Soon after our holiday last year in March/April to Honshu, our very first holiday to anywhere in Japan, I made up my mind that if there is nowhere else in Japan I would spend time to enjoy it would be to Hokkaido in the summer to enjoy a purple romance with the tiny lavender flowers. Towards the end of last year when travel agents start posting their itineraries on their websites I checked out Apple Holiday which has a very strong focus on Japan and selected a departure date in mid July. I paid a pretty good price as it was based on chartered flight. Later when I found out the chartered flight was off and that the tour group would be flying on a regular commercial flight which incurs a higher surcharge I was glad Apple Holiday honored the lower price they committed to me. It was a good start to our holiday.
The holiday is for 7D/5N with 2 days for flying. We have 5 full days to sightsee and shop (shopping wasn't our favorite pastime, I wish they would give optional tours to those who want to spend their time more fruitfully). On arrival at the Chitose Airport on Thai Airways (we love the in-flight meals and service and would choose to fly Thai just for that) we met with a Malaysian tour guide who has worked in this profession for 5-6 years. He explained he got to work as a guide because he can speak the languages of the tourists. The weather on our first day (day 2) was misty with slight drizzle. Nevertheless they didn't interfere with our itinerary. Day 3 was similarly wet but day 4-6 were cloudy and dry. Our group of 32 members which included 3 young boys traveling with their parents and grandparents was easy going and mixed well with each other. The following were places we visited:
Day 2 - Rera Chitose Outlet Mall, Noboribetsu Date Jidaimura (Ninja theme park), Noboribetsu Marine Park Nixe (dolphin and sealion shows and penguin parade), Jigokudani (Hell Valley)
Day 3 - Ezo Bear Ranch, Mount Uzusan, Lake Toya
Day 4 - Otaru Canal, Handicraft Street, Tanukikoji Shopping Streets, Odori Park, Sapporo Station
Day 5 - Tour Highlight. Visit Farm Tomita in Furano to see the blooming lavender and other colorful flowers. Stop by Biei to enjoy fresh fruits.
Day 6 - Sapporo Sightseeing. Okurayama Ski Jump Stadium, Hokkaido Shrine, Former Government Building.
Day 7 - Fly Home.
Below are samples of our holiday pictures in no particular order.