Distance and time to move around Hokkaido, enormous and not easy!

Are you not one of the people with unrealistic travel plans in Hokkaido? First going to Sapporo, grab sushi in Otaru for lunch, then go to Asahiyama Zoo, and enjoy night views in Hakodate… Don’t despise the size of Hokkaido. 


Sapporo - Hakodate is about 300 km, Sapporo - Shari (Shiretoko) is 380 km

If you are participating a tour with fixed routes, you are fine. However, those of you who come to Hokkaido as individual travelers, is your plan truly realistic? It seems like Honshu (the mainland Japan) and Hokkaido become closer because of Hokkaido Shinkansen, but don’t despise the size of Hokkaido.
It has more “distance”, and it takes more “time” to move around from a city to city than you imagine. 

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Many of travel guide books and travel websites introduce the sites as areas, such as “Sapporo, Otaru, Hakodate”, “Shiretoko, Akan, Abashiri” and “Sapporo, Furano, Asahiyama Zoo”. And it makes us feel like those cities are very close to each other, but this is a terrible misunderstanding. 

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This is just estimations, but Sapporo - Hakodate is about 248 km (5 hours and 9 mins) by general road, about 309 km (4 hours 17 mins) by expressway, Sapporo - Furano is about 114 km (2 hours and 29 mins) by general road, about 116 km (2 hours 2 mins) by expressway, and Sapporo - Wakkanai is about 315 km (6 hours 7 mins) by general road, about 337 km (5 hours 9 mins) by expressway. Sapporo - Hakodate is able to travel in one day, but you have to stay in the car most of the time, and there will be almost no time to explore Hakodate. 


Plan thoroughly considering distance and time

Except Sapporo City where subways and street cars are developed, most of the public transportation in Hokkaido is JR trains or busses. There are only JR trains and much fewer trains running compared to Tokyo area. Depending on the station but sometimes they only have one train in one hour, so you need to confirm the timetable ahead.

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People travel by rental car will increase from May to October, when there is no snow because they do not have to worry about icy roads. It feels really nice to drive long straight roads without traffic jams. However, you need to calculate “distance” and “time” when you make plans.


If there is a person who says “travel to Shiretoko from Sapporo in a day”, people from Hokkaido say “better not”. 
If there is a person who says “I want to go to Asahiyama Zoo from Sapporo, see the lavender field on the way back, and have sushi for dinner at Otaru”, we ask “how long are you planning to stay at the zoo? And lavender field? Can you make it to the time of last order in sushi restaurant at Otaru?”
If there is a person who says “I want to go to morning market in Hakodate from Sapporo, see around Motomachi Town and Bay Area, then see the night view from Hakodate Mountain, and go back to Sapporo and enjoy  a night out at Susukino”, we say Sapporo will be morning by the time you come back. 

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I can travel from Sapporo to Shinchitose Airport, Haneda Airport, and Shibuya taking the same time to travel from Sapporo to Shiretoko (about 380 km, 8 hours 12 mins). There are many people who have not traveled to Nemuro, Kushiro, Abashiri, Shiretoko or Wakkanai although living in Sapporo for a long time. One of the reasons is “because those cities are so far”. The size of Hokkaido is 83,450 square kilometers. Enormous and not easy to travel around!  
If you make unrealistic plans, you will have to move from place to place and do not have enough time to explore. Also, driving too much distance with rental cars may lead to accidents. 
Be aware of distance and time to enjoy traveling Hokkaido. 
* The reference to distance information between the cities is “Northern Road Navi”.