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:
JPRail.com PDF timetable (valid until mid March, 2020)
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.
|3-day||17,400 yen||8,700 yen|
|Flex 4-day||23,480 yen||11,740 yen|
|5-day||23,480 yen||11,740 yen|
|7-day||25,710 yen||12,850 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):
- One way trip from New Chitose Airport to Sapporo by Rapid Airport or local — 1,070 yen
- One way trip from Sapporo to Otaru by Rapid Airport or local — 640 yen
- One way trip from Sapporo to Hakodate by Limited Express Hokuto/Super Hokuto — 8,830 yen
- One way trip from Sapporo to Asahikawa by Limited Express Super Kamui — 4,810 yen
- One way trip from Sapporo to Abashiri by Limited Express Okhotsk — 9,910 yen
- One way trip from Sapporo to Kushiro by Limited Express Super Ozora — 9,370 yen
- One way trip from Sapporo to Furano by Limited Express Furano Lavender Express — 4,840 yen
- One way trip from Sapporo to Wakkanai by Limited Express Super Soya/Sarobetsu — 10,450 yen
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.
- Single fare for one way trip to Tokyo from Narita Airport by Narita Express — 3,220 yen
- N’ex Tokyo round trip ticket — 4,000 yen
- Single fare for one way trip to Shinagawa from Haneda Airport by Keihin Kyuko — 410 yen
- Single fare for one way trip to Hamamatsucho from Haneda Airport by Tokyo Monorail — 490 yen
- Single fare for one way trip to Shin-Osaka from Kansai Airport by Limited Express Haruka — 2,850 yen
- Round trip ICOCA and Haruka — 4,060 yen
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.