[HOKKAIDO, JAPAN] 5 Reasons Why Hokkaido Should be Your Next Destination

Japan has always been one of the top destinations frequently visited by tourists. Most usually go to either Tokyo or Osaka. But did you know that there's more to see on Japan's northern Island, Hokkaido? Yes! Hokkaido is such a sight to wander. I have listed here 5 reasons why you should consider Hokkaido as your next travel destination. 

Before, when you fly from Manila, Philippines, you have to take a connecting flight from other Japanese cities like Tokyo if you are going to Hokkaido, which would take a longer travel time. But now, worry no more! Philippine Airlines have launched a direct flight from Manila to Sapporo. Travel time only takes 5-6 hours. Now you have the extra time to roam around the city!

However, if you plan to extend your stay in Tokyo, you can also take the flight via Japan Airlines or All Nippon Airways with a connecting flight to Tokyo. 

If you want to get away with the bustling urban city of Tokyo, then it is your chance to experience the spectacular sights only Hokkaido has! 

Image by Bern Valdez

If you wish to witness the rainbow flowers and lavender flower fields in Furano, the best time to visit is Summer, which is mid-July where the flowers are expected to bloom at its fullest. But if your schedule doesn't allow you to, you may also plan to visit Hokkaido in the last week of April to the first week of May for Cherry Blossoms, or early August for Sunflower fields.  

Last July 2018, I was lucky enough to witness the fully bloomed rainbow and lavender fields. It was a mesmerizing and very picturesque scenery. It is also a huge farm and you can enjoy roaming around for 1.5-2 hours. There are also food stalls where you can eat. Don't miss to try the lavender ice cream! 
If you plan to see some fine Japanese snow, Hokkaido is surely the place to go. Japanese love festivals and Hokkaido has one of the most famous winter festivals in Japan. Every first week of February, Snow Festival is held along the popular Odori Park at Sapporo. It is a week-long event featuring massive sculptures made of Ice. Aside from viewing the sculptures, you can also enjoy various activities and try a variety of regional foods from all over Hokkaido lined up at Odori Park. Make sure to also visit the park at night to see the sculptures illuminated with different colors. 
Image by Sharon Ang from Pixabay 

Fee: Free 
Hours: daily until 22:00 
Best time to visit: Exact date TBA, usually in the first week of February 
Most Filipinos usually are not fond of onsen (hot springs) especially when it is required to strip down, it's in our nature to be shy and conscious. But if you visit Hokkaido, leave that shyness, be brave and jump into an onsen! It's naked or nothing. Most onsens are separated by gender so there's nothing to worry about. I have tried the onsen in Japan and it was very relaxing. Make sure to try it as well.  

Image by akiraorc from Pixabay 

There are also important rules if you plan to enjoy the onsen aside from skinny dipping.   
  • People with visible tattoos are not permitted from entering the bath.  
  • Bathe first before you enter the onsen. Usually, there is a separate area for you to clean yourself up. 
  • You can bring a piece of washcloth for you to cover yourself but make sure that it doesn't go into the water. 

The most popular onsen in Hokkaido can be found at Noboribetsu, Jozankei, or Sounkyo. There are also a lot of hotels in these areas that offer private and public onsen.  
Now, who loves Japanese foods? We all do! But what makes Hokkaido's local food different? Well, Hokkaido is best known for its different kinds of foods like: 

        A. Freshest Seafood.  
There might be several reasons why Hokkaido has the best seafood in Japan. One of them is that for the fish to survive the cold weather of the island, it must have a high-fat content. So, for those who would like to try the seafood, consider buying the king crabs, scallops, or much better indulge a full bowl of seafood or also called as kaisen-don. 

Image by Cloris Ying on Unsplash

        B. Hokkaido Dairy Products 
Dairy is also a product of Hokkaido which they are proud of, be it cream, cheese, butter, milk, or ice cream. I once visited the Furano Cheese Factory and was able to make ice cream and waffle. It was a fun experience! You can also try to make cheese and butter. 
Have a chance to make a waffle ice cream at Furano Cheese Factory
Image by Bern Valdez

Location: Nakago-kuFurano-shi, Hokkaido Fee: Free (except hands-on activities) 
Hours: 9:00-17:00H 
Link: http://www.furano-cheese.jp/ 
    C. Ramen 
Japan is generally famous for its ramen. However, if you are in Hokkaido, don't miss the chance to stop by the Ramen Village in Asahikawa. There are 8 different restaurants and various kinds of ramens to choose from. Personally, shoyu ramen or the soy sauce ramen is the best I've ever had so far.  

Shoyu or Soy Sauce Ramen
Image by Bern Valdez

Location: 4 Chome-119-48 Nagayama 11 Jo, Asahikawa, Hokkaido 079-8421, Japan
Hours: 11:00-20:00H 
Link: http://www.ramenmura.com/sp1/index.html 

Asahikawa Ramen Village
Image by Bern Valdez

Asahikawa is 1.5 hours away from Sapporo. If it is not convenient for you, you can also enjoy ramen at the Sapporo Ramen Republic. 
Location: 〒060-0005 Hokkaido, Sapporo, Chuo Ward 
Hours: 11:00-22:00H 
These are just some of the many reasons why you must visit Hokkaido. It might be difficult to explore Hokkaido on your own for the first time, so it is best to join a group for a hassle-free tour. Rakso Travel offers group tours to Hokkaido covering all the attractions mentioned as well as the other famous sites. Please click the link below for our Hokkaido-ready packages. 

We hope to bring you there soon! 

Blog contributed by Bern Valdez
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