As part of their Best in Asia awards, Lonely Planet named Hokkaido, Japan, the top destination in Asia.
Hokkaido, Japan’s second-largest but least developed main island, beat out more well-known destinations such as Tokyo, Bangkok, and Beijing.
Snow-capped mountains for skiers and snowboarders, as well as hot springs, volcanoes, and cherry blossoms make Hokkaido a popular year-round destination for visitors.
Continue reading to find out why your next trip should be to Hokkaido.
Sapporo is Hokkaidō’s capital, as well as its largest city. Odori Park sits in the middle of the city, separating its north and south sides.
Odori is a Japanese word that means “large street.” The park is popular among locals because it provides excellent views of the city’s TV tower.
Odori hosts the Sapporo Snow Festival during the winter months.
For a large city, Sapporo receives a lot of snow.
During the winter, temperatures drop to dangerously low levels.
The Okurayama ski jump stadium, located on Mount Okura, is also located in the city.
The observation deck on Mount Okura offers breathtaking views of the sprawling city below.
Sapporo is best known for its beer, which bears the same name as the city. The brewery is open to the public.
History buffs should visit the Hokkaido Jingu, or shrine, in Sapporo.
The port city of Otaru, which is home to the Otaru Canal, is only a 30-minute drive from Sapporo.
The canal, which was used to unload boats and ships in the early 1900s, was eventually restored, and its warehouses were converted into museums, restaurants, and shops.
Hakodate is another must-see city on Hokkaido. Hike up the Hachiman Zaka slope for views of the city’s port.
The Goryokaku Tower also offers breathtaking views of Hakodate.
Here’s a view of Hakodate from the tower.
Hakodate is known for its super-fresh seafood due to its location as a port city.
The Hakodate food market, which opens at 5 a.m. and has over 300 stalls, is where you’ll find a lot of the city’s delectable seafood.
You’ll come across some king crabs…
…which make for a great meal.
Hakodate is an excellent location for viewing some of Japan’s stunning sakura, or cherry blossoms.
Flowers are even more abundant at Farm Tomita in Furano. The city is well-known for its vast lavender fields.
Niseko’s Grand Hirafu Ski Resort is a must-see for skiers and snowboarders.
Mount Ytei, an inactive volcano, is visible from the resort’s groomed slopes.
Volcanoes can be found all over Hokkaido. This is Mount Rishiri, which forms Rishiri Island in the Sea of Japan.
Mount Asahi-Dake, located in Daisetsuzan National Park, is Hokkaido’s tallest peak.
Daisetsuzan National Park is Japan’s largest.
There are also a lot of hot springs in the area.
Jigokudani in Noboribetsu is also known as Hell Valley. Through the springs is a wooden walkway.
Jigokudani’s colors are especially vibrant in the fall.
Visit the Shakotan Peninsula Cape, which lies along the Sea of Japan and includes the picturesque Cape Kamui, for rugged coastlines.
If you want to see some of the creatures that live in this diverse region of Japan, go to the Asahiyama Zoo in Asahikawa.