Among all the local tours that we’ve joined in Hokkaido, this one checked all the boxes for a good time – organized with ample time for each attraction, buffet lunch included, clean and comfortable coach to sit on, bilingual tour guide and sufficient toilet breaks (important for kids LOL). The tour covers 3 famous attractions – Asahiyama Zoo, Shirogane Blue Pond and Shirahige Falls, perfect for those who don’t drive. This is also one of the most popular tours on Klook. Read on and you’ll soon know why. 😀
Hokkaido Summer Free and Easy Vacation (Series of Posts)
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 ⬅ You are here!
Firstly, the meet-up location is conveniently located at Sapporo TV Tower. It’s very easy to find – I’m sure everyone in Sapporo knows where the TV Tower is! Hahah! The meet-up time is 8:10am, 10 mins before the scheduled departure time. In winter, I know that the tour departs slightly earlier so that tourists can catch the first session of 🐧 penguin parade.
The journey from Sapporo to Asahiyama Zoo took 2 hours (inclusive of a 15 mins break at Sanagawa service area). The seats were comfortable with plenty of legroom. You’ll know it’s very comfortable when your little one dozed off so easily. Okay, I admit! I also fell asleep before the tour guide managed to complete his introduction LOL. 🤣
Our tour guide is Joe (from Hong Kong). If you’ve read the reviews on Klook, you’ll know that tourists sang praises of him. He is bilingual and speaks in Chinese and English fluently. During the journey, he shared a lot of useful tips in buying food and goods in Hokkaido. He’s also very professional, friendly and able to handle the tour well. I’m SO impressed at how timely the tour was conducted in accordance to its itinerary.
We arrived at Asahiyama Zoo at 10:30am and were given 2 hours to explore the zoo. This zoo has one of the highest number of visitors among all the zoos in Japan (approx. 3 million visitors every year‼). It’s particularly famous for penguin parade in winter. Of course, there isn’t any penguin parade in summer. But if you’re keen to see one in summer, you can visit Noboribetsu Marine Park Nixe (it has penguin parade all year round).
Much to my surprise, Asahiyama Zoo isn’t very big. Singapore Zoo is possibly 2 times larger in size. Therefore, 2 hours are just nice for us to see the entire zoo without rushing. What I like best about the zoo is that it allows you to see the animals up-close. You can even see them at eye levels through windows and bubble domes. 😍
As I’ve mentioned, penguins are a huge draw for visitors to this zoo. You can walk through underwater tunnels to see them swimming above you. Edison had a fun time taking pictures of these cute little penguins. Children’s Farm is another star attraction here. Children can touch and feed farm animals like sheep, rabbits and ducks with their hands.
If you don’t want to join a tour and are not driving, a day trip to Asahiyama Zoo from Sapporo is quite doable. You can take the JR train from Sapporo Station to Asahikawa Station (~80 mins) and then a bus from Asahikawa Station to the zoo (~40 mins). On certain dates, you can take the special Asahikawa Zoo express trains from Sapporo to Asahikawa that are decorated in a zoo theme with stuffed animals. I’m sure it’s gonna be fun! 😃
Kamifurano Herb Hill
Just a short distance from the zoo, we had our buffet lunch at Kamifurano Herb Hill. The restaurant was quite crowded with tourist. There is a section of Japanese food including Genghis Khan lamb dish, a salad bar with fresh vegetables, a section for international food, as well as a section for drinks. The food variety is good, but I wouldn’t say that it’s very delicious.
Lunch time was 60 mins. After we had our lunch, we bought the Yubari melon and lavender ice-cream while waiting for our departure time. Herb Hill Furano Original Cosmetics products are sold exclusively here (you can’t buy them anywhere else in Hokkaido). The lavender used in these products is a specialty product of Furano. I heard that their Horse Oil Skin Care is very famous and highly effective. Besides cosmetics, you can also buy other lavender products such as lavender pillow and fragrances.
Shirogane Blue Pond
Do you know that Blue Pond is actually man-made⁉ I know that many people do not expect this, so do I. It’s also not intentional. The Blue Pond is the result of works on the Biei River after the 1988 eruption of Mount Tokachi to protect the town of Biei from volcanic mudflows. The colour is thought to be resulted from the accidental presence of colloidal aluminium hydroxide in the water.
Over the years, it has attracted many nature lovers for its blue hue and tranquility. It was made famous internationally by photographer Kent Shirashi when his photo of the pond (taken in winter) was incorporated as a wallpaper for all Apple Mac products in 2012. If you’re a Mac user, you might have seen it. If not, you can visit this website for more pictures of Blue Pond in different seasons taken by Kent. I was totally awed by its beauty! So dreamy, so mystical, I can’t believe this pond is real! 😍💕
We were SO ecstatic upon seeing the pond. You know, it’s like a beautiful painting that unfolds before your eyes! The beautiful blue hues of water with bare trees sticking out everywhere and against a backdrop of lush greenery. The pond is quite small with a dedicated walkway and lots of guard rails for safety reasons. The whole area was packed with visitors, it’s quite a challenge to take a good picture without being photo-bombed.
In winter, the pond is frozen and all-white. I heard that there will be a light-up at night too. I can imagine how beautiful it will be in winter, but I can’t possibly imagine how cold it might be. Hahah!
Our next stop is the Shirahige Falls, which is about 5 mins away from the Blue Pond. The waterfall can only be viewed from a bridge above the it. There is no entrance to the waterfall itself.
What’s special about it? The waterfall water tinged with blue runs down the gaps in the rocks of the cliff in many small streams resembling a white beard, meaning Shirahige. Hence, the name was coined Shirahige Waterfalls (White Beard).
After this, we boarded our bus for another two hours road trip back to Sapporo with a 15 mins toilet break in-between. We reached Sapporo at 7pm, just in-time for dinner. 😃
All in all, I feel that this tour is perfect for those who don’t drive and want to visit a few places in one day, particularly the Asahiyama Zoo. It’s also reasonably-priced at $81 per adult and $58.75 per child inclusive of bus fee, tour guide, buffet lunch and zoo entrance ticket. I’d highly recommend it! 👍 You can book this tour on KLOOK.