Japan Travel

Hokkaido Trip Day 1: Singapore to Sapporo via Thai Airways, Check-in Hakodate Kokusai Hotel

Hello everyone! I’m back! 😀 This blog has been silent for way too long. But fret not, as long as I travel, there will be new blog posts after I return from my trip. My first post will be on our flight from Singapore to Sapporo via Thai Airways.

Hokkaido Summer Free and Easy Vacation (Series of Posts)

Day 1:  Singapore to Sapporo via Thai Airways, Check-in Hakodate Kokusai HotelYou are here!

Day 2:  Mount Hakodate, Morning Market, Fort Goryokaku

Day 3:  Hotel Mahoroba – A Must for Onsen Enthusiasts

Day 4:  Noboribetsu Marine Park Nixe, Jigokudani (Hell Valley)

Day 5 & 6:  Strawberry Picking at Jozankei Farm, Mount Moiwa, Asahi Beer Brewery

Day 7:  Lake Shikotsu, Lake Toya, Usuzan Ropeway, Mount Showa-Shinzan

Day 8:  Farm Tomita, New Furano Prince Hotel, Ningle Terrace, Shikisaino-Oka

Day 9:  Asahiyama Zoo, Shirogane Blue Pond, Shirahige Falls

I booked our flight tickets 7 months ahead of our trip during the Thai Airways Advance Purchase Promo and managed to snag a good price of $1637 for 3 pax ($545 per person). The usual price is typically $800 and above for a return trip. So, in my opinion, Thai Airways is a good choice if you don’t mind a short layover in Bangkok. 😊

Singapore to Sapporo via Thai Airways Flight Details:

Singapore to Sapporo:
Singapore -> Bangkok via TG 410
20:50 – 22:10 (Duration: 2 hours 20 min)
Transit 1 hour 35 min
Bangkok -> Sapporo via TG 670
23:45 – 08:30 (Duration: 6 hours 45 min)

Sapporo to Bangkok:
Sapporo -> Bangkok via TG 671
10:30 – 15:30 (Duration: 7 hours)
Transit 4 hours 10 min
Bangkok -> Singapore via TG 401
19:40 – 21:55 (Duration: 2 hours 15 min)

Taking a red-eye flight to Sapporo was indeed tiring. Thankfully, the layover in Bangkok was short. Our checked baggage was automatically transferred to the next flight. Since we didn’t have to go through immigration, 1.5 hours are more than enough time for us to walk to the next gate.

This was my first time flying with Thai Airways. As I’ve expected, their cabin crew are top notch. Onboard seats are fairly comfortable. With over 100 movie options in English, Thai and other languages, alongside TV, music and games, there’s bound to be something for everyone. 👍

Soon after take-off, we were served drinks. Dinner was served next. On our second flight from Bangkok to Sapporo, it was already midnight. Our flight was delayed by an hour due to hydraulic problems when all the passengers were already seated on the plane.

After take-off, we were served light refreshments. We went to sleep when the lights were dimmed. At about 6am, we woke up for breakfast. The cabin crew distributed hot towels for us to freshen up before serving breakfast. Amenity kit (tooth paste, tooth brush) was not provided. Luckily, I packed my own. Singapore Airlines is perhaps one of the few that offers amenity kit in Economy Class.

Pictured below are the meals we had on our return flight (Sapporo – Bangkok – Singapore). In general, the inflight meals were quite delicious. The buns were warm and soft. As a full-service airline, the usual range of soft drinks, juices and alcohol are available on board free-of-charge.

Thai Airways Inflight Meal
Roast Chicken Salad with Papaya, Classic Chicken Pa-naeng Style with Stir-fried Kailan and Steamed Jasmine Rice, Coffee scented Panna Cotta
Thai Airways Inflight Meal
Potato Salad, Udon Noodles, Grilled Salmon with Vegetables and Steamed Rice, Tiramisu

We arrived at New Chitose Airport at 9:45am (approx. 1 hr 15 mins late). 😓 We were panicking because we had to clear the immigration, collect our baggage and walk from the international to domestic terminal – all in LESS than an hour – to catch our 11am flight to Hakodate.

Thankfully, the immigration and the entire airport (in general) were pleasantly uncrowded. I recalled our trip in Dec 2018, the airport was SO crowded that it took us more than an hour to clear the immigration. And so, we made it in less than an hour this time! 😃

During our itinerary planning, we considered 3 options to travel from New Chitose Airport to Hakodate: 1) self-drive, 2) take a JR train and 3) take a domestic flight. The first option is undesirable, I don’t think we should drive long-distance after a red-eye flight. An express JR train takes 3h 18mins, but a domestic flight takes just 35 mins. You may be surprised that the latter is much cheaper too. Thus, it was a no-brainer decision to take a domestic flight.

ANA domestic flight
ANA domestic flight at Hakodate Airport

The ANA domestic flight from Sapporo to Hakodate was a small plane with propeller engines. It has comfortable seats in a 2×2 configuration. The flight time is only 35mins, and we reached Hakodate airport just before noon.

Hakodate Airport is located 7.5 km away from Hakodate Station, which is considered the city center. There is no JR train service to and from the airport. The easiest and most cost-effective way to get to the city center is by airport shuttle bus. The first bus starts from 8am and run every 15 – 20 mins depending on the hours of the day.

You may refer to the bus schedule on the airport website or bus operator website. Ticket is priced at 450 yen for adult (half price for child). The bus ride is short and comfortable, you can put your luggage at the trunk area underneath the bus. It takes about 20 mins to reach Hakodate JR station.

We had initially booked Four Points by Sheraton Hakodate due to its superb location (just outside Hakodate JR station). Unfortunately, it doesn’t have a Triple Room. Hence, we cancelled it and re-booked Hakodate Kokusai Hotel. Initially, I was quite uninterested in this hotel as it’s a bit far from the JR station. It was only after I checked-in, that I found myself appreciating it better.

Hakodate Kokusai Hotel is 700m away from the JR station (~8 mins walk). The hotel has recently undergone a renovation and expansion with an onsen added too. It is a huge hotel with 3 buildings. The Main Tower, where the reception is located, was newly constructed in Dec 2018. The East Wing, apparently the oldest, has been re-modelled and renovated in Sep 2018 and it offers a view of Hakodate City. The West Wing, on the other hand, offers a coastal view.

Hakodate Kokusai Hotel
Hakodate Kokusai Hotel
Hakodate Kokusai Hotel
Japanese Family Room in the East Wing
Hakodate Kokusai Hotel
Shower room with bathtub

We stayed in a Japanese Family Room in the East Wing (average nightly rate is S$400 including breakfast). This is a pure Japanese-style room with 3 beds on Ryukyu tatami mat. An additional futon bed can be added too, hence it’s perfect for a family of 3 or 4. The room size is 35 m2, it comes with a bathtub, humidifier and coffee machine. In general, the room is very clean and spacious.

Hakodate Kokusai Hotel is famous for its seafood corner at breakfast offering all-you-can-eat delicacies from the seas of Hokkaido. It has a great variety of Japanese and Western food too. All in all, we truly enjoyed our 2 nights stay at Hakodate Kokusai Hotel. 😀

Hakodate Kokusai Hotel Breakfast
Hakodate Kokusai Hotel Breakfast | Make your own seafood rice bowl

More about this hotel and the must-visit attractions in Hakodate in my next post. Please stay tuned!

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