Singapore Top Travel, Beauty, Food, Lifestyle Blog

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Hokkaido Aug'17: 12D11N Summer Road Trip Itinerary


Konichiwa, folks! 

As you might already know, Japan is one of my top favourite destinations in the world! To date, I've been to Japan eight times, and I am still not tired of the country, what with its crazy amazing food, unique culture and gorgeous countryside/nature. Japan just has so much to offer, and every trip is always a brand new experience.

I have always, always wanted to visit Hokkaido, and I'm really glad that I made it happen this summer! 

Although Hokkaido is famous for its winter and ski resorts, it's an absolutely splendid place to visit during summer time. Summers on the island of Hokkaido are mild and cool, with beautiful weather  as well as their famous fields of flowers and lavender in full bloom!

I'll be sharing my 12D11N self-drive itinerary in this post, and will be following up with more detailed posts on each area and what they have to offer - I am certain that you'd fall in love with Hokkaido in summer, just as I did.

Basically sums up my time in Hokkaido. Lots of pretty flowers, onsen & soft serve ice cream - What is there not to love?

Flights to Hokkaido

First things first, flights to Hokkaido! There are no direct flights from Singapore to New Chitose Airport, and your best option is to do a layover at either Narita or Haneda Airport, before another short domestic flight to New Chitose Airport, located near Sapporo. Both ANA and JAL offer flights to New Chitose Airport, but tickets usually cost at least SGD800 and above for a return trip.

The next best option in my opinion is to fly via Thai Airways, which consists of a ten-hour layover at Bangkok, but costs less than $600. If you book early and there's a good promo going on, flights could be even cheaper than $400!

This could be a good option for you if a 10-hour layover at Bangkok isn't a problem - You even get to squeeze in some Thai massage and mango sticky rice before/after your Hokkaido trip!

I use Skyscanner to check for the cheapest ticket prices in the vicinity of my travel dates. Basically, SkyScanner searches for the cheapest airfares across 1,200 airline and travel sites, and there's also a feature that tells you exactly which dates offer the cheapest flights in that month, which is great to know, especially if you have slightly flexible travel dates.


How Long To Spend In Hokkaido?

Of course, when you book your flight, you need to have an idea of how many days you're going to be spending in Hokkaido. In my opinion, anything less than 7 days is really too short, because Hokkaido is huge and there are so many different, interesting areas to explore! Getting around from destination to destination also takes time, with our longest drive being over 2.5 hours long.

I had initially planned for a 7-day stay in Hokkaido, but found myself wanting to stay on longer and revised my plans! It also depends on what kind of vacation you prefer, do you want to just touch-and-go throughout the different areas (perhaps stay in Sapporo and do day trips throughout) or really travel around, staying overnight and experiencing what each area has to offer?

I went for the latter, taking my time to experience and indulge in what Hokkaido had to offer. It was a rejuvenating and highly gratifying experience that fulfilled the wanderlust in me and fed my soul.

Car Rental/Self-Drive in Hokkaido

Why choose to self-drive in Hokkaido? Unlike Tokyo or other parts of Japan, Hokkaido is a wild island that is a lot more sparsely populated, and getting around from destination to destination is so much more convenient with your own car!

It's not difficult to drive around in Hokkaido as most of the roads are well-maintained and traffic is friendly. Gas stations are aplenty and at no point in time did we run into any trouble on the roads.

Apart from the picturesque scenery along the roads, if you're fortunate enough, you might even run into wild foxes on the road, as I did!

This beauty was right smack in the middle of the quiet road that we were driving on - Instead of running away, it even approached the car as we slowed down to take pictures and say hi!

We rented our car online from RentalCars.com. For roughly SGD100 a day, you'll get yourself a decent Japanese car - In our case a Honda Fit. We picked up the car from a counter at New Chitose Airport (after which you'll be brought via shuttle bus to the car rental company to pick up your car).

You can decide on a few different locations to pick up and return your car, and we decided on returning the car at Sapporo (our last destination) as it's more fuss-free to travel around Sapporo City via public transport/walking. This way, we could also take the train from Sapporo to New Chitose Airport, saving on a couple days of car rental expenses.

Do remember to apply for your IDP (International Driving Permit) beforehand in Singapore and bring both your driver's license and IDP along when you pick up your car! You might not be allowed to pick up your car without these necessary documents.

The staff at the counter briefed us on how to use the built-in GPS, instructions on fuelling up the tank and numbers to contact in case of any emergencies, but we didn't have any issues with the car at all. ;)

Accommodation in Hokkaido

Hokkaido has got a plethora of unique accommodation options to offer, from ryokans (traditional Japanese styled rooms), pensions (sort of like b&bs), resorts and hotels. Prices can differ drastically - from SGD800 for a room with private onsen in Noboribetsu to under SGD100 for a small hotel room in Sapporo City.

Some of the websites I booked my accommodation from include JapanICan.com, Bookings.com, Agoda.com and Hotels.com! Here's a list of the various accommodations I booked for Hokkaido below.

*Starred accommdations are the highly recommended ones! Do also note that I booked my hotels quite late so they got pretty expensive. If possible, try to book as early as you can for the best prices!

AreaAccommodationPrice Per Night (2 Pax/1 Room)
Noboribetsu Ryotei Hanayura (Private Onsen)*787.57
HakodateLa Vista Hakodate Bay Hotel*308.59
Furano/Bielpetit hotel MELON Furano273.5
Lake ToyaThe Lake View Toya Nonokaze Resort*371.77
JozankeiJozankei Hotel221.22
Sapporo/OtaruHotel LiVEMAX Sapporo Eki-mae86.99


WiFi Connectivity in Hokkaido

I stayed connected via my pocket wifi device from Changi Recommends!

This device can be booked online via Changi Recommends' website, then picked up and dropped off at Changi Airport on your day of departure and arrival. Extremely convenient and fuss-free! The network was very strong, save for some mountainous roads and areas where there was no reception. You can connect multiple devices to one pocket wifi too!

Hokkaido 12D11N Summer Road Trip Itinerary

The trickiest part about planning my self-drive road trip was determining the sequence and driving routes to make for the most time-efficient and sensible itinerary, as many of the places I wanted to visit were located all over the island of Hokkaido.

Some highlights of my itinerary include: the private onsen at Noboribetsu, fruit picking at Jozankei, traditional wagyu sukuyaki lunch at Hakodate, Furano's gorgeous flower farms and our day trip to beautiful Otaru!

There's really loads more to do in Hokkaido that I didn't get the opportunity to explore, from checking out the amazing coastal view at Shakotan/Cape Kamui to dolphine/whale watching at Shiretoko National Park.. Hokkaido is one of those places you really don't mind visiting again and again!

After studying the map for the longest time and lots of consideration and intensive brain work, I decided on the below itinerary:

Hokkaido 
12D11N Itinerary
1 August - 12 August 2017

Day 1 - Chitose to Noboribetsu

Arrive at New Chitose Airport
Pick up rental car
Lunch at Wagyu Bibi Log House
Drive to Noboribetsu (58min)
Accommodation at Ryotei Hanayura (Private Onsen)
Kaiseki Dinner at Ryotei Hanayura


Day 2 - Noboribetsu to Hakodate

Breakfast at Ryotei Hanayura
Explore Jigokudani (Hell Valley) at Noboribetsu
Drive to Hakodate - Lunch stop along the way (2h 34min)
Accomodation at La Vista Hakodate Bay
Dinner at Uni Murakami (sea urchin restaurant)

Day 3 - Hakodate

Explore Hakodate Morning Market
Lunch at Asari Honten (wagyu beef sukuyaki)
Explore Kanemori Red Brick Warehouse area
Go on Mount Hakodate Ropeway
Dinner at Lucky Pierrot

Day 4 - Hakodate to Lake Toya

Breakfast at La Vista Hakodate Bay
Drive to Lake Toya (2h 32min)
Accommodation at Lake Toya Nonokaze Resort
Buffet dinner at Lake Toya Nonokaze Resort
Watch summer fireworks by the lake

Day 5 - Lake Toya to Jozankei

Breakfast at Lake Toya Nonokaze Resort
Lunch at Sendoan (scallop & seafood)
Stop for ice cream at Lake Hill Farm
Drive to Jozankei (1h 6min)
Cherry picking at Jozankei Farm
Foot spa at Kokoro No Sato Morino Bettei 
Accommodation at Jozankei Hotel
Dinner at Jozankei Hotel

Day 6 - Jozankei to Yubari to Furano

Drive to Yubari (1h 51min)
Stop for yubari melons at Yubari
Drive to Furano (1h 42min)
Accommodation at petit hotel MELON Furano
Dinner near petit hotel MELON Furano

Day 7 - Furano/Biel

Visit Tomita Farm
- Eat Lavender Ice Cream
Visit Shikisai No Oka
- Alpaca Farm
Lunch at Fukuzushi (giant sushi)
Visit Blue Pond at Biel
Family Mart Combini Dinner

Day 8 - Furano to Sapporo

Jam making at Furano Jam Garden
Visit Rokutei Viewing Platform
Lunch at Campana Rokkatei 
Drive to Sapporo (1h 50min)
Accommodation at Hotel LiVEMAX Sapporo Eki-mae
Drop off rental car
Explore Sapporo City
Oysters & scallops at Gotsubo
Ramen at Aji No Karyu

Day 9 - Sapporo to Otaru

Train from Sapporo to Otaru (58min)
Take a bus to visit Otaru Aquarium
Lunch at Wakadori Jidai Naruto Honten
Explore Otaru Canal 
Explore Sakaimachi Street
Visit Otaru Music Box Museum
Train from Otaru to Sapporo (58min)
Dinner at 串鳥 Kushidori

Day 10 - Sapporo to Shiroi Koibito Park

Combini Breakfast
Train from Sapporo to Shiroi Koibito Park (32min)
Explore Shiroi Koibito Park
Eat Shiroi Koibito Soft Serve
Train from Shiroi Koibito Park to Sapporo (32min)
Dinner at Yoshinoya

Day 11 - Sapporo

Coffee at Streamer Coffee Company
Shopping at Sapporo Station
Lunch at Sutadonya
Explore Susukino area
Dinner at Onya-sai (shabu shabu sukiyaki buffet)

Day 12 - Sapporo to Chitose

Train from Sapporo to New Chitose Airport (49min)
Last minute shopping for snacks and omiyage
Flight back home

View downloadable itinerary here.

***

Hopefully, this will be a useful reference for your own Hokkaido road trip planning - I'd be glad to know that all the effort I put into planning my trip and writing these blog posts are of help to others!

I'll be going in-depth in the upcoming Hokkaido blog posts, so remember to hit subscribe on my blog feed if you'd like to be updated when new updates are up!

Until the next update, see you in a bit!

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