BumblebeeMum
Money-saving tips for free and easy self-drive holiday to Hokkaido

Last December, our family went on a self-drive 17-day holiday to Hokkaido.  We went around almost the whole of Hokkaido and our total expenditure for 2 adult and 2 kids was less than SGD8000.  This includes ALL expenditures (airfares, 16 nights of accommodation, transport, food, admission to attractions etc etc.)  Many of my friends were asking me how we kept the cost for such a long trip so low since Japan was supposed to be a notoriously expensive country to visit.  While it did help that Japanese Yen plunged at that time (which was an important reason why the trip was so cheap), I thought I would write a post to share some money-saving tips for anyone planning a free and easy self-drive holiday to Hokkaido.

free and easy self-drive holiday to Hokkaido feature

1.  Saving on Car Rental

[disclaim]Update: Tabirai now has an English website for Japan car rental.  Their rates are very attractive and much less confusing than Tocoo.  Hence I recommend checking out Tabirai instead of Tocoo if you do not know Japanese.[/disclaim]

I usually encourage readers to use Tocoo for car rental in Japan if you do not know Japanese.  However, they may not be the cheapest option.  Ever since they introduced their own insurance (if you book through them, you need to buy their insurance which costs 100 – 800 yen PER DAY depending on the rental company on top of the car rental price which is a hefty sum for long trips), I stopped booking through them.

Instead, I surf the individual car rental company’s websites to compare prices.  If you can read Japanese (or using a translator), head to their Japanese websites.  

Car rental companies often run campaigns that are only advertised on their Japanese websites.

For example, I once found the price on Mazda’s Japanese website to be way cheaper than what was quoted in the English website (50000 Yen vs 80000 Yen). However, I couldn’t book through their Japanese website using an English name, so I booked through the English website but under the comments, I requested for the price on the Japanese website.  They emailed me to confirm that my rental would be the cheaper price as quoted by the Japanese website.

free and easy self-drive holiday to Hokkaido - Example of campaigns on a car rental company's Japanese website.

Example of campaigns on a car rental company’s Japanese website.

 

Also, signing up for membership on their website may give you further discounts.

Sign ups are usually FREE.

free and easy self-drive holiday to Hokkaido - Example of membership discount.

Example of membership discount.

 

If you are able to speak a little Japanese, you will have even more options from smaller companies.  You can do a search on Rakuten instead of Tocoo and you’ll be surprised how much cheaper it can be.  But bear in mind that the smaller companies usually do not have English-speaking staff so I would not advise you to rent through them if you do not know Japanese at all.  In the event of an accident, you need to be able to communicate with the staff over the phone. Bigger companies such as Toyota offer English helplines and would be a better (though more expensive) option for non-Japanese speaking travelers.

All car companies will also ask you if you wish pay for additional insurance to cover the Collision Damage Waiver (CDW).

Opt out of CDW if your travel insurance already covers it.

When I buy my travel insurance, I make sure my travel insurance covers CDW, hence there is no need to purchase the extra insurance from car rental companies.

 

2. Ditch the car and subway in Sapporo city centre.  Walk.

Parking in Sapporo city centre (Sapporo station / Odori / Susukino area) is crazy expensive and so are subway tickets.  The whole area from Sapporo station to Susukino is entirely walkable and well-connected by an underground walkway so you can easily walk all the way between Sapporo and Susukino stations rain or shine or snow.   (The distance between Sapporo and Susukino is about 2km, but you won’t really feel it because there are shops along the walkway to keep you entertained and many cafes you can sit down and rest at if you get tired.)  It also runs beneath Odori Park from Odori station to Sapporo TV Tower.

free and easy self-drive holiday to Hokkaido - The underground shopping arcade (highlighted in red) links Sapporo, Odori and Susukino stations, making the entire area reachable on foot and saving you money on parking or subway tickets.

The underground shopping arcade (highlighted in red) links Sapporo, Odori and Susukino stations, making the entire area reachable on foot and saving you money on parking or subway tickets.

 

If you are staying in Susukino, on top of being able to walk North to Sapporo station, you can also walk South to Nakajima Koen.  Nakajima Koen is one of the sites for the Hokkaido Shrine Festival in June and a beautiful park to visit in Autumn.

free and easy self-drive holiday to Hokkaido - Nakajima Koen is one stop from Susukino, but you can walk there in 10-15 minutes and save the money on subway tickets or parking.

Nakajima Koen is one stop from Susukino, but you can walk there in 10-15 minutes and save the money on subway tickets or parking.

 

3.  Start / End your trip in Sapporo

If you are not using the car in Sapporo, starting / ending the trip in Sapporo will save you a few days of car rental.  For e.g. if you are ending your trip in Sapporo, you can pick up the rental car at the airport and return it at Sapporo and explore Sapporo without the car for the last few days (similarly if you start your trip in Sapporo, you can pick up your rental car only when you are leaving Sapporo and return it at the airport outlet at the end of your trip).  Almost all car rental companies have offices at both Sapporo city centre and New Chitose Airport and some of them do not charge a drop-off fee for returning the car to a different office within Sapporo / Chitose (or charge a nominal fee to do so).  This not only saves you the rental fee for the few days in Sapporo, you also save on expensive parking in Sapporo which is at least 1000 yen per day even if you just leave your car at the hotel.

 

4.  Rent an ETC card if you are planning to use the tollway.

Having an ETC card can save you plenty of money on the tollway.  For e.g. from Sapporo to Asahikawa, the toll fee is 3000+ yen, but with ETC card it can cost you as low as only 1000+ yen depending on what time you are travelling.  Some car rental companies can rent you an ETC card for a nominal fee (e.g. Nissan rents out ETC card for just 300 yen).  You can also rent one from Tocoo if you are booking through them.

free and easy self-drive holiday to Hokkaido - ETC Card Rental advertisement on Tocoo website.

ETC Card Rental advertisement on Tocoo website.

 

If you are using the tollway A LOT, you may want to consider getting the Hokkaido Expressway Pass (HEP).  However, you must be renting from one of the Handling shops listed on their website to be able to get one.

Read more about HEP and ETC here: Hokkaido Expressway Pass vs ETC Card + Hokkaido Toll Fees

hokkaido-expressway-pass

 

5.  Saving on Petrol

At most manned petrol kiosks, the price for petrol when you pay using credit card versus cash is different.  It is cheaper to pay in cash.

 

6.  Saving on Toll Fee

If you are not using HEP, you can save money by avoiding toll ways.  Some GPS models allow you to choose your route.  Look for an option that says something along the line of ‘5 ルート’ (meaning 5 routes) and choose ‘有料回避’ (avoid tollways) and compare the distances between the tollway and non-toll way.

Read more here: How to use Japanese GPS and set it to avoid toll ways.

Note that the estimated timing for tollway is usually quite accurate but not very accurate for non-toll ways. I often find myself taking close to the GPS estimated timing for toll ways but much shorter than the GPS estimated timing on non-toll ways.  The GPS estimated timing is based on driving around 100km/h on tollways and 50km/h on non-tollways, but in reality you will be driving much faster than 50 on non-tollways.  Hence, looking at the distance will give you a better idea of whether or not it is worth it to take the toll way.

In summary, the following popular tourist routes are the ones I would opt for non-toll (or partial toll) ways:

1) Between Noboribetsu and Lake Toya

The GPS would recommend taking the toll way, but using the Orofure Pass gets you between the two places in a shorter distance.  But do note that Orofure Pass is closed from 5pm to 9am during winter months and during bad weather.

free and easy self-drive holiday to Hokkaido - GPS recommended route from Noboribetsu to Lake Toya using tollway (55km)

GPS recommended route from Noboribetsu to Lake Toya using tollway (55km)

free and easy self-drive holiday to Hokkaido - Avoid the tollway by using the Orofure Pass to get from Noboribetsu to Lake Toya (45 km)

Avoid the tollway by using the Orofure Pass to get from Noboribetsu to Lake Toya (45 km)

 

2) From Sapporo to Furano

The GPS would recommend taking the toll way all the way up to Takikawa, but I will exit earlier at Mikasa and drive through Mikasa to Furano.  The timing is about the same as exiting at Takikawa, but the toll fee is less.

free and easy self-drive holiday to Hokkaido - GPS recommended route from Sapporo to Furano, exiting the tollway at Takikawa.

GPS recommended route from Sapporo to Furano, exiting the tollway at Takikawa.

free and easy self-drive holiday to Hokkaido - Ignore the GPS and exit at Mikasa to save on toll fee. After exiting, the GPS will find a new route for you through Mikasa to Furano so you no need to worry about getting lost.

Ignore the GPS and exit at Mikasa to save on toll fee. After exiting, the GPS will find a new route for you through Mikasa to Furano so you no need to worry about getting lost.

 

3) From Sapporo to Lake Toya

The GPS will recommend that you take the tollway to Lake Toya.  However, you can take the Nakayama Pass and avoid the tollway totally. You may even get there faster if the weather is good because the distance via Nakayama Pass is much shorter.

free and easy self-drive holiday to Hokkaido - GPS recommended route from Sapporo to Lake Toya using tollway (about 150 km)

GPS recommended route from Sapporo to Lake Toya using tollway (about 150 km)

free and easy self-drive holiday to Hokkaido - GPS recommended route from Sapporo to Lake Toya using tollway (about 150 km)

GPS recommended route from Sapporo to Lake Toya using tollway (about 150 km)

 

4) From Obihiro to Kushiro

Getting between Obihiro and Kushiro, the non-tollway is a weee bit shorter than the GPS recommended route using the Doutou expressway partially.  However, the traffic along this stretch of road can get quite heavy so you may spend quite a lot of time on the road if you choose to avoid the tollway here.

Screenshot-(229)

Of course, saving on transport alone is not enough.  Air tickets and accommodation also contribute to a large part of a vacation expenditure.  Here are my money-saving tips on these areas:

7. Saving on Air tickets

When it comes to flying to Hokkaido, there are currently no direct commercial flights from Singapore to Hokkaido (some travel companies charter direct flights, but they are usually for their tour package customers).  Explore your options to try to get the best fare deal.

Option #1

Book air tickets from Singapore all the way to Hokkaido with ANA or JAL with a transit in Tokyo.  In June 2014, ANA was having a promotion and we flew there for about SGD800 per adult.  Do note that although this option allows you to do your check in all the way to Hokkaido from Singapore airport, you are still required to collect your luggage upon arrival at Tokyo and drop it off at the domestic transfer counter.  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.

free and easy self-drive holiday to Hokkaido - JAL flight preparing to depart from New Chitose Airport.

JAL flight preparing to depart from New Chitose Airport.

 

Option #2

Try airlines that transit in a different country.  E.g. Cathay Pacific flies from Singapore to Chitose with a stop in Hong Kong, Thai Airways with a stop in Bangkok, Korean Air with a stop in Seoul.  This method of flying is actually the most hassle free, because your luggage will be checked in all the way through to Chitose.  In this recent trip, we flew by Thai Airways for slightly more than SGD700 per adult with one of their credit card promotions.

(Update) Scoot Airlines started flying from Singapore to Chitose with a transit in Taipei.  Read more about it here:  Scoot Airlines Flies SIN to CTS – Is it a good deal?

 

Option #3

Book seperate tickets from Singapore to Tokyo, and Tokyo to Hokkaido.  For e.g. I once booked a ticket from Singapore to Tokyo on Delta airlines during their promotion for around SGD600 per adult and bought budget airlines tickets on Jetstar and Air Asia for flight between Tokyo and Chitose for about SGD100 per way.   This option requires careful planning, bearing in mind that Tokyo has 2 airports: Narita and Haneda.  You do not want to be arriving into Narita and having to fly out of Haneda for the domestic leg (or vice versa).  You should also look for flights with ample time for you to do the transfer.  Clearing the customs in Japan takes super long with all the photo-taking and finger-printing and you may need to transfer between different terminals at the airport with all your luggage and then check in again for your domestic flight.  It is the most tedious option, so I would only choose this option if it saves me a significant amount of money.  The greatest advantage of this method is that it allows you to stopover at Tokyo for a few days either on the way there or back at no additional cost since you decide when you want to take the domestic flights.

Option #4 (new)

In March 2016, Hokkaido Shinkansen started operations connecting Tokyo to Hakodate.  This ride is covered by the Japan Rail Pass and MAY be a viable money-saving option if you are planning a rail travel that includes Hakodate.

Read more here:  Hokkaido Shinkansen – Is it a good alternative to domestic flights?

 

8.  Save on City hotels, splurge on the ryokans at onsen towns

One of the best part of a Hokkaido vacation is staying in a ryokan with onsen.  There are numerous onsen towns around Hokkaido, but to stay in them throughout an entire vacation would burn a big hole in your pocket.  So when I plan a trip, I try to have a mix of city hotels as well as onsen stays.  When booking city hotels, I will try to book the cheapest option available.  I never spend more than SGD100 10000yen per room per night on a city hotel anywhere in Hokkaido.  City hotels are very cheap in Hokkaido, very much unlike Tokyo. For e.g. so far, the prices of my hotel rooms in Sapporo range from SGD50 – 80+ per night for 2 adults (my kids still at the age where they could stay for free).  This way, I can spend more on the onsen hotels with half-board while still keeping the total cost of the vacation within reasonable budget.

(Note: Accommodation prices rocket during festival periods and peak travel seasons in July – Aug, Golden Week and end of year around Christmas – New Year. So if your travel coincides with any major festival or is during their peak season, you would have to expect to pay A LOT more for accommodation.)

free and easy self-drive holiday to Hokkaido - I had a very pleasant stay at Richmond Hotel right opposite Obihiro station at only SGD60 per room per night.

I had a very pleasant stay at Richmond Hotel right opposite Obihiro station at only SGD60 per room per night. (Image Source)

 

Within Sapporo, I find that hotels in the Susukino area are generally cheaper than those in the Odori or Sapporo station area.  If there is no real need for you to be near Sapporo station, try the hotels around Susukino instead.

free and easy self-drive holiday to Hokkaido - My most recent stay at ANA Holiday Inn Sapporo Susukino only cost SGD50 per room per night!

My most recent stay at ANA Holiday Inn Sapporo Susukino only cost SGD50 per room per night! (Image Source)

 

9.  For city hotels, choose option without breakfast if it’s cheaper

I seldom eat breakfast in the hotels in the city areas even if they are provided free of charge.  Part of free and easy travel in Hokkaido is going around the try all the wonderful food available,  so skip the hotel breakfast.  This applies especially at cities with morning markets such as Sapporo, Hakodate and Kushiro since the morning markets will be on your itinerary anyway and there are plenty of fabulous food at the markets.

free and easy self-drive holiday to Hokkaido - Why have breakfast in the hotel when you can have this instead?

Why have breakfast in the hotel when you can have this instead?

 

For onsen hotels, though, I usually have the hotel breakfasts because there are usually not many eateries available at onsen towns (unless you do not mind a bun from a convenience store – which actually can be quite delicious).

free and easy self-drive holiday to Hokkaido - Yummy cream puff from Lawson convenience store at Lake Akan onsen town - I don't mind eating this for breakfast everyday!

Yummy cream puff from Lawson convenience store at Lake Akan onsen town – I don’t mind eating this for breakfast everyday!

 

Hope this post has been helpful to you! Enjoy your free and easy self-drive holiday to Hokkaido! Always remember.. Drive safe! Safety comes first, do not try to save money at the expense of driving dangerously.


Posts of my Self-Drive trips to Hokkaido:

Hokkaido in Winter (March 2010)
10-days Eastern Hokkaido Self-Drive to visit Snow Festivals

Hokkaido in Autumn (October 2013)
Part 1: Flight, Hotel Mercure Sapporo, Toyota Rent-A-Car Sapporo
Part 2: Itinerary (with telephone numbers and GPS Map Codes)

Hokkaido in Summer (June 2014)
Part 1: Chitose, Lake Toya, Hakodate, Niseko, Otaru
Part 2: Sapporo
Part 3: Furano, Biei, Tomamu, Obihiro, New Chitose Airport

Hokkaido in Winter with kids (December 2014)
Part 1: Sapporo
Part 2: Asahikawa, Akan National Park
Part 3: Kushiro, Obihiro, Tomamu
Part 4: Niseko, Noboribetsu, Lake Toya, Rusutsu
Part 5: Otaru, New Chitose Airport

Other Travel Tips relating to Hokkaido Travel:

 

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More on Japan Travel:

For more Japan travel guides and itineraries, visit our Japan Travel Page!








71 Comments

  • Anna says:

    Hi, thanks for posting this. For Orofure Pass, is the road winding hilly kind? Thanks!

  • MS says:

    Hi Bumblebeemum,

    Your blog is always my first stop when planning a trip to Hokkaido. Thank you for your great work.

    Just noticed: The photos for the Obihiro – Kushiro maps actually show Chitose – Obihiro. 🙂

    MS

  • Joling says:

    Hi Bumblebeemum,
    Thank you so much for all the sharing of information and tips on your blog. My bf and I are planning to go Hokkaido from 15 Jan to 23 Jan, self-drive the entire trip except the last few days in Sapporo. This is our first time to Hokkaido and we have planned the following itinerary:
    15/1 – CTS (arrive at 8.30am) >> Noboribetsu
    16/1 – Noboribetsu >> Hakodate
    17/1 – Hakodate >> Lake Toya
    18/1 – Lake Toya >> Niseko
    19/1 – Niseko >> Otaru
    20/1 – Otaru >> Sapporo
    21/1 – Sapporo
    22/1 – Sapporo
    23/1 – Sapporo (Depart 11am)

    1. Please give me yr advice to the planned itinerary. Do you think that the itinerary is slightly packed for a winter vacation?
    2. Initially we planned to stay 2 nights in Niseko. But the accommodation is way too expensive for our budget.
    3. After some calculation, I think of getting HEP which is more cost effective compare to ETC. Based on the driving routes, would you advise getting the HEP? But our drop off location is not the same and I guess I can’t get the HEP for this itinerary. Any suggestion?
    Many thanks in advance and hope to hear from you soon! 🙂

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Your itinerary looks okay – pretty standard itinerary.

      Yeah, you cannot get the HEP because you’re dropping the car off at a different location from pick-up. You’ll just have to pay the tolls by cash or ETC card if your car rental company can provide you with one.

  • Jennifer Tan says:

    Hi Bumblebeemum,

    I have planned for holiday in Hokkaido selfdrive with family in Dec 16. May I seek you advise is it safe to self drive during winter to the following places :

    22/12 – arrive at 1735 >> Chitose New Airport
    23/12 – Chitose >> Nobribetsu/Lake Toya
    24/12 – Noboribetsu/Lake Toya >> Hakodate (for 2 nights)
    26/12 – Hakodate >> Niseko
    27/12 – Niseko >> Otaru / Sapporo (for 2 nights)
    29/12 – Sapporo >> Asahikawa
    30/12 – Asahikawa >> Biei/ Furano
    31/12 – Furano >> Chitose
    2/17 – Depart to Sin

    What are the things that I need to take note for self drive?

    Hope to hear from you soon!

    Many Thanks in advance.

    • bumblebeemum says:

      In short, there are definite dangers to driving in Hokkaido in winter. But some areas in Hokkaido are extremely hard to get around without a car. You can refer to this post (the section on driving) for tips on winter driving:
      http://bumblebeemum.net/2015/08/29/free-easy-hokkaido-winter-trip-essential-travel-tips/

      But actually, for your itinerary, it is possible to use the rail and avoid driving – Except in Furano / Biei region. It is a bit hard to get around Furano / Biei without a car. Anyway why do you want to go to Furano / Biei in winter? I really do not recommend visiting the region in winter. It is one of the hardest regions to drive around in winter because of heavy snowfall and curvy roads with super sharp turns at some points.

      What I would suggest to you is to take out Biei / Furano, do a day trip to Asahikawa from Sapporo and spend 1 more night in Niseko. It would be more relaxing that way and would reduce your change of hotels. (Changing hotels is quite a pain in winter if you are not driving. Dragging luggage around in the snow is not fun.)

      I’m a bit confused by the “2/17” in your itinerary. Is your last date 2/1/17 or 1/1/17? If it’s 2 Jan, you’re missing 1 Jan?

      I would suggest the following route via public transport:

      22/12 – arrive at 1735 >> Chitose New Airport
      23/12 – Chitose >> Nobribetsu/Lake Toya (train + bus/cab)
      24/12 – Nobribetsu/Lake Toya >> Hakodate (train + bus/cab)
      25/12 – Hakodate
      26/12 – Hakodate >> Niseko (train to Kutchan and catch the Niseko shuttle from there)
      27/12 – Niseko
      28/12 – Niseko >> Sapporo (direct bus)
      29/12 – Sapporo (day trip to Otaru by train)
      30/12 – Sapporo (day trip to Asahikawa by train)
      31/12 – Sapporo
      1/1 – Sapporo >> CTS
      2/1 – Flight back

      Note that Noboribetsu and Lake Toya onsen towns are not exactly at where the train stations are. You will need to cab / bus between the nearest train station and the onsen town.

  • wo says:

    Hi Bumble Bee mum, for driving in Hokkaido, understood that need to apply international license. If were to drive 8 seater cars – Nissan Serena, Honda StepWGN, are these car categorised as W4 vehicle where need to apply D class license? Looking for your reply. Many thanks

    • bumblebeemum says:

      The naming of vehicle class category differs from company to company. For e.g. W4 refers to an 8-seater at Nissan, whereas W4 refers to a 10-seater at Toyota. In Japan, for 8-seaters, our normal class 3 license with an IDP would suffice.

  • Mich says:

    Hi Bumblebeemum,

    I’m planning a trip to Tokyo/Hokkaido this December (Gg ard 14 Dec onwards). We’re family of 4 (2 kids age 7 & 9). Its our first time travelling to Japan. Staying in Tokyo 4 nights and Hokkaido 5-6 nights. Will not be driving in Hokkaido. Appreciate you can give me some advice on Hokkaido. Planning Sapporo, Otaru (day trip) and my kids would like to try out skiing and snow activities, (Which is better choice? Tomamu , Rusutsu, Niseko), Lake Toya etc.

    • bumblebeemum says:

      You can refer to this post on visiting Hokkaido in winter and what I think about the various ski resorts:
      http://bumblebeemum.net/2015/08/29/free-easy-hokkaido-winter-trip-essential-travel-tips/

      • Michelle says:

        Hi bumblebeemum,

        I’ve booked our trip to Tokyo & Hokkaido for mid Dec. Appreciate you can help to see whether any changes need to be done for my itinerary for Hokkaido (9 days):-

        Day 1 :Arrive CTS noon, to Tomamu by either train or bus
        Day 2 : Tomamu
        Day 3 : Depart to Sapporo
        Day 4 : Sapporo (Shiroi Koibito, Clock tower,Mt Moiwa ropeway)
        Day 5: Day trip to Otaru
        Day 6 : Day trip Asahimaya Zoo
        Day 7 : Noboribetsu or Jozankei onsen stayover
        Day 8 : Takino snow world
        Day 9 : Depart to CTS

        Do you think 3D2N is enough for the kids in Tomamu? Do you think its better to drive (didnt drive in winter previously)? Thanks in advance.

        • bumblebeemum says:

          I’m not sure if Takino Snow World would be open in mid December? In 2016, it only started operation on 23 December 2016 – which is the norm for most snow parks in Hokkaido. They tend to begin operation only in the week of Christmas.

          I would suggest you drop Takino Snow World and spend one more day at Tomamu if you want to spend more time on the snow.

          • Michelle says:

            oh..i will be in Sapporo till Christmas, hopefully it will open by 23 or 24 Dec.:) Btw, do you think i should go to CTS airport from Noboribetsu (to be on Day 8 instead) ?

            • bumblebeemum says:

              Ah yes, it should open by the weekend of 23/24 December. That’s when the snow parks usually being operation.

              Yes, you should go back to CTS direct from Noboribetsu.

  • KK says:

    Hello bumblebeemum,

    may i ask when collecting rental car from times car rental, what are the things we need to take note of? Esp any important stuff to take note of?
    thank you very much.

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Hmmm… Usually they will ask you if you want to buy comprehensive insurance coverage. If you don’t want, just say no. Then you have to do inspection and point out any scratches / dents on the car. You should ask them how to open the cover for topping up petrol, how to start the car (it sounds funny, but I once got a keyless car and didn’t know how to start the car – they usually give you the car started up, so you may want to try shutting it down and starting it up again just to be sure you know how to do it before you leave the car rental office), where is the nearest petrol kiosk where you need to top up before returning the car (they should provide you with the telephone number / map code of the nearest petrol kiosk), how to use the GPS, who to contact in event of accident.

      • KK says:

        Thank you bumbleebeemum n jim foo…
        thanks alot for the advice…
        🙂

      • Yiang says:

        Hi, I am planning to rent a car in Hokkaido and do not plan to buy their comprehensive insurance coverage. In Singapore travel insurance normally covers rental excess…it does not state CDW. Can you recommend where I can buy with CDW?

  • Jim Foo says:

    Had a wonderful selfdriving trip in Niseko/Otaru/Lake Toya. Thanks Bumblebeemum for the advise. Would like to add on something.
    1) The japanese GPS(even with multi language option) is not so user friendly especially if you are not well verse in Japanese. It will be good to have data plan along so you can use your mobile GPS as a back up.

    2) The road condition can become very bad especially when the snow melts. You can feel your car is drifting even with snow tyre and at slow speed. So please drive carefully.

  • Toh SN says:

    Hi bumblebeemums
    I am planning my first self-drive trip to Hokkaido from 5 June to 13 June.
    Total there are 4 adults and 3 children. I really impress with your blog and advice to others in the itinerary. I decided to adopt your suggested itinerary in one of your replies for my trip.
    For 9 days trip as follows:
    Day 1: New Chitose Airport – Asahikawa. Stay at Asahikawa
Day 2: Asahikawa – Takinoue – Kamiyubetsu – Abashiri. Stay at Abashiri.
Day 3: Abashiri – Higashimokoto – Lake Akan. Stay at Lake Akan.
Day 4: Lake Akan – Obihiro – Tomamu. Stay at Tomamu.
Day 5: Tomamu – Sapporo. Stay at Sapporo.
Day 6: Sapporo- Otaru
    Day 7: Sapporo
    Day 8: Sapporo- New Chitose Airport. Stay at Airport hotel
    Day 9 ( Morning flight): New chitose – Singapore

    Question 1: do I need the ETC card?
    Question 2: with the size of my group, do you suggest that I drop the car at Sapporo on day 5 to save some car rental fee? If yes, will the saving a lot? Without car, I will still need to buy the train tickets to reaches the places in Sapporo.
    And JR ticket to airport. My staying pace is an airbnb near Seon station with free parking.
    Question3: base on my trip, are you able to estimate how much I need to set aside for parking fee, toll charge, other charges( can help to specify)?

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Your dates are too late for Takinoue, Kamiyubetsu and Higashimokoto. For your dates, it may be better to visit Sapporo, Otaru, Lake Toya, Noboribetsu, Hakodate instead. And you should try to catch the Yosakoi Soran Festival at Sapporo since your date coincides with it.
      http://www.yosakoi-soran.jp/

      • TSN says:

        Thanks. How would change my itinerary? I am quite clueless as this is my first trip to foreign language country.

        • bumblebeemum says:

          You can try something like this:

          5 June: CTS – Noboribetsu
          6 June: Noboribetsu – Hakodate
          7 June: Hakodate
          8 June: Hakodate – Lake Toya
          9 June: Lake Toya – Sapporo
          10 June: Sapporo (Yosakoi Soran Festival)
          11 June: Sapporo (Yosakoi Soran Festival)
          12 June: Sapporo (day trip to Otaru)
          13 June: Flight back

  • JJ says:

    Dear bumblebeemum,

    Thanks for sharing the itinerary.

    1. I am planning to see Yosakoi Soran but only on 10 June. What is the time that you probably recommend? As I’ll drop by Sapporo on 10 June morning to noon.

    2. Do u have any idea is Asahiyama Zoo train operate in June? The Zoo themed train has animal seats in the train.

    3. How to buy Safety Insurance package if rent a car from Toocoo car rental company? As I noticed that their Insurance package is not fully covered.

    Thanks again 🙂

    • bumblebeemum says:

      1. You’ll need to check the schedule of events on the official website when it’s out. They have dances happening throughout the day, if you go to Odori Park from 10 to 12, you should be able to catch some of them.

      2. If I’m not mistaken, the Asahiyama zoo train doesn’t operate in June.
      http://www2.jrhokkaido.co.jp/global/english/travel/asahiyamazoo/pdf/asahiyama20160530.pdf
      In the brouchure, it says no operation in June through September.

      3. Hmm.. I would buy comprehensive insurance coverage directly from the car rental company rather than from Tocoo. Saves the hassle in the event of an accident as you deal direct with the car company, who would straightaway waive your damages off if you have bought their comprehensive coverage. So you don’t have to pay the car rental company for the damages first, get a report and claim it from a 3rd-party insurance. No idea how Tocoo’s insurance works, but I think buying from the car rental company should be the most direct.

  • dunkpitter says:

    Dear bumblebeemum,

    I am planning my first Hokkaido trip from 1 Aug to 7 Aug with a total of 2 persons. Would like to seek your advice on my suggested itinerary.

    1/8/17 – Arriving New Chitose Airport at 8.10am
    – Proceed to Hakodate (Goryokaku, Motomachi Area, Red
    Brick Warehouse, Mount Hakodate)
    2/8/17 – Lake Toya (Mount Usuzan) – Noboribetsu (Hell Valley)
    3/8/17 – Sapporo (Moero Koen Higashiguchi, Sapporo Beer Museum,
    Former Hokkaido Perfectural Government Building, Clock
    tower, odori park,sapporo tower)
    4/8/17 – Otaru & Mt Moiwa
    5/8/17 – Furano & Biei
    6/8/17 – Asahikawa Zoo & Ramen village
    7/8/17 – New Chitose Airport

    1) Do you think renting a car is cheaper than taking public transport.
    2) If I rent a car, approximately how much I need to pay for parking, petrol and toll or others if any.

    • bumblebeemum says:

      It seems a bit of a pity to me to go to Hokkaido in early August (peak flowering season) and only spend 1 day at Furano & Biei. Personally I would skip Ashikawa Zoo to spend one more day in Furano / Biei.

      For two people, a car may not be cost effective. But your itinerary is extremely tight and I do suggest you drive all the way if you want to visit so many places in 7 days. Public transport in Hokkaido is just not very efficient.

      Parking I would put an estimate of average 1000 yen per day. Petrol maybe about 10,000yen. Toll wise, you can consider getting the 7-days HEP which would cost 7700 yen.
      http://bumblebeemum.net/2016/05/11/hokkaido-expressway-pass-etc-card-toll-fees/

  • Nelle says:

    Hi Bumblebeemum,
    Your tips on self drive is helpful for 1st timers like me.
    Can i check with you if Tabirai rental sells HEP? if not where can i get one? I saw some car rentals sells HEP but not Tabirai. Can i buy HEP from other rental shops but not renting car from them? Is Tabirai drop off point only in Sapporo city? Do they charge a fee for returning car at a different location from pick up point?
    I intend to pick up car at CTS and drop car off in Sapporo city but just wanted to be sure they have a drop off point there and if extra charges applies. If yes how roughly much would that be?
    Thank u for your time to answering my queries.

    • bumblebeemum says:

      No, HEP is sold by the car rental companies, not Tabirai. Tabirai is just a booking platform.

      You cannot get the HEP without renting a car. They come together at participating car rental outlets.

      Regarding drop off points and drop off fees, it differs from company to company. Tabirai is just a booking / comparison platform that shows you options offered by various car rental companies.

      • Anonymous says:

        Thanks Bumblebeemum for the info. Have you tried booking from Tabirai? I’m not sure how reliable the rental companies are especially a company called Budget Rent A Car, their offer seems much more attractive than others. they don’t charge for different pick up and drop off location, FOC ETC card rental, FOC wifi router rental, comes with CDW. Or maybe they are included in the price.
        What type of car do you usually rent? We have a group of 3 pax with 3 large luggage. Not sure to get a compact hatchback car like FIT or Vitz.

        • Jim says:

          Rented a Fit during my Hokkaido trip last Dec. The boot can only fit 2 large luggage. If you planned to put it at the rear seat, the person sitting behind may not feel so comfortable.

          • Anonymous says:

            Thanks so much Bumblebeemum, for your valuable tips and time answering my queries!

            • bumblebeemum says:

              Ahahaha… Oops, it wasn’t me who replied. Thank Jim instead!

              If it’s just my family (2A 2C), we usually just book a compact car. But we travel very light (1 large suitcase). I don’t think compact cars can fit 3 large luggage in the boot, but with only 3 pax, you can put the luggage in the back seat. But as Jim said, the passenger at the back may not be comfortable. But it is always a case of cost versus comfort. Like when we have 6 pax (4A 2C), we rent a 7 seater and the person in the last row would have to squeeze with the luagge and it’s really not very comfortable. But we do it to save money. If the 3 of you agree to take turns to sit at the back to cut cost, it can be done.

              • Nelle says:

                Opsie… Thanks Jim for your feedback!

                BBM, i went to Tabirai’s Jap website and found out that there’s a huge difference in terms of car and price compared with their intl website. Thus i booked an Impreza 1.6 (Jap site) at the price of a Fit (intl site). Is this normal and is it safe as in no hiccups when i pick up the car?

                • bumblebeemum says:

                  Ahaha… Ermm.. It’s quite normal for prices in Japanese websites to be much cheaper than the English website. It’s just that sometimes the companies listed on the Japanese website only do not deal very well with non-Japanese speaking travellers. Or they may offer a different plan on the English website that includes multi-language GPS and CDW waiver targeted at foreigners. Generally if you speak Japanese, then just go ahead and book via Japanese websites if you know what you’re getting yourself into (like what is included or not included in the rental). I tend to do that myself. But there may be a risk of language barrier when you’re there compared to if you book through the English website, as rental companies who list themselves on the English website are usually better equipped to deal with non-Japanese speaking travellers. USUALLY only okay? Heh.

          • bumblebeemum says:

            Thank you for sharing! 🙂

  • Felicia says:

    Hi Bumblebeemum

    We (family of 3) will be going to Hokkaido for the 1st time this June and our itinerary is as follows:-

    Day 1 (Thurs) : CTS – Sapporo
    Day 2 (Fri) : Sapporo – Shakotan
    Day 3 (Sat) : Shakotan – Otaru
    Day 4 (Sun) : Otaru – Furano
    Day 5 (Mon) : Furano – Sapporo
    Day 6 (Tues) : Sapporo
    Day 7 (Wed) : Sapporo
    Day 8 (Thurs) : Sapporo
    Day 9 (Fri) : Sapporo – CTS

    We will be driving from day 2 to day 5. Do you think HEP is needed or just ETC is enough?

    Many thanks!

  • HC says:

    Hi Bumblebeemum,

    We are 4 adults going Hokkaido for the first time in May and we are also first timer doing self drive in a foreign country for the first 7 days. Thereafter, we plan to activate JR 7D pass for the rest of the trip. You are like a guru of Hokkaido to me and I need your advices if we need to get a ETC or HEP for our itinerary below:

    Day 1-Sapporo-Hakodate-Sapporo
    Day 2-Sapporo-Asahikawa
    Day 3-Asahikawa-Daisetsuzan National Park-Asahikawa
    Day 4-Asakikawa-Shiretoko Shari
    Day 5-Shiretoko Shari-Shiretoko 5 lakes
    Day 6-Shiretoko Shari-Utoro-Lake Mashu
    Day 7-Shiretoko Shari-Sapporo
    Day 8-Sapporo to Odori-Otaru Canal-Sapporo Beer Museum-Sapporo Shopping
    Day 9-
    Day 10-Noboribetsu-Sapporo
    Day 11-12-Sapporo-Kyoto
    Day 13-Kyoto-Tokyo

    I read in your other post that you have rented from Worldnet-rentacar in your latest Hokkaido trip and would like to hear your feedbacks on them. Can they speak English? Their rate is much lower for cars that are about 2 years old (from google translate as I cant read Jap). https://worldnet-rentacar.co.jp/search/?from=2017%E5%B9%B405%E6%9C%8809%E6%97%A5&to=2017%E5%B9%B405%E6%9C%8818%E6%97%A5&area_id=2&return_area_id=2&ct%5B%5D=3

    I have also tried searching in Tabirai and Tocool per your recommendation for non-jap speaking goers. If Worldnet-rentcar cant speak English, I guess I have to go with Tocool for car rental. Would appreciate any recommendations/advices that you have for us! Thank you very much in advance!

    • HC says:

      Miss out on Day 9-Sapporo-Noboribetsu =)

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Firstly, I really don’t recommend doing Hakodate as a day trip from Sapporo. It is quite far and you’ll be spending most of your day on the train. I usually recommend spending at least a night in Hakodate for anyone who wants to visit from Sapporo.

      I also usually don’t recommend any trip that covers both Hakodate and Shiretoko because they are on different ends of Hokkaido and Hokkaido is huge. So my suggestion to you is to drop Hakodate and just focus on the Northern part of Hokkaido so that it’s less tiring. If you are going in late May, the northern part of Hokkaido would be pretty scenic. You can refer to this post:
      http://bumblebeemum.net/2016/02/10/hokkaido-best-places-to-visit-in-early-summer-sample-itinerary/

      For Day 3, which part of Daisetsuzan National Park are you planning to visit? If you are going towards Sounkyo, it doesn’t really make sense to go back to Asahikawa at the end of the day. Because on Day 4, the drive from Asahikawa will take you right through that part of Daisetsuzan National Park again. But if you are going to Asahidake on Day 3 then it makes sense to go back to Asahikawa again. But Day 4 looks like an extremely long drive. I usually recommend breaking this drive with a night at Abashiri or Kitami.

      For Day 7, are you driving or taking the train back from Shiretoko to Sapporo? If driving, it is a terribly long drive! If you’re using the train, it can still be done and you will just spend half the day sleeping on the train.

      On the whole, I can’t really wrap my head around your trip. When are the 7 days that you plan to use the Japan Rail Pass? It seems to me you are all over of the place. Why would you want to go all the way from Sapporo to Kyoto for 2 days? There are on totally different parts of Japan. Kyoto and Tokyo should be done as an entirely separate trip imo. With 13 days, you can easily just spend all that time in Hokkaido because Hokkaido itself is pretty big.

      World Net is cheap, but they didn’t really speak English. I usually don’t recommend visitors who do not speak Japanese and haven’t rented a car in Japan before to use these smaller and cheaper companies because of the lack of support if you run into any problems.

      • HC says:

        Thank you very much for the prompt and informative reply.

        We are heading up to Hakodate to see the Sakura next week. Thus putting it on the first day. I guess we would need to rush through the trip to Hakodate if we decided to proceed.

        We have not decided which part of Daisetsuzan National Park we will be heading to yet. From what you mentioned, seems that Asahidake will be a better area to cover. From Day 2-3, we will be staying in Asahikawa before heading up to Shiretoko to stay from Day4-6.

        My friend have planned the itinerary initially based on train rides throughout the whole trip. Only after booking the hotels, we decided to drive for the first 7days. This would means that there will be some changes to the itinerary and we will have to drive from Shiretoko back to Sapporo on Day 7 as those car rentals company listed on Tocool do not have an option to leave the car at Shiretoko. Hopefully the driving to be split between 2 drivers will make the drive less terrible. May I know if there will be any issues driving around Hokkaido at night (e.g dim road lights)?

        I have to agree with you that this trip seems to be all over the places and I am also scratching my head which is a better way to drive around. Well, I can only blame myself for not looking into details earlier as I was tied up with other things and only till a few days back, I started to go through your various itineraries and start to ponder on the feasibility of our itinerary. That’s where I think you the best person to seek advices. Really appreciated your time for the inputs especially when you have 2 boys to look after!

        We are planning to activate the JR Pass on Day 7 or 8 when we are back to Sapporo for travelling around and to Kyoto and then to Tokyo to catch our flight.

        • bumblebeemum says:

          I really suggest that you drop the whole idea of taking the train from Hokkaido to Kyoto. Just drop Kyoto altogether. If you want to do train travel, you can explore Eastern Japan while using the train from Hokkaido down to Tokyo and fly back from Tokyo. There is much to be explored in Eastern Japan as well, why waste the time going all the way to Kyoto? You can visit Yamadera, the temple perched on the mountain is really cool and one of the more fascinating sights I have seen in my 10+ trips to Japan. You can also visit Nikko, which is one of my absolutely favourite spots in Japan. There is also Matsushima, which is one of ‘Japan’s 3 views’ (日本三景).

          You can refer to this post on rail travel in Eastern Japan:
          http://bumblebeemum.net/2009/06/16/8-days-japan-trip-using-jr-east-pass-tokyo-aizu-wakamatsu-koriyama-sendai-matsushima-yamadera-morioka-matsumoto/

          If you really want to do Hakodate as a day trip, I suggest you use the train so that you can just sleep on the train rides to and fro. Which means you should do it on the second day, assuming you are flying in on the first day. Take the first train out at 6am which would put you in Hakodate by 10am. And I am going to suggest you get the JR East-South Hokkaido Rail Pass rather than a Japan Rail Pass because it’s a flexi 6-days pass which you can use to cover this day trip.

          Day 1: Sapporo
          Day 2*: Sapporo – Hakodate – Sapporo
          Day 3: Pick up rental car. Drive Sapporo – Asahikawa
          Day 4: Asahikawa (day trip to Asahidake)
          Day 5: Asahikawa – Sounkyo – Takinoue – Kamiyubetsu – Abashiri
          Day 6: Abashiri – Shiretoko
          Day 7: Shiretoko (Shiretoko 5 lakes)
          Day 8: Shiretoko – Lake Mashu – Lake Akan – Sounkyo
          Day 9*: Sounkyo – Sapporo (return car). Train to Noboribetsu.
          Day 10*: Noboribetsu – Morioka – Sendai
          Day 11*: Sendai (half day to Yamadera, half day to Matsushima)
          Day 12*: Sendai – Nikko
          Day 13*: Nikko – Tokyo

          * refers to the days you use the JR East-South Hokkaido Rail Pass.

          • HC says:

            Thank you! You have been very helpful. Now I know that JR East-South Hokkaido Rail Pass covers Tokyo too! For those driving route, is there a need for getting the ETC or HEP pass?

            • bumblebeemum says:

              You will essentially be only using the toll road twice: From Sapporo to Asahikawa and from Asahikawa to Sapporo. If the car rental company charges a very nominal fee for the ETC card and you happen to be doing either of these drives on a weekend, just get an ETC card will do. If not, you can just pay cash. Cash would probably work out to be roughly the same as HEP for your case.

              • HC says:

                Thank you! We will be staying in Hakodate for a night based on your recommendation. If we will do drive up to Hakodate, is it correct to say that a HEP will be better? From your blog, the route from Sapporo-Hakodate is abt JPY 6000. Therefore, to and fro will be JPY 12000? and plus the drive up to Sapporo to Asahikawa and from Asahikawa to Sapporo, that will be another JPY 5000? Pls correct me if I am wrong. The car rental place do provide a ETC card at JPY 350 nominal fees throughout. Thanks!

  • Yee ken says:

    Good afternoon BBM

    Great to have you at Travel Blog, assisting us with your Hokkaido Dummies 👍
    We, 2 or 4 adults, travel from 15-9 to 27-9.
    Main objective is Autumn foliage but we arrive a bit too early, so we hope by 20-9 there will be colorful leaves at Daisetsuzan.
    Intend to stay more days at locations where we can trek and enjoy the Autumn foliage…your suggestion, pls
    Since we come early, we spend time at the west side before moving towards east.
    Pls feel free to give us suggestions

    Cheers😊

    D1, 15-9: New Chitose Airport to Hakodate
    D2, 16-9: Hakodate to Lake Toya
    D3, 17-9: Lake Toya to Jozankei-Farm to Otaru
    D4, 18-9: Otaru to Furano
    D5, 19-9: Furano to Biei to Asahikawa
    D6, 20-9: Asahikawa to Asahidake Onsen / Sounkyo Onsen
    D7, 21-9: Asahidake Onsen / Sounkyo Onsen
    D8, 22-9: Asahidake Onsen /Sounkyo Onsen to Shiretoko
    D9, 23-9: Shiretoko
    D10, 24-9: Shiretoko to Akan Lake
    D11, 25-9: Akan Lake to Akkeshi to Obihiro
    D12, 26-9: Obihiro to ……..to New Chitose Airport Hotel
    D13, 27-9: Morning flight back to Sin

    • bumblebeemum says:

      You have done your research well I think! You’re right that you should hit Daisetsuzan / Shiretoko towards the end of the trip for autumn foliage for your dates.

      I feel the beginning of your trip is very rushed. I don’t think you should go all the way down to Hakodate, it’s too tiring, especially when you are going to drive all the way up to Shiretoko later on. I suggest you keep it a bit looser for the first 4 days.

      D1: CTS – Lake Toya
      D2: Lake Toya (you can do a day trip to Jozankei / Otaru if you want to)
      D3: Lake Toya – Noboribetsu
      D4: Noboribetsu – Furano

      From D6 to D8, this is what I suggest:

      D6: Asahikawa (day trip to Asahidake)
      D7: Asahikawa – Sounkyo – Abashiri or Kitami
      D8: Abashiri or Kitami – Shiretoko

      D11 looks like a lot of driving. I suggest you end the day at Kushiro instead of Obihiro.

      Then on D12, you can go to Obihiro along the way from Kushiro to CTS. Between Obihiro and CTS, if you need one more rest point, I recommend taking a break at the roadside station at Yubari or Yuni Garden. You can read more on this post:
      http://bumblebeemum.net/2016/08/08/hokkaido-self-drive-trip-obihiro-yubari-chitose/

  • See Hua says:

    Dear Bumblebeemum,

    As this is my first trip to Hokkaido, could you please kindly advise the following?
    1. Any way to minimise the toll fee when travel from new chitose to asahikawa?
    2. From Asahikawa-Biei-Furano-New chitose, any toll free route?
    3. Would you recommend to get HEP as I rent the car from 25/7 to 27/5?
    Your advise is highly appreciated!

    Regards,
    See Hua

    • bumblebeemum says:

      There are always toll free roads to use, but I generally prefer to use toll roads to save time. If your GPS has a 5-route option, you can set it to display the toll-free route when you’re there and it’ll guide you on a road that avoids the toll roads.

      1. From CTS to Asahikawa, if you’re going direct, I would suggest you use the toll road.

      2. From Asahikawa back to CTS, if you are going via Biei and Furano, it will be toll free up to Furano. From Furano, the direct route to CTS will take the toll way from Shimukappu. But if you have time, you can go to Yubari and Yuni Garden along the way and avoid the toll:
      https://goo.gl/maps/9mYBJDTbcCU2

      3. Depends on the the route your decide to take? If you’re taking the toll way all the way from CTS to Asahikawa, and later on from Shimakappu to CTS, all within 3 calendar days, then yes you should get the HEP.

  • Glor says:

    Dear Bumblebeemum,

    I will be going Hokkaido from June 10 – 19. This is a last minute decision to go and I have not booked anything apart from air tickets. I will really appreciate all the advice possible for the following:

    1) Itinerary
    June 10: Evening flight arrival, Sapporo
    June 11: Sapporo
    June 12: Furano
    June 13: Furano
    June 14: Lake Toya
    June 15: Niseko (causes there’s this Airbnb glamping near Mt Yotei that look irrestible)
    June 16: Hakodate
    June 17: Hakodate
    June 18: Sapporo/Chitose
    June 19: Early morning flight

    Can this itinerary be completed in a comfortable pace? I really do not want to rush / pack things.

    2) Car rental
    This trip is only for 2. I noticed in some earlier responses you mentioned that it is cost ineffective to rent a car for 2 persons. But the public transport is also inefficient to get to a lot of nice places. Do you suggest I still go ahead with car rental?

    3) Lodging
    I honestly can’t find the lodging of SGD 50 – 80+ per night for 2 adults except for Hostel ! How did you do it? Everything I noticed have to be able SGD 110 – 130 per night for 2 persons. Do you have any tips?

    Thank you in advance for the help. And yes, your site is very useful especially for last minute trippers who needs the most amount of info in the shortest amount of time.

  • shilvy says:

    Dear Bumblebeemum,
    We, family of 4, my 2 kids age 16 & 15, are going to Hokkaido from 21 -27 June. I hope you can help us with these questions.
    1. We are arriving at Haneda airport with SQ at 6.45 and our ANNA flight to Chitose is at 9.30. Do you think we have enough time for the transfer? we need to store 1 of our luggage before going to Hokkaido, and this is our first time arriving & flying from Haneda.
    2. So far I only manage to prepare rough itinerary:
    21 June: arriving at Sapporo 12.00 check in at Sapporo Excel Tokyu
    22 June: Tour in Sapporo, with public transport. Planning to visit Nijo market, but after reading your review, now I am thinking of going to the Whole Sale market instead. Still staying at the same hotel
    23 June: Otaru. No Hotel yet. where do you think i have to stay?
    24 June: Drive to Furano. Rent a car in the morning. No hotel yet.
    25 June: Drive to Biei. Stayin at the same hotel as 24 June.
    26 June: No plan yet, but want to go back to Sapporo for final souvenir shopping, and planning to stay overnight in sapporo.
    27 June: Fly back to Tokyo at 11am flight.
    I really need your feedback on my itinerary and I couldn’t find a reasonable price hotel or apartment around Furano , Biei. I have search with Agoda, Rakuten and Air BnB. Any suggestion? I am getting nervous as our trip is in 10 days.

    Thank you so much for your trip reports, it is really helpful for a first timer like us.

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Hi, sorry I didn’t manage to get back to you in time for your trip. We’ve been overseas and internet access has been kind of iffy for the past 2 weeks for us. Hope you got everything sorted out! If you still have any problems while you’re there, pop in and I’ll try help you. Otherwise relax, enjoy and have a great time. 🙂

  • cymphere says:

    Hi, Bumblebeemum

    Good day! I need your advice, is this cost saving for transport or what is yr suggestion of our plan?
    (my family of 6 adutls already bought the air ticket & also verbal book onsen & tomamu condo)

    6/1/18 – Sin to BKK midnight flight
    7/1/18 – BKK to CTS am
    Take coach bus(JPY3,600/pax) & check in Tomamu condo
    8/1/18- Tomamu condo
    9/1/18- Tomamu condo

    10/1/18- Take coach bus(JPY3,600) to CTS & DONAN bus(JPY1,370) to Noboributsu Mahobora

    11/1/18- Take DONAN bus(JPY,1700) to Toya Sun Palace
    12/1/18- check out Toya Sun & take their free shuttle bus to
    Sapporo check in APA Hotel Sapporo Susukino-Ekinishi
    13/1/18 – Hokkaido shrines, 白い恋人パーク ??
    14/1/18 – Otaru ??
    15/1/18 – Asahikawa zoo ??
    16/1/18 – free day ??
    17/1/18- Check out & take airport bus to CTS check in Air
    Terminal
    18/1/18- Depart CTS (10am flight) to BKK-SIN

  • May says:

    Hi,Bumblebeemum
    We a Family of 3 adult, 2 kids (14 & 9 years old) are going to Hokkaido Trip from 11/2/2018 till 26/2/2018. It would be nice that you can give us some advise for what to wear during the trip (winter)(cloths,shoe & etc).
    Thanks A Lot
    Have a great Day

    • bumblebeemum says:

      I usually use Uniqlo’s heat-tech as the inner layer and continue to layer after that.

      This is how I dress my kids up:

      Head: Wear a beanie that can cover the ears.
      Body: Wear a heat-tech extra warm long sleeve, followed by a layer of wool vest (something to keep the chest warm), followed by a thick sweater (or the heat tech high neck fleece) and finally a waterproof winter jacket meant for sub-zero temperatures (e.g down jackets – but NOT Uniqlo ones. Get the hard core ones from winter wear shops.).
      Bottom: Wear heat-tech leggings, followed by thick waterproof pants.
      Feet: Wear a pair of long socks, layered by a pair of thick short socks and high waterproof boots.
      Hands: Waterproof winter gloves

      It is important that the outermost layers are waterproof, because you really do not want to get wet in winter.

      Additional stuff: You can buy heat packs from Daiso. I especially like the sticky ones that can be stuck to clothes / under the socks. You can stick them to the your clothes to keep yourself warm.

  • Rachel says:

    Hi BBM,

    I’m trying to rent a car from toyota rent a car from 23 Nov-26 NOv to collec from Hakadate Airport shop and return and sapporro city. However, im unable to select the dates for november. Would you be able to enlighten me why?

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