Cheap flights to Hokkaido

Only a half hour flight from Tokyo, Hokkaido is the second largest island in Japan. It is a stark contrast from one’s immediate mental picture of Japan that comprises of high-tech cities, commuting hordes, bullet trains and pristine shrines. Mountains, parks and lakes make up Hokkaido’s natural beauty. Take your time discovering the mix of attractions this diverse country has to offer.

What to see & do

Take a hike through Hokkaido’s numerous national parks! Shiretoko National Park is a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site in the form of a 70km-long peninsular that extends into the Sea of Okhotsk. This untouched wilderness home to a one of the world’s largest brown bear populations and rare bird species, including the endangered Blakiston’s fish-owl. At Akan National Park, you can visit Lake Mashu, a splendid crater lake that has been deemed the clearest, most beautiful lake in Japan. Besides hiking, horse riding and canoeing, you can also indulge in boiled eggs cooked in steam hot sulphur pools at the geothermal hotspot of Sulphur Mountain. Hokkaido is also one of Japan’s best places for camping. However, make sure you invest in a good sleeping bag to guard against night chills. You could also take advantage of the numerous mountain huts, or yamayoga, which are mostly.

If you’re visiting during winter, you should definitely take a cruise in the region between the Sea of Okhotsk and Hokkaido's northeastern coast, where drifting sea ice from the Amur River in Russia starts to appear from January. Wearing an insulated wetsuit, you could take a guided walk on the ice or even a swim in the frozen sea. Hokkaido is also famous for its ski resorts, which have a variety of slopes that cater to skiers of all levels of ability. After a day of shredding the slopes, a dip in one of the abundant onsens (hot springs) should soothe your tired muscles.

It should come as no surprise that seafood is a big part of the diet for the region’s seaside-dwelling population. Foodies are bound to be delighted with fresh delicacies like hairy crabs, king crabs, oysters, Saroma’s scallops, sushi and even sea urchin off the northwest coast. Some of Japan’s finest sakes, such as Asahikawa’s Otokoyama, can be found in Hokkaido as well. There are also microbreweries in nearly every town, but the most well known brand is Sapporo Beer, from the region’s eponymous capital.

Sapporo is one of the youngest cities in Japan. It’s worth a visit when you’re in Hokkaido, with a public market selling fresh produce, open air historical village museum, bustling nightlife district and sprawling underground shopping arcade. Don’t miss the Sapporo Snow Festival, a major event featuring impressive ice and snow sculptures that bring in two million visitors annually. Complete your trip to Sapporo by popping over to the Sapporo Beer headquarters, where you can sample a range of flavours for one of Hokkaido’s biggest exports – there’s a flavour of beer unique only to the brewery itself, and even non-alcoholic beer as well!

Getting Around

Most travellers arrive in Hokkaido by air, via several airlines served mainly by New Chitose Airport in Chitose, which is just south of Sapporo. Hokkaido is also accessible by ferry from Sendai, Nigata and some other cities. A fairly extensive railway network also extends within Hokkaido itself, but many cities are only accessible by road. All modes of land transport into Hokkaido will have to enter by the Seikan Tunnel.

Some Dos and Don’ts

  • Do be careful of reversing farm vehicles on the narrow, poorly marked country farm roads.
  • Do be careful when driving, especially in winder; Hokkaido has the worst fatality rate for traffic accidents in Japan, with locals exceeding speed limits by at least 20km/h.
  • Do ensure that your vehicle is equipped with winter tires and chains if you’re driving in the winter.
  • Don’t drink any unboiled water from the lakes and rivers, which may contain the dangerous echinococcus parasite.

Did you know…?

  • The ski resort of Niseko gets a record of 17 metres’ worth of snow on its slopes every year.
  • Hokkaido is actually Japan’s biggest producer of dairy products.
  • The 90-metre Okurayama Ski Jump on the city’s outskirts commemorates the time Sapporo played host to the 1972 Winter Olympics. 

Flights to Hokkaido

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