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

World famous Sapporo Snow Festival (C) Yasufumi Nishi / (C) JNTO
World famous Sapporo Snow Festival (C) Yasufumi Nishi / (C) JNTO

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

*The information in this article is current at the time of writing.

Covered area by Hokkaido Rail Pass

*Hokkaido Shinkansen will open on March 26, 2016. Any trains on Tsugaru Kaikyo line train will be discontinued a few days before Shinkansen open. After Hokkaido Shinkansen will open, Tsugaru Kaikyo line will not be covered by Hokkaido Rail Pass. Hokkaido Rail Pass will NOT COVER Hokkaido Shinkansen and Donan Isaribi Railway between Goryokaku and Kikonai.

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 similar to Japan Rail Pass. The only difference is the coverage area. So all daytime trains in Hokkaido are covered by this pass. You can book reserved seat without any extra charge.

Hokkaido Rail Pass covers the bus lines within Sapporo city too. Other inter-city bus services, like Sapporo-Monbetsu, are not covered by Hokkaido Rail Pass. Sapporo-Otaru express bus service is covered by the pass. But on this bus route, two different companies operate the bus, those are JR Hokkaido Bus and Chuo Bus. Only bus service that is operated by JR Hokkaido Bus is covered by this pass.

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

When you take overnight trains, basically the pass covers basic fare only. Japan Rail Pass covers both Carpet car and Dream car of Hamanasu. But Hokkaido Rail Pass does not cover Carpet car fully. If you use Carpet car by this pass, you need to pay whole express surcharge (1,820 yen as of Apr, 2015). If you take Dream car, you don’t need to pay any extra. But Hamanasu does not stop at any stations between Aomori and Hakodate. If you get on/off at Hakodate, the pass covers it. But if you get on/off at Aomori, you need to pay basic fare for Nakaoguni – Aomori (580 yen). And you need to pay express surcharge for Hakodate – Aomori (550 yen).

If you take overnight trains to Ueno, such as Hokutosei or Cassiopeia, the pass covers 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.
*Green pass was terminated on March 31, 2015.

Adult Child
3 days 16,500 yen 8,250 yen
Flex 4 days 22,000 yen 11,000 yen
5 days 22,000 yen 11,000 yen
7 days 24,000 yen 12,000 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 (midnight to midnight).

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 and up. 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 arrive at Narita and depart from Narita, you may spend about 5,000 to 6,000 yen.

If you arrive at Kandai and depart from Kansai, ICOCA and Haruka 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.

163 thoughts on “Hokkaido Rail Pass. The best deal for rail trip in Hokkaido for oversea visitors.”

  1. Hi again Takeshi San,

    It was very useful information given to me last time, thank you.

    My next trip will be as follow:

    17 Jun : Narita – New Chitose (eta 18.00)
    18 Jun : around Sapporo city (tv tower, shiroi koibito..), and to Otaru (museum box…)
    19 Jun : Sapporo to Asahikawa (zoo, etc)
    20 Jun : Sapporo to Furano
    21 Jun : Sapporo to Noboribetsu
    22 Jun : Back to Tokyo (am)

    What do you suggest for the best pass? I was thinking about 3 days Hokkaido Rail Pass (20-22 Jun).

    Highly appreciate your response and help.

    Best regards,
    Chenny – Jakarta

  2. Good day to you, Mr Takeshi.
    Thank you so much for answering our queries first of all.

    I would like to seek your advice if i should get a 7 day JR pass or other passes or without one for the following itinerary.

    Day 1: New Chitose airport -Noboribetsu
    Day 2: Noboribetsu – Naka Furano
    Day 3: naka furano – furano – biei -naka furano (sightseeing on various farms eg, tomita farn, rokugo platform, choei lavender farm, blue pond if possible)
    Day 4: Naka furano – asahikawa (zoo and ramen village) – naka furano
    day 5: naka furano – susukino
    day 6: susukino – sapporo (tour around sapporo area eg sapporo beer museum, curb market, mt moiwa) – susukino
    day 7: susukino – new chitose airport

    ** I am aware of the validity of Hokkaido JR pass that it is only exclusive to JR trains in hokkaido except shinkansen, local buses, subway etc..

    Thank you for the time!!

    Warmest regards,

    1. Hi Lionel,

      You may use Hokkaido rail pass 5 days for the first 5 days. Because you don’t have any chances to use the pass on day 6. Sapporo to New Chitose fare is around 1,000 yen. So 5 days pass + single fare for day 7 is slightly cheaper than 7 days pass.

      And also 5 days pass does not give you a big saving. In my rough calculation, total cost is almost same as 5 days pass price. But you can get a convenience.


      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      1. Thank you so much for the prompt reply, Takeshi-san!

        May I ask few more questions?
        1) Do you suggest that I buy a one-day pass for subway trains for traveling in Sapporo on Day 6?
        2) and more importantly, are most attractions in Sapporo accessible via subway trains?
        3) Do you recommend getting a ‘IC card’ to facilitate traveling on local buses and trains? If so, what is the recommended estimated amount to top-up given the itinerary?

        Thank you once again, Takeshi-san! Your word of advice is greatly appreciated. As this is a solo trip, these forehand piece of information will come very useful to me!


  3. Hi Mr. Takeshi,

    I’ll be travelling to Sapporo with the following itinerary:-
    Day 1: Chitose to Sapporo
    Day 2: Sapporo to Otaru & Otaru to Sapporo
    Day 3: Sapporo to Hakodate (will be visiting Mt. Hakodate & Hell Valley)
    Day 4: Hakodate to Noboribetsu (will be visiting Lake Toya)
    Day 5: Noboribetsu to Chitose

    Would really appreciate it if you could advise on whether the Hokkaido Rail Pass is suitable for my itinerary above.

    Thank you in advance and have a wonderful day ahead!

  4. Hi Takeshi San,
    I am arriving CTS on the 14th Jun
    My itin : 14jun Cts to Shintoku
    15jun -Furano
    16jun -Furano
    17jun -20asahikawa
    20-21 sapporo
    22 Sapporo back to CTS airport
    can I use 16-19 Furano biei asahikawa train tic
    n the remaining days on 4day Flexi pass?

    1. Hi Lee san,

      First of all, I don’t recommend you to go to Shintoku. If you are really interested in Shintoku, you can go. But Shintoku-Furano transportation is inconvenient. The part of train line between Shintoku and Furano was damaged by storm in last year. There are substitute bus service running but not much info in English. I just put the timetable for this segment but it’s in Japanese.

      If you are skip to Shintoku, just go to Sapporo or may be Asahikawa on 14th. You may use Furano Biei ticket but I don’t think you can get the worth of Flex 4 days pass. Single ticket is cheaper in my rough calculation. But if you have any plan to visit outside Asahikawa when you are Asahikawa, it may work.


      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      1. Dear Takeshi San,
        Thank you so much for your promp reply.
        If i change my plans ie:
        14 – Cts to Asahikawa
        15 – Asahikawa
        16 – Asahikawa to biei
        17 – Biei to Furano
        18 – Furano
        19 – furano to sapporo
        20-22 free and easy in sapporo and prob
        to Otaru
        What do u suggest i get for the rail pass?
        Will i be able to use the summer train pass
        for asahikawa- biei-furano?
        Much appreciates for your patience and time and advise. Thank you
        19 –

  5. Hi Mr Takeshi

    Firstly I like to thank you for your time,my questions below
    Day 1arriving Narita airport on 18 May around 2pm(train to Sapporo using Jr. Pass)I wonder is it possible or should we stay a night in ueno first?
    Day 2 to day 8(19 May till 25 May)self drive in Hokkaido so we do not need any rail pass while in Hokkaido .
    Day 9 Sapporo to Aomori by jr pass.
    Day 10 Aomori
    Day 11 Aomori to Tokyo by Jr. Pass
    Day 12 Tokyo to narita airport

    I wonder if our itineries above able to work out by using Jr east south hokkiado pass ?

    1. Hi Josephine,

      JR East south Hokkaido rail pass is suitable for your trip. But you cannot get Sapporo on arrival day. The last train connections to Sapporo depart from Tokyo at 15:20. You will spend another one hour from Narita to Tokyo. And you also spend at least one hour to clear custom and immigration. It’s impossible. You should stay in Tokyo or somewhere on the way to Sapporo. Please see the links below to find the train timetables:


      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  6. hi Mr Takeshi,
    my itinerary as follow:
    May 15 New Chitose Airport to JR Sapporo Train Station
    May 16 Takino suzuran national park
    may 17 sapporo to Motomachi, Monbetsu-gun, Takinoue-cho back to sapporo
    May 18 spend whole day around sapporo
    May 19 JR Sapporo train station to new chitose airport

    what is the best pass for this itinerary?
    thanks in advance

  7. Hi Mr Takeshi,
    Need your advise to purchase the cheapest and suitable JR pass for my trip to hokkaido. below is my itinerary:
    12 May 17 – Chitose to noboribetsu
    13 May 17- Noboribetsu to Muroran
    14 May to 16 May – Muroran to hakodate
    16May to 18May – Hakodate to Aomori
    18 May to 20 May – Aomori to Niseko
    20 May to 21May – Niseko to Otaru
    21May to 23May – Otaru to Sapporo
    23May to 24May – Sapporo to New Chitose Airport
    Thank you very much.

      1. Mr Takeshi,

        My arrival would be 4pm at Chitose Airport on 25 Nov and depart on 30 Nov..1st destination would be Furano..27 Nov will be heading to Otaru..28 Nov to Hokodate..along the way will visit Hell Valley before proceeding to Hokadate..29 Nov back to Otaru..what is your advise for our purchase of Hokkaido rail pass.

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