Thursday, June 29, 2017

Winter in Hokkaido Self Drive Travelogue Part 1 - {Day 1 & 2 & 3: Hakodate} Hakodate Asaichi Morning Market x Motomachi x Kanemori Red Brick Warehouse x Daimon Yokocho x Goryokaku Tower x Beer Factory x Sendoan

Hola Amigos (Hahaha) I'm finally back to revive my 'dead' blog with Part I of my Hokkaido trip last December!! 
Looking at all the pictures bring back so many wonderful memories hehe, can't wait to share the whole trip + some travel tips for you guys if you are planning to head to Hokkaido for ze holidays!~

I am never wearing jeans on flight ever again lol idk if its cause I'm too fat or what but it makes my legs feel soooo constricted, like a case of deep vein thrombosis (google it).

Transiting and eating the first random BUT last shitty meal at Taiwan's airport before we reach Hokkaido~

Basically my Hokkaido Travelogue is going to be suitable for people who are intending to go there in autumn or winter (especially) because Hokkaido is very big, you could visit Jeju Island (in Korea) once and might not intend on visiting again but it will not be the case for Hokkaido

Hokkaido has so much more variety of landscapes, cities and areas to sight see all year round. 
Each different season brings a brand new surprise and flavour to tourists heading to different parts of the country. 
And in my travelogue I planned a self drive trip covering mostly Southern Hokkaido to Sapporo, the heart of the city. I thought exploring the south part of Hokkaido would be more suitable for the snowy season.

And of course, like every other tourists, we landed into Shin-Chitose (CTS) airport, somewhere between Sapporo and Tomakomai on the map.

Once we landed, I immediately got the biggest data capacity SIM card plan available at the airport's Lawson (Japan's convenient mart). 

Its was BigGlobe's Ninja Sim at 7 GB (for 30 days) which lasted us the whole nine days. The 7 GB one cost 7700 yen (95 SGD) a little pricey, but its Japan and the whole family (or just me) can use it.

We headed to the basement level (I think) information counter to enquire about our Car Rental pick up at Shin Chitose Airport.

Basically, we booked our car online with ToCoo!, one of the most reliable online car rental websites in Japan. ToCoo! works with many different car rental companies and we managed to find a suitable car from Budget.

Do note that:
1) If you are planning to visit different locations and smaller towns like Hakodate, Niseko, Lake Toya, Noboribetsu, Furano, Biei and more, it is better to self-drive. 
You do not have to self-drive if you are only visiting Sapporo and Otaru.

2) If you are planning to drive for a few days, rent from companies which offers Hokkaido Expressway Pass which will allow unlimited expressway passes on some highways with just a one time fare (saves loads of driving time!!) Not all companies offers HEP.

3) International License is needed to rent a car in Japan (you can apply for International Driving Permit online (around 20 SGD), but do it at least 2 weeks before you the online car rental because the IDP will need around 10 working days to arrive and you need the IDP number in order to successfully complete the car rental transaction online! 

After liaising with the information counter, they contacted Budget for us.
We waited for around 10 mins for our pick up van to arrive to charter us to the car rental company workshop. (5-10 mins away from the airport)

the van~

Waiting area in front of the Budget counters. I think two car rental company shared this building.

Hokkaido Expressway Pass (HEP) package information the Budget staff recommended us which I mentioned earlier!

Total cost for Transport
Paid 8700 yen (105 SGD) for a 9 days HEP.
73800 yen (900 SGD) for a Mini-van type car with multilingual GPS plan included.
Around 1000 SGD for the 9 days!! 

(They ended up refunding us back around almost 100 SGD because we didn't use the in-built GPS in the car at all since it was not user friendly enough for us, we just solely survived on iphone's google map.
You can also request for a free wifi device prior online which we didn't and they had limited quantity so they didn't manage to provide us with it as it was too last min. #Justsaying)

Quite a reasonable price because we didn't rent a small car with constricted space as my parents wanted to sit at the back of the car like gods while my bf drives us around.. LOL. btw we all have driving license but only William dares to drive overseas. 
My driving sucks even in Singapore so I don't think anyone is going to give me a chance to endanger their lives to drive in winter climate on ice ya hahaha

Last but not least, do not worry about driving on snow/ice. 
The rental companies in Hokkaido will already equip their cars with snow tyres which is slip resistant on snow. Just drive per normal and be extra careful at snowy areas and you will be fine!

Another reason for stopping by Lawson at the airport beforehand..

Some of the food we bought to last us for the first car journey ahead, love those Japanese bento/sushi/sandwich/onigiri you can get from their convenience marts.

The IDP I applied for bf & my dad mentioned earlier. (applied for 2 just in case of cock ups)

Our Honda Mini-van type car that can fit 7 people!

We used the extra boot space for all our enormous cargos.

Our self-drive itinerary was planned in such a way that the longest drive would be the first drive to the very south of Hokkaido at Hakodate, before making day stops at small towns. 
The trip would end at the prime city of Hokkaido which was Sapporo, nearer to Shin Chitose Airport where we picked up the car and also where we will be returning the car.

Hakodate > Toya > Noboribetsu > Niseko > Otaru > Sapporo > Biei > Furano > Sapporo

3.5 hour drive from Chitose to Hakodate!!

We settled our very first meal (supper/dinner) at Lucky Pierrot - Hakodate's very own fast food chain which serves many delicious food. They have outlets around everywhere in Hakodate. 

Another good thing is they close slightly later at 12.30 am, so we would have a place to satisfy our starving tummies by the time we reach Hakodate on the first night!

One of the must order at Lucky Pierrot! 
Chinese Chicken Burger, super well marinated and crispy chicken bites between the burger!

Fries topped with mash potatoes hahaha

Tried their Shrimp Burger as well.

Many range of food items like Grilled Squid, Curry Rice and even this Pork Cutlet Egg Donburi can be found here.

Fried chicken too good we ordered another plate ala carte.

Have to order their ice-cream there too! Hokkaido ice-creams are no joke, you can really taste the richness of the Hokkaido milk used in their ice-creams there. 
Had this caramel flavoured one topped with sesame biscuits. OISHI.

We chose one the outlet which was just 4 mins away from our hotel. 
Just key in 'lucky pierrot' in google maps and you'll find many outlets everywhere, you'll even walk past a few around tourist destinations in Hakodate!

Lucky Pierrot
Japan, 〒040-0063 Hokkaidō, Hakodate-shi, Wakamatsuchō

Our humble two nights accommodation in Hakodate!
Tip: Prices will make so much difference if you book the accommodation extra early~

Hotel WBF Grande Hakodate
Japan, 〒040-0043 Hokkaidō, Hakodate-shi, Hōraichō

Day 2
Woke up by the snow falling outside our balcony. Such an unforgettable and wonderful sight to wake up to in the morning. Went outdoors to take a photo with the family :)

Our hotel in the morning!

Lawson just opposite hahaha


I love the haagan dazs sandwich icecream (in the last row) which cost so much cheaper in Japan than in Singapore.

Off to the first location on the itinerary!

Hakodate Morning Market
Housing 300 shops selling fresh seafood and farmers produce. 
A must visit for fresh and affordable seafood in Hokkaido!

Snowing non stop.

Donburi Yokocho Ichiba
A food alley arcade center at Hakodate Morning Market

Here at one of the restaurants:
Ikkatei Tabiji
Which serves the instagram famous Dancing Squid Doburi in Hakodate!

Spoilt for choices!

So upset that the Dancing Squid Donburi was not available at the moment due to the weather or something :( 
It would be so nice to instagram even though it will just taste like normal Ika sashimi la hahaha.


Uni, Ikura and Kani Sanshokudon!!

Cheese Crab Gratin omg fav

Abalone sashimi which only my mom knows how to appreciate.. Raw abalone is just so... hard. 
Definitely prefer my abalone cooked!!

Grilled Cheese Squid
Damn good as well haha no raw squid but have it cooked also not bad hehe!!

More Potato Croquette.


My handsome boy so happy in Japan cos he loves jap food

Mom's heaven lol she kept disappearing and appearing with loads of food stuffs. 
She spent like 1k SGD on like some sea cucumber shit lol what god's cucumber is that.
No more shopping at overpriced Isetan/Takashimaya supermarkets when we can find every fresh Japanese foods here :P

After our brunch we went to the Motomachi (church) area which is located at the foot of Mount Hakodate which consists of beautiful exotic Western-style townscapes.

Slopes everywhere!

At the Russian Orthodox Church

Started blizzard-ing again and my hands was sooo cold I thought they were going to fall off haha

interior of the church (no pictures allowed..)

kiss :*

lol our car was totally covered in snow, dad had so much fun sweeping the snow off!! 
The car windscreen has a heat function when the engine is on.

Spotted another cute Lucky Pierrot burger outlet!

Next we went to another Hakodate must visit -

Kanemori Red Brick Warehouse
Which was originally a port warehouse which is now developed into an attractive shopping and dining complex. 
Many popular Hakodate patisseries can be found here like Snaffles & Petite Merveille!

Milkissimo which offers premium gelato which originated from Hakodate!

We got their petal shaped ice-cream!

Interior of just one of the warehouses!

Snaffle's Pastry!

Snaffles Pastry - Original, Chocolate and Strawberry. Original tasted the best.

Ordered some savoury bread from another stall nearby.

Black sesame ice-cream from another shop!

Willy threw all the snowballs he created at me.

Gosh I miss the snowy weather.

Its our favourite season of the year!

The biggest outlet Lucky Pierrot Hamburger in Hakodate is located right across the Kanemori Red Brick Warehouses. Went indoors to take some artsy photos~

With my daddy~

mom closed her eyes haha

Bf is vandalising

Japan, 〒040-0035 Hokkaido Prefecture, Hakodate, Matsukazecho

Japanese food alley (stores serving ramen, seafood, grilled, fusion cuisine, drinks) in Hakodate which opens from 5 pm in the evening (only some stores from noon).

Settled for the gyoza option at Hakodate Ikaya - known for their squid ink gyoza.

Ordered our favourite Choya drinks.

Tender Chicken Wings marinated and grilled with tare-sauce.

King of Gyoza
Juicy pork dumplings with crispy skin, my favourite gyoza among all the choices.

Ikasumi Gyoza
Squid and cabbage dumplings with skin kneaded with squid ink.

Fried noodles with squid~

Potato Gyoza

Curry flavoured Yakisoba because one plate was not enough.

After dinner, we drove back to Bay Hakodate at Kanemori Red Brick Warehouse because we wanted to have some desserts and we didn't want to miss out on Petite Merveille!

Petite Merveille

cute design pastries

Pumpkin incorporated milk ice-cream

and Pumpkin souffle!! (YUM)

Melon beer to end off the night in our hotel.

Day 3
Round two breakfast at Hakodate Morning Market!

Mom is happy once again at this farmer's product stall.

Uni Murakami
Japan, 〒040-0064 Hokkaidō, Hakodate-shi, 大手町Ōtemachi, 22−1

A popular restaurant serving all uni (sea urchin) dishes at Hakodate Morning Market.

Uni Donburi (40g/80g) 
We had the latter. 80 grams of raw sea urchin!!

Uni Rice Porridge (Salted/Miso)
We had miso flavour, served so piping hot and flavourful!!

Uni Gratin
Another popular dish at Uni Murakami.

Uni Tamago


So hard to be full when there's Japanese delicacies everywhere. 
We returned to Donburi Yokocho Ichiba Market and decided to have the must eat Hokkaido King Crab in Hokkaido here!!! 
The shop is located most at the left hand corner of the building and looks like this from the outside!

Inaba Foods
Probably where we had one of our most satisfying meal in Hokkaido because usually most shops would sell the Red King Crab at unreasonable prices especially at the fish markets in Sapporo, so we had one of the most affordable and reasonable priced Hokkaido King Crab here in Hakodate

Highly recommended! 
REALLY, everyone comes Hokkaido to eat Hokkaido king crab, so the prices of the crabs will be marked up, have to do some research ya~


You buy the crab and pay based on the weight, then you choose the cooking methods for the crab. Free of charge~ 

We just followed the kind shop owner's recommendation of having the legs BBQ-ed.

Body Boiled.

And this part of the legs in Sashimi!

Best service, best food, crab not even seasoned at all maybe just infused with the natural salts from sea but it tasted soooo good. 
Boiling is the best method among the three!! All the essence is still trapped within the flesh.

Juicy and boiled.

Other fresh seafood from the sea!

Finally, abalone that is not hard hahaha

Goryokaku Tower
Japan, 〒040-0001 Hokkaido Prefecture, Hakodate, 五稜郭町43−9

One of the star towers in Japan, Hokkaido. Goryokaku Tower stands just next to the Goryokaku Fort which lets tourists sight a magnificent panoramic view of the entire star-shaped fort from the observation platform all the way at the top of the 107-meter Goryokaku Tower.

One out of all the towers in Japan.

Goryokaku Fort!

Spot the Hakodate Magistrate Office in the center of Goryokaku Fort
It is around a 5 mins walk from the tower to the fort (free of charge) but it looks so far from the top of the tower, so my mom was lazy and we all didn't bother to walk there HAHA.

Got a coffee flavoured ice-cream from Lucky Pierrot near Goryokaku Tower!

Hakodate Tropical Botanical Garden
Japan, 〒042-0932 Hokkaido Prefecture, Hakodate, Yunokawacho, 3 Chome−1−15

A mini zoo x botanical park featuring snow monkeys enjoying onsen during winter (so cute!!) 

spot the monkeys in their enclosure dying to be in the onsen for me to view

Hakodate Beer Hall
Japan, 〒040-0053 Hokkaido Prefecture, Hakodate, 末広町14番12号

Here to try out Hakodate's very own local beer before we left the town for our next destination!

Super huge restaurant with a seat capacity of 200 and serving a variety of food.

Beer tasting portions, I will always like the lightest one among all.

Lol us and our squids.

Some beer flavoured sherbet!! Quite an interesting creation!

Selfie before setting off to our next town!

Hakodate en route to Lake Toya! (2 hour drive)

Petite Merveille cheesecakes to accompany me hehe

Their pumpkin (products) cheesecake is really good!

Stopped by the Japanese Confectionary Shop Wakasaimo building right next door (3 mins walk) from the second hotel we will be checking in for the night when we arrived at Lake Toya!

わかさいも本舗仙堂庵 Sendoan Wakaisaimo Main Store

Japan, 〒049-5721 Hokkaidō, Abuta-gun, Tōyako-chō, Tōyakoonsen, 144

Dinner was settled at the Sendoan restaurant located at the 2nd floor of the building!

The best timing to dine here will be during lunch where its much brighter outside so you can actually dine and admire the magnificient view of Lake Toya which just can't be seen at night LOL.

 Hotate Sashimi

Gyudon - beef bowl topped with onion simmered in sauce.

Unagi - Dad's favourite dish.

Food wasn't mind blowing but its Japan. Food will never taste bad anywhere!

Granvillage Toya Daiwa Ryokan Annex
Japan, 〒049-5721 Hokkaido Prefecture, Abuta District, 洞爺湖町洞爺湖温泉34-4

First experience at an affordable Ryokan - Japanese style inns which is found throughout Japan, especially in Hot Spring resorts. It is a traditional Japanese hotel incorporating elements like tatami floors, futon beds, Japanese style baths and local cuisine popular among tourists & locals.

The only downside of the hotel is that there is no bathroom in our rooms. Toilets are shared on every floor of the hotel. But I found it to be quite interesting and didn't mind experiencing it for just one night, as the hotel was super close to the lake!!
(you'll be in awe of the magnificent view we will be waking up to the next morning, in Part 2 of my post hahahaha)

The hotel serves add on dinners like Jingisukan (Japanese lamb grill) but I decided to not go for that as we were going to stay at another Ryokan at Noboribetsu the next night, which offers Kaiseki - a more authentic traditional Japanese multi-course dinner found at Ryokans.

we had to wear straw slippers everywhere in the hotel with our shoes kept at the main entrance of the Ryokan.

Only have a sink in our rooms

Bath was at the basement of the hotel, separated into two genders.

Onsen time!!

then you'll bathe in public here hahahahaha

Overall, I find it rather alright to stay at this ryokan for a night. But if they had offered private toilets in the room, many would be able to stay for more than a night.

Snacking in our rooms after we were clean and refreshed~

Definitely miss the lifestyle and I'll be back with Part 2 of my Hokkaido Trip in a bit!
Hope you guys enjoyed Part 1 :)