Hokkaido has been a very popular travel destination of Japan which makes me very happy.
As my father studied in Sapporo, he was the one thatQ influenced me to live in this beautiful island that Japan is lucky to have.
Home to good dry weather in the summer and harsh cold winter with lots of powdersnow, I am more than confident that it will continue to attract more people to make a visit.
But Hokkaido is one of the only islands that you should travel by car. Today I want to explain why.
Why travel by car, not train?
Hokkaido is huge! When you want to travel the major cities like Sapporo, Otaru and Asahikawa, traveling by train is no issue.
But the real perks of the island lies in the small villages.
If you have been to Niseko, you probably already know that the transport is not very convenient.
From the high demand, coach and bus services are available in peak winter season, but throughout the year there still isn’t enough demand for the transport companies to operate in the other seasons.
Bus trip is the easiest answer
The easiest way out will be taking a bus tour around Hokkaido.
They will cover the major highlights of the island, and you will realize from the long travel time that Hokkaido is quite big.
If you don’t mind touring around with other travelors and the fixed schedule of where to go, this will definitely be the easy way out.
Tabiplusone provides multilingual bus trips of the highlights of Hokkaido.
Car trip is our best answer
What we recommend is hiring your own car.
You can plan your trip the way you want to, and will be, of course, very flexible the way you like the trip to be.
East Hokkaido for example, is very famous for its seafoodseafood.
There is an area Notsuke, famous for its hotate scallops, or Akkeshi, one of the most famous oyster town in Japan.
Although the best oysters are fished from December to February, Akkeshi is also the only place that oysters are fished and shipped the whole year.
I really like to stop my car to take pictures of the eyecatching views and wild animals that pass by on the roads.
There are many restaurants that are in an isolated location in bast nature that to get there, you need to hire your own car.
Times Car rental/share does an excellent job renting out cars that fits your needs.
Times is our biggest car parking vendor as well, and each parking is starting to have a shared car that you can hire from 15 minutes.
The service is already available in Chitose airport, Sapporo and other big cities in Hokkaido.
Niseko area doesn’t have a parking station yet, but I think there will be a hotel that will tie up with Times to build it.
Kiroro Resort in between Otaru and Niseko was one of the first resorts to set it up.
Transport is a huge issue in Niseko and usually booked up fully during peak winter seasons.
It will be very smart to ask Times to set up the car share facility in the parking of the accomodations, so I am sure that this will be done in the near future.
Equipments that will help
I myself have a limited budget and usually travel alone, so I sleep in my car.
What I carry in my car:
- pocket wifi
- sleeping bag
- mosquito net
This makes my car a moving office, thus helping me to clear my mind and to give me good ideas.
I usually work at home, so sometimes I just hop in my car when I do not have important meetings and travel while I also work in my car.
Of course, you have plenty of hotels/ guesthouses to choose from of you need a proper space to sleep.
Hokkaido has very affordable places to stay from around 20 USD.
Many camping grounds are available if you like outdoors.
Useful facilities to use
Unlike the other provinces, Hokkaido has so much land that you never pay for parking.
I usually park in convenience stores and road stations where washroom is available 24 hours.
I hit a sento (public bath,) use the gym, or go for day onsens at hotels for showering and taking baths.
This allows me to travel longer periods with more budget to use on good food that Hokkaido offers.
We will write in description of the useful facilities to use in other articles.
Here is one about convenience stores in Japan.
We hope the information helps! Please don’t hesitate to contact us to know more!