8-Day Hokkaido Itinerary: Days 6 to 8 at Sapporo

Before you arrive at Day 6 of Hokkaido Itinerary at Sapporo, you may want some other information:
8-Day Self-Drive Hokkaido Itinerary: Pre-Planning
8-Day Hokkaido Itinerary: Day 1 at Noboribetsu
8-Day Hokkaido Itinerary: Days 2 and 3 at Lake Toya and Hakodate
8-Day Hokkaido Itinerary: Day 4 at Niseko
8-Day Hokkaido Itinerary: Day 5 at Otaru


9.30 a.m. Check out of your Otaru hotel, breakfast at Sankaku Fish Market, and take the JR train to Sapporo (an hour’s journey, about ¥640, S$ 8). At the JR station in Otaru, you can buy the Kitaca card (see previous entry on “How to Get Around in Sapporo”).

11.30 a.m. Leave your luggage at your Sapporo hotel and make your way to Sapporo Beer Museum where you can sample “Fukkoku Sapporo Bakushu”, a unique beer brewed according to the methods used back in 1881. There is also a buffet beer garden beside the museum, serving Jingisukan (“Genghis Khan” BBQ).

Beer hall inside the beer museum

If you’re not in the mood for bbq mutton and beer for lunch, go to the shopping mall, Ario Sapporo, beside the beer museum. Shop and eat here.

3 p.m.: Return to the hotel and take a short nap.

4 p.m.: Shop around Sapporo JR Station where all the huge shopping malls are: Esta, Daimaru, Sapporo Stellar Place, PASEO, and an underground shopping mall, Apia. If you want, you can visit the Deck T38 at the JR Tower for a fee.

For dinner, go to ESTA 10th floor which houses Sapporo Ramen Republic (Sapporo Ramen Kyowakoku), a selection of 8 top ramen restaurants in Sapporo. If you don’t want ramen, there are other famous chains on the same floor, chains such as Shisen Hanten (which receives Michelin star in Singapore but it came from Japan) and Fugetsu okonomiyaki (which opens an outlet in Suntec Singapore recently). There is also Rakkyo soup curry, which had a long queue.

We ate Tonkatsu Tamafuji which is not bad, and the service is phenomenal.


9.30 a.m.: For breakfast, make your way to either Nijo Fish Market 二条市場 or Sapporo Central Wholesale Market Curb Market. The former is more convenient and historical, thus attracting more tourist; whereas the latter is biggest wholesale market in Hokkaido with a bathhouse. I recommend Nijo Fish Market because the food is cheaper and you get to walk past Odori Park which houses the Sapporo TV Tower (pictured below).

11.30 a.m.: Leave the market and make your way to Shiroi Koibito Park (pictured above) also known to Singaporeans as the immensely popular 白色恋人. You need to make an online reservation first if you want to design your own cookies at the Cookie Craft Studio in the park. There is also a cafe here where you can have your lunch.

2.30 p.m. Make your way to Fushimi Inari Shrine (pictured above). It’s really nothing to see at the shrine but it’s a photoshoot location and it’s on the way to Mount Moiwa. So after the visit to the shrine, climb a short hill up to the Mount Moiwa Ropeway to take the cable car.

Alternatively, if you want to skip the shrine and go directly to Mount Moiwa, there is a free shuttle bus. Take the free bus from Ropeway Iriguchi tram stop. The tram is very fun: it’s those old-fashioned kind with electric rail embedded in the road. (The actual shuttle bus stop is about 20m from this tram stop.)

Lovers can bring a lock up to Mount Moiwa.

6 p.m. After you have seen the sunset and the night scene from Mount Moiwa, take the free shuttle bus down to Ropeway Iroguchi tram stop. Here is your chance to ride the tram if you haven’t previously. Take the tram to Susukino (すすきの), which is a red-light district, and walk around.

There are many restaurants here but we recommend the yakiniku restaurant Hormone Ginga ホルモン 銀牙 (which requires reservations) or Ramen Alley (we had Ramen Shingetsu).

After dinner, shop at Tanukikoji Shopping Arcade. There are many shops here, including Don Quijote, also known to Singaporeans as Don Don Donki.


Option A: Check out of your hotel and shop at Mitsui Outlet Mall Park and fly home in the evening.

Option B: Shop at Mitsui Outlet Mall. Return home the next day.

If you want to see other attractions in Sapporo, click on their tourist site here.

This concludes the Hokkaido Itinerary. But we’ll definitely be back in summer to see the lavender fields and write another itinerary.

You may be interested in…
10 Must-Eat Food in Hokkaido
Matsunomi 松の實, Sapporo Hokkaido: Bib Gourmand Awardee, Famed for Duck Soba 🦆🦆🦆 Not a Quack
What to Eat at Niseko Hokkaido
Hilton Niseko Village Review, Hokkaido: Naked in Nature! Wild Wild Wet!

Written by Dr. A. Nathanael Ho.


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8-Day Hokkaido Itinerary: Where to Stay in Sapporo and How to Get Around Sapporo

This is travel info for Sapporo on where to stay in Sapporo and how to get around Sapporo. You may come from:
8-Day Self-Drive Hokkaido Itinerary: Pre-Planning
Day 1 at Noboribetsu
Days 2 and 3 at Lake Toya and Hakodate
Day 4 at Niseko
Day 5 at Otaru


You don’t need three days at Sapporo. In fact, 2 days is perfectly fine. There are shockingly few interesting attractions. Do you really need to visit Moerenuma Park (a park?!) or Okurayama Viewing Point to see a ski slope? Didn’t think so. They are, by the way, rated second and fifth top tourist attractions respectively on Tripadvisor. That will give you a gauge on what to expect.

So for this itinerary, most of the things are easily accomplished in two days, and for the third day, it’s outlet mall shopping! Hooray.

Where to Stay in Sapporo 

You should definitely stay between Sapporo JR Station, Sapporo Station (Namboku line and Toho Line), and Odori Station (Namboku lineToho Line, and Tozai Line). These three stations are connected by an underground walkway. It’s most convenient staying near the Sapporo JR Station if you’re carrying your luggage and taking train to and from the airport. But if you are ok transferring trains for the Airport run, then Odori might be most central in terms of location.

We stayed at Hotel MyStay Sapporo Aspen for 3 nights (pictured above). I was unhappy about the way the hotel does things. We booked two rooms online, one smoking room and one non-smoking room. When we were there, they suddenly told us that we had to pay more for the non-smoking room because demand was high.

This is ridiculous.

Firstly, why are non-smokers, who don’t make the room dirty with smoke and ashes and butts, punished for our good habits? It is easier to clean a non-smoking room than a smoking room.

Secondly, if demand was low, would they have reduced the pricing they quoted us online? No. So how could they increase the price when demand was high?

Thirdly, when we booked the rooms online, they should have already informed us, so that if we are unhappy about this policy, we could still scout around for another hotel. By telling us at the reception, we had no choice but to accept the price, which was ¥24500 (S$ 300) a night for one room at a 3-star hotel.

The hotel itself is quite good. The best thing is the location. It’s 5 to 10 minutes walk from the Sapporo JR Station, or just 3 streets away from the station. The room itself is rather small with a queen sized bed, leaving it barely any room to walk. However, the toilet is of a good size with a bathtub.

How to Get Around in Sapporo

If, like us, you have returned the car at Otaru, you can take public transport (bus and train) which is very convenient. For buses, consult your Google Maps app.

They have an one-day card (¥830 weekday or ¥520 weekend, public holiday) for unlimited rides on the subway only. But if you intend to stay more than one day, there is either the Kitaca or Sapica card. The Kitaca card allows you to take JR trains, subway trains, and buses, but the Sapica card is not accepted on JR trains. You can use the Kitaca card to take JR train to the airport when you leave.

But the station master, who spoke English, told us to get the Sapica card. Not sure why. We took the Sapica card and on the day we left Hokkaido, we refunded the card at Sapporo station and bought JR train tickets to the airport.

Ok, moving onto Days 6 to 8 in Sapporo for the next entry.

You may be interested in…
10 Must-Eat Food in Hokkaido
Matsunomi 松の實, Sapporo Hokkaido: Bib Gourmand Awardee, Famed for Duck Soba, Not a Quack
Michelin Bib Gourmand Ramen in Hokkaido: Ippontei 一本亭 at Lake Toya and Ramen Shingetsu ラーメン 信月 at Sapporo
Four Fish Markets in Southern Hokkaido: Hakodate, Otaru, and Sapporo

Written by Dr. A. Nathanael Ho.


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8-Day Hokkaido Itinerary: Days 2 and 3 at Lake Toya and Hakodate

After our pre-planning and our Day 1 at onsen town Noboribetsu, we visited Lake Toya and Hakodate on Days 2 and 3.

10 a.m.: Check out of hotel at Noboribetsu and drive for one hour to Lake Toya, which has an active volcano, Mount Usu. When Mount Usu erupted in March and April 2000, over 60 new craters opened up on the west side of the mountain.

You have three options here but they are closed during winter:

Kompirayama Walking Trail (40 minutes): starts at the Toyako Visitor Center in Toyako Onsen and leads to the Nishiyama parking lot. Along the way, you can see various ruins, including a destroyed public bath house, apartment block and bridge. The trail also passes two of the largest craters from the 2000 eruption, as well as large erosion control dams.

Nishiyama Crater Walking Trail (20 minutes): At the end of Kompirayama Walking Trail is Nishiyama parking lot. If you want to skip Kompirayama, you may drive up to this parking lot. At Nishiyama, you will see more newly created craters around Mount Nishiyama. Several destroyed buildings, disrupted roads and broken phone poles have been left untouched for visitors to witness the destructive power of the volcano. Then you will reach another carpark.

Observatory on top of Mount Kompirayama: The paid observatory is accessible by car. It provides panoramic views over Lake Toya and the new craters on the west side of Mount Usu.

12.30 p.m. : Lunch! We had the Michelin Bib Gourmand ramen Ippontei 一本亭.

1.15 p.m.: Start your 3-hour drive to Hakodate.

4.15 p.m.: Check into your hotel. Since you’re driving, the location of the hotel doesn’t really matter. But as all our travelling plans, we like to stay in the city centre, where most things are accessible. We stayed at Smile Hotel Hakodate, which is just across from Hakodate JR Station, and a 3-minute walk from Hakodate Asaichi Morning Market. Of course, if you have some cash to burn, you can stay at Four Points by Sheraton Hakodate, which is just beside the station and in front of the market.

I want to talk about Smile Hotel Hakodate since some readers may want to stay here too.

Actually, there is nothing much to say. It’s a very tiny functional room with a prefabricated toilet ubiquitous in Japan; many 2- or 3-star Japanese hotels use the same model of toilet. You have to pay for parking at ¥500 a day; it’s a full day of parking, so it’s pretty worth it.

The best thing about the hotel is the fantastic location.

4.30 p.m.: Drive to Kanemori Red Brick Warehouse & Bay area. It used to be a warehouse in 1909 but has been refurbished to become a commercial shopping and eating area. You can buy your souvenirs here.

6 p.m.: You can eat at the Red Brick Warehouse area, but we scouted around and didn’t want to eat anything there. We drove to Tsunezushi, Michelin Guide Bib Gourmand sushi restaurant.

Next Day:

9.30 a.m.: Go to Hakodate Morning Market for breakfast. It is a small market and takes less than 30 minutes to stroll. Take your time.

11 a.m.:  Drive to Old Fort Goryokaku 五稜郭, a western-style fort completed almost 150 years ago. It is worth going because this is where the last civil war of Japan took place. There are two parts of the fort. First there is the star-shaped fort itself, which is free to enter. And then there is a Goryokaku Observatory Tower, which overlooks the fort, so that you can see the star shape clearly. The Observatory requires payment.

1 p.m.: Lunch. We took a 5-minute drive to Unagidokoro Takahashi うなぎ処 髙はし which specialises in unagi.

2 p.m.: Drive and park at Mount Hakodate Ropeway. Then cross the road to walk around Motomachi, an historical area just below Mount Hakodate. If you click on the Motomachi link, there is a suggested walking route, which will be exhausting. I would suggesting seeing only the Old Public Hall of Hakodate Ward and Hokkaido Russian Orthodox Church. They are parallel on the road with the Ropeway, so just cross the road.

4p.m.: Return to the Ropeway to take a cable car to Mount HakodateWatch the sunset turn into night.

I want to manage your expectations here. It was a terrible experience for us. Firstly, the cable car wasn’t working that day, so we had to take the bus up. We waited for the 3rd bus until we could squeeze on. Up there, it was super, super crowded. All the tourists in Hakodate were congregated there. Everybody was rushing; it felt like war. It was terrible although the view was stunning.

7 p.m. We wanted to go to Asari Honten at Hakodate, a sukiyaki restaurant which is over 100 years old, but it was full and we didn’t make reservations. So we went to Asari しゃぶしゃぶあさり, which is also another sukiyaki restaurant. Not really sure why their shop names are so similar or if they are related, but it was fantastic. One of the best meals in Hokkaido.

Next Day:

8.30 a.m.: If you stay near the JR Hakodate station like we did, revisit the Hakodate Morning Market for breakfast, but this time, just eat and leave. No gallivanting.

9 a.m.: Check out of Hotel.

If you want to see other places in Hakodate, click on the link to their official tourism site.

And then we will proceed to the skiing town Niseko, but we didn’t ski. (Well there are many things there to do besides skiing.)

You may be interested in…
10 Must-Eat Food in Hokkaido
What to Eat at Niseko Hokkaido
Hilton Niseko Village Review, Hokkaido: Naked in Nature! Wild Wild Wet!
Oyado Kiyomizuya 御やど清水屋, Noboribetsu Hokkaido: Onsen Ryokan at Hell Valley (And the Best Kaiseki Ever)

Written by Dr. A. Nathanael Ho.


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8-Day Self-Drive Hokkaido Itinerary: Pre-Planning

This 8-day Hokkaido Itinerary was planned with two objectives in mind: first, we wanted to travel leisurely because it is a holiday and we wanted to relax. Second, we will return to Hokkaido to explore the northern part, so this time, we explored the southern part where most of the attractions are.

In 8 days, we visited 5 popular towns, Noboribetsu, Hakodate, Niseko, Otaru, and Sapporo. All these towns have their own tourism websites, which are very useful. I’ll link to them in the individual posts for convenience.


We managed to get a very cheap deal for air tickets at S$ 400. We ate moderately well and stayed at mostly 2- or 3-star hotels that are conveniently located at the heart of the city. We drove for 5 days and took public transport for 3 days. All in all, we spent slightly below S$ 2000 (¥165, 000) per person.

Information on Car Rental in Hokkaido

Before you can drive in Hokkaido, remember to apply for your International Driving Permit in your home country. (We did it online at Automobile Association of Singapore for S$ 20.) However, if you’re citizen of some countries, you may need a Japanese translation of your driving license or you may have to take a driving test in Japan. Best to check at Japanese Automobile Federation.

Second, rent a car. There are many Japanese car rental websites such as Nippon Rent-A-Car and Toyota Rent-A-Car. But you can also go international car rental companies like Budget or Avis. Initially, we wanted to go for Japanese companies because #supportlocal. But then, we went for the most affordable one, Hertz. We spent S$ 600 (¥50000) for five days for a comfortable big car including insurance. Good price.

Driving conditions: The roads are pretty smooth and driving is easy. But the mountain roads are winding and may be dangerous. If you’re driving in winter, make sure your car is fitted with snow tyres. Drive slowly.

One of the highlights of our drive was to see a gigantic moose with magnificent antlers on an isolated road. It was ginormous, much bigger than the car, but it scampered up a steep slope when it saw our car. I didn’t know moose can climb slopes. So be careful and drive slowly in case you knock down any wildlife.

It is a left-hand drive, so no problem for Singaporeans. Signs are also clear but in cities, the lane markings are not strange, so drive slowly.

Regarding parking, most restaurants and many convenience shops provide free parking in the space in front of the shops. Hotels may require a small token of parking fee, which is really affordable (we paid ¥1000 for two nights of parking at our hotel.). But public parking tends to be expensive.

To top up petrol, you need to insert money first. But don’t worry, there will be attendants to help. In our 5 days of driving, we only topped up the gas tank once. And the gas is so cheap.

Lastly, navigation through gps. Not sure if it’s our car rental or that their gps are the same everywhere. While the GPS system in the car speaks English, the buttons and entering addresses are in Japanese. This means the GPS is completely useless. We used Google Maps to navigate and it was quite accurate. However, one thing to note is since we were using a dongle, and we visited some rural areas, it means that there may not have reception for Google Maps. If that happens, just drive to a more populated area to get reception.

When you’re selecting routes for your GPS, note that there are two kinds: one is a very long route but the other is the expressway with rather high tolls. We took the expressway once and it was ¥3200 (S$ 40), ouch. If you have the time I suggest a longer route. But if you value time more, the expressway cuts away much time.

Ok, now you’re ready.

You may be interested in…
Four Fish Markets in Southern Hokkaido: Hakodate, Otaru, and Sapporo
Tour at Nikka Whisky Distillery Hokkaido: Free Shots of Whisky Here!
What to Eat at Niseko Hokkaido
Matsunomi 松の實, Sapporo Hokkaido: Bib Gourmand Awardee, Famed for Duck Soba, Not a Quack

Written by Dr. A. Nathanael Ho.


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