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

noboribetsuHokkaido Area
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 conventional lines in Hokkaido. The Hokkaido Shinkansen is not covered even though a part of the Hokkaido Shinkansen runs in Hokkaido.

Valid trains and bus lines

The rule of Hokkaido Rail Pass is similar to Japan Rail Pass. The only difference is the coverage area. All daytime trains in Hokkaido are covered by this pass. You can book a 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.

Please find the train network in Hokkaido in the link below:

You can find the major train’s timetable in the link below:

Due to COVID-19, it may be operated on a schedule different from the normal timetable. Check the train schedule on Hyperdia.
Hyperdia perfect guide, train timetable and route search engine

Types and prices

Hokkaido Rail Pass have four types, 3-day, 5-day, 7-day and Flex 4-day. I would like to compare these prices and single fare.
*Green pass was terminated on March 31, 2015.

5-day23,480 yen11,740 yen
7-day25,710 yen12,850 yen

The passes except Flex 4-day must be used in consecutive days. The validity of a rail pass starts from 12 O’clock at night (midnight to midnight).

If you start to use 3-day 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-day 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-day and 5-day. It is quite easy to get your money worth of even 7-day 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-day and Hokkaido Rail Pass 7-day is 6,300 yen. Hokkaodo Rail Pass + extra fare is still cheaper than Japan Rail Pass 7-day. But the price difference is not such a big amount.

If you think about purchasing Hokkaido Rail Pass 7-day, you should make sure that you don’t go outside of Hokkaido. Otherwise you should purchase Japan Rail Pass 7-day.

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 Kansai 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-day for both Tokyo/Osaka and Hokkaido as long as you complete travel in 7-day. If you travel Hokkaido for 5 days, you can purchase Hokkaido Rail Pass 5-day and some deals in Tokyo or Osaka. It may be cheaper than Japan Rail Pass 7-day.

I hope you will enjoy your trip in Hokkaido by Hokkaido Rail Pass.


  1. clement says:

    Hi, Takeshi-san,
    I am going to Hokkaido in Nov 16. I am going to Shin Chitose Airport > Noboribetsu > Lake Toya > Jozankei > Sapporo > Otaru > Furano > Sapporo > Shin Chitose Airport. Total 9 days.

    Which pass do you think I should purchase, Hokkaido Rail Pass or Japan Rail Pass?

  2. Lai says:

    Hi, Takeshi-san,

    Can the 7-day Hokkaido Railpass be used during the Golden Week?

  3. Cindy Yong says:

    Hi Takeshi San,
    I am arriving Hokkaido on the 19 June, 2016. How early can I buy the train pass?

  4. Christopher C says:

    Hi Takeshi-san,

    We are arriving in Sapporo on 10th March 2016. We were thinking of taking the bus to our Niseko resort and on 18th March take the JR line from Niseko to Hakodate to spend 3 days. Our return flight is on Sunday night 20th March in Sapporo.

    How can I check the timetable and purchase tickets of the JR Line from Niseko to Hakodate? And should we take the train from Hakodate back to Sapporo or catch a flight instead?

  5. Carlo says:


    Can I just ask if I could purchase the JR Hokkaido Pass in Narita Airport? I will be landing at Tokyo around 1300 and arrive at CTS around 1900. Since the office at the airport will be closed by then, I was wondering if I could get it before reaching Sapporo. Thank you.

  6. Carol says:

    Hi Takeshi-San

    What train do you suggest we take from our hotel at Century Royal Hotel Sapporo located at 5 Nishi, Kita 5 Jo, Chuo-ku, Sapporo-Shi, Hokkaido towards Shin-Chitose airport.
    Do we need to buy tickets in advance? Or we can just buy at the train station on the day itself?
    Our flight is on Dec 24 at 1400H.


  7. lee says:


    May i check if i were to take a train from sapporo station to noboribetsu station, which line should i take and is there a need to reserve the ticket in advance or can i get it on the spot at the ticket office there? Also, is there luggage space on the trains?

    also while on the topic, may i know which trains in hokkaido require advance booking?
    thank you for you help

  8. Mauro says:

    Is there any information (or rumors) about if the new hokkaido shinkansen is going to be covered by this pass (and if the fare is going to be same from march 2016)

    • Hi Mauro,

      Any official announcement has not been released yet.
      I guess Hokkaido Shinkansen (Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto to Shin-Aomori) will be covered. But price may be higher.


      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  9. Richard Y L Chin says:

    How much is the train fare from Sapporo to Hakodate?
    What type of ticket should I buy?

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