Ask ESPN, he was just there. There should be a direct flight to Sapporo IIRC. Anyways, you are coming right smack in peak of the worst winter in Japan. My recommendation is to come in May ~ Aug period. Much better weather and scenery.
There are domestic flights frm Narita Airport in Tokyo to Shin-Chitose Airport in Hokkaido. As for direct flights from Singapore to Shin-Chitose Airport, u'll have to look at flights like SIA, JAL, ANA, etc.
Personally I had done a train journey that took me from Tokyo to Sapporo (Capital City of Hokkaido) just a few weeks ago, spending abt 4 days in Hokkaido visiting places like Otaru, Wakkanai and Sapporo. The train journey took me like 1.5 days (since I arrived at Tokyo in the afternoon and thus had to spend the night at Aomori and continuing my train journey the next day).
The return trip from Sapporo down all the way to Kyoto was slightly faster since I took the first train in the morning (0700H) which took me like some 13 to 14hrs.
Spent abt $2.6K in all on a DIY F&E around Japan like 7 days. No travel agencies was involved. It was all a book-myself everything thru internet trip. I took Northwest Airlines for all my flights due to their cheap prices (it was a lone backpack trip. If I were to take regulars such as JAL, SIA, the prices would probably be double of what NWA is offering).
Feburary its still considered as winter in Hokkaido, whilst temperatures are bearable (like -3 perhaps? Don't worry abt ur camera, I'd hung it on my neck exposed bare under -8 to -10 and it survived), there isn't much events around except for the ice carvings in Odori Park. If u can afford to wait, I'd suggest u go in or abt late-April to May where the sun is up, sky is blue and there are lotsa colours abound. Great for landscape shooters I must say. Winter environment adds quite a bit of challenge for shooting landscapes though.
-3 is an understatement. I get -1 already in Osaka at night times, be prepared for zero degree in the day and -10s in the night. :bsmilie: You better train yourself running around naked after shower in an air-con environment
Welcome Inn, my boss tried it. Don't worry abt small establishments or not. Welcome Inn is something like a Union of those smaller Ryokans and Minshukus. 3-star, 4-star, 5-star... In fact, I dun think there's any difference between a 3-star and a 5-star hotel.
Had stayed from posh ryokans to ultra-cheap business hotels like 3000Yen/nite, had no complaints with service.
There are 3 types actually. 2 of which are sub-divisions of a common type.
JR Pass (Ordinary) - This is the train pass of all pass. It allows u to take any trains & buses in Japan operated by Japan Railway including Shinkansen. Restrictions that apply are:
- U are not allowed to reserve tickets on 'Green Car' (or their more luxurious seats) carriages on the Shinkansen. If u must, pay extra.
- U are not allowed to take the Nozomi Shinkansen on the Tokaido line (which is the route plying from Tokyo to Shin-Osaka). If u must, pay extra.
JR Pass (Green Car) - The mother (and most ex I feel) of all JR Pass. Restrictions applies as above but remove the one on the Green Car.
The JR Pass must be bought before u fly to Japan. Its not available inside Japan and u can't buy it within Japan. Available in 7, 14 & 21 days pass. Do take note that its not a 'seasonal pass' but can be used throughout the year.
Seishun 18 Kippu - The 5-day seasonal tickets for supposedly 18yr olds. But anyone can just buy it. Including tourists. This is sold only in Japan over ticket counters during school holidays during the 4 seasons. Significantly cheaper than JR Pass. But u can only travel local trains using this seasonal ticket. U are not allowed to travel on the Shinkansen using this. Which means if u get the Seishun 18 Kippu and want to go from Tokyo to Osaka, be prepared for a 24hr train ride on the local trains.
Well, I beg to differ if you prefer the less trodden path
I absolutely enjoyed my trip to Hokkaido in Feb. There is no direct flight from Singapore to Chitose per se. Flights have to transit in Tokyo/Osaka.
There are many types of rail passes. I think only the nationwide Japan JR Pass need to be purchased outside the country. If you're travelling only Hokkaido, eg. flying in, then you can get other passes. For a low-down on all the different kinds, check out this : http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2357.html
Temperatures can vary since Hokkaido is big and outdoor places like national parks tend to be colder. The coldest I've experience was -16 deg but some go as low as -30 deg (thankfully I don't have to face that). Ever tried shooting star trails at -11deg? But temperature shouldn't put you off if you're adequately prepared.