Whatever you do plan your trip to Hakone! Do not follow in my chaotic footsteps and just hop on a train one morning and expect to get the most for your yen. You can read about why Hakone cost me more than it should have right here. Learn from my mistakes people…it’s what this page is all about. Regardless of if you planned it or not, Hakone remains one of the most stunningly beautiful areas of Japan and it will remain so with or without you, so don’t miss out on creating this memory! So without further ado here is my break down on all things Hakone.
When to go:
Winter is probably the least desirable time of year to visit as the colours aren’t as bright and leaves have started to go brown. Early in the Winter season you will still get the Autumn colours, but there’s a fine timeline between Autumn colours and missing it completely.
Summer it will be incredibly hot, but also incredibly green. Thankfully, Hakone has a lot of places to sit and admire from the shade of trees.
Spring you will see the cherry blossoms littered throughout the mountain sides and it will be gorgeous, but also the most popular time for everyone else to visit.
Autumn would be glorious due to the famous Japanese leaves changing colours for winter, but also quite a popular time of year for visitors.
This one is important and it’s where I made my mistakes. First, you need to decide how long you want to be in Hakone, as it has a lot to offer you. If you wish to do a day trip, then the Hakone Free Pass probably isn’t the best option, however, if you want to stay there a few days then it’s easily the best option open to you. I will say that the Hakone Free Pass is a great option for the day trip as well, but it will depend on what you do – for example if you do the round course then you will save a decent amount, but if you only go halfway and return it wouldn’t be feasible.
Hakone Free Pass:
A 2 day pass from Shinjuku Station will set you back 5,140 Yen.
A 2 day pass from Odawara station will set you back 4,000 yen.
Non-Hakone Free Pass
Regular Train – Shinjuku station to Hakone-Yumoto Station will set you back 1,090 Yen and you will have to transfer at Odawara Station (don’t worry, that is as simple as stepping out and walking forward for 1 minute).
Romance Car Option – If you wish to travel in a little more style with a slightly better view then you can take the Romance Car option and this will set you back 2,080 yen total. You will not have to transfer at Odawara Station if you choose the Romance Car.
Hakone Tozan Railway: 400 yen one way from Hakone-Yumoto to Gora Station
Hakone Tozan Cable Car: A one way ticket from Gora to Sounzan station will cost you 420 yen; this is part of the classic round course, and links Gora to the rope way.
Hakone Rope-way: A one way rope-way trip from Sounzan to Lake Ashi will set you back 1,370 Yen. This is without a doubt my favourite thing about Hakone!
Lake Ashinoko : A one way trip from Togendai pier (Rope-way final stop) to Moto-Hakone dock will set you back 1,000 yen.
Buses: I only took the bus once in Hakone and that was from Moto-Hakone dock to Odawara Station and it set me back 380 yen.
Everything is accessible in Hakone by Bus, but if you want to experience this beautiful area properly I’d recommending following the round course. You just don’t get the same experience from a bus. If you do wish to forgo any of these stages you can find bus information here and here.
Onsen: I did not partake in visiting an onsen while in Hakone, but I have heard nothing but rave reviews from everyone else that did! The area is famous for them and many hotels actually have their own. If you do have the time to spend then definitely don’t miss this chance, I know I regret it.
Time: If you are doing a day trip it is highly recommended you leave early in the morning from Shinjuku station. Not only to get everything done without rushing, but also to avoid that disgusting rush hour period that Tokyo experiences mid morning. Hakone is truly stunning and it’d be a waste if you arrived late and missed out on really seeing and experiencing it.
Things to do: There are tonnes of things to do in between each of all the round course stops! You can find all of them listed on this page and plan your own experience accordingly.
I hope this helps you navigate your way around one of Japan’s more idyllic locations. It is definitely a do not miss so get packing!
As always you can find me on:
My brand new Facebook page: Mistakes&Adventures
Thanks for reading!