Under 2 hours away by train, this mountainous town is a popular day-trip from Tokyo.
Being in Hakone felt a lot like exploring Disneyland; think pirate ships, old trains that climb mountains and cable ropeways that hover over misty volcanic valleys. The diversity of landscape almost felt as though everything was carefully planned and sectioned out into the different worlds like in Disneyland.
Hakone to many locals is also a favourite weekend getaway; an onsen town with great views of Mount Fuji as well as old hiking paths lined with 400 year old cedar trees.
If that sounds like your kind of getaway — even if it’s just a quick detour from Tokyo — here’s our guide to a fuss-free day trip in Hakone.
Hakone Free Pass
This is the only pass you’ll need to cover all the key sights in Hakone. It comes in a 2-day (¥5140) and 3-day (¥5640) option and includes all the different transport needed to reach the main attractions as well as discounts on certain vendors.
You can order a Hakone Free Pass beforehand through Klook for S$62 and $68 for the 2 and 3 day pass respectively. If it’s your first time using Klook, use the promo code <TTIKLOOK> to enjoy $5 off your Hakone Free Pass!
After ordering, collect your pass from the Odakyu Sightseeing centre at Shinjuku station (8am – 6pm). No printouts needed. Just show the QR code from the Klook app.
If you’re wondering whether the pass is worth it’s value (convenience aside), check out our budget breakdown at the end of the post to find out.
Getting from Tokyo to Hakone
Budget Option via Odawara
Included in the Hakone Free Pass is the ride from Shinjuku to Odawara station (85mins) via the Odakyu Line. At Shinjuku station, show your Hakone Free Pass at the manned gantries to have it stamped.
From Odawara, transfer to the Hakone Yuzan train and get off at Hakone Yumoto Station; where your adventure begins!
Premium/Direct Option (Romance Car)
If you’d like to skip the transfer at Odawara, you can opt for the Romance car with a top up of ¥890 to your Hakone Free Pass. Those travelling with families or kids might prefer this option since it’s a direct train from Shinjuku to Hakone Yumoto station. The large windows in some of the trains are also better for sightseeing on the journey from Tokyo to Hakone.
March 2018 Update: Top up for the Romance Car now costs ¥1090 one-way (Shinjuku to Hakone-Yumoto station) instead of ¥890.
Hakone Day-Trip Itinerary
From Hakone-Yumoto station, all the main attractions can be covered in a circle around Hakone so there’s 2 ways around it. Most people take the anti-clockwise route starting from taking the Hakone Tozan train to Gora and ending at with a bus ride from Moto-Hakone. This route is ideal because the Hakone Ropeway that brings you to Owakudani closes at 4pm; but many places here close near 5pm anyway.
However if you’re looking to beat the crowds, you can try the clockwise route instead starting from the most iconic part of Hakone.
1) Hakone shrine & torii gate
One of the most iconic symbols of Hakone is the grand Torii gate that sits on the edge of Lake Ashinoko. In fact, it’s probably more famous than the shrine itself as it takes a bit of climbing to get to.
How to get there: From Hakone Yumoto, take the Hakone Tozan Bus to Moto-Hakone Boat Pier (35 minutes).
2) Ancient Cedar Avenue
One of the best preserved parts of old Hakone is this 500m path lined with tall cedar trees. It was the original path used during the Edo period where travellers mainly walked on foot between Tokyo and Kyoto.
If you love hiking, there’s a longer route (~1.5 hours) between Moto-Hakone and Hakone-Yumoto that passes by a 350 year old teahouse, Amazake-chaya whose family has been serving travellers since the Edo period.
How to get there: From Hakone Yumoto, it’s a 3 minutes walk (opposite direction of the Hakone Shrine). At the other end of the Cedar Avenue is the Old Tokaido Checkpoint.
3) Hakone Old Checkpoint Museum
Hakone used to be an important checkpoint along the Tokaido highway (connecting Kyoto and Tokyo). Although the structure is a reconstruction of the former Hakone Checkpoint, it’s location and style is a pretty accurate replica of the Edo period.
The checkpoint functions a lot like an immigration point so the wives of the lords don’t escape from Tokyo and that weapons aren’t brought in from Kyoto.
Entrance Fees: ¥500 (¥400 for Hakone Free Pass Holders)
Opening Hours: 9am – 5pm (Closes at 4:30pm from Dec – Feb)
4) Lake Ashinoko
Lake Ashinoko is the heart of Hakone and one of the 5 famous lakes in the Fuji-izu region. The best way to cross this is via a sightseeing cruise that leaves Moto-Hakone Boat Pier and arrives at the Togendai-ko station. The boat leaves about 1–2 times an hour so check the boat schedule to plan your trip.
A famous sight on the cruise is the floating Torri gate of the Hakone shrine as well as Mount Fuji on days when the skies are clear.
Cost: ¥1000 (Free for Hakone Free Pass Holders)
5) Owakudani — Valley of Hell
This was one of our favourite parts of Hakone. Although the weather was apparently one of the worse while we were there, the thick mist and cool air (which was appreciated since it was a hot summer day) gave the place a serene and dreamy atmosphere.
On a clear day, you’ll be able to spot a scenic view of Mount Fuji.
There is a hiking path that leads to the peak of Mount Kamiyama but because there’s been an increased activity of volcanic gases it was closed when we were there.
On that same path is also where you’ll spot the hot spring pools where the eggs are dipped in batches to cook. The shells turns black because of the reaction with sulphur in the water but are apparently safe to consume — in fact, believed to add 7 years to your life if consumed.
Honestly they don’t taste very different from regular eggs but can buy a set of 5 kuro-tamago (black hard boiled eggs) for ¥500.
Also try their tamago flavoured ice cream (¥350) which was absolutely delicious and Oden which is perfect for the chilly days.
Opening hours: 9am – 4pm (determined by the operation hours of the Hakone Ropeway)
How to get there: From Togendai-ko, take the Hakone ropeway up to Owakudani station (16 minutes). If you’re coming the other way around it’d be from Sounzan station (8 minutes).
6) Odawara Castle
Before returning to Tokyo, make a quick stop at Odawara to check out the 15th century castle — a famous spot for its cherry blossoms in late March to April.
Odawara Chirashi (小田原鱼河岸でん)
While you’re in Odawara, stop for dinner dinner at this Michelin Guide Chirashi place which serves a fresh chirashi don at a great value.
*Pro-tip: Add a bowl of Miso soup for ¥100 — comes in a medium sized bowl with a piece of fish in each and a good dose of dashi.
Cost: ¥880 – ¥24800 (Our bowl of “local fish” cost ¥1280)
Opening Hours: 11am – 10pm
Address: Japan, 〒 250 – 0011 Kanagawa Prefecture, Odawara, Sakaecho, 2 Chome – 3 – 4, Miyuki Building
Is the Hakone Free Pass worth a day trip from Tokyo?
The short answer is yes.
The longer answer? Here’s the homework done for you. Despite only using the 2-day Hakone Free Pass for a day trip, we saved a total of ¥1820 (~S$23) on top of saving the hassle of purchasing individual tickets. Definitely recommend getting one of these passes if you’re heading to Hakone from Tokyo.
|Mode of Transport||Cost|
|Shinjuku – Odawara||Odakyu Line||¥880|
|Odawara – Hakone Yumoto||Hakone Tozan Train||¥310|
|Hakone-Yumoto – Moto-Hakone||Hakone Tozan Bus Line H||¥1180|
|Moto-Hakone – Togendai-ko||Sight seeing cruise||¥1000|
|Togendai-ko – Owakudani||Hakone Ropeway||¥1050|
|Owakudani – Sounzan||Hakone Ropeway||¥840|
|Sounzan – Gora||Hakone Tozan Cable Car||¥420|
|Gora – Hakone Yumoto||Hakone Tozan Train||¥400|
|Hakone Yumoto – Odawara||Hakone Tozan Train||¥310|
|Odawara – Shinjuku||Odakyu Line||¥880|
Hope you found this Hakone Travel Guide useful! If it’s your first time ordering through Klook, use the promo code <TTIKLOOK> for $5 off your purchase.
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