Q1) Are all of HNT's tours private, or do you offer group tours as well?
At HNT, we specialize in private tours as we believe travelling with friends, family & loved ones allows for so many more memorable, unique and intimate moments. While shared tours with strangers can be great for new friendships and new opportunities while at the same time reducing the price per person, we know from our experience that travelling with your loved ones is truly unmatched in terms of lifelong, cherished memories and unforgettable experiences. Our private tours are for those who want to travel in a sense of luxury, with a caring guide to bring out the best of Hokkaido with intimacy, flexibility and privacy.
Q2) I'm a beginner at hiking/snowshoeing/dogsledding/etc., will I be able to handle the outdoors?
Since your tour with us is private, you will not be pressured into any activities and/or experiences that you don't feel comfortable with. One of the main benefits of private tours is a high degree of flexibility, so whatever your needs, our guides are ready to make any adjustments necessary to the tour plan for you to get the most out of your time with us. We always welcome our guests to make changes during the tour if so desired, and to openly communicate with us regarding any concerns and/or desired adjustments to the tour plan. Our top priorities are guest safety & fulfillment!
Q3) We are a group of 30 interested in a private tour in Hokkaido, can you arrange a tour for us?
There are no limits to group sizes for our tours, so whether you're planning a corporate getaway, a multi-generational family trip, a parent-child school trip, a tour agency members-group, or otherwise, we are ready to create & guide an unforgettable tour for you on a chartered, tour quality coaster van or bus.
Q4) what are HNT policies regarding coronavirus or other travel restrictions that may affect our tour?
With the unpredictability of international travel due to Coronavirus, we understand the need for greater flexibility while planning your trip to Hokkaido. As such, we are offering free tour postponements for any tours affected by international travel restrictions. Even if that means we need to cancel and/or re-book any activities and/or accommodations, or redesign your custom-made itinerary to better match updated travel dates, we will do so free-of-charge while remaining committed to your tour with us at a future date once travel restrictions ease.
Q5) Is hokkaido really cold in winter? Will i be able to handle the cold weather if i come from a tropical country?
We often get this question from first-time winter travellers who are concerned about being cold or perhaps falling ill due to cold temperatures while on a winter tour in Hokkaido. For us, we do not consider Hokkaido such a cold place, with daily minimum averages around -5 to -10 degrees Celsius in mid-winter, unlike our neighbor to the north which regularly experiences -20 degree minimums.
Even during mid-winter, winter caps, gloves, scarfs, jackets, underlayers and boots are more than sufficient to keep warm. Moreover, since your tour with us is a private tour, we can always retreat to the warmth of our tour vehicle, a nearby cafe or restaurant, or perhaps an impromptu hot springs bath if you get cold during a day's activities. Our guides are entrusted with your safety & comfort and will always keep an eye on you to ensure you're well taken care of throughout your tour with us.
Q6) I am planning to travel to Niseko and hope to start my tour from there. Is it possible to start or end my tour from various locations in hokkaido?
YES! We are completely flexible in terms of customizing tour itineraries to best match your travel plans, and can start and/or end tours at destinations across Hokkaido, including resort/airport/train station/Airbnb/etc. pick-up and/or drop-offs. Please let us know your travel details and we can offer various pick-up and/or drop-off options to best maximize your time in Hokkaido.
Q7) I'd like to visit hokkaido during the flower season? When is the best time to plan my trip?
Hokkaido's flower fields are justifiably famous and highly recommended, but the timing is crucial depending on the particular flowers of interest. For example, late April to early May is the best time for sakura (cherry blossoms), while late May to early June is ideal for tulips and pink moss phlox. The famous lavender fields of Furano & Biei are at their best (and most crowded) in mid-July, while Hokuryu's mesmerizing sunflower fields are in full bloom in early to mid August. Please contact us with any questions and we'll be happy to share our knowledge and expertise : ).
Q8) I'm interested in wildlife spotting tours and photography. Does HNT offer specialized tours?
Our team of local nature guides is comprised of enthusiastic, nature-loving guides who are excited to share our passions and knowledge of Hokkaido with guests from around the world. That said, each of us have different specializations, including mountain guiding, wildlife, photography, birdspotting, gourmet, history, culture & more. When assigning our guides, we make a concerted effort to best match our guides' talents & interests with yours. Since all of our guides are in-house and never-outsourced, we are very familiar with the strengths and weaknesses of each member of our team, and can thus make careful decisions when assigning tours to each of them. Other tour companies who hire outsourced guides from recruitment agencies can never have the level of familiarity and training that our in-house guides receive.
Moreover, we regularly arrange excursions with local specialized guides - for example local birdwatching or a national park's specialized guide - to further highlight a particular region, habitat or environment. We partner with many specialized guides from around Hokkaido, particularly in Eastern Hokkaido, and are proud to partake in sustainable tourism that directly benefits locals from towns & villages island-wide.
Q9) I will be travelling with an infant and 2 young children, can HNT organize a child-friendly tour? How about a tour for seniors with mobility issues?
Our tours at HNT are always private and can be customized according to your travel needs and preferences, and that includes creating & guiding tours for families with infants, young children, seniors or otherwise. We have planned & guided many tours for guests of all ages, and with our high degree of flexibility both in tour-planning and during the tours, we are able to adjust and ensure a stress-free, memorable Hokkaido experience for your family.
In the past, we have scheduled daily nap times for infants, earlier or later daily pick-up/drop-off times from hotels for families with young children, activities with minimal walking for seniors with mobility issues, alternate activities for guests who cannot participate in an activity for whatever reason, and many other arrangements (from marriage proposals to honeymoons!) to get the most out of your private tour with us. Please do not hesitate to ask us about any special arrangements that we can help with.
Q10) How do we pay for tours? what payment methods are available?
We currently offer 2 primary payment options: bank transfer & PayPal.
For bank transfers, you are welcome to pay directly via your bank's online banking, or in-person at your local bank branch. We're also planning on partnering with an online intermediary bank transfer service to offer an additional bank transfer payment option that may be easier for some of our guests.
Another payment method is via PayPal, which allows for instant payment confirmation via PayPal account balances or linked credit cards, and is the preferred payment method for many of our guests. Setting up a PayPal account and linking your credit/debit card is free & easy.
We are also planning on creating a direct credit card payment option on our website soon. This payment option will coincide with our new HNT Shop - an online shop with our recommended outdoor wear, food, Hokkaido crafts & beauty items - that we're looking forward to sharing with the world.