Sapporo to Lake Shikaribetsu igloo village: How to get there. Hokkaido igloo village in Japan. Backpacking Hokkaido Japan travel blog

 

The Lake Shikaribetsu Kotan igloo village can be a perfect part of your Hokkaido winter itinerary for your trip to Japan.

In the 2018-2019 winter season, the official dates of the Lake Shikaribetsu igloo village were from January 26 to March 21 in 2019.

So there was no ice village in December and it was only possible to go in January, February, or March.

 

Sapporo to Lake Shikaribetsu igloo village visit. Backpacking Hokkaido Japan winter

 

Now, if you think you want to go to this igloo village that’s built on a frozen lake…

 

Sapporo to Lake Shikaribetsu igloo village visit. Backpacking Hokkaido Japan winter

 

Is it easy to get there?!

Well, the main thing is… TIME!

While there is public transportation that can get you from Sapporo to Lake Shikaribetsu, it does take time to get there.

 

 

Here’s how to get to Lake Shikaribetsu from Sapporo:

  • Train from Sapporo station to Obihiro (3.5 hours)
  • Walk from Obihiro train station to Obihiro bus terminal (1 minute)
  • Buy the Tokachi bus pass at the ticket center
  • Bus from Obihiro to Lake Shikaribetsu (1.5 – 2 hours)
  • Walk to igloo village! (1 minute)

Well, this is how I went there anyway!

Train timings and bus timings aren’t the most frequent, so you will want to plan ahead by looking at the timings.

 

Quick list for timings:

  • Train timings for Sapporo station to Obihiro station
    • See the Sapporo to Kushiro route
  • Bus timings for Obihiro bus terminal to Lake Shikaribetsu
    • This timetable is for 2019 to give you an idea of what to expect for 2020

 

You’ll want to check for updated timings when you do this trip.

But just to give you an idea of the time line to get to Lake Shikaribetsu, these were my scheduled timings in 2019:

  • 7:54am Sapporo to Obihiro train
  • 10:36am Arrive Obihiro train station
  • 11:00am Obihiro to Lake Shikaribetsu bus
  • 12:40pm Arrive at Lake Shikaribetsu bus stop

 

 

How to make the igloo village a part of your Hokkaido winter itinerary

Sapporo to Lake Shikaribetsu igloo village visit. Backpacking Hokkaido Japan winter

 

If you have a JR pass or a JR Hokkaido pass, consider making it a loop around Hokkaido:

  • Sapporo
  • Asahikawa (for penguin walk)
  • Abashiri (for drift ice cruise)
  • Kushiro (to break up overnight journey)
  • Obihiro (for igloo village!)
  • Sapporo

In this case, you can make an overnight stay in Kushiro as a transit point to break up the journey, and then the next day you can go:

  • Kushiro to Obihiro train
  • Obihiro to Lake Shikaribetsu bus (and back)
  • Obihiro to Sapporo train

It also is possible to make it a day trip to Lake Shikaribetsu from Sapporo, but it will be a LONG day.

Well, it will be a long day even if you start your day in Kushiro and end in Sapporo too!

If you don’t want such a long day, you might also consider spending the night in Obihiro (kind of a big city with more accommodation options, including hotels right near Obihiro station), or you could even stay at Lake Shikaribetsu which you could say is a slightly more remote area.

 

Hotels near Obihiro Station

Put in some future dates below (partner website) to get an idea for the cost of hotels near Obihiro Station!



Booking.com

 

 

 

Where is Lake Shikaribetsu located?!

Have a look at the map below, and zoom out to see where Lake Shikaribetsu is compared to Sapporo!

You can also locate Obihiro for a better idea of the route you’ll be taking.

 



Booking.com

 

 

Now…

A bit more of what your journey to get to the Lake Shikaribetsu Kotan igloo village might look like!

 

Train from Sapporo station to Obihiro station

Time on train: 3.5 hours
Cost: Around 7,220 yen ($65) on limited express train (or FREE with JR pass or JR Hokkaido pass)

Sapporo to Lake Shikaribetsu igloo village: Train from Sapporo station to Obihiro station, train timings. Backpacking Hokkaido Japan winter

Sapporo to Lake Shikaribetsu igloo village: Train seating from Sapporo station to Obihiro station, free with JR pass or JR Hokkaido pass. Backpacking Hokkaido Japan winter

Sapporo to Lake Shikaribetsu igloo village: Super Tokachi train from Sapporo station to Obihiro station, free with JR pass or JR Hokkaido pass. Backpacking Hokkaido Japan winter

 

 

Walk from Obihiro train station to Obihiro bus terminal

Time: 1 minute

Sapporo to Lake Shikaribetsu igloo village: Obihiro train station to Obihiro bus station. Backpacking Hokkaido Japan winter

 

The bus station is basically right next to the train station.

There are signs that will point you in the direction of the exit to the Obihiro bus terminal.

 

Sapporo to Lake Shikaribetsu igloo village: Obihiro train station to Obihiro bus station sign. Backpacking Hokkaido Japan winter

 

Once you exit the train station, you’ll pretty much see the bus station right away.

 

 

Buy the Tokachi bus pass at the ticket center

While it is possible to pay for the bus fare on the bus as you get off, you’ll want to stop by the bus ticket counter to buy the one day Visit Tokachi pass.

If you pay out of pocket for the bus fare on the bus, the cost to go one way from Obihiro to Lake Shikaribetsu is more than the cost of the bus pass.

So you would end up paying more than double without the pass!

 

Where to buy the Visit Tokachi bus pass

Sapporo to Lake Shikaribetsu igloo village: Obihiro bus ticket center to buy Tokachi local one day bus pass. Backpacking Hokkaido Japan winter

 

So once you exit the train station, head to the building that’s located right next to the bus terminal!

It’s here that you’ll be able to buy a bus pass that can basically serve as a round trip bus ticket to Lake Shikaribetsu.

 

Once inside the bus ticket center, you go to a specific ticket counter based on your destination.

 

Sapporo to Lake Shikaribetsu igloo village: Obihiro bus ticket center to buy Tokachi local one day bus pass. Backpacking Hokkaido Japan winter

 

You’ll want to go to the counter for tickets to Asahikawa.

Then you can say you want the Visit Tokachi one day bus pass if you’re making it a day trip.

Or you can say you want to go to and from Lake Shikaribetsu today and they’ll likely offer you the Tokachi bus pass.

 

Sapporo to Lake Shikaribetsu igloo village: Visit Tokachi one day bus pass. Backpacking Hokkaido Japan winter

 

You’ll basically get a small booklet of bus tickets.

 

Sapporo to Lake Shikaribetsu igloo village: Visit Tokachi one day bus pass ticket. Backpacking Hokkaido Japan winter

 

You’ll hand one of these tickets to the bus driver as you are getting off the bus.

 

How much does the Visit Tokachi bus pass cost?

There’s a 1 day pass, and there’s a 2 day pass:

  • 1 day pass 1,500 yen (US$14)
  • 2 day pass 2,500 yen (US$22)

These were prices for early 2019.

 

How much does the bus from Obihiro to Lake Shikaribetsu cost WITHOUT the Tokachi pass?

If you get on the bus without the bus pass, you’ll pay the bus fare as you get off the bus.

That will cost 1,650 yen.

And you can expect to pay the same on the way back.

 

 

Bus from Obihiro to Lake Shikaribetsu

Time on bus: 1.5 – 2 hours

Sapporo to Lake Shikaribetsu igloo village: Bus to Lake Shikaribetsu from Obihiro bus station. Backpacking Hokkaido Japan winter

 

The bus to Lake Shikaribetsu will be at platform 4.

 

Sapporo to Lake Shikaribetsu igloo village: Lake Shikaribetsu bus stop at Obihiro bus station. Backpacking Hokkaido Japan winter

 

Then once you get on the bus, you’re on the bus for a couple of hours!

This is basically a local bus.

 

Sapporo to Lake Shikaribetsu igloo village: Local bus to Lake Shikaribetsu. Backpacking Hokkaido Japan winter

 

You’ll start off in the city, and then you’ll be on some rural roads of Hokkaido, and then you’ll be driving through mountain roads!

 

Sapporo to Lake Shikaribetsu igloo village: Rural Hokkaido roads on bus to Lake Shikaribetsu. Backpacking Hokkaido Japan winter

Sapporo to Lake Shikaribetsu igloo village: Snow Hokkaido roads on bus to Lake Shikaribetsu. Backpacking Hokkaido Japan winter

Sapporo to Lake Shikaribetsu igloo village: Lake Shikaribetsu bus stop. Backpacking Hokkaido Japan winter

 

 

Walk to igloo village!

Time: 1 minute!

Sapporo to Lake Shikaribetsu igloo village entry - free cost. Backpacking Hokkaido Japan winter

 

Basically, once you get off the bus, you are there!

The bus drops you off right in front of the lake.

You’ll see the parking lot, and then from that parking lot you can get the (frozen and snow-covered) lake views with igloos!

Then go down the hill for a visit to the winter “village” on a lake!

You can order a drink at the ice bar, soak your feet in mineral-rich water from the hot springs, and even go snowmobiling on the lake!

 

Sapporo to Lake Shikaribetsu igloo village visit. Backpacking Hokkaido Japan winter

 

HAPPY LAKE SHIKARIBETSU IGLOO VILLAGE VISIT!

 



More quick tips for planning your trip to Japan

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Shoes for Japan
For summer travel, hiking sandals can be perfect for walking around cities and for many of the short day hikes! See travel sandals like these for women and these for men.

Japan is a mountain country so be sure to get in some hikes!

See trail running shoes too (for women - for men) for other solid hikes including climbing Mt Fuji.

Speaking of hiking, I love this daypack.

The super fast train in Japan
In general, 2 long-distance shinkansen train trips will likely end up making it so the JR pass will be worth it. But here's how to calculate it to be sure.

See the current price of a JR pass from an official vendor.

Natural disasters in Japan
Unfortunately, Japan can be prone to natural disasters which means risk for travel delays. So be sure to look at travel insurance for natural disasters.

My travel insurance took care of my accommodation and food costs when I was forced to stay extra days in Japan because of a typhoon.

See how much insurance costs for your trip.

Best travel guides for Japan
If you're at step 1 in your planning process, have a look at this Discover Japan book.

For "books" that won't take up space in your suitcase, see the best PDF guides.

See more of the best books for Japan trip planning.

Cheap(er) flights to Japan
I used this website to find the cheapest flight and to book my recent flight to Japan.

Sometimes it makes sense to book direct - my preferred way!

But this booking site will search a combination of airlines, including those who aren't partner airlines, which means that they can help you find cheaper flights by booking individual flights for you as part of one flight itinerary. This can be especially helpful if you're not flying out of a major hub with direct flights to Japan.

I've missed a flight booked through them and it was taken care of with hotel and new flight.

See more tips for finding cheap flights to Japan.

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That's it for now!