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Advices needed for Hokkaido itinerary in mid Aug

Johore Bahru...
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Advices needed for Hokkaido itinerary in mid Aug

Hi, I am planning a 6-7 days trip to Hokkaido mid Aug. I would like to have a relaxing holiday with nice sceneries, yummy food & experience the japanese onsen ryokan.

After some initial survey, I would like to visit:

1) Sapporo (1 day) - Sapporo Beer-En, Nijo fish market, Sapporo TV tower

2) Otaru (1 day) - canal strolling, glass blowing lesson, music box museum, fruit picking

3) Furano, Biei & Hokuryu (2 days) - lavender & sunflower

I need help to decide on other places (easy reach from the places above). Below are my shortlist:

1) Shotokan - scenic with onsen

2) Toyako Onsen & Usu-zan - onsen & volcanoes with fireworks

3) Muroran - dolphins & whales watching (Is mid Aug season? If not, is Muroran worth seeing?)

4) Asahidake Onsen - scenic with onsen

Can I cover each place in a day?

Any recommendations for a good onsen ryokan with scenic rotemburo?

Is it better to take the public transport or to drive?

Thanks a lot!

Vancouver, Canada
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for Tohoku, Hokkaido
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1. Re: Advices needed for Hokkaido itinerary in mid Aug

All the places on your list are worth going but with just 6-7 days there is no way to cover all. Consider skipping Muroran and Asahidake.

Going for a self-drive road trip allows more freedom and flexibility and lets you make better use of the limited time.

To include fruit u-pick in Otaru while you want to do some glass blowing and music box DIY is a bit too rush for a day. Allocate a separate day for fruit u-pick in the Niki/Yoichi region together with a scenic drive to Cape Kamui in the Shakotan Peninsula.

If you are really into flowers, you may need more than 2 days for Furano, Biei and Hokuryu. Ideally devote 2 full days for Furano and Biei. Set aside another day for sunflower in Hokuryu plus Asahikawa. Note that though some can still be seen, by mid August lavender will pass its prime blooming period which is best during July. Early August is a better time for a lavender + sunflower combination.

There are many onsen destinations in Hokkaido and though not necessary the best, with limited time Toya-ko is indeed a good one-stop destination since you can combine it with scenic lake view, volcanic sightseeing and the evening firework. Time allowed while in Toya try to include a side trip to Noboribetsu.

Johore Bahru...
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2. Re: Advices needed for Hokkaido itinerary in mid Aug

Hi William, thx a lot for your reply. I really appreciate it.

Actually, I have 10 days, but thought of stopping over Seoul for some kimchi & shopping since there's no direct flight to Hokkaido. Not sure now if this is a good idea or not...

Is it easy to drive in Hokkaido? There are only two of us, will it be a lot more expensive if we drive?

After taking off Muroran & Asahidake, I will have:

D1) Sapporo

D2 & 3) Furano, Biei & Hokuryu - I like flowers, but don't think I need 3 days for it. I think I will skip Asahikawa, not very keen on the zoo

D4) Otaru

D5) Niki/ Yoichi region & Shakotan Peninsula

D6) Toyako Onsen & Usu-zan

Is it correct to follow the sequence above?

If I have 7 days, is it worthwhile staying a day at Noboribetsu (I understand that it is a street full of onsen resorts with a nearby Hell Valley) or consider it a side trip from Toyako Onsen? If not, what other place would you recommend?

Thx.

Vancouver, Canada
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3. Re: Advices needed for Hokkaido itinerary in mid Aug

Driving in Hokkaido is enjoyable, especially during summer. It may not be the most budget means of travel for just two persons but definitely worth it for the freedom and flexibility. More places can be covered rather than relying on infrequent train + bus connection. A less expensive car rental agency we used last autumn is the following.

http://shiretoko-t.com/en/index79.html

Furano and Biei are best explored if you have your own wheels. BTW, a unique place to go is Kanayama-ko which has the only lavender field with a lake as a backdrop. Let’s hope the lavenders are still there mid August.

It’s a pity to skip Asahikawa especially if going to Hokuryu. We like the Ramen Mura a lot and my wife says she has the best Hokkaido ramen there. The Snow Crystal Museum/Snow Gallery is also unique, an ideal place for a visit during the hot summer months. We also enjoyed the summer festival there during early August – parade, street-side eating stalls and evening firework.

On both our visits to Noboribetsu, we did it as a side trip from Toya-ko. But a friend who had stayed at both places says for onsen experience Noboribetsu is better than Toya-ko.

With so many worthwhile destinations in Hokkaido, it is indeed hard to decide what and what not to include. Driving back to Sapporo from Toya, besides Noboribetsu there are Chikyu Misaki in Muroran, Oyunuma, Kuttara-ko, Poroto Kotan (Shiraoi Ainu Museum), Shikotsu-ko and Tomakomai. Between Otaru and Toya is the lovely region of Niseko with beautiful Shinsen-numa and Mt. Yotei. Not far south of Sapporo is another good onsen destination of Jozankei. With so many nice places it really comes down to individual preferences as to where to go!

Johore Bahru...
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4. Re: Advices needed for Hokkaido itinerary in mid Aug

With so many worthwhile destinations but limited time, I need to survey more to make the best out of my holiday.

Thanks a lot for your valuable suggestions!

Johore Bahru...
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5. Re: Advices needed for Hokkaido itinerary in mid Aug

These are my revised itineraries:

16/8) Chitose Airport - Sapporo

17/8) Pick up car. Drive to Furano

18/8) Furano - Biei

19/8) Biei - Hokuryu - Asahikawa

20/8) Asahikawa - Noboribetsu - Toyako

21/8) Toyako - Niseko

22/8) Niseko - Shakotan

23/8) Shakotan - Sapporo. Return car.

24/8) Day trip to Otaru

25/8) Sapporo to Chitose Airport

Pls let me know if the above itineraries need changes in terms of allocation of days, travelling sequences, etc.

Thanks!

Hong Kong, China
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for Hong Kong, Osaka
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6. Re: Advices needed for Hokkaido itinerary in mid Aug

Your trip seems to make sense overall in terms of time allocation. While Otaru is quite lovely, 2/3 of a day should do. Sapporo's shopping, dining and atmosphere are more interesting in my opinion.

Sapporo, Japan
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7. Re: Advices needed for Hokkaido itinerary in mid Aug

Misaki no yu in Shakotan has a great onsen with an outdoor bath overlooking the sea.

best-of-sapporo-japan.com/japanese-baths.html

Vancouver, Canada
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8. Re: Advices needed for Hokkaido itinerary in mid Aug

The drive from Asahikawa to Noboribetsu/Toya passes through a number of interesting places that are worth stopping by depending on how much time you can spare.

The Rose Garden in Iwamizawa Park is said to have 243 varieties of rose and August is a good time for blooming. At present the garden is under maintenance but you can monitor the website and their webcam when the time comes to travel.

…hokkaido.jp/i/kankou/kouen/bara.htm

iwamizawa-rosegarden.miemasu.net/CgiStart… (webcam)

For shopping there are 2 outlet malls en-route, Mitsui Outlet Park in Kitahiroshima and Rera Outlet Mall near Chitose. If your departure flight is not in the morning you can save Rera till the day you fly out as there is free shuttle service between the outlet and New Chitose Airport.

http://www.31op.com/sapporo/index.html (Mitsui)

http://www.outlet-rera.com/english/ (Rera)

Tomakomai by the coast is a popular seafood destination. Too bad you will miss its summer Port Festival on Aug 10-12 with colourful parade and evening firework.

http://www.tomakomai-kanko.jp/

…hokkaido.jp/shogyokanko/kanko/minato_festiv…

Slight detour inland from Tomakomai is beautiful Shikotsu-ko.

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e6736.html

Down south along the coast is Poroto Kotan, the Ainu museum/open-air folk park where you can learn about these peaceful northern people.

http://www.ainu-museum.or.jp/en/

More fresh Hokkaido seafood can be found in an interesting roadside station/restaurant with a giant salmon and bear sculpture on the roof. Inside are large water tanks where you can pick your choice of fresh daily catch in local water.

http://www.kanigoten.co.jp/index.htm

Not far further south is the small yet tranquil Kuttara-ko.

bfh.jp/en/…

After Noboribetsu, instead of cutting inland to Toya-ko you can continue on the coastal road that leads to scenic Chikyu Misaki in Muroran with panoramic sea and cliff view by the lighthouse.

…visit-hokkaido.jp/travelPlanner/details.php…

When you drive back to Sapporo from Kamui Misaki in the Shakotan Peninsula you will pass Otaru. Again depending on available time, you can take in Otaru en-route thus saving a separate side trip out of Sapporo the next day.

Between Kamui Misaki and Otaru is scenic Shimamui Coast with some unique coastal rock formations. Worth a stop is Shakotan/Shimanui Cape reached by walking through a short one-man high tunnel.

http://www.kanko-shakotan.jp/eng/guide.html

Johore Bahru...
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9. Re: Advices needed for Hokkaido itinerary in mid Aug

Thanks to all the Hokkaido experts for your suggestions. I am so glad that there are so many helpful people out there answering my questions. I can now book my air tickets!

Sammyfloyd, I read that car is not necessary in Otaru & Sapporo, hence the route from Shakotan to Sapporo to return the car. If I return the car in Otaru, I will need to travel via train to Sapporo with luggages. Does it make sense?

Ben c, I have been reading on your posts and would like to visit Misaki no yu, Hilton Niseko Village Hotel & Kohantei Hotel onsen!

Willaim, thx so much for your suggestions... you really know Hokkaido well! Will take note of all the places of interest you recommend. Btw, it would be our 1st time driving overseas. I am assuming that it should be ok if we follow the directions from Google map. Is that correct?

Thanks!

Vancouver, Canada
Destination Expert
for Tohoku, Hokkaido
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10. Re: Advices needed for Hokkaido itinerary in mid Aug

For driving in Japan we use the Yahoo site as the quoted driving time is close to real situation. Navitime is easier to use but the driving time is over-estimated.

http://drive.yahoo.co.jp/route/search (Yahoo)

https://www.navitime.co.jp/en (Navitime)

For Hokkaido, Northern Road is a good route search site.

http://northern-road.jp/navi/eng/index.htm