Monday, July 21, 2014

Using the 7 days JR Pass to go from Tokyo to Hokkaido then back to Tokyo again.


Most travellers fly in to Japan via 1 of Tokyo's 2 airports (Narita Airport or Haneda Airport) and from then on, people who plans to visit Hokkaido would choose to take a 2hr domestic flight from Tokyo to Hokkaido.

However, another option is to use a 7 days JR Pass (although there's a 14 days and 21 days' version of this railpass as well) and take trains instead of flying. The cost for a 7 days JR Pass would be 29,110 yen (about SGD370 or USD290, depending on the currency exchange rate)

There are many different types of railpasses in Japan, some covers just a small region (but cheaper), but the most popular version is the 7 days/14 days/ 21 days JR pass which covers nationwide on almost all trains operated by JR company.  Trains in Japan can be expensive, especially if you had to take a Shinkansen (bullet train) since the cost of a 1 way Shinkansen could cost as much as (if not, more than) the cost of a domestic flight.  So if you had to take long distance rides on Shinkansen, then the JR Pass is very much worth getting. 
**Since JR Pass is not sold in Japan, so you would have to purchase it from OUTSIDE of Japan before you head for Japan.


Here is a sample itinerary :
 - Train timings listed here are based on 1st Sep 2014, and might change by the time of your visit, so please use Hyperdia website for a more accurate train timing.
- Some Shinkansen (bullet trains) between Tokyo and Shin-Aomori (Tohoku Shinkansen) are not updated in Hyperdia website, so in that case, please refer to JR-East's train schedule
- Except subways, most trains in Japan would have toilets onboard the train (usually at either the first or last carriage). Unless specified, the trains listed below should have toilets onboard the train.

Day 1: Singapore to Tokyo. Stay at Tokyo
  Don't need JR Pass coverage for this day. Bring your JR pass exchange voucher (which you should already have purchased before you go to Japan) to the JR office (Narita Airport or other major stations at Tokyo) to exchange for your actual JR Pass. Tell them the starting date for your JR Pass activation and they will stamp the date on your railpass.


Day 2: (JR Pass day 1) Tokyo to Sendai. Visit Sendai. Sendai to Aomori. Stay at Aomori.
  0716hr to 0857hr: Tokyo station to Sendai station via Shinkansen (bullet train)
  0900hr to 1000hr: Find a luggage locker to deposit your luggage at the train station (usually 300 to 600yen per locker, depending on locker size)

(OPTION A: Visit Matsushima)
  1008hr to 1035hr: Sendai station to Matsushimakaigan station via JR Senseki Line (not too sure about whether there's toilet onboard since I've not taken this train line before)
  1100hr to 1150hr: Take a round trip cruise (start and finish at same jetty) of Matsushima Bay. (cruise fares not included in railpass)
  1234hr to 1258hr: Matsushimakaigan station to Sendai station via JR Senseki Line
  1300hr to 1850hr: Have lunch, explore Sendai city. Then buy dinner and bring onboard Shinkansen to eat.
  2050hr to 2056hr: Shin-Aomori to Aomori station via JR Ou Line (trains are infrequent, about 1 train every hourly, next train departs at 2146hr, so it's best to try to make it for the 2050hr train departure)
  2100hr onwards: Check in to hotel (near Aomori station)

(OPTION B: Visit Yamadera)
  1007hr to 1109hr : Sendai station to Yamadera station via JR Senzan line (about 1 train departure every hourly, not too sure about whether there's toilet onboard since I've not taken this train line before.)
  1115hr to 1300hr: Visit Yamadera
  1315hr to 1417hr: Yamadera station to Sendai station via JR Senzan line (or next train: 1412hr to 1513hr)
  1420hr to 1850hr: Have lunch, explore Sendai city. Then buy dinner and bring onboard Shinkansen to eat.
  2050hr to 2056hr: Shin-Aomori to Aomori station via JR Ou Line (trains are infrequent, about 1 train every hourly, next train departs at 2146hr, so it's best to try to make it for the 2050hr train departure)
  2100hr onwards: Check in to hotel (near Aomori station)


Day 3: (JR Pass day 2) Sendai to Noboribetsu. Stay at a ryokan at Noboribetsu.
  0700hr to 0800hr: Visit Furukawa Fish Market for seafood donburi breakfast if you are into sashimi (opens 0700hr to 1800hr, closed on Tuesdays) 
  0800hr to 0820hr: Return to hotel to check out and collect luggage and head for Aomori station.
  0824hr to 1026hr: Aomori station to Hakodate station via Ltd Exp train (about 1 train every hourly or so, next train departs at 0929hr and arrives Hakodate at 1140hr)
  1032hr to 1310hr: Hakodate station to Noboribetsu station via Ltd Exp train (you only have a few minutes to catch this transfer at Hakodate station though. Trains are infrequent on this line as well, about 1 train departure every 2 hourly. Next train departs at 1230hr and arrives Noboribetsu at 1448hr)
  1310hr onwards: Take a short 15mins bus ride from Noboribetsu station to Noboribetsu onsen (hotspring) village. Explore the village and rest and relax with a ryokan stay at Noboribetsu.


Day 4: (JR Pass day 3) Noboribetsu to Sapporo. Stay at Sapporo.
  1037hr to 1147hr: Noboribetsu station to Sapporo station via Ltd Exp train (about 1 train departure every hourly)
 1150hr onwards: Go hotel (near Sapporo station) to deposit luggage, then explore Sapporo.
 

Day 5: (JR Pass day 4) Visit Sapporo or Asahikawa or Niseko or Teine or Furano.  Stay at Sapporo.
(OPTION A: Visit Sapporo)
  Spend the entire day exploring Sapporo.

(OPTION B: Visit Asahikawa, esp during winter to see penguin march at Asahiyama Zoo)
  Take a seasonal Asahiyama Zoo train from Sapporo station to Asahikawa station.
  OR 0800hr to 0925hr: Sapporo station to Asahikawa station via Ltd Exp train (1 train departure every 30mins or so)
  0930hr to 1600hr: Take bus from Asahikawa station to Asahiyama Zoo, visit Asahiyama Zoo, take bus back to Asahikawa station, explore Asahikawa area. 
  1625hr to 1750hr: Asahikawa station to Sapporo station via Ltd Exp train
  1750hr onwards: Have dinner at Sapporo and explore Sapporo.

(OPTION C: Visit Niseko ski area during winter)
  0715hr to 0803hr: Sapporo station to Otaru station via JR Hakodate line (about 1 train departing every 15mins or so)
  0807hr to 0944hr: Otaru station to Niseko via JR Hakodate line (infrequent trains, about 1 train every 2 hourly or so)
  0950hr to 1550hr: Visit Niseko
  1558hr to 1813hr: Niseko station to Otaru station via JR Hakodate line (1 train every 2 hourly)
  1834hr to 1906hr: Otaru station to Sapporo station via JR Rapid Airport or JR Hakodate line (1 train every 15mins)
  1910hr onwards: Have dinner at Sapporo.

(OPTION D: Visit nearby Teine Ski area + Sapporo)
  0855hr to 0911hr: Sapporo station to Teine station via JR Hakodate line (about 1 train every 15mins) 
  0911hr to 1400hr: Take short 15mins bus from Teine station to Teine ski area, visit Teine ski area, take bus back to Teine station.
  1417hr to 1434hr: Teine station to Sapporo station via JR Hakodate line 
  1435hr onwards: Explore Sapporo

(OPTION E: Visit Furano during summer)
  0651hr to 0743hr: Sapporo station to Takikawa station via Ltd Exp train (about 1 train departure every 30mins or so)
  0805hr to 0909hr: Takikawa station to Furano station via JR Nemuro line (about 1 train departure every 60 to 90mins or so, not too sure about whether there's toilet onboard since I've not taken this train line before)
  0910hr to 1650hr : Visit Furano
  1655hr to 1816hr: Furano station to Asahikawa station via JR Furano line (about 1 train departure every 2 hourly, not too sure about whether there's toilet onboard since I've not taken this train line before)
  1825hr to 1950hr: Asahikawa station to Sapporo station via Ltd Exp train (about 1 train departure every 30mins)
(Map from japan-guide.com)

 
Day 6: (JR Pass day 5) Visit Otaru. Stay at Sapporo.
  0913hr to 0958hr: Sapporo station to Otaru station via JR Hakodate line/Rapid Airport train (departures every 15mins or so)
  1000hr to 1500hr: Visit Otaru
  1504hr to 1536hr: Otaru station to Sapporo station via JR Rapid Airport train/JR Hakodate line (departures every 15mins or so)

 
Day 7: (JR Pass day 6) Sapporo to Hakodate. Stay at Hakodate.
  0730hr to 1135hr: Sapporo station to Hakodate station via Ltd Exp train (about 1 train departure every 60 to 90mins or so, next train departs Sapporo station at 0834hr and arrives Hakodate at 1236hr) 
  1135hr onwards: Visit Hakodate, including Mt Hakodate. Stay near Hakodate station.
 
 
Day 8: (JR Pass day 7) Hakodate to Tokyo. Stay at Tokyo
  0700hr to 0750hr: Breakfast at Hakodate Morning market near Hakodate station
  0808hr to 1016hr: Hakodate station to Shin-Aomori station via Ltd Exp train (about 1 train every 90mins or so, next train departs Hakodate at 1021hr and arrives Shin-Aomori station at 1225hr)
  1039hr to 1404hr: Shin-Aomori station to Tokyo station via Shinkansen (about 1 train departure every hourly)
  1405hr onwards: Go hotel deposit luggage, then explore Tokyo.


Day 9: Visit Tokyo. Explore Tokyo. Stay at Tokyo.
  Visit Disneysea or Disneyland perhaps?

Day 10: Visit Tokyo. Explore Tokyo. Stay at Tokyo.
  More suggested itineraries for Tokyo, please see here.

Day 11: Fly out of Tokyo.



1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the detailed itinerary! I am sure it would be very handy for me when I do my backpack sometime next year ��

    ReplyDelete