Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Hokkaido Rail Pass

If you have plans to travel around Japan, from north to south, east to west, or just go around in circles, for a week (or two or three), the Japan Rail Pass is for you. But if you plan to travel just around Hokkaido, the Hokkaido Rail Pass is a "cheaper" (in quotation marks because, for me, both rail passes fall under the expensive category) option.

The Hokkaido Rail Pass offers four options: passes for 3/5/7 consecutive days or 4-day flexible pass (to be used on any four days within 10 days from the date of purchase). I opted for the 7-day pass for 24,000 yen. (Gulp! Expensive!)

With the Hokkaido Rail Pass, the pass holder can have unlimited rides on all the JR lines in Hokkaido within the validity period. The only exception is the Hokkaido Shinkansen which travels between Aomori and Hakodate.

An Exchange Order for the Hokkaido Rail Pass can be purchased before arriving in Japan (online or from designated travel agencies) or while in Japan (from designated JR East or JR Hokkaido Travel Centers) provided you have a "Temporary Visitor" sticker in your passport. The Exchange Order should then be exchanged for the Hokkaido Rail Pass at designated JR Hokkaido Travel Centers in Hokkaido only.

But to my surprise, when I purchased one at JR East Travel Service Center in Narita Terminal 2, they immediately gave me the Hokkaido Rail Pass (not the Exchange Order)! Good news for me. I could start exploring early the following day!

I traveled long distances almost daily to make the most of the pass. And booked a reserved seat whenever possible. Here's the list of JR train rides I took using the Hokkaido Rail Pass:

I rode 52,440 yen worth of JR train rides in seven days! That's more than twice the pass's worth! Yup, the Hokkaido Rail Pass was worth that big crater in my pocket!

Japanese Summer 2018
Otaru on Foot
Asahikawa Accommodation: Asahikawa Ride
Beautiful Nature in Biei Town
Lavender Fields in Nakafurano
Daisetsuzan National Park: A Short Hike in Asahidake
Shikotsu-Toya National Park: Hiking Thru Hell in Noboribetsu
Six Short Hours in Hakodate
Shikotsu-Toya National Park: Walking Through Abandoned Places in Toya
Hokkaido Rail Pass (you're here!)
Itinerary and Expenses: 9D/9N Hokkaido and Sawara Town

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