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How to choose Rail Pass for trip in Hokkaido. Many choices for both visitors and residents in Japan.


Shiretoko Peninsula

Shiretoko Peninsula is one of most popular destination in Hokkaido. (C) JNTO

Hokkaido is most popular destination during summer time. Some of the travellers may arrive/depart at New Chitose airport and travel only in Hokkaido. I show you rail passes for Hokkaido trip. And also I would like to share the information with the resident in Japan. I will tell you about the pass that anyone can purchase.


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Summery of all available passes

All passes do not include the ticket to Hokkaido. These cover the trains and some bus lines in Hokkaido only.

Types 3days Flex
4days
5days 7days Remarks
Hokkaido
Rail
Pass
O:15000
G:21500
O:19500
G:27000
O:19500
G:27000
O:22000
G:30000
Visitor status with Foreign passport only. Child (6-11yrs) half price
Foreign
Student
Pass /
Working
Holiday
Pass
19000 - 22500 - Foreign student or working holiday status
Hokkaido
Free
Pass
(Hokkaido
Round
Tour Pass)
- - 25500 Available for anyone. Non reserved seat only
Kyunto
Hokkaido
Free Pass
17000 - - - Available for anyone until Sep 30, 2012. Non reserved seat only
Kyunto
Minami
Hokkaido
Free Pass
9200 - - - Available for anyone until Sep 30, 2012. Non reserved seat only in southern Hokkaido (Sapporo, Otaru, Muroran, Oshamanbe and Hakodate)

Let’s see the details of all above passes

Hokkaido Rail Pass

If you are a foreign tourist and enter in Japan as “temporary visitor”, you are eligible to purchase this pass. The price range is 3 days ordinary at 15,000 yen to 7 days green at 30,000 yen. The price for child (6 to 11 years old) is half price. It is free for under 5 years old as long as child travel with the adult passenger who have a pass.

Please the details about Hokkaido Rail Pass

JR Hokkaido Foreign Student Pass and Working Holiday Pass

If you are in Japan as “Exchange Student” or “Student”, you are eligible to purchase Foreign Student Pass. And if you are in Japan as Working Holiday, you can purchase Working Holiday Pass. These passes are different names but they are same type of pass. Please see the following links to get the detail about these passes.

3 days pass is sold at 19,000yen and 5 days pass is sold at 22,500 yen. These prices are higher than Hokkaido Rail Pass. But it is cheaper and better validity than Hokkaido Free Pass that anyone can purchase. Range of use is almost same as Hokkaido Rail Pass. JR Hokkaido Bus and Home liner train (express trains for commuter) are not covered. But this is not a big deal. JR Hokkaido Bus is not so much convenient. Home line is express train to Sapporo in early morning and from Sapporo in late evening. This train is completely different from limited express trains. Don’t worry about this.

If you are travel in all Hokkaido, this pass is your choice. But you really care about your budget, you can think about Kyunto Hokkaido Free Pass (available until end of Sep, 2012) at 17,000 yen for 3 days. See the below to get the details.

Hokkaido Round Tour Pass (北海道フリーパス)

Limited express Super Ozora

Limited express Super Ozora and most of express trains are covered by Hokkaido Round Tour Pass.

If you are a resident in Japan and look for unlimited ride pass for trains in Hokkaido, this it the pass that you need to purchase. This pass is sold at 25,500 yen for 7 days. No children rate and other duration are available. This pass is basically for domestic traveller. I understand that overseas traveller have much greater benefit than domestic traveller. But this is a reality.

The condition of this pass is different from other Hokkaido passes. The biggest difference are the following:

  • Reserved seat can be covered by this pass. But it is up to 6 times, not unlimited.
  • This pass cannot be used in Golden week, Obon period and holiday season. In 2012-2013 season, this restriction dates are May 3 to 5, August 11 to 15, and from December 29 to January 6, 2013.

Other conditions are almost same as other Hokkaido passes. Please check the details here.

Kyunto Hokkaido Free Pass (キュンと北海道フリーパス) and Kyunto South Hokkaido Free Ticket (キュンとみなみ北海道フリー乗車券)

This passes will be sold until Sep 28, 2012 and can be used until Sep 30, 2012. Kyunto Hokkaido Free Pass cover all JR trains in Hokkaido. Kyunto South Hokkaido Free Ticket cover only Local and Rapid trains on the following JR lines in south part of Hokkaido.

  • Hakodate line (Hakodate – Oshamanbe – Otaru – Sapporo)
  • Chitose line-Muroran line (Oshamanbe – Date Monbetsu – Higashi Muroran – Tomakomai – Minami Chitose – Sapporo, Higashi Muroran – Muroran, Minami Chitose – New Chitose airport)

You can ride non reserved seat of any trains by Kyunto Hokkaido Free Pass. But you cannot take reserved seat. If you want to take reserved seat, you need to pay all amount of limited express reserved seat surcharge. (not difference between non reserved and reserved) If you have a round trip to Kushiro or Abashiri from Sapporo, total fare is around 18,000 to 19,000 yen. the price of this pass is 17,000 yen. So you can get your money easily if you travel Kushiro or Abashiri from Sapporo.

As I mentioned above, limited express trains and express train are not covered by Kyunto South Hokkaido Free Ticket. If you want to ride Limited Express or Express, you have to pay limited express or express surcharge. But if you travel from Sapporo to Hakodate, basic fare is 5,560 yen for one way. If you have round trip between Hakodate and Sapporo, the price of this pass, 9,200 yen is better deal. If you want to ride express trains, just add surcharge. It is cheaper than single ticket anyway.

There are no English info available. I just put Japanese link just in case.
JR Hokkaido Free Pass and Ticket info page

For resident in Japan, there are so many discount tickets and rail passes that cover small limited area for domestic travellers. It is too many to explain. But I will try to share more information with you.


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8 Comments to “How to choose Rail Pass for trip in Hokkaido. Many choices for both visitors and residents in Japan.”

  1. Nicole says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    We have planned a trip which includes Hokkaido and Tokyo starting from 10 June. We were thinking of trying out the train route for one-way of the trip from Sapporo to Tokyo. Our itinery as follows:

    Day 1: Narita Airport- New Chitose (via flight) – Sapporo
    Day 2: Sapporo – Furano (Most likely self-drive)
    Day 3: Furano
    Day 4: Furano – Sapporo (Most likely self-drive)
    Day 5: Sapporo (Otaru, other parts of sapporo)
    Day 6: Sapporo – Aomori (Train)
    Day 7: Aomori – Tokyo (Shinkansen)
    Day 8: DisneySea
    Day 9: Skytree
    Day 10: Tokyo – Hakone – Tokyo (1 day trip)
    Day 11: Sight seeing around Tokyo – Narita airport

    May I know if it would be worth to take the JR Rail 7-day pass and activate it from Day 5 onwards? Or would it be cheaper to take single trip tickets on the way back to Tokyo.

    Thank you for your help!

    • Hi Nicole,

      JR Pass is better choice. Even if you use the pass for Sapporo to Tokyo, single fare is almost same as 7 days pass price. But you can use the pass to Odawara when you go to Hakone. So JR pass is much better deal.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JP Rail

  2. K T Lim says:

    Hi Takeshi-san, my family of 4 will travel in Hokkaido beginning Dec14,2012.
    14-16 : from Shin Chitose Airport to Otaru
    16-18 : from Otaru to Hakodate
    18-19 : Sapporo for transfer to Niseko by agent
    19-23 : at Niseko
    23-24 : Sapporo – transfer from Niseko
    24-26 : Ashikawa
    26-28 : Sapporo – for return to Shin Chitose Airport.
    We intend to take the train. Its our first time being in winter and on our own. Since I am travelling within Hokkaido Will it be better to buy the Flexi Pass? I am quite confuse with the train line. Do you think you can give me some suggestions with regard to taking the train like the Zoo train and the twinkle bus and the reserved seats etc.
    Thank you so much for your time.
    ,

    • JPRail says:

      Hi K T Lim,

      Flexible 4 days pass is a good choice. But it is available in 10 days. So if you use this pass, you need to give up using for some part of your trip. I think you cannot use it for both arrival day and departure day. As a result, you can use it for Otaru-Hakodate-Sapporo-Asahikawa-Sapporo. I think total fare will be almost same as flex 4 days pass price. Even if fare is same, flex pass is easy to handle for you.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JP Rail

  3. R Loh says:

    Hello Takeshi-San.

    my family of 4 will be visiting Hokkaido & we intend to take the train from Furano to Hakodate on 22 Dec 2012. It’s our first time travelling by train in Hokkaido. I checked hyperdia.com for the train timetable. We will leave at 10.04 am. Will it be alright for us to take our 4 luggages for the journey to Hakodate by train?

    Do you have any advice for first time train commuters like ourselves? We can’t speak Japanese at all

    Also, at Sapporo, we have about 1 hour before the train to hakodate comes. Will we be able to exit the station, have our lunch, then enter the jr station again using the same tickets?

    I would really appreciate it if you give me some advice. Thank you very much for your time.

  4. Hayabusa says:

    Hello Takeshi-san
    if you take hamanasu (dream seat) from aomori to sapporo (or viceversa) how much do you have to pay extra with the hokkaido rail pass ordinary type (nakaoguni-aomori fare)?,
    express fee
    + basic fare ?

    • JPRail says:

      Hi Hayabusa,

      You need to pay basic fare 570 yen for Aomori to Nakaoguni and express fare 1050 yen for Aomori to Hakodate because Hakodate is the first stop in Hokkiado.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JP Rail

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