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. Adrea says:

    Hi Mr Takeshi,

    Good evening! My planned itinerary is as follows:-
    05Jul arrive at New Chitose Airport, Travel to Furano
    05-06Jul visit Farm Tomita, Furano Cheese & Ice Milk Factory, Lavender Farm, Biei Blue Pond
    07Jul Travel to Asahikawa, Visit Asahikawa Zoo
    08Jul Travel to Otaru-Lake Toya, Visit maybe some waterfalls
    09Jul Travel to Sapporo,
    09-10Jul Visit Shiroi Koibito Chocolate Factory, Tanuki Shopping
    11Jul Travel to New Chitose Airport

    Do you think the Hokkaido Rail Pass 7 day covers the places and locations? Or should I choose something else?

    Really do thank you for your time and advise! 🙂

    Adrea

  2. Livia says:

    Hi, Mr. Takeshi,

    Firstly want to thank for your time to help me with the question below. I am going to Hokkaido for 4 days in this coming June 23th, with the itinerary: CTS > Hakodate > Noboribetsu > Sapporo > Asahikawa > Sapporo (will leave with afternoon flight). Is it okay if I purchase 3 day Hokkaido Rail Pass ? And for the last half day in Sapporo, what pass would you suggest to take? Thanks

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

      Hi Livia,

      3 days Hokkaido Rail Pass is okay. Basically single ticket is your choice for the last day in Sapporo and trip back to CTS.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  3. Ann says:

    Hi Mr. Takeshi,

    Your website is fantastic and I’ve been studying your guide for the last few days. I am planning a trip to Hokkaido (1.5~2 weeks), Osaka (2-4 days), and Okinawa (1-1.5 weeks). I am only traveling to Honshu to catch a flight to Okinawa, thus only spending few days in either Tokyo/Osaka. I’d rather spend more time in Hokkaido and Okinawa, due to more favourable weather in late June/July.

    I’d be grateful if you could please advise on the best/economical transportation, and other recommendations. Note that I am traveling alone and can’t drive, so I’ll fully be relying on public transportation.

    Hokkaido – I plan to fly into Sapporo.
    Sapporo (4 nights) – I believe the JR Pass covers the city buses and subway. But i’m not too sure?
    Asahikawa (2 nights) – take Furano-Biei Norokko-go train to see lavender fields, blue bond, and then to Asahikawa. Maybe Daisetsuzan National Park the next day? Or the Asahikawa Zoo.
    Otaru (2 nights) – see the city, and sidetrip to Cape Kamui for half day.
    Lake Toya (1 night) – not sure how to get here though, but not really keen on staying in Noboribetsu b/c it seems like it’s more for winter/resort time.
    Hakodate (4 nights) – go to Onuma Quasi-National Park before getting into Hakodate. See Goryokaku Tower, Mt Hakodate, and Tachimachi Cape.

    Then take Shinkansen to Aomori, and ultimately to Osaka.

    I haven’t really planned what to do/see in Osaka or Okinawa yet.

    1) Is transportation to Asahiyama Zoo or Cape Kamui not covered by any pass? I think all the passes only cover to the main stations, but not to the actual attraction?
    2) Is Daisetsuzan National Park safe for a solo female traveler? I would like to see this iconic National Park, but I am worried for my safety if the hikes are too treacherous/isolated. Should I be worried about wild animals if I go there by myself?
    3) How can I see Lake Toya? Should I make a trip out there just for Lake Toya? I’m not keen to stay in Noboribetsu as it seems like it’s more for winter time/resort. But maybe I am wrong.
    4) As my main purpose of this trip is to see Hokkaido and Okinawa, I may just forego Honshu almost entirely, and stop at Aomori and another city via the JR Pass, and to one of the Tokyo airports to catch my flight.
    5) Considering my activities and time, I am considering purchasing the 14-day JR Pass (~46K yen) but this won’t cover some bus costs, like going to Asahiyama Zoo/Cape Kumui. Do you think I should purchase the flex 6-day JR East-South Hokkaido Rail Pass instead (26K yen), and additional pay for the economical tickets not covered by the JR East-South Hokkaido Rail pass, eg Furano, Asahiyama,Goryokaku, and Tokyo and Sapporo intercity travels.

    Thank you very much in advance for your help. I tried to research as much as possible with Hokkaido but there are so many choices!

    Ann

  4. 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

  5. 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,
    Lionel

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

      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.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      • Lionel says:

        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!

        Cheers,
        Lionel

  6. Melissa F says:

    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!

  7. 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?

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

      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.
      http://www.jrhokkaido.co.jp/pdf/170322-1.pdf

      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.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      • 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 –

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

          Hi Lee san,

          You can use Lavender free pass. It’s sold at 2,900 yen for 4 days. It covers unlimited local train ride among Asahikawa, Furano, Biei and Takikawa. You can find this ticket in JR Hokkaido Japanese site only but it will come up in English site too.
          http://www.jrhokkaido.co.jp/press/2017/170427-2.pdf

          Single ticket is only choice for other part of trip.

          Cheers,

          Takeshi / JPRail.com

          • Ann says:

            Hi Mr Takeshi,

            Can you please confirm if the 4-day pass you’re referring to is this (actually 6500 JPY)?
            http://www2.jrhokkaido.co.jp/global/english/travel/pdf/fb02.pdf

            If not, do you know where I can find it on the English website?

            I’m trying to find the most economical way to see Furano/Biei area departing from Asahiyama, and the only thing I can think of is to purchase the Lavender One Day ticket (2500 JPY, on the same page) and ride the local train and Furano Biei Norokko train, however I am hesitant because I’d like to actually visit some attractions, not just see them from afar. The only alternative I can find is the RT Bus Biei Tour Panorama Course from JR Furano station 10.30am tour to 5.30pm, costing 5000 JPY).
            http://www2.jrhokkaido.co.jp/global/english/travel/pdf/fb05.pdf
            But then I have purchase a separate RT ticket to go from Asahiyama to Furano (another 1000 JPY). In total, this would cost 6000 JPY, which seems a bit too expensive.

            What recommendations do you have?

            Thank you so much!

            Ann

  8. Josephine says:

    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 ?

  9. hadi says:

    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

  10. 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.
    Carol

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