Many of us have certain countries we always love going back to.  For me, I have been to Japan so often that I lost count. At least I lost count until I bothered setting up this blog and realised I have been there 16 times.

I know it sounds a lot.  But surely some of you have been to countries like Hong Kong, Thailand, Taiwan etc. just as often?  No? Okay fine, it’s just me who is Japan-crazy then.

The funny thing about me is, although I have been there so many times, you would think I should have covered most of Japan by now.  But no.  Somehow I kept returning to the same ol’ places.  I haven’t been to anywhere further west on mainland Japan than Hiroshima.  Neither have I been to anywhere further north on mainland Japan than Morioka.  (Though I have been to the northernmost island of Hokkaido 5 times and far flung Okinawa.)  So no, I can’t claim to be an expert in Japan travel.  At most I pretend to be an expert in Hokkaido travel.  But I can’t help you if you’re going to Kyushu.

Whatever that I know and have experienced, I love to share on this blog.  Below, you would find write-ups from our 15 trips (I skipped one where we went Tokyo to eat and shop and hardly took any photos, as if we were just going to Orchard Road) and guides based on what we have learned from planning those 15 trips.

OUR TRIPS
September 2017
Areas visited: Osaka, Nagoya
See Itinerary
December 2015
Areas visited: Chiba, Tokyo, Gotemba, Kyoto, Osaka, Kanazawa, Nagano, Gunma
See Itinerary
November 2013
Areas visited: Tokyo, Yokohama
See Itinerary
November 2013
Areas visited: Tokyo, Hakone, Mount Fuji, Sagamiko
See Itinerary
June 2009
Areas visited: Tokyo, Aizu Wakamatsu, Sendai, Matsushima, Yamadera, Morioka, Matsumoto
See Itinerary
December 2007
Areas visited: Tokyo, Takayama, Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe, Himeji, Hiroshima, Miyajima
See Itinerary
June 2007
Areas visited: Tokyo
See Itinerary
May 2004
Areas visited: Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Miyajima, Nikko, Yokohama
See Itinerary
TRAVEL GUIDES

Driving in Japan

How to use Japanese GPS &
Setting it to avoid tollways

Read More

Driving in Japan

Japan Map Codes:
What are they are how to search for them

Read More

Driving in Japan

Driving the Golden Route:
From Tokyo to Kyoto

Read More

Japan by Rail

JR East Rail Pass

Read More

Flights

Peach Airlines Review

Read More

Travel Ideas

Japan Travel Ideas for Hello Kitty Fans

Read More
FESTIVAL GUIDES
Early February
Held in: Sapporo
Read More
Mid February
Held in: Otaru
Read More
Early - Mid June
Held in: Sapporo
Read More
Mid June
Held in: Sapporo
Read More
End October - Early May
Held in: Nagoya
Read More
Early November - End March
Held in: Chiba
Read More
Mid November - Early December
Held in: Kyoto
Read More
Early - Mid December
Held in: Kobe
Read More
Late November - Early December
Held in: Tokyo
Read More
RESOURCES
Checking Rail Timetable
A must-use tool for searching your train routes and train timetables.
Read More
Car Rental
Easily compare car rental prices and book a rental car in Japan.
Read More
Travel Guide
The single most comprehensive website for anyone who wishes to plan a free and easy holiday to Japan and my personal go-to when planning my Japan trips.
Read More

186 Comments

  • Hey, I think you can be a good tour guide or Japan travel ambassador! In fact just last month the hubby and I were planning for a honeymoon trip to Hokkaido. I will sure book mark this page and read through your comments and recommendations to plan one. We may go next year during Sakura bloom. I will probably have more questions that need your advice 🙂 Thanks for the wonderful effort and time to share 🙂

    • Not quite an ambassador, but definitely an addict! If I don’t go Japan for more than a year, I will start having sushi withdrawal symptoms.

      I’ve been to Hokkaido in summer, autumn and winter, but not yet in Spring. The problem with Hokkaido’s cherry blossom season is that it coincides with Golden Week, which is a bad time for foreigners to visit Japan.

  • bumblebeemum says:

    Hmmm… I’m pretty sure I answered your previous comment. It was left on this post:
    http://bumblebeemum.net/2015/01/21/itinerary-for-17-day-hokkaido-self-drive-with-kids-december-2014/

    But I think you probably missed it because my blog seemed to have messed up the order of the comments. The very last comment by me was actually my reply to your comment on 1 October 2015. Sorry about that, let me see if I can fix the ordering.

  • Anonymous says:

    Am back from our Osaka Kyoto Fuji and Tokyo 15 days trip. Fun but tiring with 2 kids, Many thanks for your advices and informative blog.

  • Game Private says:

    I think Japan is Beautiful country

  • Lee Yah Leng says:

    Hi! I just want to leave a note to you to tell you that you are GREAT! You must have spent a lot of effort putting in all the information. I am now actively reading your Japan travel blog as I am planning a trip to Japan end of the year. Jus that I have not decided which part of Japan yet. A lot of useful info you have. Benefit people like me who knows nothing about how to get around in Japan.

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Thank you for your kind words. I enjoy visiting Japan a lot and it’s fun writing about it. It helps me remember the details of our trip! Glad that it also benefits others – double win!

  • Sammy says:

    Just wanna say thank you to you, bumblebee, for your advice & suggestions throughout our Hokkaido trip planning. Everything turned out well, our itinerary was on schedule, taking train is perfect due to snow, visiting scenic places etc. Couldn’t thank you enough! Highly recommend you to any friends who have plans to Japan.

  • Anonymous says:

    Hi BumblebeeMum,

    Thanks for your info!

    Regards
    Michelle

  • Michele koh says:

    Hi bbm, I’m currently in Tokyo and would like to know where can i get baby milk powder? I need this brand called, Similac, in stage 2.

  • Jabin says:

    Hello!

    I’m planning a trip to Hokkaido and I’m wondering if the Singapore driving license can be used there.

    Thanks!

  • Nic says:

    Hi Bumblebee mum

    It’s me again. I will be staying one night at Lake View Toya Nonokaze in Dec, after which, will be going to Niseko. May I know how do I travel from Lake View Toya Nonokaze to Niseko? We have two kids and one elderly in our group. Not self-driving. By Public transport, isit very difficult?

    And also do you have any recommendation on the places we can go during our one day at lake toya? Thanks!

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Yeah, it is a bit tricky to get from Lake Toya to Niseko without a car. With your number of people, I would try to arrange for a private transfer. I have never use private transfers before coz I always drive, but you can google around for ‘Hokkaido private transfers’. There are quite a number of options, you can contact them to get a quote.

  • VC Yang says:

    Hi Guru,

    I’m so impressed on all your trips to Hokkaido
    Appreciate if you design some itinerary for the following
    Duration: ETA 26 May 2017, Return 04 Jun
    Intention – Self drive
    7-8 pax
    Any recommendation where and which hotel: Price: Average
    Your info will be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks in advance

  • Chiam AM says:

    Hi Bumblebee mum,

    I want to say a BIG thank you for all the posts about Hokkaido which made my trip an unforgettable one. The information given really help a lot during my last trip from 29 Sep 16 to 11 Oct 16 to Hokkaido.

    Can I send you a pdf file that consist of Mapcode of many of the places of interest in Hokkaido? I got them from the car rental company. And I hope to pass it on to those who plan to have self drive trip to Hokkaido just like what you did. Of course with you help to post in your blog to make known to others.

    Thank you.

    Best Regards,
    Chiam Am

  • Chris says:

    Dear BBM
    Which airport shall i fly into if I were to travel with children to Tokyo? Narita or Haneda?

  • Cindy Tan says:

    Hi Bumblebeemum,
    I’m in the midst of planning my itinerary for a family trip in April 17 with my 3kids & grand children age 3&4. Arriving Sapporo New Chitose Airport early in the morning on 22.4.17.Depart 01.5.17. Just knowing that the date fall on the Golden week. Where is the best spot to see Cherry Blossom in hakkaido. My kid are willing to drive and my suggestion is JR pass. Could you pls help to schedule which is the best place to visit during this period. Thank you.

    • bumblebeemum says:

      The best place for cherry blossoms is in Hakodate (Goryokaku Fort) and Matsumae Castle.

      You can use the JR Pass to get between Sapporo and Hakodate. But I do suggest you drive to Matsumae Castle from Hakodate. If you have 6 pax (including the 2 grandkids), you should be able to fit into a 7 or 8 seater comfortably without your luggage. So I suggest you rent a car for a day when you’re in Hakodate to go to Matsumae Castle.

      However, if you plan to also visit Lake Toya and Noboribetsu (which are in between Sapporo and Hakodate), then I suggest you rent a car all the way from CTS. But you will need to pack light in order to fit everyone and all the luggage into a single 8-seater car.

      If you drive all the way, a possible itinerary would be as follows:

      22/4: CTS – Sapporo
      23/4: Sapporo
      24/4: Sapporo (day trip to Otaru)
      25/4: Sapporo – Lake Toya
      26/4: Lake Toya – Hakodate
      27/4: Hakodate
      28/4: Hakodate (day trip to Matsumae Castle)
      29/4: Hakodate – Onuma Koen – Noboribetsu
      30/4: Noboribetsu – CTS
      1/5: Flight back

      In Noboribetsu, there is an avenue of cherry trees that usually blooms a bit later in mid May, but you can just try your luck:
      https://en.visit-hokkaido2.jp/travelPlanner/details.php?code=6102001000005

      There are also cherry blossom sites within Sapporo:
      http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e5316.html

  • Weng Keong says:

    Hello bumblebeemum, would like your help to plan my itinerary in Sapporo. Cracking my brains to squeeze okurayama jump stadium, shiroi kobito, Otaru, Asahiyama Zoo and Sapporo Beer factory into 2 full days. Okurayama seems like the odd one out but my wife wants to try the open ski lift and since we don’t ski this seems the best alternative.
    Current is Day 1-Okurayama, Shiroi kobito then Otaru. Day 2-Asahiyama Zoo then Beer Factory. What so you think? And any more attractions that I should be going other than those in downtown?
    Thanks!

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Wahaha… Okay, that sounds ambitious. Because Asahiyama Zoo is usually a full-day thing and I usually also recommend a whole day for Otaru.

      If you reduce Otaru to half a day and you drive, you may just be able to squeeze Okurayama Jump Stadium, Shiroi Koibito Park and Otaru in a day. The driving route actually looks pretty straightforward with minimal detour between the 3 places:
      https://goo.gl/maps/Qs43tvXg5rR2

      But by public transport, I don’t think you can squeeze in all 3 places in one day.

      As for Sapporo beer factory, if you are visiting for the restaurants at the bier garten (not the museum itself which closes early), it is possible for you to go to Sapporo Bier Garten after you come back from Asahiyama Zoo. Because the restaurants at Bier Garten open till late.

      If you only have 2 days, I don’t think you should be going to any other attractions?? But actually, one of my favourite sightseeing spots in Sapporo is the Mount Moiwa Ropeway.
      http://moiwa.sapporo-dc.co.jp/index.html

  • Anonymous says:

    Hi there! We are planning to visit Lake Toya from Hakodate and it’s gonna be a long drive. My kids and grandparents will be coming along. So are there any shops or eateries we can stop by for toilet breaks? Thank you for your informative website! 🙂

  • P says:

    Hi Bubblebeemum,
    It will be my first time to Hokkaido. Arriving New Chitose Airport in the afternoon on 29/4/17 and departing in the afternoon on 10/5/17. Due to the golden week period, I have already book hotel in Hakodate check-in 1/5 and check-out 3/5. I would like to visit Furano winery, Biei Bluepond. But I’m not keen in visiting shrine and onsen. Would really appreciate your advise and suggestion on itinerary easily accessible via public transport. Thank you.

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Hmmm… Furano winery and Biei blue pond are not that easily accessible by public transport. Are you prepared to drive in the Furano / Biei region?

      This is what I would suggest:

      29/4: CTS (rest in Air Terminal Hotel)
      30/4: CTS – Lake Toya
      1/5: Lake Toya – Hakodate
      2/5: Hakodate
      3/5: Hakodate – Onuma Koen – Sapporo
      4/5: Sapporo
      5/5: Sapporo
      6/5: Sapporo (day trip to Otaru)
      7/5: Sapporo – Furano
      8/5: Furano (day trip to Biei)
      9/5: Furano – CTS
      10/5: Flight back

  • ebospeed says:

    Hi BBMum

    A big thanks for your advice on my numerous questions. Just came back from Hokkaido and able to cover 80% of the itinerary. The drive in the winter was great and most convenient than taking the JR. Totally agree that the buta don in Obihiro was the best! Doesn’t come close to the taste after taking in CTS.

    My kid totally enjoyed the slides in the Mahoroba Onsen, Tommau sleds and the Minamina beach. Also enjoyed a night stay in CTS, which imoho should be rated as the best airport from changi for the facilities and friendly services. A bit regret to not able to wake up early to view the cloudsea in Tommau and see the canal nightview in Otaru, weather too cold for family 🙁

    Again, much appreciate with your blog detail and hope to explore other areas in Hokkaido. Let me know if you would like to send some of my humble photo shots to your gmail. =)

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Haha.. I’ve never stepped into the buta-don restaurant at CTS before. After you have tried the authentic buta-don in Obihiro, all other buta-don are just lacking somewhat.

      I know right.. CTS is like my favourite airport in the world! Okay, maybe after Changi. HAHAHA.. Sorry, patriotism wins. That’s why I always advocate spending at least night there.. They have so much more to offer than just flights.

      Yeah, sometimes the cold just keeps us indoors, especially when there are kids. Last thing you want is the kids catching a cold!

      Glad to hear you enjoyed your trip! How was the winter driving? Wasn’t so bad? 😀

      Sure, you can send me photos at:

      Alternatively if you have an Instagram account, just tag me @bumble_bee_mum and I would love to hop in to take a look! 🙂

  • ebospeed says:

    I saw the sign (butadonmeijin) and the photos from the signboard and menu seems similar to Ohibiro But looking at the actual dish when first served, the slices were too thin and taste not even close (miss the ohibiro buta already..lol)

    All of the airports are just stuffed with shops and more shops. This is the first time I came across terminal with so much to offer. Even the bento at lawson tasted so good, hahaha.

    The winter driving was simply awesome with the snow capped mountain and vast white countryside views. Was a bit daunting at tomamu when it really started to have heavy snow storm and not able to make out the road lines. But overall the driving was fun and relaxing. But most local tends to drive above 80. A bit pressuring to drive faster than the limit speed and same time looking out for any police petrol. Another regret was not able to drive and admire the coastal scenery from Sapporo to Kushiro due to time constraint. I will still opt for the car rental anytime for the missed and new locations, hopefully.

    I don’t have an instagram but will send some pics over to your gmail once done with some photoshops. 😛

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Haha.. Lawson buns are great too!

      Yeah, Tomamu (or any snow resort for that matter) can be quite challenging to drive coz of heavy snow fall. I’ve learned to ignore the locals and just let them overtake me when I drive in winter. Next time what you can do is when you come to a straight path, just switch on the hazard light and slow down, that’s an indication for cars behind to overtake you and they will do just that. Don’t need to feel pressurized to keep up with their speed coz we’re not as familiar with the roads as them. Safety first!

  • Kelets says:

    Hi Bumble Bee Mum,

    My family and I are staying in Gotemba on Dec 25 and visit the Premium Outlet Store. Our hotel is Hotel Kunimi Gotemba. We want to tour Mt. Fuji area on Dec 26. Where is the best spot to view Mt. Fuji? What are the other places we can visit around the area in 1 day? We are a group to 7 adults, is there any tour we can join that leaves from JR Gotemba station? We also purchased JR passes.

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Hihi, SO sorry for the late reply as we have been overseas.

      You should be able to see it from Gotemba premium outlet if the sky is clear.

      You can also go to Toki No Sumika (Gotemba Kogen Resort) – they have free shuttle service from Gotemba station:
      http://gotembakogenresort.com/access/
      You can see Mount Fuji from there when the sky is clear, and at night, there will be illumination.

  • iamme says:

    Hi Bumbleebeemum,

    I’m a fan of your blog and you inspire us for our very first Japan Winter holiday!

  • iamme says:

    Hi Bumblebeemum,

    I’m a big fan of your blog, and you inspired us for our first ever japan winter trip this coming January 2017! We area a family of 4, will be covering Osaka and Hokkaido area.

    Can you advice us on your WIFI coverage method? Do you use pocket WIFI, or buy new SImcard, and where you get it from? Sorry if you have covered this topic already, cant seem to find it!

    • bumblebeemum says:

      I have only tried the WIFI router from Changi Recommends before when I was in Hokkaido this June. It works well in the cities but not for the rural areas. I don’t think you’ll have a problem with it in Osaka, but Hokkaido may be a problem depending on where you want to go. If you’re hitting the big cities, it’ll work just fine. But if you’re hitting the national parks, you may lost connection when you’re deep in the parks.

  • Lollipop says:

    Hi bumblebeemum,
    Thank you for all your sharing on Japan travels. I am planning a trip in April next year with 2 young kids (6 yrs and 2.5yrs), need some advice if 12 days will be sufficient to cover Tokyo ( Disneyland, and shopping areas), Mount Fuji ( I am totally in love with Highland Q’s Thomas the train rooms! ), Osaka, Kyoto and a day trip to Nara. How many days do you think I should stay in each location? I plan to fly in to Narita but take Japan rail to travel domestically? Any suggestion on order of visit?

    Thank you!

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Let’s say you are using the 7-days Japan Rail Pass and flying return via Narita. This is what you can do:

      Day 1: NRT – Tokyo
      Day 2: Tokyo
      Day 3: Tokyo
      Day 4: (start Japan Rail Pass): Tokyo – Odawara by shinkansen. Rent a car from there to explore Hakone / Mount Fuji.
      Day 5: Hakone / Mount Fuji
      Day 6: Hakone / Mount Fuji – Odawara. Return car, continue via shinkansen to Kyoto / Osaka.
      Day 7: Kyoto / Osaka (day trip to Nara)
      Day 8: Kyoto / Osaka
      Day 9: Kyoto / Osaka
      Day 10 (last day of Japan Rail Pass): Kyoto – Tokyo Disney (Maihama station)
      Day 11: Tokyo Disneyland
      Day 12: Airport limousine bus from Tokyo Disney back to NRT

      Kyoto and Osaka are close enough to each other for you to base yourself in just one of the city. So depending on which city you plan to spend more time in, you should base yourself there. E.g. if you are spending more time in Osaka, then base yourself in Osaka and just visit Kyoto for a day from there. Or vice versa.

      And if you want to visit both Disneyland and Disneysea, just shift one of the days in Tokyo to the end, i.e.

      Day 1: NRT – Tokyo
      Day 2: Tokyo
      Day 3: (start Japan Rail Pass): Tokyo – Odawara by shinkansen. Rent a car from there to explore Hakone / Mount Fuji.
      Day 4: Hakone / Mount Fuji
      Day 5: Hakone / Mount Fuji – Odawara. Return car, continue via shinkansen to Kyoto / Osaka.
      Day 6: Kyoto / Osaka (day trip to Nara)
      Day 7: Kyoto / Osaka
      Day 8: Kyoto / Osaka
      Day 9 (last day of Japan Rail Pass): Kyoto – Tokyo Disney (Maihama station)
      Day 10: Tokyo Disneyland
      Day 11: Tokyo Disneysea
      Day 12: Airport limousine bus from Tokyo Disney back to NRT

  • joey chow says:

    Hi, thank you for the information. Can I check with you, from Singapore to Tokyo, should I choose flight to Narita or Haneda to transit to Sapporo? If travelling by SQ, do I need to claim luggage and clear custom and re-check in again?
    Thanks in advance.

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Haneda will have more domestic flights to Sapporo compared to Narita, so I would opt for Haneda.

      In general, when you transit from international to domestic in Tokyo, yes, you need to claim your luggage, go through customs and drop your luggage off again at the domestic counter. However, you do not need to check-in for your domestic flight per say, because you should have already been check-in and received your boarding passes for the domestic flight at Singapore airport and your luggage would have been tagged all the way to CTS. All you need to do is the pick up your luggage and find the counter to drop your luggage off again for domestic transfer.

      I have never flown SQ or used Haneda airport, but when I flew ANA via Narita, there were clear direction signs from the luggage belt where we claimed our luggage pointing to “domestic transfer”. We followed the direction signs which brought us to a counter to drop off our luggage for our domestic flight and were free to roam the airport after that till it was time for boarding.

  • joey chow says:

    Hi again,
    I am planning a trip in July to see the flowers bloom in Furano. Planned itinerary as below:
    Day 2: Shiroi Kobito Park
    Day 3: Mitsui Outlet
    Day 4: Otaru Canal and nearby
    Day 5: Furano (Farm Tomita, Cheese Factory).
    Day 6: Return to Sin

    Do you think one day trip is sufficient for Furano and return back to stay in Sapporo? I am not planning to self drive. Understand need to book JR tickets in advance. Do you have any recommended websites for the booking? Hope you can provide me some advise as this is my first trip to Japan. Thanks in advance.

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Hmmm… If you are visiting in July, I do think you should spend more than one day in Furano to cover Biei as well. The attractions are in Furano are not near Furano station and public transport is pretty sparse if you don’t drive. The most common option for sightseeing in Furano / Biei for visitors who don’t drive are the ‘twinkle bus’ and ‘kururu bus’. And there are only like 3 or 4 buses a day for each route? Here’s a sample timetable from 2016:
      http://www.furanotourism.com/spro_cms/up/20160330101422093_79805.pdf

      So I don’t think a day-trip to Furano by public transport is very feasible. Maybe if you really want to do a day trip, you can search for an organised day tour?

      And as far as I know, you can’t book JR tickets online. You can buy them from any JR station once you arrive there though. So for e.g. you can book your train tickets for Day 5 when you reach Sapporo on Day 1.

  • Shan says:

    Hi Bumblebee mum,

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

    22-Jul Singapore to CTS (red eye flight)
    23-Jul CTS to Asahikawa (stay at Asahikawa) (1-way: 3380 yen)
    24-Jul Biei/Furano (Self drive)
    25-Jul Biei/Furano (Self drive)
    26-Jul Hokuryu (Self drive)
    27-Jul Asahikawa to Sapporo (stay at Sapporo) (1-way: 2490 yen)
    28-Jul Otaru (2-way: 1280 yen)
    29-Jul Shakotan
    30-Jul Sapporo
    31-Jul Sapporo to Hakodate (stay at Hakodate) (1-way: 5720 yen)
    1-Aug Hakodate
    2-Aug Hakodate to Toya (Stay at Toya) (1-way: 2810 yen)
    3-Aug Lake Toya, Cape Chikyu
    4-Aug Toya to CTS (Stay at CTS) (1-way: 2630 yen)
    5-Aug CTS to Singapore (morning flight)

    Appreciate if you could advise the following:

    Do you think my itinerary (CTS-> Asahikawa -> Sapporo -> Hakodate -> Toya -> CTS) make sense? I can still extend 1-2 days. Do you have any suggestion on how to improve the itinerary?
    I am not sure if it is a good idea to stay at Asahikawa for Day1-4 (self drive). What is your recommendation?
    The total fares (18310 yen) from Hyperdia shows that it is not worth for me to get JR rail pass. Did I miss out anything? Do you think self drive for the entire trip is more cost and time effective?

    Thank you in advance for your advice!

    • bumblebeemum says:

      If I have two young kids, I would just drive all the way.

      Going to Asahikawa immediately after a red-eye flight sounds tiring. This is what I would suggest:

      22-Jul Singapore to CTS (red eye flight)
      23-Jul CTS to Furano (stay Furano)
      24-Jul Biei/Furano (stay Furano)
      25-Jul Biei/Furano – Asahikawa (stay Asahikawa)
      26-Jul Hokuryu (Stay Asahikawa)
      27-Jul Asahikawa to Sapporo (stay at Sapporo)
      28-Jul Otaru (stay Sapporo)
      29-Jul Shakotan (stay Sapporo)
      30-Jul Sapporo (stay Sapporo)
      31-Jul Sapporo to Lake Toya (stay Lake Toya)
      1-Aug Lake Toya (stay Lake Toya)
      2-Aug Lake Toya – Hakodate (stay Hakodate)
      3-Aug Hakodate (stay Hakodate)
      4-Aug Hakodate to Cape Chikyu to CTS (Stay at CTS) – i.e. You can use Cape Chikyu as a rest point for the drive
      5-Aug CTS to Singapore (morning flight)

      If you want to extend another day, you can slot in Noboribetsu in between Hakodate and CTS.

      • Shan says:

        Thank you so much for your advice!

        I’m a little hesitant to drive in Sapporo city 🙂
        I have revised my itinerary to self drive from 26-Jul to 4-Aug.

        22-Jul Singapore – CTS (red eye flight)
        23-Jul CTS – Sapporo (stay Sapporo)
        24-Jul Sapporo (stay Sapporo)
        25-Jul Sapporo (stay Sapporo)
        26-Jul Sapporo – Shakotan (95km) – Otaru (60km) – Sapporo (40km) (stay at Sapporo)
        27-Jul Sapporo – Hokuryu (120km) – Asahikawa (60km) (stay Asahikawa)
        28-Jul Asahikawa – Biei/Furano (60km) (stay Furano)
        29-Jul Biei/Furano (stay Furano)
        30-Jul Furano – Tomamu (70km) (stay Tomamu)
        31-Jul Unkai Terrace, Tomamu – Lake Toya (250km) (stay Lake Toya)
        1-Aug Lake Toya (stay Lake Toya)
        2-Aug Lake Toya – Hakodate (170km) (stay Hakodate)
        3-Aug Hakodate (stay Hakodate)
        4-Aug Hakodate – Cape Chikyu (200km) – CTS (100km) (Stay at CTS)
        5-Aug CTS to Singapore (morning flight)

        1. Do you think the route is good?
        2. Is it possible to cover Shakotan and Otaru in one day?
        3. Should I shorten my stay in Sapporo and extend in Asahikawa or Tomamu?
        4. Should I get a HEP or ECT?

        • bumblebeemum says:

          1. Yup, looks good.

          2. Yes it is, if you just plan to do basic sightseeing (see the canal, stroll along Sakaimachi, visit music box museum) in Otaru. If you want to try some hands-on experience like glass blowing or candle making or sit down leisurely for cakes at the various confectionery shops in Otaru, you may not have the time to do so.

          3. I wouldn’t extend in Asahikawa unless you want to visit the zoo. Tomamu is mostly for the unkai terrace in summer. If you find there is too much time in Sapporo, then spend one more day in Otaru. You can visit Yoichi as well for the whiskey distillery and fruit orchard if you do so.

          4. I haven’t done actual calculations, but considering you have the Sapporo – Asahikawa route, Tomamu – Lake Toya route and round-trip to Hakodate to cover, I would think the HEP would be worthwhile.

          • Shan says:

            Thanks for your advice again 🙂

            I have pulled in my travel date due to unforeseen conflicts.

            Is it a good idea to change the order as below to give more times for the sunflower to bloom?

            8-Jul Singapore – CTS (red eye flight)
            9-Jul CTS – Sapporo (stay Sapporo)
            10-Jul Sapporo (stay Sapporo)
            11-Jul Sapporo – Otaru (stay Sapporo)
            12-Jul Sapporo – Shakotan (95km) – Lake Toya (160km) (stay at Lake Toya)
            13-Jul Lake Toya (stay Lake Toya)
            14-Jul Lake Toya – Onuma Park (150km) – Hakodate (30km) (stay Hakodate)
            15-Jul Hakodate (stay Hakodate)
            16-Jul Hakodate – Cape Chikyu (200km) – Tomamu (200km) (stay Tomamu)
            17-Jul Tomamu – Lake Kanayama (35km) – Furano (50km) (stay Furano)
            18-Jul Furano/Biei (stay Furano)
            19-Jul Furano/Biei (stay Furano)
            20-Jul Furano – Asahikawa (60km) (stay Asahikawa)
            21-Jul Asahikawa – Hokuryu (60km) – CTS (130km) (stay CTS)
            22-Jul CTS (stay at CTS)
            23-Jul CTS to Singapore (morning flight)

            There are so many places to visit in Furano/Biei. Can you suggest a sample itinerary for 4 days in Furano/Biei?

            • bumblebeemum says:

              Yup, it’s a good idea to push sunflowers to the back for your dates.

              The drive on 16 July looks very long. But I think in Summer it’s okay. Hope you have more than one driver, otherwise it’s going to be really tiring for the driver.

              Other than that, I think the itinerary looks great!

              • Shan says:

                My hubby is the only driver. I think he will be fine.

                Btw, your hotel recommendation is very useful. I have secured my rooms without cancellation fee. The hotel rates are expensive than I thought 🙁

                http://bumblebeemum.net/2016/10/11/hokkaido-family-accommodation-recommendation/

                For car rental, is it ok to rent from WorldNet and Budget? Noticed that their price is a lot cheaper than Toyota and Nippon.

                • bumblebeemum says:

                  Yeah, in July accommodation tends to be pricey. But just search again occasionally to see if a better deal pops up.

                  I’ve used Worldnet and they are indeed very competitive in pricing. But they didn’t have very good English support. Toyota would offer better English support – but of course at a premium. At the end of the day, if you don’t speak Japanese, it is a choice between saving money or having a peace of mind. In Japan, I usually go for saving money because I have driven a lot in Japan and know how car rental procedures in Japan work without having to converse much with the staff. And I roughly know what all those Japanese documents I’m signing regarding excess and non-operation charges are talking about. However if I was renting a car in a foreign non-English speaking land for the first time (like during our recent road trip in Thailand), I tend to pay for a more reputable company which is well-versed in handing foreign travellers, rather than a cheaper local company who handles mostly domestic travellers. So yes, it is okay to rent for WorldNet. They are legit if that’s your concern. But *touch wood* in the event of accident, you may have problem conveying your situation with them. Or even during the pick-up / drop-off process, it may be a bit ‘painful’ trying to communicate.

                  • Shan says:

                    It’s me again. I have just reserved my car from Toyota Sapporo, just for peace of mind. 🙂

                    Need your advice on how much cash to bring for 2 adults and 2 kids for 15 days in Hokkaido. I plan to use credit card whenever possible.

                    • bumblebeemum says:

                      If car rental and accommodation is already paid for, we usually bring about 20,000yen per day for food, shopping, petrol, toll fees and attraction tickets.

  • winnie says:

    Hi Bumblebeemum,

    I am facinated reading your japan travel blogs.

    I hope you can give me some advice on my following hokkaido trip.

    Intend to self drive 8 persons from 6 – 13 August 2017.

    Please advise if the following path is viable: We want to take advantage of the flowers blooms which will end by mid August.

    6th Aug arrive new chitose – furano/kamifurano/biei – over night

    7th Aug proceed to asahikawa – overnight

    8th Aug proceed to Sapporo – overnight

    9th Aug proceed to Otaru – overnight

    10th Aug proceed to Hakodate – overnight

    11th Aug proceed to Noboribetsu – overnight

    12th Aug return to new chitose – overnight

    13th Aug 9 am flying out from new chitose

    1) wonder if it is too taxing to shift hotel every night?
    2) is the pathway viable?
    3) among furano/kamifurano/biei – which town to overnight will be better?
    4) was told hotel booking need to book at least 8 months ahead due to blooming season.

    Hope to have your reply.

    Thank you.

    Regards
    Winnie
    Malaysia

    • bumblebeemum says:

      1) It does look too taxing. I would skip Hakodate / Noboribetsu, and spend more time in Furano / Biei. And for Otaru, I would do it as a day trip from Sapporo.

      2) The flow looks right, but I find it too rushed.

      3) I would go for Furano since it’s the closest to CTS which is where you’re coming from.

      4) Yeah, just try to secure a room as early as possible. Book something with free cancellation. And if a better deal pops up along the way, you can cancel and rebook. If you wait till later on, you may not have much options left.

      • winnie says:

        Thank you so much for the advice.

        I havent got a good deal for car rental.

        Can you recommend some good sites.

        As I hv 8 ppl, so I need a van with 10 seaters for luggages space.

        And how does ETC works? We first reload an amount and to be deducted as we pass toll roads? Where do we top up the value? Is it refundable at the end of the trip for unused amount?

        Thank you.

        • bumblebeemum says:

          For a 10-seater van, you need a special license for it. Does anyone in your group have a mini bus license? Our regular licence can only drive up to an 8-seater.

          The ETC in Japan works like a credit card rather than a debit card. It charges the toll fee to the card and you pay for everything at the end of the rental. So there is no need to top up along the way.

  • VC Yang says:

    Hi Guru,

    We had booked flight to Hokkaido CTS ETA 26 May Morning
    Day 1 take a local flight to Momenbetsu – Where shall we check in? if we intend to spend 2 Night here.
    Day 4 take train to Sapporo (worth to try local train? Or a local flight better?)
    Day 5 Sapporo
    Day 6 Otaru
    Day 7 train to Lake Toya
    Day 8 Lake Toya
    Day 9 Train to CTS and Check in Airport Hotel
    Day 10 Morning flight back home
    Any comment is welcome…please…

    • bumblebeemum says:

      From Memanbetsu Airport, I suggest you stay at Abashiri. There are hotels around Abashiri station area. Or if you prefer a more Japanese experience, you can find a ryokan around Lake Abashiri. Just search ‘Abashiri’ on any hotel booking website like Agoda, Booking.com, Hotels.com etc and see the options you have.

      Abashiri to Sapporo is a 5-hour train ride. So I guess a flight would be better?

  • Winnie says:

    Tqvm. I hv further questions.
    1) if we take an 8 seater just enough for 8 persons. Is there rental of a luggage box to put our baggage to pull along. Like in australia/NZ I hv seen.
    2) our normal waze & google maps apps can be used in Hokkaido to give route direction? We used that in australia/nz and was perfect. No need GPS rental.
    Thankyou.

  • Lee Chen says:

    hihi. would like your advice. have been silently reading but trying to look for tickets now for Hokkaido. the flight timings for ANA to go from SG is most favourable as it arrives around 12pm. but i’m keen to take the CX flights back to SG. which timing would you recommend the flight for CX?

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Hmmm.. Did you check the prices? Is it economical to book one-way flights for ANA / CX? Usually I book return flights.

      Anyway I don’t think CX has that many flights out out CTS. Most international airlines only have like one flight a day to/fro CTS, so you may not be able to choose your timing. CTS is a largely domestic airport with sparse international flights. I would think ANA would have better flight timings, as they have multiple flights each day from CTS to Tokyo. Then from Tokyo, they have more than one flight a day to Singapore too.

  • nadraska says:

    Hi Bumblebee,
    Love all your detailed write-ups! Thought i ask your advice on our planned itinerary (14May – 23May) -10d8n in Hokkaido.We love nature and travelling with a 1-1/2 yo baby.

    Day 1: KUL – New Chitose Airport (will reach Hokkaido around 11a.m)
    1)Odori Park (sakura viewing)
    2)Clock Tower
    3)TV Tower
    4)Old Gov House
    5)Maruyama Park (sakura viewing)
    Overnight in Sapporo
    Day 2: Sapporo – Otaru
    1)Moerenuma Park
    2)Otaru
    i.Otaru Canal
    ii.Otaru Canal Museum
    iii.Music box museum

    Overnight in Sapporo

    Day 3: Sapporo – Asahikawa (Rent a car)
    1) Asahiyama Zoo
    2) Asahiyama Park (more sakuras)

    Overnight in Asahikawa

    Day 4: Asahikawa – Monbetsu – Abashiri
    1)Kamiyubetsu Tulip Park
    2)Takinoue Park or Higashimokoto Shibazakura Park

    Overnight in Monbetsu or Abashiri (if Shibazakura Park)

    Day 5: Abashiri – Biei – Furano
    Biei
    1)Aoiike Blue Pond
    2)Blue Shirahige waterfall
    3)Mount Tokachidake Observatory
    Furano (i guess there isn’t much flowers to see but
    1) Kamifurano
    2) Tomita Farms
    3) Furano Cheese Factory
    4)Ningle Terrace Furano (some say that it’s not that great – what do u think?)
    Overnight in Furano

    Day 6: Furano – Tomamu
    Might have to include some of places in Day 5 in Furano to day 6 before heading to Tomamu
    Overnight in Tomamu

    Day 7: Tomamu – TBD
    Unkai Terrace

    Day 8: TBD

    Is my day 5 too packed? How long is the drive from Furano – Tomamu? If it is not, do you think i can include another location after tomamu before we head to chitose on day 9? Appreciate your thoughts BBM! Thanks 🙂

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Your dates look a bit late for sakura viewing. If you want a better chance of seeing sakura, you should head south to Matsumae Castle which has a longer blooming period. But if you want to go North to see tulips and shibazakura, then I don’t suggest you go south to Matsumae castle as well.

      Working with your current itinerary:

      Day 3: You probably only have time for Asahiyama Zoo on this day.

      Day 5: It is unlikely you will be able to cover all these destinations. I would suggest you prioritise the places you want to visit.
      Ningle Terrace is nothing much really – just a row of wooden lodges that house souvenir shops and a cafe. If you have time, no harm popping by the take a look. But if no time, you can skip it.

      Looking at your dates, I would actually push the shibazakura to the back of the trip to give them more time to bloom. So this is what I would do:

      Day 1: CTS – Sapporo
      Day 2: Sapporo / Otaru
      Day 3: Sapporo – Tomamu
      Day 4: Tomamu – Furano
      Day 5: Furano – Biei – Asahikawa
      Day 6: Asahikawa (Asahiyama Zoo)
      Day 7: Asahikawa (day trip to Takinoue and Kamiyubetsu)
      Day 8: Asahikawa – CTS

      • nadraska says:

        Yeay thanks for your suggestion! Really appreciate it.
        Yes i realized we might be late for Sakura but just trying our luck and hopefully it’s still blooming while we’re there.

        1) Does this means we rent a car from Sapporo to Tomamu?
        2) Since we don’t have much time, what are the places you would suggest we must visit (don’t miss if we’re there) in Furano and Biei?
        2) I read somewhere that Takinoue Park and Higashimokoto Shibazakura Park are 2 diff parks and Higashimokoto is located few hours away from the Tulip Park but is better than Takinoue Park. Do you think it’s practical to drive back and overnight at Asahikawa if we visit the one in Higashimokoto? Our flight will be in the evening the following day.

        Thanks for your feedback. Enjoyed reading your travel post 🙂

        • nadraska says:

          Is Abashiri a good place to stay overnight? As we have have another night coz we’ll be heading back on day 9.

          Day 7: Asahikawa – Kamiyubetsu -Higashimokoto Shibazakura Park (Overnight in Abashiri as it’s neaerer to Higashimokoto)
          Day 8: Abashiri – ? (where do you suggest we stay the night before we fly back? is it Asahikawa?)
          Day 9: ? – Chitose (evening flight)

          Appreciate your thoughts. thanks!

        • bumblebeemum says:

          1) Yup, you can rent a car from Sapporo.

          2) I would say Tomita Farm and Blue Pond for your dates. You can refer to our visit to Furano / Biei in early June 2016 and see which places interest you most. This particular trip in June 2014 was done in the later half of June. For your dates, most of the flowers we saw in our June 2014 trip would probably not be in bloom yet for your dates. So the June 2016 trip should be more relevant:
          http://bumblebeemum.net/2016/07/05/hokkaido-self-drive-trip-june-2016-furano-biei-asahikawa/

          3) Yup, they are different parks. Higashimokoto is much further Northeast. I would only recommend Higashimokoto for people who are planning to drive all the way to Shiretoko. But for day trips from Asahikawa, I don’t recommend going all the way there just for shibazakura. Too much time spent on the road. If you really want to visit Higashimokoto, I would suggest you skip Tomamu and Furano / Biei and just focus on Northeastern Hokkaido.

          Day 1: CTS – Sapporo
          Day 2: Sapporo / Otaru
          Day 3: Sapporo – Asahikawa
          Day 4: Asahikawa – Takinoue – Kamiyubetsu – Abashiri
          Day 5: Abashiri (day trip to Higashimokoto and around Lake Abashiri / Lake Notoro)
          Day 6: Abashiri – Shiretoko
          Day 7: Shiretoko
          Day 8: Shiretoko – Lake Akan
          Day 9: Lake Akan – CTS

  • Sue says:

    Hi BubbleBee Mum,

    Me & Hubby already booked our tkt to Hokkaido 4/4-13/4/17.
    We intend to self-drive around F&E.
    Do you have any recommondation?
    We probably drive in-between 2-3hr break each time as we understand it’s still snowing ?? in some places.

    Thanks
    Sue

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Hmmm… You can probably do the Sapporo / Otaru / Hakodate route. Something like this:

      Day 1: CTS – Noboribetsu
      Day 2: Noboribetsu – Hakodate
      Day 3: Hakodate
      Day 4: Hakodate – Lake Toya
      Day 5: Lake Toya
      Day 6: Lake Toya – Niseko
      Day 7: Niseko – Sapporo
      Day 8: Sapporo
      Day 9: Sapporo (Day trip to Otaru)
      Day 10: Sapporo – CTS

      Yeah, there should still be snow around in early April.

      • Sue says:

        Thanks, but we would like to cover east if possible.
        Since it’s the ending snow season will it be safe to drive east? and what places would you advise us to go.

        Thanks

        • bumblebeemum says:

          For Eastern Hokkaido, you can try something like the following:

          Day 1: CTS – Obihiro / Tokachigawa Onsen
          Day 2: Obihiro / Tokachigawa Onsen – Kushiro
          Day 3: Kushiro – Lake Akan
          Day 4: Lake Akan (Drive around Akan National Park)
          Day 5: Lake Akan – Abashiri
          Day 6: Abashiri – Sounkyo
          Day 7: Sounkyo – Asahikawa
          Day 8: Asahikawa – Sapporo
          Day 9: Sapporo (Day trip to Otaru)
          Day 10: Sapporo – CTS

          It is never entirely safe to drive when there is snow. Just drive slow and patiently if you encounter snow. You can read more of our winter driving tips on this post:
          http://bumblebeemum.net/2015/08/29/free-easy-hokkaido-winter-trip-essential-travel-tips/

  • Eliza says:

    Hi Bumblebee Mum,

    Appreciate all your posts on Hokkaido. Heading there with my family of 5 in June 2017. We booked with Airbnb for Sapporo but walking distance between nearest Soen station and apartment is further than we imagined. A previous guest indicated bus 54 and 58 from the apartment and Sapporo station was more convenient. My google attempts at getting the bus routes was not effective because most sites was in japanese pdf and couldnt be translated by google. Do you have any source you can point me to ?

    I understand a taxi would not take 5 of us so I thought maybe a bus is good alternative.

    I will be driving a rented car from Hakodate to Noboribetsu one of the days. As the drive is estimated about 3 hrs, is there a good stopover location along the way eg. for a light bite ?

    Thank you.

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Getting bus routes and schedules in Japan is a pain. Maybe you can ask your AirBnb host to help you? Like to pin point you to the exact location of the bus stop for the buses to Sapporo station, or see if your host is able to take a photo of the bus schedule if there is one at the bus stop?

      From Hakodate to Noboribetsu, there is a nice rest stop along the expressway at PA Yakumo:
      https://goo.gl/maps/3RwhsSc2sWH2

      If you find this rest stop too near Hakodate, the other nice rest stop is at SA Usuzan:
      https://goo.gl/maps/z8bc16q78Cq

      Alternatively, you can exit the tollway at Lake Toya and visit the southern shore of Lake Toya to do some sightseeing and dining. I usually park and dine and Wakasaimo main store. There is a restaurant on the second floor with a nice view of Lake Toya. And after eating we would go for a stroll along the shore of the lake.
      https://goo.gl/maps/Y1MmAMz5BcU2

      From Lake Toya, if you do not want to go back onto the expressway, you can use the toll-free Orofure Pass to get from Lake Toya to Noboribetsu:
      https://goo.gl/maps/bBb3A6CJNHF2

  • chia says:

    Hi mum..thank you for sharing your itinerary,can you tell me where you rent a car? How much for the cost ? it is one day charge or week charge? thank you before

  • VC Yang says:

    Hi, As per your recommendation, we had booked flight from CTS to Momenbetsu upon arrival on 26 May and return to CTS on 29 May, Just to check which city is good for check in on the next few days? Kitami? Abashiri, Monbetsu? or any recommendation, in view of convenience for food & transport or shopping. We will rent a car for some flower farm visit.

  • VC Yang says:

    Thanks..Good day!

  • CeciliaChia says:

    Hi Bumblebeemum

    I want to send you a big thank you! My last trip to Hokkaido on Dec’16 was wonderful, with information gathered from your blog and also your advised made it really easy to move around and we really save plenty of times search around.

    I am planing for my next trip to Hokkaido again in Dec’17 (2 adults with 2 children, 6 & 11). Could you again give me some advise on my itinerary?

    Day 1 CTS – Noboribetsu (bear park)
    Day 2 Noboribetsu – Lake Toya
    Day 3 Lake Toya – Hakodate
    Day 4 Hakodate
    Day 5 Hakodate – Sapporo
    Day 6 Sapporo (day trip to otaru)
    Day 7 Sapporo (day trip to asahikawa zoo)
    Day 8 Sapporo
    Day 9 Sapporo – Tomamu
    Day 10 Tomamu
    Day 11 Tomamu – CTS

    We have no plan to self drive, all using public transport. Is this doable?

    Thank you so much!

  • Stan says:

    Hi Bumblebeemum

    I will be visiting Hokkaido from May 13 – 20 (4 adults). Appreciate if you can help provide comments on my draft itin.

    May 13 8pm arrive Sapporo (Stay – Sapporo)
    May 14 Day trip to Otaru (Stay – Sapporo)
    May 15 Pick up rental car, drive to Noboribetsu/Lake Toya (Stay – Lake Toya)
    May 16 Drive to Furano/Biei (Stay – Asahikawa)
    May 17 Drive to Pink moss park/Tulip garden/Lake Akan (Stay – lake Akan)
    May 18 Drive to Obihiro (stay Sapporo)
    May 19 Return car/Tour Sapporo (stay Sapporo)
    May 20 Depart Sapporo

    Thanks

    • bumblebeemum says:

      For May 15, I would drive to Lake Toya first then stay at Noboribetsu. It will shorten the driving time to Furano / Biei / Asahikawa the next day.

      Your itinerary looks kind of rushed. This is how I would modify the itinerary:

      May 13 CTS – Sapporo
      May 14 Sapporo
      May 15 Sapporo (Day trip to Otaru)
      May 16 Pick up rental car, drive Sapporo – Lake Toya – Noboribetsu
      May 17 Noboribetsu – Furano – Biei- Asahikawa
      May 18 Asahikawa – Takinoue – Kamiyubetsu – Abashiri or Kitami
      May 19 Abashiri or Kitami – Lake Akan – Obihiro
      May 20 Obihiro – CTS

      I’m not sure what time is your flight back on May 20. If it’s in the morning, I suggest you reduce one day in Sapporo, and go back to CTS on May 19. i.e.

      May 13 CTS – Sapporo
      May 14 Sapporo (Day trip to Otaru)
      May 15 Pick up rental car, drive Sapporo – Lake Toya – Noboribetsu
      May 16 Noboribetsu – Furano – Biei- Asahikawa
      May 17 Asahikawa – Takinoue – Kamiyubetsu – Abashiri or Kitami
      May 18 Abashiri or Kitami – Lake Akan – Obihiro
      May 19 Obihiro – CTS
      May 20 Flight back

  • Eileen says:

    Hi Bumblebeemum,

    Great to see your post on Japan trip !

    I will be travelling to Hokkaido with my parents on 9oct-19th oct. We wil be flying through Thai Airways and the connection flight is around 55 minutes. Is it okay ? We will be arriving Sapporo-Chitose in the morning 8.30am.

    As this is our first trip to Hokkaido, I will like to hear from you where should I go during this period. We would like to self drive and should I be picking up the car from the airport ?

    Will love to visit Furano, Biei, Lake Toya,Noboribetsu, Otaru, shopping in Sapporo. It will be great if you can recommend me the places to go in this 10 days. We will be departing 10.30am on the 19th Oct.

    Look forward to hear from you!

    Cheers!

  • ivy says:

    Hi Bumblebee mom,

    Can I get your advice for my tour to Hokkaido? We are a family of 6 adults.

    14th June – Arrived CTS – Sapporo

    15th June – Sapporo

    16th June – Sapporo – Day trip to Jozankei (Tsurugu Resort Spa for buffet and Hot spring)

    17th June – pick up rental car at 8am- Hakodate (Which route should I use?)
    Sapporo – Noboribetsu Hell Valley – Lake Toya for lunch – Fruits Farm Sobertsu – Hakodate

    18th June – Hakodate

    19th June – After 10am – Otaru (Which route better?).
    Will it be better to make a stop at Niseko? Will it be too rush to visit Yoichi Fruit Farm at the same day before check in hotel?

    20th June – 3pm Otaru to Asahikawa

    21st June – Asahikawa (Any worth try and nearby Onsen?)

    22nd June – Biei/Furano

    23rd June – Drive back to Sapporo – Return car – Last minutes shopping

    24th June – APA Hotel Sapporo Susukino-Ekinishi(Check out at 5.20am)
    Take 1st train at 6am to Airport. Flight Departure time 0920. Will it be too rush to the Airport? Possible to make it?
    Airport hotel quite pricey. So, we decided to stay in Sapporo.

    Look forward to hear from you. Thank you so much and your help really much appreciated.

    Best regards,

    • bumblebeemum says:

      17 June: You can use the following route for Sapporo – Noboribetsu – Sobetsu – Lake Toya – Hakodate:
      https://goo.gl/maps/po6UqNgM23m

      19 June: Niseko is a good place to take a break between Hakodate and Otaru. If you want to visit both Niseko and Yoichi, it will be a tad too rushed. If you’re already visiting Sobetsu, I guess you can skip Yoichi fruit farm?

      21 June: For onsen near Asahikawa, you can try Sounkyo onsen?

      24 June: If you catch that 6am train, you should get to the airport in time for your 0920 flight.

  • KHLee says:

    Hi Bumblebeemum,

    I would appreciate some advice. I am visiting Hokkaido with my family of 4 adults this year on 2 April-8 April and traveling to Toyko especially for Sakura visit on 9 April-12 April. We are not sure whether to spend more days in Niseko for our skiing trip due to the weather being the end of winter season.We plan to spend 4 days in Niseko & 2 days in Sapporo. We are hoping there is still good snow this year.Look forward to your respond. Thanks

  • Cass says:

    Hi Bumblebeemum

    First and foremost, I just want to say your attention to detail and your generosity in sharing the information is amazing!!

    My family of 6 (2A, 2C, & 2 grandparents) have never travelled to Japan and are looking to make a trip to Hokkaido during the June hols this year (was looking at Tokyo for a start initially but read that it’s actually the start of rainy season? So switched to Hokkaido instead). School hols start 27th May and I was looking to travel from that weekend. Would you recommend following your itinerary for late May or early-mid June? And what would be a good time frame if I don’t to move hotel every other day?

    Thanks and appreciate your advice!

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Okay, if weather is your reason for choosing Hokkaido over Tokyo, don’t get your hopes up because after going Hokkaido twice during June holidays, I can’t say the weather at Hokkaido is peachy during that time. In fact, it was downright miserable half the time because when it rains in Hokkaido, it’s freaking cold. Whereas when it rains in Tokyo, it’s just like a rainy day in Singapore – nothing umbrellas and rain coats can’t solve.

      But I would still go to Hokkaido over Tokyo if I had kids and grandparents around because Tokyo is just not great for multi-generation travel imo. You go to a shrine or go shopping, the kids get bored. You go to Disneyland, the grandparents get bored. And navigating their train stations with young and old would be a pain.

      If you leave the moment school holidays start, then yup, you can follow our itinerary for late May – early June to try to catch the shibazakura and tulips. You can minimise change of hotel by flying ANA / JAL and flying into Memanbetsu Airport and out from CTS.
      Day 1: Arrive Memanbetsu. Stay in Abashiri
      Day 2: Abashiri (Visit Kamiyubetsu and Higashimokoto)
      Day 3: Abashiri (Visit Shiretoko)
      Day 4: Abashiri – Takinoue – Asahikawa
      Day 5: Asahikawa (visit Asahiyama Zoo)
      Day 6: Asahikawa (visit Biei)
      Day 7: Asahikawa – Sapporo
      Day 8: Sapporo
      Day 9: Sapporo (visit Otaru)
      Day 10: Sapporo – Lake Toya
      Day 11: Lake Toya (if you want, you can pop over to Noboribetsu to take a look from Lake Toya)
      Day 12: Lake Toya – Lake Shikotsu – CTS

      • Cass says:

        Really appreciate your advice & tips!! Took me awhile to go through your suggested itinerary but I took your advice to arrive in Memanbetsu so we can quickly head north to see the tulips and minimize change in hotels, and managed to book the air tickets on ANA over the weekend (SIN-Memanbetsu, CTS-SIN). Price was pretty good too, about $4,700 for 4A2C! Staying for 12.5 days, excluding the flight duration. =)

        Next step, car rental and accommodation!!
        Did a rough check on the car rental and realised it’s really expensive – almost S$1,500 for 12 days?? (though I’m not too familiar with Japan car rental rates). And there are fewer choices for pick up at Memanbetsu and return at CTS. I checked on rakuten but they don’t have any partners at Memanbetsu. I hope I’m on the right track?

        As for accommodation, would u recommend hotels or airbnb for Hokkaido?

        Thanks!!!!!

        • bumblebeemum says:

          That’s a pretty good price you got for ANA!

          For car rental, picking up at Memanbetsu will definitely restrict your choices as compared to round-trip from CTS. There are also drop-off fees for returning the car to a different location. So for an 8-seater for 12 days from Memanbetsu to CTS, the price at about $1500 looks about right.

          AirBnb is really not common in Hokkaido, except maybe in Sapporo. I would stay in hotels and maybe a night or two at least in an onsen resort.

  • Dennis says:

    Hi,

    Can I check do you travel around in car when you are in Sapporo for the festival? Will the traffic be bad as they will be lots of people?

    Thanks.

    • bumblebeemum says:

      There is usually no need to drive in Sapporo. Driving during festivals can pose problems in terms of congestion and parking. I would avoid driving to festivals if I can.

  • Carindale says:

    Hi Bumblebee,
    I am planning my 2nd trip to Hokkaido (with 2 kids) and would like to know which is the best season from the period I listed below to visit.
    1. end may to june (around 1 wk)
    2. end june to jul (around 1 wk)
    3. end aug to sept (around 1 wk)

    thanks!

    • bumblebeemum says:

      I would go choose end aug to sept.

      • carindale says:

        Hi Bumblebeemum,
        thanks for the reply. I have planned my itinerary as follow.
        D1 depart SG
        D2 Furano
        D3 Furano
        D4 Asahikawa
        D5 Sounkyo
        D6 Asahikawa
        D7 Chitose
        D8 Chitose
        D9 Noboribetsu
        D10 Chitose
        D11 fly back to SG

        I wanted to go further, doing a round trip from Sapporo -> Furano ->Asahikawa->Obihiro -> Noboribetsu -> Sapporo. Do you have any better suggestion? I cant find a good stopover betw Asahikawa/Obihiro to Noboribetsu.

        thanks.

        • bumblebeemum says:

          What do you plan to do on D7 and D8 in Chitose? Chitose is not very exciting, I would stay in Sapporo instead.

          If you want to go to Obihiro, I would suggest you swap Noboribetsu for Lake Akan and just loop to the East.

          D1 depart SG
          D2 CTS – Furano
          D3 Furano
          D4 Furano – Asahikawa
          D5 Asahikawa
          D6 Asahikawa – Sounkyo
          D7 Sounkyo – Lake Akan
          D8 Lake Akan – Obihiro
          D9 Obihiro – Sapporo
          D10 Sapporo
          D11 fly back to SG

          • Carindale says:

            Hi Bumblebeemum,

            the days@Chitose meant Sapporo/otaru day trip.
            I would hope to have Noboribetsu in my trip. Is there any other alternative route that I can put Noboribetsu in my trip?

            thanks.
            regards,

            • bumblebeemum says:

              If you want to go to Noboribetsu, then drop Obihiro. With the time you have, I wouldn’t really recommend doing both. So back to your original itinerary:

              D1 depart SG
              D2 CTS – Furano
              D3 Furano
              D4 Furano – Sounkyo
              D5 Sounkyo – Asahikawa
              D6 Asahikawa
              D7 Asahikawa – Sapporo
              D8 Sapporo (day trip to Otaru)
              D9 Sapporo – Noboribetsu
              D10 Noboribestu – CTS
              D11 fly back to SG

              • carindale says:

                Hello again,
                I am in the midst of booking hotel and I am abit confused by the booking of child category.
                Child A : Elementary school students
                Child B : under elementary school students/ meals and bedding
                Child C : under elementary school students/ bedding
                Child D : under elementary school students/ meals
                Child E : under elementary school students/ no meals and no bedding

                For the above, /bedding means with or without bedding? I have a 9yr old and 3 yr old. So which should I chose?

                • bumblebeemum says:

                  Which website are you using? I usually use Rakuten and I key in my kids’ exact ages. Pretty sure your 9 year old would required bedding and meals. For the 3 year old, on Rakuten I believe you have the option of choosing whether or not your child needs bedding.
                  http://travel.rakuten.com/

                  • Carindale says:

                    Hi Bumblebee,
                    Rakuten websites do not have the date I want for a hotel therefore I went to Japanican.
                    The hotel website itself also has the same type of booking questions for child. I am confused.

                    • bumblebeemum says:

                      Hmmm.. In that case I would select Child A for the 9 year old and Child E for the 3 year old (assuming your 3 year old does not need bedding). Upon check-in, if they require the 3 year old to pay for meals, then just top up on the spot.

                    • Carindale says:

                      hi again,
                      i am looking at car booking now and realise some car types cant park in stack carparks. hv u encountered this issue b4? i need a car w at 4 luggages.

                    • bumblebeemum says:

                      Yup, some carparks have height limits and cars like WISH and Estima won’t be able to park there. When that happens, just drive around to find another carpark.

                    • Carindale says:

                      Hi Bumblebeemum,
                      for the car rental, when do I click I need translator service? I realise when I tried tooco, there is any option that ask ” Do you need telephone translator support?” which is chargable per day.
                      Does Nippon or Times car rental comes default with English speaking telephone speaking and does not need to do special selection?
                      As for ETC/HEP card, I estimated my toll fee to be about 10,000Yen for 8 days. In this case, would ETC card be good enough? As some of the routes I would not use TOLL.

                    • bumblebeemum says:

                      I am not sure if Nippon or Times have English speaking helplines that you can call in case of emergencies. Try contacting them (look for a contact form or email on their websites) to check with them? If they have that service, then you don’t need the service of from Tocoo.

                      What’s your finalised itinerary? If you are chalking up 10,000yen tolls in 8 days, you should consider getting the HEP:
                      http://bumblebeemum.net/2016/05/11/hokkaido-expressway-pass-etc-card-toll-fees/

                    • Carindale says:

                      Hi Bumblebeemum,

                      here is my finalized itinerary.
                      D1 depart SG@night
                      D2 Sapporo
                      D3 Furano
                      D4 Furano
                      D5 Asahikawa (Sounkyo daytrip)
                      D6 Asahikawa (zoo etc)
                      D7 Otaru
                      D8 Lake Toya
                      D9 Noboribetsu
                      D10Sapporo
                      D11 Chitose Airport Hotel
                      D12 Morning flight out of Chitose

                      I have reserved my car with Times Car Rental since they have 25% summer discount now. I read they have 24hr English support plus there is no additional charge for it.
                      I thought Times Car Rental used to be Mazda car rental but they are renting out other brands other than Mazda now.

                    • bumblebeemum says:

                      You should be in pretty good hands with Times.

                      For your itinerary, is there any reason why you’re going back to Sapporo on D10? I would finished up Sapporo in the beginning and go back to CTS from Noboribetsu to save a bit of driving.

                    • Carindale says:

                      I will only pick up the car at Sapporo city on D3 departing to Furano. So I will return car@ Sapporo and stay 1 night before moving to Chitose thru JR train. I only spend 1 day at Sapporo. I intend to spend 1 more day at Sapporo.

                      I have cancelled Times (5 seater) and choose Budget thru tocoo as it offers much cheaper rate for a 7seater with HEP plan included. Budget also offers English support.

                    • bumblebeemum says:

                      Does Budget allow you to pick up in Sapporo and return the car to CTS? Usually I like to do that because it saves a bit of driving time, and also saves on the transport cost versus returning the car to Sapporo and later on using public transport to get to CTS. In other words, this is what I would do:

                      D1 depart SG@night
                      D2 Sapporo
                      D3 Sapporo
                      D4 (pick up car in Sapporo city centre) Furano
                      D5 Furano
                      D6 Asahikawa (Sounkyo daytrip)
                      D7 Asahikawa (zoo etc)
                      D8 Otaru
                      D9 Lake Toya
                      D10 Noboribetsu
                      D11 (return car to CTS)
                      D12 Morning flight out of Chitose

                      This way, I don’t need to pay for public transport to CTS on D11, and driving directly from Noboribetsu to CTS is faster than driving back to Sapporo and taking public transport from Sapporo to CTS. But that’s only possible if Budget allows you to pick up in Sapporo city centre and drop off in CTS. If they require you to return the car to where you picked it up from, then I guess you’ll have to stick to your original itinerary.

  • Robin says:

    Hi Bumblebee, thanks for sharing your blog. I am traveling to Hokkaido in June 24th for 8 days with 3 adults and 2 kids. We will reach by Haneda airport and leave via Chitose airport self drive trip. The itinerary is as follows. Can you suggest the places to skip and places to add?

    Day 1: Haneda/Hakodate
    Day 2: Hakodate/Lake Toya
    Day 3: Lake Toya/Noboribetsu/Furano
    Day 4: Furano/Biei/Ashaikawa
    Day 5: Mitsui/Jyozankei
    Day 6: Otaru/Sapporo
    Day 7: Sapporo
    Day 8: Chitose

  • Jerilyn says:

    hi,

    I’m hoping you could help me. we’re going as a family of 6 – grandparents, us and 2 kids – 1 and 3.5 yo.
    we’re going in April
    1. is it easier to drive in sapporo/ otaru?
    2. atm we’ve got 1 day in sapporo. should we skip hakodate due to the long drive? our plan is sapporo airport (day1) – noribetsu (day2) – toya then hakodate ( days 3 and 4), otaru ( day 5 back to sapporo (day 6, 7), flight to Tokyo (day 8)
    thank you

    • bumblebeemum says:

      1. With a group like yours, it may be easier to drive.

      2. If you don’t want to go Hakodate to avoid the long drive, you can also consider 3rd night at Lake Toya and 4th night at Niseko.

  • Stephen says:

    Hi Bumblebeemum,

    I read your blog and it was very helpful for us to plan our itinerary. We (4 adults) are going to Hokkaido in May for 10 days self drive trip (except Sapporo / Otaru area where we will take public transport) to catch the cherry blossom and below is our itinerary.

    Day 1 – Reached New Chitose and head to Lake Toya
    Day 2 – Lake Toya
    Day 3 – From Lake Toya to Sapporo
    Day 4 – Sapporo / Otaru
    Day 5 – Sapporo / Otaru
    Day 6 – Sapporo / Otaru
    Day 7 – From Sapporo to Asahikawa
    Day 8 – Asahikawa / Biei
    Day 9 – From Asahikawa to Furano
    Day 10 – Furano to New Chitose (Back Singapore)

    Hope you can give us some advice / recommendation on our itinerary.

    Thank you. 🙂

    • bumblebeemum says:

      For cherry blossoms, the most popular spots for viewing them in Hokkaido are actually in Southern Hokkaido – Hakodate and Matsumae. So rather than going to Asahikawa / Biei / Furano, I would go to Hakodate and Matsumae during cherry blossom season. i.e. something like this:

      Day 1 – Reached New Chitose and head to Lake Toya
      Day 2 – Lake Toya
      Day 3 – From Lake Toya to Hakodate
      Day 4 – Hakodate (day trip to Matsumae)
      Day 5 – Hakodate
      Day 6 – Hakodate – Sapporo
      Day 7 – Sapporo / Otaru
      Day 8 – Sapporo / Otaru
      Day 9 – Sapporo / Otaru
      Day 10 – Sapporo to New Chitose (Back Singapore)

      • Stephen says:

        Hi Bumblebeemum,

        Thank you for your recommendation. We decided to visit to Hakodate. Do you have any recommendation for local ryokan / hotel website in Hokodate area which did not advertise in Booking.com or agoda etc.? As we checked with Booking.com & agoda, all rooms are sold out from 3-6 May.

        Thank you.

  • Maureen says:

    Hi, I will be in Hokkaido for 5 days from 5 June to 9 June. What itinerary would you recommend, where is the must go place.

    Thanks

  • May says:

    Such a good experience of your’s spending time visiting Japan….Indeed, a great place to visit upon…

  • Stephen says:

    Hi Bumblebeemum,

    Thank you. Managed to booked room through the hotel website.

  • Janet says:

    Dear Bumblebeemum

    I was very impressed with your itinerary for the 17 days Hokkaido winter trip.

    We (family of 4, kids 10 and 4) are making our first trip this year later on 26th nov to 6th dec and decided to self -drive but since is our first drive at Hokkaido , I am really not very sure can I make it but we only have exact 10 days in Hokkaido compared to your 17 days. My rough itinerary as follow and seek your advice on driving time, toll, GPS will bring us there??? Able to drive on snow road?? Recommended Hotel, places not to miss and eatery.

    27th Nov- Chitose -> Asahikawa Check in hotel near Zoo (JR Inn Asahikawa)
    Arrival at Chitose airport 8-9am
    Collect rental car at airport and Drive up to Asahikawa, and just roam around the area and visit the zoo the next day

    28th Nov – Asahikawa Zoo for a day

    29th Nov – Asahikawa to Akan National Park
    Will follow your part 2 but we will check in Lake Akan Tsuruga Wings instead.
    30thth Nov- Lake Akan -> Lake Mashu -> Iozan -> Lake Kussharo -> Obihiro
    Obihiro check in Richmond Hotel Obihiro
    1st Dec- Obihiro check out -> Tomamu check in Hoshino Resort Tomamu
    Snow play for a day
    2nd dec -Tomamu check out -> Furano check in Naturwald furano / New Furano Prince Hotel
    Visit Farm Tomita and cheese factory

    3rd Dec to 5th dec – Furano check out -> Sapporo check in JR Inn Sapporo and return car at Sapporo
    Hokkaido Sapporo Chocolate factory, odori park, Hokkaido university etc

    Day trip to Otaru by JR on 4th dec

    5th Dec Sapporo shopping, odori park, Hokkaido university etc and check out to Chitose Airport (Air terminal Hotel)
    Spend rest of the day there

    6th Dec 10am flight back to SG

    I look forward for your reply.

    Thank you
    Janet

  • Rowena says:

    Dear Bumblebeemum

    I would be most grateful if you could kindly assist me in the planning of my upcoming self-drive trip to Hokkaido in end-July 2017 for 9D/8N.

    It will be our first trip to Hokkaido and my husband’s first time driving in Japan.

    The cities we are looking to visit would be:

    – Arrive at Chitose
    – Furano
    – Biei
    – Asahikawa
    – Hokuryu
    – Lake Toya
    – Sapporo
    – Otaru
    – Yoichi
    – Hakodate
    – Depart from Chitose

    For the above cities, please advise the number of nights we should spend and in which cities?

    Any comments / input are more than welcome..

    Many thanks in advance and looking forward to your early reply.

    • bumblebeemum says:

      You can try the following:

      Day 1: CTS – Furano
      Day 2: Furano
      Day 3: Furano – Biei – Asahikawa
      Day 4: Asahikawa – Hokuryu – Sapporo
      Day 5: Sapporo
      Day 6: Sapporo (day trip to Yoichi and Otaru)
      Day 7: Sapporo – Lake Toya
      Day 8: Lake Toya – Hakodate
      Day 9: Hakodate – CTS

      This is assumimg you have 9 full days. But if your flight leaves early on Day 9, it is unlikely you can get back to CTS in time from Hakodate. So either you skip Sapporo or you skip Hakodate.

      Skipping Sapporo, you can do this:

      Day 1: CTS – Furano
      Day 2: Furano
      Day 3: Furano – Biei – Asahikawa
      Day 4: Asahikawa – Hokuryu – Otaru
      Day 5: Otaru (side trip to Yoichi)
      Day 6: Otaru – Lake Toya
      Day 7: Lake Toya – Hakodate
      Day 8: Hakodate – CTS
      Day 9: Flight back

      Skipping Hakodate, you can do this:

      Day 1: CTS – Furano
      Day 2: Furano
      Day 3: Furano – Biei – Asahikawa
      Day 4: Asahikawa – Hokuryu – Sapporo
      Day 5: Sapporo
      Day 6: Sapporo (day trip to Yoichi and Otaru)
      Day 7: Sapporo – Lake Toya
      Day 8: Lake Toya – CTS
      Day 9: Flight back

      • Rowena says:

        Thank you for your suggestions..

        If we skip Asahikawa and Yoichi, would it be possible to visit both Sapporo and Hakodate?

        Would you recommend we fly in and out of Chitose via SQ & ANA or in to Hakodate and out from Chitose or Asahikawa via ANA?

        Will it be better to visit Furano & Biei at the beginning or end part of our trip? The lavender and sunflowers may be in full bloom towards the end of July? Or a week would not make any or much of a difference?

        Thanks again and awaiting your early reply.

        • bumblebeemum says:

          If you want to visit Hakodate, then I would recommend you fly ANA open-jaw. Fly in to Hakodate and out Asahikawa. Then in 9 full days, you can do the following:

          Day 1: Hakodate
          Day 2: Hakodate – Lake Toya
          Day 3: Lake Toya – Sapporo
          Day 4: Sapporo (day trip to Otaru & Yoichi)
          Day 5: Sapporo
          Day 6: Sapporo – Furano
          Day 7: Furano
          Day 8: Furano – Biei – Asahikawa
          Day 9: Asahikawa

          If your dates are in July, I would put Furano & Biei at the end of the trip.

          • Rowena says:

            Noted.. I read from your blog that it is very expensive to park in Sapporo. Is there any way to reshuffle the suggested itinerary such that the we end our tour in Sapporo so we can drop off the rental car upon arrival from Otaru and take the train from Sapporo to Chitose airport for the return flight?

            Travel agent has advised me that open jaw tickets cost at least SGD1,000/- more on ANA..

            Thanks again and awaiting your early reply.

            • bumblebeemum says:

              Yeah.. Open jaw limits your choices to pretty much ANA and JAL, hence it is usually more expensive compared to return flight to CTS where we have options of flying Thai, Cathay, Scoot etc. Unless ANA / JAL happens to be having a really good promo, I would usually go for return CTS flights. But of course, if you want to visit Hakodate, return CTS flight means more hours spent on the road and less time sightseeing.

              If you don’t want to use the car in Sapporo, this is what I would suggest:

              Day 1: CTS – Sapporo
              Day 2: Sapporo
              Day 3: (pick up car) Sapporo – Lake Toya
              Day 4: Lake Toya – Hakodate
              Day 5: Hakodate – Noboribetsu
              Day 6: Noboribetsu – Furano
              Day 7: Furano / Biei
              Day 8: Furano / Biei
              Day 9: Furano – CTS

              If you flight out of CTS on Day 9 is in the morning, I suggest you return to CTS at the end of Day 8 and spend the last night at Air Terminal Hotel.

  • Mor says:

    Hi there,

    We’re an adult family of 4, heading to Hokkaido from 22 June (arriving in the evening) to 1 July (leaving in the evening as well).

    We’re looking to have a self-drive tour there, and would like to ask about the feasibility of planning our trip as such:

    New Chitose Airport > Shikotsu Lake > Noboribetsu
    > Muroran > Lake Toya > Mt Yotei >Shakota Peninsula > Otaru > Sapporo > Furano > Kami Furano > Biei > Sounkyo > Sapporo (New Chitose Airport)

    We’d like to know if it’s possible to cover all these places in 9 full days, and if any of these places are worth / not worth going.

    Additionally, on the final day, as our flight will be at night, are there any places near the airport that are worth going as a final day’s sightseeing trip?

    Appreciate your advice on this.

    • bumblebeemum says:

      It can be done if you don’t mind having to keep changing hotel along the way. You can try the following route:

      22 June: CTS (spend the night at Air Terminal Hotel)
      23 June: CTS – Lake Shikotsu – Noboribetsu / Muroran
      24 June: Noboribetsu – Lake Toya
      25 June: Lake Toya – Mt Yotei – Shakotan – Otaru
      26 June: Otaru – Sapporo
      27 June: Sapporo
      28 June: Sapporo – Furano
      29 June: Furano
      30 June: Furano – Biei – Sounkyo
      1 July: Sounkyo – CTS

      Near CTS, you can visit Chitose Rera Outlet.

  • Janice says:

    Hi bumblebeemum

    We are planning a holiday with 2 five year old and my mum (elderly) in Jul and plan to cover the below places.

    Hakodate
    Lake Toya
    Sapporo
    Otaru
    Furano
    Biei
    Asahikawa

    Do you think it is ok to cover these places in 10-11 days? And what’s your recommended route? Should we fly in to Chitose and out from Asahikawa? What are the flower gardens (2-3) will you recommend us to visit in Furano and Biei? I’ll also like to bring the kids to a fruit picking farm as well.

    Look forward to your advice

    Thanks

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Yes, it is possible to cover all the places in 10-11 days.

      Flying into Chitose and out from Asahikawa will reduce your driving time. But it may limit your airline choices compared to flying return to CTS. You gotta check the air ticket price difference and see if it’s worth it. Coz between CTS and Asahikawa, it is just maybe 3 hours saved on the road. If return flights to CTS is much cheaper, I would just do return CTS.

      You can refer to this post for the top spots in Furano and Biei for flowers and cherry picking:
      http://bumblebeemum.net/2016/04/12/hokkaido-furano-biei-best-attractions-in-summer-july-august/

      • Janice says:

        Thanks bumblebeemum!I’ll be sure to check and compare the air ticket prices.

        Can you recommend a route we should take to cover these places?

        Regards
        Janice

        • bumblebeemum says:

          You can do something like this:

          Day 1: CTS – Noboribetsu
          Day 2: Noboribetsu – Hakodate
          Day 3: Hakodate – Lake Toya
          Day 4: Lake Toya – Sapporo
          Day 5: Sapporo (day trip to Otaru)
          Day 6: Sapporo
          Day 7: Sapporo – Furano
          Day 8: Furano
          Day 9: Furano – Biei – Asahikawa
          Day 10: Asahikawa – CTS
          Day 11: Flight back

          • Janice says:

            Thank you bumblebeemum!What do you think of the below? Is it too rushed?

            Day 1: CTS – Noboribetsu – stay at Noboribetsu
            Day 2: Noboribetsu (visit Hell’s Valley) – Hakodate (visit Goryokaku Tower, Red Brick Warehouse district, Mount Hakodate) – stay at Hakodate
            Day 3: Hakodate (breakfast at Hakodate morning market) – Lake Toya (visit Ride Usuzan ropeway, Silo observatory, take the sightseeing cruise) – stay at Lake Toya
            Day 4: Lake Toya – Sapporo – stay at Sapporo
            Day 5: Sapporo – day trip to Otaru (walk around the Otaru canal area) – stay at Sapporo
            Day 6: Sapporo (visit Sapporo central wholesale market, Sapporo beer museum, Mitsui outlet park, Takino Suzuran Hillside National Park – stay at Sapporo
            Day 7: Sapporo – Furano – stay at Furano
            Day 8: Furano (visit Furano wine factory, Tomita melon house, Tomita farm, Flowerland Kamifurano, Furano cheese/jam factory, Ohashi cherry farm, Ningle Terrace) – stay at Furano
            Day 9: Furano – Biei – Asahikawa (visit Panorama Road area: Shikisai no Oka, Shinnei No Oka, Sanai no Oka, Patchwork Road area: Hokusei No Oka, Hill of Zerebu – stay at Asahikawa
            Day 10: Asahikawa (visit Ramen village and Asahikawa zoo) – CTS – stay at Chitose
            Day 11: Flight back

            •Noboribetsu: is there any other place you recommend us to visit other than Hell Valley? We are planning to take the Usuzan ropeway at Lake Toya so we should skip Mount Usu here? I’m not keen to bring the kids to the Marine Park and Bear Park since most of the reviews I read online are not great
            •Any place worth stopping over between Hakodate to Lake Toya?
            •Any place worth stopping over between Lake Toya to Sapporo?
            •Any place worth stopping over between Sapporo to Furano?
            •Where do you recommend we park when we are at Otaru since parking is expensive at Otaru?
            •I’ll like to bring the kids to Asahikawa zoo so will this take a full day?
            •Any tips on parking in Sapporo?

            Thank you!

            Regards
            Janice

            • bumblebeemum says:

              I think your itinerary looks okay. Some days look a bit rushed, you may have to play by ear and drop some items if you find you’re running out of time. E.g. Day 3, you may end up dropping the sightseeing crusie. And Day 8 you may not have enough time for all the attractions you listed, so you may want to prioritise.

              For Day 6, go to Takino Suzuran Hillside Park before going Mitsui Outlet Park.

              Noboribetsu: Yeah, I think Marine Park and Bear Park can be skipped. I would rather spend more time at Hakodate.

              Stopover between Hakodate and Lake Toya: There is a rest stop along the expressway called PA Yakumo, you can take a break there. You can read more about it on this post (Day 3):
              http://bumblebeemum.net/2014/10/22/hokkaido-self-drive-with-kids-june-2014/

              Stopover between Lake Toya and Sapporo: There is a ‘mushroom kingdom’ after Rusutsu and just before you enter the Nakayama Pass. It’s like a roadside station which sells food and mushrooms.. Lol:
              https://goo.gl/maps/iMx9C8XJuG12

              Stopover between Sapporo and Furano: I have never stopped between Sapporo and Furano before if I’m using the Mikasa exit of the expressway. If using the Takikawa exit, you can stop at SA Sunagawa (rest stop along the expressway). But if you’re exiting Mikasa, you can try checking out Lake Katsurazawa if you need a break:
              http://good-hokkaido.info/en/lake-katsurazawa/

              If you are planning to say for long, there are some coin parking that have a cap on parking fee for a 24-hour period. You can try the Otaru station area. Look for signs that say “24H 最大料金”.

              Yup, Asahikawa Zoo would take the whole day.

              In Sapporo, leave your car at the hotel as far as possible. For Day 6, at Sapporo Central Wholesale Market, you can park for free at Kita no Gourmet’s parking if you’re dining there. Sapporo Beer museum has a free open-air carpark. Takino Suzuran Hillside Park has a flat-rate parking which wasn’t expensive (something like 500 yen?). Can’t remember if Mitsui Outlet Park charges for parking but if you’re going there, you won’t have a choice – just park there.

  • Alex Fonda says:

    Hi Bumble bee mum,

    We plan to go to Hokkaido this June 14-24. There are 5 adult , 2 boys of 14 and 2 yrs old and one girl of 7 years old. We plan to self drive.

    1. Is it compulsory to have booster seat and baby seat ?
    2. Is below itenaries ok ?

    day 1 : sapporo
    day 2 : sapporo
    day 3 : sapporo with day trip to otaru
    day 4 : drive from sapporo to lake toya (stay at lake toya)
    day 5 : drive from lake toya to noboribetsu (stay at noboribetsu)
    day 6 : drive from noboribetsu to furano (stay in furano)
    day 7 : furano (and beie)
    day 8 : drive from furano to asahikawa (stay in asahikawa)
    day 9 : sapporo
    day 10 : sapporo
    day 11 : sapporo to airport

    best regards,
    Alex

    • bumblebeemum says:

      1. If your girl is still at the height where she requires a booster, then yes, she needs a booster. And your boy of 2 should be in a child seat. It’s required by law in Japan. But more so than anything, it’s for their safety.

      2. Your itinerary looks okay.

  • Priscilla says:

    Hi Bumble Bee mum,

    I’m planning to bring my 7 years old boy to Tokyo and Osaka in the middle of next month for about about 10-14days.
    Shall I buy an open jaw ticket and should I take train during the visit to the other city or just take domestic flight for both of us?
    If open jaw ticket which route should I go? Sg-Tokyo(N or H)-Osaka-Sg or Sg-Osaka-Tokyo(N or H)-Sg is better?
    Is it advisable to visit Mt.Fuji as well? (I’m not driving).
    Are there any snow that we can see during the month of June if we staying at Highland resort?
    The main purpose to go Japan is to play, visiting zoo, Disneyland etc with minimalist shopping.
    Thinking to stay at Hilton when we go to Disneyland.
    The rest of the days would love to stay at the place that close to the train station and we can conveniently get food and best if there is a night market around the vicinity. Any recommendation on this?
    Do you think how many days is good enough for us to spend in Tokyo and Osaka?
    Can you recommend a route we should take or any itinerary to share please?
    Thanks in Advance 🙂

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Open jaw would save you some time on transport. I don’t think it makes a difference whether you go SIN – Tokyo – Osaka – SIN or SIN – Osaka – Tokyo – SIN.

      Between Osaka and Tokyo, the best way to go is by shinkansen.

      If you’re not driving, I recommend you visit Hakone and do the Hakone round course using public transport:
      http://www.odakyu.jp/english/course/hakone/

      Nope, there won’t be snow in June.

      I have never had problems finding food in Japan.. haha.. If you stay near a major train station, there will usually be food at the train station. Otherwise convenience stores are abundant in Japan.

      In Tokyo, I usually like to stay at Asakusa although it’s not the most convenient station. I find the hotels cheaper in Asakusa and it is quieter and less rowdy, but still plenty of restaurants around. Another station I like to stay near is Ueno if I am flying in (or out) via Narita Airport because the Keisei Line connects Narita Airport to Ueno directly and cheaply. At Ueno, there is Ameyayokocho which is probably the closest thing to a night market in Tokyo. Ueno Zoo is also there. Otherwise, many travellers also like to stay near Shinjuku because it’s the biggest transport hub in Tokyo. But Shinjuku can be VERY overwhelming if you have never been to Tokyo before.

      In Osaka, you can try to stay around Namba station. From there, you can visit Dotonbori.

      With 2 weeks, I would probably do something like this:

      Day 1: Tokyo – head straight to Hilton and chill for the day.
      Day 2: Tokyo (Disneyland)
      Day 3: Tokyo (Disneysea)
      Day 4: Tokyo (check out of Hilton, check in to hotel in central Tokyo), visit Asakusa
      Day 5: Tokyo (visit Ueno Zoo and vicinity)
      Day 6: Tokyo (visit Odaiba)
      Day 7: Tokyo – Hakone
      Day 8: Hakone
      Day 9: Hakone – Osaka (get oriented, visit Dotonburi in the evening)
      Day 10: Osaka (visit Osaka Aquarium)
      Day 11: Osaka (visit USJ)
      Day 12: Osaka (Take side trip to Himeji / Kobe)
      Day 13: Osaka (Take side trip to Kyoto)
      Day 14: Osaka – SIN

      • Priscilla says:

        Thank you so much BumbleBeeMum for your reply and your time, very much appreciate it. It’s really help me a lot 🙂

        • Priscilla says:

          Hi Bumblebeemum,

          Do I need to buy shinkansen ticket online or I can just purchase it at the counter?
          For day 7: Tokyo-Hakone, Day 8: Hakone, Day 9: Hakone-Osaka. Do I need to purchase 2 days Hakone Free pass or 3 days pass?
          Is it better I take romance-car or the normal one? Thank you 🙂

          • bumblebeemum says:

            You can just purchase your shinkansen tickets from the counter or shinkansen ticketing machines at the station.

            If you’re doing 3 days of sightseeing in Hakone, then get the 3 days free pass. But if you’re say leaving for Osaka first thing in the morning on Day 3, then get the 2 days free pass.

            You can take the romance car for the experience lah. Since you’re there already, just try it once.

  • Nihon Scope says:

    I heard anything Disney is just super packed like all the time is it worth bothering?

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Hahaha.. You’re asking a big Disney fan, I would surely say it’s worth visiting. But disclaimer: I’m not a rides person. If you visit theme parks for the rides and are trying to get on as many rides as possible, you may be turned off by the queuing time for rides at Tokyo Disneyland. And the fast pass system may cause you some stress. But I go to Disneyland to enjoy the parade, shows and to enjoy the atmosphere – so crowded is actually good. Because when I went to Hong Kong Disneyland on an uncrowded day, we pretty much rode every single ride available (some twice) but I found that that there was no Disney atmosphere. Disneyland needs to be crowded!! But that’s just my opinion. I have friends who would rather go to Hong Kong Disneyland and ride ‘It’s a Small World’ 5 times.

  • YY says:

    Hi Bumblebee Mum,
    I am planning my 1st time for free and easy trip to Japan for 3 weeks with a friend. My travel dates are 18 Dec to 9 Jan. I will reach Tokyo Haneda airport 18 dec, 3pm and my flight back to SG from Haneda on 9 Jan is 9am. Till now, I still don’t know how should I plan our trip as there are so many places I want to go. I’m planning to travel to Kyoto and Osaka as well in this trip. There are also must go places like Disneyland and DisneySea and I am planning to allocate 2 full days for these 2 disney theme parks. Can you pls give me some ideas of how to plan my itinerary? Thank you and look forward to your reply.

    Best regards
    Ying

    • Queen Bee says:

      3 weeks is a long time. You can go all the way to Kanazawa even! I would get a 14-Days Japan Rail Pass and just zip around!

      For example:

      18 Dec: Tokyo
      19 Dec: Tokyo
      20 Dec: Tokyo – Hakone (use a normal train)
      21 Dec: Hakone / Mount Fuji
      22 Dec: Hakone / Mount Fuji
      23 Dec (start Japan Rail Pass): Odawara – Osaka
      24 Dec: Osaka
      25 Dec: Osaka (Day trip to Kyoto)
      26 Dec: Osaka (Day trip to Kyoto)
      27 Dec: Osaka (Half day trip to Nara, half day trip to Kobe)
      28 Dec: Osaka (Day trip to Himeji)
      29 Dec: Osaka (Day trip to Hiroshima & Miyajima)
      30 Dec: Osaka – Kanazawa
      31 Dec: Kanazawa
      1 Jan: Kanazawa (day trip to Takayama)
      2 Jan: Kanazawa – Nagano
      3 Jan: Nagano (day trip to Matsumoto)
      4 Jan: Nagano
      5 Jan (last day of Japan rail pass): Nagano – Tokyo
      6 Jan: Tokyo Disney
      7 Jan: Tokyo Disney
      8 Jan: Tokyo (day trip to Yokohama)
      9 Jan: Flight back

      • YY says:

        Thank you for the plan. It gave me a better idea on how to plan for my trip. Which JR pass would you recommend?
        Also, have you been to Kyoto illumiere before? Any idea when will they come out with the dates for this event for this year?

        • Queen Bee says:

          I would recommend getting the 14-Days Japan Rail Pass.

          I did visit Kyoto Illumiere. It wasn’t great, in comparison to some of the other illuminations we visited. Won’t really recommend it. I believe Osaka has illuminations in the heart of the city, you can check those out. No need to go all the way out to Kyoto Illumiere, the location is pretty off.

  • Sally says:

    Hi Bumblebeemum,

    I had wanted to drop a note at the Otaru section of your blog, but somehow I could only view comments from others, not input one. So I am asking here, hope it is fine.

    After reading that Hotel Vibrant Otaru is a convenient location to stay, I began searching for availability for Dec. However, it seems to be closed. I don’t read Japan at all, just wondering if you maybe aware if the Hotel is closed down already and perhaps update the blog?

    Thanks very much for your help!

    • Queen Bee says:

      Ah yes.. We had some problems with our comments section when we just moved our blog over to the new site. Sorry about that.

      And you are right! According to their website, Hotel Vibrant Otaru has ceased operation from 16 Feb this year. Thank you for alerting us to this.

  • Jacqueline says:

    Hi Bumblebee Mum,

    I am travelling to Hokkaido this Nov 5-11, total 7 days & nights. I have listed down where I am interested. would you mind to give an idea how to go by order if we are driving & give suggestion about where should I stop for the night stay in those attraction.
    1) Jozankei
    2) Otaru
    3) Noboribetsu
    4) Sapporo
    5) Furano/ Sounkyo
    6) Biei/ Asahikawa Zoo
    Thanks in advance

    • Queen Bee says:

      Hmmmm… 7 days is not a long time for a winter trip. By November daylight hours will be pretty short. I would suggest you drop Furano / Biei / Sounkyo.

      This is what I would do with only 7 days:

      Day 1: CTS – Sapporo
      Day 2: Sapporo
      Day 3: Sapporo (day trip to Otaru by train)
      Day 4: Sapporo (day trip to Asahiyama zoo by train)
      Day 5: Sapporo (rent car) – Jozankei
      Day 6: Jozankei – Lake Toya – Noboribetsu
      Day 7: Noboribetsu – CTS
      Day 8: Flight back

  • jackie chan says:

    Hi Bumblebee Mum,
    We, a group of 5, will be travelling to Hokkaido coming 9 Oct to 17 Oct ’17. Bookings for accomodations , hotel & airbnb done. As for vehicle , we have not book yet. Hope u can give us an idea what car to rent, which co. to rent from, necessary to use ETC card ? Can u also go thru our itinery to see if it is viable,

    Day 1 Reach CTS 8.30 am, – Norboribetsu, hell valley,ohyunuma river hot spa
    Day 2 Noboribetsu-leave 9 am – Sobetsu Fruit Village – Hakodate, Mount hakodate
    Day 3 Hakodate morning mkt, kanemori whse,motomachi area, Goryokaku Tower
    Day 4 Hakodate->Mt Usu->Lake Hill Farm->Lake Toya
    Day 5 Lake Toya-leave 7 am->Hoheikyo Dam->Jozenki Futami Bridge->Otaru Canal, Music Box
    Museum,
    Day 6 Otaru Nantaru market -leave 12 noon for Furano, farm tomita,ningle terrace
    Day 7 Furano, Patchwork road, Blue Pond,Shirahige waterfall, Mount Tokachidake Observatory
    Day 8 Furano jam fty, rokugo viewing point, cheese fty leave 1 noon Sapporo
    Day 9 Sapporo
    Day 10 10.30 flight

    Thanks & hope to hear from u soon.

    • Queen Bee says:

      I think you can get the HEP for your route. You can rent a car from CTS on Day 1 and return it to Sapporo on Day 8. But you would need to check with the car rental company if they allow one-way rental with HEP. I heard from my readers that Toyota and TIMES allow that.

      You can either go direct to the car rental company’s website to make a reservation, or use a website like Tabirai:
      http://en.tabirai.net/car/

      Compare the prices and see which is cheaper. If let’s say Tabirai is cheaper, you can book from their site. Then after you make the reservation, in the confirmation email there will be a link where you can go to send messages to the car rental company. So what I did the last time was, I made the reservation using Iabirai first, then I went to send a message to the car rental company to request for the HEP.

      • jackie chan says:

        Hi, Thanks for your idea. Will check & see.

        Have a few questions you can help me with ,
        1) There’s a toll free road from the airport to Noboribetsu?. Ok to use this road ?
        2) From Noboribetsu to Sobetsu Fruit Village to Hakodate. Can I avoid the toll road & use
        the toll free coastal road ?.
        3) I am also thinking of using the same toll free road from Hakodate to Lake Toya. Ok ?
        4) From Lake Toya to Jozenki, is the road ‘230’ Toya National Highway also toll free ?
        5) From Otaru to Furana, I would follow your suggestion of using the toll road & get off the
        highway at Mikasa.

        With this route, is it necessary to use the HEP ?
        Wonder if my itinery is ok as you have not given any comments? Any place worth going that I may have left out. I have added the Sobetsu sunflower field & Silo Observatory into Day 4.

        Thanks in advance

        • Queen Bee says:

          1) Yes, the direct route from CTS to Noboribetsu is a toll road. That’s the best way to get from CTS to Noboribetsu.

          2) From Noboribetsu to Sobetsu Fruit Village, you can use the non-toll road via Orofure Pass. But from Sobetsu to Hakodate, I usually use the toll road because it’s quite a long drive. Unless you have a lot of time and don’t mind getting stuck behind slow-moving vehicles from time to time on non-toll roads, I would suggest using the toll road.

          3) Really depends on how much time you have. If you’re rushing for time, just use the toll road. You can play by ear.

          4) Yes, National Highways are toll free.

          If you don’t use the toll roads to get to and fro Hakodate, then you may not need the HEP. In general, the drive to Hakodate is the one that really chalks up the toll fee and warrants the use of a HEP. If I were you, I would just get the HEP and use the toll roads to get to and fro Hakodate.

          Yup, your itinerary looks okay. That’s why I didn’t comment.. haha..

  • jackie chan says:

    Hi Queen Bee
    It’s me again. Following your advice, i have been searching Tabirai for car rental & i find this website very useful. Based on my requirements – same vehicle , i am left with 2 choices :

    a) Budget rent a car
    CDW, Eng GPS – Inclusive
    Drop Off, ETC in vehicle device , ETC Card Rental, WIFI router rental – shows 0 Yen

    b) Toyota Rent a car
    CDW, Eng GPS – Inclusive
    Drop Off, ETC in vehicle device , ETC Card Rent, – shows 0 Yen
    Double Protection Package – additional 4320 Y

    The difference between these 2 company varies about 25 K , Toyota charges very much higher.
    Oooh, the fact that I leave this task to the very end because i am so not confident in this part .
    Really need your advice ..

    1) Is renting with Budget rent a car ok ? As far as you know, are they English ok ?
    i don’t speak Japanese at all.

    2) Toyota charges 25K higher. This double protection package, i only find it in Toyota.
    Budget does not have it.

    Base on the specs, is it ok to choose Budget rent a car ?
    I am also thinking of getting the HEP.

    Thanks in advance for your generouse guidance & advice.

    • Queen Bee says:

      I have never used Budget in Japan before. If you don’t speak Japanese and it’s your first time driving in Japan, I would suggest paying more to rent from Toyota with comprehensive insurance coverage. I personally go for the cheaper options in Japan because I know what I’m doing there. But when I went to Thailand last December, I rented from Hertz which was not the cheapest and I paid extra for their comprehensive insurance coverage, because I wanted a peace of mind while driving in a foreign country where I have never driven in before and I didn’t speak the language. I imagine your situation to be like mine when I was in Thailand. So if I were you, I would go for Toyota. Maybe after you have a bit more experience driving in Japan, you can look at cheaper options.

  • Joyce says:

    Hi Bumble Bee Mum 🐝,

    Just want to say I love your blog entries on your trips Japan! They have been so helpful for my past trips since 2013.

    Like you, I think I have a Japan- fever, my annual pilgrimage to Japan this year is to Hokkaido!

    I will be travelling there with my partner from 3 to 13 November, about 10 nights

    We are intending to cover central hokkaido to eastern hokkaido and to skip Hakodate this time around as we have already visited it last December.

    I was just looking at your trip to hokkaido last June! It seems like an itinerary that we can consider.

    Just wish to ask since we are spending time in Hokkaido at the start of November:
    1. which areas would you recommend us to stay longer or head to?
    2. which areas should we avoid at this period?
    3. Would we meet with crazy snow storm during this period? Since we are self-driving this should be crucial.

    Thank you. I look forward to your reply!

    • Queen Bee says:

      1. You can spend a bit more time at Akan National Park region and Daisetsuzan region if you haven’t been to Eastern Hokkaido before. In November, I would probably spend more time enjoying onsen ryokan stays, because it’s really not the best time for sightseeing. There are plenty of onsen towns in Eastern Hokkaido, my favourites being Tokachigawa onsen, Lake Akan and Sounkyo.

      2. I wouldn’t bother with Shiretoko in November. The scenic routes will be closed for winter.

      3. You should be prepared to encounter snow storms. But you’re right that you have to self-drive in Eastern Hokkaido. Just drive slow and safe, you can read this post for tips on driving in winter:
      http://bumblebeemum.net/2015/08/29/free-easy-hokkaido-winter-trip-essential-travel-tips/

  • Shirlene says:

    Hello! I am back from my Mount Fuji hiking trip! It was tough but totally worth it! The sunrise at the sunrise was awesome! My husband and best friend suffered from altitude sickness, and both of them are the fitter and healthier ones in the group! lols! just want to drop by and let u know that I made it back alive. Planning to hike Mt Meakan next, it seem so much more do-able than Fuji!

  • EK says:

    Hi Bumble Bee Mum,

    We are a family of 4 ( daughter – 13 years old and mother – 70 years old ) travelling to Osaka in 2nd week of Dec. The reason for the visit is because of Harry Potter at Universal Studio but we do not have an itinerary yet. Do you have any suggestion? We will be in Osaka from 8 to 18 Dec.

  • Melinda says:

    Hi Bumble Bee Mum,

    My husband & I are planning to travel to Hokkaido on the 2/1/18 – 11/1/18 by Scoot. we are planning to do a self drive although is our first trip to Hokkaido. I palnning to go to below places. could you advise me further like where else to go or how the itinerary should be?
    Furano (Ski resort), Biei, Asahiyama zoo, Otaru, Sapporo (3-4days)
    2/1 – 3/1 – Stay near Chitose / Sapporo (as we arrive late afternoon)
    3/1 – 4/1 – Furano
    4/1 – 5/1 – Furano / Biei (Blue Pond)
    5/1 – day trip to Asahiyama zoo then to Otaru / sapporo
    6/1 – day trip Otaru
    7/1 – day trip Norberitsu
    8/1 – 11/1 – Sapporo

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