Autumn in Hokkaido Travel Guide | 5-Day Itinerary + Tips


On my third time in Hokkaido, there is still so much to see and do.

What I like about this trip is that I was able to experience new things, and even new things from sites that I have already been to before but in a different season. I still find it amusing that any changes of the colors of leaves, a drop in temperature, or the appearance of rain or clouds changes a whole place in its entirety. It's always as if it's my first time! I will always be a fan of the magic of four seasons.


ARRIVAL

We arrived in Hokkaido via New Chitose Airport with Philippine Airlines. They have a direct flight from Manila, which is so convenient compared to my flight with Cea last year where we still had a layover in Narita. We slept in the plane, and landed in Japan in the morning an hour or two ahead of the other Thailand and Vietnam influencers also invited to the FAM tour. I was with Abi of Our Awesome Planet for Team Philippines. We had a quick breakfast in the airport Lawson while waiting for the rest.





5-DAY HOKKAIDO ITINERARY

Day 1

Chitose Lake / Lake Shikotsu
Lunch at Turuga Resort
Houheikyo Dam - For autumn leaves sighting
Kaiseki dinner at hotel

Our day 1 in Hokkaido was very rainy, but instead of dampening the mood, the group was actually excited to bring out their cameras and Japanese clear plastic umbrellas to enjoy the scenery in this overcast vibe. I actually liked it! Temperature was just right, or how Manileños describe as "Baguio Weather"--perfect for a day of autumn leaves sighting, Japanese foot bath, an outdoor light show at night, and a Japanese multi-course meal for dinner (with Sapporo Beer, of course).











Day 2

Sapporo Kokusai Ski Resort - Autumn leaves gondola
Jozankei Farm - Apple and Prunes Picking, Garden Stroll
Mitsui Outlet Park - shopping!
Church on the Water

In any travel, I always enjoy a mix of everything. The right balance of city and nature, food trip and shopping and walking, just a little and not too much! On our day 2, we had some sight seeing and fresh prunes and apple picking in the morning, a bit of outlet shopping in the afternoon, and later on checked in at one of the DREAM hotels you can ever stay in when in Hokkaido: Hoshino Resorts Tomamu! It's the hotel room where I had my own jacuzzi and sauna! What is life!?
















Day 3

Unkai Terrace - Sea of Clouds
Lunch at Ferme La Terre
Blue Pond
Shikisai No Oka - Flower Fields
Log Hotel The Maplelodge Check-in and Dinner
Maplelodge campfire activity

Dubbed as our "favorite day", on our 3rd day in Hokkaido we've seen some of northern Japan's best of the best sights: a sea of clouds, a turquoise blue pond, and a huge field of sunflowers, lavenders, and other blooms! We were only half a day in and my eyes are already full! We also checked in a hotel that reminds me of my dream Muji room: simple wood and metal architecture, very chic!














Day 4

Apple Picking at Azumai Orchard
Housui Winery / Ice Cream
Iwamizawa Park Rose Garden
Pizzeria Lucci for Lunch (awarded best pizza, 2017, by Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana)
Kan Yasuda Sculpture Museum - Arte Piazza Bibai
Mercure Hotel in Susukino, Sapporo
Sapporo Ramen Yokocho for Dinner (Ramen Alley)
Sapporo View from Ferris Wheel
Shopping around Susukino!

Just outside our hotel, you can walk to an apple orchard and enjoy fresh, red apples straight from the tree! Day 4 is a nice mix of nature, food, and art while in Hokkaido. We went to a magical rose garden that showcased different blooms even when it is off-season, an outdoor art museum by a Japanese artist whose vision is for people to enjoy his sculptures and not just look at it, and finally--drove to the main city, Sapporo, for city lights, shopping, and a good bowl of Anthony Bourdain recommended ramen!






















Day 5

Nijo Fish Market
Sushi Hanamaru Lunch (Mercure Hotel)
Shopping around Susukino
Check-in New Chitose Airport's transit hotel
Dinner 
Shopping at Airport

On our last full day in Hokkaido, it felt like time just flew by! We made the most out of our stay in the city even though it was raining the whole day by going to a fish market, a zoo and indoor aquarium, and of course, shopping for families and friends waiting for us back home.






















TIPS + BUDGET

Sharing some realizations from this trip that you might find valuable when you plan your own Hokkaido vacation:

1) Join group tours. You know that I will always prefer the freedom of DIY trips, but there are places like Jeju of Korea and Hokkaido of Japan that you'll best experience and maximize if you join tours since transportation and navigation will be the least of your worries. Btw, our whole trip was well-organized by JTB.

2) If you have international license, you can also rent a car so you can go around to more places swiftly and conveniently.

3) Get internet connection. Either buy a data sim or rent a pocket wifi so you can easily use your Google Maps, research on-the-spot, communicate with your group, or convert PHP to Yen.

4) If you want to go see the Unkai Terrace Sea of Clouds, for me it's best and more convenient to stay as a guest at Hoshino Resorts Tomamu. Shuttle and gondola are FREE for all guests, and it's easier to go to the site early in the morning if you're already in the area. You can watch our experience, and check out more details here:



5) Most stores accept Visa and MasterCard--even in the fish market! It is also very easy to withdraw money in Hokkaido or Japan in general. Just look for a 7Eleven convenience store, they usually have an international ATM inside. Charge for withdrawal is around Php 200, or you can just swipe your card when you shop. Since I use BDO debit MasterCard, I had to inform the cashier that my card is "checking" so it will work on their port.

6) Pack a variety of clothes. Since autumn weather is unpredictable, and temperature varies from area to area, be prepared with different coats, layers, and even rain gears. Most of the time, a sweater or a light jacket will do. Bring a headgear for the sudden cold and the rain. But on higher places like the Unkai or when taking a gondola to the mountains, it is best if you have a puffer jacket with you too.

7) Lastly, iponing is key (saving is key)! I still can't think of a way to make a budget-friendly Hokkaido trip, but it will be best to go here when you're already prepared for the expenses to fully enjoy the activities.

Some sights don't have entrance fees like the flower fields and the Blue Pond, but you will still need a budget to book tours or ride the buses to get there. I'd say, for the whole trip with airfare, all the hotels, the tours (transportation and entrance fees), meals, and a bit of shopping, estimate budget for our 5 days in Hokkaido is around PHP 180k-200,000. Much like my 20-Day Euro trip! A bit steep on the pocket, but definitely worth it!



Aside from the new experiences, the beautiful places we saw, and the good food we had, I am also thankful for the nicest people from all over the world that I met because of this trip. One night on our stay at the Maplelodge, we had outdoor games and hot coffee by the bonfire--starry sky above our heads--and everyone's just laughing over crazy stuff like dares, burnt marshmallows, sparklers, and forced singing haha! I went back to my room with heart bursting with joy coz it's true. Travel is not just the places you see, but the experiences you gained that you can say is uniquely yours.

Thank you very much--domo arigatou gozaimasu--Hokkaido authorities, JTB, Genki Itani, Hino San, Seino San, and my new friends Abi, Loi, Ngân, Butter, and Chau for making this trip the best that it could ever be! ❤ It might be impossible, but it will be my dream to travel Japan with you guys again.


Read my past Hokkaido travel blogs.

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