Airports are usually boring, sterile places, but not the New Chitose Airport. Hokkaido’s recently revamped airport is a destination all on its own. It’s more like a giant shopping mall with planes outside. I mean, how many airports in the world can boast a proper movie theater?
Tip: Save all your souvenir shopping for the airport on your way back – the enormous selection here beats any shop you’ll find in the city, and you won’t have to lug all that stuff around for the whole trip.
There are enough interesting things to do here to fill up an entire day in your itinerary. We recommend planning ahead to give yourself some time to check out at least a few of them. Best is to head to the airport 3-5 hours earlier on your way back to shop around and check out a few of the attractions.
Here are the 6 best things to do at this really cool airport:
1. Snack on fresh-fried potato chips at Calbee Plus
Calbee makes some darn good potato snacks, and if you love the ones that come in a bag, wait ‘till you try them fresh from the fryer with a fancy topping like sour cream or chocolate – bliss! The first of these popular concept stores opened in Harajuku Tokyo in 2011, and the lines are often long – here’s your chance to get your hands on some without all the hassle, right at the airport in Sapporo. Head to west side of the domestic terminal building on the 2nd floor to give yourself a lip-smacking treat.
There’s also the Calbee Showroom on the 4th Floor that features a mini theater showing how those delicious potato chips are made. And when you’re done, you can pick up some cute merchandise and Sapporo exclusive variants of your favorite Calbee snacks.
2. Slurp up some delicious Sapporo ramen at Ramen Dojo
It’s quite amazing that you can try almost all of Hokkaido’s most famous ramen shops, all in one place, in the airport. So take full advantage of it and indulge!
The Ramen Dojo houses 10 of the best ramen establishments from all over Hokkaido, each with their own signature style. The one you see with the snaking long line right at the entrance is Ebisoba Ichigen, which is known for it’s flavorful shrimp-based soup stock. It’s hugely popular, so give it a try if you can afford to wait a bit.
We didn’t have enough time before our flight, so we tried Ginparou instead and loved it. If you’re into ramen, you really can’t go wrong with any of the shops in the Ramen Dojo. The real challenge is deciding what to eat, because they all look absolutely delicious.
3. Geek out at the Doraemon Waku Waku Sky Park
Doraemon fans, sit down for this one. The Doraemon Waku Waku Sky Park is your dream come true. Taking up a large corner of the 3rd floor, the Sky Park features a walk-though attraction, cafe, gift shop, craft workshop, kids play area, amusement centre and a library.
The cafe is a great place to take the kids for lunch or a snack – they’ll LOVE the cute Doraemon themed dishes. Heck, everyone will. They’re too cute! And if you’re the crafty type, you have to try your hands at the workshop. There you can purchase a plain plaster figure of your choice and make it your own with the free art supplies on the tables.
It’s all too easy to spend half a day here exploring everything. You’ll wish you had come to the airport earlier! But don’t worry, if you miss your flight, there’s always the Dokodemodoa.
4. Indulge in some LeTAO Mascarpone Brûlées (and cheesecakes)
We tried one and regretted it. It was so darn good we wished we bought more, because by the time we got to the counter for seconds, it was sold out. Sad face! These little mouthgasm-inducing treats really need to be tried to be believed – bite in, and the crispy caramelized top gives way to a rich, fragrant mascarpone centre, taking you to the height of bliss before melting into the buttery crust. Best I’ve ever tasted. Seriously, don’t miss this. Get some of their famous double fromage cheesecakes while you’re at it too!
5. Go choco loco at Royce Chocolate World
Ask anyone in Hokkaido to mention the first word that comes to mind when you say chocolate, and the answer is probably “Royce.” Their signature product is their Nama Choco (fresh chocolate), but they also make plenty of other chocolatey goodies.
The Royce Chocolate World is a fun way to get acquainted with everything Royce. There’s a mini factory, museum and a chocolate shop (of course). Learn how chocolate is made at the museum, see firsthand how Royce chocolates are crafted at the high-tech factory display, and satisfy the serious chocolate craving you probably have by now at the shop right next door with over 200 kinds of chocolate confections to choose from.
6. Refresh and relax at the New Chitose Airport Onsen
What kind of airport has an onsen? An awesome airport, that’s what. If you just got off a tiring flight, or are about to hop on the plane home after an action-packed last day in Hokkaido, this is a great place to soak all that stress away and enjoy a uniquely Japanese experience while you’re at it.
The New Chitose Airport Onsen has indoor and outdoor hot spring baths, four kinds of bedrock baths, a full range of spa treatments, and a nap room to relax in after enjoying the nice warm soak. Best of all, it’s completely affordable – no, downright cheap – at 1,500 Yen per entry. So go ahead and pamper yourself a little. You’re on vacation!