Hokkaido is a very large island. So for a short trip like a week, we recommend to limit to one or two areas to visit. Central Hokkaido such as Sapporo, Otaru and Noboribetsu (hot spring area) is ideal for first timers. We chose to fly in to Sapporo and fly out from Hakodate because we do not want to take a 3.5 hour train back to Sapporo. We saved a lot of time this way.
The best season to visit is during summer and winter. Hokkaido is famous for it’s lavender farms, flower fields, melons and uni (sea urchin) during summer. Places such as Biei and Furano is popular during summer. During winter, there are many attractive activities such as the events related to snow and ice, various kinds of snow sports, sightseeing for drift ice, and so on. Also most importantly, Hokkaido experiences a decent amount of powder snowfall every winter, turning it into a beautiful winter wonderland. Places like Eastern Hokkaido, Niseko and Furano are some of the popular winter destinations. Hakodate, Sapporo and Otaru is ideal to visit for all four seasons.
Some of the flight options available from Kuala Lumpur (based on our own research, feel free to let us know if there are any other options):
1) Chartered Direct Flight (by tour agencies in Malaysia)
Flying Hours: 7.5 hours
Cost: average tour price RM 6,000 to RM 8,000
2) Korean Air: KLIA – SEOUL – SAPPORO
Flying Hours: >10 hours, 2-3 hours transit
Cost: RM 2900
3) JAL/ANA: KL – TOKYO – SAPPORO (
Flying Hours: > 10 hours, 2-3 hours transit
Cost: RM 3000-RM 4000
4) Air Asia to Tokyo, Japanese Budget Airline to Sapporo/Hakodate, etc
Flying Hours: 7 hours + 1.5 hours, transit time unknown
Cost: RM 1500 (assuming RM 1200 for Air Asia and RM 300 for Japanese Budget Airlines) 5) Air Asia to Tokyo, Shinkansen+Limited Express/Sleeper Train to Sapporo/Hakodate, etc
Traveling Hours: 7 hours + 6 to 16 hours, transit time unknown
Cost: RM 1800 (assuming RM 1200 for Air Asia and RM 600 for return train ticket) 6) Air Asia to Taipei, Eva Air/China Airlines/Transasia to Sapporo/Hakodate, etc
Flying Hours: 4.5 hours + 3 hours, transit time unknown
Cost: RM 2600 (assuming RM 600 for Air Asia and RM 2000 for Taiwanese Airlines)
Since most of our readers are more interested in a budget and free & east trip to Hokkaido, I guess I will omit point 1, 2 and 3. Air Asia flies direct to Sapporo, so it is the best and cheapest way to travel to Sapporo.
I was told that most locals love taking trains to Hokkaido, as the scenery along the way is just breathtaking. So i will suggest going to Hakodate, and then coming back from Sapporo.
From Tokyo to Hakodate/Sapporo:
1) Take the JR Tohoku Shinkansen from Tokyo to Shin-Aomori Station (3.5 hours). Then, take the JR Hakucho limited express to Hakodate (2 hours) and finally the JR Hokuto limited express to Sapporo (3.5 hours). The entire one way trip costs around 24,000 yen and takes around ten hours. It is fully covered by the Japan Rail Pass. Note that seat reservations are mandatory on Hayabusa trains between Tokyo and Shin-Aomori. More information here.
**It is expected that Tokyo-Hakodate travel times will average 4 hours when the new segment to Shin-Hakodate opens in end 2015.
2) A popular way to reach Hakodate is by overnight sleeper train. The Hokutosei (北斗星) sleeper train departs daily from Ueno Station in Tokyo. The ride to Hakodate takes 11 1/2 hours. The Cassiopeia (カシオペア) sleeper train also runs from Ueno to Hakodate a few times a week, but its cabins are more expensive than the Hokutosei. Both trains eventually continue to Sapporo (16 hours).
**This train will be discontinued on March 2015. It will be super difficult to book for this train.
I hope this clarifies!