Home >> Japan Travel >> Hokkaido Self-drive with Kids (June 2014) Part 5: Furano, Biei, Tomamu, Obihiro, New Chitose Airport

This post is continued from…

Hokkaido Self-drive with kids (June 2014) Part 4: Sapporo

Day 9: Sapporo – Furano

This was my second time driving from Sapporo to Furano.  On both occasions, the default route given by the GPS instructed us to take the expressway all the way to Takikawa before turning back to Furano.  This time, I decided to ignore the GPS instruction and exit and Mikasa and use route 452 to get to Furano. I found going by this way took about the same time but saved us quite a bit on toll fees.

We arrived at Furano in the afternoon and headed straight for lunch at Furano Wine House.

Furano Wine House was located at the top of a hill and the view from there was splendid even on this rainy day! We got a table next to the window where we could enjoy the beautiful scenery while dining.

Furano Wine House in June 02

The most famous dish at Furano wine house was the cheese fondue. We ordered their lunch set which came with a main course (steak) and a mini cheese fondue.

We also ordered also their four cheese pizza.  The cheese fondue and cheese pizza were both made with locally produced Furano cheese!

We also ordered a locally produced Furano grape juice – the kids loved it!

Furano Wine House in June 01

Frankly, I found the food here was nothing to rave about.  I enjoyed the grape juice, but I believe you can buy the bottle of juice at souvenir stores for a cheaper price than what the restaurant was selling it for.  And I thought the cheese fondue was over-hyped. We unanimously agreed that the best part of the meal was the kids meal!  It was cheap and the prawn was gigantic! Excellent value for money!

> Furano Wine House is on my list of Kids-Friendly Restaurants in Hokkaido. Click here to find more kids-friendly restaurants in Hokkaido! <

Furano Wine Factory

After lunch, we drove down the hill to the wine factory.

Furano Wine Factory in June 01

Furano Wine Factory in June 02

There was a lavender hill in front of the wine factory, but June was too early for lavender season.  These lavender were still in their infancy.

Furano Wine Factory in June 03

We went for a walk around the cellar.

Furano Wine Factory in June 04

Furano Wine Factory in June 05

Then we went upstairs for free wine tasting. You can just grab a small plastic cup and help yourself to the barrels of wine available. Unlimited wine for free!

Furano Wine Factory in June 06

The kids also helped themselves to a cup each and they got their first taste of wine. :p

Furano Wine Factory in June 07

Before anyone got drunk, we left and headed to our next destination: Tomita Melon House.

When we first arrived, the boys were more interested in the tractors than the melons.

It started raining, so I shooed the boys off the tractors and into the melon house to seek shelter. We were welcomed by the enticing display of melons!

furano tomita melon house in June 01

While waiting for the rain to stop, we went around to buy all sorts of melon snacks. The kids loved the melon snacks and ate so much!

When the rain became lighter, we quickly dashed back to our car and headed for Farm Tomita which was just beside the melon house.

> Tomita Melon House is on my list of Hokkaido Best Sweets Cafe.  Click here to find more wonderful Sweets Cafe in Hokkaido! <

Furano Tomita Farm in June 01

June was too early for lavender season and most of the flowers were not in full bloom yet. But it was a nice visit nevertheless.

Furano Tomita Farm in June 02

Furano Tomita Farm in June 03

We walked all the way to the end of the farm where there was a terrace cafe from which we could get a beautiful panaromic view of the flower field. By June it was already so beautiful, how nice it would be if I could visit in July / August when everything is in full bloom!

Furano Tomita Farm in June 05

Furano Tomita Farm in June 07

There were some lavender hills at the back, but as mentioned, June was too early for lavender viewing.

Furano Tomita Farm in June 06

I just had to take a photo with the baby lavenders. These were the most mature lavender I could find in the farm when we were there.. Better than nothing. :p

Furano Tomita Farm in June 04

And there were some lavender wannabe (a purplish plant that looks a bit like lavender).

The kids were more interested in posing with the lavender ice-cream than the flowers.

It started raining again after a while, so we quickly headed back to our car and didn’t have time to visit all the shops around the farm.  In my earlier visit in October 2013, we did some shopping at the beautiful dried flower shop and dined at the cafe at Tomita Farm. Click here to read about my earlier visit to Tomita Farm!

> Tomita Farm is on my list of Kids-Friendly Restaurants in Hokkaido. Click here to find more kids-friendly restaurants in Hokkaido! <

Furano Cheese Factory

Since it was raining, we decided to go to an indoor destination next – Furano Cheese Factory.

Furano Cheese Factory in June 02

There were some free cheese for sampling:

Furano Cheese Factory in June 01

MF was super excited to sink his teeth into the black squid ink cheese (because black was his favourite colour).

Furano Cheese Factory in June 03

But the moment it went into his mouth, he spit it out. I tried a piece myself and frankly found it absolutely disgusting! We quickly bought ourselves some milk to wash away the awful taste of squid ink cheese.

Furano Cheese Factory in June 04

Furano Cheese Factory in June 05

In the factory, there was a fake cow which you can milk – it was coin operated.

Furano Cheese Factory in June 06

Furano Cheese Factory in June 07

Next, we headed to Furano Delice for tea break (never mind the fact that we have been eating non-stop since we arrived in Furano.. but what else could we do on a rainy day?).  Their double fromage cheesecake was pretty so-so IMO, I very much prefer Le Tao’s.  But it was a nice cosy place to chill out.

Furano Delice in June 01

> Furano Delice is on my list of Hokkaido Best Sweets Cafe.  Click here to find more wonderful Sweets Cafe in Hokkaido! <

We then headed to Furano Marche to do some shopping. Furano Marche turned out to be much smaller than expected, and it was hard to get between the buildings when it was raining heavily. (They provided umbrellas, but still it was a hassle with the kids around.)

furano marche

We grabbed some Furano snacks from the souvenir shop.  The potato chips was quite nice, so make sure you buy a pack if you are there!

marche 01

marche 02

Since it was raining heavily, we decided to just go back to our hotel and bum until dinner time. For dinner, we went to restaurant called Haruchan sushi which was recommended by the Furano Cheese Factory for their cheese steamboat which uses cheese from Furano Cheese Factory. We ordered the cheese pot and a pork shabu shabu.

Furano haruchan sushi 01

It was pretty puzzling for a sushi restaurant to be selling cheese pot and shabu shabu. The food was forgettable.. So I guess a jack of all trades is a master of none.

Furano haruchan sushi 02

There was a festival going on right outside the restaurant. It was raining, so we just took a quick look around before going back to our hotel.

furano summer festival 01

furano summer festival 02

Day 10

Flower Land Kamifurano

We started the day with a visit to Flower Land Kamifurano.

Flower Land Kamifurano in June 01

Flower Land Kamifurano in June 05

June was still too early for flower season, but there were a few fields that were blooming.

Flower Land Kamifurano in June 02

Flower Land Kamifurano in June 15

Flower Land Kamifurano in June 04

Although many of the flower fields were still bare, the view from Flower Land Kamifurano of the surrounding area was breath-taking!

Flower Land Kamifurano in June 03Flower Land Kamifurano in June 16

Even 18 month old MY could appreciate the scenery!

Flower Land Kamifurano in June 11

Flower Land Kamifurano in June 06

Since it was not peak flowering season, the good thing was that we had the whole place to ourselves! The kids had fun just running around.

Flower Land Kamifurano in June 10

Flower Land Kamifurano in June 20

The little one particularly liked the little flowers!

Flower Land Kamifurano in June 13

Flower Land Kamifurano in June 14

Flower Land Kamifurano in June 12

There was a tractor ride going around the farm for a fee and MF (who has a thing for tractors) kept asking to ride on it. Flower Land Kamifurano is not very big and it was pretty lame going around on the tractor AFTER we have already explored the whole place on foot. But the kids loved the tractor ride anyway.

Flower Land Kamifurano in June 17

Flower Land Kamifurano in June 08

Flower Land Kamifurano in June 07

So we had a repeat telecast of all the flowers we had seen earlier.

Flower Land Kamifurano in June 09

Flower Land Kamifurano in June 19

Flower Land Kamifurano in June 18

Shikisai No Oka

Next, we drove on to Biei. Driving to Biei from Furano, we arrived at the area called Panorama Road first. Our first stop was Shikisai No Oka.

shikisai no oka biei hokkaido in June 01

Most of the flowers were still at infancy stage, but we could see that the flower fields went on and on and on…. Shikisai No Oka is much bigger than Flower Land Kamifurano, which makes taking the tractor ride here a much better idea.

shikisai no oka biei hokkaido in June 08

shikisai no oka biei hokkaido in June 03

In June, there was only a patch of red and yellow flowers that were in full bloom.

shikisai no oka biei hokkaido in June 02

shikisai no oka biei hokkaido in June 06

shikisai no oka biei hokkaido in June 05

There was a lone tree in the middle of the flower fields which makes for good photo opportunities.

shikisai no oka biei hokkaido in June 04

shikisai no oka biei hokkaido in June 09

I would love to come here in July / August when the flower fields are in full bloom. If it is already this beautiful in June, how wonderful it must be in a month’s time!

shikisai no oka biei hokkaido in June 07

Panorama Road

Our next stop in the Panorama Road area was Shinnei No Oka.

Shinnei no Oka Biei Hokkaido in June 01

Shinnei no Oka Biei Hokkaido in June 04

Shinnei no Oka Biei Hokkaido in June 02

The scenery of the rolling hills around Shinnei No Oka was so beautiful!

Shinnei no Oka Biei Hokkaido in June 03

Shinnei no Oka Biei Hokkaido in June 05

Shinnei no Oka Biei Hokkaido in June 06

Our next stop was Sanai No Oka which also offered a beautiful view of the rolling hills of Biei.

Sanai no Oka Biei Hokkaido in June 01

Sanai no Oka Biei Hokkaido in June 02

In case you are wondering where the kids were, they were happily sleeping in the car all the way since we left Shikisai No Oka. We just took turns to hop out to take photos while leaving them in the car.

Our lunch destination was Farm Restaurant Chiyoda which was also in the Panorama Road area. Our initial plan was to have lunch before going to the Patchwork Road area, but because the weather was so good and the weather forecast said that it would rain in the afternoon, we decided to go to Patchwork Road area first.

Patchwork Road

Our first stop in the Patchwork Road area was Hokusei No Oka.

Hokusei no Oka Biei Hokkaido in June 01

Hokusei no Oka Biei Hokkaido in June 02

We climbed up the pyramid-shaped observation deck for a view of the surrounding area.

Hokusei no Oka Biei Hokkaido in June 03

Next, we went to Hill of Zerebu.

Hill of Zerebu and Atom Biei Hokkaido in June 01

Hill of Zerebu and Atom Biei Hokkaido in June 02

I would recommend skipping Hill of Zerebu if you are visiting in June because the flowers have not bloomed yet. But if you’re visiting in July – October, it should be worth a visit.

Hill of Zerebu and Atom Biei Hokkaido in June 03

Hill of Zerebu and Atom Biei Hokkaido in June 04

Next, we drove around the Patchwork Road area in search for celebrity trees.

Ken and Mary Tree Biei Hokkaido in June

Ken and Mary Tree

 

Parent and Child Tree Biei Hokkaido in June

Parent and Child Tree

 

Seven Star Tree Biei Hokkaido in June

Seven Star Tree

 

The whole drive around Patchwork Road was extremely scenic. My photos do not do the place any justice, you need to visit it for yourself (or google for some professionally taken photos :p).

Farm Restaurant Chiyoda

After a while, everyone was bored of celebrity trees and decided to go for lunch. So we drove back to the Panorama Road where Farm Restaurant Chiyoda was.

The restaurant was extremely popular and we had to wait some time for a table. Their most popular dish was the beef stew and I can understand why. It was SUPER yummy!

We also ordered their steak which was not bad – not the best steak I’ve had in Japan but not too bad.

The kids meal was disappointing though – there was hardly any meat in the curry.  The jersey ice-cream that came with it was pretty crappy too.  Should have just ordered one more beef stew for the kids!

Farm Restaurant Chiyoda Biei Hokkaido in June 01

Farm Restaurant Chiyoda Biei Hokkaido in June 02

One bad thing about Farm Restaurant Chiyoda was that they only have beef on their menu. So if you have anyone in your company who does not take beef, he or she would be stuck eating plain potato.

> Farm Restaurant Chiyoda is on my list of Hokkaido Best Food.  Click here to find more wonderful food in Hokkaido! <

More of Panorama Road

After lunch, we drove to the nearby Tree of Philosphy to take some been-here-done-that photos. It was drizzling by then, so we just snapped some photos from the car.

Tree of Philosophy Biei Hokkaido in June

Next, we decided to go for after-lunch coffee at Sanai No Chaya Curve, which is a small cottage just beside Sanai no Oka.

The cottage is famous for its affogato. We tried one coffee and one green tea affogato and both were delicious! We also ordered a toast with jam which was quite nice.  Can’t believe we were having toast immediately after lunch.  But what else could we do on a rainy day??

If the weather is good, you can sip your drink on the terrace while enjoying the beautiful view around Sanai No Oka.

Sanai no Oka Chaya Curve Biei Hokkaido in June 03

There is also a little pavilion nearby with a great view.

Sanai no Oka Chaya Curve Biei Hokkaido in June 04

Word of caution: The interior of the cottage is not very child-friendly at all. It only has one counter with high stools and the place is full of breakable pottery! Hence, we did not stay long (because staying any longer would increase the chances of one of the kids breaking something).

Sanai no Oka Chaya Curve Biei Hokkaido in June 05

> Sanai No Chaya Curve is on my list of Hokkaido Best Sweets Cafe.  Click here to find more wonderful Sweets Cafe in Hokkaido! <

Ningle Terrace

After the coffee break, we left Biei and drove back to Furano and visited Ningle Terrace.

Ningle Terrace Furano in June 01

Ningle Terrace Furano in June 02

Ningle Terrace Furano in June 03

After spending some time browsing through the shops at Ningle Terrace, we decided to go for dinner. We visited Kumagera, which is a pretty famous restaurant in Furano and appeared on many TV shows before.

Kumagera

Kumagera Furano in June 01

We had a table with a stove in the middle for their famous hot pot.

Kumagera Furano in June 02

Although they are more famous for their hotpot with various types of meat such as chicken and venison, we ordered their seafood hotpot instead. Doesn’t it look delicious?

The fire was started and the hot pot was cooked right in front of us. When it was done, TADA!

And for those who like your beef rare like me, you have to try their beef sashimi rice!

I would highly recommend dining at Kumagera if you are visiting Furano. They were very tourist and foreigner friendly and the food was so good! (No wonder they keep getting featured on variety shows all around the world.)

> Kumagera is on my list of Hokkaido Best Food.  Click here to find more wonderful food in Hokkaido! <

After dinner, we left Furano and drove to our next destination: Tomamu.


Day 11

Hoshino Resort Tomamu

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

Unkai Terrace Hoshino Resort Tomamu in June 01

The gondola only operated from 4.30 to 7am in June, so we had to wake up really early and dressed everyone up warmly and headed out. But we actually weren’t that early, by the time we dressed the kids and took the resort shuttle from the hotel tower to the gondola station, it was about 6am.

Unkai Terrace Hoshino Resort Tomamu in June 02

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

Unkai Terrace Hoshino Resort Tomamu in June 03

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

Unkai Terrace Hoshino Resort Tomamu in June 04

And through the clouds we went..

Unkai Terrace Hoshino Resort Tomamu in June 05

Higher, higher…

Unkai Terrace Hoshino Resort Tomamu in June 06

And we were above the sea of clouds!

Unkai Terrace Hoshino Resort Tomamu in June 07

We arrived at the terrace and went around taking photos non-stop! It was pretty cold at the terrace, so if you did not pack warm clothing (since it’s summer), don’t worry, there were many winter jackets available for guests to help themselves to for free. However, there were no kids jackets, only adult ones.

Unkai Terrace Hoshino Resort Tomamu in June 08

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

Unkai Terrace Hoshino Resort Tomamu in June 10

It didn’t help that there was a TV crew doing filming and taking up so much space on the terrace.

Unkai Terrace Hoshino Resort Tomamu in June 11

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

Unkai Terrace Hoshino Resort Tomamu in June 09

We walked around the terrace to take more photos.

Unkai Terrace Hoshino Resort Tomamu in June 12

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

Unkai Terrace Hoshino Resort Tomamu in June 13

Unkai Terrace Hoshino Resort Tomamu in June 14

Unkai Terrace Hoshino Resort Tomamu in June 15

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

Unkai Terrace Hoshino Resort Tomamu in June 16

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

Unkai Terrace Hoshino Resort Tomamu in June 17

We took the gondola back down and went for buffet breakfast that was included in our stay.

Hoshino Resort Tomamu Breakfast Buffet

After eating, we went back to the room where MY went back to sleep. I brought MF to the resort centre to see what activities were available for a 3 year old.

Hoshino Resort Tomamu Activity for Children in June 1

They had balance bikes that were free to use. MF went for a short ride on it.

Hoshino Resort Tomamu Activity for Children in June 2 Hoshino Resort Tomamu Activity for Children in June 3

Next, we decided to try ice-cream making (chargeable). We paid for the activity at the resort centre shop and received a ‘ticket’.

Ice-cream Making Hoshino Resort Tomamu in June 10

We brought the ticket up to the second storey where all the activities were held. They also had bread making and cookie making, but I thought those seemed too difficult for a 3 year old. An English-speaking staff came to teach us how to make ice-cream and MF was able to complete all the tasks (except the shaking of the tin which all of us had to take turns to do because it was super tiring!).

Ice-cream Making Hoshino Resort Tomamu in June 12

Ice-cream Making Hoshino Resort Tomamu in June 13

Ice-cream Making Hoshino Resort Tomamu in June 14

Ice-cream Making Hoshino Resort Tomamu in June 15

MF was super excited to see the end product.

Ice-cream Making Hoshino Resort Tomamu in June 16

Tada.. We made ice-cream!

Ice-cream Making Hoshino Resort Tomamu in June 17

And MF got to enjoy the fruit of his labour.

Ice-cream Making Hoshino Resort Tomamu in June 18

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

Hoshino Resort Tomamu Shuttle Bus

Obihiro

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

hokkaido best food obihiro panchou buta don

> Panchou is on my list of Hokkaido Best Food.  Click here to find more wonderful food in Hokkaido! <

After lunch, we went shopping at Rokkatei and Ryugetsu main store in Obihiro before driving back to New Chitose Airport.

obihiro-ryugetsu

New Chitose Airport

We checked in to Air Terminal Hotel where we would be staying for the final night. After resting for a while, we went to walk around New Chitose Airport. New Chitose Airport is an awesome place to visit and I can easily spend a whole day there.

We first visited Royce Chocolate World.

You can see how the famous Royce chocolate is made, right here at New Chitose Airport!

Next, we passed by Steffi’s Nature World, which is a place where you could take photo with life-size animal stuffed toys (I think), but did not go in. There was a small play area outside Steffi’s Nature World that was free and suitable for small babies.

For older kids, move on to Doraemon Waku Waku Sky Park!

MF had been asking to visit the Doraemon Waku Waku Sky Park since our last visit.  He was so happy to see Doraemon this time that he did a Doraemon impersonation.

Doraemon Waku Waku SkyPark New Chitose Airport Hokkaido 04

At Doraemon Waku Waku Sky Park, there was an awesome FREE play area for kids!

The play area was super fun, considering it was free. The kids had lots of fun!

Doraemon Waku Waku SkyPark New Chitose Airport Hokkaido 01

There was an interesting target board where the kids used their socks as ammo. Very creative! (Though not the most hygienic.. Lol!)

Doraemon Waku Waku SkyPark New Chitose Airport Hokkaido 03

Doraemon Waku Waku SkyPark New Chitose Airport Hokkaido 02

If your kids are more of the sit-down-and-do-craft type of kid rather than the run-and-jump-around kind, just opposite the play area is a craft area. You need to pay to do the craft though.

There is also a ‘library’ full of Doraemon comic books – and they have them in different languages!!

If your kids like Doraemon, they would definitely LOVE dining at the Doraemon theme cafe!

There was a trick mirror along the corridor and the kids had a good laugh at it!

The kids had so much fun there and they were only willing to leave when the place was closed.

We went around exploring the rest of the airport and had dinner before going back to the hotel to rest before our flight home the next day.

New Chitose Airport is a great place to hang out with kids.  Click here to see my post “10 Activites for Kids at New Chitose Airport”!

Posts from this trip:

> Click Here for Itinerary Outline

Detailed Posts:

Part 1: New Chitose Airport, Lake Shikotsu, Lake Toya, Hakodate
Part 2: Onuma Koen, Niseko, Shakotan
Part 3: Otaru
Part 4: Sapporo
Part 5: Furano, Biei, Tomamu, Obihiro, New Chitose Airport

Posts of my other trips to Hokkaido with the kids:

Hokkaido in Autumn (October 2013)
Part 1: Flight, Hotel Mercure Sapporo, Toyota Rent-A-Car Sapporo
Part 2: Itinerary (with telephone numbers and GPS Map Codes)

Hokkaido in Winter (December 2014)
Complete summarized itinerary
Part 1:  Sapporo
Part 2: Asahikawa, Lake Akan, Lake Mashu, Iozan, Lake Kussharo
Part 3: Kushiro, Obihiro, Tomamu
Part 4: Chitose, Lake Shikotsu, Niseko, Noboribetsu, Lake Toya, Rusutsu
Part 5: Sapporo, Otaru, New Chitose Airport

Looking for more posts on Japan Travel?

Visit our Japan Travel Page for more itineraries and travel tips!

 

the author

Supposed to be a stay-home mom, but hates staying home. Definition of parenting is bringing the boys out for 'experiential learning' in Singapore, Japan and wherever else in the world her husband can afford to pay for.

98Comments

  1. Karen Choo says:

    It was nice reading your blog. It provide useful information. Plan to go to Hokkaido next year with my 2 kids. Do you mind to share which hotel you are staying ? Plan to self drive as well. Tq so much.

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Where are you planning to visit in Hokkaido? I usually drive around and change hotel every night.. For Sapporo, I like Mercure Hotel.. but for my next trip I’m planning to try Holiday Inn next to Susukino station because it is very near Mercure but cheaper for the dates I’m going. I have also tried Royal Stay Sapporo which has very cheap family rooms but would not recommend it if you are not familiar with Sapporo because the location is not as good as Mercure or Holiday Inn.

      • Karen Choo says:

        Thank you for your reply. I was thinking to drive and change hotel everyday but not sure during the summer time, the hotel will be full or not. Will like to go to lake toya, Furano, biel. Probably will follow your blog destination as it is really useful. I have 2 kids age 6 and 5.

        • bumblebeemum says:

          At Lake Toya, I recommend Toya Sunpalace because of their pool, the kids will enjoy it. They even have a free laundry so you can wash their swimming costumes etc after that. For Furano, we stayed at Hotel Edel Warme which was a bit run down and they have no laundry so i don’t think i would stay there again. Biei has very limited accommodation, so we stayed 2 nights at Furano and went Biei as day trip. Alternatively you can spend the night at Asahikawa if you are planning to visit the Asahiyama zoo.

  2. […] totally enjoyed our stay at Tomamu.  It was the second time we stayed here in the year (read about our Summer stay here) and both stays were extremely enjoyable.  I found Tomamu to be an extremely value-for-money snow […]

  3. […] The next morning, we had a quick breakfast at Yoshinoya before checking out of the hotel and taking the airport limousine to New Chitose Airport.  Once at the airport, the kids went to play at the free playground in Doraemon Waku Waku Skypark while I sipped on a Doraemon latte.  (Read more about this free playground on this post.) […]

  4. […] To be continued: Hokkaido Self-drive with Kids (June 2014) Part 3 […]

  5. […] Tomamu Hoshino Resort Hoshino Resort at Tomamu offers a host of activities for kids in summer, ranging from nature activities to craft activities to sports programmes, river programmes and hot-air ballooning.  A major attraction of Tomamu Hoshino Resort in summer is its Unkai Terrace, where you can take a gondola to the top of the mountain to witness a sea of clouds! Click here to read about our visit to Hoshino Resort Tomamu in June 2014! […]

    • Sarah Eng says:

      Hi! I am planning a trip to Hokkaido this Jun with my kids. Kind of last min, can u help to suggest places to stay in Furano and Biei area? Thanks!

  6. Jovin says:

    Hi mummy, I am going to Hokkaido this end Apr/early May. Because it is not blooming season, where do u advise us to visit in Furano, Biei and Asahikawa?

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Don’t wish to burst your bubbles but you are going at a very bad time. Firstly, I think you are going to run in Golden Week. Is there any way you can change your travel dates? Golden Week is a really bad time to go Japan. Prices of all travel-related stuff (accommodations, car rental) will go up, trains will be extremely crowded and you may not be able to get reserved seats even if you have a rail pass.

      On the bright side, you have a pretty good chance of running in sakura season! (Check sakura forecast) If i were you, I would focus my travel on sakura spots in Sapporo, Hakodate and Matsumae.

      I would not recommend going to Furano / Biei / Asahikawa at that time, you will just see a lot of melting snow. Asahiyama Zoo (at Asahikawa) will be closing their winter season after 7 April 2015 and they have not announced when they will reopen for their summer season, so it may not be open when you are there. But if you have already made plans to go to the region, I guess you could visit the food places.

      Asahikawa: Asahikawa Ramen Village

      Furano: Furano Wine House and Wine Factory, Furano Cheese Factory, Furano Marche. Tomita Farm has a greenhouse which is open all year round, but it’s really nothing much.

      Biei: Shirogane onsen (there are two waterfalls and a blue lake ‘aoiike’ there)

      If you have not planned your itinerary, I suggest you skip the Asahikawa / Furano / Biei region totally and spend more time exploring Sapporo, Otaru, Hakodate and onsen towns such as Lake Toya and Noboribetsu. These places are great in all seasons. If sakura season has started, you may even want to go further south to Matsumae from Hakodate for sakura viewing. Also, Niseko’s Grand Hirafu ski season should still running (they usually run until end of Golden Week). Don’t waste your time at Asahikawa / Furano / Biei.

  7. Jason says:

    Hi there,

    I am making a trip with my family to Hokkaido in end June with my wife and baby boy. Will be spending 3 days 2 nights in the Furano, Biei area. Do you have any hotels to recommend?

    Thanks in advanced.

    Jason

    • Our family stayed at Hotel Edel Warme. It was pretty dated and there was nothing interesting around the hotel. You would have to drive out for ddinner. We chose it because it had quad rooms (with 4 beds) so that all our whole family could sleep comfortably and it was pretty cheap.

      The more popular hotel is New Furano Prince Hotel. The rooms were smaller and more expensive, but the hotel has better facilities. (Ningle Terrace is there.)

  8. Amy says:

    Hi, thanks for the information on your blog. we are planning a small group trip in Hokkaido for 5-6 days with 3 kids (6months, 1.5 yr old, 2.5 yr old). We also plan to drive around furano and tomamu area. Do you recommend bringing a stroller or just carrier is enough for the 1.5 yr old. How do you like the hoshino resort, do you recommend staying there? Is there any easy hiking trail (suitable to go with small kids) in that area?

    Thanks.

    • bumblebeemum says:

      If you are driving, you can just bring a stroller. The kids can sleep more comfortably.

      I love tomamu resort! Stayed there twice last year for summer and winter. When are you travelling? Most summer activities at Tomamu only starts from 1 July. It seems the most suitable activity for young kids is the balance bike. They have a straider course starting from 26 April:
      https://www.snowtomamu.jp/summer/activity/adm.php

      The main reason we stayed in Tomamu in summer was for the unkai terrace.

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Oh yes, there was also a wave pool at Tomamu Resort which I think the kids would enjoy. 🙂

  9. Kit says:

    Dear Bumblebee Mum

    We are planning a self drive trip to Hokkaido in mid June with our 2.5 year old toddler. Where would you recommend as a stopover for the night between Noboribetsu and Furano, as we would prefer to break up the long drive. After reading your blog, I had planned on Tomamu. However, the room rates for Hoshino Tomamu is rather high during the period we have planned (not sure why for I had thought it is more of a winter rather than summer destination). Besides Sapporo, what are my alternatives? Thanks.

    Cheers
    Kit

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Hi,

      Tomamu does seem like the ideal stopover. Tomamu is also very popular in Summer because of its Unkai Terrace and its vicinity to Furano.

      An alternative would be Chitose. You can visit Lake Shikotsu enroute, then go shopping at Chitose Rera Outlet before spending the night at Chitose city. There is nothing particularly exciting at Chitose imo, but if you just want a budget option to spend the night, city hotels tend to be cheaper and Chitose is kind of mid-way between Noboribetsu and Furano.

      • Kit says:

        Thank you for your prompt response. Think I may opt for Chitose then. Hoshino Tomamu is charging around S$350 a night in mid June.

        • Wow, that is expensive indeed. Think I only paid about$200 for a twin room.

          • Tiong says:

            Hi, BBM,
            I am a bit confused about the hotel rates in Hokkaido:
            when actually will the ACTUAL rates be published?

            If I Google a hotel in Furano now – for March 2017 dates, its published rate may be SGD 150/nite, but if I also search for June 2017 rate, it may be SGD 250/nite.
            Is this because June is peak season, thereby a higher rate?
            Or is it because they may be offering discounts when nearer to the actual dates? If so, it would be disadvantage to book early – but as travelers, we normally book as early as possible, hoping to get better rates.

            What’s your experience? Book 6 months ahead or 3 months ahead to get good rates?
            Your valued advice is appreciated.
            TQVM

            • bumblebeemum says:

              From my experience, the rates always jump around. There is no fixed time that will guarantee a best rate. Just to give you an example, when I was looking for Furano hotels in January 2016 for our June 2016 trip, New Furano Prince Hotel was initially SGD400+ per night. So I had actually booked another hotel (Furano La Terre) for less than half that price – but with free cancellation. But like a week or two later (think late Jan or early Feb 2016), the price for New Furano Prince Hotel dipped to less than SGD200 per night for our dates. So I cancelled my booking for Furano La Terre and booked New Furano Prince Hotel.

              It’s really hard to predict how prices will fluctuate and I suspect every hotel does it differently. For e.g. Richmond Hotel Obihiro – when I searched in Jan 2016 for our June 2016 trip, they didn’t have rooms available on Agoda for our dates. However they had rooms available on their website. So I made a reservation on their website first. Then some time later, I noticed they released their rooms on Agoda for our dates and it was cheaper to book through Agoda. So I cancelled the booking I made on their website and re-booked on Agoda.

              So my take is, if you can find a room within your budget with free cancellation, there’s no harm in securing a room first as early as possible. Then search again every few weeks to see if a better deal pops up. If it does, just cancel and re-book.

  10. Terri @ AnEverydayGift says:

    Thank you for writing such an informative and very entertaining post! My family and I are planning a trip to Hokkaido very soon and your post has helped me so much in the planning of our trip!

  11. Nick says:

    Hi BBM,

    I’ve moved onto this thread. I have trip planned with my wife to Hokkaido in July, but during those dates, almost all the hotels in Biei and Furano are sold out. (Even Mercure Sapporo is going for $150USD). Do you have any suggestion? I don’t mind paying a little bit more for a nice place, but the ones I have seen on booking.com seem super old and super expensive.

  12. J says:

    Dear bumblebeemum

    Is there any good ryokan or onsen hotel to recommend in Furano region?

    I have booked new prince furano x 2 nights but was thinking of spending one night in a ryokan/onsen hotel.

    Adults travelling; any advice?

    Thank you!

    J

  13. Mat says:

    Hi BBM,

    Thanks for the great sharing!

    You seem to be driving alot at night (or when the sky has already turned dark). Is it easy/safe to drive at night?

    • bumblebeemum says:

      I have driven quite a lot in Hokkaido before so I’m quite comfortable with their roads, even when they are pitch dark. Generally in Summer, it is pretty safe to drive at night, as long as you watch the speed and don’t fall asleep! But I will definitely not advise driving at night in winter.

  14. Ann says:

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

    Ann

    • bumblebeemum says:

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

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

  15. JJ says:

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

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

    I need your help here 🙂

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

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

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

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

    Thank you very much 🙂

    • bumblebeemum says:

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

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

      2. Yup, the sequence looks right.

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

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

      • JJ says:

        Thank you very much for Bumblebee mum!

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

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

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

        Need ur advise 🙂

        Thank u ^_^

        • bumblebeemum says:

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

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

  16. JJ says:

    Hi Bumble bee mum,

    Forgot to ask:-

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

    Thank you very much 🙂

    • bumblebeemum says:

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

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

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

      • JJ says:

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

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

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

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

        Thank you very much! Have a great weekend.

        • bumblebeemum says:

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

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

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

          • JJ says:

            Hi Bumblebee mum,

            Noted! 🙂

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

            Thank you very much

  17. JJ says:

    Hi Bumblebee mum,

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

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

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

    Thank u very much 🙂

    • bumblebeemum says:

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

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

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

      • JJ says:

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

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

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

  18. JW says:

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

    • bumblebeemum says:

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

  19. Jovin says:

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

  20. daisy says:

    Hello! Great travel blog you have here 🙂 thanks for sharing all your invaluable tips. I am travelling to hokkaido June 8 -16 with my daughter (7) and wanted to consult you on the itinerary. Sapporo 8-11 Jun , noboribetsu 12 Jun. I also want to visit hakodate . Where else would you suggest between noboribetsu and hakodate? I love your write up on furano but (a) would it be too rushed/far (b) would you suggest 1 night or 2 in noboribetsu? Thank u!

    • bumblebeemum says:

      In between Noboribetsu and Hakodate, there’s Lake Toya.

      (a) Does seem a bit rushed if you want to go to Furano, though not impossible. Maybe you can reduce 1 day in Sapporo if you want to go to Furano.

      (b) 1 night in Noboribetsu is sufficient.

  21. Michelle says:

    Hi! I’m planning to drive from Otaru to Furano for a day trip on 13 June. Is that a good time to visit Furano, or should I skip Furano and head to Noboribetsu straight? Thanks!

  22. Gringo Low says:

    Hi,
    Thank you for your very informative blog on Hokkaido.. Planning a last minute holiday in Hokkaido from 19/6 and will be there for 9 nights and pretty much relied on your information to plan my itinerary. I just completed the itinerary and will be booking the accommodation soon. Would like to have your opinion regards my itinerary and was wondering if it would be tight. Btw we are traveling as a family of 5 adults (1 elderly) and one two year old child. Hope the rental cars there are large enough for all our luggages, stroller and foldable wheelchair. Anyway, my itinerary is :-
    19/6 – Arrive at night and stay at airport hotel
    20/6 – Pick up car and drive to Lake Shikotsu and then to Noboribetsu and stay 1 night there.
    21/6 – To Sobetsu Fruit Village and then Lake Toya and stay 1 night there.
    22/6 – To Hakodate and stay 1 night
    23/6 – To Otaru and stay 1 night
    24/6 – To Sapporo and stay 3 nights
    27/6 – To Asahikawa Zoo and then to Biei and stay in Furano 1 night
    28/6 – Move around Furano before heading to airport to catch 8.30pm flight from Chitose airport.

  23. Joanne says:

    Hi Bumblebee mum, We are having our Hokkaido self-drive trip on 29 Jun ~ 6 Jul with our 4 yr old kid. Below is our itinerary:
    Day 1: Hakodate – mount Hakodate , Overnight at hakodate kokusai hotel
    Day 2: Hakodate / lake Toya – morning market (Hakodate Asaichi)
    – Kanemori red Brick warehouse
    – Goryokaku tower
    – Lake toya
    – Overnight at Lake toya
    Day 3: Lake Toya/ Noboribetsu/ Furano – Sobetsu fruit farm
    – Date jidaimura
    – Hell vallry – jigokudani
    – Overnight at furano
    Day 4: Furano/ Biei/Asahikawa – farm Tomita
    – Biei Aoiike
    – Biei waterfall & bridge
    – Biei shikisai-no-oka flower garden
    – Overnight at Asahikawa hotel
    Day 5: Asahikawa/ Mitsui/Jozankei – Otokoyama sake museum
    – Mitsui Outlet park sapporo
    – Jozankei futami park
    – Futami suspension bridge
    – Kappabuchi
    – Overnight at jozankei hotel
    Day 6 : Jozankei /Otaru /Sapporo – Ishiya chocolate factory
    – Otaru canal
    – Sakaimachi street
    – Otaru music box museum
    – Overnight at Sapporo
    Can you advise me which of the place above are recommend to go and which is not?
    Where you will recommend us to have our lunch and dinner?
    Do you have any other place that is recommend visiting but it’s not in the list above?

  24. Wendee says:

    Hi bumblebeemum, thanks for sharing your tips. I am planning a trip there in Aug 16. It would just be my hubby, myself and my 21 months old girl. I would like to ask how is it driving from Sapporo to Furano and Asahikawa (we are thinking of visiting the famous zoo). Do you know how are traffic conditions like? Is it easy to drive (as in straight road or hilly?) Do you know if there is anywhere I can get information of their highway rest stop? Thank you in advance.

    • bumblebeemum says:

      There will be some curvy and hilly roads. The roads around Furano and Biei are pretty rural and especially around Biei, there are some pretty sharp curves and places like Furano Wine House are located on top of a hill (but on top of hills is where you get nice views). But overall, it is pretty easy to drive in Hokkaido in Summer.

      You can get information on highway rest stops from Drive Plaza:
      http://en.driveplaza.com/

  25. Desi Broadhurst says:

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

  26. nazlin says:

    hi,
    I plan to bring my 68 yr old mum to hokaido from 29/7 to 3/8. Furano-Biei is high on my list. I wonder which day will not be super busy to visit the flower farm, should I start saturday/sunday by spending time exploring Sapporo and Otaru first. And on monday and tuesday to Furano and Biei. I would like to avoid a big crowd actually.

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Unfortunately the flower fields will be super busy any time during the period you’re there. It’s near impossible to avoid crowds at Furano / Biei during flowering season. Have you booked your accommodation? Maybe you can decide which day to go where based on the availability of accommodation.

      • nazlin says:

        tq for your advise. I found that it is almost impossible to get a decent accomodation on weekends. So I decided to move my trip to weekdays.

        • bumblebeemum says:

          Even weekdays can be problematic during peak season. Most people book at least half a year in advance. Hope you manage to find secure a decent accommodation!

          • nazlin says:

            hi, i hv another query on car rental. is it difficult to park in sapporo. what about directions, can i use waze to go around. is the phone system similar to our phone in msia/spore?

            • bumblebeemum says:

              There are plenty of coin parking in Sapporo, it is not difficult to find parking at all.

              I have never tried using waze in Japan. Their rental cars come with pretty good built-in GPS which I rely on fully when I’m driving in Japan. When I had a pocket WIFI, I tried google maps when I had to make last minute changes to my itinerary (and hence did not have telephone numbers / map codes of my destination on hand) and it worked fine.

  27. V v says:

    Hi,
    We are going to Hokkaido for the first time in January 2017. I hope you don’t mind feeding me with some information. I am a mum with 2 kiddos like you are. We were considering to self drive in January. Do you think it is allright? Is it safe? Is the road condition very slippery?We have done lots of road trip here in Australia but not with snow condition, it seems that it is much easier to drive then to take public transport to certain areas like lake shikaritetsu and furano.

  28. QQ says:

    Hi Bumblebee mum, we are having our Hokkaido self-drive trip on 22 Aug ~ 28 Aug 2017 (7D5N only) with our 3 yrs old kid. Is late Aug still a great a time to Furano for Lavender?

  29. LEE MUNLY says:

    Hi Bumble Bee Mum…below is your comment. If I follow route 452 to Furano, what is the map code to key in? I am planning my trip end Aug 2017.

    “This time, I decided to ignore the GPS instruction and exit and Mikasa and use route 452 to get to Furano. I found going by this way took about the same time but saved us quite a bit on toll fees”.

    When driving, we just need to key in map code or tel no to get to the destination? Is their GPS user friendly? Thank you for your advice

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Yup, for Japan GPS, you key in the destination using Map Code or telephone numbers. The GPS then displays the recommended route – which usually uses the toll ways. If you want to use a route other than the default recommended route, you need to find the ‘5 routes’ option on the GPS and use an alternative route from there. You can read more on this post:
      http://bumblebeemum.net/2015/03/31/japan-map-code-search/

      For this particular drive to Furano, I didn’t bother changing the recommended route (which asked me to take the tollway all the way till Takikawa). I followed the recommended route until I reached Mikasa and I exited the toll-way. After the GPS detected that I had deviated from its recommended route, it found an alternative route for me to get to Furano.

  30. Jolene says:

    Hi Bumblebee mum,

    I will be going to Hokkaido during mid Apr doing self drive.

    If it is not too troublesome, will you able to advise if the following itinerary is workable… Niseko mainly to see snow not into skiing though.. Sapporo for Shiroi Koibito factory, Sapporo beer factory..Furano mainly for cheese factory, these are the key places that the hub is keen to visit, any other recommendations during Apr that we can visit, thanks in advance…

    1. 13-Apr,Thur (Overnight flight to Haneda)
    a. Singapore to Haneda via red eye flight
    2. 14-Apr, Fri (Hakodate, stay Hakodate)
    a. Domestic Flight Haneda to Hakodate
    3. 15-Apr, Sat (Hakodate, stay Hakodate)
    4. 16-Apr, Sun (Hakodate to Noboribetsu, stay Noboribetsu)
    5. 17-Apr, Mon (Noboribetsu, stay Noboribetsu)
    6. 18-Apr, Tue (Noboribetsu to Niseko, stay Niseko)
    a. Enroute Lake Toya to Niseko
    7. 19-Apr, Wed (Niseko, stay Niseko)
    8. 20-Apr, Thur (Niseko to Otaru, stay Sapporo)
    9. 21-Apr, Fri (Stay Sapporo)
    a. Shiroi Koibito Fty Visit
    10. 22-Apr, Sat (Sapporo to Furano, Stay Furano)
    a. Cheese Factory
    b. Ice Cream making
    11. 23-Apr, Sun (Furano to Biei, stay Furano)
    a. Blue Pond
    12. 24-Apr, Mon (Furano to Sapporo, stay Sapporo)
    a. TV Tower
    b. Nakajima Park/ Odori Park
    c. Sukino Shopping
    13. 25-Apr, Tue (Sapporo, Stay Sapporo)
    a. Sapporo Beer Factory
    14. 26-Apr, Wed (Sapporo to Haneda, stay Tokyo)
    15. 27-Apr, Thur (Disney, Stay Tokyo)
    16. 28-Apr, Fri (Shibazakura day tour, stay Tokyo)
    17. 29-Apr, Sat (F&E, stay Tokyo)
    18. 30-Apr, Sun (F&E, overnight flight to Singapore)
    a. Haneda to Singapore
    19. 01-May, Mon (Singapore)

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Your itinerary looks good. 🙂

      • Jolene says:

        Dear Bumbblebeemum

        Thanks..

        However would still like to check if areas like Niseko, Furano and Biei will have things to view during the period in Aor that I’ll be visiting? Also, there is only 2 full days in Sapporo, will it be sufficient?

        Thanks

        • bumblebeemum says:

          In Niseko, you can visit Milk Kobo and Fukidashi Park. And just play with the snow or check out other snow activities available besides skiing.

          In Furano, you can try visiting wine factory, jam factory, glass forest etc. And in Biei, it’s really just driving around the enjoy the countryside scenery – hopefully weather is good!

          I’m not a big fan of shopping so I do think 2 days in Sapporo is sufficient if your main purpose is to visit Shiroi Koibito Park and Sapporo Beer Factory.

  31. Lee Munly says:

    I would like to know how long it takes to drive from Furano to Tomamu to get to Unkai. We have to be at Unkai very early so I need to know the journey. Thanks.

    • bumblebeemum says:

      It is about 1 hour 30 min drive from Furano to Tomamu. If you’re trying to get there for Unkai, you will probably be driving in the dark so give yourself more time. Frankly, I wouldn’t drive from Furano to Tomamu so early in the morning just to catch Unkai, because there is no guarantee of seeing it. And it’s just, well, really early.

  32. Lynn says:

    Thank you so much Bumblebeemum for all the info, it is very kind of you to to this. Love reading your posts which is very informative. What is the traffic condition like? Is it heavy?

  33. karen says:

    Dear Bumblebee mum,
    I love your blog! The pictures are so colourfull and you manage to pack a lot into your trip.

    I’m planning our first trip with my the family to Hokkaido. I have like 11 days here. We are not planning for an ambitious road trip and would rather take a slower pace so that we can relax and take in the sights and the culture. Would really appreciate advice on whether this will work:
    Day 1- arrive in New Chitose airport early morning (9am). Drive to sounkyo/ Asahikawa. Dual waterfalls. Ramen galore! Nite in Asahikawa.
    Day 2- Drive to Furano. Furano wine factory/ Tomita Melon House/ Farm Tomita/ Furano Cheese factory. Nite in either Asahikawa or Furano (which is better?) Where to stay in Furano?
    Day 3- Flowerland/ Panorama Road/ Shinei No oka/ Patchwork road/ Biel/ Blue Pond. Nite in either Furano or Biel.
    Day 4- Drive to Tomamu. Unkai Terrace. Stay at Hoshino Resort Tomamu.
    Day 5- Drive to Noboribetsu. Nite in Noboribetsu.
    Day 6- Drive to Lake Toya, then Otaru. Nite in Otaru.
    Day 7- Sapporo
    Day 8- Sapporo
    Day 9- Sapporo
    Day 10- Chitose
    Day 11- Fly home

    What do you think? Am i like cutting it too thin on Day 1? Shs i maybe do 2 nites at Asahikawa and just skip Tomamu? Thanks for looking at this!

    • bumblebeemum says:

      I wouldn’t drive all the way to Sounkyo / waterfalls from CTS right after an overnight flight. I suggest you end the first day at Asahikawa.

      As for Asahikawa, Furano and Biei, I suggest you go in the order Asahikawa – Biei – Furano so that you don’t keep doing back and forth driving.

      You can try something like this:

      Day 1- arrive in New Chitose airport early morning (9am). Drive to Asahikawa.
      Day 2 – Asahikawa (day trip to Sounkyo)
      Day 3 – Asahikawa – Biei (Panorama Road/ Shinei No oka/ Patchwork road/ Biel/ Blue Pond) – Furano
      Day 4- Furano (Furano wine factory/ Tomita Melon House/ Farm Tomita/ Flowerland / Furano Cheese factory)
      Day 5- Furano – Tomamu
      Day 6- Tomamu – Noboribetsu
      Day 7- Noboribetsu – Lake Toya
      Day 8- Lake Toya – Otaru – Sapporo
      Day 9- Sapporo
      Day 10 – Sapporo
      Day 11- Fly home

      If you want to spend more time at Sapporo, then yes, you can drop Tomamu.

  34. Barbara says:

    Thank you so much for such a great blog! I really want to see Furano and Biei, but unfortunately we only have one morning for this. We will arrive to New Chitose airport in the evening and then head straight to Furano for overnight. The next evening, we have to be in Otaru by 18:00. This means we have from around 8 hours to see what we can AND get to Otaru with two young children. My plan now is just to drive to Farm Tomita, explore that area and head to Otaru from there. Would love to just drive through panorama and patchwork road, but it seems too far out of the way. Will just driving on route 298 be pretty? Any advice is much appreciated!

    • Barbara says:

      BTW, right now googlemap is recommending we take 452 from Furano down to Otaru. It looks like we could go the other way and head up to Asahikawa then connect to the Hokkaido expressway to head down to Otaru. If we did it, we would only be doing that to drive by, without stops. Is the drive more beautiful/worth an extra 30-60 min (plus toll fees I imagine)

      • bumblebeemum says:

        Yup, I would take the 452 route to Mikasa to enter the expressway. You can go all the way up to Asahikawa, passing by Biei, but I don’t think the extra driving time and toll fees you would incur is worth it considering the amount of time you have. Panorama and Patchwork Road, together with blue pond, deserves a whole day to fully enjoy. It will be very rushed if you try to do both Furano and Biei in a day. Technically it can be done, if you drive to a spot, jump off the car to snap a few photos, and jump back on the car and head straight for the next stop and so on. But I would recommend you visit less spots and spend more time at each spot – soak in the scenery, grab some snacks and ice-cream from the snack kiosks, enjoy your ice-cream while looking out at the flowers and mountain and breath in the fresh air. The kids would probably be happier that way too. My boys always enjoy running around the flower fields, and of course eating ice-cream. Hahaha…

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Yeah, I don’t think you have time to go all the way up to Panorama and Patchwork Road. You can probably just do Tomita and Flower Land Kamifurano. And Furano has many nice eating-cum-sightseeing spots like Furano Wine Factory and Campana della Vigna by Rokkatei which doesn’t require you to go far. You can read more here:
      http://bumblebeemum.net/2016/07/05/hokkaido-self-drive-trip-june-2016-furano-biei-asahikawa/

      So I would suggest you just stick to Furano and not go all the way up to Biei to save time.

      I suggest you use Route 237 – that’s the main sightseeing road for the Furano / Biei region.

  35. Xue Hua says:

    Hi love, i enjoyed reading your Hokkaido blog entries as i’m heading there in the coming May as well. As i’m planning my own itinerary, can i ask for some advice? Your day 10 which starts at Flower Land Kamifurano, is almost identical to one of my days cept that i’ll be coming down from patchwork road instead and will be going to Farm Tomita as well, but excluding Sanai no oka, Sanai no Chaya Curve and Hill of Zerebu.

    So my question is, how early did you start your day? Reason is because i will also go to Farm Tomita on the same day, I’m not sure if it’s going to be rushed (Farm Tomita closes at 5pm). I plan to start early at about 8+am, coming from Asahikawa.

    One more thing, did you have to reserve any seatings for Kumagera? Or walk in is fine? Thanks in advance!!

    • bumblebeemum says:

      I think starting your day at 8+ should give you enough time. You can just play by ear. So let’s say you find yourself running behind time at Biei, you can skip Kamifurano and go straight to Tomita.

      I didn’t make reservation for Kumagera. I have always just walked in.

  36. Lin says:

    Hi BBMum,

    Thanks for the post, it was an insight about hokkaido.
    but i am getting more confused about where to go now.

    I am on a honeymoon with Hubby, carrying a 25 weeks in me by then.
    We are traveling from 19-27th June. 9 days in total.

    We will probably on Self-drive, but have a few questions:
    1) Is self drive cheaper than public transport for 2 adults?
    2) I would like to go south to Hakodate and east to Biei Furano. but not sure whether is it too rush?
    3) During that period, scenery are mostly green and not full bloomed flower seasons, is it worth to go to the east ?
    4) Where is the best nature scenery to go during this time, and which onsen resort you would recommened?
    5) We are quite well traveles, and a scenic trip will not be enough, if it isn’t bundled with some special activities, anything interesting you would recommend? ( eg: baking, cooking, handmake things, make ice cream, whatever you think it would be interesting to do..)
    6) Are the above recommendation suitable and not too exhausted for pregnant lady (too long ride/journey).

    I appreciate your input. thank you in advance!!

    • bumblebeemum says:

      1) Not always cheaper, but definitely more convenient.

      2) 9 days does sound a bit rushed for both Hakodate and Furano / Biei.

      3) By end June, there should be some flowers in bloom. Definitely not the peak, but I do think it’s worth visiting. Just don’t expect travel guide pic kind of photos that are usually taken during the peak flowering season.

      4) Personally I think the most scenic area in Hokkaido is the Akan National Park / Shiretoko area. Lake Akan is quite a nice onsen town.

      5) You can find those activities you mentioned at Hoshino Resort Tomamu. To me, what sets Hokkaido apart from other scenic places is really the food. Frankly if I wanted good scenery, I would be going New Zealand again and again. But I go to Hokkaido repeatedly instead because the food is much more to my taste.

      6) If I’m pregnant, I would just drive all the way and it’ll be quite relaxing. I would even skip Sapporo and just spend 9 days in Eastern Hokkaido.

      • Lin says:

        Thanks for the reply!! i missed your reply at this post so i went on to post my draft itinerary in another post.

        i was thinking the below :

        Day 1 (19Th) : CTS (Reach 825am) – OTARU
        Day 2 (20th ) : OTARU (pick up rented car) – Hakodate (4 hours drive, Town & Mt Hakodate Sunset + Night view)
        Day3 (21st) : Hakodate (morning market) – Noboribetsu (onzen resort)
        Day 4 (22nd): Noboribetsu – Tomamu (hoshino resort)
        Day 5 (23rd) : Tomamu Unkai – Furano (dinner @ kumagera)
        Day 6 (24th): Furano – Biei – Asahikawa (Ramen village)
        Day 7 (25th) : Asahikawa (zoo)- Sapporo (drop off rented car)
        Day 8 (26th) : Sapporo
        Day 9 (27th) : Sapporo – CTS (8pm Flight)

        When you think we should use train/public transport and when we should rent car?

        i noticed from OTARU to Hakodate’s, the train travels through Noboribetsu area (take 5 hours plus),
        do you advice us take that route using train or rent a car and drive through Niseko area (3 hours plus according to google) ?

        My hubby would like to be in the cities a bit to ‘feel’ the people and food and do some shopping too. therefore we alocated sapporo a bit more. but do let us know if the itinerary need to be adjusted.
        we are flexible.

        Thank you very much in advance for your reply!

        • bumblebeemum says:

          I would suggest you do Otaru as a day trip from Sapporo. From CTS, head South directly towards Hakodate. It doesn’t make sense to go up North to Otaru then South to Hakodate and later go all the way back to Sapporo again.

          This is how I would rearrange the itinerary:

          Day 1: CTS (pick up rental car) – Noboribetsu
          Day 2: Noboribetsu – Hakodate
          Day 3: Hakodate – Tomamu
          Day 4: Tomamu – Furano
          Day 5: Furano – Biei – Asahikawa
          Day 6: Asahikawa – Sapporo (return car)
          Day 7: Sapporo
          Day 8: Sapporo (day trip to Otaru by train)
          Day 9: Sapporo – CTS

          • Lin says:

            Is Noboribetsu not along the way from Hakodate to Tomamu?
            How long the drive from hakodate to tomamu?

            • bumblebeemum says:

              Yes, Noboribetsu is along the way from Hakodate to Tomamu. It is also along the way from CTS to Hakodate. But if I were heading South towards Hakodate from CTS, I would usually use either Noboribetsu or Lake Toya to break up the drive towards Hakodate. Because it’s too tiring (at least for me :p) to take the long drive all the way to Hakodate immediately after the flight to CTS, especially if it was an overnight flight. Whereas I would be more able to do a long drive a few days into the trip. So I suggested you only drive as far as Noboribetsu for your first day.

              If you think you have no problem driving to Hakodate right after getting off the plane, then you can go Hakodate directly from CTS. And slot Noboribetsu in between Hakodate and Tomamu.

              Alternatively, you can stay at Lake Toya on your first day. Then visit Noboribetsu for a couple of hours as a driving break from Hakodate to Tomamu.

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