A Guide on Using the Hokkaido Rail Pass for Sightseeing in Hokkaido
Hokkaido is a tourist hotspot in Japan, with a number of sightseeing locations located around an extended area, such as Sapporo, Hakodate, and Kushiro. The Hokkaido Rail Pass is highly recommended to those who wish to tour around all of the attractions Hokkaido has to offer via train. Read on to find out more!
What is the Hokkaido Rail Pass?
The Hokkaido Rail Pass is a great-value ticket aimed at overseas visitors who wish to tour around Hokkaido Prefecture by train. Those who have this ticket can ride on all JR Hokkaido trains (excluding the Hokkaido bullet train) and certain JR buses within Sapporo City as much as their heart desires for no extra cost over a designated period of time. The ticket can even be used for reserved seats in the standard carriages of limited express and rapid service trains. What's more, there is no need to purchase a ticket each and every time you get off, eradicating the time lost by asking station staff things like the price of the ticket. It even comes with various additional benefits, such as a maximum of 30% off on JR station rental cars.
*An additional fee is required for Green Seats (first-class seats) on limited express trains. Please also note that the ticket cannot be used on trains which are not run by JR Hokkaido, such as trains run by the South Hokkaido Railway Company.
(C)JR Hokkaido Railway Company.
What are the Different Types of Hokkaido Rail Pass?
There are 4 different types in total. Some have a designated start date with a usage period of 3, 5, or 7 days, while others, such as the “Flexible 4-day Pass”, have an open start date – allowing the user to start their 4-day tour anytime they like within a 10-day period. Thus, it is possible to clearly choose your ticket according to your length of stay and purpose of use.
3-day Ticket: 16,500 JPY/adult, 8,250 JPY/child
Flexible 4-day Ticket: 22,000 JPY/adult, 11,000 JPY/child
5-day Ticket: 22,000 JPY/adult, 11,000 JPY/child
7-day Ticket: 24,000 JPY/adult, 12,000 JPY/child
*Those aged between 6 – 11 are applicable for child fares.
How Can I Purchase the Pass and Use it?
Purchase an exchange certificate at a travel agency or travel company in your home country if you wish to use the Hokkaido Rail Pass. This exchange certificate can then be redeemed at various places across Hokkaido Prefecture. Of course, the pass can also be bought directly within Japan. Both the purchasing of the ticket and the redeeming of the exchange certificate can be done at major train stations, such as Hakodate Station, Asahikawa Station, and Kushiro Station, as well as at the JR Information Desk inside Sapporo Station and New Chitose Airport Station.
The pass itself is very easy to use – just show it to a staff member at the ticket barriers and they will let you through (the pass cannot be used at automatic ticket barriers). Please note that an additional ticket is required if you wish to reserve a seat. In this case, show your pass to a member of the staff at the ticket office and state the train name and time you wish to board. It is also possible to reserve this ticket online.
*There is a 3-month deadline for redeeming the Hokkaido Rail Pass upon purchasing the exchange certificate.
*Please note that you have to present your passport with the “Temporary Visitor” stamp or sticker when both purchasing and redeeming the exchange certificate.
Sightseeing Spots to Visit With This Pass!
Otaru Canal is one of the places that you shouldn’t miss out on if you have the Hokkaido Rail Pass! Located only 8 minutes away from JR Otaru Station on foot, this canal has a total length of 1,140 meters. The historical stone warehouses lined up beside the canal really are a beautiful sight. 63 gas lamps are lit up along the walking path at night to create an enjoyable and mystical atmosphere. There are also lots of delicious places to eat at around the area.
Hoshino Resorts Tomamu
A courtesy bus to this resort facility is available from Tomamu Station. The vast resort area is teeming with Hokkaido’s nature, allowing you to enjoy activities such as canoeing and rafting in the summer, and skiing in the winter. A variety of uniquely beautiful scenery can be enjoyed here, such as the breathtaking religious cross reflected on the surface of the water at the Chapel on the Water, as well as the sea of clouds visible from the Unkai Terrace (40% visibility rate).
If you are planning a tour around Hokkaido Prefecture to see all it has to offer, then the Hokkaido Rail Pass is a must!
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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