Hokkaido Best Places to Visit in Early Summer & Sample Itinerary


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

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

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

Hokkaido Places to Visit in Late May

Shibazakura & Tulips in Northern Hokkaido

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

Image Source: Takinoue

Takinoue Shibazakura Park (Image Source: Takinoue.com)

Best Places to Visit in Hokkaido in Summer - Higashimokoto Shibazakura

Higashimokoto Shibazakura Park (Image Source: shibazakura.net)


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


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

Best Places to Visit in Hokkaido in Summer - Abashiri

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



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

Video Credit: goko.go.jp

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

Image Souce: kamuiwakka.jp

Image Souce: kamuiwakka.jp


Hokkaido Places to Visit in Early-Mid June

Eat eat eat

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

> Click here for my Hokkaido Food Guide

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

> Click here for our eating tour of Otaru

Best Places to Visit in Hokkaido in Summer - Otaru

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

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

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

Best Places to Visit in Hokkaido in Summer - Mount Esan

Image Source: City of Hakodate


Yosakoi Soran Festival

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

Hokkaido Places to Visit in Mid-Late June


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

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

Small lavender field at Furano Wine Factory


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

Tomita Farm in mid June



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

Shikisai No Oka in mid June


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

Shinnei No Oka (Biei) in June


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

Hokkaido Shrine Festival

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

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

Other Places of Interest Worth Visiting

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

Unkai Terrace (Tomamu)

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

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

Shakotan Peninsular

Best Places to Visit in Hokkaido in Summer - Cape Kamui

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

Best Places to Visit in Hokkaido in Summer - Shakotan Peninsular

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

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

Sample Itineraries

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

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

Hokkaido trip in late May

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

Day 2: Abashiri – Kamiyubetsu – Higashimokoto – Shiretoko

Day 3 – 4: Shiretoko

Day 5: Shiretoko – Lake Akan

Day 6: Akan National Park

Day 7: Lake Akan – Kushiro – Obihiro

Day 8: Obihiro – Tomamu

Day 9: Tomamu – CTS

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

Hokkaido in Early June

Day 1: CTS – Lake Shikotsu – Lake Toya

Day 2: Lake Toya – Hakodate

Day 3: Hakodate / Mount Esan

Day 4: Hakodate – Niseko

Day 5: Niseko

Day 6: Niseko – Shakotan Peninsular – Otaru

Day 7: Otaru – Sapporo

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

Hokkaido in mid – end June:

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

Day 4: Day trip to Otaru from Sapporo

Day 5: Sapporo – Tomamu

Day 6: Tomamu – Furano

Day 7 – 8: Furano / Biei

Day 9: Furano – CTS

Links / Telephone Numbers / Map Codes

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

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

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  • yellowlemonie says:

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

  • ivy says:

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

    • bumblebeemum says:

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

  • JJ says:

    Dear bumblebee mum,

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

    • bumblebeemum says:

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

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

      Glad you enjoyed your dinner at Kumagera!

  • YS says:

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


    • bumblebeemum says:

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

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

  • Astrid Wiliandry says:

    Hi Bumblebeemum, You are inspiring 🙂

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

    Hope you can englight me 🙂

    • bumblebeemum says:

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

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

      Without a rental car, the best way to visit Takinoue + Kamiyubetsu would be to join a day tour from Sapporo like this one:

  • Ivie says:

    Hi Bumblebeemum

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

    Lake Toya

    Are you able to suggest for our itinerary?

    Thanks alot in advance

    • bumblebeemum says:

      You can do something like the following:

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

  • ShiYing says:

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

    • bumblebeemum says:

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

  • PL says:

    Dear Bumblebeemum,

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

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

  • Shan says:

    Hi Bumblebee mum,

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

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

    Appreciate if you could advise the following:

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

    Thanks alot in advance!

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Yup, your itinerary makes sense.

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

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

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

  • Celine says:

    Hi Bumblebeemum!

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

    • bumblebeemum says:

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

  • Swany says:


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

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

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

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

    Thank you 🙂

    • bumblebeemum says:

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

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

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

  • Vanessa says:

    Hi BumbleBee Mum,

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

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

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

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

    Thanks so much!

    • bumblebeemum says:

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

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

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

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

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

      • Vanessa says:

        Thanks BumbleBee Mum!

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

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

        • bumblebeemum says:

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

  • Mary Joan Lee says:

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

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

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

  • Adeline Lim says:

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

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

    Day Date

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

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

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


    • bumblebeemum says:

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

      Is your 7.55am flight a domestic flight or international flight? If it’s domestic, ANA Crowne Plaza’s first shuttle should be able to get you there in time:

      Chitose Airport Hotel’s first shuttle (0615) should also get you there:

      • Adeline Lim says:

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

        • Adeline Lim says:

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

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

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

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

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


          Rgds, Adeline

          • bumblebeemum says:

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

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

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

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

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

  • Lily says:

    Hi BumbleBeeMum,

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

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

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

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

    Thank you so much.

    • bumblebeemum says:

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

      I would start the car rental on Day 4.

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

      • Lily says:

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

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

  • SL says:

    Hi Bumblebeemum,

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

    • bumblebeemum says:

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

  • John Tan says:


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

    5May17-New Chitose Airport-Hakodate (ANA)
    6May17-Hakodate (Sakura)
    11May17-Otaru Day Trip

    • bumblebeemum says:

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

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

      • John Tan says:

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

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

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

        Is Takikawa also too early for my date?

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

        • bumblebeemum says:

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

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

          Akan National Park is a scenic area. You can take the Lake Akan sightseeing cruise:

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

  • ivy says:


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

    • bumblebeemum says:

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

  • AC says:

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

    • bumblebeemum says:

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

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

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

      • AC says:

        Thank you for your reply!

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

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

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

  • Vivien says:

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

    • bumblebeemum says:

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

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

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

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

    • bumblebeemum says:

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

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

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

  • Tzy says:

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Sorry for the questions!!
    Thank you 🙂

    • bumblebeemum says:

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

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

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

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

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

      • Tzy says:

        Hi Bubblebeemum

        Thanks for the reply.
        We have already booked all the accommodation so it’s hard to change the date 🙁

        If we switch going to Lake Toya on the way from Hakodate to Sapporo, what do you think? Is it best to visit Lake Toya in the morning only?

        Thanks :))

  • Seen says:

    Hi Bumblebeemum,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Thank you 🙂

    • bumblebeemum says:

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

      I would reorder the itinerary like this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      • Seen says:

        Hi Bumblebeemum,

        Thank you so much for your prompt reply 🙂

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

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

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

  • Grace says:

    Hi Bumblebeemum,

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • bumblebeemum says:

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

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

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

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

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

      • Grace says:

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

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

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

        • bumblebeemum says:

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

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

  • Kim Chai says:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Day 9 : Sapporo

    Day 10: Leave for Chitose airport

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

    • bumblebeemum says:

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

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

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

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

      4) At Lake Akan, it is possible to rent a family bath at Yuku no Sato:

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

  • XQ says:

    Hi Bumblebeemum, Your blog is really helpful in my planning for my first trip to Hokkaido (16Jun to 25Jun 2017).

    Based on your experience, could you provide your opinion on my itinerary for 2 Adults self-drive.

    Day 1 (Arrival time 11.45 Chitose airport) – Travel to Asahikawa
    Day 2 – Treking at Daisetsuzan national park
    Day 3 – Day Trip to Furano, Beiei
    Day 4 – Asahikawa zoo, Ramen Village
    Day 5 – Asahikawa to Sapporo
    Day 6 – Day Trip to Otaru
    Day 7 – Sapporo
    Day 8 – Sapporo
    Day 9 – Sapporo
    Day 10 – Sapporo – Lake Shikotsu – Chitose airport (Flight departure 9pm)

    My hotel is confirmed: Day 1 to 5 at Asahikawa, Day 5 to 10 at Sapporo.

    I’m still thinking whether there’s need to purchase HEP (10 days-9300 Yen) or should I just go ahead with ETC? I might just squeeze day 4 in to day 2 to go up further north of Asahikawa to Shibetsu or Nayoro…

    If I were to get the HEP, any idea whether i can get it with the car rental company on the day of the rental car collection? or advance booking is required?

  • Becks says:

    Hi 🙂

    I am going to Hokkaido in mid June for 8 days where the first 3 days will coincide with the shrine festival. Here’s my plan:

    day 1-3 (morning) Sapporo & Otaru blue pond
    day 3-5 (morning) Furano & Biei
    day 5-7 (morning) Noroboribetsu onsen
    day 7-8 (late afternoon departure) Chitose

    I haven’t searched the places to visit at each perfecture in detail but would love to have a mixed of sceneries sightseeing + seafood market visit + great local food + some shopping + onsen

    Do you think I’ve enough time to travel to these places within 8 days?

    I am also self driving and a little concern about not knowing how to find the shortest/less expensive routes.

    Thanks 🙂

  • Lydia says:

    Hello Bumbblebeemum! I am thinking of going to Sapporo in mid May after the Golden Week. As most ski resorts will be closed then, do you know of any place I can go to touch snow? Doesn’t need to be falling snow, residual snow on the ground is fine.

    Thank you!:)

  • Firsthokkaido says:

    Hi Bumblebeemum, we will be reaching Sapporo on 4th of June (will have 8 full days in Hokkaido). Would it be too late for the Shibazakura in Takinoue? We would like have a leisure trip and hence would love to minimise the driving/travelling (prefer public transport than driving). Do not mind to not seeing much, would love to take the slow pace to enjoy every place. Now on my list are Takinoue, Unkai Terrace and maybe Asahiyama zoo. I am wondering if you have any advises?

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Yes, it will be too late for shibazakura.

      For Unkai Terrace and Arashiyama Zoo, you should have no problem getting there via public transport. But there are a lot of scenic spots that are really much easier to visit with a rental car.

      Your dates coincide with Yosakoi Soran Festival, so I would suggest you plan to be around Sapporo on 10 – 11 June. You can read more about the festival here:

      So a possible itinerary may be like this:

      4 June: CTS – Tomamu
      5 June: Tomamu
      6 June: Tomamu – Sapporo
      7 June: Sapporo
      8 June: Sapporo (day trip to Otaru)
      9 June: Sapporo (day trip to Arashiyama Zoo)
      10 June: Sapporo (festival day)
      11 June: Sapporo (festival day)

      • Firsthokkaido says:

        Hi Bumblebeemum,

        Many thanks for your suggestion. We have decided to rent a car. Here is the tentative agenda, do we cover too many places? We would like to spend minimum 1-2 nights in each city so dad who is driving would not be too tired and we will have enough time to “live like a local” Haha!

        4th June – half day at New chitose airport (for chocolate factory and doraemon world), after lunch depart to Otaru
        5th June – full day at Otaru
        6th June – After breakfast, depart to Asahiyama zoo, find a hotel in between Biei and Furano
        7th June – Biei and Furano
        8th June – After lunch depart to Tomamu
        9th June – Unkai Terrace and leisure day
        10th June – After breakfast depart to Sapporo City
        11th June – Full day at Sapporo
        12th June – Home sweet home!

        Does this sound doable?

        Many thanks for your advises.

        • bumblebeemum says:

          Yup, the itinerary looks good. 🙂

          • Firsthokkaido says:

            Many thanks for checking this for me. Now I am wondering if I should stay a night at Asahikawa, that is

            6th June – After breakfast, depart to Asahiyama zoo, stay one night at Asahikawa
            7th June – After lunch, depart to Biei and Furano, stay a night at Furano
            8th June – After dinner depart to Tomamu
            9th June – Unkai Terrace and leisure day

            Like this it will be less driving on 6th of June and the distance from Furano to Tomamu also shorter on the 8th. But then it seems like we are keep changing hotel. Is Asahikawa city worth exploring? The previous plan on Asahikawa is only the zoo.

            Also, do you think it is worth to rent the car too for the two days in Sapporo?

            • bumblebeemum says:

              You’ve already identified the pro and con of the two plans you have: It’s a choice of which is the lesser evil to you – having to change hotel one more time, or having to do a bit more driving.

              I typically change hotel a lot to reduce the driving, so I would stay at Asahikawa for one night. But I know many people don’t like to change hotel. It’s really a personal choice, depending on your travelling style.

              If you are just going to hang around Sapporo city centre to catch the Yosakoi Soran Festival, you should just return the car. But if you want to visit, say, Takino Suzuran Hillside Park. Or drive up Mount Moiwa/ Hitsujigaoka. Then you should keep the car.

        • bumblebeemum says:

          Oh just add one more thing. I would probably depart to Tomamu after dinner at Furano, since you have a full day at Tomamu after that. Spend a bit more time sightseeing in Furano and have dinner there first, because there are limited restaurants in Tomamu.

          • Firsthokkaido says:

            I have started booking hotels and now wondering if I should still go to Tomamu. As you mentioned we will have one full day at Tomamu, planning to go to the unkai at 5am, i suppose it will be around 10ish after breakfast and I am not sure how to spend the rest of the day, it looks like there is no nearby town from Tomamu and it also seems like there is nothing much (not many restaurant/shops) in Tomamu itself.

            • bumblebeemum says:

              Well… You wanted a leisurely holiday right? hahaha… Yeah, that’s the thing about Tomamu. There really isn’t much around Tomamu. If you have a whole day there, it’s pretty much just lazing around, go swim in the wave pool, sign up for some activities (when I was there, we made ice-cream and we saw people making bread) and enjoy the onsen. If you’re not really into lazing around, then you should just spend one night there for Unkai Terrace.

  • Ivie says:

    Hi Bumblebeemum

    Will be heading to Hokkaido end of the mth. These are our initial itinerary.

    30 May Chitose – Takikawa – Asahikawa (ON)

    31 May Asahikawa – Kamiyubetsu – Takinoue – Asahikawa (ON)

    1 Jun Asahikawa – Biei – Furano – Lake Toya (ON)

    2 Jun Lake Toya – Hakodate (ON)

    3 Jun Hakodate (ON)

    4 Jun Hakodate – Sapporo (ON)

    5 Jun Sapporo – Otaru – Sapporo (ON)

    6 Jun Sapporo

    7 Jun Sapporo

    8 Jun Sapporo

    9 June Home Sweet Home

    Intend to rent car from 30 May to 4 Jun

    I think the itinerary could be better. any suggestions?

    Thanks alot

    • bumblebeemum says:

      1 June looks a bit too packed. I suggest you reduce one day in Sapporo and break up 1 June’s itinerary into two days: First day Asahikawa – Biei – Furano, second day Furano – Lake Toya.

      Also, I would slot in a sightseeing rest point between Hakodate and Sapporo. Either Noboribetsu or Niseko.

  • EE says:

    Hi Bumblebeemum,

    Nice reading your blog & thanks for sharing so much information.
    My husband & I will be in Hokkaido on 21-26May, interested in Flower Farms & Sightseeing but not Onsen in this trip. We will be travelling by Train (7 days JR Pass).
    Appreciate your advice whether our itinerary is do-able/any recommendation?
    Should we skip Biei & Furano for this period?

    Day1(21/5): Tokyo(morning Flight) > CTS(12pm) > Arashiyama(JR Train)
    Day2(22/5): Asahikawa(rent a car) > Takinoue Shibazakura Park > Kamiyubetsu Tulip Park > Biei > Sapporo(return car)
    Day3(23/5): Sapporo(JR Train) > Otaru > Sapporo
    Day4(24/5): Sapporo
    Day5(25/5): Sapporo(JR Train) > Noboribetsu(Hell Valley) > Lake Toya > Hakodate
    Day6(26/5): Hakodate(JR Train) > Tokyo

    OR should we replace Day1&2 for below:
    Day1(21/5): Tokyo > CTS > Sapporo
    Day2(22/5): Sapporo > Takino Suzuran Hillside Park > Sapporo
    Was wondering if it is worth driving so many hrs for Tulip Park only.
    Is it necessary to rent a car for Takino Suzuran?

    Looking forward to your reply.
    Thanks in advance.

    • bumblebeemum says:

      If you are going to Kamiyubetsu already, you can skip Takino Suzuran Hillside Park I feel.

      Day 2: I’m not sure if you have enough time to go to Biei after Kamiyubetsu Tulip Park. Usually people do Takinoue and Kamiyubetsu in a day – that’s all. Squeezing in Biei seems like a bit of a rush. I would probably skip Biei.

      Day 5: I’m don’t think this is very feasible by train because Noboribetsu Onsen Town and Lake Toya are not directly accessible by train. You should need to catch a local bus or taxi from the station to get to the onsen town. Between Noboribetsu and Lake Toya, just choose one.

  • Michelle0929 says:

    Hello Bumblebeemum,
    Thank you for sharing so much information about travelling in Hokkaido.
    We will be travelling to Hokkaido from 25 May to 4 June 2017 in a group of 8 person (with 2 kids, 13 and 11 years old). Self Drive. First time travelling to Hokkaido.
    We will arrive CTS on 26 May and take domestic flight to Memanbetsu Airport. We will collect rental car and drive to Kitami.
    Appreciate your advice on our itinerary and recommendation places worth visiting:
    Day 1 (26 May) – Sapporo > Memanbetsu (ETA 2 pm) > Kitami (Super Hotel)
    Day 2 (27 May) – Kamiyubetsu Tulip Park
    Day 3 (28 May) – Abashiri Drift Ice Museum > Abashiri Prison
    Day 4 (29 May) – Memanbetsu Airport (morning flight to CTS) ETA 10 am > collect rental car and drive to Sapporo > Hokkaido’s former Govt Building, Sapporo TV Tower > Clock Tower
    Day 5 (30 May) – Niko Market > Chocolate Factory > Beer Museum > Mitsui Outlet or other shopping area
    Day 6 (31 May) – Day trip to Otaru Canal> Otaru Music Box Museum > Kitachi Glass
    Day 7 (1 Jun) – Leave Sapporo > Noboribetsu
    Day 8 (2 Jun) – Day trip to Lake Toya > Usuzan Ropeway > Shikotsu Toya National Park > View fireworks before heading back to Noboribetsu
    Day 9 (3 Jun) – Jigokudari (Hell Valley) > Noboribetsu Date Jidaimura
    Day 10 (4 Jun) – check out in the morning proceed to CTS for our return flight
    Would appreciate your recommendation and look forward to hearing from you soon.
    Many Thanks in advance.

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Your itinerary looks okay, pretty relaxing.

      On Day 2, I assume you’re also visiting either Takinoue or Higashimokoto for shibazakura as well? Would be a pity to miss them for your dates. You should be able to do with Kamiyubetsu and one of the shibazakura sites in a day.

  • Anne Neo says:

    Hi Buumblebeemum,

    Need to trouble you with my itinerary to Hokkaido from 30th May to 6th June. I’ll be travelling with my family of 7 including my grandma.

    We are still stuck with our itinerary and only got our hotels booked on the first 2 night and the last night.

    Currently we are trying to fixed everything in place. Will it be possible to take a look and fill in the gaps for us?

    Day 1 – Touch down CTS at 12noon. Move to Sapporo
    Day 2 – Sapporo
    Day 3 – Otaru, accommodation not fixed.
    Day 4 – Furano (Tomita Farm, Melon Farm,), Biei (Blue Pond, Shikisai-no-oka), accommodation not fixed.
    Day 5 – Still thinking if we should travel all the way down to Lake Toya
    Day 6 – Stay at Chitose-shi, Marukoma Onsen Ryokan
    Day 7 – Chitose-shi to CTS

    There is a few struggle for us.
    Should we shift otaru to day 2, probably after lunch as we want to visit Sapporo Wholesale Market, or should we just explore Sapporo for the entire day?

    Because it seems like there is not alot of things we would want to do in Sapporo except eat.

    Cause if we shift Otaru to 2nd day, we are thinking to do a pit stop at sapporo if we are still heading to Lake Toya area.

    The entire trip is about food 😀 We are self driving.

    Thanks alot!

    • bumblebeemum says:

      I think with a big group like yours, you should visit Otaru from Sapporo. If there’s nothing much you want to see in Sapporo, then yes, on Day 2 after you visit the central wholesale market, you can drive on to Otaru.

      If you want to visit Lake Toya, I would suggest doing it on Day 3. Then spend days 4 and 5 in Furano and Biei. One day is a bit too rushed to visit both Furano and Biei, so I would suggest you do one day Furano, one day Biei. But you can stay in the same hotel for both days. I did a quick check on booking.com and Furano Natulux Hotel and New Furano Prince Hotel are still available for your dates. If you want the whole family to stay together, there is a Tsuru Apartments with pretty good review.

      • Anne Neo says:

        Hi Bumblebeemum,

        Thank you for the quick reply!
        I’ve seen your post on the Strawberry farm and would love to take a look. We should have sufficient time to take a look when we on our way to Lake Toya?

        This trip is also our first trip to Japan hence are there any other places we should be visiting?

        Thank you!

        • bumblebeemum says:

          Yup, one day should be enough to hop over to the strawberry farm and visit Lake Toya. The strawberry farm is just a short drive from Lake Toya.

          • Anne says:

            Thank you so much for the info. I’ve just check out the website for the Strawberry farm you have recommended and it seems like they are closed for strawberry picking due to the storm in April. Do you have any other strawberry farms to recommend that is open on the 1st week of June?


            • bumblebeemum says:

              I doubt it… 1st week of June is too early for strawberry picking in general.. The farm we visited was one of the first to open. Most of the farms only open in late June. If there was a storm, it would probably delay all the other farms too.

  • Shinka says:

    Hi Bumbleemum, your website is very informative! Been reading up on your articles and they are very informative and interesting!

    I will be travelling to Hokkaido this June (arriving on the 30th of May and flying back on the 8th of June) with my gf. We will be staying at the Mercure Hotel, Sapporo. (Already booked everything, and non refundable)

    Would really appreciate it if you could provide me with advice on the following:

    1) My gf insists to visit the pink moss at Higashimakoto Shibazakura Park, from what I gather the pink moss will start to wilt in early June, and it wouldn’t be that nice anymore, and as such is it still possible or worth it to make the long drive there? (from Sapporo)

    2) As this is my first time driving in Hokkaido, are there ample restrooms or gas stations along the highways? Do you need to drive below a certain speed limit at all times?

    3) As we will be travelling during that time, what would you recommend as good spots to visit? Our base is in Sapporo as we have paid for the hotel already, and we will be spending 2 nights in Asahikawa.

    4) My itinerary is as follows (tentative):

    30/5/17 – Arrive at CTS in the morning, rent a car, drive to Sapporo and check in. Rest of the day is spent exploring Sapporo.

    31/5 – Head out early to Higashimakoto (this I understand is a really long drive), and also to visit kamiyubetsu. Will stay 1 night in Asahikawa. (drive back from kamiyubetsu)

    1/6 – Asahikawa to Furano and Takinoue Park
    2/6 – Asahikawa to Biei and back to Sapporo
    3/6 – Sapporo
    4/6 – Cape Kamui, and Shakotan Misaki, and in the later afternoon proceed to Otaru, head back to Sapporo at night
    5/6 – Sapporo
    6/6 – Sapporo
    7/6 – Sapporo
    8/6 – Fly Back.

    Do you have any advice or comments on the above itinerary? Thank you very much!

  • Zqfanna81 says:

    Hi Bumbleemum,

    Having some dilemma on my Hokkaido trip.

    I am planning a road trip (min 10 nights) to Hokkaido next year. Currently I have a few dates options in mind.
    1. Start from 1st June 2018
    2 Start from 9th or 16 June 2018
    3. Or Later

    My concern:
    Weather, will it rain most of the time?
    How would it affect driving? (my hubby will be the only one driving)
    What can I see during these period?

    My initial plan would be to see tulip and pink moss, enjoy some cooling weather (away from the hot weather of Singapore) but from your article I am concern early June weather is bad.

    What is your suggestion? I am travelling with my hubby only.

    • Leeann says:

      Hi Bumblebee

      Wanted to say that your travel blog has been very insightful and helpful in planning our Hokkaido trip during our last winter trip in Dec 2017. This year we hope we can get some feedback and guidance from you for our upcoming trip to Hokkaido in late May to early June. You are officially the Japan travel guru for Singaporeans 🙂

      Attached is our draft self-drive itinerary for 8 days. Would be grateful if you could let me know if it can be improved on and if the places we intend to base ourselves at are suitable. Thanks in advance for your help!

      Day 1 (28 May): CTS – Asahikawa (lunch break at Asahikawa Ramen Village) – Takinoue – Abashiri (Stay Abashiri) – * we arrive at CTS 8.30

      Day 2 (29 May): Abashiri – Kamiyubetsu Tulip Park– Lake Saroma/Lake Notoro, Cape Notoro area – Abashiri (Stay Abashiri)

      Day 3 (30 May): Abashiri – Higashimokoto Shibazajura Park – Shiretoko 5 lakes, Cape Puyini, Furepe Galls – Utoro (Stay Utoro)

      Day 4 (31 May): Utoro – (Kaminoko ike Pond) – Lake Mashu – Mt Io – Lake Kussahro – Lake Akan – Lake Onneto (Stay Lake Akan)

      Day 5 (1 June): Akan National Park (Stay Lake Akan)

      Day 6 (2 June): Lake Akan – Sapporo (Stay Sapporo)

      Day 7 (3 June): Sapporo (Stay Sapporo) (Yosakoi Soran Festival)

      Day 8 (4 June): Sapporo (Stay Sapporo)

      Day 9 (5 June): Depart Sapporo to CTS

  • Chin Siew Mei says:

    Yosakoi Soran festival (6th ~ 10th June ), means, there will be performance everyday , from morning till night ? or only on Sunday ?

  • Chin Siew Mei says:

    Yosakoi Soran festival (6th ~ 10th June ), means, there will be performance everyday , from morning till night ? or only on Sunday ?

    Looking forward for your reply. Thanks.

  • Siew Mei, Chin says:

    Yosakoi Soran festival , 6th ~ 10th June 2018. Will there have performance everyday from morning till night ? Or the street dancing parade only at Sunday ?

    Thanks so much.

  • Nicholas says:

    Hi Bumblebeemum, me and my girlfriend will be arriving Hakodate on 12th June afternoon 1;30 as we are taking the domestic flight from Osaka to Hakodate. We have until 18th of June to look around Hokkaido. What is the recommended itinerary for us the make the best of our time there? Should we rent a car or use the public transport?

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