Growing up in a tropical island, I never really had the chance to try skiing or snowboarding. It’s one of the sports that I’ve always wanted to try. So, when I had the chance to visit northern Japan this year for winter, I’ve included that on my things to do. Thankfully, I got an invite to visit Hakuba in Nagano, Japan, a few hours away from Tokyo. It is known for its world-class ski resorts and powdery snow. Nagano rose to fame when it hosted various skiing events during the 1998 Winter Olympics, attracting more and more foreign tourists from Australia, Europe, South Korea, etc. But, Nagano is quite uncharted to most Filipinos and even to other Southeast Asian countries. Hopefully, this Hakuba Travel Guide with sample itinerary and budget can help you plan your trip to this bountiful village soon.
When is the best time to visit Hakuba
Winter season (December to March) is the peak season in Hakuba. And since this place is known for its ski resorts with powdery snow, best to visit during winter.
How to get to Hakuba
There’s no direct flight from Manila (Philippines) or from other Southeast Asia countries to Nagano. You can fly to Tokyo first, either Haneda Airport or Narita Airport, the former is nearer.
From Tokyo, you have the following options.
Tokyo to Hakuba
1.From Tokyo Station or Ueno Station, ride the bullet train (shinkansen) to Nagano or Kanazawa. Fare is roughly ¥ 8,200 one-way and transit time is roughly 1.5 hours. If you have a JR Pass or JR East Nagano/Niigita Area Pass , this option is recommended for you since the route is covered by the pass.
2.Get off at Nagano Station.
3. Take the Hakuba Valley shuttle bus to your accommodation, or if you’ve arranged in advance with your resort, they usually pick up their guest from Nagano Station.
By Direct Bus
A cheaper option to get to Hakuba from Tokyo is by direct shuttle bus from Tokyo Station (Kajibashi Parking Lot) that leaves at 12:20 AM (midnight) during winter season. This is a great option is you plan to leave at night and arrive early morning in Hakuba. The Hakuba Express shuttle bus is equipped with Wi-Fi, USB ports to charge your gadgets, warm blankets, and even eye masks. You can book in advance through the link below.
Fare: ¥ 4,000/(₱2,123 ($36/AUD 51/SGD 49/RM146)
Travel time: 6-7 hours
Departure: 12:20 AM
Arrival: 6:00 AM – 7:40 AM (depending on which resort)
Another cheap way to get to Hakuba from Tokyo is by direct Alpico Bus. Buses depart at Tokyo Station (Yaesu South Exit). Travel time is about 6 – 7 hours. But this is available during winter season only (December to March).
Alpico Bus: RESERVE HERE
1.TOKYO STATION TO HAKUBA
Here’s the bus fare from Tokyo Station to Hakuba and vice versa:
|Passenger (One-way)||Tokyo to Hakuba||Hakuba to Tokyo|
|Adult||¥6,600 (₱3,129)||¥5,200 (₱2,466)|
|Child||¥3,300 (₱1,565)||¥2,600 (₱1,233)|
*Child: Age 6 – 12
Here’s the bus schedule from Tokyo Station to Hakuba Area.
Departure: 10:40 PM at Tokyo Station (Yaesu South Exit)
|Goryu ESCAL PLAZA||06:40 AM|
|Hakuba Goryu||06:45 AM|
|Hakuba-Happo Bus Terminal||07:00 AM|
|Hakuba Iwatake||07:05 AM|
|Tsugaike Kogen||07:20 AM|
Hakuba to Tokyo Station
And here’s the bus timetable from Hakuba Area to Tokyo Station.
|Tsugaike Kogen||03:35 PM|
|Hakuba Iwatake||03:55 PM|
|Hakuba-Happo Bus Terminal||04:15 PM|
|Hakuba Goryo||04:25 PM|
|Goryu ESCAL PLAZA||04:30 PM|
Arrival at Tokyo Station (Nihonbashi Side) : 9:45 PM
2. HANEDA AIRPORT TO HAKUBA
Yes, you can travel direct from Haneda Airport in Tokyo to Hakuba by bus during winter (December to March). See the timetable and bus fare below.
Adult – ¥ 9,000 (₱4,267)
Child – ¥ 7,000 (₱3,319)
Infant – FREE
Travel time: 6-7 hours=
Haneda Airport to Hakuba bus schedule:
|Haneda Airport International Terminal||07:40 AM||01:45 PM|
|Haneda Airport (Terminal 2)||01:55 PM|
|Haneda Airport (Terminal 1)||02:00 PM|
|Hakuba Goryu||12:58 PM||07:13 PM|
|Hakuba Station||01:05 PM||07:20 PM|
|Hakuba Happo Bus Terminal||01:10 PM||07:25 PM|
Hakuba to Haneda Airport Bus Schedule
|Hakuba Happo Bus Terminal||10:40 AM||03:40 PM|
|Hakuba Station||10:45 AM||03:45 PM|
|Hakuba Goryu||10:52 AM||03:52 PM|
|Haneda Airport (Terminal 2)||04:05 PM|
|Haneda Airport (Terminal 1)||04:10 PM|
|Haneda Airport International Terminal||04:17 PM||09:40 PM|
|Shinagawa Railway Station East Exit||09:00 PM|
3. NARITA AIRPORT TO HAKUBA
There’s also a direct bus from Narita Airport to Hakuba area during winter (December to March). Here’s the fare and timetable.
Adult – ¥ 9,500 (₱4,505)
Child – ¥ 7,500 (₱3,556)
Infant – FREE
Travel time: 6-7 hours
Narita Airport to Hakuba bus schedule
|Narita Airport International Terminal 3||10:55 AM|
|Narita Airport International Terminal 2||11:00 AM|
|Narita Airport International Terminal 1||11:05 AM|
|Hakuba Goryu||04:43 PM|
|Hakuba Station||04:50 PM|
|Hakuba Happo Bus Terminal||04:55 PM|
Hakuba to Narita Airport Bus Schedule
|Hakuba Happo Bus Terminal||10:15 AM|
|Hakuba Station||10:20 AM|
|Hakuba Goryu||10:27 AM|
|Narita Airport International Terminal 2||04:05 PM|
|Narita Airport International Terminal 1||04:10 PM|
|Narita Airport International Terminal 3||04:15 PM|
GETTING AROUND HAKUBA
The Hakuba Happo Bus Terminal is the main bus hub to access all ski resorts in Hakuba valley, it’s about 1.7 km east of the Hakuba Train Station in Hakuba village center. There are several buses that run around the ski resorts in Hakuba so it can be confusing which one to take. If you plan to visit all or some of the ski resorts sprinkled in Hakuba, you can avail of a pass. See details below.
Hakuba Valley Day Pass
During winter, a great option to get around is using the Hakuba Valley Day Pass. This will give you access to visit 9 ski resorts in Hakuba and bask in different snow sports. The Hakuba Valley Day Pass is available from 1 to 6-day Pass. If you only plan to ski and stay in 1 resort in a day or so, no need for this pass. Just request in advance from your resort and ask for a hotel pick up and drop off from Nagano Station or from the bus stop to your hotel. But if you plan to see and hop from one Hakuba resort to another, then this pass is helpful.
Here are the shuttle buses that run around Hakuba Village.
1. Goryu FREE Shuttle Bus
This is a free shuttle bus courtesy of Goryu, you can check the bus route and schedule HERE. You can use this for FREE even if you don’t have a Hakuba Valley Pass.
2.Hakuba Valley Bus
You can also ride the Hakuba Valley Bus, it’s FREE if you have the Hakuba Valley Day Pass, but if you don’t have one, fare is . ¥500 (₱237, $4,SGD 6,RM 18,AUD 6). Check the bus schedule and route HERE, and the bus stops HERE.
3.Genki Go Night Bus
The Genki Go bus runs from 6:00 PM to midnight during peak season (winter). Fare is ¥300 for adults and children.
WHERE TO SKI IN HAKUBA
Hakuba Valley is home to 9 major ski resorts all set at the foot of a gorgeous alpine massif. If you’re confused where to ski, you can try Hakuba Goryu since they actually have 3 feature-rich ski trails – ALPS, IIMORI and TOOMI and a couple of specialist courses that can suit every skill level, including beginners and kids. The Tohmi and Iimori slopes are ideal for families, beginners, and kids. It’s my first time to ski, so I was quite scared at first, but thanks to Mamuro of Hakuba Tourism who patiently assisted taught us.
Hakuba Goryu Website: CLICK HERE
Ski Gear Rental Rates (Hakuba Goryu)
|Set||Half Day||1 Day||2+ Days|
|Set (Ski Boots, Pole) or (Snowboard boots) or (SXhortski Boots)|
|Adult||¥3,500||¥4,500||¥3,000 +/ per day|
|Children (18 y.o and under)||¥1,500||¥2,000||¥1,500 /per day|
|Set + Jacket + Pants|
|Children (18 y.o and under)||¥3,000||¥3,500||¥2,500+/per day|
Boots/Jacket and Pants
|Children (18 y.o and under)||¥1,200||¥1,500||¥1,000|
Important: They need your height (cm), weight (kg) and shoe size (cm) when filling out the rental form. You need to choose whether you want to ski or snowboard so decide beforehand what you want to try.
WHERE TO STAY IN HAKUBA
There are a couple of cozy hotels and resorts sprinkled around Hakuba that are cheap and reasonably-priced. If you’re looking for budget hotels in Hakuba, here are the top-rated ones according to online users. We stayed in another hotel, but it’s in Japanese and I can’t find the website or name yet. Will update this list once I have the information. When looking for accommodation, pick one that is near your preferred ski resort.
Budget Hotels in Hakuba
Powder Temple Hotel
Pension Chau Chau
Petit Hotel P Bow
The Bohemians Shelter
Here’s a sample 2 Day/1 Night Hakuba itinerary with budget. Feel free to tweak this depending on your budget and schedule.
*Sample budget doesn’t include accommodation, airfare, and shopping expenses.
|Day 1||HAKUBA GORYU|
|12:20 AM||Rake bus from Tokyo Station to Hakuba. ¥4,000 (₱2,123)|
| RESERVE HERE|
|06:45 AM||ETA Hakuba-Happo Bus Terminal|
|07:00 AM||Take free shuttle bus to hotel|
|07:30 AM||Check-in or leave luggage at hotel|
|08:00 AM||Take shuttle bus back to Hakuba-Happo Bus Terminal|
|08:30 AM||Take FREE shuttle bus to Hakuba Goryu|
|09:00 AM||Ski gears rental (set + jacket and pants). . ¥5,500 (₱2,608) Rates HERE.|
|10:00 AM||Ski lesson. . ¥4,500 (₱2,133) (half day/2 hours)|
|12:00 PM||Lunch. . ¥1,500 (₱711)|
|04:00 PM||End of ski. Return ski gears.|
|05:00 PM||Take free shuttle to Hakuba-Happo Bus Terminal|
|05:30 PM||Take free shuttle to hotel.|
|06:00 PM||ETA hotel.|
|07:00 PM||Dinner. . ¥1,500 (₱711)|
|09:00 PM||Lights out|
|DAY 1 EXPENSES||. ¥17,000 (₱8,286, $153, SGD 206, RM 624, AUD 215)|
|Take free shuttle to Hakuba-Happo Bus Terminal|
|Take shuttle bus to Tokyo. . ¥4,000 (₱2,123)|
|DAY 2 EXPENSES||¥4,000 (₱2,123, $36,SGD 48, RM 147, AUD 50)|
|TOTAL EXPENSES||¥21,000 (₱10,409, $188, SGD 254, RM 771, AUD 266)|
HAKUBA TRAVEL TIPS AND REMINDERS
- Rent all protective gears especially if it’s your first time to ski.
- Get ski lessons if you’re a first-timer. It really helps.
- Use sunblock to protect your skin from the harsh sun.
- Keep yourself hydrated. Bring water bottle.
- Make sure to check the return bus schedule and train schedule for your return trip to Tokyo or whatever area you’re moving to next.
- There are lockers at the ski resorts where you can store your bags and stuf.
- There’s a hotspring and sauna. Fee is JPY 650 (adults) and JPY 350 (children).
- Stack up cash (Japanese Yen) when visiting Hakuba.
Disclosure: Our trip to Hakuba was made possible by Nagano Tourism. Check out their official website for more information: HAKUBA
About the Blogger : Gael is a Filipina travel blogger. Her work has appeared in local and international publications.
For advertisements, sponsorship and partnerships, you may reach her at gaelhilotinblog (at) gmail (dot) com.
LIKE MY PAGE ON FACEBOOK FOR TRAVEL GUIDE UPDATES
FOLLOW ME ON INSTAGRAM
Watch my latest Youtube video.
Don’t forget to click SUBSCRIBE HERE