Home >> Itineraries,Japan Travel >> Hokkaido Self-Drive Trip (June 2016) Part 1: Furano, Biei, Asahikawa

Our Hokkaido Trip in June 2016 (Part 1) - Furano, Biei, Asahikawa - Bumble Bee Mum

Before I begin PART 1 of my (as always) looooong-winded story of our two weeks adventure in Hokkaido last month, let’s set the background for the trip.

This trip involved 12 people.  Me, my husband, 2 kids and my in-laws who drove one car;  Another family of 2 adults + 2 kids and ANOTHER family of our friend and his mum who shared a second car.   So we had like 4 preschool kids, 5 adults (inclusive of a sick tour guide a.k.a. me) and 3 elderly pioneer generation.  Can you picture the chaos already?? Oh my… Just recalling it gives me the chills.

Hokkaido Self-Guided Tour June 2016 Part 1 32

Okay, it wasn’t THAT bad.  I think.  Although some members of my tour party may beg to differ.  Let me tell you our story from the beginning and you tell me at the end if it was bad or not.

Day 1: CTS – Furano

We arrived at New Chitose Airport with the other family of 2 adults + 2 kids.  If you read my post on Hokkaido trip budgeting, I explained that we rented our cars from different car companies.  So we went to pick up our car from World Net Rental Car and drove over to Car Rental Hokkaido‘s office to look for our friend after that.

Hokkaido Self-Guided Tour June 2016 Part 1 31

Can I just say for the record that I was super amused by that kawaii “Foreigner driving” magnet that they stuck onto our cars this time round? Seems to be a new initiative because I have never gotten that before in my previous 4 trips.  If you see another car with that magnet, wave and say hello to your fellow ‘alien’ traveller! LOL…

Hokkaido Self-Guided Tour June 2016 Part 1 33

Car Rental Hokkaido’s office was located at Hokkaido Marugoto Ichiba (北海道まるごと市場).   Our friend was still settling his car rental when we reached (in case you are wondering why they were so much slower than us, please don’t forget we’re veterans. Bwahaha…), so we wondered around Hokkaido Marugoto Ichiba. It was like a typical roadside station where you can shop for souvenirs and seafood.

Hokkaido Self-Guided Tour June 2016 Part 1 02

After our friend settled into their car, we drove together to Furano for lunch.  Okay, I have a confession regarding poor planning.  I had planned to have lunch at Yuigadokuson (唯我独尊) and dinner at Kumagera (くまげら) that day.  But I didn’t check carefully and Yuigadokuson was closed on Mondays! So we ended up at Kumagera for lunch.  Both restaurants were located in Furano city centre and pretty close to each other.  So close that the husband decided to walk over to Kumagera instead of hopping back on the car.  Because after being cramped for two hours in a 7-seater with 6 people and 2 suitcases immediately after hopping off the plane, walking was so much fun.

Hokkaido Self Drive Trip Itinerary June 01

After lunch, we visited Furano Winery.  Because we could all do with a celebratory drink after surviving a red-eye flight immediately followed by 2 hours drive with the kids.

Hokkaido Self Drive Trip Itinerary June 02

The last time we were here, it was raining.  This time round, we got lucky with the weather and got an amazing view from the winery which was located on top of a hill!

Hokkaido Self-Guided Tour June 2016 Part 1 04

I went to check out the little lavender field at Furano Winery and nope, they were not blooming at all yet in early June.  It was all green.

Hokkaido Self-Guided Tour June 2016 Part 1 03

We next headed to Campana della Vigna by Rokkatei (六花亭) which was near Furano Winery.

Hokkaido Self Drive Trip Itinerary June 03

The view from Campana was amazing and the kids had fun running around the terrace.  Usually I would have inserted an awesome action shot of my kids running around at this point.  But I was DEAD BEAT by then so I didn’t bother trying to take photos of my running kids.  Sheesh, where do THEY get their energy from? Oh, they slept through the red-eye flight on top of me and then they slept in their comfy car seats during the 2 hours car ride while I drove.

Hokkaido Self-Guided Tour June 2016 Part 1 27

There are few better perk me ups (for me at least) in this world than Hokkaido confectionery.  At Campana, you can check out the vineyards, enjoy some Rokkatei sweets and shop for Rokkatei confectionery.  Rokkatei stores are ubiquitous throughout Hokkaido.  So go for the grape-flavoured confectionery that are only available at this store if you are here!

Hokkaido Self-Guided Tour June 2016 Part 1 05

Next, we drove to Tomita Farm.  It was pretty early in the flowering season so the lavenders were not blooming yet.

Hokkaido Self-Guided Tour June 2016 Part 1 07

But when I looked into the lavender field very closely, I found a super baby lavender.  There you have it – first lavender of the season.  How precious is that??

Hokkaido Self-Guided Tour June 2016 Part 1 06

There were other early summer flowers blooming when we were there.  Not exactly spectacular frankly compared to what you would find in July and August, but I can live with this.

Hokkaido Self Drive Trip Itinerary June 04

Before I forget to mention… The whole time we were in Furano and Biei this time round, I noticed a lot of bees flying around.  I didn’t notice them the last time we were here in late June.  Not sure if it has to do with the season or the weather.  Just watch out for them and don’t get stung.  They may even fly into your car when you open the door.

Hokkaido Self-Guided Tour June 2016 Part 1 08

Next we went to Tomita Melon House where the kids had some fun on the tractors and swings.

Hokkaido Self Drive Trip Itinerary June 74

With a scenery like this, I think I could sit here on the swing all day.

Hokkaido Self-Guided Tour June 2016 Part 1 09

It may be that we were here too early for melon season, but I think the melons at Tomita Melon House were not great compared to what we could get at the markets.  However, they do have a pretty wide range of melon confectionery which you can’t find at markets.

Hokkaido Self-Guided Tour June 2016 Part 1 28

After this, it was back to the hotel, New Furano Prince Hotel, to rest.  I was actually starting to feel quite sick by the end of the day, so we decided not to drive out for dinner.

Hokkaido Self-Guided Tour June 2016 Part 1 29

We ended up having dinner at Mori No Tokei cafe – which was within New Furano Prince Hotel’s grounds but required a bit of a walk through the forest to get to.

Hokkaido Self-Guided Tour June 2016 Part 1 11

Not sure if I was too sick to taste anything, but I thought the dinner there was crappy.  I mean… It looks crappy doesn’t it? Like no, I didn’t take the photo below after my husband ate up all the meat.  It was just like that.  Sad-looking curry, carrots and rice.

Hokkaido Self-Guided Tour June 2016 Part 1 10

Walking to the cafe was not the problem.  Walking BACK was the problem because the walk back was uphill.  I think I almost fainted. But somehow I managed to reach the hotel room, popped some panadol and slept till the next day.

Day 2: Furano – Biei – Asahikawa

On this day, I had actually planned to make a long drive to Takinoue to check out shibazakura.  But I felt too sick to make the long drive and we ended up just hanging around Furano and Biei.  We started with breakfast at Prince Pan Kobo within New Furano Prince Hotel.

Hokkaido Self-Guided Tour June 2016 Part 1 12

Our first destination for the day was Furano Jam Factory, where you can taste a huge range of jams! The kids kind of enjoyed the buffet of sweet jams.  They provided bread and biscuits for you to try the jam with.

Hokkaido Self-Guided Tour June 2016 Part 1 13

Then we popped by the Anpanman shop next door which was super fun for the kids.  They had indoor and outdoor Anpanman play areas – FREE!

Hokkaido Self Drive Trip Itinerary June 05

Near Furano Jam Factory and Anpanman, there was a observation deck called Rokugo Viewing Platform which required a drive up the hill.

Hokkaido Self-Guided Tour June 2016 Part 1 34

Around Rokugo Viewing platform, there should be flower fields in summer.  When we were there, they were still planting the flowers.

Hokkaido Self-Guided Tour June 2016 Part 1 35

Despite the lack of flowers, I felt the drive up to Rokugo Viewing Platform wasn’t an entire waste of time – provided the weather was good.  I enjoyed the view from the top!

Hokkaido Self-Guided Tour June 2016 Part 1 36

We drove on to Furano Cheese Factory next for some cheese sampling and photo ops.

Hokkaido Self Drive Trip Itinerary June 06

And not forgetting the yummy ice-cream from Ice Milk Kobo.  As sick as I was, I could still appreciate a good rich creamy ice-cream.  The kids got lucky.  Usually when I am not sick, I would give the kids one mouth of ice-cream while finishing the rest myself (yes, I’m an evil mum like that.)   But since I was sick, it was the opposite this time.

Hokkaido Self-Guided Tour June 2016 Part 1 14

For lunch, we went back to Yuigadokuson which was open – Yay! If you are dining here, go for the Omelette rice with sausages and oxtail.  The omelette rice had cheese filling inside – yummy yummy.

Hokkaido Self Drive Trip Itinerary June 07

Our next destination was Flower Land Kamifurano.

Hokkaido Self Drive Trip Itinerary June 08

Flower Land Kamifurano was located on a hill and walking around involved climbing up and down hills.  I was really not feeling very well and reckoned if I walked down, I wouldn’t be able to make it back up

Hokkaido Self Drive Trip Itinerary June 75

So I just sat at the top and rested while the rest of the group went around to explore.  One good thing about visiting Furano off-peak, when most of the flowers were not blooming yet, was that it was extremely serene.

Hokkaido Self-Guided Tour June 2016 Part 1 37

I probably fell asleep.  Not complaining about waking up to a sight like this.

Hokkaido Self-Guided Tour June 2016 Part 1 15

Next, we drove to Miyama-Toge Art Park where Furano Trick Art Museum was.

Hokkaido Self-Guided Tour June 2016 Part 1 16

I love trick art and on a usual day, I would have loved to visit the trick art museum.  But not when I was sick.  The rest of the group did not exactly share my love for trick art. so we just took photos at the observation deck and moved on.

Hokkaido Self Drive Trip Itinerary June 09

Our next stop was Sanai no Chaya Cafe Curve – which was my favourite cafe in the Biei region.

Hokkaido Self-Guided Tour June 2016 Part 1 38

It was so rejuvenating to just sit in the open and enjoy a drink while soaking in the countryside scenery when the weather was this good.

Hokkaido Self Drive Trip Itinerary June 10

From there, we drove to our accommodation in Asahikawa.  We planned to have jinguisukan dinner at the super famous Daikokuya (成吉思汗 大黒屋).  I figured if I ate jingisukan (lamb BBQ), I would probably end up bed-ridden the next day and my family would have no driver.  So for the safety of my family who would have to sit in a car driven by me the next day, the rest of the group went ahead while I just slept in the hotel.

A point on dining at Daikokuya: If you visiting in large groups or with kids, don’t go to the main store because there are only counter seats there.  Go to the 5-chome store instead.  The husband said that the jingisukan there was awesome, especially the lamb rack.  I wouldn’t know, I had panadol for dinner.

Day 3: Asahikawa – Biei – Asahikawa

We started the morning with a visit to Shirogane Onsen.  The drive towards Shirogane Onsen was super scenic!

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Along the way, we passed by a beautiful field of yellow flowers.

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Do NOT attempt to enter the flower field as it is a privately owned farm, not a tourist attraction.  You can only take photos from along the road. So no, this is NOT a place for you to take a selfie lying in a bed of flowers.

Hokkaido Self-Guided Tour June 2016 Part 1 18

We arrived first at Blue Pond, which was a famous attraction in the Biei / Shirogane onsen area.  Very uncreative name, I know.  I’m serious, the name of the pond is Blue Pond.  I didn’t call it Blue Pond because I forgot its name.  Anyway don’t underestimate it just because it has a lame name.  It is like super popular and often labelled as a must-visit attraction in Hokkaido.  But I never found the motivation to visit in all my earlier 4 trips because, well, ‘What’s so fascinating about a blue pond???’, I wondered.

Hokkaido Self Drive Trip Itinerary June 11

Okay, I admit.  I underestimated Blue Pond.  It was actually pretty fascinating.  It was bigger and uhmmm… bluer than I expected.   And it had these peek-a-boo mountain backdrop.

Hokkaido Self-Guided Tour June 2016 Part 1 39

Next, we drove on to Shirohige waterfall.

Hokkaido Self Drive Trip Itinerary June 12

One of the things I worry about visiting waterfalls was that I would have to trek from the parking lot to see it – Not something I felt I was up to that day. Shirohige waterfall could be seen from the bridge right beside the carpark.  Yay!

Hokkaido Self-Guided Tour June 2016 Part 1 20

We drove on to Tokachidake Observatory and it started raining along the way.  I contemplated whether to get out of the car (and risk getting more sick than I already was)  but eventually decided to just grab an umbrella and go since I have already driven all the way up here.

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Despite the rain, I was quite glad we could still see the surrounding mountains.  I would have been quite upset if all we saw were clouds (which happened quite often later on in the trip).

Hokkaido Self Drive Trip Itinerary June 13

For lunch, we went to Farm Restaurant Chiyoda.  It started raining heavily while we were there.  I am officially cursed when it comes to Chiyoda farm.  Two out of two times I was there – it rained.  So once again, our plan to let the kids roam around the farm after lunch was ruined.

Hokkaido Self Drive Trip Itinerary June 14

So after eating what was supposed to be my favourite beef stew but was tasteless to me that day (not sure was it really tasteless or my taste buds stopped working from Panadol overdose), we went for tea break at GOSH Coffee because there was no point in going anywhere outdoors when it was raining. Especially since getting drenched by the rain would make my flu worse.  Not that desserts would help me get better but… at least they made me happy.

Hokkaido Self Drive Trip Itinerary June 15

The rain stopped for a bit after our dessert break and we made our way to Shinnei no Oka.

Hokkaido Self Drive Trip Itinerary June 17

There were some bright red flowers at Shinnei no Oka that I didn’t see when we visited two years ago.  I THINK they were azalea which blooms in Hokkaido in late spring – early summer.

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The popular place to see them in Hokkaido was actually at Mount Esan near Hakodate in Southern Hokkaido. I was pleasantly surprised to find them in Biei.

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From there, we went on to Shikisai no Oka.  The flowers were not blooming yet in early June.

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So as not to make it a wasted trip, we let the kids have some fun on the tractors.  Young children can ride the tractor at Shikisai No Oka if they are accompanied by adults.

Hokkaido Self-Guided Tour June 2016 Part 1 (01)

It started raining again, so we gave up any hopes of sightseeing around Biei and went to Biei Senka for free food tasting souvenir shopping instead.

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The rain didn’t look like it was going to stop, so we decided to just go back to Asahikawa.  We went shopping at the area around Asahikawa ramen village.  You can find Uniqlo, Toys R Us, a big supermarket among other stuff near Asahikawa ramen village.

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And we had ramen at Asahikawa Ramen Village for dinner before going back to the hotel.

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Our Hokkaido Trip in June 2016 (Part 1) - Furano, Biei, Asahikawa - Bumble Bee Mum


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the author

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


  1. Kenny says:

    Oh dear, hope you did get better for the rest of the trip!

    Anyway, I second your husband’s comment that the lamb racks at Daikokuya in Asahikawa were excellent! Which only means you’ll have to go back there again! 🙂

  2. mmlittlee says:

    OMG that magnet is hilarious! But good! Let fellow road users know that you have a Singapore equivalent triangle plate. Gosh your party is a chaos! And my husband thinks you are MAD to be the only driver for the trip! hahah really power lah.

    Aren’t the boys lucky youth got to have an ice-cream each. They would wish for you to be sick all the time! hahaha

    Wa Say! The tractor is so cool! I like.
    mmlittlee recently posted…Leofoo Resort, TaiwanMy Profile

    • bumblebeemum says:

      I was also the only driver for our previous trip and that trip was in winter (means slower and hence longer driving). I didn’t feel very tired from the driving during the previous trip and reckoned I shouldn’t have any trouble for this trip too. Oh well.. Guess I never took into the account that I may fall sick!!

      I know right.. My boys are probably secretly rejoicing that their mum is sick and nobody is fighting with them for ice-cream. Zzzz….

  3. Jay says:

    waiting for yr next part ! very informative write-up !

    falling sick during the holiday trip is the worst ! even worst when you are the only driver ! wondering why yr husband dont want to drive ! my next trip in september, im also the only driver ! my wife can not drive !

    • bumblebeemum says:

      I’ve always been the only driver on our Japan driving trips. Coz I like to drive! Haha… So I always try to be ‘kiang’ and be like steady, I will be the only driver, no problem one… Which frankly I think wouldn’t have been a problem if not for the fact that I fell sick. But hor, I think age makes a difference also. I can feel it… Pretty sure by the time I hit 40, I need to have another driver.

  4. Thanks for sharing your itinerary. The last time we were in Hokkaido, it was on a package tour, and I have been thinking of returning to explore on our own. This is very helpful! Love how your travel posts are always so detailed!

    • bumblebeemum says:

      You should go back and explore on your own – especially the food! Package tours are a great way to take it the sights, but it doesn’t allow you to try out the local restaurants and cafes – which is what I like most about Hokkaido.

  5. Angie.S says:

    What a bummer to be ill on holidays! But despite not feeling well, you still soldier on with the driving duties and sightseeing itinerary. I like the fact that in early Summer, everywhere in Hokkaido is still very tranquil and almost void of hordes of tourists. I went in August many years ago and it was totally different sight. I love the blue pond, the waterfall and the lookout points. Thanks for sharing these with us on your blog! Looking forward to the next one in the series.
    Angie.S recently posted…Tips for Travelling with Children – From Infant to Primary SchoolersMy Profile

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Yeah, it’s really a tough choice isn’t it? Do you go during off-peak and enjoy the tranquility but miss out on seeing the famous flower fields at full bloom? Or do you go during the peak season where summer is in full swing and colourful flower fields cover the region but there are people people everywhere (not to mention sky-high accommodation prices).

  6. Cherry says:

    Omg! Your Day 1 is so packed but glad to know you survived. Most of your scenery photos look like postcards, I’d love to see such breathtaking scenes with my own naked eyes and be awed.

    It sucks to be sick when on a family road trip. It happened to me during my last visit back home. You are a superwoman, driving and acting as a tour guide at the same time!

    • bumblebeemum says:

      My photos do the scenery no justice! Indeed, you need to be there to see with your own eyes to appreciate its true beauty. I can just bum on a random park bench and look out at the mountains (while chewing on some yummy Hokkaido confectionery) all day! Frankly that’s what I would do on a 5th trip to the same place.. But it was my in-laws’ first trip so I tried to pack in more sightseeing for them.

  7. Ling says:

    You r really one power woman! Braved the rain, Drove, guided your group despite being ill.

    My worry is the same as you about visiting waterfalls, couldn’t really enjoy trekking esp with kids around. Glad that this Shirohige waterfall is not far from the parking lot to see it. Bookmark this for future reference.
    Ling recently posted…Changi Airport Terminal 1: You Should Visit This Secret Staff CanteenMy Profile

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Yeah, trekking with the kids can be fun or torturous, depending on how good a mood they are in. I ended up skipping the waterfalls that required trekking for this trip and stuck to those that are like right next to the carpark! Lazy me. :p

  8. Michael says:

    I’ve always felt that Japan is one of the nearest places to bring the baby when young. As a car lover, the driving option is also very attractive. Thanks for sharing!

  9. eco says:

    Hi BMM,

    For this route CTS > Shikotsu > Noboribetsu

    May I know you used National Highway 453 or 276?

  10. eco says:

    Sapporo Beer Museum

    Hi BBM, did you make reservation when you visit this museum last time? Can we walk in?

  11. eco says:

    Sapporo JR Tower Observatory T38

    BBM, may I know how to get there from Hotel Mercure? How much the ticket to go up to the observatory? Best to visit day / night time? Thanks

    • bumblebeemum says:

      The admission to JR Tower Observatory T38 is 720yen per adult / 300 yen per child. From Mercure, there is free shuttle bus to JR Sapporo station. JR Tower Observatory is connected to JR Sapporo station. If you time your visit near to sunset, you can go up while it’s still day time for day view and wait for the sunset to see the night view. But if really need to choose one, I would go for night view.

  12. eco says:


    BBM, normally which place offer cheaper price to get fresh fruits? Daimaru supermarket (Sapporo)?

    What about when in other area in Hokkaido?

    Knowing to get a rock melon in Furano – Biei area is super expensive especially in Farm Tomita that melon shop.

    Do you think we can get same quality of melon from any local market / supermarket easily? How much it cost per kg or per whole melon?

    July – August other than melon, peach and cherry are the season right?

    Did you find fun / worthy to go for fruit picking in any farm visit? Kids don’t eat much, just taste. And I think if to bring out have to pay extra fee.

    • bumblebeemum says:

      I usually get my fruits in Sapporo from the Ito-Yokado (イトーヨーカドー) supermarket at Susukino station. It’s at the basement of La Filer department store and directly connected to Susukino station.

      In other areas of Hokkaido, I usually just drive into any supermarket that I spot along the way. For e.g. at Asahikawa, there is a supermarket beside Asahikawa Ramen Village called “Western Powers”. If really cannot find any supermarket, sometimes we just buy bananas from Lawson.

      While you can get melons are supermarkets like Ito-Yokado, you need to know how to choose them (I don’t know how to choose frankly). So I prefer to get from the markets (e.g. Sapporo Central Wholesale market or Nijo Market etc), where they will advise whether a melon is ready for eating, or need to wait 3 days before eating etc. But those off the shelves from the supermarket, I don’t know how to tell whether they are ripe or not.

      Yes, July-August is the peak season for melon and cherry in the Furano / Biei region. Not sure about peaches.

      The fruit picking farms usually charge by head count, so yeah, you need to pay for your kids even if they don’t eat much. I enjoy fruits picking, so do my kids. So it’s something I personally would plan for.

  13. Tony says:

    hi BBM,
    Wanted to ask you wrt mapcodes. I noticed the mapcodes u posted here are not the same as the one u posted previously – which was a crumpled piece of paper (Map Code of the popular Tourist spot). Example, Blue Pond 349 569 455 (paper) (349 569 817 ). Furano Cheese Factory 550 840 177 (paper) (550 840 173), Furano Winery 349 060 667(paper) (349 060 668).
    Seems like the difference are in the last 3 digits. I guess they wont be too far off whichever I choose. Am I right?

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Yup, they should both work. If you want to double-check the location of these map codes, you can go to mapion:

      Among the options above the search bar, choose the right-most マップコード, copy and paste the map code inside and enter. You will see where that map code leads to.

  14. Esther says:

    Hi BMM,
    You are amazing travel with the kiddos. Love your blog. I’m planning for a trip next year (30/5 – 7/6) . Need to plan ahead as it’s going to be a group of 7 (husband and me, then my mum (67 years old) and my daugthers / niece ( 16mths x2 (twins), 7yo and 9yo). Can imagine have handsful of them. Tentatively, we plan as follow : —

    Arrival New Chitose Airport (12pm) , car rent , lunch , depart from airport to Asahikawa (2hrs drive) – Check in Asahikawa hotel , R&R

    Asahikawa to Takinoue pink moss park (2hrs) > Kamiyubetsu tulip park > Asahikawa (overnight asahikawa)

    Asahikawa – Asahiyama Zoo/Asahikawa Ramen Village / Biei (overnight Biei)

    Biei – Furano (overnight Furano)

    Furano – Mitsui Outlet – Sapporo (overnight Sapporo)

    Sapporo – Otaru (music box museum / glass work street shops/Otaru canal /chocolate factory (overnight Sapporo)

    Sapporo – odori park, clock tower, shopping street (overnight Sapporo)

    Sapporo – CTS

    Mind sharing your view on the above ? Do you think Asahiyama Zoo is worth visiting since no penguin parade ? Any alternative suggestion so that the kids can enjoy more ?

    Thanks for your input ya …

    • bumblebeemum says:

      You are going to have a problem with car rental.. Are you renting one or two cars? I don’t think one car can fit all of you and your luggage, especially since the twins would still need child seats.

      With the number of people you have, I would say to minimise the change of hotels. So 1/6, I would continue staying in Asahikawa.

      Other than that the itinerary looks okay.

      Asahiyama Zoo is a very nice zoo even without the penguin parade. Think the kids will like it and admission is quite cheap. It’s one of the best places to bring kids to in Hokkaido.

      • Esther says:

        i’m thinking to get a vellfire / estima and practice japanese style to be minimalist. less luggage and no stroller … noted your suggestion to stay in Asahikawa; but i’ve a second thought to stay in Sounkyo instead of asahikawa (for first few day), what do you think ?

  15. Lee Munly says:

    Hi BBM…we have a group of 4 ladies..intending to do a self drive to Furano Hokkaido. This is our 1st trip and we would like to know if it is easy to drive to Furano?

  16. Pamela says:

    Hihi!! I want to check if it’s possible to visit Asahikawa as a day trip from otaru?

    I’ll be staying a night in jozankei, then 2 nights in Otaru and 2 nights in sapporo. So was thinking of a day trip to asahikawa while staying in Otaru.. and perhaps a day trip to furano while in sapporo.

    For your kind advice please? Thanks!!

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Ermm.. If its possible, change to 1 night Otaru, 3 nights Sapporo and do a day-trip to Asahikawa from Sapporo instead. That’s if you are using the train. But if you are driving, I don’t think it makes any difference whether you go to Asahikawa from Otaru or Sapporo.

      What’s your travel date? I would only do a day trip to Furano in Summer.

  17. angel says:

    Hi Bumblebeemum,

    We have a time slot for 10 days trip to Japan from 23 June to 2 July 2017.
    Can you suggest/recommend where to go in Hokkaido or other parts of Japan?

    This year (thanks so much for your suggested itinerary) we’ve gone to the following places in Hokkaido;
    Lake Toya
    Furano, Biei

    Would love to cover other areas of Japan thats got good seafood 🙂

    thanks so much

  18. Tiong says:

    WOW! I really enjoy reading your travelblog! U should be a destination expert for Furano-Biei now!
    I’ll be going to Furano-Biei area in June 2017. May I know:
    1. From your experience, which is a reasonable hotel (rates-wise) to stay in Furano city, Biei & Asahaikawa?
    2. If I self-drive, can I visit the following places in 1 DAY (8:30am-5:30pm): Furano Cheese Factory, Furano Winery, Tomita Farm, Tomita Melon House, Flowerland Kamifurano, Hokusei Hill Observatory, Zerubu Hill,then swing to Blue Pond,Shirahige Waterfall.
    (Sounds ambitious, but I try to make the most of the day.)
    3. Then may be stay in YUMOTO SHIROGANE ONSEN HOTEL overnite. Next day, drive to Asahikawa.
    4. Is it easy to drive from Furano through Biei, then to Asahikawa? How many tolls to pass through & how much toll fees?
    Your replies really appreciated. TQ. Tiong, Malaysia.

    • bumblebeemum says:

      1. For accommodation, you can refer to this post:

      2. I guess if you rush, you can visit everything. But personally I would split into two days and fit in some cafe breaks along the way.

      4. Yup, in summer it is rather straightforward drive along Route 237 with turn-offs from Route 237 to get into the various attractions. Route 237 is toll-free.

      • Tiong says:

        TQ BBM for your tips.
        I want to go from Sapporo to Lake Toya in June, & stay 1 nite in Lake Toya.
        Q1/ Is self drive a recommended mode of transport? I understand it may take 2 hrs? Is it a straight forward road/highway (toll or not?) or have to make many turns to side roads?
        Q2/ Is Donan Bus a good alternative (frequency wise) to use to go from Sapporo to Lake Toya?
        Q3/ From Lake Toya, I want to go straight to New Chitose Airport – what’s your recommend mode of transport (if not self drive)?

        • bumblebeemum says:

          Q1) It is pretty straightforward. I usually use the Nakayama Pass (Route 230) which is toll-free.

          Q2) If you prefer to take a bus, some ryokans in Lake Toya provide direct shuttle service between Sapporo and the ryokan. You should look into those.

          Q3) Getting from Lake Toya to CTS by public transport is a bit tricky. You need to catch the local bus (or hotel shuttle if provided by your ryokan) to Toya station and take the train from Toya station to CTS. The train ride requires one transfer Minami-Chitose station. You can check train schedules and fares using hyperdia (key in TOYA(JR-MURORAN) as your starting point and NEW CHITOSE AIRPORT as the destination):

  19. Yvonne says:

    Hi BBM, planning to bring kids to Hokkaido around June as well. But instead of staying 14 days, we might be staying in Hokkaido for 9 to 10 days. Mind sharing with us your opinion which area to cut? We will be flying to Hokkaido from Tokyo and back to Tokyo as I want to bring my kids to Disney 🙂

  20. Gregina says:

    Hi BBM, can I asked if you took the Changi Recommends wifi router for this trip? Just wanted to check on the network coverage for Hokkaido

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Yup, I used the Changi Recommends WIFI in Hokkaido. In the cities the coverage was okay, but in the rural areas, there was no coverage. So places like Shiretoko National Park and Akan National Park, there was no network. Even some parts of Furano and Biei, network was kinda iffy. It was a good complement to the car’s in-built GPS – which works well in rural areas but gets a bit wonky in built-up cities. Lol…

      • Gregina says:

        Thanks! Regarding the car’s GPS, that’s really weird!!

        • bumblebeemum says:

          I find this to be a common problem in GPS – not working well in built-up areas. I had the same problem when we rented a car in Bangkok recently and the GPS could only detect where we were properly after we entered the expressway. (We had to rely on Google Maps to get ourselves out of the city.) I suspect maybe the car rental companies move the cars around while the GPS is off? So when we get the car, the GPS thinks we’re somewhere that we’re not in? And maybe the tall buildings obstructed the signal? I dunno man..

  21. James Fong says:

    Hi there, I would like to ask about my 2-weeks self-drive planned itinerary. I will be in Hokkaido from 23rd June to 6th July 2017 (2 weeks). Could I get your opinion please?

    1) 23rd (afternoon) – 25th (morning): Hakodate
    2) 25th: Hakodate-Nikeso-Otaru
    3) 26th: Otaru-Muroran-noboribetsu (see help on this, planning to stay at Sekisuitei for private onsen)
    4) 27th- noboribetsu – Daisetsuzan – Asahikawa
    5) 28th – Asahikawa – Furano – Asahikawa
    6) 29th – Asahikawa – Blue Pond – Shirogane waterfall – Shikisai-no-oka
    7) 30th – Asahikawa – Ginga waterfall – Shiretoko
    8) 1st – Shiretoko – Rausu – Arrive at Lake Akan
    9) 2nd – Lake Akan – Lake Kussho – Lake Mashu – Fisherman Wharf Moo – Kushiro
    10) 3rd – Kushiro – Akkeshi – Ikeda – Ohibiro
    11) 4th – Ohibiro – Manabe Garden – Sapporo
    12) 4th – 6th: Sapporo

    • bumblebeemum says:

      In general, I usually don’t recommend visiting both Hakodate and Shiretoko in a single trip as it would involve a lot of driving. If you do, I suggest you drop some places to keep the itinerary a bit looser.

      23 June: Hakodate
      24 June: Hakodate
      25 June: Hakodate – Lake Toya
      26 June: Lake Toya – Otaru
      27 June: Otaru – Asahikawa
      28 June: Asahikawa – Sounkyo – Kitami / Abashiri
      29 June: Kitami / Abashiri – Shiretoko
      30 June: Shiretoko
      1 July: Shiretoko – Lake Akan
      2 July: Lake Akan – Kushiro
      3 July: Kushiro – Akkeshi – Ikeda – Ohibiro
      4 July: Obihiro – Furano
      5 July: Furano (day trip to Biei)
      6 July: Furano – CTS

      • Tiong says:

        Dear Bumblebeemum,
        Please comment on the practicality of my travel itinerary as follows:
        Day 1 – CTS – Tomamu (train)
        Day 2 – Tomamu – Furano (bus)
        Day 3 – Furano-Biei (self-drive)
        Day 4 – Bier-Asahikawa-Sapporo (self-drive to Asahikawa, then train to Sapporo)
        Day 5 – Sapporo-Otaru-Sapporo (train)
        Day 6 – Sapporo-Lake Toya (bus)
        Day 7 – Lake Toya-CTS (train)


        • bumblebeemum says:

          If picking the car up from Furano, I would return the car to Furano and train back to Sapporo from Furano to avoid paying drop-off fee for returning the car to a different location. But you can always check the price of car rental for returning to Furano vs returning to Asahikawa to see if the time savings warrants the price difference.

          From Lake Toya, try to see if there is a direct bus from near your hotel back to CTS. It’s probably more convenient than train, because the train station is not near the onsen town.

          • Tiong says:

            TQ, Bumblebeemum, for your reply.
            I could not find any direct bus from Lake Toya to CTS. (From CTS to Lake Toya, yes. But not the reverse I think)

            Does anyone else know whether there is a direct bus from Lake Toya to CTS? If so, name of bus & website. Would appreciate if can inform me. TQ

            • bumblebeemum says:

              Hmmm.. yeah, it looks like there are no direct buses, unless the hotel you’re staying in offers them. Lake View Nonokaze seems to offer transfers between CTS and the hotel.

              I can’t decipher if there’s a typo on their page though, because the send off under ‘pick-up services from New Chitose Airport’ says arrive in Sapporo. But later on they have another section talking about pick-up from Sapporo with a different arrival time in Sapporo. So confusing. Argh! This is why I always end up driving. Public transport in Hokkaido is just so lacking!

  22. Christy says:

    Hi Bumblebeemum,

    For fist timer, do we choose Toyota car rental or Tabirai? I checked that Tabirai, i can’t seems to choose drop off at Susukino and only Sapporo station is available, whereas Toyota car rental Co has a Susukino drop off point.

    As for entering map codes in the GPS system, if I use the Japan map code search, it has a set of map code with an * (for eg: 79 343 340*03) do I enter all with the *? or just this no: 79 343 340. Cos reading some that says GPS system for certain car can’t enter * code. I am confused.

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Booking from 3rd party websites has its limitations. When I booked with Toyota at their Susukino branch, I booked directly from Toyota website. Maybe you would have to book direct from Toyota if you want to drop off at Susukino. Or if it’s a lot more expensive, just book with Tabirai anyway and see if you can put in a manual request to ask if you can drop off at Susukino instead of Sapporo station. If they say no, then just return to Sapporo station. Usually I would drop everyone and the luggage off at the hotel first and go return the car on my own and find my own way back to the hotel. You would just have to weigh the cost vs convenience.

      You don’t need to enter the part behind the asterisk. So in your example, you just key in 79 343 340.

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