With Japan reopened, everyone’s headed to the tourist hotspots of Tokyo and Kyoto~ Beat the crowd and head up north to Hokkaido, a winter wonderland with breathtaking natural sceneries. Here are the best all-year-round things to do in Japan’s Snow Country — Hokkaido!
While planning a trip to Japan, places like Tokyo and Kyoto instantly come to mind as the go-to destinations. And while they are absolutely worthy of merit, there’s a lot more to this country than what meets the eye. Cue Hokkaido, the northernmost island of Japan! Covering more than 22% of Japan’s surface area, this island is populated with some of the most breathtaking natural sceneries to ever experience.
Major cities like Sapporo (the capital city) or Hakodate are a good base to anchor your trip around while you visit national parks, ski slopes, and flora and fauna that make you feel like a part of a fairytale. There’s plenty to do in Hokkaido all year round. But as the island sprawls on the higher latitudes of the Pacific Ocean, don’t forget to bring a jacket (It’s a winter wonderland for a reason!). Without further ado, here’s a bucket list of the best things to do in Hokkaido!
1. First Off: Catch The Late-Blooming Sakura
Image credits: All Japan Tours
Didn’t catch the spring-time sakura because of work/school/life? Hokkaido’s got your back. Given its high altitude, the cherry blossoms of Hokkaido blush pink during early summer, around May.
In Hokkaido, it’s more common to prepare meat on a charcoal fire called Jingisukan under the cherry blossoms instead of the usual bento boxes around the rest of Japan. Places to visit include Matsumae Park, Goryokaku Park, and Morimachi Oniushi Park among many others! Ready to get that amazing shot for the Gram?
Your Travel Bucket List: Best Things to do in Hokkaido 2022 — Find out more about Hokkaido Cherry Blossom here.
2. Soak Yourself In A Hot Spring
Image credits: TripAdvisor
In the chilly winter moments of Hokkaido, there’s no better place to decompress than in one of the natural hot springs that the island boasts. Onsens are adored by locals and tourists alike, and the best ones are to be found in Noboribetsu, Jozankei, and Lake Toya. Ready to soak your worries away?
Admission fees: Between ¥500 – ¥2000 (S$5-S$20)
Your Travel Bucket List: Best Things to do in Hokkaido 2022 — Find out more about Hot Springs here.
3. Clear Your Mind At Lake Mashu
Image credits: TripAdvisor
Located in Akan National Park, Lake Mashu is covered by a thick blanket of fog. However, when the fog dissipates, you’ll find one of the clearest caldera lakes in the world: Sky blue, crystalline, and deep. Although visitors are not allowed to enter the lake, we suggest viewing this beautiful pool of blue through observation decks and hiking trails!
Admission fees: Free
Address: Kawakami District, Teshikaga, Hokkaido
How to get there: 15 to 20-minute drive from Mashu Station in the town of Teshikaga. Buses are available, however, infrequently.
Your Travel Bucket List: Best Things to do in Hokkaido 2022 — Find out more about Lake Mashu here.
4. Be Awestruck At The Blue Pond In Biei
Image credits: Hokkaido Guide
For a whimsical, almost dreamlike experience, visit the Blue Pond in Biei. Half-submerged in turquoise waters, hundreds of bare Japanese larch trees stand with a calming stillness like floating will-o-wisps. An unmissable sight for photographers!
Admission fees: Free
Address: Shirogane, Biei-cho, Kamikawa-gun, Hokkaido
How to get there: By taking a bus tour from Sapporo, by bus or taxi from nearby communities, or by car.
Your Travel Bucket List: Best Things to do in Hokkaido 2022 — Find out more about Blue Pond here.
5. Visit Hakodate
Image credits: gltjp.com
One of the cities with the most foreign influences, Hakodate stands apart with its occasional European-style buildings (especially in the hillside Motomachi district) as well as its bays with red brick warehouses.
Try a bowl of the original salt ramen and visit the morning markets where fresh seafood is abundantly available! For a spectacular view, take a trip atop Mt. Hakodate and watch the city glitter under the night sky.
Your Travel Bucket List: Best Things to do in Hokkaido 2022 — Find out more about Hakodate here.
6. Nothing Beats A Hot Bowl Of Ramen
Image credits: Sakuraco
On a trip to Hokkaido, it’s nearly obligatory to treat yourself to a bowl of authentic ramen, especially given the freezing weather. Ready to get spoiled for choice? Check out Hokkaido’s abundant variety: Miso from Sapporo, Shoyu from Asahikawa, Shio from Hakodate, and Curry from Muroran — now all you have to do is choose your favourite!
Your Travel Bucket List: Best Things to do in Hokkaido 2022 — Find out more about Hokkaido Ramen here.
7. Have A Beer In Sapporo
Image credits: GaijinPot Travel
Sapporo, the capital city of Hokkaido, has plenty to offer: Starting from the Snow Festival in February, there’s a plethora of museums, shopping malls, and delectable food sprawled across the city. Known as the birthplace of beer in Japan, check out the Sapporo Beer Museum! Loved by beer enthusiasts, hop on to beer tours and taste the best Hokkaido has to offer.
Your Travel Bucket List: Best Things to do in Hokkaido 2022 — Find out more about Sapporo here.
8. Learn About The Goryokaku Fort
Image credits: Naver Post
The Star-Shaped Goryokaku Fort marks an important part of Japanese history. Perfectly paired with a viewing of cherry blossoms during summer, get a perfect vantage point at the 100m tall observation tower and see the star points engulfed with flowers. Plus: There’s also a museum for resident history buffs to explore!
Admission fees: From ¥900 (~S$8.9).
Opening Hours: 9.00 am to 6.00 pm
Address: Goryokaku Tower Corporation 43-9 Goryokaku-cho, Hakodate, Hokkaido
Your Travel Bucket List: Best Things to do in Hokkaido 2022 — Find out more about Goryokaku Fort here.
9. Colour Yourself Purple At Farm Tomita
Image credits: Farm Tomita
In July, the flower fields of Furano compete with Provence as lavender stretches as far as the horizon. Besides the gorgeous and aromatic fields, there are also opportunities for mountain biking, canyoning, and rafting in the vicinity. Don’t forget to grab some lavender soft-serve when you’re there!
Address: Kisen Kita 15-go, Nakafurano-cho, Sorachi-gun, Hokkaido
Opening Hours: 9 am to 4.30 pm
How to get there: Take a train from Furano Sta. on the JR Furano Line or from Asahikawa Sta. on the JR Hakodate Trunk Line to Lavender Farm Station. It’s also a 7-8 minute walk from Lavender Farm Station to Farm Tomita.
Your Travel Bucket List: Best Things to do in Hokkaido 2022 — Find out more about Farm Tomita here.
10. Enjoy A Cone Or Two Of Soft Serve
Image credits: TravelingPETITEGIRL
Hokkaido milk is known to be of the highest quality. So by correlation, the ultimate soft-serve can, too, be found here! While the original vanilla reigns supreme for its rich and milky taste, the other local flavours are also inspired.
Find vibrantly blue ones at Biei Town, lavender creamy goodness at Tomita, Japanese Pumpkin at Eniwa City, and Densuke Watermelon inspired by the gifting of the prestigious Densuke watermelons in Toma Town. You can never have too much ice cream!
Your Travel Bucket List: Best Things to do in Hokkaido 2022 — Find out more about Soft Serves here.
11. Last & Definitely Not Least: Slide Down A Slippery Slope!
Image credits: Escape
Hokkaido gets the perfect powdery and fine snow for skiing and snowboarding, so if you’re there in winter, you’re all set for the best experience. With plenty of ski resorts available across the island, Niseko and Furano are popular favourites when it comes to terrain. Whether you’re an expert or putting on skiing gear for the first time ever, it’s worth sliding down the slopes in this skier’s paradise!
Your Travel Bucket List: Best Things to do in Hokkaido 2022 — Find out more about Snowsports in Hokkaido here.
Hokkaido Here We Come!
So you already have your perfect Hokkaido bucket list now, all you have to do is to check all those boxes! While paying for your tickets or buying your cone of blue soft-serve, don’t forget to use your YouTrip Card to lock in our ever-reliable wholesale exchange rates!
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