Odori Park And Sapporo TV Tower

Hokkaido Transportation Guide: Flight, JR Train, Car (2021 Update)

posted in: Hokkaido Japan | 0

Last updated on August 5th, 2021

Planning a trip to Hokkaido and looking for the best way for getting around? The first and important thing is to know about the Hokkaido transportation guide. You will thanks me later for the money-saving tips here! (2020 Update with latest price after Japan consumer tax increase)

Japan is world-famous for its complicated transportation system. Well, it is not too difficult for getting around in Hokkaido compare with Tokyo and Osaka. If you’re read on our Hokkaido transportation guide, you will know planning a Hokkaido itinerary is super easy. And you will save some money on transportation with money-saving tips!

The article below will share with you about the transportation system in Hokkaido including useful transportation guides and money-saving tips when getting around in Hokkaido.

How To Get To Hokkaido

Hokkaido is accessible via flight from international or domestic. It is also reachable by express train from Tokyo to Hakodate/Sapporo in Hokkaido.

There are a few methods for getting to Hokkaido. Find out the best ways of traveling to Hokkaido.

Getting to Hokkaido By Flight

International and domestic flights are well-connected to the major cities in Hokkaido. There are few airports in Hokkaido including Sapporo New Chitose Airport, Asahikawa Airport, and Hakodate Airport. Most international flights have come from Thailand, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Manila or Austria. The majority will choose to land in Sapporo New Chitose Airport.

Alternatively, you can choose to transit to Tokyo or other airports in Japan, and then take the domestic flight to Hokkaido. Tokyo-Sapporo is one of the busiest routes in Japan with dozen of flights per day. JAL, ANA, Air Do, Skymark, Vanilla Air, Jetstar provide frequent domestic flights to Hokkaido.

Depend on your Hokkaido itinerary, we recommend New Chitose Airport as your first stop of getting into Hokkaido. The regular one way fares by the conventional airlines are as high as around ¥40,000. But thanks to a wide range of discount offers, one-way fares of around or under ¥10,000 are often available.

Check Skyscanner for the cheapest flight

From New Chitose Airport to Sapporo City

By Train: JR Rapid trains frequently connected between New Chitose Airport and Sapporo Station with 4 trains per hour. Train fare is ¥1,070 for one way with 35 minutes. Seat reservation at ¥520 is optional but you can simply hook up the train without reservation.

By Bus: Airport buses operate every 15 minutes from New Chitose Airport to Sapporo downtown including Susukino, Odori Park and Sapporo Station. It is a great option, especially for those travelers with accommodation, who are close with the bus stopping point. Single bus trip takes approximately 80 minutes with ¥1,030.

By Taxi: From New Chitose Airport to Sapporo downtown costs around ¥13,000.

By Private Shuttle: For hassle-free airport pick up or return. Good for those travel in a group especially with kids and elderly, consider the private airport shuttle. Single way of airport transfer is about ¥22,000. (More detail click here)

Getting to Hokkaido By Shinkansen / Bullet Train

If your Hokkaido itinerary is chosen to take the JR Tohoku/Hokkaido Shinkansen from Tokyo, most probably Hakodate is your first visited city in Hokkaido.

From Tokyo to Hakodate, the entire one way trip is about 4 hours and costs around ¥22,810 (including seat reservation). From Hakodate, continue exploring to other cities in Hokkaido including Sapporo, Asahikawa or more.

Please take note that seat reservations are mandatory on Hayabusa trains between Tokyo and Hakodate (Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto station).

Traveling from Tokyo to Hokkaido by Shinkansen? Here are some money-saving tips with JR Pass:

If you are traveling from Sendai area, get the JR Tofoku-South Hokkaido Pass (Flexible 5 days within 14-Days)

Whole Japan JR Pass

Pass TypeAdult FareChild (6-11) Fare
7-Days, consecutive¥29,650¥14,820
14-Days, consecutive¥47,250¥23,620
21-Days, consecutive¥60,450¥30,200
  • Only available to foreign visitors
  • valid on almost all trains operated on the nationwide network of JR (Japan Railways), including shinkansen, limited express, express, rapid and local trains.

JR East-South Hokkaido Rail Pass

Pass TypeAdult FareChild (6-11) Fare
6-Days, Flexible¥26,900¥13,450
  • Only available to foreign visitors
  • Unlimited rides on the JR Hokkaido Lines (Southern Hokkaido) and on JR Line (Kanto and Tohoku areas)
  • Including Shinkansen between Tokyo and Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto

JR East-Tohoku Hokkaido Rail Pass

Pass TypeAdult FareChild (6-11) Fare
5-Days, Flexible¥19,750¥9,870
  • Only available to foreign visitors
  • Unlimited rides on the JR Hokkaido Lines (Southern Hokkaido) and on JR East Line (Tohoku areas)
  • Including Shinkansen between Tohoku and Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto

Getting Around Hokkaido By Car

By Self-Driving: Due to the vast landscape and massive region, driving seems to be the best way to explore Hokkaido. Self-driving in Hokkaido with a rental car is a great option especially for a group of family or friends.

There are many rental car agencies in Japan, such as Toyota Rent a Car, Nissan Rent a Car and more. You can find them at the airport, train station and all over the city. Check where you can rent and pick up the car in Hokkaido at RentalCars.com.

Driving in Hokkaido is easy and convenient. What you need is only key in the phone number of your destination in the navigation system and start driving. If you traveling Hokkaido with family, we are highly recommended for self-driving in Hokkaido with a rental car. It is much more leisure and you can travel at your own pace. Read on our Tips on Renting Car in Japan.

Getting Around Hokkaido By Train

By Rail: Train travel is quickest and convenient method of travel in Hokkaido. JR is the main public transportation in Hokkaido as it well-connected with most of its cities and tourist destination.

Regular JR Train Fare between Hokkaido Major City

However, traveling in Hokkaido by train can be very expensive especially for long-distance travel. It is advisable to get the transportation pass to save you some money.

JR Hokkaido Rail Pass

Pass TypeAdult FareChild (6-11) Fare
3-Days, consecutive¥17,400¥8,700
4-Days, Flexible¥23,480¥11,740
5-Days, consecutive¥23,480¥11,740
7-Days, consecutive¥25,710¥12,850
  • Only available to foreign visitors
  • Unlimited use for all JR Hokkaido trains (excluding Hokkaido Shinkansen) within the valid period.

The JR Hokkaido Pass is a must-have transportation pass if you are planning to travel throughout Hokkaido. It provides unlimited use of JR trains (except the Hokkaido Shinkansen) and most JR buses in Hokkaido in consecutive 3-Days, 5-Days, 7-Days or flexible 4-Days. This special pass is only for foreign visitors and will save you a lot of money when traveling around Hokkaido.

Purchase at your home country, and redeem your train ticket with exchange order upon reaching at any JR station in Hokkaido. If you are interested, Klook provide free postage to your home and best price guarantee. (Check the ticket price at Klook)

Read more on detail at our transportation budget guide for JR Hokkaido Pass.

Hokkaido Free Pass

Pass TypeAdult FareChild (6-11) Fare
7-Days, consecutive¥27,430¥27,430
  • Can be used for Japan residents and foreign visitors
  • Unlimited use for all JR Hokkaido trains (excluding Hokkaido Shinkansen) within the valid period.

Similar with JR Hokkaido Rail Pass, the Hokkaido Free Pass (北海道フリーパス) also provide unlimited JR trains (except the Hokkaido Shinkansen) and most JR buses in Hokkaido. It can be use on consecutive 7-Days within Hokkaido. This pass can be use for foreign and local residents of Japan.

Note: No half-price discount for child below 12.

Seasonal Pass: Furano-Biei Rail Ticket

Pass TypeAdult FareChild (6-11) Fare
4-Days, consecutive¥7,110¥7,110
  • Can be used for Japan residents and foreign visitors
  • Round trip between Sapporo-Asahikawa with express train(one time)
  • Unlimited ride of local and rapid train in Furano, Biei, Asahikawa and Takikawa areas

Furano Biei Rail Ticket is the best ticket if your Hokkaido trip is mainly traveling around Furano Biei area. This seasonal ticket normally starts selling from the end of April to October.

Furano-Biei Rail Ticket will cover one round trip from Sapporo to Asahikawa and unlimited ride of local and rapid train in Furano, Biei, Asahikawa and Takikawa area within 4 consecutive 4 days. It is a great pass for visitors visiting the beautiful flowers at Furano/Biei.

Getting Around Hokkaido by Bus

Due to the vast landscape of Hokkaido, sometimes traveling by bus will be more convenient and cheaper. Sapporo is the main hub for the bus system in Hokkaido and expanding to every region in the city. So normally people will choose to travel from Sapporo to other cities with an intercity high-speed bus.

Added, local bus companies like Chuo Bus, Donan Bus, Akan Bus, and Abashiri Bus will be helping on getting around in specific area in Hokkaido.


Planning Tips For Your Hokkaido Transportation

Completed Hokkaido Japan Itinerary in Spring & Summer
Completed Hokkaido Japan Itinerary in Spring & Summer

In short, planning your Hokkaido itinerary is not difficult. If you are traveling with a group of families with kids and the elderly, self-driving always is the best option.

However, if you don’t feel like driving, Hokkaido is very doable by public transport. Remember to follow our Hokkaido transportation guide and get the transportation pass to save you some money and time. Some places may infrequent transportation or slow train lines so you need to plan out your Hokkaido itinerary in advance. Leave a comment to us if you need more help.

Important tips for your Hokkaido trip: Don’t rush and relax. Pick the attraction that you want to see and enjoy your trip. Happy travel to Hokkaido!

Last but not least, continue read on our Hokkaido itinerary if you are interested.

How To Plan Your Hokkaido Trip On Budget: Travel Guide, Itinerary & Money Saving Tips!

Hokkaido Transportation Guide