Hokkaido Expressway Pass vs ETC Card & Hokkaido Toll Fees


Ever since I wrote my post on Money-Saving Tips for Self-Drive in Hokkaido, I have been getting many questions regarding the Hokkaido Expressway Pass (HEP).  In this post, I am going to try to answer all the FAQs on using the HEP.

What is ETC?

ETC is a cashless system in Japan for paying toll fees.  It involves two things:

  • A card reader inside the car called an ETC unit.
  • A card that’s like a credit card called an ETC card.

You need to have BOTH to use the ETC lanes on the expressway.    For a more detailed explanation with cartoons and all, visit > this website <.

The Singapore Analogy:
The ETC system works exactly like our cashcard and in-vehicle unit.  All our cars come with in-vehicle units.  But we still need to have a cashcard to insert into it before we can drive through our ERP gantries.   The ETC unit is basically the IU and the ETC card is basically the cashcard.

My car rental says ETC is included.  Does that mean I can use the ETC lanes?

This is where it gets a bit confusing for first-timers renting a car in Japan.  Many car rental companies will say that they have ETC included in the car rental.  But this usually means they have the ETC unit inside the car.  But NOT necessarily they are able to provide you an ETC card.

So why do they say ETC is included? So misleading!

Japan tourism is largely driven by their own locals.  Bulk of the car rental business comes from domestic travelers.  Who probably own their own ETC cards.  Hence, all they need to know is whether there is an ETC unit in the car where they can insert their own ETC card.

And yes, they do need to state because some of the smaller car rental companies may not even have an ETC unit in their cars.  Most of the big companies have them by default though.

What’s so great about using the ETC lanes?
  1. It is cashless.  You just drive straight through without having to fiddle with tickets and money at every toll booth.
  2. There are discounts. For e.g. If you use the ETC lanes on weekends, there is a 30% discount on toll fees. (Note: There are bunch of different discounts and they change from time to time, so I can’t tell you for sure how much the discount is.)

What is HEP?

Hokkaido Expressway Pass (HEP) is like a concession pass for expressways.  It comes in the form of an ETC card.

What is the difference between HEP and ETC?

They look and are used exactly the same.  But a standard ETC card would charge you based on per-usage, whereas a HEP would charge based on the number of days, regardless of how much / little you use the expressway.

Again, a Singaporean analogy: You know our EZ link card for public transport? For a normal EZ link card, we pay for each ride we take.  But if we get a monthly concession, we pay for the month, regardless of how much we ride.  But either ways we are using the same EZ link card.  Geddit?

Should I get the HEP or ETC?

Whether to get a HEP or ETC (or none at all) depends on your itinerary and how much you are going to be using toll ways.

In general, if you are not using the toll roads much, it may not be worth the hassle to try to get an ETC card.  Most car rental companies charge for the rental of an ETC card and the fee varies.  Some companies require you to put a hefty deposit from which they will deduct your toll fees from and refund you the balance (if I’m not mistaken, Tocoo does this). If the deposit is charged to your credit card and subsequently refunded, you may lose out on exchange rate.  So unless the car rental company is offering an ETC card for a nominal one-time fee of like 300yen without deposit, I would just pay cash for the few times I pass through the toll gates.

For heavier usage, whether or not to get the HEP, you need to do some Math.  It’s like whether you should get a Hokkaido Rail Pass or buy single trip train tickets, same concept.  Except Hyperdia makes it easy for us to calculate and add up the price of single trip train tickets, but we don’t have a Hyperdia-for-toll-fees, if you know what I mean.  All we have is this confusing toll fee chart  and Tocoo’s not-so-easy-to-use Highway Toll Fee Simulation System.

So I am going to water down it down to the most common routes used by tourists.  It is not going to be super accurate because it depends on exactly which exit / entrance you use.  But as a rough guide, you can use the fees below to do your Math to see if HEP is worth it or not.

Hokkaido Expressway Toll Fees (Cash)

From Sapporo

  • Sapporo to New Chitose Airport = 1410 yen
  • Sapporo to Hakodate = 6010 Yen
  • Sapporo to Lake Toya = 3590 Yen (This toll can be avoided)
  • Sapporo to Noboribetsu = 2590 Yen
  • Sapporo to Otaru = 810 Yen
  • Sapporo to Mikasa (for Furano) = 1270 Yen
  • Sapporo to Asahikawa = 3490 Yen
  • Sapporo to Tomamu 3320 Yen
  • Sapporo to Obihiro = 4360 Yen
  • Sapporo to Kushiro = 5490 Yen

From New Chitose Airport (CTS)

  • CTS to Hakodate = 5430 yen
  • CTS to Lake Toya = 2970 yen
  • CTS to Noboribetsu = 1750 yen
  • CTS to Otaru = 2220 yen
  • CTS to Asahikawa = 4730 yen
  • CTS to Shimukappu (for Furano) = 2440 yen
  • CTS to Tomamu = 3050 yen
  • CTS to Obihiro = 4090 yen
  • CTS to Kushiro = 5220 yen

From Hakodate

  • Hakodate to Niseko = 2670 yen
  • Hakodate to Lake Toya = 3330 yen
  • Hakodate to Noboribetsu = 4280 yen

From Tomamu / Furano

  • Tomamu / Furano to Obihiro = 1340 yen
  • Tomamu / Furano to Kushiro = 2470 yen

And here is the price of the HEP as of date of publication:

Image Source: Hokkaido Expressway Pass Website

Other things to consider for HEP

Which car rental outlets offer HEP?

You need to refer to this list for the participating outlets.

Can I pick up / drop off at different outlets?

No.  HEP requires the car to be returned to the same outlet it was picked up from.

Can I purchase the HEP only for the days I am using the expressway?

No.  You need to purchase the HEP for your whole rental duration from pick up to drop off. And it goes by calendar date, not number of hours.  E.g. if you pick up the car on 1 Jan at 10am and return it on 2 Jan at 9am, it is considered 2 days.

Do I need to make a reservation in advance for the HEP?

Yes.  You need to specify that you would like the HEP when you book your rental car and this should be done in advance.

Have I answered your question?

For more information on Hokkaido Expressway Pass, please visit > the official website <.

If you still have any questions pertaining to the use of ETC card / HEP, feel free to post them under the comments.

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84 Comments on Hokkaido Expressway Pass vs ETC Card & Hokkaido Toll Fees

  1. samantha
    May 25, 2016 at 7:17 pm (5 months ago)

    I like to know why the toll fee from Sappora to Toya lake can be avoided? I plan is Sappora –> Toya –>Furano in 3 days 2 nights, should i buy HEP?

  2. Sook Yin
    May 28, 2016 at 5:27 pm (5 months ago)

    If i am not renting from one of the car rentals company that provides the HEP, can that pass be purchased separately and if so, from where?

    • bumblebeemum
      May 31, 2016 at 12:56 am (5 months ago)

      Nope, you cannot purchase the pass separately.

  3. eco
    May 31, 2016 at 5:07 pm (5 months ago)

    Meaning to say that when I rent the car I should address the company I need th ETC Unit and the ETC card. They may require me to top up the value for the ETC card right? What if I use up the credit in the card how do I top up the credit into the card? Where can I do it?

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

    For going to such places, do you think worth to get HEP? By looking at the Applicable Sections for the HEP from their website http://www.driveplaza.com/trip/drawari/hokkaido_expass/en.html it doesn’t cover my Day 09 onwards (7 days), just could like to double confirm with you base on my understanding.

    How about your previous experience? Did you pay cash, use normal ETC Card with credit or the pass HEP?

    Thank you.

    • bumblebeemum
      May 31, 2016 at 5:47 pm (5 months ago)

      The ETC card procedure differs from company to company. Ideally, the company will not ask for a deposit beforehand and only ask you to pay the toll fees you incurred at the end of the trip when you return the car. Usually, there is a rental fee (on top of the toll fees) involved which fluctuates between companies, so you need to ask the car company how much their rental fee is. If the rental fee is a lot, the savings that the ETC gives you may not justify paying for the rental of the ETC card, especially when you don’t use the toll road a lot.

      For your case, I don’t think the HEP is necessary. The bulk of your drives is going to be toll free. The drive from CTS to Lake Shikotsu to Noboribetsu to Lake Toya to Sapporo can be done without tolls if you know how to set your GPS to avoid the toll roads:

      From Lake Akan to Furano, it is also possible to avoid the toll road by using the route I have marked out on Google map below:

      The only tolls you won’t avoid are from Sapporo to Otaru and back, Sapporo to Asahikawa and Furano to CTS. The whole area further Northeast from Asahikawa to Shiretoko to Akan National Park is toll free.

      • eco
        June 1, 2016 at 10:08 am (5 months ago)

        You are such a wonderful advisor, appreciated and thank you very much expert Bumble Bee Mum!

        I think I will pay CASH 😛

      • eco
        June 3, 2016 at 3:22 pm (5 months ago)

        When filling up ToCoo car rental online form, I notice there is a column to be filled which is “Drivers License”. Shall we apply our international license to be enabled for the car renting procedure? May I know how did you do that when booking with ToCoo?

        • bumblebeemum
          June 3, 2016 at 4:33 pm (5 months ago)

          Is it a compulsory field? If it is then you need to apply for your International Driving License first.

          • eco
            June 3, 2016 at 4:43 pm (5 months ago)

            I read it from the captured screenshot, will have to check it out. When was your last book it from Tocoo? Do you still remember if you need that when book a car via their website?

          • eco
            June 15, 2016 at 3:22 pm (4 months ago)

            Hello BBM, for Tocoo car rental, i read from here http://www2.tocoo.jp/en/contents/faq#G to pick up the car we shall take the shuttle to the outlet, base from your experience how far the outlet from Chitose Airport?

            Flight will be landed at 8:20am. We plan to eat some food before take the shuttle to the outlet, our pick up time is 12noon. Is it sufficient time? Where was the exact location in the airport you wait for their shuttle bus? How long it takes to get there? Thanks

            • bumblebeemum
              June 27, 2016 at 4:15 pm (4 months ago)

              For all car rentals from New Chitose Airport, you will be required to take a shuttle from the airport to the car rental outlet. Different car rental companies have different frequencies for their shuttle services, but I would say to allocate 30min to get from the airport to the car rental outlet. Which company are you using and do they have a desk at New Chitose Airport? If they have a desk, I suggest you go to the desk at 11.30am to request for the shuttle and you should arrive at about 12noon.

              • eco
                June 28, 2016 at 11:26 am (4 months ago)

                Rented from Tocoo

                Pick up Outlet:Nissan Car Rental New-Chitose Airport
                     〒066-0013 Hokkaido2-2-5 Kashiwadai Minami, Chitose-shi

          • eco
            June 15, 2016 at 3:26 pm (4 months ago)

            on the last day we plan to return the car at 9pm. But the website no information on the outlet business hour, how can we check this information?

            • bumblebeemum
              June 27, 2016 at 4:16 pm (4 months ago)

              You need to check with the car rental company whether they are open till so late. Many car rental offices near CTS close by 8pm, with their last shuttle leaving for CTS at maybe 7.45pm. The reason being there are hardly any flights out of CTS at night. The bigger companies may open later, but you need to check with the company you are renting from.

  4. A.S.
    June 4, 2016 at 2:54 pm (5 months ago)

    Your articles about driving in Hokkaido are invaluable even for people who live in Japan! Thank you for the information!
    I find the HEP restriction to drop off the car at the same location a real bummer and rather illogical, since a trip around Hokkaido is not necessarily a circle – especially when the island has that long “tail” leading to Hakodate, and there are more than one international airports. HEP would have been a great deal from my planned trip, but sadly I can’t use it because of this restriction.

    Anyway, I’d like to ask you for advice about some possible tollway avoiding routes. I’ve been to Hokkaido many times (including on the Hokkaido Rail Pass), but in this August for the first time me and my wife will explore it by car. She is the driver and because her driving experience is only from the flatness of Australia, she is a bit worried about driving through the curvy mountainous roads that Japan is known for. Therefore, while we’d be happy to avoid tollways, we much more want to avoid mountain passes and narrow roads. Here is our itinerary:

    Day 1: Chitose Airport – Tokachi Plains (possibly the Millenium Forest or some other garden) – Kushiro
    Day 2: Kushiro – Lakes Akan, Masshuko, Kussharo – Shari/Abashiri
    Day 3: Shiretoko visit
    Day 4: Abashiri – Asahikawa (possibly Asahidake Ropeway)
    Day 5: Asahikawa – Furano/Biei – Sapporo
    Day 6: Sapporo – Shiraoi – Noboribetsu – Lake Toya
    Day 7: Lake Toya – Hakodate (drop off the car)

    I’m wondering if the the alternative roads on this itinerary are safe for drivers inexperienced on mountain driving, or we should stick to the highways whenever possible.
    Also, we prefer to pay in cash for the rental car (as we live in Japan), and wonder if ETC card rental is possible without a credit card deposit.


    • bumblebeemum
      June 25, 2016 at 12:24 pm (4 months ago)


      Apologies for the late reply as we have been overseas.

      I do agree with you that the requirement to return the car to the same outlet is a real bummer! It’s probably a logistical issue on the car rental companies’ ends but hopefully we will see changes in future. Since I first used the HEP in 2013, the number of car rental companies that offer HEP has increased tremendously, so that is a sign of the popularity of the HEP. Hopefully with more people using, they will seek ways to improve the service to make it more competive, like offering it one-way in future. *staying optimistic*

      Most of the time when you avoid tollways, you will end up driving along mountainous routes. So I guess if you want to avoid mountainous routes, you should stick to the tollways whenever possible.

      I believe you can place a cash deposit instead of a credit card deposit for ETC card rentals if you rent direct from the car rental companies. But if you go through companies like Tocoo, they usually requires credit card deposits.

      Your itinerary looks very rushed imo. You are going to be spending many hours on the road and not quite enough time in Furano and Biei where the flower and lavender fields are I feel.

      • A.S.
        June 26, 2016 at 10:14 am (4 months ago)

        Hi again and thanks for the advice! We actually booked a car through Rakuten as per your advice, and that was quite a deal: there was a 68% off campaign to an already budget rental car company!
        We decided to stick to the highways and go without an ETC card. I hope there aren’t queues at the manned toll gates.

        I know the itinerary is rushed; I did it alone a couple of years ago by train/buses and I thought even traveling on a vehicle in Hokkaido is pleasant because the views are great everywhere. We’ll be having many stops along the way, so it shouldn’t be only driving.

  5. Bebe Ooi
    June 8, 2016 at 1:42 am (5 months ago)

    Hi bumble bee mom,
    I am planning for these routes.
    Can you guide me which I need to use toll/ which I can avoid tolls?
    Trip 1 – Sapporo – Furano – Biei – Asahikawa – Otaru
    Trip 2 – Otaru – Yoichi – Hakodate
    Trip 3 – Hakodate to Lake Toya – Noboribetsu – Chitose

    • bumblebeemum
      June 25, 2016 at 1:50 pm (4 months ago)

      Trip 1 – You will need to use toll between Sapporo and Furano and between Asahikawa and Otaru.
      Trip 2 – You can drive toll free from Otaru till Lake Toya and enter the tollway from there to Hakodate.
      Trip 3 – You will need to toll way between Hakodate and Lake Toya. But it is possible to avoid toll between Lake Toya and Noboribetsu by using the Orofure Pass. From Noboribetsu to Chitose, you will need to use the tollway again.

  6. Ling
    July 1, 2016 at 7:53 am (4 months ago)

    Thanks for the detailed write up! May I know if I can do without HEP if my places are new chitose-shintoku-furano-biei-asahikawa-Sapporo?
    I m hoping to rent my car from airport and return at Sapporo.

    • bumblebeemum
      July 2, 2016 at 1:44 pm (4 months ago)

      If you pick up the car at the airport and return it to Sapporo, you cannot get the HEP. You will only be using the toll way twice: From CTS to Shintoku and from Asahikawa to Sapporo.

      • Avelyn Lew
        July 11, 2016 at 10:25 am (4 months ago)

        Really enjoyed your write-up on your Hokkaido driving adventures. We made 2 trips this year for the snow festival & sakura viewing end April. Both times we rented a car and we were able to return them to different places (1st – Hakodate, 2nd time in Susukino) from where we picked them up which was New Chitose Airport. May I know have they changed the policy whereby we can only get the HEP if pick up drop off must be of same place? Thanks !

        • bumblebeemum
          July 13, 2016 at 11:08 am (3 months ago)

          One-way rentals are really convenient for Hokkaido travel I must say. As far as I know, HEP requires the car to be returned to the same office it was picked up from. I went to read the terms and conditions on the HEP website again:

          Under ‘Usage Instructions’ point (5), it says “At the end of the trip, the customer shall return the Designated Rentacar and Designated ETC Card to the Designated Car Rental Company”.

          Real bummer, I know. :(

          • Avelyn Lew
            July 13, 2016 at 12:24 pm (3 months ago)

            Hi again,

            Yes…it would be much convenient. Perhaps you can try check out Nippon rent-a-car Hokkaido. I rented with them and had no problem with different drop offs.
            Hope this will help you when you go Hokkaido again which I’m pretty sure you will. 😉

            • bumblebeemum
              July 13, 2016 at 12:44 pm (3 months ago)

              It’s always a trade-off between price and service I feel. Generally the bigger companies like Toyota and Nippon deal better with foreigners and give non-Japanese speaking travellers a greater piece of mind. Also, the bigger companies have more branches throughout Hokkaido and are hence able to offer more flexibility in terms drop-off options. But they will cost more than the smaller companies.

              The smaller companies can be crazy cheap, but they may only be able to converse in Japanese and unable to understand special requests or explain terms & conditions clearly. And they may not have the capacity to offer drop-off at different locations because they don’t have that many locations to begin with. Oh well.. Can’t have the best of both worlds.

  7. alyssa
    July 1, 2016 at 12:27 pm (4 months ago)

    hi, may i know which website i can rent mini van for 9people and also can fit all our luaggages? Because the websites i went to maximum is for 8people. thank you

    • bumblebeemum
      July 1, 2016 at 4:33 pm (4 months ago)

      You need a special licence to drive a mini van. Normal class 3 licence can only drive up to an 8-seater in Japan.

  8. Confused
    July 2, 2016 at 5:17 pm (4 months ago)

    Hi Bumblebee mum,

    I intend to go on the following route:
    Day 1: Sapporo -> Hakodate
    Day 2: Hakodate -> Noboribetsu -> Lake Toya
    Day 3: Noboribetsu -> Asahikawa -> Daisetsuzan National Park
    Day 4: Asahikawa -> Furano
    Day 5: Furano -> Sapporo -> Otaru

    Could you advise if we should buy the HEP card/ETC card?

    Thank you!

    • bumblebeemum
      July 4, 2016 at 11:59 pm (4 months ago)

      Where are you picking up the car and returning it to? It does look like you will be on the expressway a lot so a HEP will probably be worthwhile. But HEP requires the car to be returned to the same branch it is picked up from.

      Btw when are you travelling? Your itinerary looks extremely rushed. For Day 2, you should go in the order Hakodate -> Lake Toya -> Noboribetsu. For Day 3, it is really very rushed, but if you really want to do this, I suggest you spend the night at Sounkyo onsen instead of Asahikawa. Then on Day 4, go to Furano from Sounkyo.

      • Confused
        July 12, 2016 at 6:57 pm (3 months ago)

        We will be picking up and returning the car in Sapporo. We are travelling in end July and early August! Unfortunately due to last minute bookings we have limited reasonably priced accommodation. We might leave out Daisetsuzan national Park then – is it worth going? Thanks!

        • bumblebeemum
          July 13, 2016 at 12:16 pm (3 months ago)

          If you are picking up and returning the car in Sapporo, then a 5-days HEP will probably serve you well. From Sapporo to Hakodate alone, the toll fee in cash would already be about 6000yen. The 5-days HEP only costs 6700yen. So HEP will definitely be good for your case.

          I will probably leave out Daisetsuzan National Park if I were you. I would spend more time at Furano and Biei for your dates.

  9. Daphne
    July 6, 2016 at 10:19 pm (4 months ago)

    Hi, thank you for such an informative post!

    I recently just learned about the HEP and bcos I’m travelling around Hokkaido from 14th to 24th July, the HEP will be a better saver for me.

    However, the car company I rented my car from (world net rent-a-car) does not provide HEP purchase. As such, I’m unsure how can I get the HEP in this way. Is it possible to obtain HEP from anothe car company and then use it on the car I have rented from world net?

    Appreciate your assistance!

    • bumblebeemum
      July 12, 2016 at 2:32 pm (4 months ago)

      That’s really one of the downside of HEP: You must rent the car from one of the handling companies. So if you are renting the car from World Net and World Net is not a HEP handling company, then you CANNOT get a HEP.

  10. Adeline
    July 8, 2016 at 12:23 pm (4 months ago)

    I would like to seek you advise too BBM, I have been emailing Toocoo! rental but I still cannot understand their rental policy where I select option with HEP and ETC card that cost more than ones without, yet it does not cover the rental of these items.

    I also like to ask if my journey below would be advisable without HEP and should I rent a ETC card? P.S I am returning car in Sapporo and renting in CTS.

    Day 1: CTS -> Tomito Farm Furano -> Biei Hotel Park Hills
    Day 2: Biei -> Daisetsuzan National Park -> Furano Flowerland -> Tomamu
    Day 3: Tomamu -> Noboribetsu Hells’ Valley
    Day 4: Noboribetsu -> Lake Toya
    Day 5: Lake toya -> Otaru Grand Canal -> Sapporo

    Would you think a ETC card is necessary as well for the above journey?

    • bumblebeemum
      July 12, 2016 at 3:07 pm (4 months ago)

      Oh dear.. it does sound very confusing to me!! Tocoo is known to be very very confusing when it comes to pricing.. My general take on Tocoo is, if you are okay with the overall price they are offering, then just take it as a whole and don’t try to figure out the details because it can drive you insane. But if you find the overall pricing too expensive after adding in all their funny fees, then go direct to the car companies or try finding someone who knows Japanese to help you out on Rakuten.

      Your Day 2 itinerary looks very rushed btw.

      You will be using the toll roads 3 times:
      1) CTS – Furano
      2) Tomamu – Noboribetsu
      3) Otaru – Sapporo

      Note that between Noboribetsu and Lake Toya, the GPS may recommend you the toll road but you can use Orofure Pass which is non-toll.

      I don’t think an ETC card is absolutely necessary for your case since you are not using the toll roads that often.

      • Adeline
        July 12, 2016 at 3:26 pm (4 months ago)

        HI BBM, thank you for the great advise! I believe Tabirai is currently considered cheaper for Honda car with all CDW and NOC coverage.

        Las thing, based on your suggestion, I can pay cash for toll?

        Can’t thank you enough for all these great blog of advises! Kudos!

        • bumblebeemum
          July 13, 2016 at 11:55 am (3 months ago)

          Cool.. Thanks for sharing about Tabirai! Shall take a look at it the next time I’m searching for car rentals. :)

          Yup, you can pay for toll in cash.

          • Anonymous
            September 27, 2016 at 10:07 pm (4 weeks ago)

            Hi BBM, A quick question tho, is there no way to avoid toll from Otaru to Sapporo? I entered in the GPS but it still take me to the toll.
            P.S I just want to say your blog did help alot with my planning, and I am here in Hokkaido enjoying the drive with all the information I gathered from your blog, thank you!

          • Adeline
            September 27, 2016 at 10:07 pm (4 weeks ago)

            Hi BBM, A quick question tho, is there no way to avoid toll from Otaru to Sapporo? I entered in the GPS but it still take me to the toll.
            P.S I just want to say your blog did help alot with my planning, and I am here in Hokkaido enjoying the drive with all the information I gathered from your blog, thank you!

  11. Albert Onizuka Lam
    July 11, 2016 at 9:29 am (4 months ago)

    Hi There,

    Thanks for the well written article.

    Just wanted to drop a note that I have shared your post in the Japan Travel, Friendly Discussion Group.



    • bumblebeemum
      July 13, 2016 at 11:27 am (3 months ago)

      You know.. I’ve always wanted to have an ETC card of my own because of how much I drive in Japan so I am very interested to find out more about this.

      I have taken a look at your website and, correct me if I’m wrong, it seems to be more for foreigners living in Japan rather than leisure travellers like me who visit Japan like once or twice a year? But if I understood the point on ‘not being billed if I do not use the ETC card’, does it mean this:

      Let’s say I visit Japan in June and I decide to get a card from japanETCcard.com. I need to pay a set-up fee of 2750 yen and a refundable deposit of 40,000yen. The ETC card will then be mailed to me here in Singapore? I bring the card to Japan during my trip in June. I use the card then. And I will pay 1200yen under the ‘Pay as You Go’ plan together with all toll fees incurred and these will be charged to my credit card on file. From July to November, I am back in Singapore so I don’t pay anything right? And let’s say in December I decide to go Japan again. So I bring my ETC card there, use it for my trip there, and I will be charged 1200yen plus toll fees with my credit card on file again. Then I won’t be charged anything until the next time I go Japan again… Is that how it works?

  12. Claudia
    July 29, 2016 at 9:18 pm (3 months ago)

    Hi bumblebeemum,
    It’s amazing how much you know and truly informative! Thank you!
    Would like to enquire, if I am making a trip, do you reckon it’s worthwhile to get either a HEP or rent an ETC from the car rental? Thanks in advance!
    Day 1: Sapporo to Ikutora
    Day 2: Ikutora to Furano
    Day 3: Furano to Tenninkyo onsen
    Day 5: Tenninkyo Onsen to Saporo

    • bumblebeemum
      July 30, 2016 at 10:40 am (3 months ago)

      Hmm.. THe price of the HEP would probably be a wee bit pretty cheaper than invidual toll fees for your case. You are only using the toll road from Sapporo to Ikutora (exit Tomamu) and from Tenninkyo (from entering the expressway at Asahikawa) back to Sapporo.

      • Claudia
        July 30, 2016 at 8:06 pm (3 months ago)

        Got it. Many thanks for your advise! :)

  13. Mable
    July 31, 2016 at 2:02 am (3 months ago)

    Hi BBM,

    I would like to check for the HEP u mention if we wanna rent we can only lend and return the car to the same location right?

    Meaning if i were to pick up at CTS airport i cant return at Sapporo brand?


    • bumblebeemum
      August 2, 2016 at 9:55 am (3 months ago)

      Yup, if you want to get the HEP, you cannot rent from CTS and return to Sapporo. The car needs to be returned to where you picked it up from.

  14. JW
    July 31, 2016 at 11:21 pm (3 months ago)

    Hi Bumblebeemum! I’m really glad I chanced upon your blog! It is extremely helpful 😀 I have planned the following itinerary and based on the indicative toll fees you provided, it seems like I should get the HEP? If it’s not too much trouble, would appreciate your advice please:
    Day 1:
    Chitose – Sapporo
    Day 2:
    Sapporo – Furano – Biei – Asahikawa
    Day 3:
    Tour around Asahikawa
    Day 4:
    Asahikawa – Sounkyo – Abashiri
    Day 5:
    Abashiri – Shiretoko National Park – Abashiri
    Day 6:
    Abashiri – Obihiro
    Day 7:
    Tour around Tokachigawa region
    Day 8:
    Obihiro – Sapporo
    Day 9:
    Sapporo – Otaru – Sapporo
    Day 10:
    Sapporo – Jozankei – Sapporo
    Day 11:
    Sapporo – Chitose

    Thank you!

    • bumblebeemum
      August 2, 2016 at 10:30 am (3 months ago)

      In general, if I am spending a lot of days off the toll roads, I won’t get the HEP. Getting the HEP restricts my car rental options, so sometimes I don’t just look at how much the HEP saves me in terms of toll fees, I also look at the actual car rental price. Coz maybe a car company that doesn’t offer HEP can rent me a car for much cheaper.

      Looking at your route, it seems that HEP is not going to be very significantly cheaper than paying tolls individually. So what I would do is, I would surf around for my car rental options. If the company offering the cheapest deal happens to be one of HEP’s handling office, then no harm getting the HEP. But if the company offering the cheapest deal is like 10,000yen cheaper than a company that offers HEP, I would go for the company with the cheap car rental and forego HEP. Know what I mean?

  15. aud
    August 13, 2016 at 3:46 pm (2 months ago)

    Hi Bumblebeemum!
    Thanks for the detailed write up, your blog has really helped me alot in planning my itinerary.
    Hope you can help me a little with this. I’m intending to rent a car to drive from lake toya to cape kamui (because i read ur blog!!! 😀 ) and back to lake toya.

    And i’ll use the JR pass to travel about to sapporo.
    I’ll rent a car again at sapporo to drive to furano/biei (likely spending one entire day, not sure if its going to be very packed. might stay one night in either furano or biei) then back to sapporo to return the car.
    Do you think I should go for the ETC or the HEP?

    Thanks alot in advance!

    • bumblebeemum
      August 14, 2016 at 1:04 pm (2 months ago)

      For Lake Toya / Cape Kamui, that area is toll free so you won’t need the ETC / HEP.

      As for Sapporo to Furano & Biei, I do recommend spending a night there. A day trip is possible but very rushed. If you rent a car for two days and drive Sapporo – Furano – Biei – Asahikawa – Sapporo, the two-days HEP would be cheaper than paying toll by cash.

      • aud
        August 15, 2016 at 12:51 pm (2 months ago)

        Thanks for the reply!! 😀
        After much thoughts, I decided likely not to stay at furano/biei. Do u still think i should go with the 2 days HEP?
        Trying to budget and save on an extra day of car rental and hotels in that area are slightly more pricey.
        My planned itinerary will be:

        Leave sapporo at 6/7am (if car rental company has already operated)
        Arrive at Furano/Biei, visit
        – Farm Tomita
        – Melon House
        – Flowerland kamifurano
        – Lunch at Kumagera
        – Hokuseino-Oka Observatory Park (if time allows)
        – Shikisai no oka
        – Chiyoda farm restaurant (if time allows)
        – Blue Pond
        – Shirahige Waterfalls

        What are your thoughts, do u think its doable?
        Also, may i know how do you check if the roads are toll free?

        Appreciate if you can help me on this :)

        • bumblebeemum
          August 15, 2016 at 3:24 pm (2 months ago)

          If you want to leave Sapporo at 6/7am, you need to pick up the car the previous night and park it at the hotel first.

          If you are doing a day trip from Sapporo, I don’t think there is enough time to cover all the places you listed, especially if you want to return the car in time to make it a 1-day rental. (For e.g. if you pick up the car at 8pm the previous night, you have to return it by 8pm which means you need to leave Biei by 5pm to be safe.) I would give it 2 days to cover the area at a comfortable pace.

          To check if roads are toll free, you can use Google map. Google map will say “this route has tolls” if the route involves using toll roads.

  16. Bryan
    August 19, 2016 at 5:01 pm (2 months ago)

    Fascinated by your blogs so far. It really gave me a lot of useful info :)

    I would appreciate if you could advise me of some concerns. Planning a self-drive trip 7th Nov – 14th Nov. Tentatively, Chitose -> Noboribetsu(1n) -> Lake Toya(1n) -> Hakodate(1n) -> Otaru(1n) -> Sapporo(3n) -> Chitose

    1) Plan to rent a car thru Tocoo by picking up and returning at CTS. Do they provide shutter between airport and car rental office there?
    2) Seeing that I will be doing some long drivings, is it worth getting HEP and can I pickup both the car and the card at CTS branch?
    3) Because my flight is too early on final day (9AM), should I return the car early on 13th and stay near Chitose on my last night? Because I noticed if I choose early return (before 7AM) will be much lesser choices of car
    4) Any recommendations of places to go other than spending all 3 nights at Sapporo?

    Sorry for asking so many, am travelling to Japan for the first time just want to make sure we are well prepared :)

    • eco
      August 22, 2016 at 9:05 am (2 months ago)

      Hi Bryan, I just back from Hokkaido two weeks ago and rented my car from Tocoo Nissan. Yeap, they provide shutter CTS – Nissan centre about 10mins ride.

      Collect the car at afternoon and return at night 9pm. Stay in the airport for the early flight next day.

      • Bryan
        August 22, 2016 at 10:27 am (2 months ago)

        Thanks Eco! I was thinking that is the better choice, so no rush on the final day. Any recommended hotel near airport and place of interest to visit around Chitose (without car)?

        • eco
          August 22, 2016 at 10:37 am (2 months ago)

          There is a hotel inside the airport itself, BBM stayed there before.

          We just spent few hours inside the airport onsen till next morning flight. Both connected to the departure, by walking.

          In Sapporo we stayed at Mercure Hotel, good location at Susukino area.

          • Bryan
            August 22, 2016 at 10:51 am (2 months ago)

            Yes, I heard Mercure was great with it’s pricing and location too. Will explore my options with airport hotels.

            Did you also take up HEP while driving?

            • eco
              August 22, 2016 at 10:55 am (2 months ago)

              Not using HEP. Never paid toll fee in my trip.

    • bumblebeemum
      August 22, 2016 at 11:51 am (2 months ago)

      1) Yup, the car rental companies provide shuttle between the airport and their offices.

      2) You can estimate the toll fees and see if it is worth getting the HEP. The HEP will be given to you by the car rental company when you pick up the car if you had reserved one.

      3) Usually when I have an early flight out, I will spend my last night at Air Terminal Hotel within CTS. The car rental offices usually don’t open that early.

      4) It is possible to fit in Niseko between Hakodate and Otaru. Helps to break up the long drive.

      • Bryan
        August 22, 2016 at 4:29 pm (2 months ago)

        Thanks B/Eco again for your advices! I think I will skip HEP this time but will rent an ETC card along either from Tabirai or Tocoo. Just to confirm, the ETC card is charged to my credit card and only need to pay at the end of my journey upon returning it?

        Generally this is the plan, kindly help to comment/amend as needed:

        1) 7th Nov, Arrive CTS 8AM. Explore around the airport and pickup car at 11AM. Drive to Noboribetsu (~87KM). Plan to visit Jigokudani and Shiraoi Ainu Museum. Spend the night at Dormy Inn Higashi Muroran Natural Hot Spring (tentative)

        2) 8th Nov, drive to Lake Toya (~36KM). Spend the night at a lakeside apartment I found from airbnb (tentative)

        3) 9th Nov, drive to Hakodate (~166KM). Spend the night at either Hakodate Kokusai or Hakodate Grand. Plan to visit Mt. Hakodate at night, Fort Goryokaku, Red Brick Warehouses and Asaichi morning market. I think can just park at hotel and walk to these places

        4) 10th Nov, drive to Otaru (~245KM). Spend the night at Grand Park Otaru. Plan to visit Otaru Canal, Citi Museum, Railway Museum, Sakaimachi Street

        5) 11th Nov, drive to Sapporo (~35KM). Undecided on hotels to stay or places to visit

        6) 13th Nov, drive back to Chitose to return vehicle and spend the night at airport hotel (undecided)

        • bumblebeemum
          August 22, 2016 at 5:14 pm (2 months ago)

          Not sure about Tabirai, but Tocoo (if I’m not mistaken – never tried it out myself, just what I heard from my friends) will deduct a certain deposit from your credit card. From there, they deduct the toll fees and refund you the remaining balance. On the other hand when I rented an ETC card from the car rental company (TIMES), they didn’t require any deposit whatsoever. Only when I returned the car, they checked how much toll fees I incurred and I just paid them that amount.

          • Bryan
            August 23, 2016 at 12:27 pm (2 months ago)

            Thanks B. I was also thinking to cut short rental time by returning the car early, as my last 2/3 days at Sapporo only. How easy is it to go around Sapporo by foot or bus? How about from Sapporo to CTS?

            • bumblebeemum
              August 24, 2016 at 1:24 pm (2 months ago)

              Oh, it’s pretty easy. You don’t really need a car in Sapporo, so it makes sense to return the car early and save on car rental for the last few days. From Sapporo to CTS, if you are staying near Sapporo station, there is a direct train. If you are staying in Susukino, the airport limousine bus would be more direct.

  17. Bryan
    August 25, 2016 at 1:48 pm (2 months ago)

    Had to revise the route of my plan as much lesser hotel options during weekend at Sapporo (especially the highly recommended Mercure). Could you help to take a look and comment as needed?

    7th Nov – Arrive CTS 8AM. Explore around the airport and pickup car at 11AM. Drive to Sapporo (~49KM) and spend 2 nights at Mercure Hotel (tentative)

    8th Nov – Stay at Sapporo

    9th Nov – Drive to Otaru (~38KM). Spend the night at Grand Park Otaru. Plan to visit Otaru Canal, Citi Museum, Railway Museum, Sakaimachi Street

    10th Nov – Drive to Lake Toya (~115KM). Spend the night at Granvillage Toya Daiwa Ryokan Annex (tentative)

    11th Nov – Drive to Hakodate (~164KM). Spend the night at either Hakodate Kokusai or Hakodate Grand. Plan to visit Mt. Hakodate at night, Fort Goryokaku, Red Brick Warehouses and Asaichi morning market. I think can just park at hotel and walk to these places

    12th Nov – Drive to Muroran/Noboribetsu (~213KM). Plan to visit Jigokudani and Shiraoi Ainu Museum. Spend the night at Dormy Inn Higashi Muroran Natural Hot Spring or Hotel Route Inn Higashimuroran Ekimae (tentative)

    13th Nov – Drive back to Chitose to return car and spend the night at airport hotel

    14th Nov – 9AM flight home. Free shuttle from hotel to airport

    • bumblebeemum
      August 30, 2016 at 3:10 pm (2 months ago)

      Yup, this route works too. :) If you don’t need the car in Sapporo, you can pick up the car when you are leaving Sapporo and return it to CTS. This way you can save on the first few days’ car rental.

  18. ST
    September 24, 2016 at 1:02 pm (1 month ago)

    Hi BBM, my family of 3 will be arriving chitose on 8 Oct ard noon and leaving on 15 oct. We plan to rent a car and set for:
    8/10 – Chitose to Noboribetsu (1 night)
    9/10 – Noboribetsu to Hakodate (1 night)
    10/10 – Hakodate to Lake Toya (1 night)
    11/10 – Lake Toya to Otaru (1 night)
    12/10 – Otaru to Jozankei to Sapporo (return car & stay 3 nights)
    15/10 – Sapporo to Chitose by train or limousine bus

    Would like to seek your advice on our itinerary and routes that we can avoid the toll, plse? Cud you recommend reasonably good accommodation?

    Since it is autumn mth and daylight will be short, what wud be the ideal time to set off from each place of stay to next destination?

    Wud v much appreciate yr advice. Thank you.

    • bumblebeemum
      September 28, 2016 at 1:30 pm (4 weeks ago)

      When you go down to Hakodate, it is a bit hard to avoid the toll. Your itinerary looks pretty packed, so I would use the toll road to save time actually. You will encounter toll roads on the first 3 days.

      The place to set off depends on your itinerary and what are the places you want to visit in each town? You need to work out what are the places you want to visit. For e.g. on 10/10, let’s say you want to visit Hakodate Morning Market in the morning, so you will leave Hakodate a bit later and reach Lake Toya a bit later. Which means you will have to push some of Lake Toya’s sightseeing to the next day and hence arrive at Otaru later. But on 12/10, you need to leave Otaru early because you also want to visit Jozankei. So you realise you don’t have much time in Otaru. You may have to tweak your itinerary to maybe spend one more night in Otaru. But if let’s say you don’t have many places you want to visit in Lake Toya and you can leave Lake Toya right after breakfast on 11th, then you can do Otaru sightseeing on 11th and leave Otaru early on 12th to visit Jozankei and Sapporo.

      In Noboribetsu, I like Hotel Mahoroba. In Lake Toya, I like Toya Sunpalace. In Hakodate, I like the location of Hakodate Kokusai Hotel and La Vista Hakodate Bay. In Otaru, I like the location of Hotel Vibrant Otaru. And in Sapporo, I usually stay at Mercure.

  19. Aaron Sim
    September 25, 2016 at 9:55 pm (4 weeks ago)

    Dear Bumblebeemum,

    First off… HUGE fan of your blog! Please keep up the good work and continue educating us Gaijins :p

    Anyway, we will be visiting Hokkaido from 7th to 15th Feb 2016.

    Our plan in Hokkaido currently looks like this:-
    7th Tokyo – Chitose – Sapporo (Stay Sapporo)
    8th Sapporo – Hakodate **RENT CAR FROM SAPPORO** (Stay Hakodate)
    9th Stay Hakodate
    10th Stay Hakodate
    11th Hakodate – Otaru (Stay Otaru)
    12th Otaru – Kourakuen Onsen (Stay Asarigawa)
    13th Otaru – Sapporo **RETURN CAR AT SAPPORO** (Stay Sapporo)
    14th Stay Sapporo
    15th Return to Tokyo

    We have pretty much firmed up the itinerary and booked most of our accommodations, including Car Rental from Times Car Rental Company through Tocoo.

    My main question would be concerning whether the itinerary makes sense. Also, regarding the tolls, ETC card, Hokkaido Express Pass.
    1. I know i’ve already booked most things, but based on your expertise, does it make sense?
    2. Should I get a HEP judging from my itinerary?
    3. Also, they said ETC unit is provided but the ETC card is not provided. Where can I buy one?
    4. Are you able to recommend any routes for our drive? (I’m mainly concerned with the drive from Sapporo to Hakodate, and the drive back from Hakodate to Yoichi/Otaru)

    Really appreciate your reply and help on our queries above. I can be contactable via email/whatsapp as well (below).

    Thank you so much for taking time to help newbie travellers like us find our way around Japan!

    Love Japan so much we want to go every year.

    • bumblebeemum
      September 28, 2016 at 2:05 pm (4 weeks ago)

      1. It looks okay. Just that the drive to and from Hakodate is very long. I usually plan stops at Noboribetsu / Lake Toya to break up drives to and from Hakodate. E.g. I will stop at Noboribetsu on the way to Hakodate, and stop and Lake Toya on the way back from Hakodate.

      2. Getting a HEP would make sense for you. The drive to and fro Hakodate would incur toll fees more than the price of the HEP already.

      3. If you want to get the HEP, you will need to inform Times Car Rental that you need the HEP and confirm the availability with them. The HEP comes in the form of an ETC card.

      4. The drive from Sapporo to Hakodate is pretty straightforward – just use the toll way:

      From Hakodate back to Otaru, you will take the toll way halfway then cut through inland straight towards Otaru.

      (PS: I have edited your comment to remove your contact details for your privacy.)

  20. Wai Yee
    September 29, 2016 at 7:07 pm (4 weeks ago)

    Dear Bumblebeemum,

    First off… thank you for such detailed info sharing on your blog regarding independent travel in Hokkaido.
    I used a lot of your information in planning my upcoming trip.

    Our plan in Hokkaido:-
    14th KL – Chitose – Sapporo (arriving 820am) – Lake Shikotsu – Rankoshi(Airbnb)
    15th Rankoshi – Hakodate (Stay Hakodate)
    16th Stay Hakodate
    17th Hakodate – Onuma Park – Rankoshi
    18th Rankoshi – Lake Toya – Nooribetsu – Rankoshi
    19th Check out Rankoshi Return car to CTS (Stay Sapporo)
    20th Sapporo – Otaru (via train) Stay Sapporo
    21-22th Explore Sapporo

    For this trip, we are predominantly staying at a airbnb place in Rankoshi *which also includes a rental car (but it doesnt come with any ETC or GPS, but we had rented a wifi device to use with our phones, waze or google map)

    Can you help me to look at our itinerary and let me know what are your thoughts?
    Also, i am currently mapping out the drive, so looking up on Google Maps…
    i understand there is something called a map code thingy http://japanmapcode.com/en/
    But what i dont get is, when i put in the map code, the website doesnt seem to recognise the code that was given…
    For example: according to my host, his house map code is GPS Mapcode is 521 895 804
    But when i input this numbers (521 895 804) nothing seems to work
    even when i took away the blank space, it still doesnt seem to work
    Anyway, i noticed that on Google Map (GM), there is an option to avoid Tolls & Highway (on the computer version)
    So for eg: from Rankoshi to Hakodate, GM suggested to use Yotei National Highway (all the way, for the no toll option) and crossover to Hokkaido Expressway (half way thro) for the toll option
    Question: National Highway = no tolls? so only the Expressway is the one which charges toll?
    Is it worth it to use the National Highway all the way from Rankoshi to Hakodate?
    The following day after returning fr Hakodate, we will be going to Lake Toya & Nooribetsu (shd we also consider using the Expressway or just normal Highway & thro Rusutsu)

    For our 3d2n, detour to Hakodate, is it easy or better to drive around in Hakodate? or just easier to take public transport ?i.e. tram or bus or trains?
    we are currently thinking to just take the public transport to go around

    We returned the car after we checked out of Rankoshi, so our Sapporo & Otaru (day trip) will be mainly with public transport.. we figured its probably doable.
    Thank you in advance for your help

    • bumblebeemum
      October 5, 2016 at 10:09 am (3 weeks ago)

      If your car does not come with GPS, I don’t think map codes will be very useful to you.

      The website http://japanmapcode.com/en is to generate mapcode rather than for you to key mapcodes into. So e.g. If I want to go to Hakodate morning market, I search ‘Hakodate Morning Market’ on japanmapcode.com and it will give me the mapcode for the market. Then when I’m in Japan, I key the mapcode into the car’s GPS and the GPS will guide me to the market.

      If you have a map code and you want to see exactly where on the map it is, you can use Mapion instead:
      Just above the search bar, click on the right-most option that says “マップコード”. After that, copy and paste your map code into the search bar and click the blue button to the right of the search bar to search. It will bring you to a map with a green arrow pointing to the location corresponding to the map code.

      Yup, National Highways are usually non-toll. The expressways are the toll roads.

      I usually use the tollway when I’m going to Hakodate. The drive down South to Hakodate is pretty long and boring, so I will just pay toll and use the tollway to get the drive over and done with quickly. :p

      If you have the car in Hakodate, just use it. Places like Goryokaku and Mount Hakodate Ropeway still require a bit of walk from the nearest street car stops. I rmb getting a bit lost trying to find Goryokaku, because I thought it was a very tall tower and I could see it once I alighted from the streetcar and I could just walk towards it. But turned out I couldn’t see the tower at all from the streetcar stop and I had to ask people for directions. And the ropeway – it required quite a steep walk uphill to the station. If I have a car, I would just drive.

      • Wong Wai Yee
        October 10, 2016 at 1:52 pm (2 weeks ago)

        Thank you for your reply, will adjust our plan accordingly :)

  21. Yenni
    October 11, 2016 at 3:49 pm (2 weeks ago)

    Hi Bumble Bee Mum,

    I’m going to Hokkaido on a self drive basis with my family.
    My plan itinerary as below:
    17/10: CTS-Hell Valley-Shinnoboribetsu Hot Spring, Mt Usu- Lake Toya (overnight)
    18/10: Lake Toya – Otaru – Sapporo (Overnight)
    19/10: Sapporo City Tour (Overnight)
    20/10: Sapporo – Furano (Overnight)
    21/10: Furano – CTS Airport hotel (Overnight)
    22/10: Morning flight back to KL

    Do u think that i need to go for HEP?


    • Yenni
      October 11, 2016 at 3:52 pm (2 weeks ago)

      To add on, or i just need to pay by Cash for toll way or i get a ETC Card?

    • bumblebeemum
      October 11, 2016 at 4:44 pm (2 weeks ago)

      17/10: What time are you arriving? Looks like a very packed plan for a day where you just arrive. Don’t forget you still need to clear immigration, collect luggage, collect rental car and all before you can set off.

      18/10: If you follow your plan for Day 1, I don’t think you have much time for sightseeing around Lake Toya on Day 1, so you should spend some time on Day 2 for sightseeing around Lake Toya. But that would mean there wouldn’t be enough time for Otaru.

      On the whole, I find your itinerary very rushed. If you only have such a short time in Hokkaido and want to pack in these places, perhaps you can do day trips from Sapporo to save yourself the trouble of packing and unpacking everyday.

      Day 1: CTS – Noboribetsu / Hell Valley – Sapporo
      Day 2: Sapporo
      Day 3: Sapporo – Jozankei / Houheikyou dam – Otaru – Sapporo
      Day 4: Sapporo – Lake Toya – Sapporo
      Day 5: Sapporo – Furano – CTS
      Day 6: Flight back

      I would get the HEP for the above itinerary.

  22. CC
    October 14, 2016 at 10:09 am (2 weeks ago)

    Hi BBM,

    Thanks for your blog, it has been very helpful! Would like to get your advice on whether there is a toll-free road from CTS to Furano/Asahikawa? I have been using Google Maps but they keep plotting toll roads :(

    Planning to pick up the rental car and drive to Asahikawa, possibly dropping by Furano along the way.

    I am also thinking of doing Kushiro/Obihiro to Sapporo but the tolls are killing my tight budget, any chance I can avoid the tolls?

    Many thanks in advance!

    • bumblebeemum
      October 23, 2016 at 10:02 am (2 days ago)

      There should be toll-free ways available, but they may take much longer. You can set your GPS to avoid toll ways when you are there:

      While toll fees can be avoided, your itinerary needs to be very loose to allow you ample time to do the drives by the normal roads. So sometimes I find I rather pay the toll fee so that I can cover more places with the time I have. So if you want to save on toll fees, you may have to drop some places (like Kushiro which is pretty far East) from your itinerary.

  23. Jin
    October 22, 2016 at 3:28 pm (3 days ago)


    I’m looking at Tabirai website.
    I couldn’t find option to select HEP? Orix, times are participating outlet. But in tabirai website no option to select.

    Would like to get advise.
    Any attraction I shld add on
    Here is the itinery:
    15th Jan – 11.30pm flight to new chitose airport
    16 Jan – Asahikawa (zoo)
    17 Jan – Asahikawa
    18 Jan – Sapporo (clock tower, odori park)
    19 Jan – otaru
    20 Jan – niseko
    21 Jan – niseko
    22 Jan – lake toya
    23 Jan – am flight back

    • bumblebeemum
      October 24, 2016 at 9:33 am (1 day ago)

      Hmm.. I’ve never used Tabirai before.. Is there any comment box on the booking page where you can try leaving a comment to ask if you can get the HEP?

      Your itinerary looks okay. :)


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