Hakodate Cheapskate

Posing by the Hakodate Botanical Garden entrance

An aerial view of Goryokaku Park
Hakodate is one of the most popular tourist spots in Hokkaido, Japan. It is famous for delicious and fresh crab, shellfish, and other seafood delicacies. Locals and visitors also enjoy the bayside area and the spectacular star-shaped Goryokaku Park along with its tower that would let you view the beautiful landscape from the sky.  

I was assigned by my company to visit the city for a business trip. It was a random assignment so I didn't have time to prepare financially and the entire week would be solid work. Luckily it was a holiday on a Tuesday so I got a chance to get out and have a whole day for myself---on a tight budget!
I was worried that Hakodate would empty my wallet in seconds because of its touristy vibe, but I found ways to enjoy it without spending too much. 

This banner awaits you at the Hakodate Station platform entrance gate

Hakodate Station Hall
This beautiful view appears once you exit the station!


I took a couple of weeks to stay at Comfort Hotel shouldered by my company. For just a four-minute walk from Hakodate Station, it is accessible enough for tourists whether in a hurry or have the entire holiday to relax. My 12-day assignment fell on a low-peak season, so a single occupancy rate costs about 4,000 yen a night (about 37 USD). Like other business hotels across the nation, Comfort Hotel caters small-sized rooms that may not be "comfortable" enough for foreign tourists. The double-sized bed, work desk, mini cooler, and cupboard are squeezed into a tiny room, as well as the bathroom that includes a toilet, sink, and shower. But to be fair, all the rooms are properly-sanitized, non-smoking, and noise-free. Toilets have built-in bidet (but we expect this in Japan anyway). There are vending machines on the 2nd floor and 9th floor, and a 24-hour service laundry area, also on the 2nd floor. Plus, a healthy delicious buffet breakfast is included in all booked accommodations. The lounge cafe is available to guests from 2pm to 12 midnight and a strong wifi signal is accessible to the lounge and all rooms.

The room is so tiny but to be fair, the double-sized bed is spacious enough for a comfortable night's sleep!

Working desk and personal dining area

The bathroom and toilet. So clean!

I especially appreciate the general service of this hotel. The staffs are cheerful and ready to assist you anytime. There are five parking spaces for 500 yen (4.66 UD) a day, but there's also a 24-hour car park nearby that costs the same amount.

Vending machines and laundry services located on the 2nd floor.

Delicious daily breakfast buffet included in your accommodation

Comfort Hotel - Hakodate 
Address: 〒 040 - 0063 Hokkaidō Hakodate-shi Wakamatsu-chō 16 − 3
Location:  ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Accommodation: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Food: ⭐⭐⭐✪
Budget: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Ramen Tsutsuiken

On my first night after putting my stuff in my room, I checked out nearby restaurants via Google Map. There were several interesting dine-ins around, but I had to choose what was interesting and fit for my budget. Finally, I decided to hit Ramen Tsutsuiken ラーメン津つ井軒, a ramen restaurant just across the street near 7-eleven. I ordered the osusume or recommended dish, grilled green onion spicy miso ramen. For 900 yen, this dish was served in a huge bowl. The spice and rich flavors are oozing in my mouth. The restaurant may be a tiny space but is a popular stop for foreign tourists.

Recommended: Grilled Green Spicy miso--perfect for the cold season!

Their menu has a tourist-friendly price!

I didn't take out a lot of bills from my wallet, honestly; especially that the company suddenly extended my stay. My business trip was supposed to be only six days, but an emergency came along and I needed to check in for 5 more days. They did give me some budget, but because eating in restaurants could cost me a fortune I decided to check out the nearby supermarkets and convenience stores to spare some cash in case of emergency. I bought instant noodles at 7-eleven and some ready-made barbeque at Family Mart.

Eat out at the supermarket 

Max Valu Supermarket

You can enjoy eating at the second floor comfortably!
Now what I love about Hakodate city is the Max Valu supermarket. It's just an 8-minute walk from Comfort Hotel. I bought my favorite chips and drinks, and even ready-made lunches located near the vegetable section. There's a large selection of mouth-watering delicacies from sushi, barbeque, and salads; to pizza, pasta, and sandwiches. After paying them at the cashier you can relax at the lounge on the 2nd floor and enjoy eating your food there. The area is spacious and cozy, and a couple of microwave ovens and vending machines are available. There's also fast wi-fi signal available.

Vending machines, free hot water and ice, and microwave oven service free of charge

Dining area on the 2nd floor. You can stay here as long as you want!

Ramen Tsutsuiken
Address: 7-11 Wakamatsucho, Hakodate, Hokkaido 040-0063
Rate: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Max Valu Supermarket 
Address: 25-番1号 Wakamatsucho, Hakodate, Hokkaido 040-0063
Rate: ⭐⭐⭐⭐


Hakodate Bay Area 
It may be an 11-day stay in Hakodate, but I was there for work and not a holiday so I carefully planned my leisure activities. Unfortunately, it was still winter and the winds were freezing. Luckily, some days were warm and fit for walking. I took that opportunity by visiting the Kanemori Red Brick Warehouse in the afternoon. A 16-minute stroll from the hotel wasn't that bad. In fact, the view of the water and ferries are already eye-candy. There were also seagulls and pigeons flying in the horizon, adding a romantic vibe. This is one of the highlights of Hakodate City as you can enjoy sightseeing, shopping, and dining all in one place.

Kanemori Red Brick Warehouse

Hakodate Tropical Botanical Garden 
Early in the morning, I visited the Hakodate Tropical Botanical Garden where I could see the hot-tubbing snow monkeys. The botanical garden was just beside it. From there you can see plants that don't typically grow in Hokkaido such as banana trees, palm trees, and cacti. It's been a while since I've seen a banana tree in my life! There were also tropical flowers and some animals. It was a good stopover but I wouldn't want to stay longer than an hour due to the humid and (quite) smelly atmosphere. The one-day pass costs 300 yen (about 3 USD) for adults. It's a 13-minute drive by car and 44 minutes by train (250 yen one way). Just take the Hakodate City Tram 2 at Hakodate Ekimae Station and stop at Yunokawa Onsen Station, then take a walk for 11 minutes to get to the place.

A cute stand banner from the Botanical Garden entrance

The main building

Snow monkeys enjoying the bath

Seafood Market Walks
One of the exciting experiences in Hakodate is tasting the fresh morning catch in the seafood markets. These stores are everywhere across the beautiful city, but you can also find a lot of them just beside the station. If you got the bucks for it, the better. But if your wallet is not prepared for it, you can still enjoy by just walking around and be awed by the gigantic seafood. 

Kanemori Red Brick Warehouse
Address:14-12 Suehirocho, Hakodate, Hokkaido 040-0053
Google Map: https://goo.gl/maps/tqw3kY1HX8KFQUNJA
Rate: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Hakodate Tropical Botanical Garden
Address: 3 Chome-1-番15号 Yunokawacho, Hakodate, Hokkaido 042-0932
Google Map: https://goo.gl/maps/aLzV4S4pLnKSD47i9 
Rate: ⭐⭐⭐

On my last business day, I enjoyed not just the tour, but also working with the teachers and playing with the kids at the schools. I have to admit, I was quite sad when I returned home in Sapporo. I learned a lot and discovered more things while I was there. It was amazing too, knowing that you don't have to be rich or bring lots of money to enjoy Hakodate. There are many ways to have fun and bring beautiful memories, cheapskate style!



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