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Driving for whole trip or part of it?

Singapore, Singapore
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15 posts
15 reviews
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Driving for whole trip or part of it?

Firstly, thank you to all for reading this post and providing me with your advise.

I have a planned trip to Hokkaido with my partner from 20 Sep - 29 Sep 2013 and was wondering if I should start my drive from Chitose Airport onwards to Hakodate or midway and have the car returned once we get to Sapporo. My itinerary is as follows:

20 Sep: Arrival in CTS @ 1425hrs, and leave for Hakodate (should drive or take train?)

21 Sep: Hakodate

22 Sep: Hakodate to Noboribetsu

23 Sep: Noboribetsu

24 Sep: Noboribetsu to Furano

25 Sep: Furano/Biei

26 Sep: Biei to Sounkyo

27 Sep: Sounkyo to Sapporo (return car)

28 - 29 Sep: Sapporo and Otaru

The other question I have is are the parking charges expensive and petrol? My concern is if it is gonna be overall more expensive than taking the JR, then i'd rather forgo driving for most parts and only drive around Noboribetsu/Furano/Biei.

So the above is my tentative plan for my trip. Hope to seek you opinion and advise and feel free to suggest on the places.

Many thanks in advance.

Damon

Vancouver, Canada
Destination Expert
for Tohoku, Hokkaido
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6,032 posts
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1. Re: Driving for whole trip or part of it?

For 2 persons driving will probably turn out to be more expensive than using public transports, but personally we like the freedom and flexibility of a self drive road trip which let us maximize the travelling time rather than bound by infrequent train + bus connections. At home we have to drive everyday and we hate it, but outside winter months driving in Hokkaido is very enjoyable.

Parking fee is nothing compared with toll and gas charges. Many sites in Hokkaido have free parking, and mostly you only have to pay for parking in hotels. It is indeed wise not to drive in Sapporo and Otaru as Sapporo is served by an excellent subway system and Otaru is best explored on foot. You don’t really need a car in Hakodate either.

One more thing worth mentioning is that try to allocate more time in Sounkyo as late Sept is a very good time for autumn foliage in Daisetsu-zan National Park. Side trips from Sounkyo to the popular koyo sites of Ginsendai and Daisentsu Kogen are highly recommended.

Sapporo, Japan
Destination Expert
for Sapporo, Hokkaido
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2,434 posts
68 reviews
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2. Re: Driving for whole trip or part of it?

I agree with William.

Also I think you could go to Hakodate from Chitose by train and see that area by train. Then train to Noboribetsu, THEN rent a car in the Chitose or Sapporo area and go to central Hokkaido.

Chitose-Hakodate etc is a long way, and the drive isn't so special, just boring coast road.

Hakodate is a city, so you don't need a car.

Noboribetsu is a small village (bus or taxi or hotel shuttle from the station up into the onsen village), and although the countryeside around there (Lake Toya/Niseko) is pretty - you can go to Noboribetsu for a one night stay and NOt have a car.

Amanda

Singapore, Singapore
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15 posts
15 reviews
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3. Re: Driving for whole trip or part of it?

thanks for your replies guys and definitely appreciate the time taken to share your thoughts with us. I totally agree with you on the freedom and flexibility of a self drive road trip which let us maximize the travelling time rather than bound by infrequent train + bus connections. I was just pretty unsure if driving would be the best way for me to enjoy Hokkaido given that it is going to be my first trip there and the places that i'm intending to cover.

I will most likely drop the driving in hakodate as suggested. One quick question - we have yet to confirm our lodging in Hakodate. any hotels or guests houses to recommend?

Vancouver, Canada
Destination Expert
for Tohoku, Hokkaido
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6,032 posts
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4. Re: Driving for whole trip or part of it?

In cities we mostly opt for uninspiring budget business hotels. In Hakodate we stayed in Comfort Hotel, 6000 yen for a double room with breakfast, but the main advantage is its location. It’s just a couple of min walk across the road junction from the JR station. The bus for Hakodate-yama during the evening leaves from the bus terminal in front of the JR station. The hotel is also within easy walking distance to the Asaichi morning market and the Daimon Yokocho yatai alley.

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5. Re: Driving for whole trip or part of it?

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