Travel tips for November in Hokkaido [Scoot Special Blog Entry]

Greetings. This is Nazrul from the Hokkaido Government Representative Office.

Scoot’s seasonal Singapore to Hokkaido’s New Chitose Airport direct flights are back from 2 November 2018 to 10 February 2019. In conjunction with the flight carrier, the Hokkaido Government Representative Office is glad to share with our readers a recommended travel itinerary for Hokkaido for the month of November.

Furano in summer (photo taken in Jul 2017)

Hokkaido is one of the most popular destinations for Singaporean travelers, and their peak seasons include the months of July and December. While July is the season of flowers and December is the seasonal school holiday period, that is not to say that Hokkaido is not worth visiting during the other months.

Niseko in winter (photo taken in Feb 2017)

Most visitors would flock to Tokyo, Osaka and other major Japanese cities to witness the picturesque red-and-yellow autumn leaves. However, November is also a good time to visit Hokkaido for the following reasons:

✔ It will be much less crowded compared to peak seasons such as May, June, July and December
✔ Average hotel rates will be lower due to shoulder season
✔ The weather is much cooler than summer, yet not as frigid as winter
✔ November is the time for first rice harvesting, so sake quality is at its best
✔ As you would find out, airfares might also be cheaper 

To give you some ideas on what to see and do in Hokkaido in November, have a look below for my recommended travel schedule!

Day 1: Land in New Chitose, head to Lake Shikotsu / Jozankei

Upon arriving in New Chitose Airport, rent a car from one of the many car rental companies in Hokkaido and head your way to Lake Shikotsu or Jozankei. Lake Shikotsu is one of the most picturesque lakes in the region, and a highly popular hot spring destinations close to Sapporo.

Alternatively, you can spend a night in Jozankei, another popular hot spring destination that is only 1 hour’s drive away from Sapporo. There are also foot baths available, so you can soak your feet in the chilly weather after a long flight.

Day 2: Descend to Hell Valley in Noboribetsu

Hell Valley in Noboribetsu (photo taken in Oct)

Head down the next morning to Hell Valley (Jigokudani), an ominously named hot spring resort in the town of Noboribetsu Onsen. The place is named for its continuous sulfurous vapors and hot steam due to volcanic activity, and also serves as the main source for Noboribetsu’s hot spring waters.

The valley has many walking trails, and also serves as one of the most popular hot spring destinations in Hokkaido. You can also consider staying for a night at any of the many available hot spring hotels nearby.

Recommended length of stay: 1 night

Day 3: Head down to Lake Toya and Hakodate

Lake Toya cruise

Head down south to Lake Toya, yet another popular hot spring destination in Hokkaido. Unlike Noboribetsu’s mountainous scene, Lake Toya is all about the serene lakeside view and the majestic scenery of the active volcano Mount Usu.

Shikotsu-Toya National Park (photo taken in Sep 2016)

Apart from the hot springs, you can also enjoy taking the Usuzan cable car ride and view the craters nearby. After spending the day in Lake Toya, make your way down south to the port city of Hakodate to spend the night here.

Recommended length of stay: 1 night

Day 4-5: Visit Hakodate Morning Market and Goryokaku

Hakodate Morning Market

Hakodate is Hokkaido’s third largest city and is known for many things, including fresh seafood. The morning market is the place to go to get the freshest seafood in the city, and is only a stone’s throw away from the JR Hakodate station. Opening as early as 5:00 AM, locals and tourists flock here for the best deals for a scrumptious seafood breakfast.

Seafood bowl at Hakodate Morning Market

Next, make your way to the iconic fortress of Goryokaku. This massive star-shaped citadel was built during the Edo Period, and now remains as one of the iconic symbols of the city. You can spend up to a day here, and relish in the beauty of the structure that has been preserved since the 19th century.

On the next day, take a stroll through Motomachi District. This quaint area used to be the landing spot for foreign traders in the past, and now foreign-looking buildings such as the Russian Orthodox Church, Old British Consulate and the Chinese Memorial Hall remain.

Mount Hakodate at night

Finally at night, take a cable car up Mount Hakodate to enjoy the spectacular night view of Hakodate city. This night view has been voted as one of the three best night views, alongside Nagasaki’s Mount Inasa and Kobe’s Mount Rokko.

Recommended length of stay: 2 nights

Day 6-8: Upward to Sapporo and Otaru

Upon returning your rental car in Hakodate, take the limited express train in the morning from Hakodate station up to the capital city of Sapporo. Enjoy the 4-hour train ride along the coastal route of southern Hokkaido; you can also buy an ekiben, a bento-boxed meal you can enjoy inside the train for lunch.

Susukino at night (photo taken in Sep 2016)

As the largest city in Hokkaido, Sapporo has something for everyone. From the vast Odori Park to the night entertainment of downtown Susukino, the city is mostly known as the go-to place for food and shopping. Also, there is the Shiroi Koibito Park where you can embark on a factory tour to see how Hokkaido’s most famous white chocolates are manufactured.

Otaru Canal at night (photo taken in Feb 2017)

While in Sapporo, you can also make a day trip to Otaru, a highly popular port town just 45 minutes away by train. Here you can visit the picturesque Otaru Canal, enjoy the best seafood and look for the best specialty glassware souvenirs.

Recommended length of stay: 3-4 nights

Recommended total travel period: 8-9 nights

Hakodate from flight (photo taken in Sep 2016)

Regardless of the season or month, Hokkaido is a must-visit for everyone. With Scoot’s new flight, the Hokkaido Government hopes to attract even more visitors from Singapore and the ASEAN region into the region to enjoy the delicious food and beautiful scenery that Hokkaido has to offer! So mark your calendars and we’ll see you there!

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