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Hokkaido Fly-Drive

15 Nights: £2450 (excluding international flights)
The huge and sparsely populated island of Hokkaido is the focus of this unique rural road trip. Here in the national parks you will find rolling fields of lavender, crystal clearlakes and natural hot springs surrounded by soaring mountain landscapes.

Your first foray into Hokkaido is Hakodate, where you will pick up your hire car. One of the first ports to open up to foreign visitors, Hakodate enjoys a lasting legacy of churches and European buildings. At night, the views from the top of Mount Hakodate are spectacular. Take a cable car or drive to the top and survey the stunning night time panorama, with the city lights twinkling to the very edge of the Katedama peninsula as it disappears into the sea.

With smoking Shinzan Volcano setting the scene, Toya Onsen offers the chance to relax in natural hot springs, or to get out and about on foot or by bike. Before you cross the breadth of the country, there's time to stop in the island's cosmopolitan capital, Sapporo, for the best beer in Japan and fabulous ramen noodles! With the annual snow festival in winter, beer festival in summer and plenty of sake breweries, the island's capital is a great destination at any time of year.

For centuries Hokkaido (or Ezochi as it was formerly known) was largely separate from mainland Japan providing a home to the indigenous Ainu people who had a distinct language and culture to that of the Japanese. Although much Ainu culture has been lost since the Japanese assumed direct control in the 1850's, small pockets remain. You can discover more at the Ainu Culture Centre outside of Sapporo or the Ainu Museum near Toya Onsen.

Central Hokkaido, home to the Daisetsuzan National Park, is famous for its lavender and poppy fields alongside vast farmlands. This is a great base whenever you happen to be travelling, with stunning views of Mount Asahidake enhancing the flora of summer, the brightly coloured leaves of autumn and the snow-capped peaks of winter. Conquer the 16 volcanic peaks, admire the 24-km-long precipitous Sounkyo Gorge, trek through densely forested woodland or simply enjoy the hot springs and dramatic views of Japan's largest national park.

As you head east along the gently winding open roads of the Hokkaido countryside, the population dwindles and the land stretches far, from the hot springs of Kawayu Onsen and lakes of Akan National Park to Shiretoko Peninsula and the fertile Kushiro marshlands. Here nature is in the ascendancy and you may spot bears, redcrowned cranes, whales, seals, deer, eagles and the famous Blakiston's fish owl.

Whether you choose to visit Hokkaido to experience the snowy depths of winter, or escape the muggy mainland summers, this area of Japan always has something to offer. Our Hokkaido Fly-Drive is a fabulous motoring holiday, combining natural wonders, small towns and exciting cities, to offer an alternative vision of Japan.

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Twin: £2450  Single: £3420

Twin: £3240  Single: £4560

What's Included:
  • 15 nights accommodation in Japan
  • Breakfast each morning
  • 9 Evening meals
  • Tokyo transport card with 2500 yen of credit
  • 8 Hour Private Guide service in Tokyo
  • 8 Hour Private Guide service in Sapporo
  • 12 Days Car Hire in Hokkaido
  • Meet and Greet upon arrival at Tokyo Narita Airport
  • All transport between destinations including domestic flights to/from Hokkaido
  • InsideJapan Tours' complimentary info-pack
  • Airport transfers
What's NOT Included:
  • International Flights
  • Local transport (local buses, subways, taxis) except those covered by the included transport passes
  • Any entrance fees including those for temples, shrines and museums
  • Petrol (gas) for hire car
  • Baggage handling - you will be expected to carry your own bags for the duration of the trip


No supplements.

Black Out Dates
There are no black out dates for this trip. However, please be aware that at the busiest times of the year the named accommodation may not be available and in this case the price can not be guaranteed. However, we will always do our best to match the prices you see here as closely as possible.

Included evening meals are in Toya Onsen (2), Biei (3), Kussharo (2) and Tsurui or Rausu (2) .



Day by Day Itinerary

Day 1 Tokyo

Meals: None

Welcome to Japan! On arrival at Narita Airport you will be met by your driver who will be taking you by shuttle bus to your hotel in Tokyo. Your first two nights will be spent in the historic Asakusa district, a bustling market-like area of old Tokyo, giving you a glimpse of what life in this metropolis used to be like. This neighbourhood is the perfect introduction to the city, with its traditional wares, enticing food stalls and the striking Senso-ji Temple: the perfect atmosphere to get into the swing of Japanese living.

Day 2 Tokyo

Meals: Breakfast

You will have the services of one of our professional local guides today: a priceless source into the lives and workings of Japanese life. Your itinerary is not fixed, so you can ask the guide to take you where you have always wanted to go, or alternatively sit back and allow them to show you a few examples of what this fascinating and exhilarating city has to offer. Your guide will show you around as Tokyoites travel today, using the world-class public transport system, renowned for its reliability and convenience and allowing you to really get up close to the city.

Day 3 Hakodate

Meals: Breakfast

It’s time to leave the main island of Honshu behind today and head up for your northern adventure! You’ll fly from Tokyo Haneda Airport to Hakodate city – the gateway to Hokkaido island this morning. At Hakodate Airport you will pick up your hire car, equipped with Sat-Nav, and drive the short distance into this small and attractive port. Hakodate was one of the first ports to open up to foreign visitors, with a number of churches and European buildings left behind as a lasting legacy. Today it is most famous amongst the Japanese for its stunning night views of the city from nearby Mt. Hakodate.

Day 4 Toya Onsen

Meals: Breakfast/Dinner

If you’re an early riser, then you may like to visit the morning fish market by the JR station in Hakodate: 400 stores of squid, crabs and countless varieties of fish. Once you have had your fill, you will set off on the scenic drive to Toya Onsen in the Shikotsu Toya National Park. The 100 mile drive will take you via volcanic Lake Onuma, known for its 126 islands and smouldering Mt. Komagatake, and around the attractive Uchiura Bay. As in all of the drives in this plan, there are plenty of places to stop off en-route. The national park itself is centred around a large and attractive lake with the ‘new’ and still smoking Showa Shinzan volcano as a backdrop. There are plenty of hikes in the area as well as cycling routes and boat cruises. For rest and relaxation, your Japanese-style hotel has a wide range of hot spring baths to try.

Day 5 Toya Onsen

Meals: Breakfast/Dinner

A full day in the National Park. You may want to visit the infamous Mt. Usu which has garnered attention in recent years as a temperamental volcano on the southern shore of the lake. Mt. Usu last erupted in 2000 when nearby residents were forced to evacuate their homes. Volcanic ash and fumes still spew from the crater today. Alternatively, if you fancy something a little less lively, you could drive to nearby Lake Shikotsu where there are further mountain walking routes as well as trails through a moss covered gorge and the chance to wander around the crater of Mt. Tarumae. A further option is heading to Noboribetsu Onsen – the most popular hot spring area in Hokkaido, surrounded by lush green forested hills and home to Jigokudani, a ‘hell valley’ complete with steaming sulphurous vents and streams of hot water.

Day 6 Sapporo

Meals: Breakfast

An eighty mile drive away lies Hokkaido’s most cosmopolitan city and today’s destination – Sapporo. The relaxed air, green parks, and tree lined boulevards mean Sapporo is a modern Japanese city quite unlike any other. The city is built on a grid system and unlike most Japanese cities has a lot of open space and green areas. There’s plenty to see and do here including attractive botanical gardens, Japan’s most famous brewery (tours with free samples available!) and views from the TV tower in the large Odori Park.

Day 7 Sapporo

Meals: Breakfast

For your second day in Sapporo we will be arranging a private guide service for you, a great way to get to know the city and learn more about Hokkaido Island. You can explore the city more or take the chance for a day trip to Otaru – a seaside town with a distinct Russian influence. The glassworks shops, coffee shops, restaurants and shopping malls along the canal have been converted from stone-built or brick-built warehouses, which were used for storage in the days when commerce flourished and the canal was crowded with jostling barges. When night falls, oil lamps on the cobbled streets are lit, and the town evokes a gentle, nostalgic mood.

Day 8 Biei

Meals: Breakfast/Dinner

You’ll be heading east today into the plains of Biei, famous for its lavender and poppy fields and its vast farm lands. There are numerous walks to take around here as well as a number of art galleries to visit all set off against the panaromic backdrop of the Daisetsuzan mountain range. You can enjoy Biei throughout the year, with the snow-capped tips of the Taisetsuzan contrasting the bare soil in spring, beautiful flowers and blue sky in the summer, autumn leaves and bright yellow rape blossoms in the fall, and pure white powder snow in winter. You’ll be staying in a small family run inn complete with home cooked meals.

Day 9 Biei

Meals: Breakfast/Dinner

Using Biei as your base, today we would recommend visiting Mt. Asahidake. There are numerous trails around here and of course the opportunity to hike to the top of Hokkaido’s highest mountain – helped by a cable car most of the way if you wish! Your climb is rewarded with dramatic views over steaming lava pools and after your day’s activities you can take a hot spring bath if you wish.

Day 10 Biei

Meals: Breakfast/Dinner

A smaller peak could be your destination today and we would recommend Tokachi-dake. Away from the usual tourist routes, you’ll have the place largely to yourself. The dominant mountain range peak is a volcano that is still active and located at the highest altitude in Hokkaido. Its water has two sources: one which is rusty in colour and one which is clear. Nearby Fukiage spa offers free of charge hot-spring open-air baths, where you can sink into the hot, healing waters overlooking the stunning views of the gorge.

Day 11 Kawayu Onsen

Meals: Breakfast/Dinner

Continue east across Hokkaido today to the hot springs and beautiful lakes of Kawayu Onsen. It is a 137 mile drive but again there are lots of places to stop off en-route. Kawayu Onsen is a unique spa town near Mashu-ko, reputed to be Japan’s most attractive lake. Entirely protected, without a single building along its pristine shores, Lake Mashu can only be viewed from two designated lookout points. The deep volcanic caldera lake is often blanketed with a thin layer of fog giving starkly beautiful views.

Day 12 Kawayu Onsen

Meals: Breakfast/Dinner

Today gives you further time to explore this national park with its sparkling clear mountain lakes – on a clear day you can see as far as the Daisetsuzan National park from the peak of Mt. Akan. There are a number of small mountains to explore near Kawayu Onsen and you can also visit Lake Kohan where there are exhibits and museums about the indigenous Ainu people. This is one of the largest settlements in Hokkaido so a great place to try Ainu cuisine and learn about their culture.

Day 13 Rausu

Meals: Breakfast/Dinner

From Kawayu Onsen it is an hour's drive on to either Rausu or Tsurui today - your choice. Rausu is on the wild Shiretoko peninsula and is a great base for walking and hiking in the summer and for ice breaker cruises in winer. Tsurui meanwhile is home to a number of crane reserves. Japanese Cranes, also known as Tancho (lit. red head), were thought to be extinct in Japan due to overhunting and habitat destruction. However, in 1926 a group of about 20 birds was discovered in the marshes around Kushiro. With conservation efforts they have since made a dramatic recovery and now number more than 1000 birds. The cranes are spectacular to watch as they dance, often in pairs, with seemingly choreographed dips and jumps. The cranes are best seen in the winter as they gather at winter feeding sites.

Day 14 to Day 15 Tokyo*

Meals: Breakfast/Dinner

It’s time to head back to the main island and buzzing capital for your final night, and to catch up on anything you may have missed the first time round! From Tsurui you’ll drive just 40 minutes to Kushiro Airport, drop off your car and fly back to Tokyo. Your last night will be spent in the energetic Shinjuku district of town, quite a contrast with the wilds of Hokkaido! Back within the bright lights, you have time for some last minute souvenir shopping, a museum or gallery, or maybe just take the chance to eat some final mouth-watering Japanese sushi you won’t find back home!

Day 16 Depart

Meals: Breakfast

Sadly, today marks the end of your adventures in Japan and it is time to head home. We have included tickets for the airport bus for the journey back to Tokyo Narita Airport.
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Pricing Information

Standard Price: £2450     (Single Price: £3420)
Upgrade Price: £3240     (Single Price: £4560)


Richmond Hotel Asakusa


Moderate Hotel

Opened in March 2012, this brand new superior business hotel is in a fantastic location in the centre of Asakusa, Tokyo's historic district. Kaminarimon gate and Sensoji temple are just a short walk away and numerous restaurants are on your doorstep. You are also ideally placed to visit Tokyo Sky Tree (Tokyo's newest tallest tower) and numerous subway lines are just a couple of minutes away on foot giving easy access to Shibuya, Akihabara, Shinjuku and the Ginza. Rooms here are modern, well designed and of course with full en-suite facilities. A handy coin laundry is available.

Hotel Nets Hakodate


Business Hotel

A short taxi ride or 15-minute walk from JR Hakodate Station and Yunokawa Onsen hot spring, Hotel Nets Hakodate is a welcoming business hotel with its own restaurants, convenience store and salon. Situated in the Goryokaku area of Hakodate it is well-located for easy access to the local sights. Rooms are Western-style and have en suite facilities and there are English speaking staff.

Lake Toya Kohantei

Toya Onsen

Japanese Style

Surrounded by superb views of Lake Toya and Mount Yotei, this traditional classic Japanese style hotel is known for it's hot spring baths and beautifully prepared meals prepared using seasonal local produce.

Richmond Hotel Sapporo Eki-mae


Moderate Hotel

The Richmond Hotel is located just a short wallk JR Sapporo station and offers a great base for exploring the capital of Hokkaido. The botanical gardens and odori 'central park' are also just a few minutes away on foot. The hotel has well sized modern rooms, free internet throughout, its own restaurant and a useful coin laundry as well.

Pension Hozuki



This charming little family run pension set in forest around the town of Biei. The rooms have western beds but the rest of the experience is Japanese with great home cooking and hot-spring baths. There is a very peaceful and friendly atmosphere in this very rural setting and the owners speak some English.

Kussharoko Hotel

Kawayu Onsen

Standard Ryokan (JP)

This onsen hotel sits on the eastern shores of Lake Kussharo giving you the perfect position to enjoy the beautiful surroundings and wildlife in the area. The highlight is the natural hot spring baths. There are indoor baths as well as outdoor hot spring baths which allow you to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy the atmosphere in a different way. Traditional breakfasts and dinner are also provided by your hosts. The hotel is a 10 minute drive from JR Kawayu Onsen station.

Tsurui Woody Hotel and Restaurant


Moderate Hotel

The Woody Hotel is located near Tsurui's famous Tancho (Japanese crane) reserved in the beautiful Tsurui area. The hotel is modelled on a Canadian style log-cabin and has its own hot spring baths.

Rausu Dai-ichi Hotel


Moderate Hotel

Although the name Dai-ichi (no.1) is usually associated with 10-story chain hotels, this Japanese style hotel is a small three-storey hot-spring ryokan. There are two large outdoor pools for men and women behind the hotel, and a third little one up in the rocks for mixed bathing. There are also regular baths indoors. The heated lobby floor is especially nice in the depths of winter.

Citadines Shinjuku


Moderate Hotel

The Citadines Shinjuku is a modern apartment-hotel located in Tokyo's vibrant Shinjuku district. Each room has its own small kitchenette giving the convenience of home and the comfort of a hotel. Rooms are well sized for Tokyo and the hotel has its own coin laundry and small gym. The hotel is a short walk from Shinjuku San-chome and Shinjuku Gyoen-mae subway stations and less than 5 minutes by taxi from JR Shinjuku Station - access to all of Tokyo is a breeze. There is a 24 hour supermarket just round the corner as well as a number of restaurants on your doorstep. The hotel also has free wi-fi available in the rooms.

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