Check out our latest blog featured by AirAsia's inflight magazine Travel3Sixty: https://www.travel3sixty.com/hokkaido-autumn-top-5-picks/
Hokkaido is a hugely popular tourist destination during the winter season, as skiers and snowboarders alike flock to Niseko for its world famous deep powder. Outside of the winter season, however, Hokkaido is relatively untraveled by foreign tourists and only attracts domestic tourism when the leaves change colour in November. We boarded an AirAsia flight from Kuala Lumpur to Sapporo in Autumn and were stunned by the lack of tourism as it is an outdoor adventure playground with unparalleled beauty. We hitch hiked and camped our way through Hokkaido, here is an account of what we discovered.
Sapporo is the capital of Hokkaido and most likely your first destination as it’s home to the New Chitose Airport, which welcomes daily international flights. It is also well known for Sapporo beer and Hokkaido cheese tarts. Needless to say we were in heaven! We recommend taking a tour of the Sapporo beer factory to sample some of the hoppy nectar. Eat your body weight in Hokkaido cheese tarts served warm and irresistible. A train along the coast or a drive around the surrounding area taking in the autumn colours will give you a real introduction to Hokkaido.
Niseko is desolate outside of the winter season as it's an entirely seasonal destination. However, it's an example of the great outdoors at its finest. You can take in the views of the stunning mount Yotei from numerous vantage points such as half moon lake. We recommend hiking the beast at least once during your stay but be prepared for an arduous nine hour round trip. Niseko is also home to some of Japan's premier white water rafting routes, downhill mountain biking and picturesque tennis courts. We played tennis in the shadow of Mt. Yotei during which a snow fox gingerly approached our court and an eagle flew overhead, amazing
OTARU & YOICHI
Located a mere 20km from one another Otaru and Yoichi are made for a one day trip. Otaru is famed for the canal and old railway running through the city centre. It is also home to one of Japan's finest fresh fish markets. Make sure to get your sushi on, it will not disappoint.
Yoichi is most famous for the Nikka whisky factory. They offer a free tour which enlightens tourists on the whisky making process before offering a free tasting session at the end. Continue along the coast from Yoichi to discover two incredible peninsulas, Cape Shakotan and Cape Kamui. Be sure to visit these natural beauty spots where the cliffs cascade into the bluest of seas.
Tarumae is one of Japan's most active volcanoes. A half day hike will provide stunning vistas over the autumn foliage to Lake Shikotsu on one side and the Japanese sea on the other. As you approach the top you will hear the roaring crater, bellowing out sulphur fumes over the desecrated land from its last eruption in 1981. Shikotsu is also home to one of the finest onsens Japan has to offer, overlooking the lake and steaming in the cold air... perfect for an autumn evening after a long hike.
Uchiura Bay is located on the east side of the island near to Lake Toya. Lake Toya offers fantastic hiking and views of the island encompassed by the lake. But the real reason people head to Uchiura Bay is the surf. Autumn is the best time of year for the waves and you will be rewarded if you're brave enough to enter in the zero degree conditions.
Overall if you are a nature lover or adventure seeker looking to escape major tourism and discover natural wonders then Hokkaido is the place for you... but be sure to keep an eye out for those notorious Hokkaido bears.