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5 tips for driving in Hokkaido

When it comes to travel around Hokkaido, I would honestly say most recommended transportation is car. It’s because buses and JR are not very convenient in most country sides and we have to wait for one or more hours depending on the destinations. It seems a waste of time. When you or anyone who accompanies you drive a car in Hokkaido, can move around any place and any time. Read More

Access from New Chitose Airport to Asahikawa

Asahikawa is the second largest city in Hokkaido, which is well known that Asahiyama Zoo is located in. As Furano and Biei, a popular tourist spots in Hokkaido is not very far from Asahikawa, not a few tourists to Hokkaido would also visit the city.
Due to no direct public transportation from New Chitose Airport to Asahikawa, you have to transit in Sapporo to reach Asahikawa by either way, bus or JR.
There are four options to move from New Chitose Airport to Asahikawa.

Plan A

All the way from New Chitose Airport to Asahikawa by JR

Total trip time: 2h 02 min (37 min from New Chitose Airport to Sapporo + 1h 25 min from Sapporo to Asahikawa)
Total ticket price: JPY 5,360 ( JPY 1,070 from New Chitose Airport to Sapporo + JPY 4,290 from Sapporo to Asahikawa )
*In case you make round trip between Sapporo and Asahikawa by JR within 6 days, S Ticket (ticket for round-trip free seating ) with JPY 5,080 is useful and reasonable.
*You can purchase S Ticket at Midorino Madoguchi, JR ticket counter or ask JR information desk at New Chitose Airport in English

Plan B

New Chitose Airport to Sapporo by JR and Sapporo to Asahikawa by Bus

Total trip time: Approximately 3h 02 min ( 37 min from New Chitose Airport to Sapporo + 2h 25 min from Sapporo to Asahikawa)
Total ticket price: JPY 3,130 ( JPY 1,070 from New Chitose Airport to Sapporo + JPY 2,060 from Sapporo to Asahikawa)

*Round trip bus ticket from/to Sapporo to/from Asahikawa is JPY 3,860
*You can buy the round trip bus ticket at the bus terminal in Sapporo station

Plan C

New Chitose Airport to Sapporo by bus and Sapporo to Asahikawa by JR

Total trip time: Approximately 2h 45 min ( 1h 20 min from New Chitose Airport to Sapporo + 1h 25min from Sapporo to Asahikawa)
Total ticket price: JPY 5,320 (JPY 1,030 from New Chitose Airport to Sapporo + JPY 4,290 from Sapporo to Asahikawa)

*Round trip bus ticket from/to New Chitose Airport to/from Sapporo is JPY 1,950
*You can buy a round trip bus ticket from/to New Chitose Airport to/from Sapporo at the counter on 1st floor of New Chitose Airport
* In case you make round trip between Sapporo and Asahikawa by JR within 6 days, S Ticket (ticket for round-trip free seating ) with JPY 5,080 is useful and reasonable.
* You can purchase S Ticket at Midorino Madoguchi, JR ticket counter or ask JR information desk in Sapporo station in English

Plan D

All the way from New Chitose Airport to Asahikawa by bus

Total trip time: Approximately 3h 45 min( 1h 20 min from New Chitose Airport to Sapporo + 2h 25min from Sapporo to Asahikawa)
Total ticket price: JPY 3,090 ( JPY 1,030 from New Chitose Airport to Sapporo + JPY 2,060 from Sapporo to Asahikawa)

*Round trip bus ticket from/to New Chitose Airport to/from Sapporo is JPY 1,950
*You can buy a round trip bus ticket from/to New Chitose Airport to/from Sapporo at the counter on 1st floor of New Chitose Airport
*Round trip bus ticket from/to Sapporo to/from Asahikawa is JPY 3,860
*You can buy the round trip bus ticket from/to Sapporo to/from Asahikawa at the bus terminal in Sapporo station

Plan E – Updated in Aug 2018

Direct bus from New Chitose Airport to Asahikawa

The direct bus has been operated the route from New Chitose airport to Asahikawa since Apr 2018 according to official website of Hokuto Kotsu, a major Hokkaido bus company.
Total trip time: Approximately 2h 50min
Total ticket price: JPY 3,500
Four times in a day

*Round trip bus ticket is JPY 6,500
*You need to buy the bus ticket through the website http://www.busnavi-hk.jp/route/taisetsu_liner.html in advance.
The wab page http://www.busnavi-hk.jp/route/taisetsu_liner.html is also introducing the time table as well as the fare details etc.

As stated above, when you go from New Chitose Airport to Asahikawa, the fastest way is Plan A that goes all the way by JR, on the other hand, the cheapest way is Plan D that uses buses from the airport to Asahikawa. Plan E, the direct bus from the airport to Asahikawa is also reasonable choice if you understand Japanese to proceed online booking offered by the local bus company. In the mean time, except the route from New Chitose airport to Sapporo by JR, each ticket by JR or bus provides special discount price for the round trip. If you already have a plan to come back to the airport from Asahikawa via same route, those discount round trip tickets are relatively much cheaper than one way ticket.
Train from the airport to Sapporo is often clouded and no available seat. If you want to secure to sit on the seat for 40 min, I recommend to use the bus for this route or pay additional fee for reserved seat for the train.

-Updated-
Inter city bus pass http://www.hokkaidox.com/en/hokkaido-bus-pass/ is available until 27 Mar 2019. This bus pass covers the routes from New Chitose airport to Sapporo and Sapporo to Asahikawa. Once you get the pass (JPY 6,000 for 3 days pass, JPY 9,000 for 5 days pass), you can reach 20 cities and more than 100 travel spots in Hokkaido by local buses.




Bullet train from Tokyo to Hokkaido

You can go to Hokkaido from Tokyo by Hokkaido Shinkansen, (Hokkaido bullet train), however, there is still under construction on its route from Shin Hakodate Hokuto, in the south part of Hokkaido to Sapporo, the biggest city in Hokkaido. In case you want to reach Sapporo by train, need to transfer the bullet train named “Hayabusa” to the limited express train at Shin Hakodate Hokuto station. *It is scheduled the route for the bullet train from Shin Hakodate Hokuto to Sapporo will be available in 2030)
It takes approximately 4 hours from Tokyo to Shin Hakodate Hokuto by bullet train. For further trip to Sapporo, it takes another 3.5 hours by the limited express train after changing trains at Shin Hakodate Hokuto station. Move from Tokyo to Sapporo by train requires more than 7.5 hours totally, which may seem not attractive for most tourists. One of good points to use train is more punctual than flight especially in winter that is possibly affected by weather condition like heavy snow. Besides, Hokkaido bullet train has started its operation since Mar 2017, and so, most people have not tried it yet. If you have chance to ride on it, it must be additional great memory on your Hokkaido trip!

Comparison between train and flight
(Tokyo to Hakodate & Tokyo to Sapporo)

<Tokyo to Hakodate>

  Flight (Air Do, ANA, JAL) Bullet Train
Time 3h 45min 4h 30min
Tokyo station to Haneda airport 35 min, Haneda airport to Hakodate airport 1h 20min, Hakodate airport to Hakodate station 20 min, Waiting time at the airports 1h 30min Tokyo station to Shin Hakodate Hokuto station 4h, Shin Hakodate Hokuto station to Hakodate station 30min
Fare JPY 8,350-36,550/One Way
(Including train fare from Tokyo station to Haneda airport and bus fare Hakodate airport to Hakodate station)
JPY 15,460-23,160 /One Way
 

<Tokyo to Sapporo>

Flight (Air Do, ANA, JAL) Bullet Train
Time 4h 12min 7h 30min
Tokyo station to Haneda airport 35 min, Haneda airport to New Chitose airport 1h 30min, New Chitose airport to Sapporo station 37 min Waiting time at the airports 1h 30min Tokyo station to Shin Hakodate Hokuto station 4h , Shin Hakodate Hokuto station to Sapporo station 3h 30min
Fare  JPY 8,510-39,510/One Way
(Including train fares from Tokyo station to Haneda and New Chitose airport to Sapporo station)
 JPY 19,010-26,560 /One Way
 

 

One day ticket for Sapporo public transportation

When you move around Sapporo city, taking public transportation such as subway, tram, bus and JR is most common way. Getting one day ticket for either Sapporo public transportation which enables unlimited rides in a whole day, you can conveniently access to major sight seeing spots, popular shopping places and any places in the city.

For subway

One-Day Ticket
It is a money-saving pass that allows unlimited rides on subway, Nanboku line, Tozai line and Toho line for the whole day in Sapporo. If you use subway on weekends, public holidays or the period from 29 Dec to 3 Jan, Donichika ticket is much cheaper than this one day pass.
Ticket price for adults: 830 yen; Children: 420 yen
Sales points: Subway ticket-vending machines, commuter pass sales offices at each subway station.

Donichika Ticket (One-day Subway Pass for Weekends and Holidays)
This is a one-day pass that can be used for the subway, Nanboku line, Tozai line and Toho line for the whole day on Saturdays, Sundays, public holidays and year-end/New Year holidays (Dec. 29 – Jan. 3) in Sapporo. If you stay in Sapporo in the weekends and use subway multiple times in a day, Donichika ticket is much reasonable than One-Day ticket.
Ticket price for adults: 520 yen; Children: 260 yen
Sales points: subway ticket-vending machines, commuter pass sales offices at each subway station.


For tram
Dosanko Pass (One-day Tram Pass for Weekends and Holidays)
This is a one-day pass that can be used for tram on Saturdays, Sundays, public holidays and year-end/New Year holidays (Dec. 29 – Jan. 3) in Sapporo.
One Dosanko Pass allows an adult and a child unlimited rides on trams for the whole day. There is no advance ticket, but you can get the ticket on the day you ride.
Ticket price: 360 yen/pass
Sales points: Tram inside, Odori station commuter Pass Sales Office

For bus
Sapporo downtown 100 Yen bus (都心内100円バス)
It is not categorized as the one day ticket, but you can move around Sapporo downtown with JPY 100 only (JPY 50 for children )by Sapporo downtown 100 Yen bus (都心内100円バス). If you move from/to Sapporo station, Odori park, Susukino area, Sapporo factory, Tanuki koji, Tokei dai (clock tower) and most tourist spots in the downtown, this bus is very convenient for you. The fare per ride is only JPY 100 as long as you move the determined area including above spots in the city.
Bus map in Japanese https://ekibus.city.sapporo.jp/100yen/busmap.html


For train

Getting train, you can reach outside of Sapporo such as Asahikawa, Furano, Otaru, Noboribestu or almost all major cities in Hokkaido. JR Hokkaido especially offers several types of one day trip package with train ticket as below.

• Biei sightseeing and farm Tomita leisure course
• Asahiyama zoo taxi plan
• Experience glass art at Otaru art base
• Choose (Otaru Sushi Avenue Package) and enjoy exquisite Sushi
• Niki fruit picking day trip package
• Noboribetsu Sekisui hot springs and lunch

–Updated–
• Ichinichi Sanpo Kippu (One day ticket to go around Sapporo and its suburbs)
Ichinichi Sanpo Kippu is sold at limited stations such as Sapporo station, Shin Sapporo station, Otaru station or some local stations except New Chitose airport station. The ticket is only available for local train or rapid train on Saturday, Sunday and any public holiday. No sales in advance. You can only use the ticket at the date of purchase. The ticket price is JPY 2,260 (JPY 1,130 for Child)

You can check more detail at JR Hokkaido’s official website http://www2.jrhokkaido.co.jp/global/pdf/e/onedaytrip2017.pdf

–Updated–