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2 weeks in Hokkaido this August 2014/7/7 20:01
Hi,
I'm currently planning my trip to Hokkaido this August (yeah, I'm a bit late).
Flights are reserved, but I still struggle with my itinerary. I feel it still needs to be improved and I also might to kick out one or two things, so I hope you have some advice.

I'll travel alone. I'm not interested in doing whole-day hikes (1-2h hikes are ok, though). I've been to Hokkaido a few times, but only to Matsumae, Hakodate, Sapporo, Otaru and Shiraoi.

Here's my itinerary:


3.8.: Arrival at Chitose Airport (by train to Asahikawa)

4.8.: Biei (rental car / or bicycle)

5.8.: Furano (rental car / or bicycle)

6.8: Asahikawa (hike around Mt.Asahidate)

7.8.: Asahikawa - zoo and sunflower field (or just one of these)

Then, I'll take a limited express from Asahikawa to Wakkanai where I'll arrive around 11p.m.

8.8.: Take a ferry to Rishiri and stay there over night

9.8.: Take a ferry from Rishiri to Rebun, and the evening ferry back to Wakkanai

10.8.: Explore Wakkanai, take the limited express back to Asahikawa that leaves at 16:51

11.8. From Asahikawa to Shiretoko-Shari by train (9:01 - 14:12) (*not too fond of this solution)

12.8.: Shiretoko

13.8.: Shiretoko

14.8.: Kawayu-Onsen + Mt. Iozan

15.8. Lake Mashu + Lake Kussharo

16.8. Lake Akan + Kushiro Cranes (leave by train 16:17 to Chitose)

17.8.: From Chitose to Lake Toya (arrive at 14:03)

18.8.: Leave Lake Toya with the 14:10 train to Chitose Airport and fly back home

I'm not too happy yet. Seems like I'm wasting too much time from Wakkanai to Shiretoko. I wish there was an air connection between Wakkanai and Memanbetsu. And I also waste too much time getting from Kushiro down to Lake Toya. I know there are flights, but it doesn't speed up the process too much and is actually more expensive.

Alternatively I thought that I should fly back from Wakkanai to Chitose airport and get from there to Kushiro to explore the Akan and Shiretoko Parks first and then fly from Memanbetsu back to Chitose and from there drive down to Lake Toya. That sounds a bit more like it, but is also more expensive.

Also, I know that I'll need a rental car here and there, but I'm still not sure how to go about it. I know I could drive from Wakkanai to Shiretoko, but it sounds like such a long drive and I'm all alone. It's probably better to use the train / bus / plane, right?


Any comments?

Thanks so much!
by zoomingjapan  

Re: 2 weeks in Hokkaido this August 2014/7/8 23:44
Do you have to fly in and out from shin chitose? If not, you could fly in to shin chitose, visit lake toya first, then fly out from one of the west side airport like memanbetsu, kushiro or nakashibetsu.
by guear rate this post as useful

Re: 2 weeks in Hokkaido this August 2014/7/8 23:46
opps meant to say east side airports not west
by guear rate this post as useful

Re: 2 weeks in Hokkaido this August 2014/7/8 23:50
I don't HAVE to, but there are no direct flight connections back home for the time and date I need. I would have to fly back to Chitose anyway and change there and most flights I found cost around 15.000, so going back down by train or car would be cheaper.

I'm tempted to throw something out of my itinerary to have more time and a less packed schedule, but it's really hard to decide.

It would probably be the smartest thing to cut out Wakkanai, but I really want to go. Maybe one of the many lakes would be a better idea.
by zoomingjapan rate this post as useful

Re: 2 weeks in Hokkaido this August 2014/7/9 01:27
You can skip lake toya
It is a nice sight but it isn't the most impressive lake in the world. Although, some may suggest that it's one of the most beatiful in Japan, if you've been to the Fuji five lakes or lakes in Canada/new Zealand/Russia you won't be missing anything.
Especially since its a long journey from chitose


Unless you really are into seeing fireworks at night. That's something pretty unique about toya in simmer.
by Joshua Hugh (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: 2 weeks in Hokkaido this August 2014/7/9 01:37
It's not just about Lake Toya and the fireworks, I'm also interested in the crater(s) there.

I'm actually tempted to skip the marshland / Kushiro cranes and the sunflower field and zoo in Asahikawa.

I also saw that there's another option for how to start my trip, but a bit more expensive.
I could fly from Chitose upon arrival straight to Rishiri. The flight is expensive, but it woudl at least not cost me any money to get up to Wakkanai and then taking the ferry.

I wanted to start my trip in Furano / Biei as I'm worried the lavender will not be in full bloom in August anymore, so the sooner I go the better.
by zoomingjapan rate this post as useful

Re: 2 weeks in Hokkaido this August 2014/7/9 06:46
If you are willing to go a bit more expensive route then you could spend first few days at lake toya first then spend your last few days at rishiri, then fly from rishiri to chitose. At least with this option, you still can visit furano early august. May I ask where you are flying from?
by guear rate this post as useful

Re: 2 weeks in Hokkaido this August 2014/7/10 11:31
I am happy to know the experienced tourist want to go to northern-eastern Hokkaido since in my opinion, they are one of the best places in Japan though not convenient.

Needless to say, your travel will be deeply influenced by the weather at the time. If you go to Tokyo or Kyoto and it rains, it will not be a big problem. You can see touristic spots in the rain. If it is summer it can be even better. BUT in northern Hokkaido such as Rebun island, you can do actually nothing in the rain. Rishiri can not be seen and you might not be able to see even the sea from the observatory: all you can see is fog. Therefore I recommend you to be flexible for the itinerary, and check the weather carefully beforehand. Some live cameras will tell you what the scenery of the spots be like.

http://www.stv.ne.jp/webcam/rebun/index.html

8.8.: Take a ferry to Rishiri and stay there over night

9.8.: Take a ferry from Rishiri to Rebun, and the evening ferry back to Wakkanai

10.8.: Explore Wakkanai, take the limited express back to Asahikawa that leaves at 16:51

11.8. From Asahikawa to Shiretoko-Shari by train (9:01 - 14:12) (*not too fond of this solution)


Rebun is better than Rishiri for hiking (of course when it is sunny) so you might better consider staying at Rebun.

From Wakkanai to Abashiri is not so interesting if you take JR lines: It goes through boring forests. Since you are a "professional" traveller, it might be interesting to take the bus along the Okhotsk line although it takes almost full day.

http://www.japan-guide.com/search/?cx=015609760794546757367%3A7rvvvope...
by frog1954 rate this post as useful

Re: 2 weeks in Hokkaido this August 2014/7/10 11:51
Thanks for all the great advice.
Actually, I've experienced bad weather on remote islands A LOT, like on Mikurajima or the Yaeyama Islands, Kume Island etc. - and yes, then there's nothing to do when it rains, but what can you do?

I've pretty much seen everything else already, so all I can do is hoping for good weather. ;)
by zoomingjapan rate this post as useful

Re: 2 weeks in Hokkaido this August 2014/7/10 11:52
Almost forgot, I'm flying in from Kansai.

I've now planned and booked the first half of my trip.
I'll post the full itinerary once I'm done booking. It looks ok so far.

P.S.: I decided to drive from Wakkanai to Monbetsu, stay overnight and continue to Shiretoko the next morning.
by zoomingjapan rate this post as useful

Re: 2 weeks in Hokkaido this August 2014/7/10 15:42
You will drive from Wakkanai to Shiretoko. The Okhotsk line should be nice! Please keep in mind that drivers in Hokkaido tend to burn up. If you go along with them, the police will welcome you for taking the fine :). In general, policemen in Japan is very polite when they take fine. I have some experiences.

there's nothing to do when it rains, but what can you do?
I've pretty much seen everything else already, so all I can do is hoping for good weather. ;)


What you can do are

1. Immerse yourself in the fog.
2. Read books.
3. Write your blog.
4. Pray for the weather to become fine.

Well, honestly, bad weather might be memorable. You remember some islands :).

Anyway, I will pray for the good weather! Have a nice trip!

by frog1954 rate this post as useful

Re: 2 weeks in Hokkaido this August 2014/7/11 00:55
Just my two cents, but I don't think two days warrants both islands. (rishiri and rebun) You might want to maybe choose one island. You could either drive or ride a bike around the first day and then maybe hike mount rishiri the second, something like that. I would also highly recommend a plane flight. It's not that the ferry is expensive, but it ate up so much time during my trip, especially Wakkanai--- Sapporo Visa Versa.

One thing I especially liked during my trip was mashuko .If you stay at Kawayu Onsen it's really close to R, which as the name suggest, has sulfur spewing out from it. I at least thought it was neat, something you might to consider.
by Ben (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: 2 weeks in Hokkaido this August 2014/7/13 01:52
Thanks so much, everyone! ^___^

This is by far the most expensive vacation ever. I don't even want to know the grand total, but even without calculating I know I'm well above 300.000 yen. (T___T) ....

The rental cars alone cost me over 100.000yen, the flight (roundtrip) is almost 50.000 yen, accommodation is an average of 7000 yen for 16 days. And that doesn't even include money for entrance fees, food, gasoline etc.

My trip to the Yaeyama Islands (Okinawa) last year around the same time for 16 days was much, much cheaper. ^^;;

Anyway, I will spent 1.5 days at Lake Toya at the end of my trip. By that time I won't have a rental car anymore, but I'm quite sure I don't need one. Even if the buses are infrequent, I saw that all the things I want to see are in walking distance. The ropeway is 5.5. km away, so in worst case I'd have to walk for about 1h. No problem as half of the way is along the lake. :)

I will try to explore Rishiri on a bicycle (electronic one if I can get one) to save money.
I think for Rebun I'll need a car, but I've seen they're insanely expensive and at least online I can't seem to find any available cars for the day I plan to come. I might try to call a few rental car companies tomorrow.
But as this trip is already super expensive anyway, I was wondering if there are any other options for Rebun like buses, bus tours, bicycles etc.

Other than that I'm FINALLY done planning. Looks all good to me (apart from the horrendous prices).
by zoomingjapan rate this post as useful

Re: 2 weeks in Hokkaido this August 2014/7/13 08:11
Hi, zoomingjapan,

I was wondering if there are any other options for Rebun like buses, bus tours, bicycles etc.

Using 13:05-13:45 ferry from Rishiri to Rebun (Kabuka) you can take Rebun A-2 tour starting at 14:05 for 3 hours.

http://www.heartlandferry.jp/rishiri/jikoku3.html

http://www.soyabus.co.jp/teikan.htm

Then you can catch 17:50 ferry to Wakkanai.

http://www.heartlandferry.jp/rishiri/jikoku2.html

I think the tour bus will connect to the ferry so you do not need to worry about missing the ferry.

For the bus tour, reservation by telephone is required.

TEL 0162-22-3114


by frog1954 rate this post as useful

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