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Driving in Hokkaido end October 2019/8/21 23:12
I'm planning a trip to hokkaido and will be looking at renting a car from 25th to 31st Oct. Places to go are ie Sounkyo onsen/asahikawa/furanobiei area to southern part ie Toya-ko /noboribetsu and to Hakodate and back up again.

Concern I have is that.. Is it safe for me to drive during that last week of Oct as I've seen report of 1st snowfall in hokkaido has happened around that time before. coming from tropical country , we are not used to driving in snow / icy road.
Even if it doesnt snow, would it be icy road?

Is it a good concern or too overly worried?
Appreciate your advice... Thanks
by Bong (guest)  

Re: Driving in Hokkaido end October 2019/8/23 10:17
Although a lot depends on the ever changing weather condition we found it OK when we also drove in Hokkaido during that time of the year.

With just 5-6 days it is doubtful whether you can cover all the listed places without rushing. Personally I would focus on the southern part of Hokkaido as late Oct is the autumn foliage season in places like Hakodate, Onuma Quasi National Park and Miharashi Park. Between Sapporo/Otaru and Hakodate you can take in Noboribetsu and Toya-ko. Time allowed the Shakotan Peninsula is also worth driving around for the spectacular coastal scenery.
Sounkyo, Asahikawa, Biei and Furano are north of Sapporo and time is needed to travel there back and forth from Sapporo. For a less rushed 5-6 days trip consider dropping these and just concentrate on the part between Sapporo and Hakodate.

by William5 rate this post as useful

Re: Driving in Hokkaido end October 2019/8/23 11:04
Hi William,
Thanks for the reply, hopefully the weather works well for us.

Sorry as I did not provide clear picture of my trip. I will have full 9 days to cover those area. I mentioned till 31st..coz the draft plan is to come back to Sapporo n drop off the car. Allowing 3 days to cover Sapporo n Otaru.

I'm still bit confused how I should plan the Northern leg n where to station myself for two nights (break my stay in different towns or make Ashahikawa my base). Pls let me know what you think. I'll be landing at chitose Airport about 830 after overnight flight n plan to get the rental car there and start my journey. I assumed I might only get to start my journey at 11 ish

Option 1
1. Day 1- Drive straight to Sounkyo Onsen. Stay the night..not sure I'll still have time to explore the ropeway n waterfalls for that day. We don't have plans for serious hiking
2. Day 2-Sounkyo in the morning, drive back Ashahikawa. Stay the night
3. Day 3-Leave Asahikawa to biei to furano (making visits to places along it). Final destination - noboribetsu / toya Lake (stay the night)
Is this doable?
4. Day 4. Lake toya. Drive to Hakodate
5. Day 5. Hakodate
6. Day 6. Hakodate. Drive back to Sapporo.. Drop off car... After which 2-3days to explore Sapporo / Otaru without car

1.Day1-Drive to Asahikawa, stay for 2 nights.. Explore the area
2. Day 2-Daytrip to Sounkyo Gorge. Back to Ashikawa.
3. Similar to above...

Option 3
1.Day1. From chitose... Drive to furano n biei to Ashahikawa while making stops at some place. Stay the night at Ashahikawa
This is the longer route... Not sure this is too rush to enjoy anything
2. Day2. Daytrip to Sounkyo. Stay asahikawa
3. Day3. Explore bit of Asahikawa, leave to Noboribetsu / Lake toya via expressway (faster route)

Pls let me know your thoughts... Open to suggestions as I'm still doing my own research on these places too...

by Bong (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Driving in Hokkaido end October 2019/8/23 12:28
If you are OK starting to drive right after an overnight flight you should be fine going to Sounkyo from New Chitose Airport as the drive is under 3 hrs. How I envy you doing it as I wonft be fit to do so right after a long and tiring flight! Whether you can take the Kurodake Ropeway and go for the twin falls of Ginga no Taki and Ryusei no Taki depends on the time of arriving in Sounkyo. Note that sunset time in that part of Hokkaido during late Oct is before 16.30.

Biei, Furano and Noboribetsu in a day before bedding down in Toya-ko is too rushed. BTW, not sure if late Oct is a good time for Biei and Furano. We still saw some colourful flowers in that region during early Oct but canft vouch for late Oct.

The first part of option 1 is not desirable. Of the 3 options I would choose the third one.

by William5 rate this post as useful

Re: Driving in Hokkaido end October 2019/8/23 12:35
Just to add on...

I'm not sure how much time i should allocate to explore Furano-Biei stretch. As it's late Oct...are there still places worth visiting i.e the Farms or it's just going to be more of a "drive-through" journey just to enjoy sceneries...

Open to suggestions if you think its better to stay @ Furano giving it a full day, and less of Asahikawa or even considering to drop off Sounkyo Gorge. The planning is to go there to experience nature surroundings but not sure if it's still worthy to go that its off autumn season.

by Bong (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Driving in Hokkaido end October 2019/8/23 16:37
Your concern is well founded. Part of the reason I suggested on my first response to drop Sounkyo, Biei and Furano is that late Oct is not the gright seasonh for those places. Sounkyo is good for autumn foliage during early Oct. Biei and Furano are popular destinations for summer flowers during July and August.

I would definitely skip the above places if you only have 5-6 days, but with 9 days it may not be a bad idea to take in a bit more of Hokkaido despite of not being there at the right time of the year. Hokkaido has a lot to offer – and during different seasons. We went for flowers in Biei and Furano during summer but again during early Oct. We loved the lake scenery of Toya-ko and volcanic landscape of Noboribetsu in winter and again went to both places during autumn. You would not get tired of the different faces Hokkaido has put up for various seasons. In short, you will never be wrong visiting wherever you can dig up in Hokkaido.

by William5 rate this post as useful

Re: Driving in Hokkaido end October 2019/8/23 16:50
I'm pretty interested in this thread because I'm also planning a selfdrive in the same part of Hokkaido during early October 2020.

I don't know how many days yet, but I guess something between 5-6 to 8-9 which is similar to your trip.

One of the ideas so far is forego the central Hokkaido:

- Internal flight from Haneda to New Chitose Airport (relax at onsen inside the terminal) then rent the car... Chitose > Noboribetsu (stay the night)
- Noboribetsu > Lake Toya > Jozankei onsen (stay)
- Kayak in the morning then Jozankei > Sapporo (stay 1-2 nights)
- Sapporo > Otaru (stay)
- Oraru > Cape Kamui > follow the coast > Hakodate (stay). Leave the car, sleep and then continue the trip in Tohoku.

by Ale345 rate this post as useful

Re: Driving in Hokkaido end October 2019/8/24 01:01
Thanks William for the feedback and input. Appreciate it! Plan still at draft mode 😊

Ale345, good luck with the planning. Early Oct should be nice time..
by Bong (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Driving in Hokkaido end October 2019/8/24 01:46
Hi Ale345, if you like fall colour you shouldnft forego central Hokkaido. Early Oct is good for autumn foliage in Sounkyo and it is definitely worth going. The season will start to move south and by mid Oct places good for enjoying koyo include Jozankei, Houheikyou Dam, Niseko, Shikotsu-ko and Noboribetsu.
by William5 rate this post as useful

Re: Driving in Hokkaido end October 2019/8/24 16:34
@Bong - Thank you, you too

I don't want to mess up with Bong's thread, but it's just to answer @William5. I'm waiting for this year's Japan Guide reports before ironing the places to visit. I really would like to visit the Daisetsuzan.
by Ale345 rate this post as useful

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