Let’s talk about my favourite country, Japan, again! This time, it’s about the Soya area of Wakkanai in Northern Hokkaido, the northern-most point of Japan. Never heard of it? Neither did I, before this trip!
You know what though, I truly believe that even if I were to visit Japan at least once a year for the rest of my life, I would still have unchartered areas to explore and new discoveries every trip! That’s one of the parts I love about travelling, so much. Especially when it’s a country that you already love in terms of food and culture!
Exploring Wakkanai & the Soya Region – The most northern part of Japan
I first visited Hokkaido in the summer of 2015, and shared all about my epic 12 days 11 nights road trip/self-drive itinerary in this blog post. It was an amazing time! But if you’ve already covered the more well-known parts of Hokkaido such as Sapporo, Furano, Toya, Noboribetsu, Hakodate etc and still want to see more of Hokkaido in summer, you NEED to visit the North of Hokkaido – Wakkanai for an off-the-beaten-path experience away from city living!
Apart from island-hopping from Wakkanai to Rishiri Island and Rebun Island to marvel at the beautiful nature and scenery, you can also enjoy lovely cool weather even during the hottest summers, because the average temperature in Wakkanai is a cool six degrees – At the peak of summer, it only gets as high as 22-24 degrees Celsius with plenty of strong winds due to its coastal location.
If you’re big on seafood and love your uni, scallop and crab, say no more. You HAVE to visit Wakkanai because you will not taste fresher seafood anywhere else! Due to its location as a port city, the seafood in Wakkanai is abundant, fresh and also super affordable.
I really can’t remember the last time I ate SO much seafood in 5 days! I also experienced my very first uni-harvesting moment and literally had the freshest uni of my life. PS. Summer is uni season in Wakkanai – Another good reason to go during summer (Late July to early August)!
Will go into more detail as I share more about Wakkanai further on!
How To Get To Wakkanai – Where is it??
Wakkanai is actually the northern-most city of Japan, and you can only fly to Wakkanai Airport via domestic flights such as from Haneda, Narita, or Sapporo.
I took ANA (All Nippon Airways) from Singapore, transiting at Haneda on the way to Wakkanai and back. The flights took about 7H (SIN-HND) and 2.5H (HND-WKJ) each, with a fairly long stop-over of 4-5 hours at Haneda Airport.
Alternatively, it is also possible to drive to Wakkanai from Sapporo, but it tales a good six hours in summer (and even longer in winter, depending on the driving conditions).
The train is another mode of transport: It takes about 5 hours from Sapporo to Wakkanai via the JR Line.
My personal opinion is that it makes more sense to take a flight, because there isn’t much of interest in between Sapporo and Wakkanai, and that time could be better spent exploring and enjoying the sights in Wakkanai instead.
How long to spend in Wakkanai?
My trip was about 5 days long, but I would most definitely have stayed longer and made it at least a week, had I no time constraints! Even from the Wakkanai region, you can drive to other relatively nearby areas like Asahikawa, Sounkyo Gorge and more. So, at least a week, for sure.
How To Get Around Wakkanai – Car Rental/Self-Drive
Many interesting areas around Wakkanai are only accessible by car, so it is a must to rent a car and travel road-trip style around Northern Hokkaido! This is no great challenge as the drives are scenic and breathtaking, with wide roads and little traffic.
You can check out RentalCars.com to compare prices for different car models from different companies, depending on the number of pax! The rental car can then be picked up straight from Wakkanai Airport or Wakkanai JR Station upon arrival.
Reminder: 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.
Let’s move on to the actual itinerary!
Northern Hokkaido – Wakkanai & Soya Region 5D4N Itinerary
Day 1 – Wakkanai – Sarufutsu – Wakkanai
Arrive at Wakkanai Airport, Pick up car
Drive to Sarufutsu Village
Lunch & Soba Making Experience
Shell Scallops Experience
Drive to Cape Soya
Visit Northernmost Point in Japan Monument
Walking Tour of Soya Hills with Tour Center “Base Soya“
Drive to Downtown Wakkanai
Check-in at Surfee Hotel Wakkanai
Dinner at Uroko-Tei (Japanese Seafood BBQ)
Day 2 – Wakkanai – Rishiri Island
Drive from Hotel to Wakkanai Port and travel to Rishiri Island via Heartland Ferry with car
Park car at port
Take bus tour by “Soya Bus” around Rishiri Island to cover interesting landmarks
Return to port
Lunch at Shokudo Kamome (sea urchin bowl/uni don)
Visit Kamui Kaigan Park
Sea Urchin Uni Experience
Rishiri Seaweed Kombu Experience
Drive to Shiroi Koibito no Oka (Observatory)
Check-in at Hotel Ayase
Dinner at hotel
Day 3 – Rishiri Island – Rebun Island
Drive from Hotel to Ferry Terminal and travel to Rebun Island via Heartland Ferry with car
Sight-seeing by car around island
Lunch at Cafe Umi (Hokke burger)
Visit Rebun-cho Folk Museum (http://rebun-museum.org)
or Momolwa Trekking to see alpine plants depending on weather
Visit famous movie spot Northern Canary Park (Movie Kita no Kanaria Tachi)
Check-in at Mitsui Kanko Hotel
Dinner at Seafood Restaurant Kafuka
Day 4 – Rebun Island – Toyotomi – Wakkanai
Drive from Hotel to Ferry Terminal and travel to Wakkanai via Heartland Ferry with car
Drive to Toyotomi-cho
Visit famous “oil” hot spring at Toyotomi Onsenkyo, Kawashima Ryokan
(I highly recommend to stay overnight here!)
Lunch at Toyotomi Onsenkyo Genghis Khan Restaurant (Lamb BBQ)
Rental of bicycles, Cycling experience at Toyotomi-cho Grassland Ranch
Break at ferme milk cafe famous for soft-serve & milk ramen (http://toyotomi-ferme.com)
*Cape Nosyappumisaki for view of Mt Rishiri & Rebun Island
*Wakkanai Park for historical monuments of Northern Hokkaido
Check-in at Wakkanai Grand Hotel
Dinner at Take-chan Izayaka (http://take-chan.com)
Day 5 – Wakkanai – Tokyo (HND) – Singapore
Kimono experience & tour of historical locations:
*Former Seto House museum
*North Breakwater Dome
Lunch at Mamiyado (scallop ramen)
Drive to Wakkanai Airport
FLYING BACK HOME!
There we go for the itinerary – I have so much more to share so let’s hope I manage to churn it all out ASAP!!
How to book any activities or tours
As this entire trip was arranged and planned by a Japanese travel agency in conjunction with Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO), they have informed me that they can offer their services for those who require assistance in making any bookings!
Wakkanai and the Soya region is still relatively new to foreigners and many of the locals can’t speak very good English, you may find that you need help booking any of the above I mentioned, from a rental car, to ferry tickets to the various activities, experiences or even a translator. Please don’t let the language barrier stop you from having the best time of your life in Wakkanai because the locals there are all so very friendly!!
For any inquiries or booking help for this itinerary at all, please email in to email@example.com in English or Chinese 🙂
I will go into a day-by-day breakdown as well – Stay tuned and as always, you know where to look for me on Instagram!
Read previous Japan blog entries below!
- Hokkaido/Wakkanai Day 3: Rebun Island, The Flower Island
- Hokkaido/Wakkanai Day 2: Rishiri Island & Uni Experience
- Hokkaido/Wakkanai Day 1: Exploring Sarufubetsu & Soya Hills
- Wakkanai, Northern Hokkaido: 5D4N Summer Road Trip Itinerary
- Osaka Feb’19: Solaniwa Onsen & Art Hotel Osaka Bay Tower
- Osaka Feb’19: Universal Studios Japan Yet Again?!
- Osaka Feb’19: Abeno Harukas, 7 things to do!
- Hokkaido Aug’17: 12D11N Summer Road Trip Itinerary
- Japan! Osaka: Universal Studios Japan Halloween 2016
- The Beginner’s Guide To Holiday Photography
- Japan! Osaka: Our $230 Dinner at Matsuzakagyu Yakiniku M
- Japan! Osaka to Koyasan: Temple Stay on Japan’s Most Sacred Mountain
- 8 Uniquely Awesome Things To Do In Japan!
- Japan! Osaka: Arriving via JR Shinkansen & A Night In Dotonbori
- Japan! Osaka: Gastronomic Experience at Ichiba Kuromon Market!
- Japan! Osaka: Lucky Owl Cafe
- Japan! Osaka: Universal Studios Japan & The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
- Japan! Kyoto: That Famous Kichi Kichi Omurice
- Japan! Kyoto: A Day in Kimono / Kiyomizu-dera / Arashiyama
- 🇯🇵 Takayama / Shirakawago 🇯🇵