After Kawaguchi-ko, Hakone is surely one of the most visited region to see the Mt. Fuji scenery and for this trip I chose to have a one day trip. After learning pretty much from my previous trip to Kawaguchi-ko, I tried to get more prepared for this trip (even though it is not as perfect as I expected it to be), I want to share a bit for you guys so you won’t make the same mistake as I heehee.
What to Wear (in Spring)
Spring looks like pretty tricky for us (especially for tourists from a tropical country.. like me) to decide which proper clothes to wear. At morning to noon, it’s relatively warm but getting colder with much wind in the afternoon, and the temperature in Hakone is usually more colder by 2 or 3 degrees than Tokyo. So, I suggest you to dress a little warmer, maybe using long sleeves sweater and spring coat/puff jacket for the outer. It is important to bring scarves if you’re planning to ride the pirate ship around the lake (as it is very windy aboard).
There are many ways to go to the Hakone area, some provided with the Hakone Freepass, some don’t. For train, there are two option that you can choose; Limited Express Romancecar or the regular train. The cheapest way is by buying the Hakone Freepass as they also provided the regular train ticket from and to Shinjuku station. But the fastest and most comfortable I could say is by the Limited Express Romancecar, because you’ll get the reserved seat onboard while on regular train you probably won’t get seat for the 2 hours travel to the Hakone-Yumoto station as by the Limited Express train it will take only about 1,5 hours. The only disadvantage is that Limited Express Romancecar quite expensive as it costs extra 1090 yen one way from Shinjuku station (but if you seek more comfort and faster trip I suggest to buy this Limited Express train ticket).
Another option you can choose is by using Odakyu Highway Bus also from Shinjuku Station, but it costs more than trains (about 2000 yen one way), and take at least 2 hours to Hakone.
First, what is Hakone Freepass? Hakone Freepass is like a discount pass which provides unlimited use of Odakyu buses, trains, boats, cablecars and ropeways in the Hakone area and also provides some discounted admission to selected tourist attractions. Similar with Kawaguchi-ko Bus Pass, Hakone Freepass also offer 2-days and 3-days pass, and each costs 5140 and 5640 yen, if you’re buying at the Odakyu Sightseeing Center in Shinjuku Station (included the round trip regular train ticket from and to Shinjuku Station). You can also buy the pass inside the Hakone area (e.g. Odawara Station), exclude the round trip to Shinjuku Station for 4000 yen and 4500 yen each for the 2-days and 3-days pass.
What to Do?
If you’re already have the Hakone Freepass, I suggest you to ride every free transportation mode, as you can also enjoy the Fuji sceneries. So, here are the little snippets from my trip while using the Hakone Freepass as maximum as I can hehe.
Hakone Tozan Railway
Hakone Tozan Railway will take you from Hakone Yumoto Station to Gora Station, but you can also drop at midway to visit several attraction like Hakone Open Air Museum (it’s very recommended for art lover, unfortunately I didn’t drop by there as I have so little time). This railway will take you at least 30 minutes to the Gora Station, and you can exchange to the Tozan Bus Line to go to several attraction in Hakone area or Tozan Cable Car to the Sounzan Station and continue riding the Hakone Ropeway to the Lake Ashinoko.
Before arriving to the Lake Ashinoko, Hakone Ropeway will transfer in Owakudani Station and if you’re interested, you should go outside the station and see the views of the rising volcanic fumes sceneries, before going to straight to the Togendai Station (Lake Ashinoko).
Arriving at the Togendai Station, you can choose to transfer to the Tozan Bus Line and go to several area in Hakone or ride the pirate ship to see the view of Mt. Fuji (if you’re lucky with nice weather and clear sky, because I’m not huhu), and the beautiful Lake Ashi. There are 2 stop on the way, but you can also ride a round trip back to Togendai Station and it will take you about 1 hour (please check the time schedule first).
Gotemba Premium Outlet
The next popular destination (for Indonesian, especially) is Gotemba Premium Outlet! After finishing your trip in Lake Ashinoko, you can ride the route W bus to the Gotemba Station and it will take you at least 30 minutes ride (it’s free with the Hakone Freepass), then ride the shuttle bus to the Gotemba Premium Outlet (it’s also free, no need to show the Hakone Freepass).
PS : I accidentally found this crepes stall and tried the Cacao Crepe with Banana Chocolate and its unexpectedly good! Worth to try while resting your feet after a lot of shopping!
There are three ways to go to back to Shinjuku Station, by regular train, Limited Express Romancecar or by bus, all are departing at Gotemba Station. You can use your Hakone Freepass to ride the regular train from the Gotemba Station, but for me, I was too exhausted and thinking that I have to experience 2 hours train ride with regular bench seat and several transits are definitely not my choice. So, decided to spend extra cost about 1740 yen to ride the Expressway Bus straight to the Shinjuku Station (I know I should have ride the Romancecar, but bus was the fastest way as it’s already there, lucky me haha). It was 2 hours ride to the Shinjuku Station as there were quite traffic that day.
So, yeah that was my one day trip to Hakone and Gotemba, but there are several thing to notice before you’re going to Hakone (learning from my experience) :
- Check the weather before, make sure there will be nice weather with clear sky. Because I’ve been to the Fuji area twice, and not being able to see the Mt. Fuji even once…
- Before buying the Hakone Freepass, I suggest you to decide your itinerary first. For a one day trip itinerary, you can follow my itinerary above and it will be quite efficient by buying the Hakone Freepass. But, if you want a simpler transportation ride, by bus or just make a round trip to Lake Ashi, buying Hakone Freepass will be much more expensive.
- So, one thing for sure, riding all the transportation to the Hakone (especially to the Lake Ashi) is quite exhausting and takes too much time. For me, because I started quite late, I go to straight to the Lake Ashi without resting even once, from Shinjuku-Hakone Yumoto-Gora (take a 30 minutes rest to have lunch)-Souzan-Owakudani-Togendai-Boat Tour-Gotemba Station, and it is verryyy exhausting. I spend at least 3 hours to make it to the Lake Ashi. So, make sure you start earlier (I think an 8 AM train from Shinjuku Station will be enough), to have more relaxing trip.
- To explore most of Hakone (with the Gotemba Premium Outlet trip), I think one day is surely not enough, counting on the trip to each attraction.
That’s all guys! Sorry for the lonnnngggg posts as I want to share most information and my experience about Hakone. If you are visiting Hakone, and want to share more about Hakone, feel free to comment me. Hoping to hear from you soon, wanderers!