|DAY 1||DAY 2||DAY 3||DAY 4||DAY 5|
|MORNING||Arrival to New Chitose Airport|
Breakfast: Baked Cheese Tart, Ebisoba Ichigen ramen
Doraemon World, Royce Chocolate World
Depart to Noboribetsu
|Breakfast @ Sekisu Tei|
Lake Toya foot bath
|Breakfast @ Green Cafe, MY Eco Lodge|
Annupuri Peak, Niseko
|Breakfast @ Smile Hotel Otaru|
Shiroi Koibito Park
|Breakfast @ convenience store
Sapporo TV Tower
Hokkaido Clock Tower
Hokkaido Government Office
|LUNCH||Onsen Ichiba||Lake Hill Farm||Milk Kobo||Seafood @ Sapporo Wholesale Market||Hanamaru Sushi @ Stellar Place|
|AFTERNOON||-Geyser in Sengen Park|
-Jigokudani (Hell Valley)
-Oyunuma Brook Natural Footbath
|Toya Sairo Observation Deck||Nikka Whisky Distillery|
Shopping @ Tanukikoji Street
|Shopping @ Sapporo Underground Station|
|TEA||Road Station Niseko View Plaza (fruits shopping)||Milkissimo Gelato
Vie de France Bakery
Starbucks Melon Frappucino
Shopping @ AEON
|Otaru Canal||Shopping @ Tanukikoji Street and Susukino||Shopping @ Donji-quote|
|DINNER||Dinner @ Sekisu Tei||Kaiseki Kutchan||Yabuhan Soba||Soup Curry Treasure||Kushidori Yakitori|
|STAY||Sekisu Tei (hot spring resort)||MY Eco Lodge||Smile Hotel Otaru||APA Hotel Sapporo-Susukino-Ekimae||APA Hotel Sapporo-Susukino-Ekimae|
|Noboribetsu (1 night)||298|
|Niseko (1 night)||150|
|Otaru (1 night)||104|
|Sapporo (2 nights)||178|
|Food & Admission||641|
The best time to experience spring season in Hokkaido is from early May to mid May. We were a tad too early (travel period: 22th – 26th April) so we only manage to catch a glimpse of sakura blooms at Sapporo downtown. Nonetheless, my family and I had a great time driving around Hokkaido. We started our journey from New Chitose Airport, spent a night at the famous onsen town Noboribetsu, visited the magnificent Lake Toya that never freeze, we even got to experience some powder snow at Niseko and soaked at an outdoor onsen with snow mountain view, drank to our heart’s content at Nikka’s Distillery, visited the romantic canal city of Otaru, had the freshest king crab ever and shopped till we drop at Sapporo. Self drive is indeed the best way to experience this huge island.
If you are planning a visit to Hokkaido during the spring season, here’s some of the best cherry blossom spots:
Matsumae-cho (Matsumae Park)
Hakodate (Goryokaku Park, Hakodate Park)
Shinhidaka-cho (Nijukken Road Cherry Blossom Trees)
Sapporo (Maruyama Park, Hokkaido Shrine, Odori Park, Hokkaido University)
Nemuro (Seiryu-ji Temple)
We manage to save quite a lot of money on transportation, because we travel in a group of 5 so car rental is definitely more worth it. We also spent a lot more on food (as usual) instead of on admission tickets or activities.
Air Asia flies direct to New Chitose Airport, Hokkaido and the flight arrives in the morning. We got to have to famous Kinotoya Baked Cheese Tart! The best milk soft serve and cookies are available for sale too.
Domestic Terminal Building 2F
Hours: 8 am to 10 pm daily
Since Air Asia flight to Kuala Lumpur departs early in the morning (9.15 a.m.), we won’t be able to explore New Chitose Airport on our last day. Hence, we took the opportunity to visit the famous Smile Road that houses the Hello Kitty shop, Royce Chocolate World and Doraemon Waku Waku Skypark.
Royce Chocolate World features features a chocolate-themed exhibition and opportunities to observe the chocolate production process through a showcase window. Opens daily from 8 am to 8 pm.
Doraemon Waku Waku Skypark is a themed amusement with different zones such as the amusement zone, kids free zone, cafe and shop. Opens daily from 10 am to 6 pm and admission cost for adults is 800 yen and 400 yen for children.
We found time to queue up for the famous ramen cooked with sweet shrimp heads too. Ebisoba Ichigen is located near to Doraemon World, but at level 3F.
Domestic Terminal Building 3F
Hours: 10 am to 9 pm
At around 11 am, we headed to the car rentals counter at the domestic terminal building on the first floor. Just inform the receptionist and they will instruct you to wait at the gate for pick up. Car-rental companies offer shuttle services between the airport and their respective offices in Chitose. The cost for 3.5 days of car rental is about RM 1000, including an English GPS and compensation coverage. We even got a free upgrade to a bigger car. Some of the car rental websites available are Toyata Rent a Car, Nissan Rent a Car, Times Car Rental and etc We use tocoo.jp as a comparison site and ended up with Orix Car Rental company.
Driving in Hokkaido is relatively easier because the roads are wider and there are not a lot of cars elsewhere. Just key in the map code or phone number of your destination, and the GPS will take you there. The car rental company provided us with a list of famous destinations completed with map code, as well as some discount vouchers on F&B and attractions. Throughout the trip, we took toll-free roads only, simply because the toll fares in Hokkaido’s expressway are quite expensive.
From New Chitose Airport, it was a smooth 1.5 hours drive to Noboribetsu, an onsen town famous for its high quality water. There are many demons figure all over the town, there are known as Yukijin – the demons who protect hot spring in Noboribetsu. In mid May, lines of approximately 2000 cherry blossom trees provide a warm welcome for visitors to Noboribetsu Onsen. These trees, which have been planted with loving care by the local community, turn the roads leading to Noboribetsu Onsen and Karurusu Onsen into tunnels of flowers.
First thing first, we had lunch at Onsenichiba (温泉市場) that is located along the main street of Noboribetsu. My family loved the barashi-don, sake and ikura don as well as the XL sized grilled scallops. So good!
According to the explanation of the park, 2,000 liters of water at approx.80 centi degrees and steam are ejected every three hours up to 8m high. Accompanied with thuds, it lasts for about 50 minutes each time. The loud pounding sound was scary indeed, but it is a natural formation.
Geyser at Sengen Park
Address： Noboribetsu Onsen-cho, Noboribetsu
Map Code(GPS)： 603 288 425
Hell’s Valley is truly a magnificent place. About 10,000 tons of hot spring in various kinds is gushing out a day and supplied to accommodations in this onsen town. The views of boiling and bubbling water reminds the Japanese of hells where the demons live.
Address: Noboribetsu Onsen-cho, Noboribetsu
Map Code(GPS): 603 288 425
We followed the trek to Oyunuma, a gourd shaped sulfurous lake. At the bottom of it, hot water bubbles out of a sulfurous hot spring with a temperature of approximately 130°c. Even on the surface, the temperature of the grayish black water is around 40-50°c.
Address： Noboribetsu Onsen-cho, Noboribetsu
Map Code(GPS)： 603 288 875 *28
One of the most unique experiences that we had is to enjoy the natural foot bath in the hot spring water that flows out of Oyunuma. The stream water was warm so it was very comfortable. We sit by the river just like a local.
Oyunma Natural Footbath
Address： Noboribetsu Onsen-cho, Noboribetsu
Map Code(GPS)： 603 288 875 *28
Our room rate included breakfast and dinner and both were served in a buffet style. The food quality and variety was not bad. Kaiseki dinner is also available at extra charges.
Our tatami rooms were a bit dated but all of us had a good night sleep. The outdoor onsen was relaxing, the water felt natural and soft, a must try and the highlight of the stay.
Address: 203 Noboribetsu Onsen-cho Noboribetsu-shi
Phone number: Overseas+81-143-84-2255 Domestic 0143-84-2255
MAP Code: 603 287 612
Buffet breakfast at our ryokan was really, really good. I was greedy so I tried both western and japanese version of Japanese breakfast. The curry scallops were the bomb!
From Noboribetsu, it was another one hour drive to Lake Toya. The active volcano that stands proudly near the lake with white smoke rising above it is Mt.Usu. Lake Toya is an ice-free lake. It never freezes, even in winter when the temperature falls quite drastically.
Map Code: 321 519 466 *44
What about enjoying a footbath with a view of Lake Toya? This footbath facility opened in December 2003 right in front of the excursion boat pier at the lakeside. You can relax sitting on a bench while enjoying a view of the lake.
We drove uphill to take a break Lake Hills Farm, famous for their home made gelato, pudding and cheese cake.
The view of Mount Yotei is not be missed, and we really enjoy chilling at the outdoor seating area.
Lake Hill Farm
Address:127 HanawaToyako-cho, Abuta-gun Hokkaido
HoursL 9 am to 7 pm daily
We remember to stop off at the Sairo Observation Point for another look at the picturesque Lake Toya scenery before we depart to Niseko.
Toya Sairo Observation Deck
Our accomodation of the night is My Ecolodge Niseko, a brand new Malaysian owned lodge located near to the Niseko (Grand Hirafu) village.
Everything is so new, modern and impecabbly clean. Pei Yin is a Malaysian girl who has been residing in Niseko for about 4 years, and she has been really helpful during our stay.
My room was clean and well equipped, with a bonus view of Mount Yotei. We also make full use of the pantry for our tea time and supper. Can’t wait to be back during the winter season because they have a ski storage and terrace.
My Ecolodge Niseko
Address: 190-4 Yamada, Kutchan, Abuta District, Hokkaido Prefecture 044-0081, Japan
Pei Yin recommended us a rustic outdoor mud spa experience at Yukichichibu and it really was an amazing experience? Beer is allowed at the onsen area, and we had to walk (naked) outdoor (!!) on chilly spring evening (!!) to the onsen area. The reward is this beautiful snow mountain view. And because April is the slowest month in Niseko, we were the only human beings there.
To use the onsen during the day it costs 500 yen for adults and 300 yen for children.
To stay for one night it costs 6,700 yen for adults and 5,880 yen for children and includes dinner and a buffet breakfast. Check in time is 3pm and check out is 10am.
To make a booking at the Yukichichibu Onsen call (0136) 58-2328 (Japanese only).
Dinner was a simple affair at Kutchan Town. We tried whale meat for the very first time, and didn’t like it.
We spent the rest of our night at Max Value at Kitchen Town. Groceries shopping in Japan is the best!
Breakfast was at Green Bentoss Cafe & Dining in My Ecolodge. Our bento set was really, really good and filling that we skipped lunch. My parents saw the chef busy preparing for the bento sets since 6 am when they went for their morning walk.
My mum said that she would like to see some snow, so snow mountain we went to!
We took the gondola ride to annupuri peak (1200 yen return) and the hills were packed with skiers and snowboarders. Spring skiing is still available in Niseko, however April is the tail end of the season.
We had a quick stopver at Milk Kobo that offers delicious dairy products and great views of Mt. Yotei.
Milk Kobo’s thick and creamy yogurt is one of the best that I’ve ever tried!
Milk Kobo Prativo
Hours: Lunch – 11:00 ～ 14:00 daily, Dinner – reservation only.
On the way to Otaru, we stopped at Nikka Yoichi Distillery. It is a very beautiful estate with old buildings and nice gardens. I was moved by the love stories between Masataka (the founder of Nikka)and Rita, a Scottish girl. They went against all odd and founded Nikka brand of whiskies in Hokkaido. Yoichi is chosen as the first distillery for Nikka Whisky is because of the water quality and the climate that is very close to Scotland.
A Japanese-speaking guide will kindly introduce you to the whisky manufacturing process, the history of Nikka Whisky and more.
Guided tour hours: 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m./9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m./1:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Tours are conducted every 30 minutes.
No English guided tours are available. However visitors may explore the facilities freely with the use of a guide map.
Facilities on the tour are open until 5:00 p.m. After completion of the guided tour,visitors are welcome to continue viewing the facilities until closing time.
Address: Hokkaido Yoichigun Yoichimachi Kurokawacho 7-6 Japan
Phone : +81 135 23 3131 Fax : +81 135 23 2202
Here we are at Otaru, a romantic small harbour city. It was my second time here, but the canal still looked as beautiful and magical. For things to do and eat in Otaru, pelase refer to my old post here.
We had our dinner at the famous Yabuhan, where the chefs and owners take pride in their hand made soba. Just take a look at my sea urchin soba (1200 yen), so luxurious!
Address：Shizuya ‘st,2-19-14 Inaho, Otaru City,Hokkaido
Smile Hotel Otaru
Address: 047-0032 Hokkaido, Otaru, Inaho 3-5-14, Japan
Everyone knows about the famous Ishiya White Chocolate but do you know that there is a Shiroi Koibito Park that is located in between Otaru and Sapporo? In addition to housing the Shiroi Koibito Factory where this well-known Hokkaido confectionery is produced, the park also has a cafe to allow visitors to savor Ishiya’s original sweets, the Cookiecraft Studio (where budding confectioners can try their hand at making their own Shiroi Koibito cookies), a toy exhibition room and the Rose Garden.
The mixed chocolate soft serve (350 yen) was delicious. There are many limited editon confectioneries available for sale at the souvenir shop too.
Shiroi Koibito Park
Address: Miyanosawa 2-jo 2-chome, Nishi-ku, Sapporo
Hours: 9:00～18:00 (Last admittance: 17:00 , shop closing time: 19:00)
Admission: 600 yen Adults, 200 yen Children
Sapporo Central Wholesale Market Curb Market is where all the best Hokkaido flavors come together.
We had an amazing lunch at Kitano Gourmet because we found a 10% discount voucher from our car rental booklet. Everything was fresh and delicious.
We even tried the famous king crab! Every 1 kg costs about 7000-10000 yen.
Address: Kita 11-jo Nishi 21-chome, Chuo-ku, Sapporo
Hours: 6:00 – 17:00 (Restaurants open from 7:00)
Hokkaido Shrine is another popular spot for cherry blossom viewing, however we came too early.
Address: 474 Miyagaoka, Chuo-ku, Sapporo-city, Hokkaido.
We checked into APA Hotel Sapporo Susukino-Ekimae. The location is strategic, close to the Susukino area for night life and Tanukikoji Shopping Street.
Apart from my favourite Donji-quote that operates 24 hours/7 days a week and many other drug stores (for cosmetic shopping), we discovered a supermarket that sells a lot of Japanese food products for really cheap! The shop name is “業務超市”at Tanukikoji Shopping Street #2. Donji-quote is at street #3.
APA Hotel Susukino Ekimae
Address: Minami 4jo Nishi 2chome Chuo-ku, Sapporo 064-0804, Hokkaido (Formerly ススキノグリーン ホテル1)
I wanted to bring my parents for Garaku Soup Curry but everything was sold out at 7 pm! The shop assistant asked us to try their sister restaurant – Soup Curry Treasure and it was just as good! Soup curry is a Hokkaido specialty and it is a must try!
Soup Curry Treasure
Address: B1F Togashi Building, 10 South 2 West 2, Chuo-ku, Sapporo
Getting Here: Odori Station (Namboku, Tozai and Toho subway lines), take exit 36
Phone: 011 252 7690
Hours: 11.30am – 10.30pm (L.O. 10.00pm) Monday – Saturday; 11.30am – 9.30pm (L.O. 9.00pm) Sunday and Public Holidays
Rise and Shine! Convenience store’s breakfast is the best! Just look at the varieties from Lawson’s!
We were so lucky to catch some early blooms!
Thank you god for the glimpse of cherry blossom!
Most attractions in Sapporo are centred around the main station and Odori Park. So it is recommended to walk while taking in all the sights. We were at Sapporo TV Tower.
An obligatory of Sapporo Clock Tower.
Old Hokkaido Government Building is my favourite attraction because of the beautiful red bricks. On the second floor has a small museum which features archives and exhibits memorabilia from the early days in Sapporo and Hokkaido. Admission is free.
Sapporo Underground is my favourite place to shop. There are a few malls all within this vicinity and my favourite is Stellar Place and APIA Town. Natural Kitchen is a 100 yen zakka shop with many cute items. I got myself some kitchen utensils here. Whereas in 3 Coins, everything costs 300 yen and you get what you paid for.
We got to try the limited edition Cantaloupe Melon and Cream Frappuccin too! It was really really good, with real melon pulp.
We had a short lunch break at Vie de France at APIA Town too. The tonkatsu sandwich was really delicious!
We had Milkissimo’s gelato at Hakodate last time, and when we saw one outlet at APIA Town, we just have to order it!
I took my family to my favourite sushi restaurant at Stellar Place for tea! Fortunately, the queue was manageable. Last time we queued for 1.5 hours! The sushis were made to order and everything was really fresh. My favourite was the scallop sushi because it was so plump and sweet.
Unami sushi like this! Remember to order the kani (crab) soup, only 300 yen, so worth it!
Add: Nishi 2, Kita 5, Chuoh-ku, Sapporo-shi, Hokkaido 060-0005
We spent our night at the Susukino area, for more shopping and good food! We randomly walked in Kushidori (they have many branches in Hokkaido), it is a very small yakitori bar that can only fit 10-15 pax. We were hooked once we took a bite on the plain looking chicken yakitori, how can it be so juicy and tender? Best paired with high ball (whisky+soda)!
everywhere in Hokkaido