A Winter Holiday in Hokkaido with only AUD828
I would love to share my experience on how I spent only AUD 828 for a beautiful snowy winter holiday in the northernmost area in Japan which is Hokkaido. With only AUD 828, this has included the flight ticket, the accommodations, the transportation fees and also the food!
You might think that with this amount, we were staying in dormitory or hostel, but no, we were staying in a 4-star hotel and also a 3-star hotel. With this amount, we also ate delicious food throughout the trip.
Besides staying in Sapporo (the capital of Hokkaido), we also took the JR train to the cities out of Sapporo for example:
- Kamikawa – the place where we access to Daisetsuzan
- Otaru – the popular tourist destination with its beautiful canal
- Hakodate – where one of the world’s top 3 night view located at, and also the southernmost city in Hokkaido
- Noboribetsu – not only the Jigokudani, or Hell Valley, it is also the largest hot spring town in Hokkaido
If you’re only planning to visit the capital city which is Sapporo, the amount that you’re likely to spend is going to be much lesser than AUD 828.
So, Let’s get started!
The Budget Table
The Flight Ticket :
AirAsia = AUD 212 for a return ticket flying from Kuala Lumpur to Sapporo.
After adding the flight meal, insurance and also the baggage fees it was AUD 247.
The Transportation Fees in Hokkaido :
JR Hokkaido 3 Days Pass = AUD 176 (if you’re not planning to go to the cities out of Sapporo, you do not need this pass at all)
Sapporo-Otaru Welcome Pass (include a 1-day subway pass for Sapporo city that can use on a different day) = AUD 18 **Too bad, just found out that this pass had been stopped selling since April 2017.
The Accommodations :
4 nights in BEST WESTERN HOTEL FINO SAPPORO (it’s now Hotel Mystays Sapporo Station) and 1 night in HOTEL HOKKE CLUB HAKODATE
= AUD 183 ( 2 tiny size adults and 1 tiny size teenager shared a twin bedroom)
The Food :
AUD 204 for 5 days
We have eaten a few seafood meals, Ramen, Sushi and a lot of other delicious meals as well.
The Total: AUD 828
The Hokkaido Winter Itinerary
We were there at the end of November, it was very lucky for us to witness the snow during November as it is also the end of autumn, so we also witnessed the autumn colours in Hokkaido during the first few days in the trip while there is no snow at all during that few days.
Day 1: 19 November
– Flight from Kuala Lumpur to Sapporo on the late night. It was an overnight flight but I did rest well on the plane. The flight reached Sapporo around 8 am in the next morning.
Day 2: 20 November
Once we reached Sapporo, after checking into the hotel and rest for awhile, we head out to several places of interest.
– Moerenuma Park
A beautiful park with some amazing sculpture and impressive landscape. There are some random huge sculptures here in the park which I found interesting. A very relaxing place to enjoy walking and also enjoy the artistic part of the park. It is very spacious, I have taken a lot of nice pictures here without having many other tourists in the background. There are also some small hills that you can easily climb to the top and enjoy another view from there. There is also a glass pyramid inside the park where you enter into it. The best part is it is all FREE! No entrance fees required for this park. However, it is slightly far from the city area.
– Sapporo Station
The hotel we stayed in Sapporo was very near to this station. This is a huge station, there is a lot of shops and restaurants here and there are a few malls connected here and there is also a big underground shopping street here too, do not miss out the “Sapporo Ramen Republic” on the 10th floor in one of these connecting malls which called ESTA.
– Tanukikoji Shopping Arcade
Eat and shop! You can get most of the souvenirs from here too. Basically, you can find anything in this shopping street. It is about 200 stores here and almost all of them are tax-free shops. Just remember to show your passport to the cashier. There is a Don Quijote shop here too that you shouldn’t miss.
Day 3: 21 November
– Odori Park
This is where you can find the Sapporo TV Tower, and this is a park which located in the heart of Sapporo city. It is surrounded by the happening district thus you can easily find it. We walked around the park in the morning when we were heading to the market for our breakfast.
– Nijo Market
We went there to look for our breakfast, this is the place that sells fresh seafood. You can have your meal in their food stalls too. If you love sashimi, you must not miss this place.
We went there for the famous Hell Valley which also known as Jigokudani. We took the JR train from Sapporo by using our JR Hokkaido 3 days pass. This is a popular tourist spot so be prepared that the place will be packed with tourists. The smell of sulphur was bearable. There is also a popular onsen (hot spring) nearby too.
– Sapporo TV Tower
When the sky turns dark, we return to Sapporo and to witness the lights up on the TV Tower and also have a look at the beautiful decorated “Sapporo White Illumination” LED Christmas decorations in the Odori Park. The TV tower will change into different colours at some specific time. The overall environment there was awesome with some nice music playing in the background the whole night before the lights off.
Day 4: 22 November
On this day, we actually planned to go to “Noboribetsu” and the day before this day we wanted to go to Daisetsuzan but too bad the day before this day, we have missed the train to Daisetsuzan and there was no more suitable timing for the next train so we changed the plan by exchanging the day to visit these two locations.
**Note: After the changes, this route is not by far the best route anymore, if you are planning to go to the same places, you may follow our initial plan which you can go to Hakodate directly after the visit to Noboribetsu.
– Daisetsuzan, Sounkyo
This was the reason why we took the JR train to Kamikawa station. While we were on the way to the destination, that was our very first time seeing snow in Hokkaido. As the place is further north from Sapporo thus, it was snowy there. Too bad we couldn’t make it to the summit of Daisetsuzan due to the heavy snowstorm, the cable car was closed.
After our visit to Daisetsuzan, we went back to Sapporo station to transfer to another JR line to go to Hakodate. Like I mentioned earlier, this is not the best route as you will be going to north and south in one day. Well, we stayed at Hakodate for one night as planned.
Day 5: 23 November
– Hakodate Asaichi a.k.a Hakodate Morning Market
We were there to look for fresh seafood meal as our breakfast. It is basically a seafood market here, you can find many types of seafood here including those that are not commonly sold. There are also local fruits selling here as well. Great place to have a breakfast as there are many choices here. Same like Nijo market in Sapporo, you can enjoy your meal in their food stall or restaurant.
– Hello Kitty Store
Just opposite of the Hakodate Asaichi. This is a really big store full of different version and different items of Hello Kitty, some of them are the limited version which you can only found it in Hokkaido. I’m not a Hello Kitty fans but still, I enjoy exploring the store.
– Goryokaku Tower
Get the ticket to go up to the 360 degrees observation deck and you can see the famous star-shaped fort below. There is also the view of the Mt. Hakodate, the city area and also the sea. On the ground floor, you can find souvenirs store and also a cafe there.
– Lucky Pierrot
This is the famous burger chain stores that are only available in Hakodate! You can’t find it anywhere in the world or even other cities in Japan. Thus, a must try!
– Mt. Hakodate
Yes! This is the place where we witnessed one of the world’s top 3 night view! It was very cold up there on the hill during winter so be well prepared with your scarf and winter glove. If you are going there by their public transport which is the tram, you will need to walk uphill to reach their cable car station, might not be a good idea for old folks. You may want to go there by taxi if you have weak legs.
After we reached the cable car station, we bought the ticket at the counter and queued in a long line to wait for our turns to go up to the summit and enjoy the breathtaking view. So yes, this is another touristy place where you will found a huge crowd here. However, still worth a visit here!
Back to Sapporo in the late night by JR train. We went to a Japanese bar restaurant for supper and take note that most of these “Japanese bar restaurant” will charge you an extra cover charge/table charge other than your food bill. You might need to ask about that before you take a seat.
Day 6: 24 November
That morning of the day surprised us with a beautiful snowy scene in the city area once we woke up and look out from the window in our room.
– Curb Market a.k.a Sapporo Jōgai Ichiba
This is a place to look for fresh seafood again and perhaps some souvenirs. The market is much bigger than the another one which is popular in Sapporo as well which is Nijo market. This area doesn’t just sell seafood products, we also found some cookies, facial masks, chocolates and other random items in this market as well. Overall, nice place to explore interesting stuff after a breakfast.
– Hokkaido Shrine & Maruyama Koen
To access to Hokkaido Shrine, we have to pass by the beautiful Maruyama Koen in the snowy scenery. A very peaceful garden in the winter. Remember to follow the correct steps to clean your hands and mouth before entering the shrine.
– Otaru 小樽
Sadly, we only have time for the popular Otaru Canal but it is really beautiful while it snows. Due to its location which is nearer to the sea, the temperature here is always lower than Sapporo and the wind here is always stronger too. Thus, we did not spend too much time here as we were bringing old folks along so the weather was too cold for them.
– Tanukikoji Shopping Arcade & Susukino
Dinner and the last round for shopping! Yes, this was our last chance to get our shopping checklist completed before our flight in the next morning. So we went back to this long shopping street. There is a roof all over the main shopping street, so no worries about the snowy weather.
Day 7: 25 November
– New Chitose Airport
We took our flight back to Kuala Lumpur in the morning.
You might be curious on that, why must we go to the northernmost in Japan to experience the snow. For your information, the snow quality in Hokkaido is actually much different than the snow types in other places that snow. The snow in Hokkaido is famous for its powder snow quality which is light and dry.
The Airport Angels
Just before I took my flight going back to my country, I lost my mobile phone in the airport. I only aware about that when I reached the boarding gate. I immediately informed the airport staff after I realised that and search around the airport to double check if I left it somewhere. While I thought I am going to say goodbye to my mobile phone, guess what, the Japanese staff ran to me at the boarding gate with my mobile phone on his hand. I felt so heartwarming that they actually take it seriously and helped me in this case. Thanks again to the airport angels from Hokkaido, Japan. 🙂