One of the common questions we get asked here at NisekoML is ” What is the best way to get from the New Chitose Airport to Niseko.
There are 4 ways that are worthy of your consideration and we hope to highlight the relative advantages and disadvantages of each.
1. Book one of our tours !
This is the easiest way as we include a chartered but pickup on winter tour packages. Just get the airport, check into an airport hotel and we will pick up the group the next morning.
You can see the list of upcoming NisekoML tour packages here
It is possible to rent a car at the aiport and drive yourself over.
It’s about 2 hours without breaks for locals that know the roads backwards so for a first time driver and allowing for a few stops it’s a comfortable 2.5 hours.
The drive, whilst very pretty, is not what you would expect for a major ski destination. It has a lot of windy sections and can be treacherious in icy conditions, particularly on the mountain passes.
If you do have snow driving experience this is not our recommended place to learn especially at night. Oh and did we mention the deer. The roads around lake Shikotsu are populated by suicidal deer that love to run out in front of cars at night. That all being said you will probably be fine.
If you do consider the drive option and your flight is late ( most Oki flights arrive after 7pm ) our suggestion is to spend the night at an airport hotel and make an easy start the next day.
The map above is the most common route taken. It’s best to have a navigator and 4g data access on your phone and there are one or 2 turns that are easily missed.
This is a great option and one that is not taken enough.
The train ride from Sapporo city goes via Otaru and hugs the coastline for much of the journey which is stunning in Winter.
It’s safe, scenic and pretty cheap and whilst it’s about a 4 hour journey as apposed to a shorter bus ride there is something about a train winding that the Hokkaido Country side that just makes this is a really nice option.
Remember to change at Otaru for a local train. Another great option on this route is to get off at Yoichi station and see the amazing Nikka Distillery.
Once you arrive at Kutchan you need to get off at Kutchan station and then get a taxi from there.
Do not make the mistake of trying to go to ” Hirafu ” station if your accommodation is in ” lower Hirafu “. The station is not in walking distance and locals are often giving lifts up the long hill to confused tourists.
4. The Hokkaido Resort Linner
This is the easiest and most common way visitors get to Niseko. It takes about 3 hours and is a pretty journey.
Many people choose this as their ” night arrival ” option and if you are coming in late the airport and want to get straight to Niseko it does make the most sense out of all the options here.
You can book your tickets online here on the worlds most unfriendly website. Keep looking you will stumble on the online ticket gateway eventually. ( hint try the map at the top of the screen and see if you can find the niseko tree )