Recently, I had the opportunity to visit Hakone with Odakyu Railways to experience their new “One Day Tour” concept. Basically, it’s a kind of travel kit that helps visitors make the most of a day trip to Hakone, offering three model courses presented in a special guidebook, plus free transport on Odakyu buses, trains, boats cable cars and ropeways with the Hakone Freepass, discounted entrance tickets to attractions, as well as coupons for food and shopping.
Even if you want to stay longer, like I did, the Hakone Freepass lasts for two (or three) days so you can still get around cheaply the next day.
This trip was definitely one to remember! When you visit Japan, there is so much more to the busy city life in Tokyo. By just traveling one and a half hours away, you’re able to see beautiful mountains, soak in hot springs, and do so many fun outdoor activities (I’m pretty sure you can’t kayak on a lake in Tokyo!?) I had such a great time and will definitely be going back.
Here’s the lowdown of my trip as seen in the video. Most of the things I did are covered, or discounted, by the Hakone Freepass.
I started off at Shinjuku station and took the Romancecar to Hakone-Yumoto station. The ride was very comfortable and you can even turn the seats around on the train. You see lovely scenery on the short journey. Once I arrived, I went out on the first activity, Forest Adventure (discounted ¥300 with the Freepass). Now, I’m not good with heights, but I had such a fun time here! They had different courses to choose from; most are equipped with flying foxes and rope climbing. It’s also very family friendly as they have activities for little ones. The staff were awesome too.
Next stop was the Little Prince Museum, also cheaper with the Freepass (¥150-off), inspired by the famous children’s book. The place had lovely scenery and photo spots with a Parisian feel. Definitely a rare sight in Japan. Me and my friend were quite tired after that so we decided to go check into our hotel about a 20-minute bus ride away. For dinner we went to Gyoza Center, about a 10-minute walk from Gora station. We used the Hakone Tozan Cablecar to get to Gora station. Gyoza Center has a whole menu of different flavoured gyoza (dumplings) which were absolutely delicious after a day outdoors.
Our next day in Hakone, we set off to Yunessun Hot Springs Resort (here the Freepass gets you a ¥700 discount). After watching a video a while ago, I really wanted to visit this place. What’s unique is the range of hot springs they have. There’s a coffee bath, sake bath, wine bath, champagne bath and even a green tea bath! After that I took the bus back to Gora station and then took the cable car all the way to Sounzan station. From here you can take the Hakone Ropeway. The view is absolutely amazing. If you’re lucky you might be able to see Mount Fuji too. We took the ropeway all the way to Togendai station.
From Togendai station we were able to board the famous Lake Ashi Sightseeing Cruise. But first, we had lunch at the Togendai View Restaurant. If you booked the One Day Tour, you’ll receive a lunch voucher where you get one free meal and drink in exchange. They have a range of Japanese cuisine – I went for the tonkatsu (deep-fried pork cutlet). After lunch we headed to port for the boat to Hakonemachi-ko. The cruise was very relaxing; you are able to see really pretty views of the mountains. At Hakonemachi-ko, we had booked a kayaking tour around Lake Ashi. I’ve done kayaking in Australia before but this was my first time in Japan. We were able to freely kayak on the calm waters and take in the beautiful scenery.
Finally, after two days of outdoor activities, we took the bus back to Hakone-Yumoto, did some shopping at the station (saving some dollar bills with the coupons from the One Day Tour) and slept all the way back to Tokyo.
Odakyu Railways x Hakone One Day Tour x Hakone Freepass
When you go to the Odakyu Travel Center at Shinjuku, you get a small pack that comes with the following: round-trip train tickets from Tokyo to Hakone, free access to different transportation in Hakone with the Hakone Freepass, free lunch, a souvenir or cafe coupon plus a discount at Odakyu Department Store. The pack also comes with a tour guidebook which gives you information on three model courses that you can follow.
What do the model courses cover?
Odakyu have come up with three sample itineraries that you can use: the Hakone Shrine Course, the Hakone Checkpoint Course, and the Hakone Open-Air Museum Course. Some of the activities featured in each course overlap and they all need at least one trip on the ropeway, sightseeing cruise and cable car. Each course takes around 11 hours to do with the journey to/from Tokyo but since it’s unguided, you’re free to mix and match, add or take stuff out.
How can I get it?
Similar to the JR Pass, you have to book the One Day Tour from overseas. Australia Japan Holidays and America Iace Travel both sell the pack, which you’ll pick up when you get here. If you live in Japan you can still make use of the Hakone Freepass as well as the model courses. With the Hakone Freepass, you can get discounted rates at 55 affiliated places, ranging from museums to hot springs to baggage services to craft workshops. From Shinjuku, a 2-day pass is ¥5,140 and a 3-day pass is ¥5,640. Not a lot of people know that you can use the Freepass at all of these different spots; if in doubt, just show it and see what happens!
– This is a GaijinPot sponsored article by Kim Dao in collaboration with Odakyu Electric Railway.