New Chitose Airport
New Chitose Airport (CTS) is the largest international and domestic airport on Japan’s north island of Hokkaido and as such, the main point of entry and departure for most international visitors. On this page you will find the following information:
The airport is located approximately 50km to the south-east of Sapporo Station, with train services taking between 35 to 40 minutes or 60 minutes drive. Train services operate throughout the day making it the easiest way to move to and from the airport – see below for details.
As of 2018, New Chitose Airport ranked as the fifth busiest airport in Japan while air route from Tokyo Haneda Airport to New Chitose ranks as the second busiest in the world. This reflects the fact that flying to and from Hokkaido is a convenient and popular option given the distance at which it lies from major urban centres such as Tokyo, Yokohama, Kyoto and Osaka. For visitors heading to the ski resorts of Hokkaido, there’s a high chance that you’ll do so via New Chitose Airport with some airlines operating winter-only services to cover demand.
Both Japan’s major carriers – All Nippon Airways (ANA) and Japan Airlines (JAL) operate from New Chitose Airport to destinations all over the country while international carriers including Air China, AirAsiaX, Asiana Airlines, Cathay Pacific, China Eastern Airlines, EVA Air, Jetstar, Korean Air, Philippine Airlines and Thai Airways operate regular services to destinations throughout Asia and beyond. Singapore Airlines and Qantas also operate seasonal services to New Chitose.
ENTERING & EXITING JAPAN: ESSENTIAL INFO
New Chitose Airport is Japan’s fifth busiest airport. As such, it is the entry and departure point for many international visitors. Our ‘Entering & Exiting Japan’ page has useful information including visa requirements, clearing immigration and customs and things to take care of while at the airport. For further essential travel information, see our ‘Plan Your Visit’ main page.
Given the continued impact of COVID-19 on global travel, it is important to stay up-to-date with the latest news and requirements. Our ‘Who Can Enter Japan & What’s Required’ page includes information about who can enter, whether you need to quarantine and vaccination passports. For other essential information including the latest COVID and vaccination numbers from Japan, see our ‘Clean Green & Healthy’ main page.
TRAIN SERVICES TO / FROM THE AIRPORT
Rapid services run from the airport to Sapporo Station, taking between 35 to 40 minutes between the two and costing JPY1150 one-way. Services operate every 15 minutes from around 05:50 until 22:00, with a slightly longer and more expensive route also connecting the airport and Sapporo Station via Minami-Chitose Station – taking 45 minutes / JPY1780. Given the extra cost of that route and need to transfer at Minami-Chitose, we don’t recommend using it unless you have a reason to. For most visitors, using a rapid service from/to the airport and Sapporo Station will be your best option. All services are covered by the JR Pass. Rapid services have six carriages of which five have non-reserved seating. Car No.4 on each service has reservation-only seats, costing an additional JPY530, and offer more space and larger luggage storage – a good option if you’re carrying oversized gear such as skis or a snowboard.
EXCHANGING & ACTIVATING A JR PASS
Holders of the Japan Rail (JR) Pass will need to exchange/activate that pass before using it. You do so by exchanging the order/proof of purchase you received online. This can be done a numerous JR Pass Exchange Offices found at any major train station or airport including New Chitose Airport. You can do so at:
— JR Information Desk: 08:30 to 19:00
Passes can also be exchanged/activated at these offices in/around Sapporo Station:
— JR Information Desk: 08:30 to 19:00 (18:00 on weekends & holidays)
— JR Travel Service Center (Twinkle Plaza) Sapporo Branch: 10:00 to 18:00
— JR Travel Service Center (Twinkle Plaza) South Exit Branch: 11:00 to 19:00
To exchange/activate your pass you will need your exchange order and passport. Make sure you allow adequate time to exchange and activate your pass if you are intending to use it on the same day or do so a day or two before you plan to start using it (you can always nominate a later activation date).
Once you have your activated pass you are free to ride however you can’t insert your pass into the ticket gates. Simply walk through the side booth (permanently attended by station staff) and show your pass. You will be waved through and you can make your way to the platform. For full details, refer to our Japan Rail (JR) Pass page.
BUS SERVICES TO / FROM THE AIRPORT
Limousine buses also operate from the airport to Sapporo including stops at Sapporo Station and several hotels in the central area of the city. Operated by the Hokkaido Chuo Bus and Hokuto Kotsu companies, there are multiple services throughout the day with both companies charging a flat-rate JPY1100 one-way. It is therefore cheaper than using the train but takes notably longer, around 80 minutes depending on which stop you choose to disembark or embark from in Sapporo. However, one advantage of using the bus is that different services include stops at major hotels including ANA Crowne Plaza Hotel, Sapporo Gran Hotel, Sapporo Prince Hotel, Keio Plaza Hotel Sapporo and others, making it a convenient option when staying at any of those. Bookings can be made online through either companies website or should you be staying at a hotel serviced by one of the buses, through your hotel reception.
GETTING TO THE HOKKAIDO SKI RESORTS
For visitors heading to the ski resorts directly from the airport, express buses run to all of the most popular resorts including Niseko, Rusutsu, Kiroro, Furano and Tomamu with the option of renting a car while at the airport and driving yourself – a great option if you want to head to more than one resort while in Hokkaido. For more information about how to get to each resort from the airport and other starting points, see our ‘How to Get to the Hokkaido Ski Resorts’ page.
New Chitose Airport has multiple car rental companies including Budget Rent-A-Car, Nippon Rent-A-Car, Nissan Rent-A-Car, Times Car Rental and Toyota Rent-A-Car. Vehicle types and prices vary by company but prices are competitive. The process of renting a car in Japan is easy. We recommend booking online prior to arriving in Japan and arranging a vehicle and unless you have decent spoken Japanese, making sure to request a vehicle with English or other foreign language navigation system. To rent a car in Japan, you must:
— be 18 years of age or older,
— and have a valid Japanese drivers license, or
— have a valid drivers license in your home country and a valid international drivers license*
It is important to note that if you do not have a Japanese drivers license, you cannot drive in Japan unless you are also carrying a valid international license – even if you have a valid license in your home country. To obtain one, you will need to apply and have it issued before traveling to Japan. The process and cost varies by country so check with your local/national automotive association for further details. For more information about driving in Japan, see our ‘Moving Around Japan: Using Trains, Buses, Planes or Drive Yourself’ page.
*Nationals of Belgium, Estonia France, Germany, Monaco, Switzerland and Taiwan are not eligible for an international drivers license. Agreement between those countries and Japan means that those nationals can drive in Japan on the drivers license issued in their home country as long as they are also carrying an official Japanese translation of it.
ACCOMMODATION IN & AROUND THE AIRPORT
Travelers headed to New Chitose Airport will find two inside the airport itself and a concentration of hotels around Chitose Station – only 7 minutes by train. For those wanting to stay inside the airport, the high-end Portom International Hokkaido and mid-range Air Terminal Hotel offer unmatched convenience with price notably cheaper for accommodation, mostly Western-style business hotels, in the area around Chitose Station. For more information including accommodation listings, see our ‘New Chitose Airport Area’ hotel page.
HOKKAIDO SKI RESORTS: THE STATS & FACTS
Blessed with the longest seasons in Japan and huge annual snowfall, the ski resorts of Hokkaido rank among the best in Asia and enjoy some of the best powder in the world. The combined resorts of Niseko United are the largest and most popular ski fields in Hokkaido, while nearby Rusutsu and Kiroro attract plenty of fans in their own right. Rounding things-out, Furano and Tomamu lie further inland and receive slightly less snow but that bit of extra distance from the coast only means the powder is even drier, with some people claiming these resorts enjoy the best powder in the world. Our ‘Hokkaido Ski Resorts’ page has you covered for everything you need to know about each – a great place to start when planning your next winter adventure in Hokkaido.
PLAN YOUR VISIT TO JAPAN
For some international visitors, New Chistose Airport will be their point of entry when arriving in Japan but as we all know, your trip begins long before your get here as you plan your adventure in this wonderful country. Our ‘Plan Your Visit’ page has everything you need to know about visiting Japan – from tips on the best time to travel, times to avoid, entering and exiting the country, money matters, staying connected, accommodation, staying safe and healthy and plenty more to ensure that you get the most out of your time here.