There are usually cheap youth hostels and hotels in other places as well though, and expect to pay less than the rest of Japan. The main airport is New Chitose Airport , near Sapporo.
Tours and Travel Services
There are plenty of LCC options. Buses are usually both the cheapest and fastest options in Hokkaido, as the trains are not at all as frequent or fast as in the rest of Japan. Trains are still OK for short journeys though. Skip to content Close Search for: Search. Close Menu.
One Week in Hokkaido: A Complete 7-Day Itinerary
Available as an ebook or on paperback from all good bookstores. Find out more. Hot springs. History and tradition. Where We Stayed: Trend Hotel Asahikawa — Nice hotel, but you can probably find something cheaper, we booked very late in the day. We had originally planned to spend the day exploring the Daisetsuzan National Park and then drive onto Shiretoko the next day, but the rain put pay to our plans. One advantage of this was it gave us extra time for later in the trip.
We took route E39 from Asahikawa, but be warned the area circling the northern end of the Daisetsuzan National Park will make you forget about the previous day. This is a long drive, it probably took us between 4 and 5 hours with rest stops included. This and the previous days drive were where Hokkaido Express was invaluable. It saved us so much time by being able to use the highway.
Utoro is a tiny village at the edge of the Shiretoko National Park.
As a result most restaurants stay open till around 8pm. As a side note, the next town down from Utoro is Shari. Accommodation is usually a little cheaper here, but you a now an hour from the park as opposed to 15 minutes in Utoro. Where To Eat: Options are pretty limited in terms of choice, however there is a great ramen restaurant and a lovely izakaya about 10 minutes walk from the hotel. Staff inside recommended these places to us. We checked out the Shiretoko Go-Ko 5 lakes. The long walk round is pretty amazing and you get to sit through a rather interesting safety video about how to avoid bears.
The main thing to take away from the video is that if a bear attacks you there is nothing you can do, so best avoid them. We then checked out the Fureppe Waterfalls, which offers some pretty incredible views. Later on in the day we enjoyed a free foot bath.
Welcome to HOKKAIDO Fare
The guesthouse staff can mark them on a map for you. One thing to note about Shiretoko is that the weather can change very quickly. Most of out time there was cloudy, but no rain and a fair few of blue skies. We spent the day on the eastern side of the peninsula around the port town of Rausu.
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To get there follow the road to the Shiretoko pass. When you arrive in Rausu take a left and follow route 87 and check out some of the beach foot spas that run along the coast line. Its a surreal experience to dangle your feet into a foot spa whilst waves from the sea of Okohtsk crash onto the beach. The Kamuiwakka Hot Falls back towards Utoro make a great place to stop off on your way back.
Do be aware that this is an unsealed 10km road. As soon as dusk hits be on the look out for deer. Where To Eat: Sashimi in Rausu. A tiny little restaurant south of the centre right on the coast gave us an incredible meal. We drove via Abishiri along the Okhotsk road which offers some spectacular coastal views. From here we headed on to our onsen hotel close to Teshikaga in the Akan National Park. We entered the park along route which takes you through a pass that gives you incredible views of Lake Kussharo.
Try and get there around sunset for the best views.
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Lots of accommodation in the area offers breakfast and dinner. We decided not to do dinner to give us the chance to go out and explore the nearby towns. Here it is the same story as Shiretoko, restaurants close early, so try and avoid eating late. The rooms at the hotel do not have showers or baths in the rooms. A word of warning, it can take a bit of practice to get the temperature right as the taps are extremely sensitive, but its a great way to start and finish your day.
Where To Eat: The nearest town is Teshikaga which has 2 restaurants and a bunch of convenience stores. Your choices are ramen or tempura.
On the plus side, both are fantastic. Where We Stayed: Hotel Parkway. Great little onsen hotel. Getting to the top of Mashu-Dake takes around hours return. Bring plenty of water and warm clothes as the top of the mountain can be very cold. A few minutes after getting to the the top we were treated to own private snow storm! Also the car packing ticket you get at Mashu-Ko can also be used at Mt Io the next day or vice versa. The hotel offers a great breakfast that comes complete with raw egg rice.
You crack an egg into a little bowl whisk it and add some soy sauce before pouring it onto the warm rice. The scenery around Mount Io is to die for, but the smell is not pleasant, think Rotarua in New Zealand — lots of sulphur.
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From here its a short drive to Kussharo where there are plenty of hiking options and a few hot water beaches on the shores of the lake. There is a great hike around the peninsula which gives some beautiful views. Akan-Ko is approx 50km from Kussharo and is a little more developed for tourism than the other two lakes.
The drive from Kussharo-Ko to Akan-Ko is particularly good, probably more interesting than Akan-Ko itself in our opinion. Akan-ko has a rather cool little foot spa cafe. Perfect after a long day of exploring. This is a long drive, be under no illusions. We left just before 10 and headed straight for the bihoro pass which is a must. Possibly one of the best views we got in Hokkaido. However it does give you a break from driving and the scenery on the way is excellent. From here we jumped on the Doto Expressway around 2pm thinking there would be a service station fairly soon after where we could grab some lunch as we were starving.
Sadly we were wrong, finally coming across one around We ended up staying in New Chitose as there was no affordable accommodation around Shikotsu-Ko. Where To Eat: The area around the hostel is dotted with great eats. In particular some amazing izakayas and BBQ yakinuku restaurants. Check out the other options on Booking. Not listed in guidebooks or J apanGuide. Probably the most stunning coast land we drove in Japan, with only a few others on the road. There are some lovely short walks around the peninsula that are well marked by roadsigns. From the Shakotan Peninsula back to Chitose you pass through the lovely little town of Otaru.
At night the canal and the surrounding buildings are lit up, so its a great place to go for a wander. Also check out the little alleyways close to the canal that around stuffed full of izakayas. Where To Eat: The alleyways around the Otaru canal offer a huge variety of great food. You could stay in Otaru itself, but be warned it books up fast and can be pretty expensive. Noribetsu is probably the most famous onsen town in Japan and naturally it is a very popular with tourists. There are plenty of great walks around hell valley and the on down to Ooyunuma and the Ooyunuma Foot Spa.
A great place to dip your feet after a few steep hills. Very easy to get to from Sapporo or New Chitose. Where To Eat: Eating in Noribetsu is pretty pricey, but just outside the town there are plenty of cheap restaurants. We chose a great day to leave as southern Hokkaido was hit by a huge blizzard.
We had planned to go and see Lake Shikotsu but the weather was awful. In fact the winds were so strong that trees were blown down blocking parts of the road that were already covered with snow and ice.