Japan Travel

Trip Report: Hokkaido Dec’18 10D9N Winter DIY Itinerary

Konichiwa, peeps! 🙂 As you might already know, I just got back from my Hokkaido winter vacation. I have ALWAYS wanted to visit Hokkaido, and I’m super glad that I made it happen this time. My friends often tell me that once you visit Hokkaido, you’ll definitely be back very soon. Yup, I agreed wholeheartedly LOL. Hokkaido has so much to offer – best powder snow, great food, friendly people, breathtaking sceneries as well as fascinating Japanese culture.

Although Hokkaido is mainly famous for its powder snow and ski resorts, the island is in fact beautiful in all seasons. In Spring, there are cherry blossoms bloom. In Autumn, trees start to turn red and fill the island with many beautiful spots. Summer, on the other hand, is mild and cool with fields of flowers and lavender in full bloom! That being said, I aim to visit Hokkaido every season and my next trip will be in June next year 😜 (Oops! I just let the cat out of the bag LOL).

Hokkaido DIY Itinerary
Sleeping on snow is the best…

Today, I’ll be sharing my 10D9N Hokkaido Winter Itinerary with all of you. I’ll also share detailed posts on some of the areas soon, so please stay tuned.

Trip Summary

    • Travel Dates: 13 – 22 Dec 2018
    • Days Spent: 10 Days 9 Nights
    • Weather: Sapporo  3°C / -4°C, Tomamu 0°C / -7°C (Winter Season)
    • Airlines: Korean Air
    • No. of Travellers: 2 adults and 1 child
    • Places Visited: Sapporo, Otaru, Asahikawa, Tomamu
    • Hotels Stayed: Ibis Styles Sapporo (6 nights) and Hoshino Resorts Tomamu (3 nights).

Flights from Singapore to Hokkaido

First things first, flights to Hokkaido! There are various ways to fly from Singapore to Hokkaido’s New Chitose Airport, and I break them into 3 major categories:

1/ Fly direct via Singapore Airlines or Scoot

Singapore Airlines operates seasonal services to Sapporo during December and January to meet the peak winter travel season. A direct SIN-CTS flight is 7.5 hours. A quick check on Skyscanner shows that a direct flight from SIN-CTS departing on 1 Dec 2019 and returning on 15 Dec 2019 via SQ costs $1,611 per person. Scoot, on the other hand, also offers seasonal direct flight from November to February. Price wise, it’s $976 per person  for the same period.

2/ ANA or JAL with layover in Tokyo

This may be the second shortest option, but you need to change to a domestic flight when you reach Tokyo (either at Narita or Haneda airports). Personally, I dislike the hassle of collecting my luggage from the International Arrival and re-depositing them at the Domestic Departure. Hence, I wouldn’t choose this route unless there is a very good promotion, or I plan to spend a few days in Tokyo. A check on Skyscanner reveals that the price is $1,008 per person for travel period between 1 to 15 Dec 2019.

3/ Layovers in other international destinations

In this category, there are many options to choose from – Korean Air and Asiana Airlines with layover in Incheon, Cathay Pacific with layover in Hong Kong, EVA Air with layover in Taipei, China Eastern with layover in Shanghai, Thai Airways with layover in Bangkok, etc.

For this option, it’s best to plan your flight using Skyscanner. It searches for the cheapest airfares and fastest routes across 1,200 airline and travel sites. There’s also a feature that tells you exactly which dates offer the cheapest flights within the month – which is perfect if you have flexible travel dates. 🤩 You should also take into consideration the flight timings and duration of layovers.

Thai Airways is rather popular because of their frequent promotions. If you’re planning to go to Hokkaido, you should start stalking their website now LOL. For this trip, we flew on Korean Air with a one-hour layover in Incheon, and it costs us ~$1,000 per person. At the time of my booking (made six months prior to my travel date), this was the cheapest option with shortest layover.

Accommodation in Hokkaido

Hokkaido has a variety of unique accommodation ranging from ryokans (traditional Japanese styled rooms), Airbnb, resorts to hotels. Prices can differ drastically, hence it’s best to book as early as you can to get the best prices. Most of them are available for booking 6 months in advance.

I had initially planned to stay 2 nights each at Sapporo, Noboribetsu and Lake Toya, but later changed my plan. Rather than a touch-and-go at different areas, I felt that it’s easier to stay at Sapporo (as our base) and do day trips throughout. I’ll save Noboribetsu and Lake Toya for my next trip. Now that I think of it, I’m glad that I made that choice because moving around in winter with luggage full of winter gears is very tedious.

Hokkaido Winter Itinerary
Thanks to ibis for lending us a trolley so that we can move our luggage to the pick-up point across the street

When it’s snowing, it’s difficult to roll your luggage through the snow. When it’s not snowing, the ground can become very slippery when the ice starts to melt. In both conditions, winter travelling is quite challenging. Thus, I would minimize checking-in and out of hotels.

For this trip, we stayed 6 nights at ibis Styles Sapporo Hotel and 3 nights at Hoshino Resorts Tomamu. I can’t tell you how much I love both hotels. ibis Styles Sapporo Hotel is located within walking distance from Nakajima Koen subway. For the price of JPY 62,650 (average SG$130 per night), I got a Deluxe Plus King-Bed Room including breakfast for 3 people. The room size is 30 sqm which is considered big for Japan hotels. Moreover, the breakfast is very good too. I will share more about this hotel in my next post.

ibis Styles Sapporo Hotel
Deluxe Plus King-Bed Room | ibis Styles Sapporo Hotel

Our three nights stay at Hoshino Resorts Tomamu – Family Triple Room in Tower 2 – cost us JPY 149,850 (average SG$619 per night) including breakfast. The room size is 32sqm (slightly bigger than our room in ibis), it’s uniquely designed with two futons and a bunk bed, a separated living area, and shower room with bathtub. This resort is definitely THE BEST we’ve every stayed. More in my next posts. 😃

Hoshino Resorts Tomamu
Family Triple Room | Hoshino Resorts Tomamu

Our Hokkaido 10D9N Winter itinerary

Some highlights of our itinerary include: Sapporo White Illumination, seeing the penguin walk, our day trip to beautiful Otaru, snow sledding at Tomamu, Mina Mina Beach and Ice Village. There are a lot more to do in Hokkaido and 10 days are certainly not enough. Hence, we’ll be coming back in June for Noboribetsu, Lake Toya, Hakodate, Furano and Biei. Hokkaido is definitely one of those places you wouldn’t mind visiting again and again LOL.

Hokkaido Shrine
Edison at the entrance of Hokkaido Shrine
Hokkaido 10D9N Winter Itinerary

13 – 22 December 2018

DAY 1 – CHITOSE TO SAPPORO

  • Arrive at New Chitose Airport and have lunch
  • Explore Doraemon Waku Waku Sky Park, Hello Kitty Happy Flight and Royce’s Chocolate World
  • Board the airport limousine to Sapporo (1h 10mins) Accommodation at ibis Styles Sapporo Hotel

DAY 2 – SAPPORO DAY TOUR

  • Explore Hokkaido Shrine and Maruyama Park in the morning
  • Visit Sapporo TV Tower, Clock Tower, JR Observation Tower after lunch
  • Head to Shiroi Koibito Park, followed by Sapporo Beer Museum
  • Dinner at Sapporo Beer Garden

DAY 3 – SAPPORO DAY TOUR

  • Explore Nijo Fish Market in the morning
  • Shopping at Sapporo Factory, ESTA, Aurora, Pole Town, Daimaru
  • Go on Mount Moiwa Ropeway
  • Lamb dining buffet at Mount Okura

DAY 4 – SAPPORO TO OTARU

  • Take a JR to Otaru (35 mins)
  • Visit Otaru Aquarium in the morning, see penguin walk
  • Visit Otaru Canal, Music Box Museum, Glass Museum, Sakaimachi Street
  • Try out LeTAO famous cheese cake

DAY 5 – SAPPORO TO ASAHIKAWA

  • Join Asahiyama Zoo Tour by Chuo Bus

DAY 6 – SAPPORO SHOPPING

  • Last day at Sapporo
  • Shopping at Mitsui Outlet Park
  • Visit Sapporo White Illumination and German X’mas Market at night

DAY 7 – SAPPORO TO TOMAMU

  • Board the Hokkaido Resort Liner to Tomamu
  • Check-in Hoshino Resorts Tomamu

DAY 8 TO DAY 9 – TOMAMU

  • Explore Snow Sled Park, Mina Mina Beach, Kirin-no Yu, Terrace of Frost Trees, Ice Village, Chapel on the Water

DAY 10 – TOMAMU TO CHITOSE

  • Board the Hoshino Resort Liner to New Chitose Airport (2 hours)
  • Last minute shopping for snacks and souvenirs
  • Flight back home

You can view our downloadable itinerary 👉 HERE.

Cost Breakdown

  1. Flight Tickets (Korean Air): $3000
  2. Tours and transport (including airport transfers): $1000
  3. Meals and misc. expenses: $1200
  4. Accommodation: $2660
  • Ibis Styles Sapporo: $790 (average nightly rate $131 including breakfast)
  • Hoshino Resorts Tomamu: $1870 (average nightly rate $623 including breakfast)

Grand Total: $7860 (exclude shopping)

Wow! 😀 That’s a very long post. I hope that it will be useful for your own Hokkaido vacation planning. If you have any question, feel free to ask in the comment section below. I’ll be glad to help if I can. Lastly, I’m so happy to share what I’ve learnt during my trip planning and on my actual trip with all of you.

I’ll be going in-depth in my upcoming Hokkaido blog posts, so follow me on my Facebook and Instagram if you’d like to be notified when new blog posts are up!

Happy New Year, readers and thank you for staying with me through this year! 💞

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Kelvin

Hi Emily, Tried to book ur Ski Resort for Dec but was fully booked. Had to look for options now as we have children and elderly.
Did u folks sign up for basic ski course or just simple sledding in Tomamu?

Kelvin

Yup, I tried online booking via Expedia but no joy. Probably turning attention to Rusutsu which is also running out fast.

Kelvin

Hi Emily, many thanks. Able to share the direct link?

Kelvin
Kelvin

Hi Emily, thanks for your pointers. The Tower is full for our dates but I manage to book Risonare Tomamu. ?

Lydia

Hello! Ill be going Hokkaido this year from 14 Dec to 23 Dec. 4 Adults and 3 children aged 2,4 and 6. Do you self drive or do u purchase a JR Hokkaido Pass and Kitaca Card? Also, as this is my first time in Japan, my 2 bases would be in Hirafu and Sapporo. We are taking apartments as that is the only option to accomodate all of us under 1 roof. I was wondering if you would find my itinerary feasible. I just want my kids to experience snow together. Day 1 – Chitose Airport to Hirafu Day… Read more »

Mariska

Hi Emilly !

We are planning to go to Hokkaido on 29-7 dec and will continue our trip in Tokyo. As our trip is only 8 days in Hokkaido i follow your itinerary and booked Ibis style Sapporo. I am consider to spend our 2 nights out of Sapporo. Can you suggest us which area the kids will enjoy the most (travel with 4 adults and 4 children 8,8,9, and 11 yo). Buy JR pass will be cheaper or just buy transport ticket on the spot?
Thank you and awaits for your reply 🙂

Lynn Koh

Hi I will like to follow your itinerary in Hokkaido. Can I check how to book for the airport limousine to Sapporo ( Ibis Hotel ) and the Hoshino resort liner to Sapporo CTS?

Yann

Hi, great blog u have here! Like you, i also plan to do Tomamu and sapporo +day trips.
it seems like you took a day package to Asahiyama zoo?
And how do you check which bus is departing from Sapporo Hotel to Tomamu (round trip)

laugh

Hi Emily, Thanks for your interesting write up. Will be going to Hokkiado end year from 7- 17th Dec, 2A2C(10 & 14). Am following most of your itinerary for 6 days Sapporo (day trip to Otaru & Asahiyama Zoo) + 5 days Tomamu. Accommodation for both Sapporo & Tomamu already booked. For Hokkaido Resort Liner, understand there is a need to book in advance from Sappporo to Tomamu route. How about departing from Tomamu to CTS, is there a need to book in advance too or can be book via Tomamu resort? Will be catching 1400hrs flight from CTS, wondering… Read more »

laugh

Thank you for your comments, your advice definitely of great help.

Am still contemplating if to go Asahiyama Zoo or Jozankei or both.

Not sure if Penguin Parade will kick start before mid Dec otherwise, seems not very worth to spend long journey to Asahiyama zoo.

Thanks

Jasmine

Hi Emily, thanks for your detailed write-up. Am following most of your itinerary except that I’ll be going to Tomamu resort first for 3N before spending another 6N in Sapporo. May I know if there’s any reason why u book Hokkaido Resort Liner back to CTS instead of taking Hokkaido JR train?

I’m thinking of taking JR train from CTS to Tomamu Station and there will be shuttle bus to take us to Tomamu Resort. But I understand that I have to buy return tickets in advance as Tomamu Station is unmanned. Kindly advise. Thanks

Jasmine

Hi Emily, thank you for your prompt reply.. will consider your advice to book the resort liner to CTS then take limousine bus to Sapporo. Thanks.

Kuan Sheng

Hi Emily, can I ask how do we book the bus liner ticket for the bus from Hotel Mystay Premeir to Tomamu resort?