Want your Hokkaido travel to be easy and enjoyable? Of course you do!
You can make use of public transportation systems between sightseeing spots. Hokkaido has plenty of buses and trains to you can use to get around to most major Hokkaido sightseeing areas. With large windows and stunning landscape views, some of these options let you experience the magic of Hokkaido in a way that even a car can't provide.
There are several Hokkaido sightseeing passes available. These "free passes" make travel more convenient by providing discounts on rail and bus fare, letting you take unlimited rides at a flat rate.
The wide range Hokkaido free passes also includes some that can be used across municipalities, from beyond the narrow scope of the Sapporo area into Eastern Hokkaido, some of which can even be purchased right at the airport.
- Table of Contents
- 1. Hokkaido Rail Pass: Unlimited Use of All Hokkaido JR Lines
- 2. Hokkaido Bus Passes: Two Types for Traveling Between Major Hokkaido Cities
- 3. 1-Day Unlimited Rides Ticket: Visit Hokkaido Tourist Attractions In and Around Sapporo City by Bus
- 4. 4~7 Day Unlimited Pass for Ushiro, Nemuro, and Rausu: Enjoy the Magical Scenery of Eastern Hokkaido
- 5. 1-Day Ticket & Donichika Ticket: Travel Sapporo City By Bus
- 6. Dosanko Pass & 1-Day Streetcar Ticket: Take A Leisurely Ride Along Central Sapporo
1. Hokkaido Rail Pass: Unlimited Use of All Hokkaido JR Lines
The Hokkaido Rail Pass is an unlimited pass exclusively for foreign tourists visiting Japan. It is valid for unlimited rides on all JR Hokkaido regular and limited express trains (excluding the Hokkaido Shinkansen) and JR Hokkaido buses and eliminates the need to buy a ticket every time you board.
It is even valid for the reserved seats in ordinary cars when you make an advance reservation at the ticket window or on their website. This is recommended for those who plan to ride the train for long distances (no extra fee required).
Passes are available in four options, depending on the number of days that best suits your itinerary. Options include a three-day pass, five-day pass, and seven-day pass, as well as a flexible pass that allows you to select and use any four days within a 10-day period, starting from your first use.
You can purchase these passes in your home country before arriving in Japan, as well as at 10 designated areas within Japan, including New Chitose Airport, the JR Information Desk at Sapporo Station, Asahikawa, Kushiro, Obihiro, Hakodate, and Abashiri. The pass also includes rental car and shopping discounts, so you can save even more.
Learn more about the Hokkaido Rail Pass and where to purchase at http://www2.jrhokkaido.co.jp/global/ .
- 3-day Pass
- Adults: 17,400 yen; Children: 8,700 yen
- 5-day Pass/Flexible 4-day Pass
- Adults: 23,480 yen; Children: 11,740 yen
- 7-day Pass
- Adult: 25,710 yen; Children: 12,850 yen
2. Hokkaido Bus Passes: Two Types for Traveling Between Major Hokkaido Cities
■ Hokkaido Budget Bus Pass (for highway buses and some local buses)
This unlimited pass is exclusively available to overseas tourists visiting Japan who want to travel all roads by bus at great prices. This is perfect for travel between more widespread areas, including Hakodate in the south, Nayoro in the north, Monbetsu and Kushiro in the east, as well as other major travel destinations such as airports.
Passes are available in 3 or 5 day periods. Long-distance express buses may require advanced reservations to board, so be sure to check the pamphlet before riding.
There are also sightseeing tours available that take you around tourist attractions in Obihiro, Kitami, and Kushiro. These Hokkaido tours usually go for 19,310 yen, however, this pass can save you 8,310 yen.
- 3-day Pass
- Adults: 11,000 yen; Children: 5,500 yen
- 5-day Pass
- Adults: 17,000 yen; Children: 8,500 yen
■InterCity Bus Pass
This Hokkaido bus pass is a great value for tourists who don't mind keeping their travels limited to the central Hokkaido area.
You can visit areas around New Chitose Airport and Sapporo, including Otaru, Niseko, and Muroran. Passes are available in 3 and 5 day periods.
This Hokkaido bus pass is also good for visiting popular tourist attractions such as Furano, which is famous for its lavender fields, as well as Shakotan and Noboribetsu Onsen, famous for its local seafood such as sea urchin.
For more information and here to purchase, see
- 3-Day Pass
- Adults: 6,000 yen; Children: 3,000 yen
- 5-Day Pass
- Adults: 9,000 yen; Children: 4,500 yen
Both passes require advance purchase through their website.
You can pick up your passes at 19 ticket counters throughout Hokkaido, including at five different airports, such as New Chitose Airport, as well as stations and bus terminals in major cities.
3. 1-Day Unlimited Rides Ticket: Visit Hokkaido Tourist Attractions In and Around Sapporo City by Bus
The Ichinichi Norihodai Kippu (1-Day Unlimited Rides Ticket) is a one-day pass valid on the JR Hokkaido Blue-line Bus that runs through and around Sapporo. It grants unlimited rides around Sapporo City, Otaru City, and Ebetsu City.
You can purchase your ticket at JR Bus ticket centers and sales offices, as well as inside the bus itself. Simply scratch off the date of intended use and present it to the driver when getting off the bus. These buses provide very convenient access to attractions that are a bit further from the station, such as the open-air museum Historical Village of Hokkaido, and the beautiful views of the Okurayama Ski Jump Stadium.
This pass will also save you 420 yen for a round trip between Miyanosawa and Otaru, making it especially beneficial to have when traveling longer distances.
There is even a smartphone app called 'Bus Kita!' which allows you to check the current status of the buses in real-time. The app is available in English, Chinese, and Korean. You can also check the routes to various destinations, required travel time, bus timetables, bus stop locations, and more. Consider it an essential item for smooth travels.
- 800 yen
- 400 yen
4. 4~7 Day Unlimited Pass for Ushiro, Nemuro, and Rausu: Enjoy the Magical Scenery of Eastern Hokkaido
The “Kushiro/Nemuro/Rausu 4-7 Days Free Pass” is an unlimited ride pass that allows you to travel many places and routes in eastern Hokkaido, including the airport buses to Kushiro Airport and Nakashibetsu Airport, as well as city bus routes in eastern Hokkaido, valid for four to seven days.
The Akan, Kushiro, and Nemuro Buses are jointly covered by this pass. They are available for purchase at six locations, including at both airports, as well as bus terminals within the range of the specified routes.
For a period of four days to up to a week from the time you begin using it, the pass allows you to freely get on and off at any stops along the designated bus routes.
You may also be eligible for a discounted fare if you possess a separate Hokkaido bus pass for routes not covered by this one, allowing you to see even more of the vast area of eastern Hokkaido at an even greater value.
For example, if you start from Kushiro Airport and travel the route through Kushiro, Nemuro, Nakashibetsu, and Rausu, you will save 4,480 yen. However, be aware that the buses between Kushiro and Nemuro may require advanced reservations, so be sure to check before you ride.
Kushiro Bus Co., Ltd.: 0154-36-8181
Nemuro Kotsu Co., Ltd.: 0153-24-2202
Akan Bus Co., Ltd.: 0154-37-8651
- 9,000 yen
- 4,500 yen
5. 1-Day Ticket & Donichika Ticket: Travel Sapporo City By Bus
■ One-day Subway Ticket (all subway lines in Sapporo City)
This is a subway pass that covers all subway lines in Sapporo City, including the Namboku Line, Tozai Line, and Toho Line. It is a very convenient ticket, available for purchase at all Sapporo subway stations, at station offices, commuter pass sales offices, and ticket vending machines.
It can be purchased either in advance or for same-day use. A regular adult single-fare subway ride costs 210 yen, so if you plan to ride the subway four times or more, you will find that this Hokkaido free pass pays itself off in no time.
- 830 yen
- 420 yen
■ Donichika Ticket (valid on all Sapporo City subway lines)
This ticket is a one-day unlimited ride pass valid on the three Sapporo Subway Lines, for use on Saturdays, Sundays, public holidays, and New Year's holidays (December 29 to January 3).
You can buy these passes in the same location as the one-day tickets, at an even more reasonable price: 520 yen for adults and 260 yen for children. This is even cheaper than a regular fare ticket.
Subway ticket vending machines are also operable in English. If you have any issues or need help getting your pass, you can ask for assistance at the station staff room near the ticket gate.
- 520 yen
- 260 yen
6. Dosanko Pass & 1-Day Streetcar Ticket: Take A Leisurely Ride Along Central Sapporo
■ Dosanko Pass (all Streetcar routes)
The Streetcar is a loop line that departs from Nishi 4-chome Bus Stop. There are two lines, an inner and outer one, which take you around central Sapporo at a leisurely pace.
It is highly recommended for anyone wanting to see the Sapporo cityscape. The "Dosanko Pass" is a one-day pass for the Streetcar, valid on Saturdays, Sundays, public holidays, and New Year's holidays (December 29 to January 3). It is only valid for use on the day of purchase.
You can purchase a pass at the counter in streetcar-connecting subway stations, as well as inside the streetcar itself, and at the Odori Station commuter pass office. The regular Streetcar fare is 200 yen along the entire route, so the pass pays for itself, even if you only ride twice.
The Streetcar stops near Nakajima Park, as well as at the Mount Moiwa Ropeway entrance, so it is also convenient for sightseeing.
- Covers 1 Adult + 1 Child
- 370 yen
■ Streetcar 1-day Ticket (all Streetcar routes)
This 1-day Streetcar Ticket can also be used on weekdays and is only valid on the same day of purchase.
It will only be available for a limited time, however, until the end of March 2020. It can be purchased at the same location as the Dosanko Pass. It pays for its value when you ride the Streetcar at least three times, so it is a good pass to have should.
You find yourself wanting to stop along the way to visit new places of interest and stroll around the city.
There are route maps and price stickers inside the train cars written in English, Chinese, and Korean. In-car announcements are also played in English.
- 500 yen
- 250 yen
Along with the above-mentioned items, unlimited Hokkaido bus and train passes are available on other local transportation lines as well, including some that are only available during peak tourist season.
You can compare prices between your discount ticket and round-trip fares to specific destinations. If you want to explore Hokkaido even more, the ability to hop on and off the trains freely lets you visit places that catch your interest.
As you can see, purchasing any of these Hokkaido free passes greatly expands your travel possibilities. Additionally, there may be other inbound services available, both inside the vehicles and at the sales offices, so be sure to check their website or at the ticket counter for more details.
With an unlimited pass and a ton of tourist destinations at such great value, get ready to experience the vastness and beauty of Hokkaido for yourself.
Text by:minna no kotoba sha
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.
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