Drift Ice in Hokkaido

Hi Travel Buddies,

Hokkaido has always been one of the top destinations come to our mind whenever someone asks us for suggestion where to go for a unique winter holiday.

If you decide to travel to Hokkaido during winter, make sure you go for the ice-breaking cruise to tour the Okhotsk Sea, which will be filled with drift ice (also known as “Ryuhyo”) around late January to March every year.  If you are lucky, you may be able to spot seals relaxing on the ice.

There are 2 drift ice sightseeing boats in Hokkaido:
1) Aurora-gou at Abashiri (3300 yen/adult) or go slightly further north to 2) Garinko-gou at Monbetsu (3000 yen/adult).  However, do note that the cruise only operates when weather permits (depending on the current and wind direction on the day).

You can also take the tram service (“Ryuhyo Norokko”) between Abashiri and Shiretoko-Shari for 810 yen per  adult.  We watched in a TV travel programme that the train is equipped with a stove as a heater.  Passenger can purchase dried fish and cuttlefish onboard the train and grill them on the stove while enjoy the panaromic view of drift ice onshore the Sea of Okhotsk.

Another must-try is probably the Drift Ice Walk at Shari Town.  For 5000 yen, you can put on a dry suit to walk on the drift ice for a once in a lifetime opportunity.  The entire tour tour should last for around 90 minutes.

Lastly, do not miss the Okhotsk Ryuhyo Museum at the top of Mt. Tento-zan, a suburb of Abashiri where you can get a simulated drift ice experience in a room.  We experienced that when we were there in summer in 2007. 😛  You can also get a chance to see the cute little Clione, also known as angel fish, which are normally attached to the drift ice.

So when is the best time to view the drft ice?  Mid to late February is probably a good time to visit, so you can start planning now for a memorable trip at the winter wonderland in Hokkaido! 🙂

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