We took Thai Airways from Singapore to Hokkaido’s New Chitose Airport for S$690.60 per pax. It was the most valuable ticket we could find when we booked our trip in April. There was a stopover at BKK but our transit experiences were very smooth and comfortable.
If you are a fan of Doraemon, you may want to cater time for Doraemon Sky Park. It’s located right in the airport and you can find many unique Doraemon merchandise in the shop. There are also Hello Kitty store and Royce Chocolate ‘Factory’ in the airport.
We collected our ETC card and WiFi router from Mobile Center New Chitose Airport at arrival lobby. The front desk ladies could speak minimal English when we were collecting our device. Along with our device, we received an empty Yamato envelope that was used to return our device at any convenience store. How convenient!
The rental car information counter is located on the first floor
After we picked up our rental car, we visited Chitose Outlet Mall Rera for a quick shopping spree. The outlet mall is located just opposite of the Times Car Rental company.
It was a good chance for us to stock up some snacks and water on our car before traveling to Noboribetsu. We parked our car at one of the outlet’s carparks (free parking) across the road.
Most of the stores were already opened at 11 A.M but it was quite empty. It was a fantastic start of our trip and the weather was perfect for a stroll like this. We loitered for about an hour and made our way to Noboribetsu.
New Chitose > Noboribetsu
It took us around 1h (76.4 km) to travel from the outlet mall to our hotel at Noboribetsu. Driving in Hokkaido was generally easy. Most of the time we were on Hokkaido Highway and it’s relatively empty on the road.
In contrast to the drivers in Australia, most drivers in Hokkaido drove within the speed limit. They do keep the most right lane clear for cars that are rushing for time.
We booked one night at the Ryokan to enjoy the famous Japanese hot springs and Japanese fine-dining (Kaiseki dinner). Noboribetsu Sekitsuitei is one of the rare hotels that offer private hot springs to their patrons.
We paid S$366.54 per night for our Japanese Western Style non-smoking room in the hotel including complimentary breakfast and WiFi access in our room.
I was wowed by our room because it’s my first time staying in a Japanese style room. We wanted to book a full Japanese-style room but it was already sold out. On the other side of the room, we had two twin beds. Nothing special about that.
There are many other hotels around the proximity but not all hotels have private bath. If you don’t mind to visit the public hot bath, you will be spoilt with more choices.
Jigokudani (Hell Valley)
Jigokudani (地獄谷) is one of the main reasons why we visited Noboribetsu. The town is situated just below a volcanic valley, which is the source of all the thermal waters in the hotel.
The valley is located around 15 minutes walk away from our hotel. If you happened to stay downhill, you can walk to the valley within 5 minutes.
You can smell Sulphur from a distance away. As it was getting late, we decided to loiter around the entrance to take a couple of photos. If you are interested, you can take a simple route and hike further into the valley.
Noboribetsu Sekitsuitei’s Kaiseki Dinner
We walked back to our hotel to prepare for our Kaiseki dinner in the evening. To commemorate our virgin experience (haha!), we decided to change into Yukata before going down to the restaurant.
What is Kaiseki?
Kaiseki (懐石) is a traditional multi-course Japanese dinner. It consists of a sequence of dishes. Each dish is often small and artistically arranged.Wikipedia
The dinner costs about S$100 (included in the cost mentioned above). You will need to reserve before you arrive at the hotel as there are limited private dining rooms in their restaurants.
There was a menu in the room but we were too noob to read the Japanese words. We tried to translate using our Google app but we gave up and decided to just wait for the food to come 🤣.
Most of the time we couldn’t comprehend the food that we put into our mouth. But they were all pretty good. I really hope we didn’t eat anything exotic.
We ordered a small bottle of hot sake on top of our dinner package. It kinds of complete our experience. Our main dish was Wagyu beef, which was too fatty for our liking. I know, it does melt in our mouth but it’s just not something we love.
At the end of our dinner, we were
After our satisfying dinner, we went back to our room and played Overcooked! It was a long day but we truly
There are two other places that we did not manage to visit due to time constraints. I will just log it here so that you can put it in your own itinerary.
River Oyunuma Natural Footbath
Oyunuma Natural Footbath is located 5-minutes walk away from Noboribetsu Sekitsuitei. If you are coming from the downhill, it takes around 20 minutes to walk to the destination.
The footbath is free but you will have to bring your own towel. If you are driving, there is a carpark located right outside of the footbath.
Date Jidaimura Noboribetsu (登別伊達時代村)
If you love to visit the local cultural village, you should visit Date Jidaimura Noboribetsu. I loved my experience when I visited one of the cultural villages in Taichung.
Date Jidaimura is located about 9-minutes drive away from our Ryokan. If you anticipate that you will arrive at the town before the check-in time, you can consider visiting the attraction first since it’s located at the entrance of the town.
Next up, we will be driving to Hakodate!