I love Japan, to the point where I am lost for words to describe my love for Japan, or even to describe Japan itself, but one thing for sure, it should be on everyone’s bucketlist and you better believe me on this one.
Last month, I embarked on my very first encounter with a part of Japan which I have been wanting to go for so long: Hokkaido! Though it’s famous for its Winter, but I arrived just before the Summer’s about to end and Autumn is just moments ahead (and by the time this post is written they’re already in the Fall), it was a memorable trip, especially since I got the chance to share the happiness with my sister which I couldn’t be happier about, and along the trip I got SO MANY requests and questions from you guys regarding my Hokkaido trip, some I have answered through some Instagram posts and live Instagram Q&A, but I am going to make an even more detailed approach for those of you who are planning a trip to Hokkaido, hence this Hokkaido Travel Guide!
Hokkaido is a part of Japan that’s located in the Northern part of the country and the whole area’s pretty spacious for sure, and while they’re mainly known for their charming Nature scenery, I experienced quite other various charming sides of Hokkaido and this guide will cover certain areas that I visited during my days in Hokkaido, and I don’t know, but I can see future visits to Hokkaido, I really want to go back here during Winter to check out more of what they have in store.
One thing that I overheard about Japan to the point where it almost bores me is how expensive Japan is, well that could be true, but NOT that expensive! I’ve been to Japan 5 times in 2 years and stayed in fancy hotels and resorts (Westin, Ritz-Carlton you name it), and at the end of the day when I counted the cost it’s still pretty okay, but again everyone travels in different ways, not everyone is a luxury traveller, and not everyone is a budget traveller, point is there are ways to make your stay in Japan affordable and one thing for sure, you gotta do the work, wait for deals, stay in AIRBNB, go to travel fairs where they sometimes offer package bundles with cheaper deals and more.
I hope you enjoy the guide that I’ve compiled, it took a while to write as I really wanted to provide you with more details, and most importantly, I hope this guide can help you while you’re arranging that upcoming trip to Hokkaido!
Depending on where you’re travelling from or to Hokkaido, there are a few airports in Hokkaido, but the main International airport is the New Chitose Airport that’s located in Sapporo, at the beginning of my trip to Hokkaido (aka first day of arrival) I made it through Asahikawa Airport.
The other airports include: Wakkanai Airport, Mamanbetsu Airport, Nemuro Nakashibetsu Airport, and Kushiro Airport.
Japan’s currency is Japanese Yen (JPY) and by the time this post is being written (October 7th 2017), 1 JPY = IDR 121 and changing on a daily basis. Visit this website for the updates on the exhange rate. It’s important to carry Japanese Yen in Japan as most places only accepts the currency, US dollars are accepted but at very certain and niche places like hotels or some Duty Free shops.
Japanese language is largely spoken here in Japan, based on my experience coming to parts of Japan, I notice that shop staffs (well not all) can speak fluent Mandarin, but generally they (Japanese) are not the best English speakers, rest assure as I found Japanese people incredibly nice and patient in helping us and explaning stuff tho.
As one of the countries in this world with four seasons (not the hotel), Japan is blessed with constant dynamic Nature changes that’s not only beneficial for them but also for tourists like me! Fall is definitely my favorite time to visit Japan for the weather is just perfect! Spring was also breezy yet sunny, Summer is incredibly hot (up to 42 degree celcius) and in contrary to that, Winter is freezing cold.
As someone who works mobile and needs to stay in touch with clients through emails, Whatsapps or DMs, I need Internet Connection almost all the time and while internet is not the cheapest thing in Japan, but you can always find cheaper hacks! You should be able to find WiFi/Sim Card rental in the airports but specifically for WiFi rental, you HAVE TO proceed the payment with credit card (in case something unwanted like loss/stolen/broken happens) so they can store the credit card details for deposit, but anyway you can purchase the Sim Card with cash.
Nakagoryo, Furano, Hokkaido Prefecture 076-8511
Rusutsu Resort/Westin Hotel Rusutsu
Izumikawa 13 – Rusutsu, Hokkaido Prefecture 048-1711
Noboribetsu Onsen Mahoroba
5 Noboribetsuonsencho, Noboribetsu, Hokkaido Prefecture 059-0551
Sapporo being the crowded city and capital of Hokkaido makes it one of the easiest cities to get around in Hokkaido, I notice the look of the city is similar to Nagoya and train service (MRT) is available in the city so it’s really beneficial for tourists like me to get around.
I’d love to come back to Hokkaido just for the sake of exploring the food scene, but this time I’m going to recommend you guys the food that’s provided from the tour and honestly they were pretty good, somehow there’s this stereotype about bad tour food but what I had were pretty legit and different to one another.
I have to be honest here, when I looked at the itinerary I was a bit skeptical about this as the itinerary stated that we’re going to have flower food and I initially thought it’s going to be all green, all flowers, and yes that’s still half true BUT turned out the lunch at Iwamizawa Maple Lodge is one of the best lunch in this trip! The food was beautifully cooked, beautifully presented and the flavor was on point! The beef (as you can see below) was amazing and frankly I can still imagine how tender and juicy it was!
If hotels and resorts are too pricy for your budget, then AirBNB will always be the cheaper alternative. You can always filter the pricing per night and they will be looking out for ones that fit your criteria.
Drink tap water
Most restaurants/cafes in Hokkaido prepare free tap water so if you wanna save some money, stay away from the drinks and stick on tap water.
Farm Tomita is a flower field in Furano that’s best known for its Lavender blooms during spring and summer. It’s located just 20 minutes from Asahikawa Airport and 5 minutes away from Shikisai No Oka. I honestly don’t think Farm Tomita is comparable with Shikisai No Oka since both is pretty different, Shikisai No Oka is more spacious but aesthetically I found both equally beautiful in their own way, and oh, since I love soft creams, I was super fond of the Lavender and Melon soft serve that’s sold in this small stall near the farm entrance.
There are fruit farms spread all over Hokkaido but I went to the one around the Sobetsu area, just because the fruits are too good to be missed. Japanese grapes are seriously one of the freshest ones that I’ve tried, I still vividly remember the scent of the red grapes that lingered around the farm even before I actually entered the farm, for the one price that you’re paying you’ll have the chance to take as many as you can, but you can’t take them back with you (you have to finish the fruits on the spot).
The Gotcha show is located at the Tanukikoji Shopping Arcade and it’s a show that features various art performances like Soran Bushi dancing, Kimono wearing, singing, musical performances and collaborations! It was a very enjoyable one hour (and honestly I was so concentrated on the performances that it didn’t feel like one hour really), the performances were awesome and memorable, just what a way to end our night in Sapporo! If you fancy, make some time to watch the show!
Ishiya Chocolate Factory
Ishiya Chocolate Factory is a chocolate factory (more like a giant in Hokkaido as you can easily find their products all over Hokkaido) and a beautiful mini theme park in Sapporo that should be perfect for family date! Inside you can shop for their freshly produced milk and chocolate products as souvenirs (like I did), I think I’m going to make a separated post about Ishiya Chocolate Factory alone as I have more to share on an individual post.
It would be such a waste to skip the Onsen experience when in Hokkaido, particularly Noboribetsu being one of the most well known Onsen town there. Let’s keep it honest here, to experience Onsen means you have to be full-frontal naked, and if that’s a bit extreme for you, then try the famous foot onsen place called Jozankei Kokorono Sato Jozan that’s not only beautiful and serene, but hanging out here with your feet soaked in perfectly warm water with the green calming view could possibly be one of the most comforting minutes of your life.
Let’s keep it fair here, I might not be the biggest art enthusiast but that doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate the beauty of it, nor you can force everyone to understand about certain art, but my visit to Arte Piazza aka Ken Yasuda Sculpture Museum was quite a bliss, aside from the simple beautiful sculpture art, the whole area is just pretty me and my sister literally chill for 30 something minutes just enjoying the surrounding, the blue sky and took some pictures.
Shikisai No Oka
Shikisai No Oka is seriously the spot that you just can’t skip when you’re in Hokkaido, a flower park that looks like colorful carpet ‘made’ from arranged blooms! I really wished I had more time to explore the park as I was only given 15 minutes to browse and took quick pics
The view of the Lake Toya is just stunning from the Usuzan observation deck, and aside from that, you’ll experience a natural beauty from the Usuzan gondola that will take you back and forth.