BumblebeeMum
Itinerary for Hokkaido in late Nov – early Dec with 2 young kids
Itinerary for Hokkaido in late Nov – early Dec with 2 young kids

Hi BumblebeeMum

Very informative and useful blog you have for Japan!

Want to seek your help on maiden trip to Hokkaido in late Nov and Early Dec.

If just be in Hokkaido for 7 days, is it necessary to drive or take train to Sapporo and Hakodate with 2 young kids? And if driving, rental car can be picked up at Sapporo City? As I want to explore the city before driving towards Hakodate.

Then my dilemma is that my to and return flight will be at Chitosan airport. So I have to drive from Hakodate way back to Chitosan?

What is your suggested itinerary if I want to include a 1 or 2 night stay at ski resort or onsen ryokan?

Thanks
Ebo

By ebo on February 23, 2016

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  • AJ says:

    Hi bumblebeemum,
    I stumbled upon your blog while searching for hokkaido winter with kids and have been reading fervently.
    It’s our first time to hokkaido and snow for that matter with 2 kids, 6 and 3. Planning for a late nov/early dec trip and wonder if tomamu or rurutsu is better for kids activities and such that they won’t get bored. I know that early December the childrens park at rurutsu won’t be open yet. Ice village at tomamu (based on 2014) dates seem to open from end Nov. Do you know if the ice slide is functional by then?
    I’m not really looking to ski like a pro, probably try a thing or two for the kids. How many nights at the ski resort for this? The only other thing is visit the zoo for the penguin parade. And probably Sapporo tower. Possible to advise a reccomended itinerary (public transport)? Thanks so much in advance

    • bumblebeemum says:

      The exact opening dates of things like snow parks and ice slides will not be known until much closer to the actual date, because these are weather-dependent. Some days the snow arrives earlier or they get more snow, the snow parks can open earlier. Some years there is simply not enough snow, so the snow parks get delayed. I would say push Tomamu all the way to the end your trip to increase your chances of the ice slide being open by then. Rusutsu’s kids activities will definitely not be ready yet.

      If you just want to ski for fun, one day is sufficient. You may want to stay 2 nights so that you have one full day for skiing.

      The penguin parade will not have started during your period of travel. Again, it is weather dependent and usually only starts at the very end of December. So definitely you will miss the parade. Nevertheless, the zoo is very nice and worth visiting. Hopefully it will be covered with snow by then and it’ll be an experience you can never get in Singapore Zoo. :p

      For transport, you can base yourself in Sapporo. For a trip by public transport, I recommend you stay near Sapporo Station for convenience. Sapporo station is connect to CTS by train.

      Asahiyama Zoo can done as a day trip from Sapporo. You can purchase a package from JR which includes Zoo tickets + Return train tickets + return bus tickets:
      http://www2.jrhokkaido.co.jp/global/english/pticket/pticket03.html#06

      Tomamu is also reachable by direct train from Sapporo station. You can just pack a small bag for this side trip and leave your big luggage cases with the hotel in Sapporo so that it is easier to move around.

      For train schedules and ticket prices, you can check using hyperdia:
      http://www.hyperdia.com/

      • AJ says:

        Hi bumbleemum, thanks so much for your reply.

        ‘For reindeer sledding that you did in Tomamu, do you know if it’s available from 1st Dec?
        I was looking at rusutsu resort and saw the free carousel and the Disneyland like theme at the north/south tower – seems quite attractive to bring the kids there….any opinion on this?

        I have two alternatives of draft itinerary from 26 Nov – 3 Dec that looks like the following and was wondering if you can give your good advice whether it’s too rushed or if there’s enough activities other than snow at either Tomamu or Rusutsu to keep the kids occupied..Any other places of interest I may be missing out? My kids are 3 and 6 thank you so much….

        Day 1 – Arrive at Sapporo
        Narrowed down century royal hotel as my base for 4 nights as its beside Sapporo JR station (any comments on this hotel)?
        Day 2 – Explore Sapporo city by foot ( odori park, TV tower, Government heritage building, Clock tower etc)
        Day 3 – Explore Shiroi Koibitoi Park (take JR from Sapporo to Miyanasawa station)
        Day 4 – Go to Asahimaya Zoo (take the special Zoo train from Sapporo station)
        Day 5 – Check out from century royal and take direct bus from century royal hotel to Tomamu resort
        Day 6 – Tomamu resort (ski and reindeer sledding)
        Day 7 – Tomamu resort (mina mina indoor beach, ice village)
        Day 8 – Checkout – take bus to CTS and back to SIN

        OR

        Day 1 – Arrive at Sapporo
        Narrowed down century royal hotel as my base for 4 nights as its beside Sapporo JR station (any comments on this hotel)?
        Day 2 – Explore Sapporo city by foot ( odori park, TV tower, Government heritage building, Clock tower etc)
        Day 3 – Explore Shiroi Koibitoi Park (take JR from Sapporo to Miyanasawa station)
        Day 4 – Go to Asahimaya Zoo (take the special Zoo train from Sapporo station)
        Day 5 – Check out from century royal and take direct bus from Sapporo station to Rusutsu Resort (bus is free provided by resort)
        Day 6 – Rusutsu resort (ski)
        Day 7 – Rusutsu resort (indoor wave pool, carousel, is there an indoor amusement park?)
        Day 8 – Checkout – take bus to CTS and back to SIN

        Hope to hear from you 🙂

        • bumblebeemum says:

          I went to Rusutsu for a day trip. The lobby was a bit more Disneyland-like compared to Tomamu, but Rusutsu was a lot pricier. Their snow park was not up till end December, so we did not get to play with ice slides / snow tubing. The one thing Rusutsu had that nowhere else had was dog sledding. But it was fully booked for the day I was there. Probably booked up by hotel guests who had arrived the day before or even earlier.

          I am not sure whether the reindeer sleighing will be available on 1 Dec. All these winter activities are weather dependent, so there is never a guarantee.

          Century Royal Hotel does look very near to Sapporo station on the map. Should make a good base.

          I don’t recall there being an indoor amusement park at Rusutsu. They do have an outdoor amusement park but it’s only operational in Summer. Winter is all about skiing, snowboarding and snow activities such as dog sledding. Their snow park and indoor ski school does not open until much later in December. For early December, I would opt for Tomamu instead of Rusutsu.

  • Ebo says:

    Hi BumblebeeMum

    Very informative and useful blog you have for Japan!

    Want to seek your help on maiden trip to Hokkaido in late Nov and Early Dec.

    If just be in Hokkaido for 7 days, is it necessary to drive or take train to Sapporo and Hakodate with 2 young kids? And if driving, rental car can be picked up at Sapporo City? As I want to explore the city before driving towards Hakodate.

    Then my dilemma is that my to and return flight will be at Chitosan airport. So I have to drive from Hakodate way back to Chitosan?

    What is your suggested itinerary if I want to include a 1 or 2 night stay at ski resort or onsen ryokan?

    Thanks
    Ebo

  • ebo says:

    And also you mentioned on the flight saving tip for option one “The greatest advantage of this option is that you need not fly in and out of the same city in Hokkaido since ANA and JAL have numerous flights from Haneda / Narita to various cities of Hokkaido.” Does that mean we need to book one way trip for to and fro? Eg Singapore to Chitose and Hakodate to Singapore,

  • ebo says:

    Hi Bumblebeemum

    Need to seek your help on the itineraries below. Is either one of those doable from the end Nov to early Dec? I think had to leave out Hakodate as want to try explore the eastern part of Hokkaido. As the route seems quite a distance from Sapporo to Lake Akan and is winter time, I do not want to stress myself and complete in 4hrs or longer in a day as per your advice in previous blogs.

    For Day 3, not sure if there is any particular interest in Furano during winter.

    Day 1: CTS-Sapporo
    Day 2: Sapporo to Otaru (Day Trip by Train)
    Day 3: Sapporo to Furano (Car)
    Day 4: Furano to Lake Akan (Car)
    Day 5: Lake Akan to Kushiro (Car)
    Day 6: Kushiro to Obihiro (Car)
    Day 7: Kushiro to Tomamu Ski (Car)
    Day 8: Tomamu Ski to Sapporo (Car)
    Day 9: Sapporo
    Day 10: Sapporo to CTS

    Alternatively

    Day 1: CTS-Sapporo
    Day 2: Sapporo to Otaru (Day Trip by Train)
    Day 3: Sapporo to Tomamu Ski (Car)
    Day 4: Tomamu ski
    Day 5: Tomamu ski to Lake Akan (Car)
    Day 6: Lake Akan to Kushiro (Car)
    Day 7: Kushiro to Obihiro (Car)
    Day 8: Obihiro to Sapporo (Car)
    Day 9: Sapporo
    Day 10: Sapporo to CTS

    From the Google maps it seems the driving require toll fees for those routes, so advisable to rent an ETC?
    Base on your experience, 2 full tanks are sufficient for the 5 days trip?

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Hmm… When you say end Nov, you really got to look at the exact dates to see if skiing at Tomamu is feasible. You need to check Tomamu website closer to the date to see exactly when their ski season starts.

      I wouldn’t go to Furano in winter. So I would go for the second itinerary, but I would push Tomamu all the way to the end because by early Dec, Tomamu should have started their ski season.

      So I would plan for something like this:

      Day 1: CTS-Sapporo
      Day 2: Sapporo to Otaru (Day Trip by Train)
      Day 3: Sapporo
      Day 4: Sapporo – Obihiro (by train)
      Day 5: Rent a car from Obihiro, drive to Kushiro.
      Day 6: Drive Kushiro to Lake Akan.
      Day 7: Drive around Akan National Park.
      Day 8: Drive Akan to Obihiro and return car. Train to Tomamu.
      Day 9: Ski at Tomamu.
      Day 10: Tomamu to CTS by direct bus.

      If you do the above, you will not be using the toll road much. And 2 full tanks is more than sufficient.

  • ebo says:

    Thanks for your time to advise on the itinerary. If want to switch the date to last 2 weeks of Dec instead of Nov, is your itinerary still applicable or some amendment require?

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Yup, the itinerary would still be applicable in December. I would still recommend you go to the ski resorts as late as possible in Dec.

      • Anonymous says:

        Thanks so much BBMum! =)

        • ebo says:

          Hi BBMum

          Need your help again. =)

          If I can only spend 7 days and last day to travel back, it is still possible to drive and visit Lake Aka? Not sure what can i fill in from Day 4 to 6 base from your previous proposed itinerary.

          And if my flight on the 8th day is 2pm, is it feasible to take the earliest coach from Tomamu to CTS?

          Day 1: CTS-Sapporo
          Day 2: Sapporo to Otaru (Day Trip by Train)
          Day 3: Sapporo
          Day 4: ?
          Day 5: ?
          Day 6: ?
          Day 7: Ski at Tomamu/Snow Village
          Day 8: Tomamu to CTS by direct bus.

          • bumblebeemum says:

            I think it is still possible to visit Lake Akan if you skip Furano.

            Day 1: CTS-Sapporo
            Day 2: Sapporo to Otaru (Day Trip by Train)
            Day 3: Sapporo
            Day 4: Sapporo – Kushiro
            Day 5: Kushiro – Lake Akan
            Day 6: Lake Akan – Obihiro – Tomamu
            Day 7: Ski at Tomamu/Snow Village
            Day 8: Tomamu to CTS by direct bus.

            If you take the 9.20am direct bus from Tomamu to CTS, it is scheduled to reach CTS before 12 noon so it is definitely feasible.
            http://www.snowtomamu.jp.e.vc.hp.transer.com/bus/

            • ebo says:

              Hi BBMum

              I just confirm that we are able to extend more days from our work commitment (Hooray!)

              So will be continue to follow your initial suggested itinerary below.

              Day 1: CTS-Sapporo
              Day 2: Sapporo to Otaru (Day Trip by Train)
              Day 3: Sapporo
              Day 4: Sapporo – Obihiro (by train)
              Day 5: Rent a car from Obihiro, drive to Kushiro.
              Day 6: Drive Kushiro to Lake Akan.
              Day 7: Drive around Akan National Park.
              Day 8: Drive Akan to Obihiro and return car. Train to Tomamu.
              Day 9: Ski at Tomamu.
              Day 10: Tomamu to CTS by direct bus

              I notice that for Kushiro mentioned not much of the activities except for crane watching. Do you think is worth to remove Kushiro and spend more day at Obihiro, Lake Akan or other places?

              And from your past stays at Hotel Mecure, do they allow for 2 adults and 2 young primary school kids to stay in a room without additional charges?

              Really appreciate much for giving advices to my changing itinerary and endless queries!

              Cheers!

              • bumblebeemum says:

                Actually in both Obihiro and Kushiro, there is nothing much in terms of sightseeing. I go to these places just to eat. Haha.. Just relax, drive slowly and enjoy the scenery along the way and food. That’s what Hokkaido is all about.

                Day 4: Be sure to eat buta don when you arrive at Obihiro. Then go check out Rokkaitei and Ryugetsu main stores. In the evening, you can check out Kita no Yatai.

                Day 5: After breakfast, set off from Obihiro. In between, you can visit Ikeda Wine Castle and Happiness Dairy. When you reach Kushiro, you can visit Washo Market. Then check-in to the hotel, rest, and visit Fisherman Wharf Moo.

                Day 6: Leave Kushiro for Tsurui (crane area) then head to Lake Akan.

                For Mercure, I don’t think their standard rooms can fit 2 adults and 2 primary school kids. They have bigger rooms / connecting rooms but you would have to contact the hotel to book from them directly.

                • ebo says:

                  Thanks again BBMum! For Mecure, they did quote me $200 per night during end nov Friday and Saturday. Sunday is cheaper at just $100. Not too sure whether their peak season has started that time.

  • ebo says:

    I guess my threads are the longest in your blog so have to start with a new thread. =P

    I thought you will want to try APA Ekimae as is just opp Mecure. Not sure if either APA hotels allow young kids to stay for free in a room. EkiNishi seems to be a better deal though for huge room and lower cost with bigger group.

  • Rachel says:

    Hi Bumblebeemum,

    Very informative blog with detailed replies.

    I am intending to travel to Hokkaido in Nov/Dec with a 2yo.
    Do you think it is advisable? As i’m afraid it might be too cold for toddlers and elders.

    Do we need to obtain an international driving license or is our SG one good enough?

    Also thought of taking the Senmo Rail Line to see some scenaries at leisure pace. Any advise on this?

    TIA!

    • bumblebeemum says:

      It will be very cold in Hokkaido at the end of the year. It is frankly quite tiring having to dress the toddler up in layers every time you want to go out and there’s a high chance your toddler will catch a cold. Nov is not exactly the best time for visiting Hokkaido either. So I don’t exactly recommend it.

      Senmo Rail Line means you’re thinking of visiting Shiretoko? Shiretoko is kind of boring in Nov / Dec and super far North. I wouldn’t go there during that time of the year. I will go Shiretoko only in summer, autumn or during drift ice season.

      As for driving in Japan, you will need an international driving licence.

  • ebo says:

    Hi BBMum,

    Do you think is a good idea to squeeze one day and overnight stay for Lake Akan sacrificing Day 8 at the hotel airport? Thanks for the advice again.

    Day 1: CTS-Sapporo Stay in Sapporo
    Day 2: Sapporo to Otaru (Day Trip by Train) Stay in Sapporo
    Day 3: Sapporo Stay in Sapporo
    Day 4: Sapporo – Obihiro (by train) Stay in Obihiro
    Day 5 Rent a car from Obihiro, drive to Kushiro. car/ stay in Kushiro
    Day 6 Drive from Kushiro to Obihiro. Train to Tomamu. car/ stay at ski
    Day 7 Ski at Tomamu. stay at ski
    Day 8 Tomamu to CTS by direct bus. Stay at airport hotel
    Day 9 Flight back Home

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Obihiro is not very interesting frankly. I only go there to eat buta don and maybe shop at Rokkatei. I would stop briefly at Obihiro and pick up the car on Day 4 and drive to Lake Akan. Staying at Lake Akan is definitely much more interesting than staying at Kushiro. Something like this:

      Day 4: Sapporo – Obihiro (by train – set off early). Eat buta don, visit Rokkatei. Pick up rental car, drive to Lake Akan.
      Day 5 Drive around Akan National Park, then to Kushiro and stay at Kushiro
      Day 6 Kushiro (visit Washo market), drive to see the cranes, and drive back to Obihiro. Return the car and train to Tomamu.

      • ebo says:

        Thanks BBMum!

        • ebo says:

          Hi BBMum

          I just finalized with 10 days trip and realize I left 1 day empty from your revised itinerary. Can you advise any place of to go?

          Day 1: CTS-Sapporo
          Day 2: Sapporo to Otaru (Day Trip by Train)
          Day 3: Sapporo
          Day 4: Sapporo – Obihiro (by train), drive to Lake Akan
          Day 5 Drive around Lake Akan National Park and to Kushiro
          Day 6 Kushiro (visit Washo Market), see cranes and drive back to Obihiro. Train to Tomamu
          Day 7 Ski at Tomamu.
          Day 8 Tomamu to CTS by direct bus/ Airport Stay
          Day 9 Home
          Day 10 ?

          • bumblebeemum says:

            You can consider adding in Noboribetsu at the start of your trip:

            Day 1: CTS-Noboribetsu
            Day 2: Noboribetsu – Sapporo
            Day 3: Sapporo to Otaru (Day Trip by Train)
            Day 4: Sapporo
            Day 5: Sapporo – Obihiro (by train), drive to Lake Akan
            Day 6 Drive around Lake Akan National Park and to Kushiro
            Day 7 Kushiro (visit Washo Market), see cranes and drive back to Obihiro. Train to Tomamu
            Day 8 Ski at Tomamu.
            Day 9 Tomamu to CTS by direct bus/ Airport Stay
            Day 10 Home
            Day 10 ?

            • ebo says:

              Thanks again BBMum!

              • ebo says:

                Hi BBMum

                When I check the map, noboribetsu is a bit far off to Sapporo and the means of transport is by car from airport? Not sure if the time taken will be sufficient as our arrival is noon time nearing winter season. And is more to the western side to our intended east travelling to Lake Akan. Any particular interest in noboribetsu aside from the Hell Valley? Will very much love to travel through the Orofure Pass from your blog though!

                • bumblebeemum says:

                  I thought of Noboribetsu because winter is the best time for onsen. Thought you could catch the direct bus from CTS to Noboribetsu and then direct bus from Noboribetsu to Sapporo, but if you arrive at noon, you’ll miss the CTS – Noboribetsu bus! It leaves CTS at 12 noon:
                  http://www.new-chitose-airport.jp/en/access/bus/timebusd/

                  Alternatively, you can spend a night at Tokachigawa Onsen near Obihiro since you are driving in that area. The moor onsen at Tokachigawa is very popular with the locals.

                  Day 4: Sapporo – Obihiro (by train), drive to Tokachigawa Onsen
                  Day 5: Drive Tokachigawa Onsen – Lake Akan
                  Day 6 Drive around Lake Akan National Park and to Kushiro
                  Day 7 Kushiro (visit Washo Market), see cranes and drive back to Obihiro. Train to Tomamu
                  Day 8 Ski at Tomamu.
                  Day 9 Tomamu to CTS by direct bus/ Airport Stay
                  Day 10 Home

                  • ebo says:

                    Hi BBMum

                    Thanks for your suggestion. If going to Noboribetsu, I found another link for onsen Sekisuitei which provide free shuttle bus from Chitose after 2pm. Not sure if you have tried that onsen before.

                    http://en.sekisuitei.com/access#muryou

                    Alternative will be the mentioned Hotel Mahoroba which provides shuttle bus from Sapporo.

                    http://tohoresort.com/access/mahoroba_Change_bus_en.html

                    Means that I will have to slot in Day 4 and comes back to Sapporo after checkout, which seems workable. 🙂

                    • bumblebeemum says:

                      I haven’t tried Sekisuitei. Reviews for Mahoroba look better that for Sekisuitei on Agoda. But Sekisuitei apparently has private onsen according to the reviews? I would go for whichever is cheaper.. haha. The good thing about Sekisuitei is that you can bus from CTS to there and then bus from there to Sapporo, which saves you a bit of time on the road vs going Mahoroba to and fro Sapporo.

                    • ebo says:

                      I also prefer Mahoroba due to more kids friendly but agree is convenient to travel to Sekisutei and of course the cost too! Thanks again BBMum!

            • ebo says:

              Hi BB Mum, just to clarify for the train ticket cost from Sapporo to Obihoro. From the web link below, it mentioned that the total cost for the round trip cost around 12950 yen per person. Is it worthwhile to drive instead from Sapporo to save the cost?

              http://www2.jrhokkaido.co.jp/global/english/pticket/pdf/direction02.pdf

      • ebo says:

        Hi BB Mum

        I just checked the JR website and the cost for the round trip from Sapporo to Obihiro is around 13k yen per adult. Is it worth to buy a JR pass or drive instead from Sapporo for the family of 4?

        http://www2.jrhokkaido.co.jp/global/english/pticket/pdf/direction02.pdf

        • ebo says:

          Sorry BB Mum, ignore my previous questions. I should be looking for one trip instead of 2 ways from Sapporo. 😛 Thanks!

  • CeciliaChia says:

    Hi Bumblebeemum, I really enjoy reading your blog, very informative. I am planing a trip from 29/11 – 06/12/2016 (7N8D) with two kids age 5 & 10 years old. The main activities for my kids will be snowboard and onsen for adults. This is my first time to Hokkaido. The followings are the places in my list, can you advise me on how to plan my stay? Thanks.

    Sapporo
    Otaru
    Niseko
    Tomamu

    • bumblebeemum says:

      You can do the following (2 nights Niseko, 3 nights Sapporo, 2 nights Tomamu):

      29/11: CTS – Niseko
      30/11: Niseko
      1/12: Niseko – Sapporo
      2/12: Sapporo
      3/12: Sapporo (day trip to Otaru)
      4/12: Sapporo – Tomamu
      5/12: Tomamu
      6/12: Tomamu – CTS

      • Chris says:

        Hi, you stayed around early Dec at Hilton Niseko.
        Wondering if they are very strict towards children policy or not ?

        Did you enter 2 adults only or 2 adults with children for a room?
        would you mind sharing your room rate per night at that time ?

        • bumblebeemum says:

          My children were pretty young so they could bunk in with us for free. What you can do is to book for 2 adults first and see if they charge for your kids when you check-in. If they do, then just top up cash for the kids there. I cannot remember exactly how much I paid. iirc it was about SGD150 without meals.

      • CeciliaChia says:

        Hi Bumblebeemum, thanks for your reply.
        I arrive CTS on 29/11 at 16.55, travel by train to Niseko will arrive at about 8-9pm. Is it ok to arrive at this hour and how far away from the station to Hilton Niseko? Thanks in advance for your advise.

        • bumblebeemum says:

          Hmmm… I won’t use the train, I would use the direct bus instead. Hilton Niseko is not near the train station. This shuttle bus can drop you can the door of Hilton Niseko:
          http://www.nisekoshuttlebus.com/

          However, I would compare cost of staying at Hilton Niseko vs Air Terminal Hotel. If Hilton Niseko cost a lot more, plus there is additional night surcharge for the bus, I may just spend my first night at Air Terminal Hotel and catch the bus to Niseko the next morning.

          • CeciliaChia says:

            Hi Bumblebeemum, “The Tower” could you advise me which Tower is more convenient to stay?
            Thank you.

            • bumblebeemum says:

              The two towers are the same, just side by side. You will be given a room in either Towers when you check in.

              • CeciliaChia says:

                Hi Bumblebeemum, is me again. Hope I find you well here. My itinerary has been set and waiting for the time to come, really looking forward to…except for the train from sapporo to tomamu, i am still not so sure how to purchase the train ticket, so have to trouble you again for your advise. Do I need to book in advance? Will I have any issue if I purchase in Sapporo on the day I arrived? Understand that I have to reserve seats, any chance that I may not get a seat if I do not have reservation? Thank you in advance for your help.

                • bumblebeemum says:

                  Nope, you don’t need to purchase the ticket to Tomamu in advance. You can purchase it from JR Sapporo station when you are there. There is always a risk of not getting a seat if you choose not to reserve seats. It’s whether or not you think the money you save is worth the risk.

                  By the way, please check if the train has resumed operation yet when you are there. It has been down for the past few weeks due to typhoon damage and currently on JR Hokkaido website, the suspension notice is still there.
                  http://www2.jrhokkaido.co.jp/global/
                  If the train service hasn’t resumed, you need to find out how to get to Tomamu by bus instead.

  • Cleo says:

    Hi Bumblebee Mom,

    Thank you for sharing lotsa useful info on Hokkaido:)

    We are planning a 7-day trip in the last week of November (I know it’s not ideal:( ) and we have 2 young kids age 2 and 4.

    Our itinerary is as such:
    Day 1 Sapporo
    Day 2 Day trip to Otaru
    Day 3 Pick up car and drive to Asahiyama
    Day 4 Sounkyo Onsen
    Day 5 Lake Akan
    Day 6 Kushiro
    Day 7 Tomamu
    Day 8 Drive back to CTS airport

    Is travelling to Lake Akan a waste of time given that we have such a tight schedule? Or should we give Kushiro or any other destination a miss? Really appreciate your advice:) Thank you!!

    • bumblebeemum says:

      You are covering too much distance with too little time in winter. I suggest you visit Noboribetsu and Lake Toya instead of Eastern Hokkaido. And you can do Asahiyama Zoo as a day trip by train from Sapporo.

      • cleo says:

        Thanks for your prompt reply. yup…I feel it’s too hectic too. shall relook into my itinerary again. thanks a lot and have a great day ahead:)

  • ebo says:

    Hi BBMum, can you recall if the Lake Akan Resort Hanayuuka you stayed can exclude young kids from the room stay but pay extra for the meals? For a family of 4, it approximately cost $400 per night at Hanayuuka.

    • bumblebeemum says:

      When I made the booking online, I only booked for 2 adults. But when we arrived, we paid for the kids in cash to the front desk. Can’t remember how much exactly we paid though.. I think it was like 3000yen for the child age between 2-6 (no bedding but with meals) and 1000yen for the child below 2 (no bedding, eat for free). Something like that.

  • Estee says:

    Hi Bumblebeemum,

    I like to read your blog. It was really informative for me to visitHokkaido ! We will be there 22Nov to 1Dec for 10 days with my 2 kids (7 & 14) , 4 of us. Don’t ask me why I going in this period as no choice of leaves n kids school holidays. My main purpose is to explore. We had went to Tokyo, Kyoto & Osaka last year.

    I have planned the itinerary. I hope you can help me to check is it too ambitious. I think it will be just an exploring to Hokkaido for first time. Next time will be more relax.

    Day 1 reach CTS at 5pm. So have to stay a night at Sapporo
    Day 2 self drive to Furano-Biei-Asahikawa. Stay 2N at Asahikawa
    Day 3 Mt. Kurodake Ropeway-Asahiyama Zoo-Ramen village
    Day 4 drive to Niseko stay 1N
    Day 5 drive to Goryokaku-Morning Mkt-Motomachi Park-Red Brick-Mt. Hakodate- stay 1N
    Day 6 drive to Usuzan Ropeway-Showa Shinza- Lake Toya stay 1N
    Day 7 drive to Noboribetsu-Jigokudani-Shiraoi Ainu Museum-Sapporo (stay 3N)
    Day 8 day trip to Otaru by train
    Day 9-10 in Sapporo fly from CTS

    I would like to ask do I need HEP or just ETC?
    Do I need a car booster for 7 yrs old girl around 21kg?
    Is it ok for just hire snow tyre without 4WD? As we has no experience on snow drive.
    Is my trip to long especially from Asahikawa to Niseko? (take 3h & 30min)

    Appreciate your effort in it.

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Day 2: What do you want to do in Furano and Biei in November? It’s not an easy place to navigate in winter if it’s snowing (Biei was where our car fell into a ditch) and the flowers the region is famous for will all be gone by then.

      Day 3: In winter, you probably only have time to do Asahiyama Zoo and ramen village after that. Don’t think you have time to squeeze in Kurodake ropeway.

      Your itinerary looks a bit all over the place. I suggest you rearrange it this way:

      Day 1: CTS – Sapporo
      Day 2: Sapporo
      Day 3: Sapporo – Otaru – Sapporo
      Day 4: Sapporo – Asahikawa
      Day 5: Asahikawa
      Day 6: Asahikawa – Noboribetsu
      Day 7: Noboribetsu – Hakodate
      Day 8: HAkodate – Lake Toya
      Day 9: Lake Toya – CTS
      Day 10: Flight home

      If you pick up the car from Sapporo and return to CTS, you can’t get the HEP. If you can get a ETC card, it would be good. You will be using the toll roads quite a bit.

      Does your girl use booster seat usually? If she does then you should continue using.

      I’ve been driving around Hokkaido in winter just snow tyre and didn’t have problems. Never driven a 4WD before. :p

      Yeah, Asahikawa to Niseko is too long a drive for winter.

      • Estee says:

        Thanks so much for your reply. I guess I’ll let go Asahiyama Zoo and go for Kurodake Ropeway instead. How is the road condition from Asahikawa to Kurodake Ropeway?

        Compare with Usuzan Ropeway, what the differences? Or maybe I just concentrate on South parts will do.

        • bumblebeemum says:

          You can expect snow in the region. Kurodake is part of Daisetsuzan region, which means ‘Big Snow Mountains’ in Japanese. So you can imagine.

          For November, I would recommend Usuzan ropeway over Kurodake ropeway. If you are not planning to visit Asahiyama Zoo, then yes, perhaps you can just focus on the Southern region where the weather is milder.

  • Ice says:

    Dear BubblebeeMum,

    I need your help to guide me as I will be travelling with a family of 4 to Hokkaido during winter in late Nov and have booked our tickets and accommodation. I am still very worry as not too sure about the transportation and would appreciate if you could kindly share your experience. Below is my itinerary which I cannot change as accommodations have been paid :-

    28/11 – Arrived in CTS to Hakodate (not too sure how to get there)

    28/11 to 30/11 – check in Hakodate

    30/11 – to Lake Toya (not sure about how to get there)

    30/11 to 01/12 – check Lake Toya

    1/12 – leaving Lake Toya to Sapporo ( not sure about how to get there)

    1/12 to 4/12 – check in Sapporo (Plan one day to Otaru)

    4/12 – leaving Sapporo to Tomamu (not sure about how to get there)

    4/12 to 7/12 – check Tomamu

    7/12 – Leaving Tomamu to Sapporo

    7/12 to 9/12 – check Sapporo

    9/12 – leaving Sapporo to airport

    Looking forward to hearing from you soon.

    Thank you

    Best Regards
    Janice Lee

    • bumblebeemum says:

      28/11: You will have to use the train to get from CTS to Hakodate (with one transfer at Minami-Chitose).
      30/11: I suggest you take the train till Toya station and take a taxi from there to your hotel at Lake Toya.
      1/12: Check with your hotel if they provide shuttle services to Sapporo (some hotels do). If they don’t, ask them to advise you on any direct bus back to Sapporo and what’s the bus timing.
      4/12: You can either take a from Sapporo to Tomamu and hop on the resort shuttle at Tomamu station to Hoshino Resort, or use the bus liner to bus from Sapporo to the resort.

      If you need to check train routes and schedules, just use hyperdia:
      http://www.hyperdia.com/en/

  • ebospeed says:

    Hi BBMum,

    Based on the below itinerary from your suggestion and now with the typhoon damage in Hokkaido, the repair on the rail tracks from Sapporo to Obihiro might take more than 1 month. Do you think is still feasible to follow the day 5 to day 7 schedule near end November or other alternatives to cover those days?

    Day 1: CTS-Sapporo
    Day 2: Sapporo to Otaru (Day Trip by Train)
    Day 3: Sapporo to Noboribetsu
    Day 4: Noboribetsu to Sapporo
    Day 5 Sapporo – Obihiro (by train), drive to Lake Akan
    Day 6 Drive around Lake Akan National Park and to Kushiro
    Day 7 Kushiro (visit Washo Market), see cranes and drive back to Obihiro. Train to Tomamu
    Day 8 Ski at Tomamu.
    Day 9 Tomamu to CTS by direct bus/ Airport Stay

    • ebospeed says:

      Alternative, is it worth to drive from Day 5 to Day 9 for half the trip, which might solve the problem of train tracks repair delay and easier to travel around.

      • bumblebeemum says:

        Yeah, driving would solve the problem. But the drive from Sapporo to Lake Akan would be awfully long, especially in winter. You may have to spend a night in Obihiro to break up the drive.

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Your itinerary looks feasible.

      Regarding the railway damage, what I would suggest is to keep your itinerary flexible (i.e. make hotel bookings with free cancellation at this point). If they get the railway fixed by the time you are there, then you can proceed as planned. If not, have a back-up itinerary in the event the rail is still not fixed and change your hotel bookings before the free cancellation period. OR get an IDP and drive the route. OR check out your bus options.

      • Ebos says:

        Hi BBmum, appreciate much your advices. I will keep them in mind.

        • ebospeed says:

          Hi BBMum, in case the railway is not ready by the time in late November and my preference is still by driving. Is it worthwhile to take your itinerary route from Sapporo to Asahiyama Zoo and to Lake Akan( even though in your post mentioned much longer from heavy snow), compare to Obihiro to Lake Akan.

          As I was checking around any interest in Obihiro but mostly only for the fame Buta Don and Ryugetsu/Rokkatei. And have to give up the drive to Kushiro for the extra stay in Ohibro. And driving back from Lake Akan to Tommau. So need a bit more advice for the final alternate.

          • bumblebeemum says:

            If you want to drive Sapporo to Asahiyama Zoo then to Lake Akan, it is possible, but you need to spend one night in Asahikawa. i.e.

            Day 1: CTS-Sapporo
            Day 2: Sapporo to Otaru (Day Trip by Train)
            Day 3: Sapporo to Noboribetsu
            Day 4: Noboribetsu to Sapporo
            Day 5 Sapporo – Asahikawa
            Day 6 Asahikawa – Lake Akan
            Day 7 Lake Akan – Tsurui (to see the cranes) – Tomamu
            Day 8 Ski at Tomamu.
            Day 9 Tomamu – CTS

  • Ww says:

    Hi,

    I’m planning to travel with 6 adults and 1 year old baby. My itinerary as below.. hopefully u can give me some advice based on ur experience.. thanks!

    Travel date – 1 nov to 12 nov

    Day 1 – Reach Chitose airport at 1pm, pick up alphard car and drive to Sapporo for a night stay

    Day 2 – Sapporo to jozankei. Overnight in jozankei

    Day 3 – Jozankei to furano. Overnight at new prince furano hotel. Visit night tingle, furano jam garden and anpanman shop,

    Day 4 – furano to biei to asahikawa. Overnight at asahikawa. Visit blue pond, tomita melom farm, farm Tomita,shirahige waterfall

    Day 5 – asahikawa to fox farm to new Akan hotel. Overnight at new Akan hotel

    Day 6 – new Akan hotel to Kushiro. Take lake Akan cruise. Overnight st Kushiro , crown plaza ana kushiro

    Day 7 – Kushiro to obihiro, Koufuku station to Yorkshire farm. Overnight at Yorkshire farm

    Day 8 – Yorkshire farm to sapporo

    Day 9 – Sapporo

    Day 10 – Sapporo

    Day 11 – home sweet home!

    Is my itinerary too packed? Please give me some advice. Thanks a million!!

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