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5 day Winter trip in West Hokkaido

Singapore, Singapore
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5 day Winter trip in West Hokkaido


I am planning a 5 day winter trip from 17 Jan 2014 to 22 Jan 2014.

We will arrive at Chitose airport, 17 Jan at 12NN and leave on the 22 Jan at 2:10PM.

Travelling in a group of 7 adults.

Currently, I have a loose itinerary..

17 JAN - 12NN arrive,

Go to Niseko (Bus? private car?)

18 JAN - whole day at Niseko

19 JAN - check out Niseko hotel,

visit Noboribetsu, lake toya

check into a hotel in Sapporo at night

20 Jan - Sightsee in Sapporo

21 Jan - Sightsee in Sapporo

22 Jan - Breakfast and depart Hokkaido by 2:10PM

Some questions I have..

1. I am interested in visiting Akan National Park to see the lake and marimo but I don't think there's enough time. Right?

2. Would 2 days in Sapporo be too much? I will be visiting these: Curb market, Shiroi Koibito Park, TV tower, Odori Park, Clock Tower.

3. Are there any other attractions in Sapporo that I should visit?

4. Should I visit lake toya & Noboribetsu straight after the check out but we will have our luggage with us. Or should we check into a hotel in Sapporo then visit these places?

5. Are there other attractions around the lake & Noboribetsu?

6. How do we get around Hokkaido during winter? By taxi/bus/train?

7. Any where else in Hokkaido I should visit if time permits?

Its quite confusing to plan this trip :(

Hope to hear from you soon!


Takino Suzuran Hillside National Park
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Sapporo, Japan
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1. Re: 5 day Winter trip in West Hokkaido


Main advice is DON'T drive in this season unless you have winter driving experience. Very dangerous. Of course it is easier with 7 people and luggade etc, but really it isn't worth the stress.

Are you going to Niseko to ski? Or just to look?

Maybe go from the airport direct to Noboribetsu by bus, stay and do lake Toya AND Niseko by a local hire minivan with driver?

Then to Sapporo by bus or train.

You are right - going to Akan as part of this 5 night trip - with Niseko and Toya/Noboribetsu and sapporo - isn't really practical.

If you are going to Niseko just to look at snow and see a ski resort, then you could skip it - mid January there will be snow everywhere in Hokkaido.

In that case you could do a Chitose to Noboribetsu and Toya trip. THEN go to Akan for 2 nights. Back to Sapporo. You could do all of that by JR and bus.


Singapore, Singapore
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2. Re: 5 day Winter trip in West Hokkaido

Hi Amanda, thank you for your reply!

Hmm.. I guess the main point was to experience snow and secondly to try skiing.

So we intended to ski at least 1 full day at Niseko and probably stay overnight.

I roughly know where we would be going for the 5 days but my concern is how do I get around Hokkaido...

Technically from the airport it will be nearer to go Noboribetsu, then lake toya, then niseko and Sapporo.

But we intend to do a day trip at Noboribetsu and lake toya, also, what about the luggages :(

I am still quite confused :(

Thank you so much anyway!!!

Singapore, Singapore
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3. Re: 5 day Winter trip in West Hokkaido

By the way, to get from Toya to Niseko via train takes about 2 and half hours. Yeah, I know it looks pretty near on the map but the red line's train from Oshamambe to Niseko is pretty slow.

Use www.hyperdia.com if you want to plan your train journey. (Lake Toya is called "Toya(Muroran)" on hyperdia)

Map of JR train lines in Hokkaido: …jrhokkaido.co.jp/global/…route_map.pdf

If you want just a ski resort, maybe Tomamu is easier to access?


My blogpost for Tomamu:


Actually, since it's mid winter, I'd also recommend you take a look at Asahikawa's Zoo (penguin march) and Zoo train (between Sapporo to Asahikawa).

Also, you missed out Otaru which I recommend you go too.

My blog about Asahiyama Zoo train:


My blog about Penguin march at Asahikawa Zoo:


Regarding taxis, I usually don't take taxis in japan for journeys above 15mins. Because taxis are expensive. FYI, It costs about 2000yen when I took a cab in Hokkaido from Noboribetsu train station to Noboribetsu onsen town (10mins journey) because we missed the bus.

Maybe something like this?

17 JAN - 12NN arrive, take train from New Chitose Airport to Sapporo. Stay at Sapporo

18 JAN - Morning till afternoon at Otaru, after that return to Sapporo.. Stay at Sapporo.

19 JAN - (railpass day 1) Daytrip to Asahikawa via Asahiyama Zoo train. Visit Asahikawa Zoo. Stay at Sapporo

20 Jan - (railpass day 2) Sapporo to Tomamu. Stay at Tomamu.

21 Jan - (railpass day 3) Tomamu to Noboribetsu. Stay at Noboribetsu.

22 Jan - (railpass day 4) Noboribetsu to New Chitose Airport. Breakfast and depart Hokkaido by 2:10PM

(bear in mind that the skies will turn dark by 4pm during winter)

Get JR Hokkaido pass 4day pass: http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2361_01.html (19500yen)


travelblog: goawaysam.blogspot.com

Singapore, Singapore
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4. Re: 5 day Winter trip in West Hokkaido


Thanks for your reply!

haha I will go and analyse your detailed reply! :P

but anyway regarding Niseko, my group specifically wanted to go Niseko.. :/

and I went to your blog!

my point is that I am glad I went! omg I am a fan of One Piece as well and I will definitely go to the Jumpshop!!! and I am so envious of the grand arena tour you went!!! o.o

hahaha Thanks for your reply anyway!! ^^

Singapore, Singapore
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5. Re: 5 day Winter trip in West Hokkaido

You're welcome. Yes, I'm also a huge fan of One Piece.

Too bad there's no Jump shop at Hokkaido.

Next time if you ever go Kyushu, do check out Huis Ten Bosch themepark, there's a Thousand Sunny mini-cruise there and One Piece themed attractions.


Singapore, Singapore
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6. Re: 5 day Winter trip in West Hokkaido

Also, you have to really plan your train journeys properly since most of Hokkaido's trains are not frequent (esp for your trip to Niseko, since there's like only 6 trains going to Niseko from Sapporo daily).

The only train line which has normal train frequencies is the line that goes between New Chitose Airport and Sapporo/Otaru. It is safe to assume that almost all the other train lines will usually have just 1 train every couple of hours.

Use www.hyperdia.com to help you.

The subways within Sapporo itself is kinda like our MRT, so it would be easy for you guys to travel around in Sapporo.

For Noboribetsu, take train from Sapporo to Noboribetsu, then take a short 10mins bus ride from the station to Noboribetsu onsen town. If you missed the bus and don't want to waste time to wait for the next bus, then take cab from Noboribetsu train station.

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7. Re: 5 day Winter trip in West Hokkaido

Is Noro worth going in winter?

I have seen many pictures of hokkaido which are beautiful but these are all in summer or autumn.

I too have a week to travel around hokkaido near Sapporo/Niseko as I am spending some time skiing first.

Besides Otaru, really wondering where else is nice to go and a,so accessible.

Singapore, Singapore
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8. Re: 5 day Winter trip in West Hokkaido

Hi thewees

Just to share with you my itinerary for the upcoming trip..

It's more or less confirmed. It's not the cheapest option but we sort of really wanted to go Niseko.

16JAN - Midnight flight via SQ arrive Narita on 17 Jan morning

17JAN - Domestic flight from Narita to Chitose, Sapporo. Arrive at 12NN, Booked white liner to Niseko. Arrive The Green Leaf Hotel, dinner, onsen.

18JAN - Whole day at Niseko

19JAN - still deciding whether is it worth it to hire a white liner private bus to pick us up from Niseko to Lake Toya & Noboribetsu then drop us off at Hotel Gracery Sapporo. It's gng to cost at least S$400. Otherwise the plan is to take the white liner from Niseko to Sapporo, shop, dinner at Kani Honke.

20JAN - Morning JR train to Otaru, spending whole day in Otaru, then return to Sapporo in the evening.

21JAN - Sightseeing in Sapporo

22JAN - 750AM flight from Chitose, Sapporo to Narita.

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9. Re: 5 day Winter trip in West Hokkaido

Thanks so much for sharing your itinerary. Yu are lucky to be able to go in Jan as the sow is def better. I have school going kids so o such luck. Thanks again!

I plan to stay in Sapporo and Otaru and if you know of any good hotels do share! :)

Singapore, Singapore
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10. Re: 5 day Winter trip in West Hokkaido

Went with kids this March school holiday and had good dry snow (snowing heavily) when we went to the Asahikawa Zoo. Everyone enjoyed the snowy experience!