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Public transportation in Hokkaido

by jamiezhuo Online Now Oct 30, 2011 at 3:35 AM

Hi all,

I am planing to do a skiing trip at Niseko in coming late January. Initially, I was planning to rent a car and explore some of the scenic places in Hokkaido, however, it seems that the roads will be icy and covered with snow, not a wise choice to drive a car. May I know how is the public transportation such trains and buses there ? Is it easy to move around with them ? I heard they are expensive and infrequent, is it true ? I will going during chinese new year period, will the shops be closed or transportation be a problem ?

Thanks a lot for your advice !!

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7 Answers
  • dru46's Profile Photo

    Re: Public transportation in Hokkaido

    by dru46 Online Now Oct 30, 2011 at 6:08 AM

    You are right that a car might be dangerous, especially if you aren't used to driving in the snow. Getting from Sapporo to Niseko is pretty easy. They have regular train reserved train service during the peak times (morning to Niseko, night to Sapporo). To the other areas, it will depend. The main stations aren't too bad but not great either.

    Chinese New Year is not a holiday in Japan. There are no holidays at the end of January so there is nothing to worry about (closed shops and all).

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  • jamiezhuo's Profile Photo

    Re: Public transportation in Hokkaido

    by jamiezhuo Online Now Oct 30, 2011 at 7:39 AM

    Thanks for your reply. Do you suggest that I buy a JR rail pass ? Other than skiing in Niseko, what other places or activities are good to visit or do in winter ?

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  • jamiezhuo's Profile Photo

    Re: Public transportation in Hokkaido

    by jamiezhuo Online Now Oct 30, 2011 at 7:46 AM

    Hi Dru,

    May I know if you have done skiing at Hakuba region ? Is Hakuba or Niseko a better place for skiing ?

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  • didier06's Profile Photo

    Re: Public transportation in Hokkaido

    by didier06 Online Now Oct 30, 2011 at 11:01 AM

    Hi

    May be you can take the bus, during the winter season there is direct line to NISEKO from Chitose airport 2 hours and 1/2 and from SAPPORO 3 hours.
    If you prefer the train you don't need to buy JR PASS for SAPPORO/NISEKO

    if you take the train the station is not at NISEKO but at KUTCHAN and you need to take taxi or bus to go to NISEKO from JR station.

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  • jamiezhuo's Profile Photo

    Re: Public transportation in Hokkaido

    by jamiezhuo Online Now Oct 30, 2011 at 5:47 PM

    I am more thinking of getting a JR pass to travel around Hokkaido. Niseko transportation is provided by the hotel itself. Kind of afraid that getting to places of interest will be hard with the local public transportation.

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  • Re: Public transportation in Hokkaido

    by bcheng Online Now Oct 30, 2011 at 11:36 PM

    Hi there,

    Check out this website for other local ski resorts around Niseko and Sapporo. There is also good information about taking buses and trains to get to the different ski areas. Teine Highland, a local mountain in Sapporo is my personal favourite. Not so busy and amazing back country. Have fun.

    best-of-sapporo-japan.com/sk...

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  • dru46's Profile Photo

    Re: Public transportation in Hokkaido

    by dru46 Online Now Oct 31, 2011 at 2:40 AM

    I have never been to Hakuba nor Niseko. I never went skiing in Japan. :) I have been to Hokkaido many times. I would suggest going to Sapporo of course, but also going to Otaru. It is a small town that can be visited in a day from Sapporo. Other than that, there is the famous Asahikawa Zoo, but that is a bit far from Sapporo. With a JR Hokkaido Pass, it might be fine and you can visit the zoo in a day. You can find their website for information. It may not be special if you aren't interested in that. You can also head to Hakodate which is nice for scallops and squid. The night view is also one of the top 3 in Japan. There are many other places but I'm not as familiar with them though.

    As for if you should get a pass or not, if you are only in Hokkaido, I'd assume you want the JR Hokkaido Pass. You really have to do the calculations yourself based on where you plan to go and if you really will go there.

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