When I read travel narratives, I sometimes notice that writers tend to leave transits or transfers as one-liners. It’s usually,
The bus ride was over ten hours including one bathroom break…
The flight took around five hours…
The Shinkansen (Japan’s bullet train) was convenient but pretty expensive…
Most of the time, I would like to know more about the transfers:
How was the bus ride? Was the route scenic? Did you and your friends play any games during the trip?
What was the view like outside your window seat? How was the pilot’s landing? Did the flight attendants dance their pre-flight safety announcement?
Did you adjust quickly to the speed of the Shinkansen? Did you capture blurry photos of the view? How efficient were the Japanese in the transition of arrival and departure of trains?
Sometimes people are so excited to write about their destinations that the journey is overlooked. I feel that this part of the trip is also worth writing about.
The trip isn’t only about the arrival. It’s also about the departure, the transit, or even the breaks in between. When we always hurry to our final destination, we might miss out on noticing the good things that may have happened.
And when people do notice something during the journey, the negatives often seem to overpower the positives,
Travelers will notice the flight delays more than the smooth landing of the pilot and the safe precautions the airline is taking behind the scenes.
When going home from a field trip, people notice the traffic more than the opportunity to spend more time, eat more chips, or play more games with your friends.
When you’re impatiently waiting for your next flight or bus transfer when you could have just explored the transit location you’re in. It’s still a place you’ve never been so why not explore?
Our transits should mean just as much as our Destinations. Without it, we can never reach the D in the first place. Every moment of every experience is equally worthy. You might miss out on something good in the current because you were too keen on the next.
No matter how small or simple a travel moment is, we need to pause for a second, think of all the grateful things that happened, and realize that it deserves to be appreciated, written, or known.
I always liked writing something different from time to time. After my #Hokkaido2016 trip, I deemed it worthy to write an article about all the best transits I’ve had during the trip because who writes articles where the point of the story is a train ride by the sea, right? Or a bus ride through frost-covered forests? Or even a train that says goodbye & see you next time?
Well, I did – READ: 3 Transits I Loved During My Early Winter Holiday in Hokkaido – and I hope more people write about theirs too.
In this article, I’ll be telling you about my roundtrip transfers to Niseko, both with KKday. I’ll narrate what transfer options are available to help you decide what the best fit is for your trip.
What is KKday?
KKDAY provides local experiences and tours around the world. It is a travel platform where you can purchase tickets and pre-arranged tours for all your travel needs. Whether it’s a boat ride, an amusement park ticket, or a night food tour, KKDAY will most likely have you covered!
Basically, KKday acts as a travel agent sans the professional fees for different travel brands and collates all of these products or services into one online platform. This is a great option for travelers planning their own itineraries as there is now an avenue where all the activities that travelers need can be booked through one website, most of the time at a lower cost than buying directly through a specific travel brand.
In this specific article, we’ll be talking about KKday’s array of transfers that are available in Hokkaido and my experiences with a few trips to & from Niseko.
Here are KKday’s available transfers in Hokkaido that you can book:
- Chartered Van
- Hokkaido Resort Liner Ski Bus to/from Kiroro or Rusutsu or Niseko
- Vehicle Rentals
- JR Hokkaido Rail Pass
- Camper Vans
- Van Tours from Sapporo
To know more about KKday, here’s my complete review of the online travel activity platform, READ: Series: KKday Review + Cruising from Hong to Macau with Cotai Water Jet
HOW TO GET TO NISEKO? Traveling to/from Niseko with KKday! (KKday Review)
During our recent #Hokkaido2018 trip, here are the transfers we took with KKday and our experiences with each:
But first, from the Philippines (Manila), how did we get to Hokkaido (Sapporo)?
READ: Fly Jetstar to Hokkaido & Experience these Stunning Winter Destinations! #Jetstar2Hokkaido
(1) Private Transfer from New Chitose Airport to Niseko: Chartered Van from Wing Taxi Hokkaido & Japan Holiday Travel (₱10,516*/van)
To find this service on KKday, you need to type in Hokkaido on the search bar, click Transport & Essentials under categories, and then choose Ground Transport. You can also type in 17969 on the search bar to lead you directly to the product page.
On the specific page, you’ll find that its default language is in Chinese so what you need to do is open the page on a desktop and translate the whole product page to English.
Once translated, you’ll find that this Hokkaido chartered service offers private transfers to/from New Chitose Airport, Sapporo, Niseko, and other Hokkaido locations.
The van can be used for:
- Airport to Sapporo transfers (₱9,465*)
- Airport/Sapporo to Hokkaido location transfers (₱10,516*)
- 8 hour sightseeing day tours (₱15,774*)
According to the product page, one van can seat up to a maximum of 10 people (excluding the driver).
Here is our experience of the chartered van from New Chitose domestic airport to our Niseko accommodation:
Upon arrival at the New Chitose domestic airport and retrieval of our luggage, we immediately saw a man in a suit holding up a sign with my whole name written on it. We waved at him and I asked, KKday? Wing Taxi? Transfer to Niseko?
He just nodded and smiled. He didn’t ask for any KKday online or paper voucher or our passport to verify. He then gestured us to follow him. He didn’t say anything else after that.
We walked a minute through the domestic airport until he went out a sliding door and we followed suit. The cold hit us by surprise. My mom and I were pulling our luggage while the man continued to walk.
From afar, I saw a taxi bay which I thought would be our embarkation point but I was surprised to see that he went inside the airport again. Walking by glass walls of the airport, I didn’t understand why we had to walk through this open path when we could have just taken the route inside the airport where it was warmer.
After around a 5 minute walk to the other side of the airport, we followed the man outside again walking through snow covered sidewalks. I saw my mom having a bit of a hard time pulling her luggage on the snow path. The man in the suit just kept on walking not looking back or even trying to help my mom out.
Pulling the luggage from the domestic airport to the van’s parking area put a lot of pressure on the arms considering the adjustment to the cold weather. This was fine for me as I could endure but I was just a bit worried for my mom but she eventually said she was okay.
The man led us to an area where our chartered van was parked. He was waiting by the back until we finally caught up to him. He willfully took our luggage from us and placed them inside the van. I was really surprised that the van was parked all the way here when at the domestic arrival, I saw a few tourists being met by their respective van rental providers or probably drivers.
I was also surprised that this man in the suit was also going to be our driver. When we were all inside, my mom and I took off all our warmers while the driver showed us a photo of our accommodation in Niseko – Yama Shizen (Niseko Central). Good thing I knew what our accommodation looked like because the paper he showed had Japanese characters all over. I gave him a thumb’s up and said yes. He nodded, smiled, and started to drive away. We left the airport at around 11:00 AM.
During the first few minutes, I observed the interior of the van. I likened it to day tour/colorum vans in the Philippines.
What was really noticeable were these umbrellas under the first row seats.
This is very handy to have especially if it’s raining or the snowfall is harsh.
I also noticed that there were dusty parts and dirt on the van’s carpet floor.
According to the product page, the chartered van can seat up to a maximum of 10 people but with this specific van, it can only seat up to 9 passengers (excluding the driver).
There was also, from what we can tell or assume, a heater placed behind the front passenger seat.
Back in 2016, I loved the route from New Chitose airport to Niseko. It was one of the most scenic and breathtaking routes I’ve ever had and there I was again back in 2018, experiencing it again but this time around, with my mom.
The man in the suit (I like calling him that instead of our driver! HAHAHA) drove smoothly as me and my mom just watched the roads and views for the first half hour of the ride.
My mom was starting to drift off but I didn’t feel sleepy at all. I just wanted to maximize my time and stare at the view outside our van ride.
An hour into the van ride, I was starting to feel a bit cold. A few minutes later, my mom woke up as well and started to put her jacket, warmers, and gloves on.
I noticed that the van’s air-conditioning control was set to high so I turned it off. Or so I thought. There wasn’t any air coming out from the vents even if it was turned off or at high so I don’t think this was the problem why it was getting colder and colder.
My mom was wrapping up her arms and told me, “Ang lamig lamig (It’s very cold)” Since we were in the midst of snow capped mountains and forests, the wind from outside was definitely making the temperature inside the van lower and lower.
I wore my jacket and sat beside my mom so she could feel a bit of my body heat.
When I felt like it was time to say something, I waved to the driver. At a traffic stop, he looked behind us, I started saying, It’s Cold, Cold, Please, Heater, Heat, Heat, Hot, Hot while pointing to the heater behind the front seat. He nodded and didn’t do anything. He just continued driving. He didn’t understand us at all.
All throughout the ride, we felt like we were riding an air-conditioned van in a winter setting. I wore another jacket from my bag to keep me warmer. It would get a little hot when we passed by long tunnel roads but when we were out, I could feel the wind starting to breeze through again from the slits of the not so sealed windows.
For the next 1.5 hours, we just endured the cold and adjusted.
There was no bathroom break or rest stop during this transfer.
From time to time, I forgot about the cold because I was too awed by the winter scenes outside my window. I just rested my head and watched the channel outside run through my eyes. My mom, on the other hand, was asleep for most of the ride. I didn’t want to miss out on amazing views so I kept my heavy eyes from closing.
Once we arrived at our destination at around 2 PM, the snow was pouring heavily. It was so magical! In that moment, I didn’t even care for the cold van. We were finally in #Niseko, one of my favorite places in the world that I’ve traveled to.
As the driver halted to a complete stop in front of Yama Shizen’s entrance, he showed us a paper slip with Japanese characters and a ¥500 (₱237+) figure. According to the product page, the amount displayed doesn’t include highway/toll fees, etc.
As noted above, I didn’t sleep the whole van ride from New Chitose airport to Niseko. And I’m pretty sure that we didn’t stop to pay anything at a toll gate so I assumed this slip was for his parking fee at the airport. I handed the man in the suit a ¥1,000 (₱474+) paper bill. He just smiled, nodded, and went outside the van. To be honest, I’m all for giving tips and keep the change response when credit is due and all but he didn’t even offer to give back a ¥500 (₱237+) change.
Tipping isn’t even normal in Japan.
He got our bags from the back of the van and placed it on the side of the road. He didn’t even bring it inside to the reception or even up the stairs. We were the ones who pulled it again.
Out of my six trips to Japan, this was the most disappointing service I’ve had from a Japanese person and agency. I was really surprised. When my mom and I lugged our bags up the stairs, the man was there smiling.
A beautiful place was surrounding me so I gave him the most gratitude I could and said Thank you. He understood this, smiled, and waved. And then he went on his merry way while we went inside our accommodation.
I’m not sure if this was an isolated case – that we were a bit unlucky and got this kind of van service and driver – but overall, I was really disappointed in this transfer. Considering that this private service costs around ₱10,500+, I expected quality service.
If I were to look at the positives of this chartered van, I’d see that if I was traveling with a group of 9 people, this van is a very affordable service as we’d only have to pay ₱1,170+ each for a 3 hour private transfer from the airport to Niseko.
Transportation in Japan is very expensive but if I get to pay this kind of price for a private transfer, then me and my group with definitely be all for it.
But what if an elderly couple availed this private van?
What if a family with young kids and a baby purchased this van?
Was the price worth it for the cold they could have endured inside the van? Or the challenge of lugging around their baggage from one end of the airport to another in the cold when you’re still trying to adjust?
If you can endure the cold (just in case you get this driver and van), this is a very affordable option if you’re a group of 9 looking for a private transfer to different parts of Hokkaido.
In summary, here are the things I liked about the private transfer and a few points I feel that the service should improve on:
Finally, we arrived in Niseko!
Here are a few #NisekoHighlights from our #Hokkaido2018 trip:
Walking through Hirafu town was a challenge at first because of the adjustment to the FREEZING weather but eventually we didn’t care how cold we felt because of how enchanting the place was.
We also plowed through snow-covered forests that I’d only seen in movies.
Riding through it with snowmobiles at #WhiteIsleNiseko made the experience much more badass and unforgettable.
From dusk to dark, we explored the beautifully haunting forests at Grand Hirafu.
For our last night cap, we had a delightful dining experience at #TheAlpinist in #OdinPlaceNiseko, the coolest icon in the heart of Hirafu.
Where we had the most scrumptious Hokkaido potatoes drizzled with the best quality Raclette.
We were always excited to retire as we went home to the most luxurious accommodations. Look at this scene at Yama Shizen (#NisekoCentral)…
…and my mom’s favorite hang-out at #KiNiseko. These are luxuries WITH HEART.
Niseko will forever hold a special place in our physical and mental universe. Watch out for my other write-ups on our Niseko travel experiences! There’s definitely MORE! Soon on Inspiring Grateful Travels! 😉
Can’t wait for my other write-ups and guides on Niseko to be published & want to start planning your Niseko trip NOW? Download the Niseko Tourism App!
It’s FREE! You’ll find wine, dine, and area guides to help you create your itineraries. Real time data on weather forecasts, avalanche, events, and Niseko United shuttle tracking is also available so you’re always prepared and ready for anything. For more information on the #NisekoTourism App, READ: 2017-18 Official Niseko App Launched!
(2) Public Transfer from Niseko to Sapporo: Ski Bus from Hokkaido Resort Liner (HRL) (₱1,893*/per person)
To find this service on KKday, all you need to search for is Niseko. It’s the only service that will come up. You can also type in 17956 to lead you directly to the product page.
Just like the chartered van, the default page is in Chinese so you need to translate it to English using your desktop.
Once translated, you’ll find all the details of the ski bus transfers from Hokkaido Resort Liner (HRL).
I’ve already taken this ski bus to/from Niseko and Sapporo back in 2016 – READ: An Early Winter Experience in Northern Japan: Exploring Niseko, Sapporo, & Otaru – and I still feel that this is the most economical and best transfer service you can purchase and experience if you’re planning a trip to Niseko.
Here are the ski bus options that you can book from KKday:
- New Chitose Airport to Niseko or vice versa [vv] (₱1,893*/per person)
- Sapporo to Niseko or vv (₱1,893*/per person)
- New Chitose Airport to Niseko and vv with cable car tickets (₱3,592*/per person)
- Sapporo to Niseko and vv with cable car tickets (₱3,592*/per person)
- Sapporo to Niseko to New Chitose Airport or vv with cable car tickets (₱3,871*/per person)
The last 3 packages are perfect for those who want to take day trips to Niseko.
After booking with KKday, you can also inquire about your bus tickets directly through HRL at email@example.com. Their CSRs are very responsive and accommodating to inquiries.
Even before KKday included this ski bus transfer on their platform, I already knew what kind of service I would experience from Hokkaido Resort Liner (HRL). This is one of the best bus travel services I’ve ever experienced! This service is just so convenient, affordable, and efficient.
I love everything about this service!
After the shuttle from our Niseko accommodation dropped us off outside the Hirafu Welcome Center, we immediately went inside and looked for any HRL point person. At the Welcome Center reception, we saw HRL’s booth and 2 men that wearing silver jackets that had Hokkaido Resort Liner on the back.
They were accommodating other guests that would be taking their service. When it was our turn to inquire, I just said my name to the man holding up a clipboard and we both started looking for my name through his list. When we found our name, he smiled, said Oh Irene-san!, and highlighted my name on the list.
He didn’t ask for any KKday online or paper voucher or our passport to verify.
He told us that we will be riding bus # 2 and to just wait around the center until we’re called for departure. We arrived at the Welcome Center at around 9:45 AM and our scheduled bus departure to Sapporo was at 10:00 AM.
After confirming the details with HRL, my mom and I just waited outside the Hirafu Welcome Center. We wanted to maximize the wee bit of time that we had left in Niseko. The view was great and the falling snow was still an amazing sight.
After a few minutes, the guy from the booth called us and announced that our bus will be departing soon. He pointed us to the bus at the parking area and another point person to follow. We got our luggage and walked to the bus. The point person told the driver my name, Irene-san, and smilingly took our luggage from us.
Ski buses from Niseko usually stop at specific hotels in Sapporo so I asked the HRL point person what stop order was our designated hotel – Sapporo Excel Hotel Tokyu, and he said it was the first stop.
The passengers on the bus were only me and my mom and another family of 4. It was very spacious. It felt like we had a private bus.
The bus was really clean and had the perfect temperature to combat the cold outside. The seats on the bus aren’t reserved so you can sit wherever you want.
If you want more leg room, there are a few rows of seats at the back that have more space but the normal seats on the rest of the bus are just fine.
I really love this ski bus!
The bus left the Hirafu Welcome Center at exactly 10:00 AM. The first announcement was in Japanese so we didn’t understand what the driver said.
Just like the chartered van ride from the New Chitose Airport to Niseko, this bus ride from Niseko to Sapporo was also breathtakingly scenic.
I didn’t want to sleep but the ride was so smooth that I drifted a few times.
The bus driver’s speed was the same all throughout the ride even if there were no other vehicles around. This is what I love about Japan!
They just value time so much that they always stick to it no matter what. They have calculated their speed to match the fixed time they depart and arrive. SOBRANG EFFICIENT!
This ski bus has 2 stopovers – 1 at Rusutsu ski resort & a 10 minute bathroom break or rest stop.
At the Rusutsu ski resort, the driver met a HRL point person outside the bus and helped with the passengers’ luggage. During this stop, around 5-6 pairs to groups boarded the bus. The transfer still felt spacious despite the additional passengers.
The winter views were really beautiful – snow-capped mountains, trees, structures, electrical wires, solar power panels, and many more.
I didn’t want the bus ride to end!
After an hour, the bus stopped at this establishment. I didn’t have to go to the bathroom so I didn’t go down but my mom did and she said that the bathroom smelled unpleasant.
The rest of the bus ride was uneventful but very pleasant. I really love this transfer! It was a great part of our travel itinerary.
Once we reached Sapporo city, the driver announced a few things again in Japanese but said our hotel in English so we started to prepare.
When we arrived at the hotel, the bus driver went down while I was waiting for my mom to gather her things. When we went down, we were surprised to find that both our luggage was out there already!
The driver memorized what our luggage was. It had no bag tags or names. This was really efficient as there were about 6-8 pairs to groups on this bus ride. Kudos to the driver for the attention to detail!
Can’t praise this service enough! ANG GALING TALAGA!
I definitely recommend this bus ride! If you’re visiting Niseko, book HRL through KKday! The rate on KKday and Hokkaido Resort Liner’s website is just the same or less depending on the exchange rate. If KKday has promo codes or discounts, definitely use KKday to purchase HRL ski bus tickets.
In summary, here are the things I liked about the ski bus transfer and a few points I feel neutral about the service:
*Prices as of February 10, 2018.
Our #KKdayPH transfers ended in Sapporo!
Here are a few #SapporoHighlights from our #Hokkaido2018 trip:
Although our bus stop was at Sapporo Excel Hotel Tokyu, we didn’t stay there while we were in the city.
Our hotel in Sapporo was just across the road.
At this cozy cabin themed accommodation, we were awed by its genuine and accommodating staff.
We also loved its quality rooms and amenities plus the coolest hangout at the top.
When we weren’t here, we were eating these amazing bowls of soft Wagyu beef and fresh seafood at Nijo Fish Market.
And being all tourist-y, walking through this snow path instead of the cleared sidewalk.
We were in Sapporo during the calm before the storm so we missed the sculptures at the Sapporo Snow Festival but my mom’s Badminton group were able to experience it during the event’s first day and were kind enough to share some photos.
Our #KKdayPH transfers did end in Sapporo but it also started our winter wonderland city experience in the heart of Hokkaido. More write-ups on Sapporo and amazing destinations in Hokkaido coming soon on Inspiring Grateful Travels! 😉
For more information, visit KKDAY or inquire at firstname.lastname@example.org
Be updated with promos, contests, & discounts by following KKDAY’s social media accounts:
NOTE: Philippine Peso amounts may vary depending on exchange rate. As of FEB 2018, $1 = ₱51.27 and ¥1 = ₱0.47
This is a sponsored write-up. My experiences with products & services may or may not be the same as yours. All opinions are inspired by my experiences & nothing else.