If you will travel in Hokkaido only, Hokkaido Rail Pass is the best choice for you. But if you travel in other cities and areas, even just staying in Tokyo, you may consider about other passes. You should compare and find which one is more suitable for you.
In this post, I show you the details about Hokkaido Rail Pass. And I will compare Hokkaido Rail Pass and Japan Rail Pass
Covered area by Hokkaido Rail Pass
Hokkaido Rail Pass cover all JR lines in Hokkaido and Tsuaru Kaikyo line (Seikan Tunnel) to Nakaoguni station. This station is located outside of Hokkaido. But this is the border station of JR Hokkaido and JR East. It is located in Aomori. But it is away from Aomori station. You cannot access to Aomori without any extra charge.
In case that you travel outside of Hokkaido by this pass, the pass cover basic fare from/to Nakaoguni. But you need to pay extra limited express/express fare from/to the first/last stop station in Hokkaido. It is mostly Kikonai station when you take Super Hakucho. If you take overnight express train Hamanasu, it is Hakodate station.
Valid trains and bus lines
The rule of Hokkaido Rail Pass is same as Japan Rail Pass. The only difference is the covered area. So all daytime trains in Hokkaido are covered by this pass. You can book reserved seat without any extra charge. Of course, Green pass cover green seat surcharge. Especially Green car service by JR Hokkaido have a great reputation. If you want to see somo more details about the difference between Green and Ordinary, please refer the post, Which JR Pass is better, Green or Ordinary? Worthwhile buying Japan Rail Pass Green Pass?. I wrote about JR pass. But it is same rule.
Hokkaido Rail Pass cover the bus lines too. But most of lines are commute lines. In my opinion, only Otaru-Sapporo line and Samani-Erimo Misaki line are usable for the tourist. Please refer Validity of Japan Rail Pass to get the details.
When you take overnight trains, basically the pass cover basic fare only. Japan Rail Pass cover both Carpet car and Dream car of Hamanasu. But Hokkaido Rail Pass do not cover Carpet car fully. If you use Carpet car by this pass, you need to pay whole express surcharge (1,770 yen as of Aug, 2012). If you take Dream car, you don’t need to pay any extra. But Hamanasu do not stop at any station between Aomori and Hakodate. If you get on/off at Hakodate, the pass cover it. But if you get on/off at Aomori, you need to pay basic fare for Nakaoguni – Aomori (570 yen). And you need to pay express surcharge for Hakodate – Aomori (1.050 yen).
If you take Hokutose, Cassiopeia or Twilight Express, the pass cover only basic fare. You need to pay all limited express surcharge and accommodation fee. This rule is completely same as Japan Rail Pass.
Types and prices
Hokkaido Rail Pass have four types, 3 days, 5 days, 7 days and Flex 4 days. I would like to compare these prices and single fare.
|3 days||15,000 yen||21,500 yen|
|Flex 4 days||19,500 yen||27,000 yen|
|5 days||19,500 yen||27,000 yen|
|7 days||22,000 yen||30,000 yen|
The passes except Flex 4 days must be used in consecutive days. The validity of a rail pass starts from 12 O’clock at night. Child (6-11 years) is half price.
ex) If you start to use 3 days pass on May 1, the pass is expired at 23:59 on May 3. However if you are on board the train, your pass will cover until you get off the train.
Before I compare the prices, I would like to show you some regular fare standards (Limited Express reserved seat surcharge and basic fare):
- One way trip from New Chitose Airport to Sapporo by Rapid Airport or local — 900 yen
- One way trip from Sapporo to Otaru by Rapid Airport or local — 620 yen
- One way trip from New Chitose Airport to Asahikawa by Limited Express Super Kamui — 5,550 yen
- One way trip from Sapporo to Hakodate by Limited Express Hokuto/Super Hokuto — 8,590 yen
- One way trip from Sapporo to Asahikawa by Limited Express Super Kamui — 4,680 yen
- One way trip from Sapporo to Abashiri by Limited Express Okhotsk — 8,640 yen
- One way trip from Sapporo to Kushiro by Limited Express Super Ozora — 8,120 yen
- One way trip from Sapporo to Furano by Limited Express Furano Lavender Express — 4,680 yen
- One way trip from Sapporo to Wakkanai by Limited Express Super Soya/Sarobetsu — 10,170 yen
If you have round trip to Hakodate from Sapporo, you can get the money worth of 3 days pass. Especially if you have a trip from Sapporo to Hakodate, Kushiro, Abashiri or Wakkanai, round trip fare is about 19,000 yen. It is almost equal to the price of Flex 4 days and 5 days. It is quite easy to get your money worth of even 7 days pass.
Compare Hokkaido Rail Pass and Japan Rail Pass
If you fly in / out Hokkaido and do not go other than Hokkaido, Hokkaido Rail Pass is the best. If you go to Hokkaido and other spots, you need to think about Japan Rail Pass too. I show you some samples.
Extra fare for round trip to Aomori by Hokkaido Rail Pass
Aomori is the closet city outside of Hokkaido. But you need to pay 4,760 yen for round trip by Limited Express Super Hakucho. The price difference between Japan Rail Pass 7 days and Hokkaido Rail Pass 7 days is 6,300 yen. Hokkaodo Rail Pass + extra fare is still cheaper than Japan Rail Pass 7 days. But the price difference is not such a big amount.
If you think about purchasing Hokkaido Rail Pass 7 days, you should make sure that you don’t go outside of Hokkaido. Otherwise you should purchase Japan Rail Pass 7 days.
In case of staying in Tokyo or Osaka and fly to Hokkaido
You have to estimate how much trains you will take in Tokyo or Osaka. First of all, think about the fare for airport access.
- Single fare for one way trip to Tokyo from Narita Airport by Narita Express — 2,940 yen
- Round trip Suica and N’ex — 5,500 yen
- Single fare for one way trip to Shinagawa from Haneda Airport by Keihin Kyuko — 400 yen
- Single fare for one way trip to Hamamatsucho from Haneda Airport by Tokyo Monorail — 470 yen
- Round trip Suica and Monorail — 2,700 yen
- Single fare for one way trip to Shin-Osaka from Kansai Airport by Limited Express Haruka — 2,980 yen
- Round trip ICOCA and Haruka — 4,000 yen
If you arrive at Haneda and depart from Haneda for Hokkaido, you don’t spend much for access. But you need to spend at least 1,000 yen. And also you need to think about the fare for sightseeing. If you purchase Suica and Monorail, it includes round trip by Monorail and 1,500 yen e-money preloaded. You can use local JR line to explore in Tokyo. But you might need to spend more. It depends on your itinerary.
If you arrive at Narita and depart from Narita, you may spend about 5,000 to 6,000 yen. It is same story as Haneda. If you purchase Suica and N’ex, it includes round trip by Narita Express and 1,500 yen e-money.
These above samples show you about airport access. Even though some deals include e-money, you may spend more. So even if you fly to Hokkaido, you may think about Japan Rail Pass 7 days for both Tokyo/Osaka and Hokkaido as long as you complete travel in 7 days. If you travel Hokkaido for 5 days, you can purchase Hokkaido Rail Pass 5 days and some deals in Tokyo or Osaka. It may be cheaper than Japan Rail Pass 7 days.
If you are resident
You can not purchase Hokkaido Rail Pass and Japan Rail Pass. Please refer the post, How to choose Rail Pass for trip in Hokkaido. Many choices for both visitors and residents in Japan to get the details about the deals for residents.
Tokyo Disney Resort
Sapporo Hakodate Furano, Biei Kushiro Abashiri, Shiretoko
Sendai Hakone Yokohama Kusatsu Kawaguchiko (Fuji) Karuizawa Nagano Nagoya Kanazawa Takayama Shirakawago
Kyoto (Kyoto station Gion, Higashiyama Arashiyama )
Osaka (JR Osaka, Umeda Shin-Osaka Namba, Shinsaibashi USJ Kansai airport )
Kobe, Arima Kinosaki Hiroshima Miyajima
Hakata Nagasaki Beppu Yufuin
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