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Hokkaido Rail Pass. The best deal for rail trip in Hokkaido for oversea visitors.

Clock Tower is Sapporo’s icon.

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.

Hamanasu carpet seat is not covered fully by the pass. (C) JP Rail

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.

Types Ordinary Green
3 days 15,430 yen 22,110 yen
Flex 4 days 20,060 yen 27,770 yen
5 days 20,060 yen 27,770 yen
7 days 22,630 yen 30,860 yen
Super Hokuto

Most of Hokkaido Limited Express trains are operating for a long transfer.

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):

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.

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.

If you arrive at Kandai and depart from Kansai, ICOCA and Haruka is same types of deal as Suica and Monorail/N’ex. It includes round trip by Haruka and 1,500 yen preloaded 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.

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6 Comments to “Hokkaido Rail Pass. The best deal for rail trip in Hokkaido for oversea visitors.”

  1. Chumpol says:

    I need to buy JR. hokkaido rail pass. Can hokkaido rail pass cover ticket sleeping train from Sapporo to Aomori(Hamanusa). if it not cover how do I pay the extra?

    • Hi Chumpol,

      If you take reserved seat (Dream car), it’s covered in coverage area. But the last stretch between Nakaoguni and Aomori is not JR Hokkaido area. You have to pay for base fare (580 yen) and express surcharge (1600 yen) on top of pass. If you take Carpet car, this seat is not covered. You have to pay full express surcharge for Sapporo-Aomori, 1820 yen. You can pay when you book this ticket by JR Hokkaido pass.


      Takeshi / JP Rail

  2. Rachel says:


    I am planning to travel to Hokkaido (8-12 Feb) & Tokyo (12-15 Feb).
    I am unsure if I should get JR pass or Suica, therefore I hope you can provide some guidance.
    Below is my roughly planned itinerary.

    8 Feb
    Chitose airport to ANA hotel sapporo.
    JR Tower, Odori Park, Sapporo TV tower, Former Hokkaido Government office

    9 Feb
    Tsudome Site, Susukino, Tanukikoji shopping arcade, Mt Miowa

    10 Feb
    Day trip to Otaru

    11 Feb
    Either Nijo Market or Jogai Ichiba (Curb market)
    I plan to Asahiyama Zoo but too much time spend on travelling, not sure if it is really time worth.
    If not going to Zoo, I might plan for Onsen day trip to Jozankei.

    12 Feb
    Depart Sapporo and fly to Haneda Tokyo.
    Hotel is Keio Plaza Shinjuku
    Visit Shibuya, Shinjuku

    13 Feb
    Day trip to Hakone

    14 Feb
    Visit Yushima Tenjin for Ume Matsuri, Asakusa, walk over to Tokyo skytree, Odaiba

    15 Feb
    Goto Narita airport

    Thank you very much.

  3. Ariel says:


    I be in Hokkaido for 7 days follow by Tokyo for 4 days. Going mt Fuji too. So I shd get a 7 days Hokkaido pass and what pass should I get for the Tokyo trip? Thanks

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