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Places-to-Go---Hokkaido-in-Early-Summer---Bumble-Bee-Mum

Few months back, while everyone was busy planning a winter trip to Hokkaido, I wrote a post on Essential Travel Tips for Planning a Hokkaido Winter Trip.  Now that year-end holidays have ended, it’s time to…. plan for the Summer holidays!

Since most of my readers are from Singapore and our school holidays are in June, this article will focus on places to visit in Hokkaido’s early Summer – that is late May to June. For a visit in the REAL Hokkaido Summer, which is July & August, it’s a different story altogether so let’s leave that for another time.

Late May – June is actually somewhat in between seasons in Hokkaido.  You may consider it late Spring – too late for cherry blossoms.  You may also consider it early Summer – too early for lavender.  But neverthess, there is still plenty to see (and eat) at this time.

Hokkaido Places to Visit in Late May

Shibazakura & Tulips in Northern Hokkaido

If you are visiting in late May, like flying off the very night school’s out, I recommend you head up NORTH.  This is the time for shibazakura and there are two famous spots in Hokkaido for them: Takinoue and Higashimokoto.  Both of them are in Northern Hokkaido.

Image Source: Takinoue

Takinoue Shibazakura Park (Image Source: Takinoue.com)

Best Places to Visit in Hokkaido in Summer - Higashimokoto Shibazakura

Higashimokoto Shibazakura Park (Image Source: shibazakura.net)

 

Also in the region is Kamiyubetsu Tulip Park which is located in between Takinoue and Higashimokoto.

 

If you are visiting at this time of the year, I recommend you rent a car and drive the route from Takinoue to Kamiyubetsu to Higashimokoto.   The larger towns in the region are Abashiri and Kitami and you can find a hotel in these towns to base yourself.

Best Places to Visit in Hokkaido in Summer - Abashiri

No, there will be no snow in Abashiri in Summer. This is the only photo I could find in my photo collection which says “Abashiri”.

 

Shiretoko

If you have more time, I would recommend driving all the way up to Shiretoko.   Shiretoko Five Lakes is gorgeous in summer.

Video Credit: goko.go.jp

In Summer, besides trekking around the five lakes, you can also join wildlife cruises to see brown bears and whales.

Image Souce: kamuiwakka.jp

Image Souce: kamuiwakka.jp

 

Hokkaido Places to Visit in Early-Mid June

Eat eat eat

By early June, the tulips in Kamiyubetsu are probably wilting, as are most of the shibazakura.  During this period, I would just hang around the major cities like Sapporo, Otaru and Hakodate and eat eat eat.

> Click here for my Hokkaido Food Guide

In particular, Sakaimachi in Otaru has some of the best confectionery in Hokkaido (or imo the whole of Japan) lined up in a row.

> Click here for our eating tour of Otaru

Best Places to Visit in Hokkaido in Summer - Otaru

And Hakodate, with its morning market, Snaffles cafe and Lucky Pierrot is a food galore!

> Click here to read about our visit to Hakodate in June 2013

If you are going to Hakodate in early June, you may want to plan a side-trip to Mount Esan where Azalea will be in bloom.  The annual Esan Azalea Festival (Tsutsuji-matsuri Festival) is held from late may to early June.

Best Places to Visit in Hokkaido in Summer - Mount Esan

Image Source: City of Hakodate

 

Yasokoi Soran Festival

If you are planning to visit Hokkaido in early-mid June, take note of the dates for the Yasokoi Soran Festival and plan to be in Sapporo when it is happening.  The dates fluctuate quite a bit from year to year, so you will need to visit the website each year to check the exact dates.  Book your accommodation well in advance for this though.  When I checked in January, my favourite Hotel Mercure Sapporo was already fully booked for the weekend of this year’s festival.

Video credit: YouTube ‘Tourism’

Hokkaido Places to Visit in Mid-Late June

Furano

By this time, the lavender around Furano will have grown quite a bit, though nothing as spectacular as what you see in travel guides where the photos are usually taken during the flowering peak in July / August.  However, this is still a nice time to check out the lavender buds while enjoying relatively cheap accommodation.  (Accommodation prices in the region sky-rocket in July and August.)  As tiny as they are, you will be able to smell them already when you are there.

Best Places to Visit in Hokkaido in Summer - Furano Wine Factory

Small lavender field at Furano Wine Factory

 

Despite not reaching its peak, the flower fields at Tomita Farm are still a sight to behold.

Tomita Farm in mid June

 

Biei

Heading up North from Furano, Biei is another town you should definitely visit.  If you have time for one flower field in Biei, make it Shikisai No Oka.

Shikisai No Oka in mid June

 

But in my opinion, the beauty of Biei does not just lie in the colourful flower fields. The whole countryside scenery of Biei is breath-taking.

Shinnei No Oka (Biei) in June

 

Everywhere you drive in Biei, you will be surrounded by these beautiful ‘patchworks’.

Hokkaido Shrine Festival

Back in Sapporo, the Hokkaido Shrine Festival will be happening from 14 to 16 June annually.   The parade that takes place around the city on 16 June is something you would not want to miss.

Best Places to Visit in Hokkaido in Summer - Hokkaido Shrine Festival

Other Places of Interest Worth Visiting

In this section, I will recommend places that are only open during Summer and closed in Winter – so you may want to consider putting them into your Summer trips.

Unkai Terrace (Tomamu)

In early Summer through Autumn, a gondola brings you up to the terrace where you will be above a sea of clouds.  Note, however, that unkai (the sea of clouds) does not always appear – it really depends on your luck that morning.  Unkai Terrace is open from mid-May to mid October.  Please check the official website for exact opening dates for the year.

> Click here to read about our visit to Unkai Terrace in June 2014

Shakotan Peninsular

Best Places to Visit in Hokkaido in Summer - Cape Kamui

Most of the restaurants and ryokan at Shakotan Peninsular close throughout winter.  But by late April, they will slowly start to open for business again as people start to visit the area for hiking (if you consider a walk along the cape hiking) and seafood.

Best Places to Visit in Hokkaido in Summer - Shakotan Peninsular

In particular, the region is famous for its uni (sea urchin) and the uni here is only available in the months of June to August.

> Click here to read about our visit to Shakotan Peninsular in June 2014

Sample Itineraries

Below are some suggested itineraries for travel in Hokkaido between late May to June.  You will have to tweak it depending on the number of days you have and your exact dates of travel, but base it on the following:

  • To visit Northern Hokkaido in late May
  • To be in Sapporo during the Yasokoi Soran Festival and Hokkaido Shrine Festival
  • To visit Furano / Biei as late as possible in June

Hokkaido trip in late May

Day 1:  CTS – Asahikawa (lunch break at Asahikawa Ramen Village) – Takinoue – Abashiri

Day 2: Abashiri – Kamiyubetsu – Higashimokoto – Shiretoko

Day 3 – 4: Shiretoko

Day 5: Shiretoko – Lake Akan

Day 6: Akan National Park

Day 7: Lake Akan – Kushiro – Obihiro

Day 8: Obihiro – Tomamu

Day 9: Tomamu – CTS

If you have more time, you can return to Sapporo at the end of this.  Chances are you will be there in time for Yasokoi Soran Festival.

Hokkaido in Early June

Day 1: CTS – Lake Shikotsu – Lake Toya

Day 2: Lake Toya – Hakodate

Day 3: Hakodate / Mount Esan

Day 4: Hakodate – Niseko

Day 5: Niseko

Day 6: Niseko – Shakotan Peninsular – Otaru

Day 7: Otaru – Sapporo

You can spend the rest of the time in Sapporo, and try to coincide this with Yasokoi Soran Festival.

Hokkaido in mid – end June:

Day 1 – 3: Start your trip in Sapporo, try to coincide the date with Hokkaido Shrine Festival.

Day 4: Day trip to Otaru from Sapporo

Day 5: Sapporo – Tomamu

Day 6: Tomamu – Furano

Day 7 – 8: Furano / Biei

Day 9: Furano – CTS

Links / Telephone Numbers / Map Codes

Below are links of official websites and telephone number / map codes (for GPS) of destinations in this post:

  • Takinoue Shibazakura Park 芝ざくら滝上公園
    [Map Code: 570 699 650]
  • Higashimokoto Shibazakura Park 東藻琴芝桜公園
    [Tel: 0152-66-3111 | Map Code: 638 713 571]
  • Kamiyubetsu Tulip Park 湧別のチューリップ公園
    [Tel: 01586-2-3000 | Map Code: 404 550 751]
  • Shiretoko Five Lakes  知床五湖
    [Tel: 0152- 24 – 3323 | Map Code: 757 730 365]
  • Mount Esan 恵山
    [Map Code: 875 185 761]
  • Tomita Farm ファーム富田
    [Tel: 0167 39 3939 | Map Code: 349 306 019]
  • Shikisai No Oka 四季彩の丘
    [Tel: 0166-95-2758 | Map Code: 349 701 186]
  • Hoshino Resort Tomamu 星野リゾート トマム
    [Tel: 0167-58-1111 | Map Code: 608 511 277]
  • Cape Kamui 神岬町
    [Map Code: 932 582 660]
  • Cape Shakotan 積丹岬
    [Map Code: 932 745 326]

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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.

159Comments

  1. yellowlemonie says:

    This is just what we needed – we are planning a trip to Hokkaido in early June! 🙂 thank you for sharing!

  2. Lai Mei Ying says:

    Hi Bumble Bee Mum,

    Just wannna check with you if my itinerary doable. Arrive Chitose Airport, 22/6/16 @ 8:20am. Departing to KL 29/6/16 @ 8:50am. Intend to self-drive.

    Day 1 – Chitose – Noboribetsu (stay a night)

    Day 2 – Noboribetsu – Hakote (stay a night)

    Day 3 – Hakote – Sapporo (based here till Day 7)

    Day 4 – Sapporo – Furano & Biei (back to Sapporo)

    Day 5 – Sapporro – Asahikawa (day trip)
    (return car)

    Day 6 – Sapporo – Otaru (day trip)
    (public transport)

    Day 7 – Sapporo City Tour
    (may opt for checking out and check in to Air Terminal Hotel)
    (please advise)

    Day 8 – morning flight to KL

    Appreciate your advise on the above.

    Thanking you in advance.

    Regards,

    • bumblebeemum says:

      This itinerary looks okay too. Though I do feel that Furano and Biei warrants more time.

      And if you have a morning flight, I do recommend spending the last night at Air Terminal Hotel.

      • Lai Mei Ying says:

        Thank you very much for your comment..

        If Furano and Biei needs more time to explore, is it logical for me to do a day trip
        for 2 days from Sapporo. Day 4 – Furano and Day 5 – Biei.

        Air Terminal Hotel is rather full and expensive (Rm400+ per night). Is it possible for
        me to catch the earliest train from Sapporo to Chitose Airport for my 8:50am flight?

        Thank you.

        • bumblebeemum says:

          While it is possible to do 2 day trips, I wouldn’t recommend it. If I want to spend 2 days exploring Furano / Biei, I would spend a night at Furano or Biei. The one way drive from Sapporo to Furano / Biei is 3 hours. By going to and fro from Sapporo, you are adding 6 hours of driving which can be spent on sightseeing or eating.

          If you catch the first train at 6am, you will reach CTS at about 6.50am so you’ll be on time.

  3. JJ says:

    Hi, thanks for sharing useful map code in Hokkaido. Do u have any idea is Hokkaido weather still cold in May to June? What apparel should I bring for kids?
    Thank you.

    • bumblebeemum says:

      By Singapore standards, yes it’s still cold in May to June. You are looking at about 15 degrees Celsius with the possibility of dipping to below 10 at night. I would let my kids wear Uniqlo heat-tech sleeve inside and another long-sleeve shirt outside. And bring one more jacket or sweater for the night time.

  4. rochelle says:

    Hi, thanks for the blog. It is very handy for my upcoming trip to hokkaido 10-20jun. However, it coincide with yosakoi and i am unable to get an affordable hotel in sapporo between 10-12jun. Can you please advise alternative nearby suburb for commute if we would like to see the festival? Or should i pick up a car at chitose airport then visit sapporo on way back.
    We are a group of 3 adults, 3 kids and 2 elders
    Thanks

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Yeah, hotel prices in Sapporo will be very expensive during festival periods even in the suburbs. Unless you stay at a neighbouring city like Chitose or Otaru but train tickets also cost money. With the number of people you have, if you want to save money on accommodation, you can try looking for apartments from sites like HomeAway or Airbnb.

      • rochelle says:

        Hi
        Thanks for your advice.
        I am planning to rent a car from Times car rental in jun. However, the 20% foreigners’ offer is valid till apr only.
        How did you register as a member? I tried but they do not accept chinese nor english names.
        Kindly please review thru my itnerary
        10jun: sapporo
        11jun: sapporo
        12jun: rent car to otaru
        13jun; tomamu
        14jun: lake akan
        15jun: shari
        16jun: shari
        17jun:sounkyo
        18jun: furano
        19jun:furano
        20jun: afternoon flight back home

        Thanks

        • bumblebeemum says:

          I did not sign up for membership for TIMES since I was using their 20% discount for foreigners promotion.

          12 June: I would just do a day-trip to Otaru from Sapporo by train.

          The rest of the itinerary looks good. 🙂

  5. hui ling says:

    Hi bumblebeemum, my family is visiting Hokkaido on a self drive from 24-30 Apr. Tentatively we are thinking of the following itinerary

    Day 1 – Chitose – Noboribetsu

    Day 2 – Noboribetsu – Hakodate

    Day 3 – Hakodate – Lake Toya

    Day 4 – Lake Toya – Otaru

    Day 5 – Otaru – Sapporo
    (return car)

    Day 6 – Sapporo

    Day 7 – Leave for airport

    I know it is not the best season to visit Hokkaido as it is still too early for the flower season, but is there anything worth visiting that you think we should consider including into our itinerary? Thanks a lot in advance!

  6. Janice Chew says:

    Hi Bumblebeemum,

    My hubby and I really like your posts which give many practical suggestions. It makes planning much easier for our family trip to Hokkaido on the 2nd week of June 2016.
    Our family of 3 is planning to drive on this 8D6N trip. Itinerary as follows and I would appreciate your comments to further fine tune our plan.

    Day 1 : Night flight to New Chitose Airport and reach the next morning at 8am.
    Day 2 : Leave baggage at concierge service at Sapporo hotel after breakfast (as it is too early to check in). Take a train to Otaru and come back to Sapporo in the evening. Spend a night in Sapporo.
    Day 3 : Rent a car after breakfast and leave Sapporo for Noboribetsu. Stay 1 night there.
    Day 4 : Leave Noboribetsu after breakfast and visit Farm Tomita, Furano Cheese Factory, Biei and check in to Asahikawa hotel.
    Day 5 : Leave Asahikawa after breakfast and go to the northern region to visit Shibazakura Park at Higashimokoto and Tulip Park at Kamiyubetsu. Stay a night at Monbetsu.
    Day 6 : Leave Monbetsu after breakfast and go back to Asahikawa to visit Asahiyama Zoo. Stay a night at Asahikawa.
    Day 7 : Leave Asahikawa and head on to Chitose. Return our rented car at Chitose. Stay a night at Chitose.
    Day 8 : Take a morning flight to leave Hokkaido.

    As you know the road conditions and the locations of the places that we plan to visit, will it be too tiring for us to drive from Day 3 to Day 7 ?

    Another question will be room booking. I’m making room reservation mostly a room for 2 as my son ( who is 14 years old ) prefer to sleep in his sleeping bag and we can do a bit of saving. Do hotels in Japan allow this manner of booking ? That means I book for 2 but there are 3 persons in the room.

    Is there any surcharge impost for payment to hotels by using credit card ?
    Or is it more advisable to pay cash ?

    Thanks a lot in advance.

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Your itinerary looks too rushed. Also, I wouldn’t go to shibazakura park and tulip park in second week of June – it is too late for those. I suggest you spend one more day at Furano / Biei instead of rushing up North.

      Also, is there any reason you want to visit Noboribetsu? It is not along the way and you are making quite a big detour just to go to Noboribetsu and subsequently to Furano. Generally for short trips like yours, I do not advice making such detours. If I want to go to Noboribetsu, I would go there on the first day directly from CTS. And personally, I prefer Lake Toya to Noboribetsu.

      This is what I would do:

      Day 1 : Night flight to New Chitose Airport and reach the next morning at 8am.
      Day 2 : CTS – Lake Toya / Noboribetsu
      Day 3 : Lake Toya / Noboribetsu – Otaru
      Day 4 : Otaru – Sapporo
      Day 5 : Sapporo – Asahikawa
      Day 6 : Asahikawa – Biei – Furano
      Day 7 : Furano – CTS
      Day 8 : Take a morning flight to leave Hokkaido.

      By June, the snow would all have melted away so it is pretty easy to drive.

      For your son, he should be considered an adult already so you should be booking a room for 3 person. Try Super Hotel which is a pretty budget-friendly hotel chain with rooms that have bunk beds. Hotel rooms in Japan are notoriously small, your son may not even have space to lay his sleeping bag in some cases.

      I haven’t encountered surcharges for credit card payments in hotels. However petrol kiosk will have surcharges for credit cards. Anyway for hotels, I usually book through third party websites like Agoda or hotels.com and they will charge to my credit card.

  7. BC says:

    hi Bumble Bee Mum
    Below is my tentative itinerary for our trip from 22 to 31 May. Appreciate any comments :

    Day 1 Chitose to Biei
    – Pick up car. Take early lunch
    – Drive around Biei
    Qn: is there anything of interest between Chitose & Kamifurano ?

    Day 2 Biei to Sounkyo
    – visit Blue Pond
    – hike Big Snow Mountain

    Day 3 Sounkyo to Shari or Abashiri
    – visit Takinoue Park (Pink Moss)
    – Kamiyubetsu Tulip
    – Or direct to Abashiri or Shari

    Day 4 Shari or Abashiri
    – drive to Shiretoko Pass, Mount Rausu (maybe Rausu town) & back

    Day 5 Shari to Obihiro
    – maybe Cape Notoro / Shibazakura park, before going to Obihiro

    Day 6 Obihiro

    Day 7 Obihiro to Chitose to Sapporo
    – Mitsui Outlet
    – Return car
    Qn: I want to avoid the toll-ways. Is Highway 274 prone to heavy traffic ?

    Day 8 Sapporo

    Day 9 Sapporo

    Day 10 Sapporo to home

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Day 1 CTS to Furano is a pretty boring drive. The only place that looks interesting in between is Yubari, but I would only go there if it is melon season. Otherwise I would go to Tomamu, but unless you are planning to spend a night at Tomamu there is no point going there. I will just eat my fill at CTS and drive straight from CTS to Furano.

      Day 2 Are the hiking trails around Daisetsuzan open already in May? I am not big on hiking so I have never researched much on this, but May sounds a tad early for hiking in Hokkaido.

      Day 3 I would end at Abashiri. Sounkyo to Shari sounds terribly far.

      Day 5 Shari to Obihiro sounds like a really long drive too. I would spend a night at Lake Akan to break up the drive.

      The problem with avoiding highway is not so much of heavy traffic. It is more of getting stuck behind slow-moving vehicles on single-lane roads. For long distances, I would just use the highways.

  8. Joey says:

    love your blog and informative tips … we 4 adults and 2 kids (2years old) going on 16-26June … Arrived CTS 8.20am, and we would like to follow your mid-end June plan.. But we would like to add in Asahikawa in our list .. So which day we should add in?
    Hmm not sure other places we can add in our list since we have total 10days and the last day flight is early morning 8.55am from CTS … Would love to hear your comment soon.. Thanks

    • Joey says:

      This is our first time to Hokkaido.. Here is my list.. And hope hear some advice from you.. Thanks ..

      Day 1 CTS – Sapporo
      Day 2 Sapporo – Tomamu – Furano (rent car )
      Day 3 Furano – Biei (rent car )
      Day 4. Biei – Asahikawa (rent car)
      Day 5 Asahikawa – Sapporo (return car)
      Day 6. Otaru (day trip by train)
      Day 7. Sapporo
      Day 8. Sapporo
      Day 9. Sapporo
      Day 10 Sapporo – CTS (flight 8.55am)

      Wanna get advice if we should stay one night at Otaru on day 6 then return Sapporo on day 7? it’s too rush for day trip to Otaru with 2 kids (2yo)?

      Or we should continue driving from Asahikawa to Otaru ? U have idea the journey take how long if driving ?

      Thanks

      • bumblebeemum says:

        Hi,

        Your itinerary looks a bit rushed to me. I would spend one night at Tomamu.

        I think a day trip with Otaru is sufficient if you are just visiting the city centre (Sakaimachi, Otaru canal). You will only need 1 more day if you plan to visit Otaru Aquarium or go fruit-picking at Yoichi. If you plan to do the aquarium or fruit-picking, then yes, I would advise you to keep the car and drive to Otaru from Asahikawa, spending a night in Otaru.

        For driving times in Hokkaido, Google maps does a pretty good estimate for summer driving.

  9. Jasmine Low says:

    Hi bumblebee mum!

    Thank you for all your informative posts about hokkaido. I couldn’t possibly find a better guide than yours.:)

    Am wondering if you would be able to provide me some expert advise on following?

    My family of 5 adults and 1 16month old baby will be Travelling to Hokkaido end July – early August (11 nights total). Arriving in asahikawa airport at 10am and departing new chitose at 6pm.

    1) could you advise me on our itinerary?
    FURANO/BIEI/ASAHIKAWA (4nights) Day 1: reach asahikawa airport at 10am. Pick up rental car. Drive to Furano stay (4nights)
    Furano sights
    day 2: asahikawa and asahiyama zoo
    Day 3: biei / furano
    Day 4: furano

    LAKE SHIKOTSU/ LAKE TOYA (3 nights)
    day 5: drive to lake shikotsu
    Day 6: drive to lake toya
    Day 7: lake toya

    SAPPORO (4 nights)
    day 8: drive to Sapporo
    day 9: Sapporo
    Day 10: Sapporo
    Day 11: morning drive back to new chitose. Spend day at new chitose before evening flight back

    – Should we spend the first night at asahikawa instead?
    – Do you think we’ll be incredibly bored at furano and Sapporo?
    – any suggestions of other places we shd go instead of planting ourselves at the above mentioned places?

    2) we are planning to hire a car throughout the trip. However we are also contemplating on returning our car at Sapporo as parking might be more costly there. Do u think that would be more advisable to do so? And depend on public transport during our Sapporo trip?

    3) do you think food will be a problem for my 16 month old? Shd I prepare extra food along the way or do u think I could order from the restaurants directly?

    Thank you so much in advance!!!

    Jasmine

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Sorry for the late reply. Just saw this comment because it went into spam. :p

      1) If you are arriving at Asahikawa and staying at Furano, I suggest you do Asahikawa and Asahiyama Zoo on Day 1. This way you don’t need to drive back up to Asahikawa again. I would spend the night at Asahikawa if this is after an overnight flight.

      No, why would you be bored at Furano? You are going at the best time for flowers and lavender at Furano / Biei. Take your time, admire the flowers, go cafe hopping. I would never go bored in Furano if I am there in late July – early Aug.

      In Sapporo, you can go to Otaru for one day. Then you only have 2 days left in Sapporo. If you are bored, just go cafe hopping. Sapporo is all about food for me.

      2) If you are going to Otaru, looking at the number of people you have, I would keep the car. If you have the car in Sapporo, I highly recommend visiting Takino Suzuran Hillside Park. It is a very nice park with lots of stuff for the kids to play and flowers and waterfalls for adults to admire, and it is best visited with a rental car. So if I were you, I would just keep the car all the way.

      3) Are you giving your 16 year old outside food yet? When my boy was around that age, he was already eating egg sushi, udon, fish with rice etc. We also buy bread and fresh fruits for him.

      • ninjamummy says:

        hi love your blogs and i m needing some help here… i m looking into a 10-12 days trip in 25 may 2017 onwards for my kids 6years

        i was wondering if its worthwhile to make a trip to kushiro during this time as it seemed to be quite a far drive. is there any interesting to the kids?

        i m exploring to fly into kushiro/asahigawa/hakodate and out from sapporo so that i can drag to go to furano and biei to see flowers in 1st week of june..
        places i thinking to explore.. furano biei lake toya otaru sapporo. so not sure if i shld add on kushiro as o have never been there

        • bumblebeemum says:

          Kushiro is not particularly kids-friendly. It just happens to be near Akan National Park and I enjoy letting my kids roam around the lakes and soak in the nature at Akan National Park. I would go to the region for Akan National Park, not Kushiro per say. Know what I mean?

  10. Est says:

    Hello b.b mum
    Thank you for your very detailed and pictured blog. It’s amazing how u can detail ur trips so clearly including all the food u ate!

    I’m going to Hokkaido this mid April 2016 w my family. There r 6 of us.. And our first time there. We bought multi city tickets flying in to Sapporo and out of Hakodate. Could you kindly review the following itinerary?

    Sun: Reach CTS 11am
    Sapporo 2nights (otaru canal on monday via train)
    Tues: Sapporo to lake toya
    Wed: drive to niseko, stay one night
    Thurs: drive to Hakodate
    Sat: evening flight out of Hakodate

    Greatly appreciate if u have any suggestions! Would u recommend niseko? Mainly going there for milk kobo n to see snow. Hehe
    I’m hoping to try as many of the yummy food u recommended in your blog!
    The road would still be wet/snowy I assume?

    I have yet booked any accommodations.. hope to hear from u! Thanks!

  11. Mr Ng says:

    Hi bumblebee mum, great blog you have out here! 🙂

    I am planning a family trip of 4 (with parents) to Hokkaido from 12 to 23 May. we are trying to avoid self drive as we have some reservation on driving on different sides of roads from Singapore. would like to seek your advice on my itinerary and any tips if possible.

    Thanks! 🙂

    (12 May)Day 1- Chitose airport to Hakodate (rest)
    Day 2- Hakodate
    Day 3 and 4- Lake Toya or Noboribetsu (possible by JR train right?)
    Day 5-Asahikawa
    Day 6-Takinoue/ Higashimoto Shibazakura (is there any day trips or easily accessible by public transport?)
    Day 7- Furano/Biei? (but I was researching online but didn’t see any day trips in mid may and not really accessible by public transport)
    Day 8- Last few days in Otaru and Sapporo (isit too many days?)

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Erm… Japan and Singapore use the same side of the road. I do suggest you consider self-driving for Takinoue and Furano / Biei. Singaporeans usually have little problems driving in Hokkaido in summer.

      Also, I will push up Otaru and Sapporo and go to the shibazakura fields toward the end of the trip to allow more time for the flowers to bloom.

      The onsen towns of Lake Toya and Noboribetsu both require a cab ride from the nearest train stations.

      This is what I would suggest:

      12 May: CTS – Hakodate
      13 May: Hakodate
      14 May: Hakodate – Toya
      15 May: Toya
      16 May: Toya – Sapporo
      17 May: Sapporo (day trip to Otaru)
      18 May: Sapporo
      19 May: Sapporo – Asahikawa
      20 May: (self-drive) Day trip to Furano / Biei
      21 May: (self-drive) Day trip to Takinoue & Kamiyubetsu tulip park. (I don’t recommend going all the way to Higashimokoto as it is very far.)
      22 May: Asahikawa – CTS
      23 May: Flight home

  12. Alicia says:

    Hi bumblebee mum! Great blog u have here 🙂

    Just want to get some advice, i have booked hotels at hakodate (2nights) and sapporo (7nights) respectively. My family wishes to take day trips to asashikawa, otaru as well as noboribetsu from sapporo. Would u suggest we get the 4 day flexible hokkaido jr pass in this case? Thanks 🙂

    • bumblebeemum says:

      You mean you want to use the 4 day pass for the following 4 days?

      1) Sapporo – Hakodate
      2) Hakodate – Sapporo
      3) Sapporo – Asahikawa – Sapporo
      4) Sapporo – Noboribetsu – Sapporo

      If it is then yes, you can use the 4-Day flexi Hokkaido rail pass.

  13. NCL says:

    Hi Bumblebeemum

    My family(2A2C) is going Hokkaido on self drive arriving on 31 May and return on 7 Jun.
    Would like to tap on your advice on our itinerary as follows :
    Day 1 – arrive at Saporro
    Day 2 – pick up car and drive to Otaru
    Day 3 – Otaru to Lake Toya
    Day 4 – Lake Toya to Noboribetsu
    Day 5 – Noboribetsu to Rera outlet to Furano
    Day 6 – Furano to Biei to Sounkyo
    Day 7 – Sounkyo to Takinoue park,Kamiyubetsu Tulip Park,to Asahikawa zoo to Sapporo
    Day 8 – Return SG

    • bumblebeemum says:

      You should go Takinoue and Kamiyubetsu at the start of your trip. If you go at the end, it would be too late for shibazakura and tulips.

      Also, you will not have time to do Takinoue, Kamiyubetsu and Asahikawa Zoo in one day. I am not sure what time you arrive on day 1 and whether you can squeeze in Asahiyama Zoo on Day 1. But you should head up North right away once you arrive if you want to catch the shibazakura and tulips. So you pretty much need to reverse your itinerary.

      Day 1 – CTS – Asahikawa
      Day 2 – Asahikawa – Takinoue – Kamiyubetsu – Sounkyo
      Day 3 – Sounkyo – Biei – Furano
      Day 4 – Furano – Rera Outlet – Noboribetsu
      Day 5 – Noboribetsu – Lake Toya
      Day 6 – Lake Toya – Otaru
      Day 7 – Otaru – Sapporo
      Day 8 – Sapporo – CTS

      • NCL says:

        Thanks for your advice.
        But I have booked nonrefundable hotels for Sapporo.
        So I will give up staying at Otaru.
        Is it worth staying Furano Biei 2 nights and staying at Noboribetsu?

        So what do you think about my new plan?
        Day 1 – CTS – Sapporo
        Day 2 – Sapporo – Asahikawa – Takinoue – Sounkyo
        Day 3 – Sounkyo – Kamiyubetsu – Biei
        Day 4 – Furano Biei
        Day 5 – Furano – Rera Outlet – Nobo
        Day 5 – Nobo
        Day 6 – Lake Toya
        Day 7 – Lake Toya – Otaru – Sapporo
        Day 8 – Sapporo – CTS

        • bumblebeemum says:

          Hmm… I would put Kamiyubetsu and Takinoue together on Day 2 and shift Asahikawa to Day 3.

          Day 1 – CTS – Sapporo
          Day 2 – Sapporo – Takinoue – Kamiyubetu – Sounkyo
          Day 3 – Sounkyo – Asahikawa – Biei
          Day 4 – Furano Biei

          The rest of the itinerary looks good.

          • Neo Ching Leong says:

            Hi Bumblebeemum,
            Thanks a lot for your help.
            Looks like Day 2 will be a long day.
            And have to book 2 nights Lake Toya as Noboribetsu become so expensive.

            • bumblebeemum says:

              Yeah.. No choice since you already booked hotel in Sapporo. But I’m sure it can be done because there are day trips from Sapporo to visit Takinoue and Kamiyubetsu.

              You can also try booking 1 night in Niseko if you don’t want to spend 2 nights in the same hotel at Lake Toya. For your dates, accommodation in Niseko should be very cheap. It will be super deserted frankly, but I like. Haha…

  14. rochelle says:

    Hi
    We are a family with 4 and 7 years old kids travelling to hokkaido in mid jun.
    2 specific questions to seek your advice
    1) on our way from otaru to tomamu, is there anywhere we can stop, sightsee ?
    2) we intend to take a wildlife cruise. I am debating between utoro or rausu? I think the kids are interested in wild life but am worried we cant see any on the rausu cruise. Please advise

    Thanks

    • bumblebeemum says:

      1) Are you driving? If you are, you can stop for a break at Chitose Rera Outlet. But this requires you to exit the tollway and go back in again. The drive from Otaru to Tomamu uses expressway all the way. So for this case, I usually just stop at the roadside stations along the expressway (those labelled PA or SA).

      2) I haven’t tried the wildlife cruises. Maybe you can contact the cruise operator to check with them what are the chances of spotting whales on the Rausu cruise. If it isn’t very high, then go for the Utoro cruise instead. The brown bear sighting cruise looks interesting. But again, do check with them if brown bear sightings are guaranteed.

  15. Xiuyue says:

    Hihi,
    Thanks for sharing all the informative sharing.
    Can I seek your opinion for my plan from 9 to 19 June?
    9th June: Chitose airport – Sapporo
    10th June: Sapporo – Shiroi Kob – Sapporo
    11th June: Day trip by train from Sapporo to Otaru to Sapporo
    12th June: Rent car – Sapporo – Niseko
    13th June: Niseko – Hakodate
    14th June: Hakodate – Lake Toya
    15th June: Lake Toya – Noboribetsu
    16th June: Noboribetsu – Furano
    16th June to 19th June: Stay in Furano and explore Furano/ Biei/ Asahikawa
    19th June: Furano to Chitose airport (2p.m. flight)
    Can you also advise if I should take the HEP or just rent etc pass?
    Thanks!

    • bumblebeemum says:

      If you pick up the car at Sapporo and return it to CTS, you cannot get the HEP because HEP requires the car to be returned to the same outlet it was picked up from. If you can get an ETC card at a nominal fee, you should consider doing so.

  16. Jun says:

    Hi, good reference. We rent a car but the shop does not sell HEP, do u know can we rent it from other shop just only the HEP?

  17. ivy says:

    Hi Bumblebeemum, did you self-drive for hokkaido all the time?? alternative is take train? or it doesn’t get to those area?

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Yeah.. I tried train on my first trip to Hokkaido and found the train network very sparse and infrequent in Hokkaido as compared to mainland Japan. And in Hokkaido, the best places to visit are the rural areas which are hard to access by train and much nicer to just drive around.

  18. Amanda Tay says:

    Hi Bubblebeemum, will be heading to Hokkaido from 31st May – 6th June
    Would like you to kindly advice if this itinerary is good/feasible?

    Day 1: Reach Kansai airport, check into Kansai airport hotel
    Day 2: Chitose airport – Sapporo
    Day 3: Sapporo – Biei (Just for Shikisai no Oka) – Asahikawa (Walk around +
    Asahikawa Ramen Village) – Sapporo
    Day 4: Sapporo – Odori – Maruyama Koen – Sapporo
    Day 5: Sapporo – Otaru – Sapporo
    Day 6: Sapporo – Sapporo Central Wholesale Market – Shiroi Koibito Park –
    Sapporo Beer Museum – Susukino – Sapporo
    Sapporo
    Day 7: Sapporo – Chitose Airport to fly to Osaka

    Airbnb is in Sapporo and paid for so we have to travel back to Sapporo daily

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Are you driving on Day 3? If you are, the itinerary looks feasible. 🙂

      • Amanda says:

        Hi, no we’ll be taking the JR. Also would you recommend I do Shikisai no Oka on Day 3 or Day 6? Will the flowers have bloomed yet?

        • Amanda says:

          Slight change in itinerary for Day 3.
          Day 3: Sapporo – Nakafurano (for Saika no Sato) – Tomita Melon House – Bibaushi (for Shikisai no Oka) – Asahikawa (for Aoba ramen just next to Asahikawa Station) – Sapporo

          Will this be too rushed? Taking the JR

        • bumblebeemum says:

          The main rainbow flower fields would not have bloomed yet. To give you an idea, these are some photos of Shikisai no Oka we took in late June:


          Frankly if I didn’t have a car, I wouldn’t think it was worth the hassle of going to Biei just for Shikisai no Oka in early June. I recommend you rent a car from Sapporo for one day to drive to Biei. The beauty of Biei at that time is not so much of the flower fields, but really the feeling of driving around the countryside along Panorama Road and Patchwork Road.

          • Amanda says:

            Do you recommend I go visit the Tomita Melon House instead? Sorry for so many questions, have not been to this part of Japan before.

            • Amanda says:

              And what about Saika no Sato, would the flowers have bloomed?

              • bumblebeemum says:

                Let me try to answer all your questions at one go.

                Firstly, you really need a car for the Furano / Biei region if you want to cover it in one day. You can take JR up to Asahikawa or Biei and rent a car from there if you want to minimise driving. But using public transport to get around Furano and Biei is really quite a pain. If you have time, yes you can slowly wait for the train. The train comes like every 1 – 2 hours? If you miss one, you will be waiting at least another hour for the next train. Furthermore, to get from Bibaushi to Shikisai no Oka is a 2km distance – if you are walking, it is quite a long walk. Also, I don’t think the train will stop at Lavender Batake station (where Tomita farm / Tomita Melon House is) on your dates. It only stops there during flowering season if I’m not mistaken. You will need to use Nakafurano station, which is again about 2km to Tomita Farm / Tomita Melon House. So if you are rushing, public transport won’t do. You will spend all your time waiting for the train and walking to and fro the station and your destination.

                If you have a car, yes you can go to Tomita Melon House. Without one, it is going to be extremely rushed.

                And nope, I don’t think the flowers at Saika No Sato will be blooming that early in June also.

                • Amanda says:

                  Thank you so much for answering my endless queries >.<

                  What if we were to take a cab from Nakafurano Station to Tomita Melon Farm? Is it easy to flag one? Also where else do you recommend we go to see flower fields since Shiksai no Oka and Saika no Sato flowers are barely blooming. As we have already purchased 5 days JR rail pass, I don't think we wish to spend more money renting a car.

                  • bumblebeemum says:

                    I have never tried flagging a cab in Furano before so I’m really not sure how easy it is to get one or how much it would cost. But I guess if you are going to Tomita Melon Farm, you should go to Tomita Farm as well since they are just next to each other. Make your effort of getting there from Nakafurano worth it. :p

  19. DN Ng says:

    Hi, Bumblebeemum,

    Can you please advice for my itinerary as follows from 29th May to 3 June 16 :

    Day 1 29th Chitose Airport – Check in hotel
    Day 2 30th Sapporo
    Day 3 31st (Rent car) Sapporo – Furano – Biei ( Overnight in Biei)
    Day 4 1st June Higashimokoto -Asahikawa Zoo – Kamiyubetsu – Takinoue- Sapporo
    Day 5 2nd June Sapporo
    Day 6 3rd June Sapporo – Flight to Tokyo

    Is it too rush for day 4 ? We had booked the hotel on day 5 in Sapporo, so unable to overnight in Asahikawa.

    Thank you.

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Definitely Higashimokoto will be too far and rushed for you. Day 4 is not feasible. If you want to try to catch the shibazakura, go to Takinoue as early in your trip as possible. I would head North the moment I arrive.

      Day 1: CTS – Asahikawa
      Day 2: Day trip from Asahikawa to Takinoue and Kamiyubetsu
      Day 3: Asahiyama Zoo – Biei / Furano
      Day 4: Biei / Furano – Sapporo
      Day 5: Sapporo
      Day 6: Sapporo – flight back

  20. monica tham says:

    also for food!!! 😉

  21. JJ says:

    Dear bumblebee mum,

    Thanks for ur sharing! U r awesome. We r back in town from Hokkaido. This was a memorable family trip. We catched Unkai, shibazakura!
    Too bad It was a rainy day when we visited Furano and Ningle Terrace. Weather was freezing cold. I know it’s too early for flower viewing as there were no flower blooming at Flowerland and Tomita Lavender farm. However, we enjoyed great dinner at Kumagera! 🙂

    • bumblebeemum says:

      I’m so envious that you caught shibazakura! We were too late for them when we were there in June.

      The weather in Hokkaido was absolutely crazy wasn’t it? I heard it even snowed a few days before we were there! Our whole family fell sick because of the colder than expected weather.. You would think we would have known better after going there so many times, but no.. Hokkaido still surprises me when it comes to its erratic weather.

      Glad you enjoyed your dinner at Kumagera!

  22. SP says:

    Dear bumblebee mum,

    Your blog is amazingly detailed and useful. U have no idea how much it helps me to crystalize my plans to Hokkaido this August.

    It will be a week trip + 2 adults+ self drive (hubby only) from 10 Aug to 16 Aug. My itinerary is as follows. Could u help me to see if improvements are needed:

    10th – Day 1: Arrive at CTS (10 am)- drive to Noboribetsu (staying at Hotel Mahoroba for a night for the onsen experience)
    11th- Day 2: Depart for Lake Toya- tour Lake Toya surroundings- spend a night a Sapporo (mainly because i want to let hubs take a break from the driving)
    12th- Day 3: Depart for Furano- will stay 3D2N at Furano
    13th Day 4: Furano/Biei
    14th Day 5: Furano to Sapporo- tour Sapporo city- stay a night at Holiday Inn (return car once we hit city)
    15th Day 6: Sapporo- Otaru (via train)- Sapporo
    16th Day 7: Outlet shopping AM => Chitose Airport (flight at 3pm, so not much time at outlet actually)

    (I can’t afford to squeeze in Hokadate).

    Do let me know what you think of this arrangement? Most of my accom is booked except for that night at Sapporo after Lake Toya. I m still undecided if that is a good move.

    Secondly, I booked Hotel Mahoroba via their website and it seems slightly cheaper than 3 party sites. I have got a booking confirmation, but since i didn’t supply my credit card, I m not sure if my booking is confirmed or not. Do u have experience booking with the hotel direct?

    Thirdly, is parking in the attractions usually free? (like Cheese factory or the lavender farms…especially during August? To be honest i m quite worried bumming up against hordes of Chinese tourists).

    Lastly, i m going with Times for car rental. They are pretty decent ya? I need a reliable GPS from them!

    Thanks so much for your advice!

    • bumblebeemum says:

      For Day 2, why do you want to spend the night at Sapporo instead of Lake Toya? I would spend the night at Lake Toya instead.

      In Japan when you book directly with the hotel, they usually do not require credit card confirmation. They just assume you will honour your booking. They are honest like that. So as long as you have the booking confirmation, your booking is confirmed and you just pay them when you check in.

      Most attractions around Furano and Biei have free parking. Nothing you can do about the hordes of tourists. They will be there.

      Yup, TIMES is pretty decent. All rental cars I have used in Japan came with reliable GPS. Just make sure you have the telephone numbers and map codes of your destinations on hand.

      • Anonymous says:

        Hey Bumblebeemum!

        Thanks a lot for your advice! Did u just come back from another holiday?

        The reason for the 11th day-stay over Sapporo instead of Late Toya is purely a stopover point, before driving up to Furano the next day. I plan to stay mostly in Lake Toya and heading back to Sapporo to sleep at night. But if the driving distance between Toya and Furano is not long at all, i will take your advice. 🙂

        • bumblebeemum says:

          Yeah, I just came back from Hokkaido.

          It may look like Sapporo is much nearer to Furano on the map, but truth is getting in and out of Sapporo is annoying due to the numerous traffic lights. It takes a long time just to get from Sapporo City Centre to the expressway. Whereas at Lake Toya, you hit the expressway almost immediately after leaving the onsen town. So if you drive straight from Lake Toya to Furano, it may look like a long 3 hours drive. But if you add up the time to drive from Lake Toya to Sapporo and Sapporo to Furano, the total time is like 4.5 hours at least?

          • Anonymous says:

            Oh thanks for the great tip! Yes I have changed my hotel booking to stay a night at Lake Toya! 🙂
            Last question (I promise), a friend told me by mid August, the lavenders would be mostly gone. i m in Furano from 12-14 Aug..based on your experience, do u think i will be able to catch the sights of lavender fields?

            • bumblebeemum says:

              You may.. I heard the farms start taking out the lavender some time in mid August but I don’t know the exact date they actually do it. Even if the lavender are gone, there are other flowers. Don’t fret too much over it and enjoy whatever flowers there are! 🙂

              • SP says:

                Hi Bumblebee Mum, I just came back from my trip Hokkaido and I wanted to drop a note to express my gratitude for your tips and advice- whether it was food, accommodation, routes, map codes(super useful!!) etc. My husband said it was a trip-following-the-steps-of-bumblebee-mum. It would not have been possible without your blog/help. I will definitely be making a trip back to Hokkaido soon!

  23. Jo says:

    Hi Bumblebeemum!

    I am really impressed with your detailed info on Hokkaido. Kudos!

    I am a trip to Hokkaido in 3rd week of November (12 to 19) and will be arriving at Sapporo airport ard 1655pm.

    I would like seek your advice on

    1. accommodation
    2. food
    3. place of interest

    I’m with 4 adults, 2 teens (12 & 13) and 2 children (11). We have no plan to ski so will skip the ski resort. Would definitely want to try onsen resort and would like to explore on sight seeing and food.

    Thinking of staying just Sapporo city for couple of days and another place for few days. What would be your recommendation.

    Many thanks

    • bumblebeemum says:

      For sightseeing and food, you can go to Hakodate. You can do something like this:

      12/11: CTS – Sapporo
      13/11: Sapporo
      14/11: Sapporo
      15/11: Sapporo (day trip to Otaru)
      16/11: Sapporo – Noboribetsu / Lake Toya (onsen)
      17/11: Noboribetsu / Lake Toya – Hakodate
      18/11: Hakodate – CTS
      19/11: Flight back

      If you are using public transport, I suggest you stay somewhere near Sapporo station. E.g. JR Inn Sapporo. At Noboribetsu, I like Hotel Mahoroba. At Lake Toya, I like Toya Sunpalace for somewhere more budget-friendly, but if you are willing to splurge, I heard Nonokaze is really good. And for Hakodate, I like the location of Hakodate Kokusai Hotel / La Vista Hakodate Bay.

      • Jo says:

        Hi Bumblebeemum

        Many thanks for your recommendation and really appreciate it. Do you recommend airbnb in Hokkaido? I was thinking of self-drive, do you think it is advisable during November?

        My arrival is about 1655 hour on 12 Nov and departing 1930 hour on 19 Nov. What’s the hotel recommendation in Sapporo for 3Adult (actually, my elder already 12 yo) and 1 kid (11 yo – small build).

        Should we stay at hotel in Noboribetsu or Lake Toya? Don’t quite like the idea of one night in each city.

        Look forward to your comments.

        Thanks

        • bumblebeemum says:

          For the above route, self-driving is not absolutely necessary. Though you will probably find convenience in having a car just for the day at Lake Toya if you want to go to Lake Toya.

          In winter, just in case it snows, I do recommend you stay near Sapporo station if you are using the train. You will probably need to book two twin/double rooms as family rooms are not very easy to find in Japan. I did manage to book a quad room at APA Hotel Sapporo Susukino-EkiNishi during my recent trip, but that hotel is not great in terms of accessibility by public transport.

          You only have enough time for either Noboribetsu or Lake Toya. Personally I prefer Lake Toya.

          • Jo says:

            Dear Bumblebeemum

            What do you think of this itinerary:

            12 Nov: Day One – Singapore to Hokkaido via TZ 216 (0615/1655)
            – Collect car @ CTS airport – Noburibetsu Onsen (approx. 45 mins to an hour drive)
            – Arrived Noburibetsu Onsen (Recommended Onsen: Noburibetsu Grand Hotel or Hotel Mahoroba)

            13 Nov: Day Two – Noburibetsu
            14 Nov: Day Three – Noburibetsu / Hokodate
            – Drive to Hokodate (approx. 3 hours)
            15 Nov: Day Four – Hokodate
            – Arrived early evening – dinner (Recommended hotel: Hokodate Kokusai Hotel / La Vista Hakodate Bay)
            16 Nov: Day Five – Hokodate / Sapporo
            – Drive to Sapporo (approx. 4 hours) (Recommended hotel: Mecure Hotel or Excel Hotel or JR Inn Sapporo)
            17 Nov: Day Six – Sapporo
            18 Nov: Day Seven – Sapporo
            – Otaru
            19 Nov: Day Eight –Hokkaido to Singapore via TZ 215 (1930/0450)

            How is it?

            • bumblebeemum says:

              Day 1: You will probably be driving in the dark because of short daylight hours. If you’re not comfortable with that, I suggest you spend the first night at Air Terminal Hotel and pick up the car the next morning to drive to Noboribetsu.

              The rest of your itinerary looks good, not too rushed. I would actually fit in a stop at Lake Toya on Day 5 to break up the drive from Hakodate to Sapporo. No need to stay there, just stop by the lake side to enjoy the scenery and maybe have lunch there before driving on.

              • Jo says:

                Thanks thanks! Yes, we will stop by Lake Toya. What would be most convenient transport – self-drive or train?

                • bumblebeemum says:

                  Self-driving would be more convenient if you would like to visit Noboribetsu Onsen and Lake Toya as these two places are not directly accessible by train.

                  • Jo says:

                    Hi Bumblebeemum

                    Thanks for adv on the arrival at airport. I decided to stay in Sapporo first then venture out to Noboribetsu and Hokodate via self drive.

                    I’m having huge trouble now to look for quad rooms…. seems like all hotels are full already 🙁

  24. Michelle0929 says:

    Hi Bumblebeemum,

    My family is planning to go Hokkaido in end May 2017 for about 8 to 9 days (end May to early June). There are 6 to 8 of us (including 2 kids – 11 yrs and 13 yrs).

    This is our first trip to Hokkaido and will appreciate if you could advise the following:

    a. Any recommend itinerary?

    b. Where should we stay (preferably lesser change of hotel, may be max 2 to 3 change)

    c. We are also considering self drive, please advise what is more convenience, public transport or self-drive.

    d. Any places of interest that we should not missed during this period of staying (end May to early Jun)

    Look forward to hearing from you. Thank you.

    • bumblebeemum says:

      For you dates, I do suggest you visit Takinoue for shibazakura at the start of your trip. So head up to Asahikawa and do a day trip of Takinoue shibazakura park and Kamiyubetsu tulip farm from there. You can also do a day trip to Biei from Asahikawa. After that, you can come back down to Sapporo. From Sapporo, you can do day trips to Otaru, Lake Toya, Noboribetsu. Hopefully you will also be able to catch the Yosakoi Soran Festival in Sapporo towards the end of your trip.

  25. Marcella says:

    Hi Bumblebee mom,

    I will have a short visit to Japan around mid-June, and since my flight will be to and from Haneda, there’s something I want to know:
    1. Is it possible now to use JR pass from Tokyo to Hokkaido?
    2. Since it’s only a short visit, do you have any recommended itinerary in Hokkaido for 3 days 2 night there? I honestly interested in the flower fields, but I’m not sure about the season.
    3. For the lodging, do you have any budgeted recommendation on that too?

    I am actually conflicted to plan my trip, whether to visit Hokkaido for that very short time, or just focused on exploring the mainland. If you deemed it a waste to only have three days there, I will completely understand..

    Thanks in advance!!

    • bumblebeemum says:

      1. Yes, you can use JR Pass for the shinkansen between Tokyo and Hokkaido.

      2. Mid June is too early for the flower fields. If you use the rail and for a short trip, you are more likely looking at Southern Hokkaido (i.e. Hakodate).

      3. For budget accommdation, you can try the hotel chains like Super Hotel or Toyoko Inn.

      Yeah, if it’s just a short trip, it doesn’t seem to warrant the time to go all the way to Hokkaido just for a few days. I would just focus on mainland actually.

  26. TC says:

    Hi bumblebeemum, I stumbled upon your blog when googling for Hokkaido itinerary. We as a group of 6 have booked flight tickets to Hokkaido during mid April (16 to 23) next year. And we just realized that mid April is actually not the best time to visit Hokkaido as the unkai Terrance and zoo are both not open :(((

    Hence we might resort to visiting the following places:
    a) Lake Toya
    b) Niseko
    c) Noboribesu
    d) Otaru
    e) Hakodate
    f) Is furano and biei worth going? We wanted to see some flowers too if possible.

    How would you go with these places and is there any other places that you would recommend going?

    Hope to hear from you soon thanks!

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Yeah.. Mid April is change of season.. Change of season is never the best time to visit Hokkaido. But that also usually means accommodation is cheaper, so all is not lost. :p

      Places like Lake Toya, Noboribetsu, Otaru, Hakodate and Sapporo are nice to visit regardless of season. Niseko Hirafu ski area should still be operating – they usually operate till the end of Golden Week. But I would give Furano and Biei a miss. April is too early for flowers.

  27. YS says:

    I’m planning a family trip (self-drive) with my 2 daughters (7y, 5y), husband, my parents, sis and bro to hokkaido next year around 27May to 4June.
    Thinking to visit below places. Can advise the itinerary to cover below?
    – lake toya
    – noboribetsu
    – hakodata
    – otaru
    – sapporo
    – furano
    – SHIBAZAKURA & TULIPS…

    Thanks.

    • bumblebeemum says:

      You don’t look like you have enough time to cover everything from shibazakura to Hakodate, unless you fly into Asahikawa and out of Hakodate. If you are able to do that, your itinerary would be something like this:

      27 May: Fly into Asahikawa
      28 May: Asahikawa (Day trip to Takinoue + Kamiyubetsu)
      29 May: Asahikawa – Sapporo
      30 May: Sapporo
      31 May: Sapporo (day trip to Otaru)
      1 June: Sapporo – Noboribetsu
      2 June: Noboribetsu – Lake Toya
      3 June: Lake Toya – Hakodate
      4 June: Fly out from Hakodate

  28. Astrid Wiliandry says:

    Hi Bumblebeemum, You are inspiring 🙂

    Planning for Hokkaido Trip June 1 – 10, will this route is still realistic (have flowers) Takinoue-Kamiyubetsu-Higashimokoto by then and since we will be travelling with JR Pass, can we access them (our international driving license is not valid for Japan hiks).

    Hope you can englight me 🙂

    • bumblebeemum says:

      There would probably still be shibazakura at Takinoue, but how much is left by June really depends on the weather. What I did when I was in Hokkaido this June was that I followed their Facebook page for flowering updates:
      https://www.facebook.com/takinouekanko/

      They posted photos when shibazakura were in season and from there, I could roughly see how much shibazakura was still left when I was there to decide whether or not it was worth to drive all the way to Takinoue (which we eventually didn’t).

      Without a rental car, the best way to visit Takinoue + Kamiyubetsu would be to join a day tour from Sapporo like this one:
      http://www.yokoso-japan.jp/en/22880.html

  29. Ivie says:

    Hi Bumblebeemum

    This is our 1st trip to Hokkaido arriving on 30 May 8am and departing on 9 June 10am. Intend to do self drive and go to the following places

    Asahikawa
    Furano
    Biei
    Lake Toya
    Otaru
    Noboribetsu
    Hakodate

    Are you able to suggest for our itinerary?

    Thanks alot in advance

    • bumblebeemum says:

      You can do something like the following:

      30 May: CTS – Asahikawa
      31 May: Asahikawa (day trip to Takinoue & kamiyubetsu)
      1 June: Asahikawa – Biei – Furano
      2 June: Furano – Sapporo
      3 June: Sapporo (day trip to Otaru)
      4 June: Sapporo
      5 June: Sapporo – Lake Toya
      6 June: Lake Toya – Hakodate
      7 June: Hakodate – Noboribetsu
      8 June: Noboribetsu – CTS
      9 June: Morning flight back

  30. ShiYing says:

    Hi! Will you consider doing a spring edition of places to visit? (: or any tips on which of the places you have highlighted in all your itineraries that would be worth a visit in spring during cherry blossoms period? (Early may)

    • bumblebeemum says:

      HAHAHA.. I have never been to Japan in Spring before! And the unfortunate thing about visiting Hokkaido particularly for cherry blossom is that their cherry blossom season coincides with Golden Week. Until I have personally been there to experience how bad it is, I’m not sure what to recommend. For now, I just tell everyone to avoid golden week if they can. :p

  31. PL says:

    Dear Bumblebeemum,

    I will be travelling to Hokkaido from end May to early June with my family of 4 adults and 1 child (8 year old). We are planning to hire a car for most of our journey. Following is my itinerary and I need some help/suggestions on Day 2…

    27 May Day 1 – Arrive Asahikawa Airport at 9:30am – Ramen Village – Takinoue – Monbetsu
    28 May Day 2 – Monbetsu – Yubetsu – Sapporo
    Questions: from google map, the drive from Yubetsu to Sapporo is approx 4 hours. May I know whether you have any suggestions on interesting places that we can stop along the way and also to eat lunch. Otherwise, 4 hours on the road seems a bit boring.
    29 May Day 3 – Sapporo – Otaru – Sapporo
    30 May Day 4 – Saporro
    31 May Day 5 – Sapporo – Noboribetsu
    1 June Day 6 – Noboribetsu – Lake Toya
    2 June Day 7 – Lake Toya – Hakodate
    3 June Day 8 – Hakodate (flight depart at 7:30pm)

  32. Shan says:

    Hi Bumblebee mum,

    I am planning my first trip (2 adults + 2 kids, 4 yrs and 5 yrs) to Hokkaido mid/end July 2017.

    Day 1 : Singapore to Asahikawa (Stay at Asahikawa)
    Day 2 : Biei (rent a car)
    Day 3 : Furano (rent a car)
    Day 4 : Hokuryu (rent a car)
    Day 5* : Asahikawa to Sapporo (Stay at Sapporo) (1-way fare: 2490 yen)
    Day 6 : Sapporo
    Day 7* : Otaru (Day trip) (2-way fare: 1280 yen)
    Day 8 : Shakotan (Day tour)
    Day 9* : Sapporo to Lake Toya (Side trip to Cape Chikyu and stay at Lake Toya) (1-way fare: 3330 yen)
    Day 10* : Lake Toya to Hakodate (Stay at Hakodate) (1-way fare: 2810 yen)
    Day 11 : Hakodate
    Day 12*: Hakodate to Tokyo (Stay at Tokyo) (1-way fare: 11880 yen)
    Day 13 : Tokyo
    Day 14 : Tokyo – Singapore
    * = Rail Pass?

    Appreciate if you could advise the following:

    Do you think my itinerary make sense? Any suggestions on how to improve it?
    I am not sure if it is a good idea to stay at Asahikawa for Day1-4. What is your recommendation?
    Is it possible to cover Furano and Biei in 1 day?
    The total fares (21790 yen) from Hyperdia shows that it is not worth for me to get any JR rail pass. Did I miss out anything?

    Thanks alot in advance!

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Yup, your itinerary makes sense.

      If you want to minimise change of hotel, then staying in Asahikawa makes sense. One day each for Furano and Biei is okay. It really depends on how many attractions and flower fields you plan to visit and how long you intend to stay at each one. One day is enough to take in the main sights, but if you want to linger longer or visit more flower fields and maybe do some cherry picking, then maybe 3 days for Furano & Biei would be more relaxing. But with the time you have and the places you want to visit, your current plan looks fine.

      Which rail pass are you looking at? The Japan Rail Pass, which would cover all your indicated routes, is valid for 7 consecutive days. The Hokkaido Rail Pass doesn’t cover Hakodate to Tokyo. The JR East – South Hokkaido pass which is a flexible 6 days pass does not cover the ride from Asahikawa to Sapporo. Within Hokkaido, it only covers the Southern part, up to Otaru.

      In your fare calculation, you didn’t add in the seat fee. The rail passes also covers seat reservation (i.e. the ‘seat fee’ you see on hyperdia).

  33. Celine says:

    Hi Bumblebeemum!

    I’ve read this post a couple of times and I still could not make a decision. Thought I could get an idea from you. All the places are really really pretty. The post is really detailed and great to cover most of the options to do in early summer 🙂 We are not able to decide if we should go for Furano/Biei or Takinoue/Kamiyubetsu. My family and I will be visiting Hokkaido (Sapporo) on a very short trip next year and we only have one full day to visit other places which is 4th of June. Which one would you recommend us to go for? Looking forward to hear from you! Thanks in advance 😀

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Hmmm.. 4th June is frankly not that great for either Takinoue/Kamiyubetsu or Furano/Biei. How short is your trip and what’s the rest of your itinerary like? For short trips, I would usually recommend hanging around close to Sapporo – i.e. visit Otaru, Lake Toya, Noboribetsu etc.

  34. Swany says:

    Hello!

    I have been reading your blog for quite sometime since it is my dream to visit Hokkaido one day. Finally it seems that we will be able to go next end of June 2017.

    Could you please advise what kind of clothing we should prepare? I’m a little confused since it’s supposed to be summer but when I checked the weather forecast, it said the temperature will be around 12-18 Celcius?

    Is it necessary to bring thermal clothings? I plan to bring thermal shirt, moderately thick jacket, and probably rain proof jacket. Is it enough or too much?

    One more thing, have you ever been to Onuma? We plan to go there as day trip from Hakodate.

    Thank you 🙂

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Oh, it’s going to be cold by Singapore standards. June is kind of a transition from Spring to Summer, not fully summer yet. It can get very cold when it rains or at night. During the day, we usually wear long sleeve top and long pants / leggings. When it rains or after the sun goes down, we will put on jackets.

      The weather in Hokkaido is pretty erratic, and beginning of June last year, it even snowed. So if your luggage space allows it, sure, you can bring thermal clothing just in case of days with extreme weather. But I usually don’t. I do bring heat-tech wear from Uniqlo though (specifically their heat-tech inner wear and heat-tech fleece turtle neck).

      Yes, I have been to Onuma Koen. It is a beautiful place, you can go there if the weather is good. The last time we were there, it was raining and nobody wanted to go for a walk in the rain.. lol.

  35. Vanessa says:

    Hi BumbleBee Mum,

    Thank you for this blog. It’s been amazing!

    We are a family of 5+1 19 month toddler (at the time of travel)and we’re planning to go to Hokkaido. Here’s our itinerary:

    June 24 (Day 1) – Singapore to CTS
    June 25 (Day 2) – CTS to Hakodate
    June 26 (Day 3) – Hakodate to Toya
    June 27 (Day 4) – Toya to Sapporo
    June 28 (Day 5) – Sapporo
    June 29 (Day 6) – Sapporo (day trip to Otaru)
    June 30 (Day 7) – Sapporo to Asahikawa
    July 1 (Day 8) – Furano
    July 2 (Day 9) – Furano
    July 3 (Day 10) – Biei
    July 4 (Day 11) – Biei
    July 5 (Day 12) – any suggestions?
    July 6 (Day 13) – Asahikawa to CTS
    July 7 (Day 14) – CTS to Singapore

    A few questions:
    1. Does this itinerary make sense?
    2. Can I do this whole trip by driving? If so, where should I rent the car? Should I rent it in each of the area that I’m going to?
    3. Do car rental companies provide toddler seats for rent?

    Thanks so much!

    • bumblebeemum says:

      1. Hmmm… Heading to Hakodate immediately after a red-eye flight doesn’t seem like a good idea. Since you have an extra day, I suggest you slot in Noboribetsu at the beginning. So Day 2, CTS – Noboribetsu. Day 3 Noboribetsu – Hakodate.

      Also, there is no need to go back to Asahikawa from Furano / Biei. I suggest you go Asahikawa – Biei – Furano – CTS.

      June 24 (Day 1) – Singapore to CTS
      June 25 (Day 2) – CTS to Noboribetsu (stay Noboribetsu)
      June 26 (Day 3) – Noboribetsu – Hakodate (stay Hakodate)
      June 27 (Day 4) – Hakodate to Toya (stay Lake Toya)
      June 28 (Day 5) – Toya to Sapporo (stay Sapporo)
      June 29 (Day 6) – Sapporo (stay Sapporo)
      June 30 (Day 7) – Sapporo (day trip to Otaru) (stay Sapporo)
      July 1 (Day 8) – Sapporo to Asahikawa (stay Asahikawa)
      July 2 (Day 9) – Biei (stay Furano)
      July 3 (Day 10) – Biei (stay Furano)
      July 4 (Day 11) – Furano (stay Furano)
      July 5 (Day 12) – Furano (stay Furano)
      July 6 (Day 13) – Furano to CTS
      July 7 (Day 14) – CTS to Singapore

      2. Yes you can. You should just rent the car from CTS, drive it all the way and return it to CTS.

      3. Yes. Some charge for them, some don’t. But I’ve always rented my car seats from the car rental companies.

      • Vanessa says:

        Thanks BumbleBee Mum!

        One more questions about driving – is it better to take JR to Noboribetsu, Hakodate and Toya (the first part of the trip) rather than driving to those places?

        I’m not too sure what to do with a 19 months old at that time – just worried that he’ll be restless during long hours of drive.

        • bumblebeemum says:

          Actually I find driving with young children much easier than taking the train with them. At least for my boys. They tend to sleep in their car seats when we drive, but when we take trains, they can’t sleep. And even if they get restless when we drive, we can just pull over at a roadside station. And when they make noise, they are just disturbing the family members in the car – not the rest of a train carriage.

  36. Mary Joan Lee says:

    Greeting from Malaysia
    4 of us will be having a self drive holiday Hokkaido this coming may 28 to june 10
    So far, here is my planned itinerary:
    May 28 – 11.30 am reach Shin Chitose Airport take car to Jyozankei & Toya
    May 29 – Lake Toya
    May 30 – drive to Hokadate
    May 31- Hokadate
    June 1- drive from H okadate to Noboribetsuat over night tomamu
    June 2- if in luck see Unkai in tomamu and to Furano
    June 3- Furano and Biel

    June 4 – Furano to Mt Asahidake (plan to stay in Ashikawa)
    June 5- Sounkyo Onsen
    June 6- from Ashikawa drive back to Sapporo(return car)
    June7-day trip to Otaru
    June 8- Sapporo
    June 9-Sapporo
    June 10-morning flight back
    My Question is
    1. If we opt for Takinoue for the shibazakura (we worry the flowering season is over when we reach Hokkaido)how would you us to change the routing?
    2. From the itinerary, are we using a lot of toll way? If yes, should we have ETC or HEP?
    3. we are a bit tight on our budget.you think using public transport to lake Toya and Hokadate will help ?
    Thanks

    Places to eat and to stay in would also be appreciated. Thanks
    use

  37. Adeline Lim says:

    Hi Bumble Bee Mum,
    Your blog is very useful when I’m doing info gathering on Hokkaido. Reading through info from numerous sources could be quite daunting. So in the end I made the decision to read only your blog. Haha….

    It would be great if you could help to see if my proposed 4-adult self-drive summer trip itinerary is doable and not too packed.

    Day Date

    1 28/5/17 (Sun) CTS-Furano-Biei (ON)* (ON = Overnight)
    2 29/5/17 (Mon) Biei-Takinoue Park-Kamiyubetsu Tulip Park-Abashiri (ON)
    3 30/5/17 (Tue) Abashiri-L Saroma, L Notoro, Cape Notoro-Abashiri (ON)
    4 31/5/17 (Wed) Abashiri-Shiretoko Peninsula-Rausu-Shiretoko Shari (ON)
    5 1/6/17 (Thu) Shiretoko Shari-Akan-L Kussharo-Kushiro (ON)
    6 2/6/17 (Fri) Kushiro – Akkeshi / Kiritappu area – Obihiro (ON)
    7 3/6/17 (Sat) Obihiro – Sapporo (ON)
    8 4/6/17 (Sun) Sapporo – Otaru (ON)
    9 5/6/17 (Mon) Otaru – Shakotan Cape – Sapporo (ON)
    10 6/6/17 (Tue) Sapporo (ON)
    11 7/6/17 (Wed) Sapporo (ON) Yosakoi Soran Festival
    12 8/6/17 (Thu) Sapporo – CTS

    For the day of departure, we plan to book an early 7.55am flight out. Air Terminal Hotel Chitose seems a tad beyond our budget. Can you recommend any nearby accommodation that provides early shuttle to the airport?

    Also, we plan to pick up the rental car at CTS. When and where do you advise to return the car?

    Thanks.

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Your itinerary looks fine, except the part where you plan to change hotel for 1 night in Otaru then go back to Sapporo again. Though I understand the rationale for doing so is to reduce the driving to and fro Otaru and Sapporo. Tough call on which is the lesser of two evils: To keep changing hotel or to keep driving to and fro. What you may want to consider is staying at Sapporo all the way. Then drive to Shakotan on Day 8. And visit Otaru on Day 9 by train. You can then return the car on Day 8, since you don’t really need the car anymore after that for Otaru / Sapporo.

      Is your 7.55am flight a domestic flight or international flight? If it’s domestic, ANA Crowne Plaza’s first shuttle should be able to get you there in time:
      https://www.anacrowneplaza-chitose.jp/lang/english/bus.html

      Chitose Airport Hotel’s first shuttle (0615) should also get you there:
      http://www.airport-hotel.co.jp/access.html

      • Adeline Lim says:

        Thanks for the tips!
        We have not booked the flight yet. We were waiting for the air fare to drop… Haha…

        • Adeline Lim says:

          Hi again, Bumblebeemum, we sort of finalised our iti as follows :

          29/5/17 (Mon) CTS – Sapporo (ON)
          30/5/17 (Tue) Sapporo (pick up car) – Furano – Biei – Asahikawa (ON)
          31/5/17 (Wed) Asahikawa – Taiyo-no-oka Engaru Park – Kamiyubetsu Tulip Park – L Saroma area – Abashiri (ON)
          1/6/17 (Thu) Abashiri – Higashimokoto Shibazakura park – Shiretoko 5 lakes, Cape Puyuni, Furepe Falls – Utoro (ON)
          2/6/17 (Fri) Utoro – (Kaminoko ike Pond) – L Mashu – (Mt Io) – L Kussharo – L Akan (ON) – L Onneto
          3/6/17 (Sat) Akan – Obihiro (ON)
          4/6/17 (Sun) Obihiro – Noboribetsu – Lake Toya (ON)
          5/6/17 (Mon) L Toya – Kyogoku Fukidashi Park – Niseko – Otaru (ON)
          6/6/17 (Tue) Otaru – Sapporo (ON) Yosakoi Soran Festival
          7/6/17 (Wed) Chitose Air Terminal Hotel(ON)
          8/6/17 (Thu) Chitose airport

          For Otaru, I was thinking of driving up to Herring Mansion in the early morning just to have a glimpse (5 or 6am) (though they open at 9am), then Temiya park followed by breakfast at Rinyu morning market. These are our planned morning activities before hitting Sakaimachi Street since the shops only open at 9am.

          Then, visit Sumiyoshi Shrine or Suitengu Shrine, or both. Plan to spend 2 hours only for Sakaimachi street before heading to lunch at Toppii Sushi cos we plan to reach Sapporo at 1pm.

          1. Is it worth going to Herring Mansion & Otaru Kihinkan without going inside?
          2. Is 2 hours enough to cover Sakaimachi Street?
          3. Should we return the car a bit later, say 2pm?
          4. We plan to go up Mt Tengu to view the sunset & night scene. Have you been there? Do you think we should do that since we are staying one night in Otaru.

          Thanks.

          Rgds, Adeline

          • bumblebeemum says:

            In general I do find your itinerary a bit rushed. Just prioritse the places you want to visit, and be prepared to skip some spots in necessary.

            1. I’m more of a natural scenery kind of person, so I would go to Shukutsu Peninsular just to see the cape and the sea, more than to see what’s inside the Herring Mansion and Otaru Kihinkan. You can always just KIV these places and if you find you have time on hand, just pop in to have a look.

            2. If you’re just walking up and down the street to have a look at what’s there, you can finish walking in 2 hours. But you won’t be able to do any hands-on activities like glass blowing, or have time to sit at one of the cafes to have cake and coffee. That sort of thing. The first time I was in Otaru, I spent 2 days there. Because we did glass blowing, candle making, we spent quite long just checking out music boxes at the music box museum and my friend went to make a music box too. And of course we had a tea break at Le Tao, stopped at Rokkatei and Kitakaro to try samples, queued up for ice-cream and stuff like that. So yeah, it really depends on your travelling style – you can do 2 hours or 2 days.

            3. If you pick up your car in the morning of 30 May, I don’t think it makes any different if you return the car at 1pm or 2pm or even just before the rental office closes in the evening on 6 June. Because let’s say you pick up the car at 9am on 30 May, if you return it any time after 9am on 6 June, it is considered 7 days rental. So I would just make the booking till the end of the day of 6 June in case I need the car longer. If I don’t need the car, I will just retun it earlier.

            4. I’ve never been to Mount Tengu because it’s always raining when I’m in Otaru! It’s always in my list, but we end up skipping it due to bad weather. You can try it if weather is good when you’re there.

  38. Lily says:

    Hi BumbleBeeMum,

    Thank you so much for sharing your travel experience. I’ve been reading everything Hokkaido on your blog. I am planning a trip for my husband and I in May and hope you can tell me what you think of my proposed itinerary so far. This is our first trip to Hokkaido. We’ll be arriving at CTS but can fly out pretty much at any airport in Hokkaido to HND for one day in Tokyo before leaving the country. Except for the flight into CTS, I haven’t booked anything yet.

    Day1 11/5/17 (Thu) Arriving 12:30PM@CTS CTS->Sapporo (Hotel Mercure)
    Day2 12/5/17 (Fri) Sapporo
    Day3 13/5/17 (Sat) Sapporo -> Otaru -> Sapporo
    Day4 14/5/17 (Sun) Sapporo -> Asahikawa (zoo, ramen village)
    Day5 15/5/17 (Mon) Asahikawa- Biei/Furnao (worth going to this area in mid May?)
    Day6 16/5/17 (Tue) Biei/Furano – Noboribetsu (staying one night at either Hotel Mahoroba or splurging on Takinoya- any advice?)
    Day7 17/5/17 (Wed) Noboribetsu -> Hakodate (Hakodate Kokusai Hotel)
    Day8 18/5/17 (Thu) Hakodate
    Day9 19/5/17 (Friday) Hakodate => Hnd AM flight

    When should we pick up our rental car? Day 4 or Day 5? I plan on using the Hokkaido Highway Pass. (It turns out you can return the rental car with HEP to a different location with Toyota Rent-a-car: http://toyotarentacar.net/english/guide/option/hep/)

    Do you recommend we stay at the same place the night of Day 4 and 5? In Biei/Furano?

    Thank you so much.

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Mid May is not the best time for Biei and Furano, but I think it’s okay to visit since you’re at Asahikawa already. Biei’s countryside scenery is nice anytime of the year.

      I would start the car rental on Day 4.

      I would actually stay at Asahikawa on Day 4 and Furano on Day 5. Coz I don’t like to do back-and-forth driving. But if you don’t like to keep changing hotels, then I suggest you stay at Asahikawa on Day 5, especially since you plan to get the HEP. You can just take the expressway all the way from Asahikawa to Noboribetsu on Day 6, which would take about the same time as getting from Furano to Noboribetsu even though Furano is nearer to Noboribetsu distance-wise. Just that there is that extra drive from Furano back to Asahikawa that you need to do at the end of Day 5.

      • Lily says:

        Thank you so much for the tips. We have Asahikawa on the itinerary in part because of its proximity to Biei/Furano. The zoo is not a must do for us. Instead of Asahikawa/Biei/Furano, is there another area you think we should explore that time of year? Or maybe spend more time at?

        BTW, your kids are adorable and they are so lucky to start traveling at such a young age!

  39. SL says:

    Hi Bumblebeemum,

    Your blog is awesome! I will be travelling to Hokkaido on 9th to 12th Apr with my family this year. I understand that it is actually between seasons in Hokkaido and would some recommendations on where to visit in the 4 days. Is it still worth it to make a trip to Furano or Biei since the flowers will not be in bloom yet? Would it be a good idea to self drive or would there still be snow everywhere?

    • bumblebeemum says:

      There would still be snow. I wouldn’t visit Furano and Biei during your dates. With only 4 days, I would probably stay close to Sapporo. Maybe just do Sapporo, Otaru and either Lake Toya or Noboribetsu.

  40. John Tan says:

    Hi,

    Please give me your opinion on this plan. Main focus is Flowers.Food & Shop :

    5May17-New Chitose Airport-Hakodate (ANA)
    6May17-Hakodate (Sakura)
    7May17-Hakodate-LakeToya
    8May17-LakeToya-Noribetsu
    9May17-Noribetsu-Sapporo
    10May17-Sapporo(Sakura)
    11May17-Otaru Day Trip
    12May17-Sapporo-Takikawa-Asahikawa
    13May17-Asahikawa-Takinoue-Monbetsu
    14May17-Monbetsu-Kamiyubetsu-Abashiri
    15May17-Abashiri-Higashimokoto-LakeMashu-LakeAkan
    16May17-LakeAkan-Kushiro-Obihiro
    17May17-Obihiro-Tomamu-Sapporo
    18May17-Sapporo
    19May-Home

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Your date looks a bit early for shibazakura, but if you want to try, I suggest you push it all the way to the end of the trip.

      5May17- CTS – Hakodate
      6May17- Hakodate
      7May17- Hakodate – LakeToya
      8May17- Lake Toya – Noboribetsu
      9May17- Noboribetsu – Sapporo
      10May17- Sapporo
      11May17- Sapporo (day trip to Otaru)
      12May17- Sapporo – Obihiro
      13May17- Obihiro – Kushiro – Lake Akan
      14May17- Lake Akan (drive around Akan National Park)
      15May17- Lake Akan – Higashimokoto – Abashiri
      16May17- Abashiri – Kamiyubetsu – Monbetsu
      17May17- Monbetsu – Takinoue – Asahikawa
      18May17- Asahikawa – Takikawa – CTS
      19May17- Flight back

      • John Tan says:

        Hi Bumblebeemum, Thank you so much for your prompt response.

        When you says ‘shibazakura’, do you mean the one at Takinoue? You are right, if I look at the 2016 flower diary, my date is too early.

        How about Tuilp and ‘shibazakura’ at Higashimokoto – should be ok right?

        Is Takikawa also too early for my date?

        Noted you have suggested a day trip at Lake Akan (drive around Akan National Park), what would you recommend to do there?

        • bumblebeemum says:

          There’s shibazakura in both Takinoue and Higashimokoto. They usually peak end May, but I guess Higashimokoto being the bigger site, there should be more shibazakura compared to Takinoue?

          The canola in Takikawa also usually peaks end May. Just keep it to the end of the trip to increase your chances and keep fingers crossed.

          Akan National Park is a scenic area. You can take the Lake Akan sightseeing cruise:
          http://www.akankisen.com/_eng/

          For me, I just like to sit by the lakes, enjoy some snacks while soaking in the scenery. There’s a bakery called Pan de Pan near the Lake Akan sightseeing cruise pier worth visiting. You can also have lunch at Sora near Lake Kussharo – their lunch sets are pretty value for money. Then there is the foot bath at Sunayu along Lake Kussharo.

  41. ivy says:

    Hi,

    Please help me have a look at my itinerary. Need your advice.
    Travel in group of 6 including my retired parent.
    14th – 17thJune (3N) 2017 Sapporo
    17th – 18th June (2N) Hakodate
    18th – 19th June (1N) Otaru
    19th – 21st June (2N) Asahikawa
    21st – 22nd June (1N) Furano
    22nd – 23rd June (1N) Sapporo (APA Hotel Susukino-Ekinishi)
    24th June – Departure time 0920 Chitose Airport
    We will rent car from 17th to 22nd. Will it be in time if we catch earliest train to airport.
    Not sure which route we should use from Sapporo to Hakodate to Otaru to Asahikawa. Sincerely need your help. Thanks in advance.

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Hmm.. I would visit Otaru while I am in Sapporo. Then between Hakodate and Asahikawa, I would spend the night at Noboribetsu. So you would basically use the toll way for Sapporo-Hakodate, Hakodate-Nobribetsu, Noboribetsu-Asahikawa.

  42. AC says:

    Hi Bumblebeemum,
    We are planning the itinerary for our first trip to Hokkaido from 30 May to 13 Jun this year. We will be going on self-drive. Can you help to advise on the following?
    1. I thought of catching the shibazakura at Takinoue park and tulip at Kamiyubetsu. Do you think there will still be flowers left if we go on Day 2?
    2. If we can still catch the flowers, I am thinking of having a stay-over at Asahikawa on Day 1. But we will be arriving at CTS at 1655hr. With immigration clearance and collecting rental car, do you think there will still be daylight for driving?
    3. If there is no more daylight, is it safe to drive in dark?
    4. How long is the driving journey from CTS to Asahikawa?
    Thank you so much!

    • bumblebeemum says:

      1. Your dates are kinda iffy especially for the tulips. Shibazakura should still be available. So I guess if you really like flowers, you can try your luck?

      2/3. It will likely be dark by the time you reach Asahikawa. But since it’s summer, it should be alright driving in the evening. Asahikawa is a big city with street lights and all, so it shouldn’t be a problem even if you arrive after dark.

      4. It should be about 2.5 hours drive from CTS to Asahikawa, expressway all the way.

      • AC says:

        Thank you for your reply!

        Since this will be our first self-drive trip at Hokkaido, we would probably not be so ambitious on the first day. May be we will stay around Chitose for a night and may have to forgo the flowers.

        Below is our planned itinerary for this coming 30 May to 13 Jun, please help to take a look and advise. Thanks.

        30 May: CTS
        31 May: Asahikawa
        1 Jun: Asahikawa
        2 Jun: Kitami
        3 Jun: Kitami
        4 Jun: Lake Akan
        5 Jun: Kushiro
        6 Jun: Obihiro
        7 Jun: Lake Toya
        8 Jun: Niseko
        9 Jun: Otaru
        10 Jun: Otaru
        11 Jun: Sapporo
        12 Jun: Sapporo
        13 Jun: CTS

  43. Vivien says:

    Hi Bumblebeemum,like to seek your advice on an itinerary for 14 June to 22 Jun as it’s our first time to Hokkaido. We plan to self-drive and has two kids, aged 6 and 8. Not sure if Furano is a good time to go during this period as flowers may not be in full bloom? For Tomanu, is it better to go during winter as I saw you have so much fun activities in Tomanu during winter? We will also like to go to Asahikawa. Not really sure about catching the Shrine festival as my kids may be bored during the festival, will like to have 2 itineraries, for 1 to catch the festival and one without it, thanks!

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Yeah, the flowers are not in full bloom yet but the Furano / Biei region is still a nice area.

      As for Hokkaido Shrine Festival, the festival site at Nakajima Koen is quite fun for kids. I think it’s a great experience for them to visit a Japanese festival and try out some traditional Japanese festival games.

      This is the itinerary I would recommend based on your dates:

      14 June: CTS – Sapporo
      14 June: Sapporo (day trip to Otaru)
      15 June: Sapporo (you can drop by Nakajima Koen for a couple of hours to check out the festival)
      16 June: Sapporo – Lake Toya
      17 June: Lake Toya – Hakodate
      18 June: Hakodate – Noboribetsu
      19 June: Noboribetsu – Asahikawa
      20 June: Asahikawa – Biei – Furano
      21 June: Furano – CTS
      22 June: Flight back

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Sorry, I realised I did 14 June twice. You can do this instead:

      14 June: CTS – Otaru – Sapporo
      15 June: Sapporo (you can drop by Nakajima Koen for a couple of hours to check out the festival)
      16 June: Sapporo – Lake Toya
      17 June: Lake Toya – Hakodate
      18 June: Hakodate – Noboribetsu
      19 June: Noboribetsu – Asahikawa
      20 June: Asahikawa – Biei – Furano
      21 June: Furano – CTS
      22 June: Flight back

      I don’t have your flight timings, so if let’s say your flight arrives late on 14 June, then I don’t suggest you go Otaru on the first day. So maybe you can go Otaru on the second day instead, like visit the festival in the morning and Otaru in the afternoon or vice versa. Or you can drop Hakodate / Furano to make time for a full day at Otaru. It really depends on your interest.

  44. Tzy says:

    Hi Bumblebeemum,
    Love the detailing of your blog posts on Hokkaido.
    Could you kindly comment on our itinerary as below:

    16 April: CTS – Noboribetsu
    17 April: Noboribetsu – Lake Toya – Niseko
    18 April: Niseko – Hakodate
    19 April: Hakodate
    20 April: Hakodate – Sapporo
    21 April: Otaru
    22 April: Sapporo
    23 April: Flight back

    Question 1: Do you have any comments on the schedule? We are planning to go to blue pond in Biei too, where can we slot this in? Is it worth to go at this time?

    Question 2: We are planning to ski in Niseko too. Is it better to make online reservation for the equipment and clothing? Or we can book there? Where can we book?

    Question 3: We are planning for self driving. We rented a 8-seated car for 6 people. Do you think its enough for us if we have 3 big luggages?

    Question 4: Where is the best place for eating crab? Would you recommend kani honke?

    Sorry for the questions!!
    Thank you 🙂

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Your itinerary looks good – if you don’t intend to ski. I’m not sure where you intend to squeeze the skiing part in? It looks like you’ll arrive at Niseko pretty late if you want to visit Lake Toya along the way. And you shouldn’t leave Niseko too late if you want to get to Hakodate before it gets dark. I suggest you spend the night of 18 April at Niseko if you want to ski to give yourself a full day there. Then set off from Niseko early on 19 April, it should still give you enough time for Hakodate.

      1. Blue pond is totally not along the way. I really wouldn’t recommend squeezing in a trip to the blue pond for your itinerary.

      2. I don’t think you need to make advance reservations to ski in Niseko.

      3. Yes, 3 pieces of luggage should be able to fit for an 8-seater.

      4. I am really not that big a fan of Hokkaido crabs. But so far, the best crab I ate was at Hakodate morning market. It’s a stall at the edge of the market facing Hakodate station.

  45. Seen says:

    Hi Bumblebeemum,

    Been following your blog on hokkaido travels for a while and was surprised to see Tzy travelling the same time as myself. I booked the tickets for this period although it is not the best season to coincide with the Easter holiday and Anzac day. I am travelling with 5 adults (including my parents) and my almost 2 years old daughter.

    16 April – Arrived 8.10am. CTS > Lake Shikotsu > Lake Toya
    17 April – Lake Toya > Onuma > Goryokaku > Hakodate
    18 April – Hakodate > Prativo & Milk Kobo > Fukidashi > Jozankei
    19 April – Jozankei > Furano
    20 April – Furano > Biei > Sapporo
    21 April – Sapporo > Yoichi > Otaru > Sapporo
    22 April – Shiroi > CTS (half day exploring CTS & overnight at air terminal airport.
    23 April – 9.20am departure

    Q1. Understand that there won’t be flowers or melons at Furano this period but was hoping that food, blue pond and shirahige falls would be enough to compensate. Did hesitate if I should go Shakotan instead.

    Q2. Booked an Alphard (can fit 3 big luggage?) with ETC card. Do you think it is better off with HEP looking at my itinerary?

    Q3. Do you think we would be able to taste the red king crab and yubari melon at hokkaido morning market and/or curb market this period?

    Q4. If I get to taste king crab at the morning markets mentioned above. I am planning to forgo dinner at Kani Honke and go for ramen and other street food at susukino instead. Should i?

    Q5. Would taking a sip of beer or whisky during tasting breaks the driving law?

    Sorry for the weird questions but I thought I could tag along since Tzy has questions for the same period 😉

    Thank you 🙂

    • bumblebeemum says:

      The order of going to Furano in between Jozankei and Sapporo is a bit strange. And I’m not too sure where Shiroi on 22 April is referring to?

      I would reorder the itinerary like this:

      16 April – Arrived 8.10am. CTS > Furano
      17 April – Furano > Biei > Sapporo
      18 April – Sapporo
      19 April – Sapporo > Yoichi > Otaru > Jozankei
      20 April – Jozankei > Niseko > Lake Toya
      21 April – Lake Toya > Hakodate
      22 April – Hakodate > Lake Shikotsu > CTS
      23 April – 9.20am departure

      The reason I shifted Hakodate to the back is to hopefully buy more time for cherry blossoms to bloom.

      1. I wouldn’t go to Shakotan in April. It is rather out of the way and the most important reason to visit imo (the seafood) will not be available then.

      2. Alphard is 8-seater? It should be able to fit 3 large pieces of luggage. And yes, I would get HEP for your route.

      3. I dunno much about different types of crabs, but there are always crabs to buy throughout the year. As for melons, they do have melons that are grown in greenhouses even in winter.

      4. I’m really not a fan of crabs, so if you ask me, I would go eat crab just once for the experience. Haha… But if you ate it and you really like it, who knows, you may want to eat it again a second time. Just keep your options open.

      5. I have no idea what’s the official limit as far as driving laws are concerned. But the apple juice they served (for kids and drivers) at Yoichi was pretty good. Wahaha… You know the slogan: If you drink, don’t drive.

      • Seen says:

        Hi Bumblebeemum,

        Thank you so much for your prompt reply 🙂

        Cherry blossom estimated opening on 30 April which is too far away so i have plan it from south to north instead to allow the temperature to climb. Also we are taking midnight flight hence i have plan day 1 to be an easy day. Basically to rest at lake toya nonokaze. Passby lake shikotsu otw for the cheese mochi that looks so yummy from your blog 🙂

        22 apr is Shiroi koibito choc factory and chitose airport (spend the rest of the day exploring the airport)

        Thank you so much for your advice. Looks like i need to ask the rental company for HEP and get ready more yen for the crabs and melon 🙂 hehehe

  46. Grace says:

    Hi Bumblebeemum,

    I have been following your blog and it is one of the reason I decided to go Hokkaido this coming May.
    It will be a first trip for my husband and I and it is also our first trip driving overseas. My trip is from 13 May to 22 May. I will arrive CTS at around 11am but I think I will rest one night in Sapporo before setting off to Takinoue Shibazakura Park and Kamiyubetsu Tulip Park.

    Can you advise whether Furano and Biei is worth going during this time? I love onsen, can you suggest a good place for onsen? I heard there are fireworks every night at Lake Toya from April onwards, do you think it will be a good idea to spend a night there?
    I also plan to go Hokadate but I’m not sure if I am too ambitious.

    My husband is the only driver and I am afraid that he will be too tired from all the driving, hence I need your help in suggesting an itinerary for this period.

    As for the collection of rental vehicle, do you think it will be better to collect the rental car at Sapporo rather than the airport since I plan to rest one night at Sapporo when I arrive and also spend the last night at Sapporo instead of driving straight to the airport for my evening flight out of Hokkaido.

    I am also unsure of the difference between renting a ETC card and a HEP card. Can you advise which will be a more cost effective way? What about the cost of petrol in Japan? Did you have to refuel frequently since the travelling distance is long? Is it easy to find a petrol station in Hokkaido?

    Apologies for asking so many questions but I am still thinking whether we should be driving or just join a local tour when we reach Sapporo.

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Going South to Hakodate and North to Takinoue / Kamiyubetsu is indeed rather ambitious! But if it’s just you and your husband, it is possible to join a day tour to Takinoue / Kamiyubetsu from Sapporo. Then you should have time to go down South.

      For your dates, I would suggest you push Takinoue / Kamiyubetsu towards the end of the trip. Shibazakura tend to peak in end May.

      For two pax, you don’t really have to drive actually. This is what I would suggest:

      13 May: CTS – Sapporo
      14 May: Sapporo
      15 May: Sapporo – Lake Toya
      16 May: Lake Toya
      17 May: Lake Toya – Hakodate
      18 May: Hakodate
      19 May: Hakodate – Noboribetsu
      20 May: Noboribetsu – Sapporo
      21 May: Sapporo (join a day tour to Takinoue / Kamiyubetsu)
      22 May: Flight back

      Lake Toya and Noboribetsu are onsen towns. For Sapporo to Lake Toya and Noboribetsu to Sapporo, you can try searching using hotels’ shuttle services where available. Then between Lake Toya / Noboribetsu and Hakodate, there is a slight hassle in having to get between the onsen town and the nearest train station by local bus / taxi, but I would opt for that if it’s just two adults.

      • Grace says:

        Thanks for your advice. I saw that you omitted furano and biei, so it’s not worth going during this period?

        As for the shuttle services provided by the hotel, I presume it’s not free. Do you know of any hotel that provides such services?

        Any good onsen hotels to recommend in Lake Toya and Noboribetsu? My budget will be around $200+ per night.

        • bumblebeemum says:

          For your dates, I wouldn’t place Furano and Biei high on the priority. So with the time you have, to avoid rushing, I would suggest skipping Furano and Biei.

          At Lake Toya, Toya Sunpalace and Lake View Nonokaze provide free shuttle services. Toya Sunpalace would probably fit your budget better. At Noboribetsu, Hotel Mahoroba provides shuttle service but there’s a fee of 500yen per pax one way.

  47. Kim Chai says:

    Hello
    Thank you for all the information that you posted, you really help travellers like me and my family. I really appreciate it.

    I would like your opinion on our itinerary, if you don’t mind.

    We are travelling on may 8-17, 5 adults, self-drive. Our main purpose was flowers- cherry blossom, shibazakura, tulips…etc and scenic views and food

    Day 1 Chitose Airport- Sapporo
    Moerenuma Park (to see cherry blossoms)
    Evening: Maruyama/ Asahiyama Park
    Stay: Sapporo

    Day 2: Sapporo- Cape Kamui- Shakotan- Otaru
    Sapporo-Cape Kamui
    Stop by at Shakotan town for lunch
    Shakotan- Otaru
    STAY: Otaru

    Day 3 :Otaru- obihiro
    Tea: Natai Highland Farm
    Dinner: Butadon
    STAY: obihiro

    Day 4: obihiro- Lake Onneto- Lake Akan- Lake Mashu- Shiretoko
    Leave obhiro early in the morning, drive to lake onneto
    Drive to Lake Akan Have Lunch
    Drive to Lake Mashu
    STAY: Shiretoko

    Day 5 Shiretoko-5lakes-Rausu-Higashimokoto-Abashiri
    5 lakes
    Rausu Lunch
    Higashimokoto Shibazaukura Park
    Stay: Abashiri

    Day 6 : Abashiri-Kamiyubetsu- Takinoue-Asahikawa
    Abashiri-Kamiyubetsu
    Kamiyubetsu- Takinoue
    Takinoue- Asahikawa
    STAY: Asahikawa

    Day 7: Asahikawa-Biei-Takikawa-Sapporo
    Drive from Asahikawa- Biei (blue pond) -because previously missed out on this
    drive to Takikawa-rape blossom field
    Back to Sapporo
    STAY: Sapporo

    Day 8 : Sapporo
    Asahi beer factory/ Sapporo Beer Factory
    Shopping
    Stay: Sapporo

    Day 9 : Sapporo

    Day 10: Leave for Chitose airport

    1)May I ask what do you think about the itinerary?
    2) Do you think we can stop at the side of the road and take pictures, any law on that?
    3) Is Parking in sapporo difficult to find?
    4) Do you know of any private onsen that we can rent?
    5) Do you think we should go to takinoue suzuran, Daisetsuzan – and take the ropeway up?
    Thank you in advance for your valuable feedback and time for helping.

    • bumblebeemum says:

      1) In general, I find your itinerary way too rushed. I suggest you drop Shakotan.

      Day 1: CTS – Sapporo
      Day 2: Sapporo + Otaru
      Day 3: Sapporo – Obihiro
      Day 4: Obihiro – Lake Onneto – Lake Akan (I don’t suggest going all the way from Obihiro to Shiretoko in a day)
      Day 5: Lake Akan – Shiretoko
      Day 6: Shiretoko
      Day 7: Shiretoko – Higashimokoto – Abashiri
      Day 8: Abashiri – Kamiyubetsu – Takinoue – Asahikawa
      Day 9: Asahikawa – Biei – Takikawa – CTS
      Day 10: Flight back

      2) In the rural areas, it’s okay to just pull over to take photos. But note that a lot of the fields are private land, so you can only take photos from the road. You can’t step into the fields.

      3) Neh, there are plenty of coin parking around Sapporo.

      4) At Lake Akan, it is possible to rent a family bath at Yuku no Sato:
      http://www.tsuruga.com/en/hotspring/family.html

      5) I don’t think you have time for the ropeway.

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