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Better to drive or use train in Hokkaido

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Better to drive or use train in Hokkaido

Old Jul 30th, 2017, 09:32 AM
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Better to drive or use train in Hokkaido

We are planning to visit the eastern Hokkaido area (ie. Sapporo, Otaru, Hakodate, Noboribetsu, Hakodate) in mid/late Dec. Is the public train system convenient? or would driving be better? Is it easy to drive in the winter in that area (note, i do live in NE and do get snow during winter)? We will have luggages and are traveling with young kids as young as 5 yr old).
Any recommended site in that region is greatly appreciated.
TIA
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Old Jul 31st, 2017, 12:31 AM
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We have just returned from a trip to Hokkaido, all the places you mention are accessible by train, we visited all of them. The trains are great and the stations easy to navigate. Check out hyperdia.com for train timetable info and consider a Hokkaido rail pass to save money. We enjoyed all the places you have mentioned except Noboribetsu, too many large tourist hotels in a small area.
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Old Jul 31st, 2017, 07:55 AM
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Please forgive me for jumping in.

Donnyrover,
You gave Hakodate high marks. What's your opinion of Sapporo?
Is there a hotel in Sapporo you'd recommend?

Thanks.
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Old Jul 31st, 2017, 11:10 AM
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Hello Reading54 We had 3 nights in Sapporo and the weather was truly awful, we were just unlucky especially as there was a wonderful festival on. We just didn't see the best of the city, I am sure if it had been better we would have had a much better experience. That said we still enjoyed our time, we stayed at Hotel Monterey, I wouldn't recommend, although we had a huge room it's badly in need of a facelift. We initially booked the Dormy Inn Premium based on location and I wished we had stuck with that as the location was ideal for what we enjoy doing. The festival drove hotel prices sky-high and limited options, if you are going check out the festival calendar and book ahead, we paid nearly 3 times current rates.
Apart from sightseeing (difficult in the rain) my husband loves craft beers and Sapporo definitely delivered, we also had some very great food. Any other questions just let me know.
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Old Jul 31st, 2017, 01:21 PM
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Thank you! Those are all very good to know.
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Old Aug 1st, 2017, 10:00 AM
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I loved Noboribetsu Onsen. It is an onsen town where visitors stroll about in their lodging's yukata and geta.

There are a couple of large hotels in the town. Daichi Takimotokan might be the largest. It has an amazing hot springs bath area with a nice view of Jigokudani. It is an absolute must-visit for an onsen fan. According to japan-guide, it is "among Japan's best modern indoor hot spring baths, if not the best". http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e6752.html

But you don't have to stay there or in any of the other resort hotels. I stayed in a small ryokan just downhill from town. There are others in town.

Noboribetsu Onsen is a bus ride up from Noboribetsu. You can expect the bus to be there waiting for the train. You won't have to hurry but you should be prepared to go directly from the train to the bus.

But if you aren't interested in the onsen then you can skip it, especially in winter.

Driving, with a group of people, would probably be more convenient for that stop as well as for Hakodate.

Shiraoi is on your route, so you could visit the Ainu village there. Definitely consider the Toyako area, which is also on your route.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2017, 06:31 AM
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I went to all of those places using trains and buses in July 2009. I bet it is still doable. We stayed at Daichi Takimotokan and liked it a lot.
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