Home >> Japan Travel >> Hokkaido with Kids (December 2014) Part 5: Sapporo, Otaru, New Chitose Airport

This post is continued from…

Hokkaido with Kids (December 2014) Part 4: Chitose, Lake Shikotsu, Niseko, Lake Toya, Noboribetsu, Rusutsu


The drive from Rusutsu to Sapporo took many hours because it was snowing very heavily with limited visibility.  We finally made it back to our hotel, ANA Holiday Inn Susukino, only to find that there was no sheltered drop-off point to unload our luggage and the kids!  So we parked our car along the road and unloaded all our luggage and the kids via a few mad dashes to the lobby in the snow.  Subsequently, hubby checked in with the kids while I went to return the rental car.

Since it was snowing heavily, we decided to have dinner at the restaurant located at the hotel lobby, All Day Dining Verde.  At least the food was pretty good.

After staying at ANA Holiday Inn Susukino, can’t say I would really recommend it. Mercure Hotel Sapporo still remains my favourite hotel in Susukino.

Day 15: Otaru (Day trip from Sapporo)

The next day, we took a day trip to Otaru. Our initial plan was to go in the afternoon and stay until evening time for the Otaru Snow Story.  However, the news report said that it would be sunny in the morning and snowing in the afternoon at Otaru, so we changed our plan and went to Otaru first thing in the morning.

We took the JR train from Sapporo station to Minami Otaru station (which was nearer to Marchen Intersection than Otaru station).  There was no escalator nor elevator from the platform to the exit at Minami Otaru station, so hubby had to carry the stroller with MY sleeping inside up a long flight of stairs! Not a good start at all… After that, we had to push the stroller through the snow (which was seriously hard work) to get to Marchen Intersection.  Once we reached, we immediately went to Le Tao Main store for a break.

After we had our much-needed coffee and my mandatory dose of Le Tao’s double fromage cheesecake, we climbed up the clock tower of the Le Tao store to check out the scenery from the observation floor.   I love looking at Otaru in winter when it is covered in snow.  Somehow, Otaru just looks nicer in winter than in summer.

After we were well-rested, we continued our stroll along Sakaimachi.  You can read about Sakaimachi on this post from my previous visit in June, shall not repeat myself.  We walked and ate and walked until we finally reached Otaru canal.

After visiting Otaru in Autumn, Summer and Winter, I still think Otaru canal is most beautiful in winter.

We had lunch at Masazushi, the sushi restaurant facing Otaru canal.

Since we have been pretty much eating our way through Otaru along Sakaimachi, we shared one sushi set and one sashimi set.

After lunch, we went to my favourite ice-cream shop, Kita No Ice, only to discovered that it was closed during winter! *cry*  When I was here in Feb 2010 for Otaru Snow Light Path, they were open.  So I think they do open during festival period, otherwise they are generally closed during winter.  Bummer.

As as the weather forecase predicted, it started snowing as we were having our lunch.  So we decided to head back to Sapporo.  The walk back to Otaru station was very long and made worse by the difficulty of pushing a stroller through the snow.  I really cannot decide which is worse: Bringing the 2 kids (who were a few kg heavier than usual due to winter clothing) around without a stroller, or pushing the stroller through the snow.

Back at Sapporo, we shopped around the underground shopping arcade which was such a great escape from the snow.  By the end of the trip, I was quite glad to be out of the snow.  Like, enough of snow for now!  It was so nice to be able to push the stroller around smoothly on snow-less ground.

We shopped until it was time for dinner, and we settled for yakitori at the Kushidori before going back to the hotel.

Day 16: Sapporo – New Chitose Airport

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.  Our flight home wasn’t until the next morning, but to me, New Chitose Airport is a destination on its own and I was more than happy to spend a whole day there.

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.

For lunch, we went to Hanamaru, a popular sushi chain in Hokkaido which has a store at New Chitose Airport.   MY was rather amused by the hanging baby seat they attached to our booth table.

Update (2016): Hanamaru at New Chitose Airport is no longer around.  It has been replaced by another similar sushi restaurant.

We ate so much sushi at Hanamaru.  But the most memorable one must be this yucky-looking thing that my hubby decided to try.  It looked like something out of Fear Factor.   My hubby said it was nice and asked me to try.  Which I did.  And decided I was not a fan.  I suspect it’s the same reason tourists who come to Singapore do not like durians.

With our receipt from lunch, we were entitled to one hour of free play at Airport Kids Athletic.  The kids had so much fun there!

Update (June 2016):  Airport Kids Athletic is no longer available at New Chitose Airport.

After their play session ended, we went to the arcade next to the playground for more fun.  I tried out one of those UFO catcher game machine and caught a tin of Frozen biscuits!

After this, we checked in to our room at Air Terminal Hotel for the kids to take their nap.  In the evening, we went around shopping for souvenir and had dinner.  There was no lack of food options at New Chitose Airport and we just ate at a random restaurant.  Not particularly memorable.

For the record, can I say that I was super amused by the refrigerated lockers??

It’s not uncommon for airports to have lockers, but to have lockers with refridgerators is so…. Hokkaido.

And after the spending the night at Air Terminal Hotel, we caught our morning flight home.

Posts from the same trip:

Summarized itinerary for 17-day trip
Part 1: Sapporo
Part 2: Asahikawa, Akan National Park
Part 3: Kushiro, Obihiro, Tomamu
Part 4: Niseko, Noboribetsu, Lake Toya, Rusutsu
Part 5: Otaru, New Chitose Airport

Posts from our other Hokkaido Trips:

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 Summer (June 2014):

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

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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.


  1. […] Hokkaido in Winter (December 2014) 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 […]

    • May says:


      Is there any transport from Rusutsu direct to Tomamu?

      I have bring my girl to Disney Land last year. Is there any other place I can stop over? Or any other place in Hokkaido I can visit from day11 to day 14?


      • bumblebeemum says:

        No, there is no direct transport between Rusutsu and Tomamu. You need to go through either Sapporo or New Chitose Airport.

        You can consider stopping over at Osaka? Universal Studios seems really fun, it’s a place I’ve been wanting to go. There is also an aquarium at Osaka which is pretty popular with children.

        In Hokkaido, December is mostly about skiing and snowboarding. The only place I can think of to spend more time at in Hokkaido are the ski resorts. You can spend more time at Rusutsu and let your girl try skiing for 1 day, snowboarding for 1 day, play at the crayon shinchan kids park for 1 day and other snow activities (such as dog skiing and other winter experiences) for 1 day.

        • May says:

          Hi morning,
          Sorry, can check with you again…

          Is there any direct transport to chitose airport from both Rusutsu and tomanu resort?

          I am thinking to arrange ski resort as last destination then fly to tokyo…But will stay weekend in skii resort… Hmmm should I avoid weekend there?


          • bumblebeemum says:


            There is a direct bus between Rusutsu and New Chitose Airport. However the information for this year’s winter season is not out yet. You can check back again later on this website.

            Between Tomamu and New Chitose Airport, you can take the train with 1 transfer at Minami-Chitose station. You can use hyperdia to check the train schedule. Key in TOMAMU as your starting point and NEW CHITOSE AIRPORT as your destination.

            • May says:

              Hi!! Really thank u so so so much for your help!

              So sorry I have been asking you so so many questions . But you really helps me a lot on my planning!!

              Really appreciated!

              Thank you! I really Love your blog!! : )

              • bumblebeemum says:

                No worries. Feel free to pop back any time you need help. Thank you for visiting my blog! 🙂

                • May says:

                  Hello BumbleBee Mum!

                  I have booked my tickets and will stop over at Tokyo from 28Dec to 2 Jan.

                  Do you have any recommendation of the hotel in Tokyo (not too expensive hotels) that can travel easily from and to Haneda or Narita Airport?

                  Thank you so much!

                  • Hi, I seldom use Haneda airport. But for Narita airport, accommodations around Ueno are usually cheaper. You can try Super Hotel Ueno. The Keisei line gets you between Ueno station and Narita Airport directly.

                    • May says:

                      Hello Bumble Bee Mum,

                      Here is my draft plan itinerary for my trip to Japan from 18 Dec To 2 Jan. I do not drive. So mainly I will take train and bus.

                      Please help me to see is it ok? Is there any other place that I can I still can add in? or should I make any changes to it?

                      Worry of Dec 31 and Jan 1 (new year eve and new year day)… kind of worry most shops and places close and we don’t know where can we go and visit. ..

                      18 Dec (Fri) : Singapore to Sapporo (reach Sapporo around 9.30am)

                      19 Dec (Sat) : Mitsui Outlet Park Sapporo

                      20 Dec (Sun) : Sapporo, Odori, Sapporo TV Tower, Shiroi Koibito Park, Curb market or Jogai Ichiba, Susukino

                      21 Dec (Mon) : Otaru

                      22 Dec (Tue) : Asahikawa

                      23 Dec (Wed) : Sapporo to Tomamu

                      24 Dec (Thur) : Tomamu

                      25 Dec (Fri) : Tomamu

                      26 Dec (Sat) : Tomamu to Sapporo

                      27 Dec (Sun) : Free day (to Mount Moiwa Ropeway or lake toya ok?)

                      28 Dec (Mon) : Sapporo to Tokyo

                      29 Dec (Tue) : Disney Land

                      30 Dec (Wed) : Gotemba

                      31 Dec (Thurs) : Sanrio Land ( kind of worry it will be super crowded due to new year eve….)

                      01 Jan (Fri) : New year day-Meiji Shrine (any suggestion where to go as worry all shop close on new year day…)

                      02 Jan (Sat) : Tokyo to Singapore

                      Thanks a lot for your help again!!

                    • bumblebeemum says:

                      For 27th, Lake Toya is a bit hard to get to without car. Mount Moiwa Ropeway wouldn’t be a problem.

                      Sanrio Land will definitely be crowded. Furthermore there is shortened opening hours that day. I would go to Sanrio Puroland on 30 Dec instead. As for Gotemba, is there any reason why you want to make a day trip out to Gotemba? It is not particularly interesting, and you are already going outlet shopping in Sapporo. If you want to go outlet shopping, you can go to Venus Fort Odaiba which is much more accessible and you spend less time on the roads. It says on their website that they are open everyday. So what I recommend is going Sanrio Puroland on 30th and Odaiba on 31st.

                      You can refer to this guide about visiting Japan during New Year:

                    • May says:

                      Hi! I heard from friends about strawberry picking in Tokyo!

                      Do you have any idea and recommendation ?

                      Thanks a lot!!

                    • bumblebeemum says:

                      The farms will be located at the outskirts. You can refer to this website for strawberry farms near Tokyo:

                    • May says:

                      Hi Bumblebee Mum,

                      Sorry, is me again….

                      Last Year I went to Osaka in November, I have bought those padded long jacket for myself and my girl from Uniqlo. Is it enough for Sapporo?

                      I thinking on the day I reach Sapporo, I can walk around and find some waterproof pants and boots. Any place you can suggest that I can find good and reasonable price winter wear and shoes? Will it be cheaper in Sapporo as compare to Singapore?

                      Thank you so much!

                    • bumblebeemum says:

                      Umm.. nope. Uniqlo’s outer wear are not warm enough for Sapporo. I just bought waterproof winter pants for my kids from Traveller World at Vivocity last weekend. THey were having a sale and the pants only cost S$35 (usual price about $60). They were also having sale for their boots. You may want to take a look, not sure when the sales will end.

                      I tried looking for waterproof pants in Hokkaido for my kids and couldn’t find them, only found waterproof boots at Mitsui Outlet Park. The boots I found were on special offer with very limited sizes and designs, so we were lucky to be able to get some that fit. If not, at normal price, I didn’t think the prices of the boots in Hokkaido were cheaper than what I saw at Traveller World in Vivocity the other day.

                    • May says:

                      Thanks for your prompt reply and advise!

                      I still thought Sapporo will be cheaper and more variety as winter time should be a lot of shops selling winter cloth and shoes…

                      So I better listen to your advise and buy here.

                      Thank you so much!!!!

                      Wish you have a wonderful day !!

                    • bumblebeemum says:

                      Yeah, I thought the same until I tried to do that. Then I realised variety yes, but not necessarily cheaper. And mostly for adults, especially ladies. I did manage to pick up quite a bit of cheap and nice winter wear for myself. But I didn’t come across much kids clothing. Anyway vacation time is too precious to be spent hunting down clothing. And you may be caught in a situation that you just have to buy something that is not so nice and yet pricey because that is all you can find.

                    • May says:

                      Ya you are right!
                      Hmmm do I also need one waterproof pants?

                    • bumblebeemum says:

                      Are you going to ski resorts? If you are, you definitely do. If just walking around the cities, for me, I don’t wear waterproof pants in the cities coz I’m vain (LOL!). My down jacket reaches down to my thigh. So even if I fell, my butt will still be dry. :p

  2. mandy says:

    Hi can I check with you for any recommendation of airport hotel other than air terminal hotel. Our flight via thai airways was rescheduled to 1 day later but we can’t extend 1 extra night for air terminal hotel (fully booked for June 15).

    which website you use to book hoshino resort?

    Thanks a lot!

    • Air Terminal Hotel is the only hotel connected to New Chitose Airport. There are many hotels at Chitose city, but they require either a train ride or shuttle bus ride to and fro the airport. Try to check Air Terminal Hotel to see if they have any cancelled booking for that day, if not you would just have to make do with 1 of the hotels at Chitose City.

      For Hoshino resort, I book directly through the hotel website.

      • mandy says:

        Thanks a lot! I was told by Air Terminal hotel that there’s some construction in the airport, hence not accepting any booking from Jun to Aug. In the end i managed to book 1 hotel that is directly connected to JR chitose station.

        Your blog is really helpful for my trip planning. Japan is also my favourite holiday destination. keep up the good work!

        • bumblebeemum says:

          Ah, that’s a pity.. I really love Air Terminal Hotel for its runway view.

          Thank you for visiting my blog. Japan is really such a great place to visit! Most people who have been there say that once is not enough. Do recommend my blog to your friends if you hear of them wanting to go Japan. It’ll definitely motivate me to keep writing.. hehe. 🙂

  3. May says:

    Hi Bumble Bee Mum,

    I love your Blog on Hokkaido on Dec!

    I am planning to go to Hokkaido this December 18 to 31 with my girl (10 years old) but still thinking is it too long trip or should I stop by to Tokyo or other place.

    After reading your blog, wow!! I realize there is so many places to visit in Hokkaido!!
    However I don’t drive, and this is the first time I go Hokkaido. I am in a loss of where is the best place I should visit and I am abit worry can I manage to travel around alone with her or not…

    I wish to bring my girl to ski resort but is it difficult to travel there? Do you know any train that can go to any nice ski resort?

    I read and find out this Takino Suzuran Park which can ski there. Do you recommend this or is it better to go to those ski resort you went?

    Do you have any itinerary that can recommend so I can travel around easily?

    Thank you so much!!


    • bumblebeemum says:

      Thank you for visiting my blog. 🙂

      Please be prepared that it is not going to be easy to move around during winter with your girl on your own. Firstly, it is difficult to walk in snow and easy to slip and fall. Secondly, luggage with wheels are extremely difficult to push around on snowy pavements. It is much easier to move around with backpacks, but winter clothing is very heavy so backpacking is going to be very tiring. If your girl is strong enough to carry her own luggage then it’ll be easier for you. But carrying a backpack and walking around snowy pavements is not going to be easy for a 10 year old.

      What I suggest is for you to base yourself in Sapporo. Find a hotel that is directly connected to Sapporo station so that you can get from New Chitose Airport to the hotel WITHOUT having to step into the snow. This way, you can bring a trolley luggage case.

      Do side-trips to ski resorts from Sapporo. So if you want to spend 3 days at a particular ski resort, what you do is to bring a smaller backpack and just pack enough clothes for those 3 days. Ask the hotel in Sapporo to store your big trolley luggage for you.

      You should have no problem getting to major snow resorts like Niseko, Rusutsu and Tomamu from Sapporo. Hokkaido Resort Liner operates direct buses from Sapporo to Niseko. Rusutsu Resort also operates direct buses from Sapporo to Rusutsu Resort. Tomamu Resort can be accessed by train (Tomamu station).

      Tomamu Resort is the easiest to access by train. You can take the LTD. EXP SUPER OZORA from Sapporo direct to Tomamu station (100 minutes). I have never tried taking the train there, but I believe you can easily catch a resort shuttle from Tomamu station to the resort tower.

      Takino Suzuran Park is quite hard to access without a car. It seems like a hassle to get there via public transport, and I’m not sure if the snow park will be ready by December. I wouldn’t recommend going there in December.

      It is important to note that most snow parks, especially those close to Sapporo, will only be ready in January. In December you’ll be looking at more of skiing and snow-boarding rather than snow activities such as snow rafting, snow tubing, snow mobile etc. If you want to try snow activities, your safest bets will be Rusutsu Resort and Tomamu Resort which starts their season earlier. My recommendation is to push your snow resort visits all the way to the end of the month to increase your chances of the snow parks being ready.

      A possible itinerary would be:

      Day 1: Arrive in Sapporo
      Day 2: Sapporo sightseeing
      Day 3: Otaru day trip from Sapporo
      Day 4: Asahikawa day trip (visit Asahiyama Zoo – hopefully the penguin parade has started)
      Day 5: Sapporo – Rusutsu
      Day 6: Rusutsu
      Day 7: Rusutsu – Sapporo
      Day 8: Sapporo – Tomamu
      Day 9: Tomamu
      Day 10: Tomamu – Sapporo
      Day 11: Sapporo – New Chitose Airport

      If you are looking at a 14-days trip, I suggest you spend the first 3 days in Tokyo visiting Tokyo Disneyland. Spending 2 full weeks in the harsh Hokkaido winter with your girl on your own will be very tiring for you. Furthermore, Tokyo Disneyland is just awesome in December as they get in the Christmas mood. You wouldn’t want to miss the Christmas decorations and christmas parade at night.

      • May says:

        Hi! Thank you so much for your prompt replied and your suggested itinerary!

        Will it snowing during Dec 18-31?

        For Asahikawa day trip, can I book from the hotel or I can travel by the train?

        Rusutsu & Tomamu are 2 different ski resort?

        Thinking to bring my girl to the chocolate factory too. I think train can bring me here right?

        • bumblebeemum says:


          Yes it will be snowing in December. Quite heavily in fact.

          You can book the Asahikawa Day Trip from the JR Travel Service Desk at JR Sapporo station. They have a package that includes return train tickets from Sapporo to Asahikawa + return bus tickets from Asahikawa to Asahiyama Zoo and entry tickets to Asahiyama Zoo.

          Yup, Rusutsu and Tomamu are 2 different ski resorts.

          The chocolate factory, I assume you are referring to Shiroi Koibito Park? You can get there via subway to Miyanosawa station. From the station, you will need to walk around 10 minutes to get to Shiroi Koibito Park.

          If you have plans to visit Shiroi Koibito Park as well as Otaru, do purchase the Otaru-Sapporo welcome pass. The pass can be purchased at the JR Travel Service Desk at JR Sapporo station.
          The pass includes return train tickets from Sapporo to Otaru and a separate one-day Sapporo subway card. You should use the subway card for the day you are visiting Shiroi Koibito Park. So let’s say you are doing Sapporo sightseeing (which includes Shiroi Koibito Park) on day 2 and you plan to visit Otaru on Day 3, you should purchase the pass on Day 2 so that you can use the subway card first.

          There is also a tiny Royce chocolate factory located within New Chitose Airport. You can drop by to check it out before your flight. 🙂

          • May says:

            Wow ! you are like a Japanese tour guide!! Thank you so much for your detail information.

            Do I need to go to 2 different ski resort (Rusutsu and Tomamu)? Are they both provide about the same activities?

            I heard that the best ski resort is Niseko, famous of “powder snow”! Niseko is not easy to access to?


            • bumblebeemum says:

              Haha.. My friends always say that, about me being their Japan tour guide.. Which is why I started the blog!

              I like Rusutsu because it is the only resort that offers dog sledding (which is something I want to try so much!) and because of their Crayon Shinchan Kids Park and Kids School which looks great for kids.

              I like Tomamu because of the Ice Village, classic Japanese hospitality and its serenity.

              Niseko is indeed the most famous ski resort in Hokkaido, but unless you are a professional skier (I kind of assumed most Singaporeans aren’t.. lol.), powder snow or not does not make much difference to beginner skiers like me. In fact, Tomamu being a quieter ski resort probably has more powdery snow, because powder snow (which if I’m not mistaken is the loose powdery top layer that accumulates over the night) gets ‘skied out’ very quickly by the large number of skiers in Niseko. I didn’t really enjoy Niseko because it was too touristy and everything there was crazy EXPENSIVE. And I didn’t feel like I was in Japan at all while I was in Niseko. If you want a nice and charming place to ski, Tomamu is my top choice.

              • May says:

                Wow dog sledding !! something very different!! I also wish to have a try!!

                If I book Mecure hotel or ANA Holiday Inn in Susukino area (as mentioned in your blog), will there be any bus from these 2 hotels to the Rusutsu or Tomamu resort?

                Do you have any hotel recommend in Sapporo area which is good and not expensive?

                So sorry I have been asking so so many questions. Really appreciate your advise!!

                Thank you sososo much!!

                • bumblebeemum says:


                  The buses to ski resorts and trains to Otaru / Asahikawa / Tomamu all depart from Sapporo station. Mercure Hotel and ANA Holiday Inn Susukino are both in Susukino which is 2 subways stops away. I would advise you to stay near Sapporo station instead since you are using public transport and travelling alone with your child. It would be a lot more hassle-free for you.

                  Near Sapporo station, try JR Inn Sapporo.
                  Their website says “Accessibility without being drenched with rain”. That sounds like exactly what you need!

                  I did a quick check on Agoda for JR Inn in December and you’re looking at around SGD110 per night for semi-double room / SGD150 for double room before tax. Don’t forget to check out credit card promotions (e.g. Agoda always has credit card promotions that give further 5-7% discount).

                  Another one I found was Hotel North Gate Sapporo.

                  From the map it looks like it is right smack outside Sapporo Station’s North exit! And it only cost SGD120 before tax for a superior twin room, that’s very reasonable!

                  The hotel that is within JR station (i.e. you don’t even need to step out of the station to get there) is JR Tower Hotel Nikko Sapporo.

                  But it looks pricey. Not sure if any of the hotel booking websites have any promotions.

                  From the looks of it, Hotel North Gate Sapporo seems like the best option in terms of location and price!

              • May says:

                Great! I will go check it out now!

                Thank you sososo much for your help and advice!!

                Really appreciated!!

                Thanks Again!

  4. danny says:

    Hi Pretty Mummy,
    My trip to Hokkaido in Dec 13 is confirmed. It will be a 10 days 9 nights trip. Will be travelling with a 5 year old and 2 year old.
    Base on your blog, Tomamu is a must go for the kids. As this is my first time to Hokkaido, and in a snowy winter, can you help to suggest me an itinerary?

    • bumblebeemum says:

      A possible 10 day itinerary would be as follows:

      Day 1: CTS – Tomamu
      Day 2: Tomamu
      Day 3: Tomamu – Sapporo
      Day 4: Sapporo
      Day 5: Sapporo (Day trip to Otaru)
      Day 6: Sapporo (Day trip to Asahikawa)
      Day 7: Sapporo
      Day 8: Sapporo – Hakodate
      Day 9: Hakodate
      Day 10: Hakodate – CTS

      You may have to tweak it, depending on your personal preference and flight timing. E.g. If you want to spend more time skiing, then shift a day in Sapporo to Tomamu. And if your flight out of CTS is very early in the morning on Day 10, you would have to head back to CTS on Day 9 and spend the last night at Air Terminal Hotel within the airport.

      • danny says:

        Hi Mummy,
        If I am not going to Asahikawa and Hakodate, where will you suggest me to visit?

        • bumblebeemum says:

          Usually for winter, I recommend visiting Eastern Hokkaido for the cranes near Kushiro. And onsen. Soaking in onsen during winter is the best! But that requires self-driving. Think you’re up for it?

  5. Tricia says:


    I have booked my trip to Japan from 17 Dec – 1 Jan. sketch a rough itinerary as follows. Can you give your inputs and recommendations? We are travelling as 2 families with 5 adults and 5 kids aged 2, 4, 5, 6 & 8.

    17 Dec – Arrive in Osaka, check in to apartment should be bed time already
    18 Dec – Nara Park & Nissin Musuem
    19 Dec – USS
    20 Dec – Day trip to Kyoto
    21 Dec – F&E

    22 Dec – Arrive in Sapporo
    23Dec – Day trip to ski resort
    24 Dec – Sapporo
    25 Dec – Otaru

    26 Dec – Arrive in Tokyo
    27 Dec – Disneyland
    28 Dec – Disneysea
    29 Dec – F&E
    30 Dec – Mount Fuji
    31 Dec – F&E
    1 Jan – Narita/Sin

    We are quite clueless with how to buy the best and most cost effective rail passes. And yet to find out where we can go for those F&E days. Any recommendations?

    We have so far booked an apartment in Osaka Chuou-Ku but yet to find the accommodations for Tokyo and Hokkaido. Any recommendations on these 2? TIA!

    • bumblebeemum says:

      With the above itinerary, I don’t think you need any rail passes. Just buy individual tickets, or maybe a Suica or Icoca card (something like Singapore’s EZ link card) for convenience.

      21 Dec: I would go to Osaka Aquarium. Or for something more cultural, Himeji Castle (though I suspect the kids would be more interested in the aquarium).

      29 Dec: I would spend 1 more day at Disney.

      31 Dec: I would spend 1 more day at the Mount Fuji region. (i.e. stay 1 night at Mount Fuji on 30 Dec. You can just pack 1 small bag for the side trip, and leave your large luggage with the hotel in Tokyo since you will be returning for 1 more night on 31st.)

      For Tokyo, if you are spending most of your time at Disney, find a hotel near Disneyland. I haven’t stayed there though, but heard Hilton and Sheraton are not bad.

      If you want to have easy access to Narita airport, try hotels in Ueno. There is a direct train from Ueno to Narita Airport.

      I have never tried apartments. So far I have been going for budget chain hotels such as Toyoko Inn / Super Hotel / Dormy Inn / Smile Hotel etc. Rooms are very small, but most hotel rooms in Tokyo are small and I’m kind of used to it. :p

      As for Sapporo, my favourite hotel is Mercure:

      But considering you would be using public transport, it may be better to find a hotel near Sapporo station instead. Mercure is not near Sapporo station, it requires a shuttle bus / train ride to Sapporo station.

      • Tricia says:


        It’s me again ?

        We have finally finalized our lodgings for all 3 cities (Osaka, Hokkaido & Tokyo)

        Can you help me fill in the void with some suggestions?

        17 Dec – Arrive Osaka at night (Our Apt is located at Chuou-Ku, walking distance from Nagahoribashi Station)

        18 Dec – Nissin Instant Ramen Musuem & Nara Park. Do you think we will have enough time to cover these 2 places in a day? Was thinking to head off to Nara Park after lunch.

        19 Dec – USJ

        20 Dec – Day trip to Kyoto. We will need to take JR from Osaka to Kyoto right? Do we need to purchase tickets in advance? Where would you recommend us to visit for a day trip?

        21 Dec – F&E. Will liking want to do some shopping around Shinsaibashi/Umeda. Any other place that you would recommend? Outlet shopping is it worth going? Is it far?

        22 Dec – Arrive Sapporo (Our Apt is located at Toyohira-lu, walking distance from Nakanoshima Station). Will check in around 4pm, so where would you suggest we explore in the evening and dinner? Is there any onsen which you can recommend? Will it be suitable for our group with little ones? We never tried onsen before and would like to try during this trip.

        23 Dec – Day trip to Ski resort. We are still deciding between Rusutsu or Tomamu. Based on your experienced, which is a safer bet to go to for kid friendly ski activities and amateur adult skiers. Niseko is too touristy and ex right?

        24 Dec – Explore Sapporo. Which are the places you would recommend? Any dining places that are must try? Would prefer places which won’t require too much hassle on travelling, since we have 5 kiddos from 2-8yrs old.

        25 Dec – Explore Otaru. Other than Otaru canal, where would you recommend for visit and dining?

        26 Dec – Arrive Tokyo (Our Apt is located in Shibuya-Ku, 1 stop away from Shibuya Station at Daikanyama Station). We will check in around 2pm and will likely spend the rest of the day at Shibuya

        27 Dec – Tokyo Disneyland

        28 Dec – Tokyo Disneysea (2 day pass, so our dates and parks are fixed)

        29 Dec – F&E day. Previously you suggested another day in Disneyland which we decided not to since kids would have already visited 3 theme parks including USJ. Would you recommend us to try Tsukiji fish market? We missed this place during our last visit and was wondering should we try this round. Which other locations would you suggest?

        30 Dec – Day trip to Mount Fuji Hakone. We intend to book this day trip through JTB which we tried the last round. Any other trip would you recommend? We don’t intend to stay over.

        31 Dec – F&E. To mainly catch up on shopping

        1 Dec – Depart for Singapore via Narita on 8pm flight. Is there anything that can occupy us for half a day before we check out and head for the airport?

        • bumblebeemum says:

          18 Dec – Yup, there should be enough time to do Cup noodle museum and Nara in a day.

          20 Dec – There’s no need to purchase train tickets in advance. I think most people who visit Kyoto for the first time would do places like Kiyomizudera, Ginkakuji, Kinkakuji, Gion, Fushimi Inari Shrine. But Kinkakuji is a bit out of the way, think you may not have time for that in a day trip.

          21 Dec – Generally I’m not a big fan of outlet shopping in Japan. Especially in winter where it’s mostly selling winter wear. Maybe you can visit Osaka castle.

          22 Dec – For evenings, the best place to go would be Susukino. It’s one straight train from Nakanoshima Station. For onsen, you can wait until you go to the ski resort. Tomamu and Rusutsu have onsens.

          23 Dec – I recommend you check Rusutsu website when you are there. If their Crayon Shin-Chan Snow Park is open by then, go to Rusutsu. If it’s not open yet, go to Tomamu.

          24 Dec – For my dining recommendations, you can check out the following posts:
          > Kids-Friendly Restaurants in Hokkaido
          > Hokkaido’s Best Food (by Region)
          > Hokkaido’s Best Sweets Cafe

          25 Dec – You can slowly shop and eat along Sakaimachi all the way from Otaru Canal to the Music Box Museum.

          29 Dec – Sure, you can visit Tsukiji Market. It’s going to close down, so might as well do it before it’s gone. You can go to Odaiba after that.

          30 Dec – I have never joined any day trip in Japan. If your experience with JTB is good, maybe you should stick to them.

          1 Jan – Since it’s new year day, I would probably go join in the New Year festivities at Meiji Shrine:

  6. LY says:

    Hi bumblebee mum

    I have been to Rusutsu last dec with my 10yo and 8 yo. This year we are thinking to go back to Hokkaido again. They have enjoyed the Crayon Shin chan ski school very much. However I’m thinking to try a different ski resort and seems Tomamu is fun as described. Do u know if they too offer kids ski school? Which resort offer more kids activities? Rusutsu or Tomamu?

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Yes, Tomamu has kids ski school and snow parks which start end December. But I don’t think it’s anything like the Crayon Shin-Chan ski school (which as indoor teaching area?). Just a normal ski academy like any other ski resort I think. When I was at Tomamu, the kids ski area was not ready yet so I’m really not sure how their kids ski lessons go.

      I have never seen the full range of kids activities at Rusutsu nor Tomamu because their snow parks were not ready yet when I was there. So not sure how it would compare. You can check out Tomamu’s website for kids activities and see how it compares to what you experienced at Rusutsu:

      Tomamu also has the ice village, which would only be fully opened in end Dec as well (though the ice slide and snow tubing was ready by early Dec):

      I would just give Tomamu a try if a I were you. No harm trying something different since you have already been to Rusutsu. 🙂

  7. May says:

    Hi Bumble Bee Mum,

    Thanks for your prompt reply!

    Ya , I think you are right! I should arrange 30 Dec to Sanrio and 31 Dec to Odaiba.

    The rest of the days look ok?
    Is it ok for me to arrange to go Asahikawa on 22 Dec? I worry the Penquin Parade still not yet started. Or should I move to 27 Dec then go Asahikawa?

    So you think I can go any place on 18 Dec, the day I reach Sapporo ?


    • bumblebeemum says:

      Yes, you should move Asahikawa all the way back to 27 Dec if possible. That’s a good idea. 🙂

      Sapporo is not that exciting in terms of sightseeing. You can split the places you want to visit over the 2 days (18 and 19) and spend more time eating. Not kidding, there is so much good food around Sapporo. Just go around cafe-hopping at the 1001 cafes from Sapporo station all the way to Susukino and before you know it, the day is over.

  8. Fiona says:

    Hi Bumblebee Mum,

    Can I check is Mount Tengu in Otaru open in Dec 2015? From the website, I can’t find the operating hours in Dec.

    Many thanks!!

  9. Ferlynn says:

    Travelling to Hokkaido next week with my 2.5 years old girl. Free and easy. First time to Japan. Will be taking train ride. Plan to go Otaru and Sapporo.

    Would appreciate your advice for the following:

    Any hotels to recommend? Kids friendly hotels? or near to malls?

    What are the must have items for my lil’ one?… to get her ready for the winter
    Heard that it is snowing heavily now.

    How do you overcome the thick snow with the stroller?

    Thank you!

    • bumblebeemum says:

      In general hotels in Hokkaido are not kids friendly as in they will have amenities for kids. I usually just book whatever hotel allows kids (not all hotels in Japan allows kids). For Sapporo, I like to stay at Mercure Hotel for its location in Susukino. But for easy access by train, I recommend you find a hotel near Sapporo station such as JR Inn Sapporo / Hotel North Gate Sapporo / JR Tower Hotel Nikko Sapporo. Never stayed in any of these before though, but they look very near Sapporo station.

      This is how I dress up for Hokkaido’s winter:

      Head: Wear a beanie that can cover the ears.
      Body: Wear a heat-tech long sleeve, followed by a layer of vest (something to keep the chest warm), followed by a thick sweater / cardigan and finally a waterproof winter jacket meant for sub-zero temperatures.
      Bottom: Wear a heat-tech leggings, followed by thick waterproof pants.
      Feet: Wear a pair of long socks, layered by a pair of thick short socks and high waterproof boots.
      Hands: Waterproof winter gloves

      Additional stuff: You can buy heat packs from Daiso. I especially like the sticky ones that can be stuck to clothes / under the socks. You can stick them to the your clothes to keep yourself warm. The ones to be stuck to the bottom of the socks are a life-saver, because the feet which is in constant contact with the ice and snow on the floor always gets cold very quickly.

      As for stroller, I didn’t have the strength to push it through the snow and my husband had to take over. And when we encountered pavements that were too narrow for the stroller to go through (because the snow accumulated by the sidewalk which narrows the pavements), we just walked on the road, keeping as close to the side as possible.

  10. Eve says:


    Do you think it is wheelchair friendly to travel in Hokkaido during winter?

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Hmm.. I think it might be difficult. We had problem pushing our stroller and some of the walkways were narrowed because of the wall of snow that builds up along the two sides of the pavements. We couldn’t even get our stroller through, so a wheelchair would be worse.

  11. Angie says:

    Hi Bumble bee mum,

    Can you share with me the car rental company that you use for your self drive? I am thinking of driving from Niseko –> Sapporo—> CTS

    Thank you very much

    • bumblebeemum says:

      I usually use Sky Car Rental in Hokkaido but they don’t speak much English. If you are doing a one-way rental from Niseko to CTS, you may not have much options. You may have to go with the bigger companies that have offices in both Niseko and CTS and offer one-way rentals. Try Toyota.

  12. Weiyeow says:

    Hi Bumble Bee Mum

    I recently came back from a group tour to Hokkaido, and was so enchanted and smitten by the place, that I am planning a second visit in May 2017. As much as I enjoyed the trip, there are certain restrictions that come with going on a tour package, and I felt I did not get to experience fully what each destination has to offer. Although it’s a bit kiasu of me to plan one year in advance, I lack travel experience, and was reading up on Hokkaido when I chanced upon your wonderful blog; and hope you can help me out with my itinerary and questions.

    This is going to be a long comment, so I apologize in advance, and thank you for taking the time to reading through.

    From my recent trip, some places that stood out and I would like to re-visit are:

    Lake Toya

    I would also like to check out Hakodate, which wasn’t included in my tour, just to look around and try Lucky Pierrot and the seafood markets.

    I plan to spend 7-10 days in Hokkaido. How should I roughly plan my time there? A rough image in my head shows something like this:

    Day 1-2: Hakodate
    Day 3-4: Toya
    Day 5-10: Sapporo, with side trips to Asahikawa and Otaru

    Would this be sensible and feasible? Also, am I placing too much of an emphasis on Sapporo?


    I am thinking of flying ANA again because of the great service I received during my previous trip. Is there usually any promotion period where I am able to get cheaper tickets? How early/late should I book my tickets (trip is in May)?


    I plan to spend at least a night in an onsen hotel, and probably at Toya. During the group tour, I stayed with Toya Sun Palace, and found the place really beautiful, and is considering to stay with them again. Once again, how early do you advise I reserve the room before it gets fully booked? Alternatively, are there any other good onsen resorts you recommend?

    For the remainder of my trip, I will be staying in either an AirBnB or a simple hotel. I have 2 friends on the trip with me, do most Japanese hotels allow triple occupancy, or would I have to book 2 rooms? Also, do you have any recommendations for hotels in the above-mentioned areas?


    How would you suggest that I get from place to place in Hokkaido? I see from your blog that you usually drive, but me and my friends don’t, and I’m thinking of purchasing the railway passes, but unsure of which particular ones to get, and if they will be worth. Is it true that in Hokkaido, it is quite impossible to get around without a car? Would starting at Hakodate, then to Toya, before heading to Sapporo, wise? Should Asahikawa be done as a day trip, or would it be better to dedicate a few days to it?


    I plan to spend between $4000-$7000 for the 7-10 day trip with ALL EXPENSES included. Is this a modest figure? I will probably rotate between restaurants and cheaper options such as bentos or fast food, with the occasional splurge for better quality food. I’m hoping to keep shopping to a minimum, while focusing more and meals, sweets and snacks.

    Asking so much questions about a trip that’s happening only a year later is akin to getting spoonfed, but I really have no expertise in travelling, having only been on a tour group to Hokkaido recently, and Malaysia vacations prior to that. I find your blog really informative and insightful, and really hope you can offer some (okay actually a lot hahaha) help in planning for my maiden F&E trip to Hokkaido. Thank you very much and I apologize for the word vomit.


    • bumblebeemum says:

      Your plan sounds fine. When was your group tour? Hokkaido is very different in the different seasons so if your previous trip was done in May, I recommend you visit at a different time.

      I am actually intrigued by what you find interesting about Asahikawa that you want to visit again? I have been to Asahikawa twice and never quite found out what’s interesting in the city – besides the food. I only went there a second time to bring my kids to the zoo.

      Flight: There’s no fixed time for flight promotion that I know of. I use the KAYAK app’s flight tracker which checks for flight prices periodically. It alerts me when prices drop.

      Transport: It is not impossible to get around Hokkaido with public transport. It is just time consuming. Their buses and trains are infrequent and it requires very careful planning to maximise your time there so that you don’t spend hours bumming around waiting for the next bus or train. Simply put, I am lazy so I always just rent a car and drive. But for the places you want to mentioned, rail is fine. Just that at Lake Toya would require you to bus around.

      Hotels: You can try Super Hotel chain. They have ‘super rooms’ which are triple rooms with a double bed + a single loft bed.

      Budget: $4000-$7000 is for you alone? That’s a lot of money for 7-10 days in Hokkaido actually. If you manage to secure cheap flight and hotels, you can eat a lot of good food with that money!

      • Weiyeow says:

        Thank you so much for the prompt reply!

        My group tour was from 16-22 May, and it was with SA Tours. On paper it says 7-day tour, but with the first and last day spent on the plane, and reaching Hokkaido only in the afternoon at around 12, it was really only 4.5 days. 🙁

        I am actually not that keen on Asahikawa, but decided to just include it in a day as I felt I was dedicating too much time to Sapporo. Also, because I was with a tour group, I spent only a short time exploring the places on my own, and thought it would warrant a second look.

        My concern with Toya is that it is quite ulu, and from what I found out, the bus only comes once per hour.

        I have roughly calculated the airfare and accommodation rates, and give myself a very generous allowance of $1000 for return flights and $1500 for lodgings. I suppose my single night in the onsen resort would cost more.

        Should I purchase the railway pass also, that would be another $200-ish, so all in all I am setting aside approximately $2700. Any additional money will be spent on food and shopping, so I’m looking at around $5500 for a 10-day trip.

        From my short visit recently, I gathered that meals are between 800-2500 yen, depending on what you eat. Taking the average as 1700 yen, 2 meals a day (we’ll probably save on breakfast) for the entire trip comes up to 34000 yen ($430~). I’m bringing some extra for shopping, sweets, seafood market and emergencies.

        I really want to do Hokkaido in winter, but I feel I am not ready for it yet – haven’t got the winter gear and stuff; and a part of me also yearns to recreate my maiden experience. Heard from my tour guide to avoid the summer as it gets quite hot.

        So, for Hakodate, Sapporo, Toya, Otaru and possibly Asahikawa, what order would you suggest I go in, and how many days should I spend at each location?

        Thank you very much for the kind response, I really appreciate it!

        • bumblebeemum says:

          Usually for my Hokkaido trips, I try to get a good airfare deal for around $700. Then for accommodation, I try to average it to $100 per night. So for 10 nights, I would try to keep my accommodation cost to $1000. If let’s say I spend $200 a night on an onsen resort, I will have to make it up by finding cheaper hotels in the cities. If you share a Super Room at Super Hotel with your friends, it should be quite cheap.

          Meal wise, you got to play around. So yeah, you can save on breakfast by just eating a 300yen beef rice bowl and then splurge on a 3000yen lunch. Lunch is generally cheaper than dinner – so for e.g. if you want to visit a michelin-star kind of restaurants, their dinner course can easily cost more than 10,000yen per pax. However if you go for lunch instead, it may cost just 3000-5000yen for a pretty much similar experience. So look carefully at the restaurant websites for the difference in lunch and dinner menus. For those restaurants that have significantly cheaper lunch compared to dinner, go there for lunch. For those that have no difference in menu whether you go for lunch or dinner (e.g. ramen joints), visit those for dinner.

          Summer can get quite hot indeed, but the flowers are so beautiful! I would bear the heat if I can to do in July-August for the flowers.

          Alternatively if you are really afraid of the heat, in June the weather is not too hot and you can catch the Yosakoi Soran Festival and Hokkaido Shrine Festival. You need to secure your accommodation in Sapporo WAY in advance if you want to catch the festivals. (I tried to reserve my reservation 6 months in advance and many hotels were already sold out!)

          You mentioned you went end May? Did you get to visit the shibazakura field and tulip field? If you missed them and want to go around end May again, then you should plan to visit the shibazakura and tulip fields. You can read more on this post:

          For the places you mentioned (Hakodate, Sapporo, Toya, Otaru and Asahikawa), the order you mentioned sounds right. Start with Hakodate, move to Toya then move to Sapporo and you can visit Otaru and Asahikawa from Sapporo.

  13. See Peng says:

    Hi Bumble Bee mum,

    Mid Dec in Hokkaido, Can you advise how many layers we need to wear?

  14. eco says:

    Re:Mercure Hotel Sapporo

    Dear BBM

    We will be staying in Mercure Hotel Sapporo and self drive. Read from your blog the automated carpark entrance is just right to the Mercure Hotel.

    How is the turntable thing works when we drive our car onto it? Shall we drive on it first, come down to collect the parking ticket from the machine and then how actually we can check which floor have empty slot?

    When collect the park, pay through the machine?

    Please advise.

    Info that I captured from your blog:

    If driving, the hotel entrance is very small and easy to miss. The nearest carpark is just next to the hotel entrance. In the evenings and nights, many cabs line the streets and block your view of the carpark entrance, so you need to drive real slow as you approach the hotel and keep your eyes wide open for the entrance, otherwise you are bound to miss it. The automated carpark is an experience in itself, where you drive the car onto a turntable and into a lift. At the time of writing, it costs 1200 yen per day to park there.

    • bumblebeemum says:

      The carpark attendant will guide you, you don’t need to worry too much. When I was there in June, the carpark attendant spoke English.

      Basically you just drive your car onto the turntable. The turntable will rotate so that you car faces the elevator. Then the elevator door will open and you just drive straight into the elevator. There is a mirror inside the elevator for you to see your front wheel and align it with the tracks for the tyres. Once your car is inside the elevator, you get off the car and the carpark attendant will pass you a ticket. You bring the ticket to Mercure Hotel reception and they will validate it and you pay the 1200yen per day parking to the hotel.

      When you want to collect your car, just pass the validated parking ticket to the carpark attendant and you will retrieve your car from the elevator.

  15. mumwith2kids says:

    hello bumblebee mum,

    great blog! I would like some advice from you. We are landing at Chitose Airport on 1st Jan and intend to catch the direct train/shuttle to Hoshino resort tomamu. Will there be trains operating on 1st Jan? We could either go there last week of Dec or 1st week of Jan. I am aiming for 1st week of Jan because it seems cheaper but if transportation is a problem during that time – then I will go last week of Dec and hope that the snow park at Tomamu opens then, for the kids!

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Last week of Dec is one of the most expensive time to visit Japan (along with golden week). I would go on 1st week of Jan if I could. You can try contacting the hotel to check if their direct shuttle operates on 1 Jan (it probably will) otherwise public transport like the train will be operating as per usual.

  16. Jane ong says:

    Hi Bumblebeemum,

    I was planning my hokkaido trip in late Sep and came across your blog. Thank you for such a great and informative blog!
    We’ll be going in a group of five adults (my sisters and mum) and my 1.5 year old from 25th Sep till 30th Sep. I know this is a very short trip in hokkaido but because we have to compromise with each other’s time table, this is the best we can come out with.
    My planned itineraries as below:
    Day 1: arrive new chitose airport early in the morning. Pick up car and drive to lake toya.
    Day 2: lake toya to otaru then sapporo. Overnight stay in sapporo.
    Day 3: sapporo to furano.
    Day 4: furano to sounkyo
    Day 5: sounkyo to chitose airport
    Day 6: early flight back to kl.
    Do you think this itinerary is doable or do you have any suggestions otherwise? I rougly googled and think each drive is about 2 hrs +. Do we need ETC or HEP?

  17. Sue says:

    Hi bumblebeemum,

    How r u? It’s me again. I have asked for itinerary advice in ur Japan blog. Now I’m preparing winter gears for my kids and myself. I’m a bit confusing on some of the clothing. Hope you can give me some advice on that.
    1) the beanie to cover ears. Any specific material?
    2) the vest after heat tech long sleeve. What material is this? Can this be cotton?
    3) the water proof jacket, can substitute with down jackets for kids? The seller said down jacket is water repellent. Is this sufficient? We only plan one day trip to tomamu to play snow. Not ski. But ice slide will it be wet? Same to the pants, the seller said the pants is only water repellent. Is it ok?
    4) long socks. Is it woolen socks plus a layer of short woolen socks? Or long cotton socks plus short woolen socks?
    5) finally is the high waterproof boots. Must it be winter boots with fur lining inside or rain boots can do as well?
    Thanks for ur time.

    • bumblebeemum says:

      1) Maybe a wool one meant for winter?

      2) My kids wore wool vests. I don’t think cotton is warm enough for Hokkaido’s winter.

      3) I think proper ski jacket and pants are better. Hokkaido’s winter is very harsh, I recommend you get proper winter wear if you were to spend a day in the snow.

      4) We wore long cotton socks with short woolen socks. Couldn’t find long woolen socks. :p

      5) The boots my kids wore were more like rain boots – they didn’t have fur lining. However, their boots had a string to tighten the top which doesn’t leave the top of the boots open like normal rain boots. Know what I mean? If you really cannot find winter boots and choose to wear rain boots, you can compensate the lack of insulation by wearing more layers of socks and pasting those heat packs from Daiso to stick under the soles of your feet.

  18. Bryan says:

    Hi BBM, visiting your blog again to get ideas for my upcoming trip 🙂

    Will it start snowing early Nov? My trip is between 7th Nov – 14th Nov. Does it gets cold enough to prepare for winter clothing? As I will be driving myself is it necessary to get snow chain or slow driving is fine?

    I am staying at these hotels respectively: Sapporo Mercure, Grand Park Otaru, Daiwa Ryokan Annex, Toyoko Inn Hokkaido Hakodate Ekimae Asaichi, Dormy Inn Higashi Muroran Natural Hot Spring, Hotel Grand Terrace Chitose (cheapest I could find to catch early flight next morning). Will parking be an issue for the above? Could I park somewhere free/minimal charges and walk my way around?

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Yes it will be pretty cold in November and snowing in some parts of Hokkaido. You definitely need winter clothing.

      You won’t need a snow chain, but you will need snow tyres. The rental cars in Hokkaido should come with snow tyres in winter by default. But just in case, if there is an option to tick for snow tyres in the booking request, just request for them.

      Parking at the hotel would probably be your best option. There is usually no free parking in the cities, so the daily rate that hotels charge is usually cheaper than hourly coin parking. If the hotel doesn’t have carpark or their carpark is full, they may direct you to the nearest coin parking or you will just have to drive around to find a coin parking on your own. There are plenty of coin parking around the cities.

  19. Bryan says:

    Hi BBM. Not sure why my previous messages weren’t posted.

    Do you know if Nov W1~W2 started snowing yet? Does it gets that chilling that I need to prepare winter clothing? Any cheap parking method for Otaru, or should I just park at my hotel Grand Park Otaru and go on foot?

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Yup, there is chance of snow in beginning of November. You do need to prepare winter clothing.

      In Otaru, I usually park at the hotel and walk.

      • Bryan says:

        Thanks! Sorry for the double post somehow the last messages were a year ago so I missed the chain =.=”

        Initially I wanted to go as lightweight as possible and hoping that it won’t snow yet early Nov at central and southern hokkaido. Guess will have to go in heavy clothing than.

        Do you happen to have a good link to map codes i could punch in to navigate while driving? For the Mercure or any hotel that offer per-day parking, do they allow multiple entries? As in leaving and parking in again few times a day with single payment?

        • bumblebeemum says:

          The chances of snow in Southern Hokkaido is lesser than Norther Hokkaido, but where Hokkaido is concerned you can never be sure. It even snowed in early June this year. Come night time, it will definitely be very cold. Especially if you are planning to go up Mount Hakodate in southern Hokkaido – the wind is absolutely chilly there. I say pack more rather than risk falling sick. If you want to pack light, the way to go about it is to do laundry along the way. We usually only pack 3 days worth of clothing and do laundry along the way.

          For map codes, you can get them from this website:

          Yes, hotels usually allow multiple entries. Generally you pay the daily parking to the front desk and get them to validate your parking ticket each time you go in / out. But different hotels may have slightly different systems, but just check with the front desk how to validate your parking ticket if you want to go out in between.

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