 8: Furano to New Chitose Airport

        a) For Day 3 is it too ambitious to visit both lake Shikotsu and Lake Toya?
        b) On Day 5, I’m planning a stopover at Noboribetsu while enroute from Hakodate to Furano. However there doesn’t seem to be much to do at Noboribetsu. Do you have any advise on what to do there or a better suggestion on another place to break up the long journey? I’m open to extending another day in Hakodate (do you think 2 days at Hakodate is justifiable) but then that will mean a very long drive all the way to Furano on Day 6. Which option do you think is better?

        Appreciate any input you have please. Thanks in advance!

        • bumblebeemum says:

          a) In Summer it is doable. Of course it means you will have less time for Lake Toya. So for e.g. At Lake Toya, if you had intended to go fruit picking at Sobetsu, ride the Usuzan Ropeway and take the cruise on Lake Toya, you may have to give up one.

          b) Yeah, I am not a big fan of Noboribetsu in terms of things to see or do. But it is the most strategically located town to take break between Hakodate and Furano. I would still use Noboribetsu to break up the drive, but I will arrive only in time for dinner, onsen, sleep, eat breakfast and go. So let’s say Day 3 you couldn’t complete all you wanted to do in Lake Toya, you can shift some of it to Day 4 and go to Hakodate a bit later. Then at Hakodate, whatever you cannot finish on Day 4, you shift to Day 5. If you still have a lot of time on Day 5, you can go to Onuma Koen for a walk. I would plan to reach Noboribetsu only at about 5pm. Still gives me enough time for a walk around Jigokudani before dinner.

          • Neal says:

            Hi Bumblebee Mum

            Thanks for the feedback. I will stick to Noboribetsu then. With my itinerary do you think its necessary to get an ETC or HEP for my rental car? I’m kinda confused about these 2 actually.

            On a sidenote I’m so impressed with your patience in answering not just my queries but everyone else’ comments, especially since this post is 2 years old already. Really appreciate very much your prompt replies. :)

            • bumblebeemum says:

              You can check out this post regarding ETC and HEP:
              http://bumblebeemum.net/2016/05/11/hokkaido-expressway-pass-etc-card-toll-fees/

              If you still have questions regarding ETC / HEP / toll fees, you can post them under the comments of the above post.

              • eco says:

                I have read above.

                We plan to self-drive for 14 days below:
                16 days Itinerary
                Day 01 28/7 Thu: Depart from KL to CTS. Chitose to Sapporo is 1hr by train
                Day 02 29/7 Fri: CTS – Lake Shikotsu – Noboribetsu (Noboribetsu, 1 night)
                Day 03 30/7 Sat: Noboribetsu – Lake Toya (Lake Toya, 1 night)
                Day 04 31/7 Sun: Lake Toya – Sapporo (Sapporo, 1 night)
                Day 05 01/8 Mon: Sapporo (Day trip to Otaru) (Sapporo, 1 night)
                Day 06 02/8 Tue: Sapporo (Sapporo, 1 night)
                Day 07 03/8 Wed: Sapporo – Asahikawa (Asahikawa, 1 night)
                Day 08 04/8 Thu: Asahikawa – Abashiri (Abashiri, 1 night)
                Day 09 05/8 Fri: Abashiri – Shiretoko (Shiretoko, 1 night)
                Day 10 06/8 Sat: Shiretoko (Shiretoko, 1 night)
                Day 11 07/8 Sun: Shiretoko – Lake Akan (Lake Akan, 1 night)
                Day 12 08/8 Mon: Lake Akan – Furano (Furano, 1 night)
                Day 13 09/8 Tue: Furano (Furano, 1 night)
                Day 14 10/8 Wed: Furano (Day trip to Biei) (Furano, 1 night)
                Day 15 11/8 Thu: Furano – CTS (Chitose, 1 night)
                Day 16 12/8 Fri: CTS back to KL

                Base on your experience if the car come with ETC unit do you think best we get ETC card from the car rental or HEP?

                Which way save more? Thanks!

                • bumblebeemum says:

                  On your first day, what time are you arriving? If you are arriving late, you should just spend your first night at CTS (Air Terminal Hotel) instead of going up to Sapporo.

                  You won’t be on the toll road that much frankly. If your car rental company can lend you an ETC card for a nominal fee and no deposit, then no harm getting one. Otherwise, it seems fine even if you don’t have one. You will only encounter toll between Sapporo and Otaru, Sapporo to Asahikawa, and Furano to CTS. The HEP won’t be necessary for your route. I have explained more about ETC vs HEP on this post:
                  http://bumblebeemum.net/2016/05/11/hokkaido-expressway-pass-etc-card-toll-fees/

                  • eco says:

                    Day 2 arrive early in the morning, plan to collect car from the airport and then drive to Noboribetsu.

                    By looking at the Applicable Sections for the HEP from their website http://www.driveplaza.com/trip/drawari/hokkaido_expass/en.html it doesn’t cover my Day 09 onwards (7 days), yeap not worth it.

                    How about your previous experience? Did you pay cash or use ETC card? By the way if the car rental company could lend us the card, how do we top up the credits for our usage?

                    • bumblebeemum says:

                      I usually end up paying cash in Hokkaido. Because I tend to rent from the smaller (i.e. cheaper) companies that do not provide ETC card rentals. But these companies generally do not have English speaking staff.

                      If the car company can lend you the ETC card, they will have a record of the tolls you incurred and will generate out a bill at the end of your trip when you return the car and you will just pay them the total toll fee then.

                  • eco says:

                    Hi BBM, did you have experience to use the spa service in Chitose hotel? http://www.new-chitose-airport.jp/en/spend/relax/spa/ I would like to have some review comments if any.

                    • bumblebeemum says:

                      Yup, I go there all the time because I usually stay at Air Terminal Hotel and access to the spa is included with a stay at the hotel. It is pretty nice, they have both indoor and outdoor onsen and they have English instructions on how to enjoy the spa.

  45. Pauline says:

    Hi Bumble Bee Mum
    per your passed many experiences, do you think should give any vaccination for kids 6 and 9 please? we are travelling to Tokyo Hokkaido early June. thanks much!

  46. Maggie says:

    Hi Bumblebeemum,
    I spent the whole day reading your blog and comments, and it’s been very helpful!
    I’m abit stressed now as I haven’t booked the flights to Sapporo (will be coming from Tokyo) or any accommodation yet.. T_T
    It’s our first time in Japan and we didn’t have much idea what to do. So far we’re flying into Tokyo on the 13th July, and flying out of Sapporo/Chitose on the 23rd July.
    I am thinking maybe 6-7days in Hokkaido. I can’t decide whether to fly into Asahikinawa or New Chitose airport from Tokyo.
    We mainly want to go to Biei/Furano, also visit Otaru. Not sure if there’s enough time to goto Hakodate. We’ll be self-driving (and need to book the rental car soon too).
    Could you give me a couple of suggestions? Much appreciated!

    • bumblebeemum says:

      With 6-7 days, I would skip Hakodate. You can fly into CTS if you are flying out of CTS. Round-trip car rentals from CTS are usually cheaper.

      Let’s say you have 7 days, this is what you can do in July:

      Day 1: CTS – Sapporo
      Day 2: Sapporo (day trip to Otaru)
      Day 3: Sapporo
      Day 4: Sapporo – Furano / Biei
      Day 5: Furano / Biei
      Day 6: Furano / Biei
      Day 7: Furano / Biei – CTS

      It seems pretty late to be booking accommodation in Furano / Biei for July at this time – most of the cheap ones would be sold out and chances are you will be left with the very expensive ones. If accommodation in Furano / Biei is out of your budget, you can consider staying in Asahikawa.

  47. Mags says:

    Hi Bumblebee mum,
    I spent the whole day reading your blog and comments, and it’s been very helpful!
    I’m abit stressed now as I haven’t booked the flights to Sapporo (will be coming from Tokyo) or any accommodation yet.. T_T
    It’s our first time in Japan and we didn’t have much idea what to do. So far we’re flying into Tokyo on the 13th July, and flying out of Sapporo/Chitose on the 23rd July.
    I am thinking maybe 6-7days in Hokkaido. I can’t decide whether to fly into Asahikinawa or New Chitose airport from Tokyo.
    We mainly want to go to Biei/Furano, visit Otaru, and Lake Toya if there’s time. Not sure if there’s enough time to goto Hakodate, so we’ll probably leave that out. We’ll be self-driving (and need to book the rental car soon too).
    Could you give me a couple of suggestions? Much appreciated!

    Below is my proposed Itinerary for the 2 fly-in options:
    If landing at Asahikinawa airport-

    17/7: arrive asahikinawa
    stay> asahikinawa

    18/7: explore biei/asahikinawa
    stay> asahikinawa

    19/7: explore furano, drive to sapporo
    stay> sapporo

    20/7: explore sapporo
    stay> sapporo

    21/7: day trip to otaru
    stay> sapporo

    22/7: lake toya then drive back to new chitose
    stay> near airport

    23/7: fly out

    If landing at New Chitose airport-

    17/7: arrive new chitose
    stay> chitose

    18/7: drive to furano, explore
    stay> furano

    19/7: explore biei, asahikawa
    stay> asahikawa

    20/7: drive to sapporo, explore
    stay> sapporo

    21/7: day trip to otaru, drive to lake toya
    stay> lake toya

    22/7: lake toya then drive back to new chitose
    stay> near airport

    23/7: fly out
    (problem: too much change of hotels)

    • bumblebeemum says:

      The first option looks better. Just that you are looking at a one-way car rental which will be more expensive.

      • Mags says:

        Thanks for your reassurance! I booked the flights to Asahikinawa :) and most of the hotels phew.
        Should I rent a car for the whole time or is there a way I can rearrange my itinerary so I can have the car for a day less as we don’t really need it for the day in Sapporo?

        • bumblebeemum says:

          You can rearrange it by going to Lake Toya after Furano. But to do so, you need to change your accommodation for 19/7, staying at Lake Toya instead.

          19/7: Furano – Lake Toya
          stay> Lake Toya

          20/7: Lake Toya – Sapporo (return car)
          stay> sapporo

  48. Mrs Huang says:

    Hi

    Understood that you visited Mishima San’s Shibazakura Garden during June school holiday before. I am driving from Lake Toya to Chitose on 24 June 2016 and very keen to see pink moss. Do you think it is off-season and how long will it take to drive to Mishima San’s Shibazakura Garden from Lake Toya, and then go to Chitose?

    • bumblebeemum says:

      It is definitely too late for pink moss by the time you are there. Pink moss only bloom for a very short period of time. This year it bloomed particularly early because of the heat wave, so there will be no more pink moss by late June.

  49. Rachel says:

    Hi BBM, Will the 12-Days Hokkaido Ultimate Gourmet Tour with Kids (Self-Drive) itinerary be suitable for Summer like early July? Thinking of skipping Tomanu and Obihiro and head straight back to New Chitose Airport on last day.

  50. eco says:

    This one
    Relax room
    Guestroom
    Guest room(11 rooms)
    We have prepared many facilities for you to lie down quietly and relax at ease after warming yourself with hot spring. One of these superior facilities is relax room where you can have a rest or a nap. Various guest rooms, including twin, double and universal guest rooms, are available for you to spend your ease moment. As the venue is located inside the airport, it is very convenient for you to catch a morning flight at ease.

  51. Carren says:

    Dear Bumblebeemum,

    I am thinking of going to Hokkaido with my family including my son who is under 2 in September. I see majority people travel to Hokkaido in summer and winter. I am trying to go somewhere cool weather before my son turns 2 which is in October :)

    Will I have much to see in September? Will the leave change colours by then?

    Thanks!

    • bumblebeemum says:

      In late September, you should be able to catch the start of autumn foliage in the Daisetsuzan region. The lavender fields would be gone by then, but there will still be colourful flower fields around Furano and Biei in September. So yes, September is still a nice time to visit Hokkaido. It will be cooling too!

  52. Yanning says:

    Hi Bumblebeemum!

    I happened to chance upon your blog today and boy am I impressed with all the helpful information and clear guide on Hokkaido. You have a knack for organising itineraries and totally sound like a local there already! :-) Along with the rest, I would like to ask for your help to check whether my itinerary is feasible in August this year. I will be travelling with my mom and aunt from 11 to 21 August. First time there and it will be a self-drive trip.

    11Aug 1500: New Chitose Airport
    12Aug: CTS -> Furano & Biei
    13Aug: Furano -> Hokuryu -> Asahikawa -> Biei/Furano
    14Aug: Furano -> Sounkyo
    15Aug: Sounkyo -> Lake Akan
    16Aug: Lake Akan -> Kushiro -> Yorkshire Farm
    17Aug: Yorkshire Farm -> Tokachi Millennium Forest -> Sapporo
    18Aug: Day trip to Otaru
    19 & 20Aug: Sapporo
    21Aug 1215: Departure

    – On 11Aug, we will arrive at 1500 so is it worth it to start rental of car on that day and drive to Lake Shikotsu for a visit? Or just chill at the airport area. We will be staying at CTS airport hotel for the night.
    – For 12-13Aug, is it too adventurous/hectic for us to cover all of these places? We will be staying 2 nights at Furano Prince Hotel.
    – Do you know whether 17 August is the last day of Sapporo Summer Festival? Not sure if the website is true. Looks like August is not a good time for matsuri. http://www.welcome.city.sapporo.jp/event/summer/sapporo_summer_festival/?lang=en
    – Have you been to Tokachi Millennium Forest? Looks good on their website http://www.tmf.jp/language/eng/
    – Worth getting an ETC card for this itinerary? Confused on whether to pay tolls using cash or getting ETC from tocoo.

    Thank you! Really appreciate the help & very lovely of you to help all of us with your time! ^_^

    • bumblebeemum says:

      11 Aug: I don’t think you have time to go to Lake Shikotsu on the first day. Picking up rental cars at CTS takes quite a bit of time because all the rental car companies are NOT located at the airport. You still need to catch a shuttle bus from the airport to the car rental company. You can either just chill at the airport or visit Chitose Rera Outlet.

      13 Aug: I would end the day at Asahikawa instead of Furano. Doesn’t make sense to keep driving to and fro between Asahikawa and Furano if you are headed to Sounkyo the next day. So first night in Furano but second night in Asahikawa.

      I’ve never been to Tokachi Millennium Forest. It looks like a very nice garden, if garden is your short of thing. :)

      It does look like 17 Aug is the last day for Sapporo Festival. If you want to catch the festival, this is what I suggest:

      11Aug 1500: New Chitose Airport
      12Aug: CTS -> Furano & Biei
      13Aug: Furano -> Hokuryu -> Asahikawa
      14Aug: Asahikawa -> Sounkyo -> Lake Akan
      15Aug: Lake Akan -> Kushiro -> Yorkshire Farm
      16Aug: Yorkshire Farm -> Tokachi Millennium Forest -> Sapporo
      17Aug: Sapporo (for Sapporo Festival)
      18Aug: Day trip to Otaru
      19 & 20Aug: Sapporo
      21Aug 1215: Departure

      It doesn’t look like you will be using the toll road a lot. Only from CTS to Furano and on the way back from Kushiro to Sapporo. And to Otaru if you are still driving then. (I would actually opt to return the car once I reach back to Sapporo.) I would just pay tolls in cash and save the trouble of getting an ETC card from Tocoo.

      • Yanning says:

        Oh I see. Thank you for the information!
        I tried looking for accommodation at Asahikawa area but it’s a bit too late now. Most of them are already fully booked and very pricey, especially for 3 pax. I found one at Art Hotels Asahikawa at around $287/night but for only 2 pax. Is it okay for the 3 of us to stay in that room? Does Japanese hotels restrict these kind of behaviour?

        • bumblebeemum says:

          Usually you can find single rooms in Japan. So for 3 pax, it is easier to book one twin + one single than to try to find triple rooms.

          Have you tried Super Hotel Asahikawa? When I travelled with my friends (3 pax), we stayed at Super Hotels by default because their Super Rooms could fit 3 person:
          http://www.superhoteljapan.com/en/s-hotels/asahikawa/

          • Yanning says:

            Ah, unfortunately Super Hotel is full on our dates. Yeah it’s easier to find twin + single but they are really expensive together, around $400~500+ since the dates we’re finding are on weekends plus during peak season.
            If we can’t find any other accommodation other than the one we booked at Furano Prince hotel, we might skip Asahikawa and travel to and fro Furano on the 3rd day since it looks like the only attraction there is the Asahikawa Ramen Village.

            • Yanning says:

              Oh, actually we could stay at Asahikawa if we cheat a bit and squeeze into a 2pax room. Not sure if the hotels there are strict about this though.

            • bumblebeemum says:

              Does sound very expensive, even for peak season. Maybe coz you’re booking quite last minute. Usually hotels at Asahikawa are not that expensive. If Furano Prince Hotel is reasonably priced, then sure, you can do day trip from Furano. Just that you will be driving back and forth and hence spending more time on the road.

  53. Eliza says:

    Hi bumble bee mum, though i do not have any kids but I really enjoyed your informative entries! :)

    I will be visiting hokkaido from 19nov to 26 nov end of year. Could you advise if it is more worth it to visit Furano or Hakodate for scenery? I am also considering a night each in lake toya and noboribetsu.

    Thanks!

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Your dates are too late for Furano. Hakodate is definitely a better idea. And yup, Lake Toya and Noboribetsu are ideal places to break up the journey between Sapporo / CTS and Hakodate.

  54. syy says:

    Hi Bumbebeemum, need some advice. Planning trip in 2nd week of July, have only 6 nights. Since all girls group so most probably will use public transport there, will it be difficult to travel around? Thinking to spend 2 nights at Sapporo, 2 nights at Furano and 2 nights at Hakodate. Does this work? TIA.

    • bumblebeemum says:

      2nd week July? Isn’t that now? Sapporo and Hakodate is easy to get around by public transport. Furano has sightseeing buses, though I definitely think driving is a better way to explore Furano.

      • syy says:

        Lol, forgot to mention it’s next year. Never DIY a trip before so a lot of homework need to do :p Is finding car park an issue in Furano? Do you think we can cover until Hakodate? or visit Noboribetsu instead? TIA.

        • bumblebeemum says:

          Ah.. Next year.. that makes sense. Never too early to start doing research! I don’t think parking is an issue in Furano. Most attractions in Furano and Biei have free parking. If you want to visit Hakodate, you may want to consider flying into Hakodate and out from Asahikawa. So you fly into Hakodate, spend 2 nights there, move up to Sapporo and spend 2 nights there, then move to Furano for another 2 nights before flying out from Asahikawa.

  55. syy says:

    That would be a perfect plan but too bad we only have direct flight to New Chitose from KL. What do you think of the below itinerary:

    Day 1: Chitose Airport – Tomamu
    Day 2: Tomamu – Furano
    Day 3: Furano – Biei
    Day 4: Lake Toya/Noboribetsu
    Day 5: Sapporo
    Day 6: Sapporo / Otaru
    Day 7: Chitose Airport
    Do you think it will be too rush? Can make it if travel by public transport? TIA.

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Ah.. You’re flying direct to CTS. Okok…

      It does look very rushed if you are using public transport. First 3 days look okay (I assume you will visit Biei as day trip from Furano?).

      I don’t think you can do both Lake Toya and Noboribetsu on the same day – just choose one. And I would visit Lake Toya / Noboribetsu from Sapporo. Some hotels offer free shuttle service to and fro Sapporo. Can make use of that if you’re using public transport to save some money.

      • syy says:

        Thank you so much for your suggestion. Do you happen to know which hotels that offer the free shuttle service? TIA.

        • Cch says:

          Hello Bumblebee mum!
          I just came back from hokkaido!
          Went to otaru. Lake Toya. Furano. Biei. asahikawa. Iwamizawa,small town.. And end at sapporo!
          I love otaru. Furano and especially Biei!
          I like the Patchwork Rd especially!
          Panaroma Rd though is nice too.
          Thanks for your blog and comments which is useful!

        • bumblebeemum says:

          The ones I know of are Toya Sunpalace and Nonokaze (at Lake Toya) and Hotel Mahoroba (at Noboribetsu).

  56. Carol says:

    Hi Hi Bumblebeemum,

    I am planning to go to Hokkaido next June.

    Will need some advise. I have planned the below itinerary. Is it advisable to drive base on the plan?

    11/06 from SG to Sapporo
    12/06
    Day 1: Chitose Airport – Lake Shikotsu – Noboribetsu
    13/06
    Day 2: Noboribetsu – Lake Toya – Otaru
    14/06
    Day 3: Otaru – Sapporo
    15/06
    Day 4: Sapporo
    16/06
    Day 5: Sapporo – Asahikawa
    17/06
    Day 6: Asahikawa – Sounkyo
    18/06
    Day 7: Sounkyo – Furano / Biei
    19/06
    Day 8: Furano / Biei – Tomamu
    20/16
    Day 9: Tomamu – Chitose
    21/16
    Fly off at 10am

    • bumblebeemum says:

      It looks a bit rushed to me. I would skip Asahikawa and Sounkyo and slot in a night at Lake Toya on the second day and one more night at Furano / Biei.

      • Anonymous says:

        I have made the adjustment. Is this do-able by train also?

        11/06 from SG to Sapporo
        12/06
        Day 1: Chitose Airport – Lake Shikotsu – Noboribetsu
        13/06
        Day 2: Noboribetsu – Lake Toya
        14/06
        Day 3: Lake Toya – Otaru
        15/06
        Day 4: Otaru – Sapporo
        16/06
        Day 5: Sapporo
        17/06
        Day 6: Sapporo – Furano
        18/06
        Day 7: Furano / Biei
        19/06
        Day 8: Furano– Tomamu
        20/16
        Day 9: Tomamu – Chitose
        21/16
        Fly off at 10am

        • bumblebeemum says:

          If you are driving, the itinerary looks good. But if you want to use public transport, here’s what I think:

          Day 1: Lake Shikotsu is inaccessible by train. I suggest you skip it if you are not driving.

          Day 3: If you are using public transport, I suggest you go back to Sapporo from Lake Toya via a direct bus and do a day trip to Otaru from Sapporo by train on Day 4.

          Day 8: I can’t remember if there’s a train route from Furano to Tomamu, or you need to go back to Sapporo to transfer. I can’t check Hyperdia now because it’s not available for the region – suspect it’s because the rail to Eastern Hokkaido is still under repair and they will only put up the info when the rail resumes normal operations. If you need to go back to Sapporo, it would be super duh. But Hokkaido public transport is often just duh like that. Hence I always end up driving. :p

  57. Lynn says:

    Hi BBM,
    Your blogs on Hokkaido trip is so informative! Me and my family will be travelling to Hokkaido next year June (reaching on Jun12 and flying back on Jun21). We are planning to visit Mishima San’s Shibazakura Garden. Do you think we are still able to make a trip there during our travel period?
    We will be covering Lake Toya, Hakodate, Otaru, Asahikawa, Kutchan and Sapporo. But, not sure how to allocate our travel period to these places – as in which place should comes first and which is next. Appreciate your advice on this. Thanks!

  58. JJ says:

    Dear Bumblebeemum,

    I am planning to visit Tokyo and Hokkaido in Summer.

    1. May I know is my itinery is in order?

    2. Where (hotel) to stay in Tokyo if i just want to visit Tokyo Disneyland / Mother Farm?

    Itinerary:
    Day 1 SIN – Narita – Mother Farm
    Day 2 Tokyo Disneyland
    Day 3 Tokyo area
    Day 4 Haneda – Hakodate
    Day 5 Hakodate
    Day 6 – Hakodate – Onuma Koen – Sapporo
    Day 7 – Sapporo
    Day 8 – Day 9 Furano / Biei
    Day 10 – Day 11 Asahikawa
    Day 12 – Tomamu
    Day 13 – Obihiro / Yubari
    Day 14 – Chitose

    Thank you very much.

    • bumblebeemum says:

      I suggest you stay somewhere in Chiba to visit Mother Farm and Tokyo Disney.

      Are you going to drive? Not sure if you have enough time to visit Mother Farm on Day 1 right after arriving in Narita if you don’t drive.

      For Hokkaido, I suggest you swap the order to go Asahikawa before Furano / Biei. i.e. go in the order Sapporo > Asahikawa > Biei > Furano > Obihiro > Tomamu > Yubari > Chitose

      • JJ says:

        Thanks for ur quick reply!
        Flight shld b arrive in the noon.

        I am planning to drive to Mother Farm. May be play by ear.

        1. Any accomodation recommended in Chiba area?

        2. Hokkaido itinery order looks great to me :)
        Do u knw Asahiyama Zoo train operate in June? As i am planning to ride Zoo train.

        Thank you very much ^____^

        • bumblebeemum says:

          1. If you’re driving and looking for somewhere cheap, Chisun Inn Chiba Hamano R16 Hotel has free parking and they have rooms with a little bunk bed for extra bed space.

          2. I think the Asahiyama zoo train only operates in winter.

          • JJ says:

            Dear bumblebeemum,
            Thanks for ur recommendation. The hotel looks good.

            1. I am still thinking June is good time to visit Asahikawa? or any other region that i have not mentioned in my previous post.
            As main highlight for Asahikawa is the Zoo train.
            Please advise.

            2. Btw, domestic air tix seems expensive. As i am planning to travel both Tokyo and Hokkaido. Thinking whether to take Shinkansen frm Tokyo to Hokkaido?

            Thank you very much :)

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