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 Rail Pass cover all JR conventional lines in Hokkaido. Hokkaido Shinkansen is not covered even though a part of 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.

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-day16,500 yen8,250 yen
Flex 4-day22,000 yen11,000 yen
5-day22,000 yen11,000 yen
7-day24,000 yen12,000 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).

ex) 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 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-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.

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

  1. Hi Takeshi,
    Thank you for your fast reply.
    Actualy from kamikawa, we don’t go to sounkyo. But plan to go to hokkaido ice pavilion.

    Here is our detil train for 4 flex hokkaido rail pass.
    Day 1 : chitose airport to hakodate.
    By airport line and ltd exp super
    hokuto.
    Day 4 : hakodate to asahikawa.
    By ltd exp super hokuto and ltd exp
    Lilac/kamui.
    Day 5: asahikawa -kamikawa – asahikawa.
    By jr sekihoku line/ ltd exp okhotsk/
    Ltd exp taitetsu.

    Asahikawa – farm tomita – bibaushi –
    Asahikawa.
    By jr furano line /furano biei norokko.
    Day 6 : asahikawa – sapporo – otaru –
    sapporo
    By ltd exp lilac/ kamui and airport
    line.

    Our question :
    1. Did all train above covers by hokkaido rail pass 4 flex days ?
    2. Which one more convenient, norokko or jr furano line train ?
    3. Do you any suggestion train more comfortable and fast with this pass ?
    4. Can we buy food for dinner ( bento box) on the train ltd exp super hokuto ?

    Thank you in advance.

    1. Hi Esther,

      1. Yes.
      2. Same. Norokko runs as Furano line train. But the train set is special than other common train. However Norokko has been very busy in the last few years. If you want to avoid crowded, the common train is better choice.
      3. No. There is no other choices.
      4. No. All on-board sales will be discontinued at the end of February. Please see the guide below:
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/food-travel-informations/ekiben/on-board-sales-what-kind-of-items-are-sold-on-train.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  2. Hi Takeshi,
    We plan to go to hokkaido this summer ( end of july 2019). This is our itinerary :

    Day 1 : chitose airport to hakodate.
    Day 2 : hakodate.
    Day 3 : hakodate.
    Day 4 : hakodate to asahikawa.
    Day 5 : asahikawa – kamikawa – farm tomita
    – bibautsi – asahikawa.
    Day 6 : asahikawa – sapporo – otaru –
    sapporo.
    Day 7 : sapporo.
    Day 8 : sapporo to chitose airport.

    Our question :
    1. We plan to use 4 flex days hokkaido rail pass for day 1,4,5,6. Do you think this pass be economical ready ?
    2. Do you any suggestion for our itinerary ?
    3. How many times we can reserve train with this pass ?
    4. When time table norokko train from asahikawa -furano- asahikawa for summer 2019 release ?

    Thank you in advance.

    1. Hi Esther,

      1. It works.
      2. I think you will intend to visit Sounkyo before going to Bibaushi/Biei. If so, it will be very tight. Please use hyperdia to find the train timetable and see the bus timetable for Sounkyo.
      https://www.dohokubus.com/files/17s-0701kamikawa.pdf
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/basic-informations/timetable-and-reservation/hyperdia-perfect-guide-train-timetable-and-route-search-engine.html
      3. Unlimited
      4. Late May. But please see spring timetable in the link below. Norokko usually runs as this timetable almost everyday in July and August.
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/seasonal-trains-schedule/summary-of-2019-spring-seasonal-trains-of-jr-trains-2.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  3. Hi Takeshi
    Does this ticket ” Discount Ticket Direction 4 – One-Day Round Tour Ticket” available for January 2019? The information given in the JR Hokkaido website is until November 2018.

    Thank you.

  4. Dear Takeshi San,

    Please help me with my itinerary!

    Day 1: Shin Chitose- Sapporo (Hokkaido Pass)
    Day 2: Sapporo City Tour
    Day 3: Sapporo- Otaru- Sapporo (Hokkaido Pass)
    Day 4: Sapporo- Noboribetsu (Hokkaido Pass)
    Day 5: Noboribetsu- Hakodate (Hokkaido Pass)
    Day 6: Hakodate- Onuma Quasi-national Park (1 way) (Hokkaido Pass)
    Day 7: Hakodate- Sapporo (Hokkaido Pass)
    Day 8: Sapporo- Shin Chitose (Single fare)

    I will go for Hokkaido 7 Days Pass. Please advise if it is worth it.

    Thanks,
    Kara

  5. Dear Takeshi san,
    I would like to seek for your advice. I will go to Hokkaido on 28 Nov – 6 Dec 2018 and plan to buy a 7 days Hokkaido Pass. My rough plans are as follows:
    Day 1: Sapporo airport – Noboribetsu (1 night)
    Day 2: Noboribetsu – Lake Toya (1 night)
    Day 3 – 4: Lake Toya – Hakodate (2 nights)
    Day 5: Onuma Quasi National Park – Sapporo (3 nights – Day 5-8 in Sapporo)
    Day 6: Sapporo – Furano ( 1 day trip, staying in Sapporo)
    Day 7: Sapporo – Otaru ( 1 day trip, staying in Sapporo)
    Day 8: Sapporo (staying near the airport)
    Day 9: Fly back to Thailand in the morning
    I would be grateful if you could advise on my itinerary and based on my understand, a 7 days Hokkaido pass covers these routes:
    1. Airport 111 for OTARU (from Sapporo airport to Noboribetsu)
    2. All Limited Expressed trains such as LTD. EXP SUPER HOKUTO and LTD. EXP SUPER OZORA
    3. Ishikari-Liner for OTARU
    4. All trains which has JR in the front such as JR Hakodate Line for OSHAMAMBE
    But Not cover:
    1. Chuo Bus (Kita 72) to “Maeda shinrin koen” or “Maeda shinrin koen iriguchi”
    2. Donan Bus in Noboribetsu and Lake Toya
    3. A bus from Furano to New New Furano Prince Hotel
    Is my understanding correct?
    In addition, how about these following routes?
    1. JR Hokkaido Bus (Te 48) From Teine Station to Maeda Forest Park, and
    2. SL Fuyu-no-Shitsugen Train, are these covered by Hokkaido Pass? According to this time table http://www2.jrhokkaido.co.jp/global/pdf/slfuyunoshitugen_2018.pdf, this train doesn’t run in December 2018 right?
    Your assistance will be very much appreciated.

          1. Dear Takeshi san,

            As followed from my previous post, I have further questions and would be grateful if you could advise me on the following questions:
            1. On my Day 9, my 7 days Hokkaido Pass will be no longer valid, I am now considering to stay at the hotel in Sapporo instead of Airport hotel on Day 8, but since my international flight is at 9:40 am, I will need to catch as a rapid train at 6:16 am from Sapporo. My question is whether it is possible that I can buy a train ticket 1 day in advance from Sapporo station to New Chitose Airport by specific the date not time? The reason I would like to buy in advance since I am not sure if the ticket office at Sapporo station will be open at 6 am in the morning or just in case I have problem with using a ticket machine, especially not sure if the ticket machine is in English or not?
            http://www.new-chitose-airport.jp/en/access/jr/timejr/
            2. Is a seat reservation required for rapid service train? The fare without the seat reservation is yen 1,070 yen right?
            3. My understanding is that the train station at New Chitose Airport will be at Domestic Terminal right? If so, how long does it take to walk from Domestic Terminal to International Terminal?
            4. Generally, the trains from Sapporo to the airport are reliable and on time right?

            Your help will be very much appreciated as I am worried of getting to the New Chitose Airport on time.

            Cheers,
            Pear

            1. Hi Pear san,

              1. You cannot buy it in advance. Ticket machine is available when the station is open. Many machines can show in English.

              2. No. You can take it without reservation.

              3. 10 minutes.

              4. Yes.

              Cheers,

              Takeshi / JPRail.com

              1. Dear Takeshi San,

                Many Thanks for your assistance. I can now more relaxed in staying in Sapporo with less worried about missing my morning flight back.

                Cheers,
                Pear

  6. 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

  7. 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.

  8. 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.
      https://jprail.com/destinations/hokkaido-area/jr-east-south-hokkaido-rail-pass-user-guide-perfect-deal-for-the-travelers-who-visit-tokyo-and-sapporo-by-train.html

      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).
      https://jprail.com/sample-itineraries/1to3-days/how-to-build-the-trip-plan-to-fuji-area-various-sample-itineraries-of-fuji-five-lakes-and-5th-station.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  9. 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
    8)Fukuoka-Saga
    9)Fukuoka city area
    10)Fukuoka – Osaka
    11)Osaka – Kobe
    12)Osaka – Kyoto
    13)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:
      http://www.tokyometro.jp/en/ticket/value/airport_bus/index.html

      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.
      https://jprail.com/sample-itineraries/airport-access/kansai-kix/how-to-choose-the-deals-for-access-tofrom-kansai-airport.html

      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.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail

  10. 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.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

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