11D10N Japan Hokkaido (Autumn / Winter)
Day 01 – HAKODATE AIRPORT – HAKODATE
at your own pace. Hakodate is a harbour city and one of the main cities on Hokkaido (Japan’s northernmost island), located at the southern tip of Hokkaido. As a harbour city opened to international trade, the influence of foreign, particularly western, culture and architecture was inevitable and Motomachi
, a neighbourhood of steep streets with Western-styled early 20th century buildings in the city centre, bears testimony to that. Looming over the town is the 334m high Mount Hakodate
. The mountain’s summit, reachable by aerial ropeway gondola
, offers spectacular views of Hakodate and its harbour. The views after sunset when the town below is lit up are by themselves worth a trip up in the evening. Not to be missed is Fort Goryokaku
, a massive star-shaped Western-style citadel that was built in the last years of the Edo Period for the defence of Hakodate against the imperialist threat posed by the Western powers. It is now a public park with over 1,000 cherry trees planted along its moats, making it one of Hokkaido’s best cherry blossom spots (in early May). Food-wise, as can be expected from a harbour city, Hakodate is well known for its delicious and fresh seafood.
Day 02 – HAKODATE – NOBORIBETSU [B]
Train from Hakodate to Noboribetsu, Hokkaido’s most famous and largest hot spring town
, offering as many as 11 different kinds of thermal waters, that are considered to be among Japan’s best and most effective. A large amount of Noboribetsu’s hot spring water comes from the spectacular Jigokudani
or “Hell Valley
” just above the resort town.
Day 03 – NOBORIBETSU – NISEKO [B]
Train from Noboribetsu to Niseko
, the most popular ski resort in Japan known for having endless tons of light powder snow. It is located near the dormant volcano of Mount Yotei (1,898m)
, often referred to as the “Mount Fuji of Hokkaido
“. Outside of winter, Niseko is just as popular a destination and in autumn, mother nature puts on a dazzling show of autumn foliage and the contrast between the sky and the spectacular display of golden colours and red leaves is certainly a delight to behold. During the winter season, beyond skiing and snowboarding, visitors of all ages can experience a host of other exhilarating activities in Niseko such as snowmobile adventures, snowshoeing, snow rafting or reindeer sledding just to name a few.
Day 04 – NISEKO – OTARU [B]
Train from Niseko to Otaru
. Otaru is a small harbour city with a pristinely preserved canal area with its numerous warehouses
and is probably the most iconic place in Otaru. Since the late 1800s, Otaru served as a major trade and fishing port and unsurprisingly it was chosen as the terminal station of Hokkaido’s first railway line that connected nearby Sapporo with a port. Numerous old warehouses and former office buildings of shipping and trading companies give Otaru’s city centre a special character reminiscent of past decades.
Day 05 – OTARU – ASAHIKAWA [B]
Train from Otaru to Asahikawa
. Asahikawa, Hokkaido’s second largest city after Sapporo, is located almost in the centre of Hokkaido, in the shadow of the magnificent Daisetsuzan Mountain Range
. Three rivers flow through Asahikawa – the Ishikari Rover, the Biei River and the Ushubetsu River. It is also the gateway for tourism to the Sounkyo Gorge
and the Furano
area. Apart from its famous zoo, Asahikawa is well known for art and furniture design. The Asahiyama Zoo
is Japan’s northernmost zoo and a major highlight of the city. Enjoy watching, sometimes almost within touching distance, polar bears, seals and penguins, just to name a few of the beautiful fauna at the zoo. Food-wise, Asahikawa’s ramen with shoyu (soya sauce) based broth is very popular with both locals and visitors and the countless ramen restaurants are a testament to that.
Day 06 – ASAHIKAWA: FURANO [B]
Not far from Asahikawa is the town of Furano
, known for its picturesque rural landscapes. The best time to visit is July and August when the lavender fields
are in full bloom. During winter, Furano turns into a popular downhill and cross-country skiing resort.
Day 07 – ASAHIKAWA: WAKKANAI / KURODAKE ROPEWAY / DAISETSUZAN / SOUNKYO ONSEN [B]
Today, you can opt to either go all the way to the northern tip of Hokkaido and therefore also Japan or head to the Daisetsuzan National Park
and ascend Mount Kudodake (1,984m)
on the Kurodake Ropeway
. For the former, train to Wakkanai
, the northernmost city in Japan
. It is a port city sandwiched between the Sea of Japan and the Sea of Okhotsk (with the exception of Hokkaido, the Sea of Okhotsk is surrounded on all sides by territory controlled or administered by Russia). 30km east of Wakkanai is Cape Soya
, the northernmost point in Hokkaido
. The cape has a stone monument in the shape of a triangular pyramid, which was built in the image of the Pole Star. On a clear day, you can see the outline of the Sakhalin Island 43km away. Cape Noshappu
, the location of the Wakkanai Lighthouse
(the tallest in Hokkaido
), is a popular site to watch the sun setting beautifully below the horizon and into the sea. For the latter (the alternative option), ascend Mount Kurodake (1,984m)
on the Kurodake Ropeway and enjoy panoramic views of the Daisetsuzan Mountain Range and the Sounkyo Gorge below.
Day 08 – ASAHIKAWA – SAPPORO [B]
Train from Asahikawa to Sapporo
, the capital of Hokkaido and Japan’s 5th largest city. Sapporo is famous for its ramen, beer, skiing and annual Sapporo Snow Festival held one week in February featuring enormous ice sculptures. Visit the famous Sapporo Beer Museum
for an insight into one of the country’s oldest and most popular beer brands. Hokkaido is in fact the birthplace of beer-making in Japan and Sapporo Beer has been brewed in Sapporo since 1877
. End the day at Sapporo Factory Shopping Mall
for some retail joy if not therapy!
Day 09 – SAPPORO [B]
Continue to enjoy the numerous delights of Sapporo. For walks, head to Odori Park
or Nakajima Park
. For shopping, there is Daimaru
at the JR Sapporo Station
and the Tanukikoji Shopping Street
(covered shopping arcade). Not far from Tanukikoji Shopping Street is the district of Susukino
– Japan’s largest entertainment district north of Tokyo. It is packed with stores, bars, restaurants, karaoke shops, pachinko parlours and red light establishments. For ramen fans, there is a narrow lane lined with shops serving Sapporo’s famous ramen with miso based broth. Sapporo is also famous for its soup curry
; in fact, Sapporo is the birthplace of soup curry.
Day 10 – SAPPORO [B]
Another day to continue enjoying all that Sapporo
has to offer.
Day 11 – SAPPORO – SAPPORO NEW CHITOSE AIRPORT [B]
Head to Sapporo New Chitose International Airport for your flight home.
Whether you prefer the above itinerary “as-is” or have it customised, if you will indicate the start/end dates of your intended travel and provide your contact details, we will get in touch with you to discuss the itinerary on a no-obligations basis on your part.