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

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 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.

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

  1. Hi Takeshi San,

    Good evening!

    I would like to seek you advice whether I should purchase the Hokkaido Rail Pass or Single Ticket.

    I will take train from New Chitose Airport to Sapporo and stay there for 1 night.

    Then from Sapporo I will take train to Niseko / Kutchan Station and stay for 2 nights.

    From Niseko, I will take bus to Lake Toya and stay 1 night.

    From Lake Toya, I will take train back to Sapporo first and check in and take train again to Otaru and back again to Sapporo.

    Next day, from Sapporo again to Asahikawa and will back to Sapporo again.

    Lastly, will take train to airport.

    In between, I will have 2 days freely in Sapporo, not sure do i need to take train in order to visit some of the tourist attractions in Sapporo?

    Looking forward to hearing from you.



    1. Hi Crystals san,

      At this point, single fare is cheaper than Hokkaido rail pass. But if you have one more long trip, like day trip to Furano, Flex 4 days pass at 22,000 yen is your choice. In this case, you can use Flex 4 days for Sapporo-Kutchan, Toya-Otaru and back to Sapporo, day trip to Arahikawa, and one more trip. If you want to visit the places in Sapporo for both days, single fare is slightly cheaper.


      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      1. Dear Takeshi,

        Thanks for your prompt reply. But now our plan changed. Need to seek your advice again and hope won’t bother you too much.

        1) 2 days in Sapporo (do I need to train very often if travel within Sapporo)

        2) 1 day in Hakodate

        3) 1 day in Lake Toya

        4) 3 days in Sapporo but will travel Asahikawa and Otaru in between.

        Should I just take the single pass better? Thanks you again!

  2. Dear Takeshi-san
    Thank you for maintaining this wonderful rail portal!

    I am planning to be in Hokkaido this Christmas. From Chitose Airport, would like to go first to Noribetsu, then Hakodate and last Sapporo (around 7 to 8 days) before flying back to Tokyo.

    Would you recommend the use of the Hokkaido Rail Pass or just one-way tickets?

    Thanks in advance.

    Thank you for your advice!

    1. Hi Jennifer,

      Total fares will be almost same as 3 days pass. But your trip will be a week. At this point, single ticket is cheaper. But if you add one more place, you may be able to use 4 days flex pass.


      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  3. Hi Takeshi,
    I’m travelling to Haneda and planning to go to Sapporo directly from Haneda airport, which way do you advise will be cheaper?by flight or train, which means i need to buy JR pass? I plan to stay in hokkaido for 5 days so initially i plan to buy hokkaido pass for 5 days, which is the cheapest way? Hokkaido 5 days pass by flight fr haneda or JR pass 7 days by train? Fyi, i’ll be staying in tokyo for another 2 days after my hokkaido trip. Thanks.

    1. Hi Evi,

      I think JR Pass is cheaper. Because the difference between Hokkaido Rail Pass 5 days and JR Pass 7 days is 7911 yen. I don’t think you can find round trip air fare to Sapporo from Haneda.

      But it takes much longer by train than flight.
      You will spend about 10 hours to get Sapporo from Tokyo by train. It takes less than 2 hours by flight to get Sapporo from Haneda. So you have to compare cost and time. You may find very attractive air fare to get Sapporo.


      Takeshi / JP Rail

  4. Hi Takeshi san,

    I will be travelling to Hokkaido in December.
    I will stay in Hakodate for 2 nights then travel to Niseko.
    I will stay in Niseko for 2 nights then travel to Sapporo.
    I will stay in Sapporo for 4 nights. During this period, I will travel to Otaru and Noboribetsu.
    What do you suggest? Should I buy a Hokkaido JR Pass or I should join a local tour?


      1. I will be travelling to Hakodate by plane. I plan to stay in Hakodate for 2 days before travelling to Niseko and stay for 2 days for skiing. Then I will travel to Sapporo and stay for 4 nights. During this period, I will travel to Otaru and Noboribetsu. I will be travelling in a group of 8 adults and 2 kids.

        By the way, do you have any recommendation for accommodation in Niseko?


        1. Hi HK,

          There is no deals available unfortunately. Any types of Hokkaido Rail pass is much more expensive than single fare. Single fare is much better choice for your trip.
          I have never stayed in Niseko before. Sorry but I have no idea about accommodation.


          Takeshi / JP Rail

  5. Hi Takeshi,

    I will be moving around and going to these 3 places – Sapporo, Hakodate, Tomamu.

    My question is – I will be in Sapporo first. Then I will go to Hakodate (stay 1 night).
    From Hakodate I will need to go to Tomamu.
    I would like to know is there a better way going to Tomamu from Hakodate or I will need to
    go back to Sapporo first then only can head to Tomamu. And is it possible to travel from
    Hakodate to Tomamu without stopover a night in Sapporo ?

    Any suggestion/best way to travel between these 3 places.

    Please advise.

    Thank you.


      1. HI Takeshi,

        Thanks for the info. I found a JR map and saw the route. Earlier, I made a mistake and thought the route from Sapporo to Hakoadte is via Otaru’s direction.


  6. Thank you for you information. Glad to know that I can purchase the Hokkaido pass in Sapporo itself. Easier for me to plan on spot.

  7. Hi Takeshi,

    Can you advise if I can buy Hokkaido JR pass in Japan ? Or must I purchase the pass in my country before I leave for Japan ?

    Thank you.


  8. 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?

    1. 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

  9. Hi,

    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.

    1. Hi Rachel,

      First of all, don’t purchase JR pass. It’s simply too much and too expensive. Single ticket is actually the best choice for most part of your trip.

      You may use subway ticket in Sapporo and Tokyo.

      You can purchase Suica. But this card gives you same value as cash. It makes your trip be easier but not give you any savings.

      And Hakone Free Pass is a good choice for trip to Hakone.


      Takeshi / JP Rail

  10. Hi

    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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