Hello my friends! After a period of research and conclusion, I have an absolutely satisfied trip to Hokkaido in the autumn. This is probably the most beautiful land in Japan I have ever visited. So, what’s hot and what should you do in Hokkaido in autumn? Let’s check out our Hokkaido autumn itinerary blog with the suggested Hokkaido 9 days itinerary autumn through our Hokkaido autumn blog (Hokkaido autumn travel blog) from how to get there, where to stay, places to visit… to find out the answer!

Futami Suspension Bridge | hokkaido autumn blog
Coral Grass Colonies at Lake Notoro (1)
Coral Grass Colonies in Lake Notoro
Hokkaido University autumn (2)
Hokkaido University in autumn

In this article, I will guide and share my Hokkaido autumn itinerary in the last 2 weeks of October. Also, I will share some tips on saving money when traveling to Hokkaido – where traveling costs are extremely expensive compare to other regions of Japan.

Tokeidai (Sapporo Clock Tower) (1)
Tokeidai (Sapporo Clock Tower)
Sapporo has no rain in summer, the temperature is usually around 25 degrees Celsius and above, below 15 degrees Celsius in the late spring and early autumn.
Jozankei hot springs
Sapporo Jyoga Ichiba-curb market-hokkaido3
Hokkaido is famous for its fresh seafood throughout Japan, especially crabs and sea urchin.
Uni Don at Uni Murakami
Uni Don at Uni Murakami | hokkaido autumn itinerary blog

>> Read more: Top things to do in Hokkaido in September.

Hokkaido autumn itinerary blog: How to get to Hokkaido?

Hokkaido is located in the north of Japan, is the region with the earliest autumn leaves (fall foliage) and is also known as the land of ice and snow famous for its beautiful ski resorts.

Administrative map of hokkaido
Hokkaido region map

To get to Hokkaido, you can fly with airlines such as ANA Airlines, Peach Airlines, Jetstar … to New Chitose Airport located in Sapporo city – the capital city of Hokkaido region.

In addition to the air route, you can take the Shinkansen bullet train to Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto Station (located in Hakodate city, marked as the purple area in the above map), then change trains from here to Sapporo station. This way take a lot of time and moving costs. For example, if you traveling from Tokyo, the total travel time is 8 hours and the fare is about 31.520 yen ($296.83). So, you should only choose this option if you have flexible itinerary and already have the JR Pass to cover the traveling cost.

Shinkansen train entering Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto Station
Shinkansen train entering Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto Station | hokkaido autumn itinerary blog

JR Pass for Whole Japan (7, 14, or 21 Days)

Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto station
Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto station

JR Hokkaido Rail Pass (3, 4, 5, or 7 Days)

I chose to travel by air for both reasons: Save money and flight time, because it is only 2 hours flying from Tokyo to Sapporo. I had compared the airfares and booked the ANA’s flight to Sapporo through Traveloka website.

Hokkaido University

Hokkaido autumn blog: How to make a Hokkaido autumn itinerary?

Why is only autumn? Hokkaido has four distinct seasons: Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter. Each season has its own beauty and unique characteristics for each season.

I will guide as well as suggest on how to make the best Hokkaido autumn itinerary. In the remaining seasons, I have not gone yet, so I only show out some prominent places for you to learn more. Before planning where to go and what to do anything, you need to know the Hokkaido autumn leaves forecast (also known as Hokkaido momiji time prediction) and then make the itinerary accordingly.

self drive in hokkaido (1)
| hokkaido autumn itinerary blog

Step 1: Determine the autumn leaves timing for each location in the Hokkaido region

I only check the red and yellow leaves time on the Japanese Weathernews website. The site is only in Japanese, so you must use Google translate tool. However this site gives the most accurate autumn leaves time forecast for all regions of Japan including Hokkaido.

In particular, they forecast accurately for each specific tourist attraction, not for the whole region. So you can rely on here to arrange the schedule and itinirary accordingly.

Japan autumn leaves forecast 2020

>> Read more: Travel to Kyoto in the fall.

Thanks to this website, my itinerary has covered all the places at the peak of autumn foliage of Hokkaido. This year 2020, Hokkaido autumn leaves forecast for Sapporo, Hakodate, Shiretoko Peninsula in Mid September to end November with the peak autumn leaves time from October 10 to October 31.

hokkaido autumn
Sailing in Hokkaido autumn

Step 2: Determine the places you want to go and make a schedule and itinerary

Hokkaido has the earliest autumn in Japan. Around the second half of September, two of Hokkaido’s famous National Parks, Daisetsuzan and Shiretoko reach the peak of autumn leaves, and the autumn leaves begin to fall off in early and mid of October.

Daisetsuzan National Park autumn (1)
Daisetsuzan National Park
Daisetsuzan National Park autumn (1)
One of places to visit in Hokkaido during autumn
Daisetsuzan National Park autumn (1)
Picturesque
Daisetsuzan-National-Park
Daisetsuzan

I like these 2 parks the most but during my trip (the last 2 weeks of October), in Daisetsuzan national park with two of the most beautiful red leaves viewing spots aren Sounkyo Onsen (hot springs) and Kurodake leaves has started to fall off most, while Shiretoko (with Shiretoko Five Lakes and Shiretoko Pass) had to travel very far so I regretfully removed from my Hokkaido autumn itinerary. Tell myself to save these places for the next trip back to Hokkaido!

Shiretoko National Park autumn (1)
Autumn Leaves at Shiretoko Pass, Eastern Hokkaido, Japan
Shiretoko National Park autumn (1)
Shiretoko National Park
Shiretoko National Park autumn (1)
| hokkaido autumn blog

Most of beautiful autumn leaves viewing spots in Hokkaido are in full red from mid to late October every year. Thanks to that, I had a quite satisfactory trip. Some prominent places like: Jozankei Onsen, Noboribetsu Onsen, Biei Blue Pond (Shirogane Blue Pond, go in summer is also super nice).

Jozankei autumn
Jozankei onsen
Shirogane Blue Pond autumn (1)
Shirogane Blue Pond in Biei
Shirogane Blue Pond autumn (1)
Shirogane Blue Pond in autumn
Noboribetsu Onsen autumn (1)
| hokkaido autumn itinerary blog
Noboribetsu Onsen autumn (1)
Noboribetsu in autumn

In the Sapporo area, the yellow and red leaves are a little later in the last week of October. In Sapporo, you must go to: Hokkaido University Gingko Avenue, a street lined with yellow bright Ginkgo trees (Maidenhair tree), Nakajima Park and Maruyama Park.

The famous ginkgo trees street at Hokkaido University.
Hokkaido University autumn (2)
Gingko trees road near Hokkaido University, Sapporo
Maruyama Park sapporo (1)
Maruyama Park

Step 3: Choose the right means of transportation in Hokkaido to save money

Well! Hokkaido is super super expensive for traveling cost. For example, a short subway in Tokyo costs only about 140 yen – 180 yen but 200 yen in Sapporo is the cheapest. So, you have to spend lot of time to compare and calculating in very details about the traveling between tourist attractions. Don’t be lazy!

Sapporo-Tram
Sapporo Tram

“Do not go to Hokkaido if you do not buy any travel pass because if you buy a single bus or train ticket, each journey separately, it is extremely expensive.”

I had to spend a lot of time to create an excel sheet to calculate each journey between locations to choose to buy a suitable pass to save money. And here I will summarize the best options that I have compiled and compared for you to easily choose from.

Hokkaido Bus Pass

This is the way I chose because it is the cheapest, helping me save a lot of traveling costs. This type of pass is not known by many people.

There are 2 types of Hokkaido Bus pass: Intercity Bus Pass and Budget Bus Pass.

  • Intercity Bus Pass: It covers most routes in the Central Hokkaido area (orange in the above map). I bought this because it fit my itinerary.
  • Budget Bus Pass: It covers wider with the whole of Hokkaido region. This pass is suitable for those who want to traveling to Hakodate or to Shiretoko National Park.
Intercity Bus Pass: Covering in blue area with blue bus lines, including bus from Noboribetsu to Lake Toya but not shown in the picture.
Budget Bus Pass

Hokkaido Enjoy Pass

  • Pros: Cheapest, economical, bus in Japan is punctual, clean and comfortable. There is no need to buy a single bus ticket for each trip, just show the pass.
  • Cons: The travel time will be a little longer than the train.

Tip: When using the bus pass, you can refer to their travel guide and reference schedule here to make your plan.

Hokkaido JR Pass

If you do not like to take the bus and want to save some time, you should buy the Hokkaido JR Pass. Hokkaido JR passes covering most JR trains and buses in the Hokkaido region, except for the Hokkaido Shinkansen.

JR Hokkaido Rail Pass
JR Hokkaido Rail Pass

JR Hokkaido Rail Pass (3, 4, 5, or 7 Days)

For example, the train ticket from Sapporo station to Noboribetsu is 4.780 yen / way, or to Daisetsuzan national park, it costs more 8.000 yen / way.

If you have a Japan JR Pass, you can also use it in Hokkaido without to buy a Hokkaido JR Pass.

JR Pass

JR Pass for Whole Japan (7, 14, or 21 Days)

There are also the JR East-South Hokkaido Rail Pass and JR Tohoku-South Hokkaido Rail Pass applicable to specific areas. See more here.

  • Pros: save time, traveling faster than the bus.
  • Cons: more expensive than the bus pass.
The fares table of Hokkaido JR Pass

Rent a car and drive around Hokkaido

I like this option the most, but it is only suitable for those who go with groups of 2 or more people, with an international driver’s license and skilled driving skills because Japan drives opposite to Vietnam.

hokkaido travel blog autumn,places to visit in hokkaido during autumn,hokkaido fall foliage,hokkaido autumn leaves (4)

Some car rental websites: Klook, Nippon, Toyota. You can pick up the rented car at New Chitose airport, Sapporo station …

Prices vary depending on the type of car and the number of days you rent. I checked the car for 4 people to rent for 9 days about 80.000 yen. It is still cheaper for each person with 20.000 yen / 9 days of travel, than buying a Hokkaido JR pass.

There are many parking lots in Hokkaido, most guesthouse / hotels / airbnb have parking area. On the way there are also many free parking areas where you can even camp and sleep right there.

camper van Hokkaido travel blog autumn Things to do in Hokkaido in autumn and best places to visit in Hokkaido during autumn
Hokkaido Camper Van
hokkaido travel blog autumn,places to visit in hokkaido during autumn,hokkaido fall foliage,hokkaido autumn leaves (4)
| hokkaido autumn blog

Hokkaido travel blog autumn Things to do in Hokkaido in autumn and best places to visit in Hokkaido during autumn7

One more thing that makes me like to drive more is that you will have more chances to see the famous red foxes of the Hokkaido region.

The ezo red fox (Vulpes vulpes schrencki)
  • Advantages: Actively driving, seeing more beautiful scenes, stopping at any time if there is a beautiful scene to take pictures. It seems more economical or equivalent to buy a JR Pass.
  • Disadvantages: Require someone to know how to drive, especially right hand driving that opposite to Vietnam. And requires an accepted international driver’s license in Japan.
Onuma Quasi National Park autumn (1)
Onuma Quasi National Park

Continued reading…

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