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.

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

  1. Hi Mr Takeshi,

    We will be travelling to Hokkaido from 6 to 12 Jun, and would like your advice on this itinerary.

    6 Jun – arrive 12pm in New Chitose
    – Tomamu (2nights stay)
    7 Jun – Tomamu
    8 Jun – Tomamu –> Furano (Farm Tomita) and Biei (Blue Pond)
    Biei –> Sapporo (4nights)
    9 Jun – Sapporo –> Otaru, Shiroikoibito Park, Moerenuma Park
    10 Jun – Sapporo –> Noboribetsu, Lake Toya
    11 Jun – Sapporo –> Hakodate

    Is the plan feasible? And which pass should I get? I understand that I would need to take local buses at Noboribetsu that isn’t covered by the JR Hokkaido passes.
    Also, I read that the buses from Tomamu to furano only starts operation in late Jun. Are there other transport options? If not, would it then make sense for me to head to Sapporo on 8 Jun then do a day trip to Furano/Biei?

    Appreciate your advise pls! Thank you 🙂

    1. Hi Yuana,

      Your trip plan is very good. When you go to Furano from Tamamu, you can take Tomamu-Shintoku-Furano route. Please see the link below to find the train route in Hokkaido.
      https://jprail.com/destinations/hokkaido-area/hokkaido-train-guide.html

      However you have to change train and bus at Shintoku and Higashi-Shikagoe. And the number of bus and train are very limited between Shintoku and Furano. Please see the link below to find the timetable:
      https://jprail.com/train-operation-status

      Even if you take the first train from Tomamu to Shintoku, your choice is 10:49 departure from Shintoku. Actually you can take this bus from the second departure from Tomamu. And you will be Furano in the afternoon.

      If you go to Furano via Sapporo, your arrival time in Furano is almost same time as Shintoku route. So this day may be very tight. If you go to Noboribetsu and Toya from Tomamu, this is easier. You may make a day trip to Furano from Sapporo on 10th instead.

      It takes almost 4 hours from Sapporo to Hakodate. It is possible to make a day trip to Hakodate. But you will spend 7 to 8 hours in the train. Please keep it in your mind.

      You can get the timetable in the link below. You may see the exact time of the train schedule.
      http://www2.jrhokkaido.co.jp/global/english/train/index.html#ip1

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      1. Thank you for your prompt reply!

        I’ll study the schedules a bit more and adjust my journey to Furano.

        I might go with your suggestion to go Noboribetsu and Lake Toya from Tomamu. Didn’t think of that option earlier! Perhaps I can stay a night at Lake Toya for the fireworks!

        Thanks for highlighting the long journey to Hakodate. Maybe I go Mt Moiwa (from Sapporo) for the nightview instead. That way we don’t end up spending too much time on the journey.

        Do you think I’ll maximise the 7 day Hokkaido JR Pass?

        1. Hi Yuana,

          I think you can use Hokkaido Rail Pass Flex 4-day. You don’t use the pass when you are in Tomamu. And Hokkaido Rail Pass does not help to travel within city of Sapporo. You will take tram, subway and city bus mostly. These are not covered.

          So you can use Flex 4-day for New Chitose to Tomamu, Tomamu to Lake Toya/Noboribetsu, Lake Toya to Sapporo, and round trip to Furano.

          Cheers,

          Takeshi / JPRail.com

Before you leave your comment, please see the conditions below.
  • Your comment will not be shown until I approve. When you submit your comment, the page will be reloaded but nothing happens. Your comment will be shown when I approve. Please click submit only once and wait for my approval.
  • Please do not ask me to make your itinerary. Because I am not your personal travel agent. I am very happy to check your itinerary. But please try to make the plan by yourself. In this website, there are lots of resources to make your plan.
  • Please do not ask me about the access to your hotel. You can google your hotel and find it at hotel website or google map easily.
  • I cannot recommend any hotels other than which I have stayed. Basically I cannot talk about hotels in this site. The number of hotels are too many to talk about by my experience.
  • If you want to ask me which pass suits your plan, please tell me your detailed itinerary and location to stay. I cannot choose any deals without the detailed itinerary because I have to compare the total single fare and deals.
  • Please do not ask me to reply to your inquiry by email. In this website, I would like to share all information with any readers. I do not communicate with you directly.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*