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


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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


  • Join Asahiyama Zoo Tour by Chuo Bus


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


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


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


  • 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! 💞

Recommended For You


Kelvin April 14, 2019 at 9:56 AM

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?

Emily April 14, 2019 at 11:37 AM

Hi Kelvin,
Last year, I booked in late April for stay between 19-22 Dec in Tomamu The Tower. Which accommodation are you looking at? I can’t believe it is fully booked so fast this year! We didn’t sign-up for ski course cos we wanted to try out other activities there such as sledding, snow mobile and banana boat.

Kelvin April 14, 2019 at 2:38 PM

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

Emily April 15, 2019 at 8:03 AM

Hi Kelvin,
I recommend that you book direct from their website. I did a random check this morning. The rooms are still available. You may want to check again if you are still keen. 🙂

2019/12/10 (Tue)?2019/12/13 (Fri) 3Night(s) / 3Person(s)?Adult3Person(s)
The Tower2?Family Fourth Room[The Tower]
Over 3N?Standard plan with breakfast

Kelvin April 15, 2019 at 12:41 PM

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

Kelvin April 15, 2019 at 12:45 PM
Emily April 15, 2019 at 2:13 PM

Hi Kelvin,
Yes, that’s the one. Hope that you can find a room on your travel dates. 🙂

Kelvin April 15, 2019 at 10:42 PM

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

Emily April 19, 2019 at 7:05 PM

Hi Kelvin,
Good to hear that! I’m sure you’ll enjoy yr stay. 🙂

Lydia April 23, 2019 at 8:35 AM


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 2 – Niseko
Day 3 – Hakodate
Day 4 – Noboribetsu
Day 5 – Hirafu to Sapporo
Day 6 – Otaru
Day 7 – Asahikawa
Day 8 – Sapporo
Day 9 – Sapporo

I’m open to changes and suggestions and I do not want my itinerary to be so packed.
Afterall, its a holiday and kids and snow aren’t really a good combination. haha.

Emily April 24, 2019 at 5:28 PM

Dear Lydia,
Since you’re travelling with 3 young kids, driving will be a better option. If you take the JR, you have to manage your luggage and kids. It will be stressful. With that said, driving during winter has its own challenges too – especially if you have not done it before. I recommend that you read up on the do’s and don’ts before your trip. In general, I think your itinerary is okay. Are you planning for a day trip to Asahikawa?

I took the JR during my last trip. I don’t have experience driving in winter though – so I opt for public transport.

Mariska May 2, 2019 at 11:28 AM

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 🙂

Emily May 6, 2019 at 1:26 PM

Hi Mariska,
I would suggest two nights at Hoshino Resorts Tomamu. Your kids will definitely like it. You can read my review here: https://ourlittlesmarties.com/2019/01/hoshino-resorts-tomamu-review/. For my trip, I didn’t buy the JR pass because I didn’t use it consecutively. I bought the tickets on the spot. You can use the Hyperdia to check your total cost of single trip tickets and compare with the JR pass to see which one is cheaper.

Lynn Koh June 27, 2019 at 7:40 PM

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?

Emily June 28, 2019 at 1:53 PM

Hi Lynn,
For airport limousine to Sapporo, there is no need for advance booking. You can refer to THIS LINK. You can board the bus at platform #65 just outside the international terminal. The bus fee can be found in the link too.

For Hokkaido Resort Liner, you can book HERE. You need to book in advance from their website. Hope this helps! 🙂

Shuyi October 4, 2019 at 5:49 PM

Hi Emily,

Thank you so much for the detailed post. I will be following your itinerary this dec (2 to 9). I went to the Hokkaido Resort Liner using the link that you have provided but am clueless with regard to the booking of the bus from ibis style hotel to hoshino resort, tomamu. Grateful if you can advise me.

Do u think it is advisable to go to Asashimaya zoo? Would I be able to see the penguin parade?

Thank you very much.?

Emily October 4, 2019 at 10:25 PM

Hi Shuyi,
You’re welcome. I’m glad you find this post useful. I checked the Hokkaido Resort Liner website and found THIS LINK for booking of bus from Sapporo to Tomamu. If you’re staying at ibis Styles, you need to walk to Hotel Mystays Premier Sapporo Park to board the bus. It’s just a short 3 mins walk. Hope this helps.

As for Asahiyama Zoo, I’d advise you to check their Penguin Parade start date & timing on their website before you book. If you join the Klook tour (I reviewed it HERE), you should be able to catch the first session at 11am. However, do check the zoo’s website for the latest timing as they may change.

Wish you an enjoyable trip to Hokkaido!

Shuyi October 6, 2019 at 12:12 PM

Thank you very much, Emily.

Yann July 15, 2019 at 4:52 PM

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)

Emily July 16, 2019 at 7:48 AM

Hi Yann,
I took the Chuo Bus day tour to Asahiyama Zoo. From Sapporo to Tomamu, I booked the Hokkaido Resort Liner.

laugh July 17, 2019 at 4:33 PM

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 if taking the bus departing Tomamu @ 0930hr is safe to catch the flight?
Or is better to take 0800 hr bus?

Thank you and awaiting for your precious comments.

Emily July 18, 2019 at 11:14 AM

Hello Laugh,
I recommend that you book Hokkaido Resort Liner in advance for your Tomamu -> CTS trip. Dec is peak season, there are lots of tourists at Tomamu. I took the 11:35am bus and arrived at CTS airport at 1:50pm. Bus journey is 2h 15min. My flight was at 4:50pm. If you don’t intend to do any shopping at CTS airport, then taking the 0930hr is just nice. You need to check-in once you get to the airport. If you want to do some last min shopping at the airport (buy snacks etc), then you shd take the 0800hr bus.

If you’re taking a day tour to Asahiyama Zoo from Sapporo, you can consider Klook tour. I blog about it here: https://ourlittlesmarties.com/2019/07/asahiyama-zoo-blue-pond/. This tour has a Chinese/English speaking guide. For Chuo bus, they do not have English speaking guide.

Hope this helps! Wish you a pleasant holiday in advance! 🙂

laugh July 18, 2019 at 3:02 PM

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.


Jasmine July 22, 2019 at 7:14 PM

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

Emily July 24, 2019 at 3:59 PM

Hello Jasmine,
Personally, I find that it’s easier to take Hokkaido Resort Liner than JR Train. I just need to carry my luggage onto the bus ONCE and they will go all the way to CTS. It’s fuss-free!
You are right that Tomamu Station is unmanned. I read from THIS BLOG that there is no escalator in Tomamu Station, you need to carry the luggage up and down the overhead bridge to reach the platform. Hence, I find it quite troublesome. But this post was written in 2015, I’m not sure if Tomamu Station already have an escalator by now.

Jasmine July 24, 2019 at 5:17 PM

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.

Emily July 25, 2019 at 11:30 AM

Hi Jasmine,
For my case, Tomamu was last destination before I head to CTS to take a flight back to SG. For your case, since you are going to Sapporo, you can take the Hokkaido Resort Liner from Tomamu to Sapporo (Bus # 712). However, there is only one timing (from what I see from their website now). If you take the JR train, your timing is more flexible. Sorry that I might have confused you because our routes were opposite.

Kuan Sheng August 17, 2019 at 1:38 PM

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

Emily August 19, 2019 at 8:19 AM

Hello Kuan Sheng,
I booked the bus liner ticket in advance through Hokkaido Resort Liner’s website (https://www.access-n.jp/en/). The bus goes directly from Sapporo to Ski Resorts, very convenient.

Rozita Ahmad October 12, 2019 at 8:55 AM

Hello Emily,
I’m so delighted to have bumped into your blog. I’m thinking of following your itineraries for my DIY travel to Hokkaido in this coming Dec/Jan. Thank you so much for the detailed information. Such good deeds you have done!
For now, I would like to know:
How did you get around to the places you’ve visited in your Sapporo day tour?
Likewise, how did you get around the places in Tomamu?
Did you buy any travel pass for travel in Hokkaido?

Emily October 17, 2019 at 5:23 PM

Hi Rozita,
Sorry for my late reply as I was away to Phuket. Getting around Sapporo is quite easy with subway and buses. In this post, I shared the attractions in Sapporo and how to go there. Hope this helps.

From Sapporo, I took a ski bus to Tomamu via Hokkaido Resort Liner. I didn’t buy any rail pass, I bought only single trip tickets.

Rozita Ahmad October 24, 2019 at 7:53 AM

Thank you very much Emily. I am more confident now to the DIY winter travel to Hokkaido. I have googled more and have altered the itineraries. Your information really helps. Take care and Happy Travel!

Emily October 24, 2019 at 10:45 AM

Hi Rozita,
You’re welcome. Happy planning and wishing you a Happy Holiday in advance. 🙂


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