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Ipoh, Malaysia
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9 posts
2 reviews
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Advice needed on Self Drive at the end of December

I wish to know if it is possible to drive during the winter time at the end of December? Would it be dangerous? Is there a difference between the normal road and expressway? Are there payment for tolls? I will be traveling along the CHITOSE - NOBORIBETSU - LAKE TOYA - NISEKO - OTARU - SAPPORO - ASAHIKAWA - FURANO - CHITOSE.

Toronto
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for Tokyo
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1. Re: Advice needed on Self Drive at the end of December

>> it is possible to drive during the winter time

yes

>> Would it be dangerous?

can be.

>> difference between the normal road and expressway?

same as in Malaysia. Mutli-lane expressway which tends to be long stretches of relatively straight roadway with no sharp turns. Normal road can be single lane and lots of turns

>> Are there payment for tolls?

yes

Vancouver, Canada
Destination Expert
for Tohoku, Hokkaido
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6,684 posts
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2. Re: Advice needed on Self Drive at the end of December

Think twice before embarking on a self-drive road trip during winter time in Hokkaido, especially if you don’t have any winter driving experience. 2 years ago a family from Hong Kong met with a fatal car accident between Sapporo and Niseko around X’mas time and there were 2 deaths including a child.

All your listed destinations can be reached by train + bus. Some onsen hotels in Noboribetsu and Toya-ko have free shuttle pick-ups to and from Sapporo. Though not absolutely sure some in Niseko may also provide that service.

Ipoh, Malaysia
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9 posts
2 reviews
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3. Re: Advice needed on Self Drive at the end of December

Thanks bibimbob for your quick reply. It is much more convenient to travel by car for a family of four. I enjoyed my self drive while in new Zealand and Australia. It was a great experience. Usually along the way there would be some breathtaking views and can keep the bags in the car while traveling along to save our limited time. My worry is the danger and road closure during winter. Hopefully it is not so bad at the end of December. Thanks again. Cheers

Ipoh, Malaysia
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9 posts
2 reviews
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4. Re: Advice needed on Self Drive at the end of December

Thanks William for the advice. Hmmm now I think self drive might not be a good idea. But would it be difficult to travel along with luggage and bags to carry for a family of four. My kids are 17y and 14y. Winter would need much bigger bags to accommodate the winter cloths. As I know the locker compartment in the train stations are pretty small. Where can I download the time schedule for the train and the location if the train station. I saw a site but it is in Japanese and it's schedule kinda confusing? Thanks again William for your advice. Cheers

Toronto
Destination Expert
for Tokyo
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32 reviews
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5. Re: Advice needed on Self Drive at the end of December

you use luggage delivery service to transfer bags between hotels. Sent them by 6 pm and they will be at your next hotel the next day, within Hokkaido.

Vancouver, Canada
Destination Expert
for Tohoku, Hokkaido
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6,684 posts
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6. Re: Advice needed on Self Drive at the end of December

The following are JR main lines in Hokkaido. You can click on the “TIMETABLE” to have a look at the schedule of each line.

…jrhokkaido.co.jp/global/…index.html

The following is a detail breakdown of all the stations.

…jrhokkaido.co.jp/global/…route_map.pdf

You can use the following to do a search for train schedule.

http://www.hyperdia.com/

.
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7. Re: Advice needed on Self Drive at the end of December

Coin lockers at stations have 2 sizes and do fit large suitcases, some large stations usually have luggage storage. But, as Bibimbob says, you can use the luggage forwarding service.

Travel by train in Japan is great - super efficient & fast. And a much better way to relax & enjoy the country. At the resort areas there are good shuttle bus connections. You shouldn't have any issues with getting connecting trains & buses.

Driving in Hokkaido in Winter wouldn't be too enjoyable if you weren't used to the conditions. Plus Japan has very expensive tolls & car rental costs are also much higher than in Aus/NZ. But the main factor is driving on ice covered roads, through snow & unpredictable weather - this can be incredibly stressful if you aren't used to it. You also need to adopt driving practices suitable for the conditions to avert sliding off the road which may run counter to your normal 'common sense' of hitting the brakes to stop.

Long traffic jams can also occur after snowfalls. Rent a car in Summer instead.

Ipoh, Malaysia
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9 posts
2 reviews
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8. Re: Advice needed on Self Drive at the end of December

bibimbob, elly and william, thanks for all your advices. It helps me a lot, as for the past two weeks I have been trying to decide whether to self drive or by train. Didnt know who to ask and going thourgh Internet but didnt get what i really want. Once again thanks. Another question, which one is a reliable forwarding luggage company. Thanks once again. P.S. William thanks for the links it truly helps a lot.

Vancouver, Canada
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for Tohoku, Hokkaido
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6,684 posts
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9. Re: Advice needed on Self Drive at the end of December

kuronekoyamato.co.jp/en/personal/ta_q_bin/

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2278.html

Toronto
Destination Expert
for Tokyo
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10. Re: Advice needed on Self Drive at the end of December

>> which one is a reliable forwarding luggage company

They are all reliable and you don't really have a choice because there is usually one specific company used by your hotel.