Have you ever faced problems when traveling abroad in a big group? You research beforehand and arrange your schedule, but still have a lot to do after arriving. Means of transportation is one of the biggest problems. Even though public transportation is a choice, it is still somehow inconvenient, isn’t it? Some people cannot use rental cars even if they want to because they cannot drive, and even if they can, the long-distance drives in Hokkaido are tiring.
Don’t you think it would be convenient if you could go sightseeing on your first day right after arriving to New Chitose while carrying your luggage? Today, we would like to introduce you a service that can make your Hokkaido trip easier. That is VARI-CAB rental cars with a driver provided.
When you open VARI-CAB’s website, this is how it looks like. They take you inside the city of Sapporo from New Chitose Airport and support you on your trip for one day or more. They do not only have minivans, but also buses. They have drivers who communicate in English, so you can use their services with no worries, even if you do not speak Japanese. If you click on “Contact” found on the right side, you will be redirected to the booking and contact form page.
Contact only through email is possible, so you can easily make a booking even without a Japanese phone number. Enter the required information and choose the days you want to book. (Typically, you need to make a booking at least two days prior, but the earlier, the better!)
It is okay if you are not sure about the car model. After filling in the number of passengers and luggage, if you choose “Other options” and contact them, they will give you a recommendation.
By the way, they lend free pocket Wi-Fi, so if you want to use it, do not forget to fill it in as shown in the screenshot above!
This time, the five of us will depart from New Chitose Airport, have fun at Biei and Furano for one day, then have them take us back to our hotel at the end. In order to smoothly proceed with the booking process, we recommend you fill in all your requests and the places you want to visit in the form. Confirm details, if there are no mistakes, send!
If you request a quote, you will receive a confirmation email from VARI-CAB with the estimated fare. Based on our inquiry details, they estimated that the required travel time for this trip is eight hours, and that would cost ¥49,710.
There are some points to be careful about here. First, the highway toll and parking fees are not included. In case you are hiring them for a few days, you may be responsible for the driver’s accommodation fee, so it is better to discuss this with them beforehand.
Also, your booking is still not complete through this email. It is complete when you confirm the small details like the meeting place and time. Regarding the payment, you do not need to prepay. You pay on the spot with a credit card.
They have various types of cars, but since we wanted something wide this time, we went for the HiAce. This car can take up to nine passengers, excluding the driver. Among all the minivans you can rent at VARI-CAB, this type takes the greatest number of passengers.
/ The Start of the Trip /
This is the friendly driver who picked us up that day. What you see behind us is our friend for the day, HiAce.
This is how it looks like from the outside and inside. The seats are very comfortable.
Its trunk is way more spacious than we thought. It still had a lot of room even after putting all our big suitcases in.
Now that we have introduced the car, next, let us show you our recommended one-day route. Well then, put your seat belts on and let the trip begin!
/ Trip plan around Biei & Furano! /
Put simply, our schedule is departing from New Chitose Airport at 10 in the morning, visiting Shikisai No Oka and the Blue Pond, and then eating at Kumagera. At the end, we pass by Ningle Terrace and come back to Sapporo at around 6:00 p.m.
Shikisai No Oka
Our first stop was Shikisai No Oka.
It took two and a half hours from New Chitose Airport. Shikisai No Oka is located in Biei and is famous for its vast flower fields. It is about 7 hectares. (About three times as big as Tokyo Dome.) Dozens of types of flowers bloom from spring to autumn. We recommend you buy their regional specialties, soft serve ice cream and croquette, and take a stroll while eating them.
【 Shikisai No Oka 】
・Address: 〒071-0743 Dai3 Shinsei. Biei-cho. Kamikawa-gun, Hokkaido
・Open Hours: AM8:30～PM6:00 (Varies by year and season)
・Entrance fee: It is generally free, but they do have collection boxes installed.
・Web Site: https://www.shikisainooka.jp/en/
Speaking of Biei’s tourist attractions, you cannot miss out on the Blue Pond. It is 15 minutes from Shikisai no Oka, and its surface shines blue as its name suggests. No matter how much you watch it, this vague color tone between blue and green is magical. The withered larch trees make it even more fascinating.
【 Blue Pond 】
・Address: 〒071-0235 Shirogane, Biei-cho, Kamikawa-gun, Hokkaido
・Open Hours: Year-round. In summer, you can visit anytime from sunrise to sunset.
・Entrance fee: Free
・Web Site: https://www.biei-hokkaido.jp/en/sightseeing/shirogane-blue-pond/
We went 40 minutes south with the car, and arrived to Kumagera that was founded in 1980. It is a famous restaurant in Furano, and it is the location used for filming the TV drama, Kita no Kuni Kara. We took a break here and ate Furano’s specialty dish, omelet curry.
【 Kumagera 】
・Address: 〒076-0025 3-22 Hinodemachi, Furano, Hokkaido
・Open Hours: 11:30～24:00
・Web Site: https://www.furano.ne.jp/kumagera/
Ningle Terrace is near New Furano Prince Hotel. It consists of 15 log house shops surrounded by lots of trees. You can enjoy a refreshing stroll and go shopping while walking in the shades of the trees and filtered sunlight. You can even picture dwarves living there from the great atmosphere of the place.
【 Ningle Terrace 】
・Address: 〒076-8511 New Furano Prince Hotel nai, Naka-Goryou, Furano-shi, Hokkaido
・Open Hours: 12:00〜20:45 （10:00～20:45 during Jul. & Aug.）
・Entrance fee: Free
・Web Site: https://www.princehotels.co.jp/furano-area/winter/ningle/
That concludes our recommended route. What do you think? The scenery was beautiful in the vast land of the north, Hokkaido. You feel relaxed just watching it. Since you have a driver, you can sit back and watch the scenery comfortably. Not only does he drive, but he also tells you which route is faster, your schedule, and everything else. The trip is very comfortable and efficient.
This trip style is perfect for those who like to travel freely. Especially, when you are on a family trip with children and elderly. It is also very convenient for people with a lot of luggage. Everyone on the trip can have fun, so we highly recommend it.
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