Heading to Hokkaido: Narita or Haneda? + How To Survive Winter Travels Without Spending Too Much!

Friday, February 22, 2019

Would you believe, this trip is about 2 months in the making! I received the first email invitation while I was in Japan with my sister Cea around November last year. I felt a little sad that we were a bit too early for snow, and then suddenly I received an email from Japan Airlines inviting me to experience winter in Japan with them!! Napa-iling nalang talaga ako in awe, I will always be amazed with how God works. The timing is perfect, and all His plans and surprises are really the best. This media trip turned out to be one of the most unforgettable I ever had!

For my first blog post, I will try to explain why I prefer JAL's new MNL to Haneda flight, show the inflight meals they serve for vegetarians, and a few tips on how I survived this -10 to -20 trip without spending too much on winter clothes I won't even use back in Manila. It's going to be another loaded post, so enjoy! ❤


When Cea and I went to Hokkaido last year, I had little clue on what flights to book for our supposed winter in Japan escapade. I searched local blogs but ang konti palang, I also asked friends who've already been to Hokkaido. To start the ball rolling, I booked for our round trip Narita flights when I saw a seat sale para sure na sure na ang trip namin. I thought we saved money by booking budget airlines and in advance.

At the last minute, we also booked another airfare from Narita to New Chitose International Airport in Sapporo, Hokkaido since flying is faster than the 8-hour train ride option. Cost of train and plane fares turned out to be almost the same. Yun nga lang, I also have to add extra luggage allowance at the last minute. Ang dami pa palang kelangan iconsider!

The tired travellers after spending the whole day in transit to get to Sapporo:

Now I realized why taking Japan Airlines is practical. It may look pricey at around Php 35,000 all in, but in the end the amount that Cea and I spent late last year for our transportation is almost the same as if we just flew with JAL! 

First of all, their free carry-on allowance is within 10 kilos (usually diba 7 lang), and you have an automatic check-in luggage allowance of whopping FORTY KILOS! This is great for winter trips when most of your clothes are heavy coats. Also great for Japan shoppingeras like me, hehehe.

You also get a comfortable seat with enough legroom, a full meal (they even have options for those with food restrictions like me), free drinks (no need to buy an extra cup of coffee or bottled water), pillow and blanket, and individual inflight entertainment that most budget airlines don't provide. Being on a long flight felt comfortable with all these extras. You really get value for your money.

Anyway, let's go back to that night of our flight.....

Our group met at the NAIA Terminal 1 for our flight to Haneda. They started this route (Manila to Haneda) just last February 1. In all my Japan trips, my port of entry is in Narita which is still about 1.5 hours to Tokyo city. Meanwhile, Haneda is only about 37 minutes to Tokyo!

With JAL's new Manila-Haneda daily overnight flights (11:50pm to 4:55am), the first day of your trip won't be wasted in transit. 

We stayed in Japan Airlines' Sakura Lounge right next to our boarding gate. We had our first dinner here, and some drinks! They also have wifi and outlets for those who need to work before the flight. Oh, and my friends say that the best curry in Japan is found here at the Sakura Lounge!

I only had tea and a few pastries in preparation for my plane food:

There was an announcement over PA system when our flight was already boarding. Sobrang convenient lang, we went to our plane relaxed and even ready to sleep! I changed into my eye glasses, brushed my teeth, and washed my face at the lounge even before our boarding hehehe.

And then comes our second dinner! 😂 I've requested for a lacto-ovo vegetarian meal, and here's what I got! The lasagna is so so good! What I also love about being a vegetarian during flights is that I get my meal first before everyone else! Ang special ng feeling, hehehe!

Tried to watch Bohemian Rhapsody, but 30 minutes in I decided to catch some sleep since we will have no time to rest the next day upon arrival. It's going to be jam-packed! All passengers have a small pillow and a blanket on their seats, and I brought with me a pair of hotel slippers for a comfortable overnight flight (long-haul flight hack!).

We flew from city....

... To snow.

I woke up and it's already Valentine's Day and I am in Japan! My view from the window seat are mountains covered with snow. The vibe felt so good, nothing can ruin my parade!

During our domestic flight from Haneda to Memanbetsu, we received a pack of Ghana chocolates:

Meanwhile, heading back to Manila, our port of exit is in Narita coming from Tokyo. They also have a Sakura Lounge which is even bigger! We stayed there for a few minutes to freshen up, eat a bit, before checking out the stores for last minute pasalubong shopping. Shaira and I just went to the designer perfumes section to try everything that we fancy, hehe. We also finished up our coins by getting different drinks via the vendo machine.

It is so quiet at the Sakura Lounge in Narita, they even have cubicles if you have to make a phone call.

I just stayed at the main lobby for the drinks and to charge my phone. They also have a free wifi when you stay here. The others went to the second floor to have their last fill of "the best curry in town".

Here's my heading home vegetarian meal from Japan Airlines. The lasagna is better, but this time I had a bottle of red wine.. and red wine makes everything good! Hehe! 

I continued watching Bohemian Rhapsody, finished the film, and rewatched a lot of its scenes till the final fasten seatbelts sign turned off. I was listening to the Live Aid We Are The Champions while our plane was descending, watching the beautiful city lights of my warm home.

Finally, I am ending this post with some tips on how I survived winter in Hokkaido without spending a fortune. We all know that coats and winter boots cost about Php 3000 to Php 7000. I decided to make do with what I have, and just bought a few "winter musts".

When going to a below zero trip, I always make sure I have the following:

1) A bonnet to cover my ears (they have heat tech ones in Uniqlo, but normal thick bonnets will do too)

2) Ear muffs for added warmth (effective to and hindi lang pa-cute! I got mine on sale in H&M and also used this last winter 2018)

3) Cloth face mask to cover my nose and mouth when it gets really cold (I was able to use this on my DIY trips since we commute a lot, not so much for this trip since we're always on a tour bus)

4) Gloves because hands really get easily cold (I saw affordable fleece pairs in Decathlon below Php 200 lang)

5) Ultra Warm Heattech top and leggings from Uniqlo. I bought my pair from last year, and still use them for this trip. Dito ka lang mapapa invest since they cost about Php 1300, but sobrang sulit. Again, get the ULTRA Warm, it makes a big difference! They also have a turtleneck variant for the heattech top, which is great if you don't want to wear scarf na (minsan nakakapagod yung madaming sabit sabit hehehe).

6) Heat Packs are the best invention ever for winter trips. I bought a pack in Decathlon (located in Festival Mall Alabang) for only Php 150ish for 10 pieces. You activate the warmth from the pack that looks like a teabag by removing it from its plastic, shaking it, and keeping it on your pocket. Reach for the heat pack every time your hands feel cold!

Maiwan na lahat wag lang ang bonnet, ear muffs, and gloves!

Moreover, you can also:

7) Bring a black fleece infinity scarf that can cover your neck and mouth, extremely helpful for me on that night I left my face mask and earmuffs in our bus and we went straight to the winter ice festival!

8) Coats are expensive, and although super okay talaga yung Uniqlo Ultra Light Down Puffer Jackets, my alternative for this trip is to buy thrifted coats through my friend's Instagram shop @coatsmnl (nakalaba na sya). If you have time, you can go ukay shopping yourself prior your trip! Laking tipid talaga, and you get to wear different coats everyday (haha, sorry kaartehan!).

9) If not thrifted coats, you can shift through H&M and Terranova winter clothes sale! They usually sell these pieces in lower price since wala na bibili masyado satin nito! I got my black teddy bear hoodie from H&M men's section for only Php 800.

10) Pieces you should bring: fleece lined, turtlenecks or jackets that zip up to your neck, hoodies (they add extra warmth to your head!), corduroy, jackets with pockets (to slide your cold hands in), and knits. Again, best first layer is still your pair of heattech top and leggings.

11) Make sure your travel bag is water resistant. Snow can get your stuff wet, and kawawa talaga dito ang leather or cloth bags. I brought a Fjall Raven backpack and a transparent fanny pack with me for this trip.

12) And lastly, my new discovery is another Decathlon find. This store has some of the most affordable winter trip pieces -- mostly dedicated to snowy hikes so you know they'll work well for normal snowy travels.

I bought a shoe spike for only Php 500. It is made of rubber with metal spikes underneath, comes in different sizes (Small to XL) that you can slide snuggly on the soles of your sneakers. You can bring different shoes and just insert these. Sobrang practical, and really effective coz hindi ako nadudulas while wearing them! The only hassle is that I have to remove them every time I enter an establishment kung hindi magagasgas ko flooring nila, hehe!

That's it! I am excited to tell you more of my winter stories on my next posts! 

Visit Japan Airlines for your next trip to Japan! Read more about the new Manila to Tokyo Haneda JAL flights HERE.

Thank you so much Japan Airlines and Havas Manila for having me in this media trip! Truly unforgettable as I get to experience MORE of Japan, one of my top favorite countries in the world. Special thanks to Mr. Ogawa, Mika San, Cid and Jookie for taking care of us, and to my new Hokkaido Winter friends for the great company!!!


  1. Nakakainggit!!Halatang enjoy na enjoy ka ate and your tips and advices looks so helpful


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