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

noboribetsuHokkaido Area
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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

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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.

 AdultChild
3-day17,400 yen8,700 yen
Flex 4-day23,480 yen11,740 yen
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).

e.g.
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.

Comments

  1. KY says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    I’m wondering if is it worth to buy the Hokkaido rail pass for my itinerary for 8 days below:

    Day 1 – Chitose > Asahikawa
    Day 2 – Asahikawa> Asahidake > Asahikawa
    Day 3 – Asahikawa >Furano > Lake Toya
    Day 4 – Lake Toya > Hakodate (considering to rent a car)
    Day 5 – Hakodate
    Day 6 – Hakodate > Sapporo
    Day 7 – Sapporo > Otaru > Sapporo
    Day 8 – Sapporo – Chitose

    Thanks in advance for your advice.

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of JPRail.com
      Takeshi / JPRail.com says:

      Hi KY,

      You may use Hokkaido Rail Pass 7 days for the first 7 days of your trip. If you take a train on day 4, it gives you a big saving. Hokkaido Rail Pass is still your choice in case of using rent a car on day 4. But total fare is not much different from total regular fare.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  2. Fun Goh says:

    Dear Takeshi San
    I’m planning a trip in early Feb next year. My itinerary is as follows:
    (1) Abashiri for a day
    (2) Kawayu for a day
    (3) Kushiro for 2 days
    (4) Sapporo including Otaru and ski resort for 6 days.
    Trip starts from Abashiri and then proceed to Kawayu by train. Thereafter by train to Kushiro. Can I know if the Hokkaido rail pass is worth it? And are the trains frequent and reliable during the winter period? Is travelling by express buses a more preferred mode of transport at this time due to our luggages and all? Thanks in advance for your valuable advice.
    Cheers
    fUN Goh

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of JPRail.com
      Takeshi / JPRail.com says:

      Hi Fun Goh san,

      If you take trains for Abashiri – Kawayu Onsen – Kushiro only, single fare is much cheaper. Even if you take a train from Kushiro to Sapporo, single fare is still cheaper than any Hokkaido rail pass.
      JR Hokkaido will revise timetable in this October. There is no timetable for next winter available at this point. You can find the current timetable at the link below. I think it will not be much different.
      http://www2.jrhokkaido.co.jp/global/english/ttable/index.html

      Trains do not run very frequently on this segment anyway. I have never taken express bus in Hokkaido, so it’s hard to compare bus and train for me. But in most of cases, train is more reliable than bus in winter condition. But probably bus may run more frequently.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  3. unhappysmiley – Oxymoron personified
    Joyce says:

    Hi,

    I plan to travel to Hokkaido in Sep (5-12) and I’m not sure if it is worth it to purchase the Hokkaido Rail pass (4 day flexi or 7 day) or purchase single trip tickets. My itinerary is:

    Day 1: Chitose Airport> Noboribetsu
    Day 2: Noboribetsu
    Day 3: Noboribetsu > Asahikawa
    Day 4: Biei/Furano
    Day 5: Furano> Sapporo
    Day 6: Sapporo > Otaru> Sapporo
    Day 7: Sapporo
    Day 8: Sapporo> Chitose Airport

    Thank you!

  4. Hi, my bf and I are going to Hokkaido on 1st August 2017 until 7th august.

    My planned itinerary is
    Day 1: Chitose airport -> Hakodate
    Day 2: Hakodate -> Lake Toya -> Noboribetsu
    Day 3: Noboribetsu-> Sapporo
    Day 4: Sapporo -> Otaru -> Sapporo
    Day 5: Sapporo -> Furano & Biei (Overnight at Furano)
    Day 6: Furano -> Asahikawa -> Sapporo
    Day 7: Sapporo -> Chitose Airport

    is it worth to buy a JR Hokkaido pass?

    Please advise. Thank You

  5. jmthamjt
    Jasmine says:

    Hi,

    i’m planning a trip to Japan in Jul 2017 for approximately 2 weeks. There are no exact plans on where to visit yet but i will be visiting Tokyo and climbing Mount Fuji in the first week, then taking Shinkansen to Hokkaido and spend 2nd week there. Would it be advisable to get the 14 days JR pass?

    Thank you!

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of JPRail.com
      Takeshi / JPRail.com says:

      Hi Jasmine,

      If you are pretty sure to take Shinkansen for both ways between Tokyo and Hokkaido, 14 days pass will be cheaper than single fare.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  6. Felicia says:

    I am not sure if the following itinerary can let you plan me the pass, basically i will travel for about 14 days for the following place. I will stay those place which near to the station (if possible) any my place cover the following places:-

    5 days at Sappora
    CTS -Sappora
    Sappora (day trip to Otaru)
    Sapporo (day trip to Asahiyama Zoo)

    3 days at Tamomu
    Sappora – Tomamu

    3 days at Obihiro
    Tomamu – Obihiro

    3 days at Kushiro
    Obihiro – Kushiro

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of JPRail.com
      Takeshi / JPRail.com says:

      Hi Felicia,

      You may use Flex 4 days Hokkaido Rail Pass for trip to Asahikawa from Sapporo, Sapporo to Tomamu, Tomamu to Obihiro and Obihiro to Kushiro. I think you can do these 4 trips in 10 days. But this pass does not give you a big saving. It will be slightly cheaper than single fare. There is no better deals available other than this pass.

      Single ticket is your choice for the rest of your trip.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  7. Elaine says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    For travel from New Chitose Airport to Furano train station, I could just buy a train ticket at the airport right, without having to book a ticket online? Is it a busy period now (3-13 June in Hokkaido)?

    Thank you very much in advance!

  8. estherwong
    Esther says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    I will travelling to Hokkaido on 30 Dec to 9 January 2017.
    My itinerary is Sapporo> Otaru> Noboribetsu (1 night)> Hakodate (2nights)> Sappooro (4 nights) – Will be going Arashiyama Zoo, Takino Suzuran Ski Park and Moerenuma park

    Appreciate you can advise as following:
    1) how many days pass I should get?
    2) Is Hokkaido Rail Pass cover all the places above?
    3) Is Limited express super hokuto cover by Hokkaido Rail Pass If I use it from Sapporo to Noboribetsu? and also Noboribetsu to Hakodate?

    Appreciate your help.

    Thanks.
    Esther

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of JPRail.com
      Takeshi / JPRail.com says:

      Hi Esther,

      You may use Flex 4 days pass for the following segments.
      1) Sapporo to Noboribetsu
      2) Noboribetu to Hakodate
      3) Hakodate to Sapporo
      4) Return trip to Asahikawa from Sapporo

      Hokkaido rail pass covers all JR trains in Hokkaido. So you can take Limited Express Hokuto as many as you want. But this pass does not cover any local transportation, such as bus and subways. So you have to add for these transportation.

      And also you may add Sapporo-Otaru single fare. Flex 4 days + return fare to Otaru is slightly cheaper than 7 days pass. But if you don’t mind to spend a few hundred yen more, go for 7 days pass.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  9. Ryan Wee says:

    Hi, may I know how to take train from Noboribetsu to Furano? how much it cost? how about from Furano back to Sapporo?
    Thanks.

  10. Ryan Wee says:

    hi, I am going to Hokkaido on 14 Jul 2016.

    (1) I wondering should I buy the Hokkaido Rail Pass (7 or 5 days?) OR just single fares? My Itinerary as follows: Shin Chitose Airport (reach at 7.40pm) – Sapporo (1 night) – Otaru (1 night) – Lake Toya (1 night) – Noboribetsu (1 night) – Furano (1 night) – Sapporo (3 nights) – Airport. (9 days 8 nights)

    (2) How many hours to take from Shin Chitose Airport to Sapporo by train? Can I buy single tickets at airport?

    Pls advice. Thanks!

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