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

noboribetsuHokkaido Area
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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

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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. Queenie says:

    Hello Mr. Takeshi

    My husband and I are planning to visit Hokkaido for the sapporo festivals but airfares are skyrocketing.we will be arriving/departing narita airport and have plans of visiting mt Fuji and shirakawago also if still possible..should we get the jr east -south Hokkaido or jr pass?thanks!

  2. James says:

    Hi Takeshi,
    We will arrive at New Chitose Airport late afternoon and do not plan to use our Hokkaido rail pass until 2 days later. We will buy a single ticket to Sapporo Station. Do we need to reserve seats and how much is the fare please? Thank you.

  3. Charlene says:

    Hi Takeshi,
    I have the following up coming itinerary and would like you advise on the best mode of travel as i have 2 kids with me.

    21 Dec – Haneda Airport to Nishi-Shinjuku station ( HND Airport Limousine Bus?)
    22 Dec – Free & Easy Tokyo (Tokyo Metro Pass?)
    23 Dec – Free & Easy Tokyo (Tokyo Metro Pass?)
    24 Dec – Shinjuku station to Kawaguchiko Train Station
    25 Dec – Free & Easy Hakone ( Hakone Pass?)
    26 Dec – Kawaguchiko Train Station to Niseko (Kutchan)
    27 Dec to 30 Dec Kutchan Free & Easy
    31 Dec Kutchan to New Chitose Airport

    Thank you.

  4. Angela Ng says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    I’m planning Hokkaido and Tokyo trip from 13 Dec to 26 Dec, this is my planned itinerary:
    Day 1 – New Chitose Airport to Hakodate
    Day 2 – Hakodate
    Day 3 – Hakodate to Noboribetsu
    Day 4 – Noboribetsu to Sapporo
    Day 5 – Sapporo to Otaru to Sapporo
    Day 6 – Sapporo
    Day 7 – Sapporo to Tokyo (by air)
    Day 8 – Tokyo
    Day 9 – Tokyo to Lake Kawaguchiko to Tokyo
    Day 10 – Tokyo to Yutanaka to Tokyo
    Day 11 – Tokyo to Nikko to Tokyo
    Day 12 to 14 – Tokyo
    Please could you adv. which JR pass should I consider and do you’ve any recommendation on my itinerary? Many thanks and I looking forward receiving your reply.

  5. Eira says:

    Hi Takeshi- san,

    I’m wondering what type of train is covered under JR Hokkaido Rail Pass. Does it cover Hokuto and Super Hokuto train?

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

      Hi Eira san,

      All JR trains in Hokkaido other than Hokkaido Shinkansen are covered by Hokkaido Rail Pass. Of course, Hokuto and Super Hokuto are covered.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  6. Ying says:

    Hi Takeshi san! Should I get a 5 day Hokkaido JR pass? My plan is below.

    Mid January:
    Day 1: Arrive at CTS airport afternoon, train to Hakodate
    Day 2: Travel within Hakodate (bay area, fish market, Goryokaku, Mt. Hakodate)
    Day 3: Hakodate train to Sapporo
    Day 4: Sapporo train to Asahikawa (for Asahiyama Zoo, Asahiyama Station and the surroundings only), train back to Sapporo
    Day 5: Sapporo to Otaru, Otaru train back to Sapporo
    Day 6: Sapporo to CTS, bye bye

    Thank you 🙂

  7. Lil says:

    Hi Takeshi,
    I am hoping you would be able to assist us in getting the right pass.
    our itinerary is as follow:
    – 10/10 arrive in Tokyo
    – 12/10 -14/10 Tokyo – Sapporo – Furano
    (we are planning to hire a car to drive to Furano and stay for 2 nights before driving back to Sapporo)
    – 14/10 -17/10 Sapporo (Lake Toya, Otaru, Odori Park, Mount Moiwa)
    – 17/10 – 21/10 Kyoto
    – 21/10 Kyoto – Tokyo
    – 21/10-24/10 Tokyo

    Would we require both JR Pass and JR East South Hokkaido RailPass if we decided to catch the train from Tokyo to Sapporo? We are not planning to stay in Hakodate, and for that reason we are considering if it would be cheaper for us to fly rather than taking train.

    Thank you for your help.

  8. Fong says:

    Hi, hope you can advise if it’s worth to buy Hokkaido JR pass for my family of 4 adults:
    5 Jan: New Chitose Airport to Noboribetsu
    6 Jan: Noboribetsu to Hakodate
    8 Jan: Hakodate to Toyako
    9 Jan: Toyako to Otaru
    11 Jan: Otaru to Sapporo
    14 Jan: Sapporo to New Chitose Airport

  9. anandtraveltodiscover – A Traveller, a Story teller who enjoys this gift of life. Anand is a Digital Marketing professional with a prominent Insurance firm and lives in Hong Kong. He loves to Travel, explore places and new perspectives that remains to be discovered. He is a story teller who creates stories out of his Travel. Hoping to connect with fellow travellers! Cheers.
    Anand Soundarya says:

    Hi Takeshi,
    I have the following up coming itinerary:-
    20th July – Arrive at New chitose airport, travel to Tomamu
    21st July – leave for furano and bei for two nights
    23rd July- leave for sapporo and stay for anite and explore the place
    24rd July – leave for home from new chitose airport.

    In this itinerary, I do expect to travel by trains and occasional taxi when required.
    Do you recommend Hokkaido rail pass. Look forward to your recommendation as I am not sure if I should go for it or not. Thanks

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

      Hi Anand,

      Hokkaido Rail Pass 5 days is okay for your trip. It does not offer a big saving for your trip actually. But there is no deals available other than this.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      • anandtraveltodiscover – A Traveller, a Story teller who enjoys this gift of life. Anand is a Digital Marketing professional with a prominent Insurance firm and lives in Hong Kong. He loves to Travel, explore places and new perspectives that remains to be discovered. He is a story teller who creates stories out of his Travel. Hoping to connect with fellow travellers! Cheers.
        Anand Soundarya says:

        Thanks so much Takeshi.

  10. Hi Takeshi,
    This is my itinerary:
    June 23: New Chitose Airport to Sapporo
    June 24: Sapporo to Otaru and then Otaru back to Sapporo
    June 25: Sapporo to Noboribetsu
    June 26: Noboribetsu back to Sapporo
    June 27: Sapporo to Furano on Lavender express and then Furano back to Sapporo
    June 28: Sapporo to New Chitose Airport
    Is it more economical to purchase individual JR rail tickets for to purchase a multiple-day pass, and if so, which pass is best?
    Thank you,
    Paul (from Hawaii)

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

      Hi Paul,

      5 days pass may be okay for the first or last 5 days. But total fare is not much different from this pass price. So you get just convenience.
      New Chitose to Sapporo single fare is 1590 yen, so 7 days pass is not better choice than 5 days + single fare.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

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