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 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.

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

  1. Hi Takeshi san,

    I will visit Hokkaido this Sep and below is my final itinerary. I wish you can advise if it is in order. I am going to get the Flexi 4 days Pass for the trip or would it be any better choice of pass which I can consider for the below. Also, by chance I can visit other places or do a little more aside the covered areas when Flexi 4 pass is used for the day.

    Appreciate your advice. Thank you. – Sue.

    D1 : New Chitose – Muroran – Toya – Muroran (Flexi 4)
    D2 : Muroran – Noboribetsu – Muroran (bus)
    D3 : Muroran – Hakodate (Flexi 4)
    D4 : Hakodate – Onuma National Park – Hakodate (Flexi 4)
    D5 : Hakodate
    D6 : Hakodate – Sapporo (Flexi 4)
    D7 : Sapporo – Otaru – Sapporo (separate train ticket)
    D8 : Sapporo – Jozankei – Sapporo (bus)
    D9 : Sapporo
    D10 : Sapporo – New Chitose

  2. Hi Takeshi-san,
    We are a family of 5 (3 children aged 11,7 and 3). We are spending 7 days just in Sapporo and Otaru. Does it make any sense to get any pass? We will likely do a day trip to Otaru and the rest of the time going places in Sapporo.

  3. Hi Takeshi san,
    I’m planning to do a trip for Hokkaido and Tokyo. And below was my initial itinerary. i would like to seek for your advice on the transportation part..

    Day 1 New Chitose Airport to Sapporo
    Day 2 Sapporo to Furano to Sapporo (Drive)
    Day 3 Sapporo (Drive)
    Day 4 Sapporo to Otaru (Drive)
    Day 5 Otaru to Lake Toya (Drive)
    Day 6 Lake Toya to Hakodate (Drive)
    Day 7 Hakodate to Tokyo (Wanted to try the bullet train)
    Day 8 Tokyo
    Day 9 Tokyo – Kamakura/ Yokohama
    Day10 Tokyo – Mt Fuji

    I’m planning to drive around in hokkaido. or do you recommend to go by train? is there any pass that is worth to take which cover most of the area that i listed above.
    ** i will be travelling with elderly and infant.

    Hope to hear from you soon =)

    Thank you so much!

    1. Hi Candy san,

      You may use JR East South Hokkaido Rail Pass.

      YOu can use it for day 1, 7, 8, 9 and 10. But this pass covers only the trip until you get Otsuki on the way to Fuji. You need to add the fare for Otsuki to Lake Kawaguchi (Fuji).


      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  4. Dear Takeshi San,

    I will be travelling to these places:
    1)Sapporo (arrived at around 6pm)
    2) Sapporo -Tomamu
    3)Tomamu- Sapporo – Otaru
    4)Sapporo city
    5)Sapporo- Tokyo metro area(by plane)
    6)Tokyo metro area
    7)Tokyo – Fukuoka
    9)Fukuoka city area
    10)Fukuoka – Osaka
    11)Osaka – Kobe
    12)Osaka – Kyoto
    14.Osaka- Airport

    Appreciate if you can advise what passes to purchase for the itinerary above as I am not sure if 14 days pass will be the best option.Thank you:)

    1. Hi Selvy san,

      7 days pass, local deal and regular fare combination mat be slightly cheaper than 14 days pass.
      You can use a regular ticket for day 1 to 4. After arriving at Tokyo, you may use the deal in the link below:

      And then you can start using JR pass 7 days from day 7 when you leave for Fukuoka.

      You can add other deal in the link below for the last day to KIX.

      If you want to get easy and comfort, you may use 14 days pass. The above plan is cheaper but you can get the worth of 14 days pass by this trip too.


      Takeshi / JPRail

  5. Hi Takeshi san,

    I have a question here :-

    Does the Hokkaido Rail Pass covers rapid airport? based on what I research, it does NOT seem to cover. Based on my research, i would need to use the rapid airport to go to otaru and to go to minami chitose to take another train to Noboribetsu.

    And which pass do you think i should take?
    Day 1 from New Chitose Airport to Noboribetsu
    Day 2 from Noboribetsu to Hakodate
    Day 3 from Hakodate to Sapporo
    Day 4 from Sapporo to Otaru to Sapporo
    Day 5 from Sapporo to Takino Suzuran Hillside
    Day 6 stay in Sapporo
    Day 7 from Sapporo to New Chitose Airport

    Your valuable input is much appreciated!

    1. Hi Kathy san,

      It is covered. Hokkaido Rail Pass covers all JR trains. In Hokkaido, basically all trains are JR trains other than subway in Sapporo and streetcar in Sapporo and Hakodate.

      When you go to Noboribetsu, I recommend you to take Limited Express Hokuto/Super Hokuto or Suzuran. Those trains are much nicer than rapid airport. Of course both trains are covered by Hokkaido Rail Pass.


      Takeshi / JPRail.com

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