Travel Guide for Hokkaido

Travel Guide for Hokkaido

Personalized for these inputs:

  • Destination: Hokkaido, Japan
  • Trip length: 5 days
  • Trip dates: None
  • Travel style: family friendly
  • Budget: $$
  • Accommodation: hotel, apartment or house, villa
  • Activities: arts and culture, family activities, festivals and events, gastronomy, outdoor adventures, sightseeing and tours
Picture of Hokkaido, Japan

Key Facts

  • location: Hokkaido, Japan
  • currency: Japanese Yen (JPY)
  • religion: Shintoism
  • population: 5,320,000
  • language: Japanese
  • electricity: 100V, 50Hz, Type A and B plugs?
  • time zone: JST (UTC+9)
  • country code: +81
  • internet access: High-speed internet widely available
  • climate: Temperate Oceanic

Useful Phrases

Language: Japanese
    hello
    こんにちは (kon-nee-chee-wah)
    goodbye
    さようなら (sa-yo-na-ra)
    yes
    はい (hai)
    no
    いいえ (ee-eh)
    how much
    これはいくらですか? (ko-re wa i-ku-ra des ka)
    please
    お願いします (oh-neh-gai-shee-mahs)
    thank you
    ありがとうございます (ah-ree-gah-toh goh-zai-mahs)
    excuse me
    すみません (su-mi-ma-sen)

Introduction

Welcome to Hokkaido, Japan's northern gem, renowned for its natural beauty, delicious food, and warm hospitality. Hokkaido boasts a rich history shaped by indigenous Ainu and Japanese influences. The local culture offers a mix of traditional and modern experiences, perfect for families looking to explore a unique destination on an average budget.

From vibrant festivals and outdoor adventures in stunning national parks to relaxing hot springs and mouthwatering local cuisine, Hokkaido promises unforgettable memories for travelers of all ages. Dive into Hokkaido's charm and create cherished family moments in this enchanting part of Japan.

Getting There

To reach Hokkaido, flying into New Chitose Airport serves as the main gateway. Direct flights are available from major cities like Tokyo and Osaka.

Families can use Japan Rail Pass for a scenic train journey via the Seikan Tunnel or take budget-friendly buses. Traveling by sea on a ferry from cities like Aomori is also an option, but this mode can be weather-dependent, especially during winter due to sea ice conditions.

Consider using public transportation for ease and cost-effectiveness.

Climate and Best Time to Visit

Hokkaido experiences four distinct seasons: spring, summer, autumn, and winter. Spring (March to May) brings cherry blossoms and mild weather. Summer (June to August) is pleasant with vibrant green landscapes. Autumn (September to November) displays stunning fall foliage. Winter (December to February) offers snowy landscapes, ideal for winter sports.

The best times to visit Hokkaido are during spring and autumn when the weather is comfortable, the landscapes are picturesque, and there are fewer crowds. It's best to avoid visiting during the peak of winter, especially if you're not a fan of cold weather and heavy snow.

Itinerary

Day 1

Experience Hokkaido's rich cultural heritage through arts and immersive cultural activities.

  • Visit Hakodate Morning Market

    Explore the vibrant Hakodate Morning Market where you can sample fresh seafood and local produce. Engage with friendly vendors and immerse yourself in the bustling market atmosphere.
  • Attend Sapporo Snow Festival

    Experience the magical Sapporo Snow Festival, one of Japan's largest winter events. Marvel at intricate ice sculptures, enjoy snow activities, and indulge in delicious local treats like hot soups and grilled seafood.
  • Visit Otaru Music Box Museum

    Discover the enchanting Otaru Music Box Museum, a paradise for music lovers and collectors. Explore a wide array of beautifully crafted music boxes and unique souvenirs, and even create your own music box.













Day 2

Enjoy a day filled with family-friendly activities and attractions in Hokkaido.

  • Visit Asahiyama Zoo

    Embark on a memorable journey to Asahiyama Zoo, known for its innovative enclosures that offer up-close encounters with various animals. Watch the famous penguin parade and learn about wildlife conservation efforts.
  • Explore Noboribetsu Bear Park

    Immerse yourself in nature at Noboribetsu Bear Park where you can observe adorable bears in their natural habitat. Enjoy educational shows, feeding sessions, and stunning views of the surrounding mountains.
  • Discover Shikotsu-Toya National Park

    Experience the unparalleled beauty of Shikotsu-Toya National Park, home to crystal-clear lakes, volcanic peaks, and lush forests. Take a relaxing boat ride, hike nature trails, and admire the breathtaking scenery.













Day 3

Immerse yourself in the vibrant festivals and events of Hokkaido while exploring local traditions.

  • Participate in Otaru Snow Light Path Festival

    Join the magical Otaru Snow Light Path Festival, where the historic canal and streets glow with thousands of dazzling snow candles and lanterns. Experience traditional performances, shop for handmade crafts, and savor local winter delicacies.
  • Attend Furano Lavender Festival

    Delight your senses at the Furano Lavender Festival, a spectacular celebration of Hokkaido's iconic lavender fields. Enjoy live music, floral exhibitions, lavender-themed treats, and picturesque views of the blooming fields.
  • Explore Jozankei Onsen Autumn Festival

    Immerse yourself in the vibrant Jozankei Onsen Autumn Festival, where you can witness traditional dance performances, enjoy hot spring foot baths, sample local delicacies, and shop for handmade crafts in a picturesque setting.













Day 4

Indulge in Hokkaido's gastronomic delights with a culinary adventure and tasting tour.

  • Enjoy Hokkaido Ramen at Ramen Yokocho

    Savor the iconic Hokkaido ramen at Ramen Yokocho, a bustling alley in Sapporo known for its diverse ramen stalls. Taste different varieties of rich broth, savory toppings, and handmade noodles, and immerse yourself in the unique ramen culture of Hokkaido.
  • Taste Fresh Seafood at Nijo Market

    Embark on a culinary adventure at Nijo Market, a seafood lover's paradise in Sapporo. Explore the market's stalls offering an array of fresh seafood delicacies such as uni, king crab, and scallops. Engage with local vendors and sample Hokkaido's coastal bounty.
  • Visit Ishiya Chocolate Factory

    Indulge your sweet tooth at Ishiya Chocolate Factory, renowned for its Shiroi Koibito cookies. Take a guided tour to learn about chocolate production, decorate your own cookies, and explore the charming European-style architecture and lush gardens.













Day 5

Embark on thrilling outdoor adventures and scenic tours to discover Hokkaido's natural beauty.

  • Explore Lake Toya and Usu Volcano

    Embark on a scenic tour to Lake Toya and Usu Volcano, marveling at the picturesque caldera lake and the active volcano. Take a boat cruise on the serene lake, hike around the volcanic crater, and enjoy panoramic views of Hokkaido's natural wonders.
  • Hike the Daisetsuzan National Park

    Immerse yourself in the rugged beauty of Daisetsuzan National Park, Hokkaido's largest national park. Trek through mountain trails surrounded by pristine wilderness, spot diverse wildlife, and admire stunning alpine landscapes and waterfalls.
  • Visit Shikaribetsu Lake Kotan

    Experience the enchanting ice village of Shikaribetsu Lake Kotan during winter. Explore igloos, ice sculptures, and charming bars made of ice. Engage in activities like ice fishing and snowmobiling amidst the serene winter landscape.













Accommodations

Hokkaido offers a range of accommodation options suitable for family-friendly trips. In Sapporo, consider staying at the Centrair Hotel for a comfortable hotel experience or book an apartment through Airbnb for a more homely feel.

For a touch of luxury, look into Hoshino Resorts TOMAMU-The Tower or Niseko Village for a memorable stay amidst the scenic beauty of Hokkaido. Booking platforms like Booking.

com and Agoda often have good deals on family-friendly accommodations in Hokkaido. In areas like Otaru and Hakodate, waterfront villas like Nishiki-Tei offer a peaceful and charming escape for families.

Food and Drink

Hokkaido, Japan, offers a delectable range of local cuisine, including fresh seafood, savory soups like miso ramen, and dairy products like rich butter and creamy soft-serves. Don't miss trying Hokkaido's famous Jingisukan (grilled lamb) and sweet corn.

For family-friendly dining, Sapporo Ramen Republic in Sapporo offers a variety of ramen shops in one location. Otaru Taishou Roman in Otaru serves delicious seafood dishes in a charming setting. Tuck into local street food at Nijo Market in Sapporo, perfect for a quick and budget-friendly bite.

In Hokkaido, tipping is not customary, as service charges are included in the bill. Be mindful of seasonal specialties like lavender ice cream in Furano during summer and hot pot dishes in winter. Enjoy food-related cultural activities like making your own soba noodles or trying your hand at sushi-making classes.

Sushi

Sushi

Sushi is a famous Japanese dish consisting of vinegared rice topped with various ingredients, such as fresh fish, seafood, and vegetables. It is often served with soy sauce, wasabi, and pickled ginger, and is celebrated for its delicate flavors and artistic presentation.

Ramen

Ramen

Ramen is a beloved noodle soup dish in Japan, featuring Chinese-style wheat noodles served in a flavorful broth, often accompanied by various toppings such as sliced pork, soft-boiled eggs, nori, and green onions. Each region in Japan has its own unique ramen style, making it a diverse and cherished culinary experience.

Tempura

Tempura

Tempura is a delicious Japanese dish consisting of lightly battered and deep-fried seafood and vegetables. The batter is made from flour, water, and sometimes egg, resulting in a crispy and light texture. Tempura is often served with dipping sauce and grated daikon radish, offering a delightful blend of flavors and textures.

Gyoza

Gyoza

Gyoza are savory Japanese dumplings filled with a mixture of ground meat, vegetables, and seasonings. They are typically pan-fried to achieve a crispy texture on the bottom, then steamed to cook the filling. Gyoza are commonly served with a dipping sauce made from soy sauce, rice vinegar, and chili oil, making them a popular and satisfying snack or appetizer.

Yakitori

Yakitori

Yakitori refers to skewered and grilled chicken, popularly enjoyed as a casual and flavorful food. The bite-sized pieces of chicken are seasoned with a savory-sweet sauce and grilled to perfection, resulting in juicy, tender, and aromatic skewers. Yakitori is often served with a side of pickles, making it a delicious and popular choice for izakaya dining.

Attractions and Activities

Hokkaido, Japan, offers a diverse range of attractions for families on a budget. Experience the colorful Sapporo Snow Festival, a winter wonderland with stunning ice sculptures. Explore the historic Otaru Canal lined with Victorian street lamps and quaint shops.

Delight in Hokkaido's gastronomy by visiting Nijo Market for fresh seafood and trying local favorites like Jingisukan (grilled mutton). Enjoy outdoor adventures at Shikotsu-Toya National Park, perfect for hiking and boat tours. Discover Ainu culture at the Shiraoi Ainu Museum and Village, showcasing traditional crafts and dances.

Off-the-Beaten-Path Experiences

Embark on a thrilling icebreaker cruise in Hokkaido's drift ice near Abashiri. Experience a mesmerizing night sky at the Chitose Airport Observatory, known for its stargazing events. Explore the remote Shiretoko Peninsula for wildlife encounters and breathtaking landscapes.