Hokkaido tops Lonely Planet’s Best in Asia list
Global travel authority Lonely Planet has named Japan’s Hokkaido prefecture as the top destination in Asia to visit in 2016 as part of its inaugural ‘Best in Asia’ list.
Hokkaido is famed for its skiing and snow; the country’s northernmost island known as the powder capital of Japan. The destination also offers more than just wintertime fun, with volcanoes, natural hot springs to explore and in early May, stunning cherry blossoms bloom as a prelude to a diverse summer landscape of flower and lavender fields.
Hokkaido’s ease of accessibility from Tokyo is set to cement the destination on traveller’s itineraries, with an array of domestic flight options and the recently opened Hokkaido Shinkansen (bullet train) linking Japan’s capital with the city of Hakodate, on the southern tip of the region in just over four hours.
JNTO (Japan National Tourism Organization) Sydney Office Executive Director Mariko Tatsumi says: “We are very proud to be at the top of this fantastic list. Japan is a hot destination right now for Australian travellers and this accolade only reinforces that.”
“In compiling our Best in Asia 2016 list,” Lonely Planet’s Chris Zeiher says, “our Asia-expert authors have explored the continent’s most electrifying cities, trekked through steaming jungles and even swum in bountiful seas to seek out the spots you simply cannot afford to miss.”
Japan is more popular than ever, latest statistics released by ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) showing visitor numbers to Japan saw a 22.5% increase in visitation for the period of Jan-May 2016 year-on-year.
For travel inspiration and advice, see JNTO’s social media channels instagram.com/visitjapanau and facebook.com/VisitJapanAU. Lonely Planet’s Best in Asia 2016 is available online at lonelyplanet.com/best-in-asia.
5 reasons why you should be visiting Hokkaido
- Near the dormant volcano of Mt. Yotei, lies Niseko. Known for its quality and consistent light, powdery snow – the result of Siberian winds interacting with moisture from the Sea of Japan.
- 50 kms off the coast of Hokkaido lies Rebun Island in the Sea of Japan. The island features an abundance of rare alpine flowers, green spaces, and striking coastline.
- Known best for its snow-capped peaks, Niseko is in fact a top autumn destination in Hokkaido. With lakes, hiking trails and hot springs to explore, and even golf and canoeing.
- Jigokudani in Noboribetsu gets its ‘hell valley’ namesake from the bubbling steam vents and streams that dot the area. In summer, Thursday and Friday nights see a ‘demon’s fireworks’ display, complete with dancing Yukijin demons along the edge of the valley.
- Lake Toya is a volcanic caldera lake in Shikotsu-Toya National Park. Nearby Mt. Usu is one of the most active volcanoes in Japan, its most recent eruption in 2000.