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Tips for a Scenic Weekend Trip to Beppu and Yufuin
Things to do in Beppu
Beppu is well known for its hot springs and is especially known for the Hells of Beppu. The Hells of Beppu are very hot and unique looking springs.
You can't bathe in the Hells of Beppu, Jigoku as they are called on the maps, but the town that has them is an excellent place to sight see and you can learn about all the different uses for the springs aside from bathing.
There's a place where you can give your feet a steam bath and just next door there is a restaurant that uses the steam to cook food. One of the hot springs is even used to help with breeding crocodiles.
My personal favorite though was Umi no Jigoku also known as sea hell. It's a bright cobalt blue and seemed to produce the most steam of all of the springs.
Each spring also has a placard explaining more about the use of the springs and where their names came from.
This visit can be a little bit expensive for the full experience. It's 2000 yen or about 20 dollars for a pass to all 7 of the Beppu Hells. If you want to visit each location individually, it's 400 yen each. Make sure to bring a towel or something to wipe your feet as the Hells all have a place to soak your feet. Just be careful it's very hot.
Hells of BeppuClick thumbnail to view full-size
Food in Beppu
I went to the newly opened Jigoku Mushi Kobo. You get to operate the steamer yourself which made this a worthwhile experience for me.
To steam your food, it's 510 yen for 30 minutes. The cost of the food itself is about 600 yen to 1300 yen on average. Side dishes like rice and potatoes are 200-300 yen each. Gyoza was 500 yen for a serving of about 8.
This restaurant has an English instruction sheet so you know how long to cook your food. They also have the food names in English on the vending machine to get your food ticket.
If you do the cooking experience please remember you are responsible for cleaning up after yourself as they are volunteer run.
Jigoku Mushi KoboClick thumbnail to view full-size
I didn't get as much time in Yufuin, but I plan to go back in December so I will add more information when I revisit this location.
Yufuin is a hot spring town. It is known for its beauty and vast array of mountains. Near the train station is the Yufuin Health Hot Springs Museum. The main road is dotted with an array of independent shops and restaurants.
There is also a theme park with a giant wooden roller coaster in the center of all this beautiful nature called Kijima Kogen Park.
However, I think the Kintetsu(Beppu) Ropeway for Mt. Tsurumi is going to be your best option if you're short on time. The drive in is beautiful and it's the closest attraction to the hot spring town with the Hells of Beppu. The best time to see this attraction would be in Autumn when you can see a kaleidoscope of colors from the changing leaves.
Kintetsu RopewayClick thumbnail to view full-size
Packing for Your Trip
Depending on where you plan to stay your list may vary. The main thing you want to keep in mind is to travel light but be practical.
First off you will probably want a small towel for your head and/or feet and a large towel for your body for when you go to the onsen or the Jigoku so you can dry off afterwards. This may also save you money on towel rentals if you stay at a hostel.
Second, you may want to bring a portable phone charger. Personally, for my hostel there were not many outlets so you may also want a device to allow you to use one outlet to charge multiple devices.
Third, you may want to bring a filtered (or unfiltered water bottle). You'll see vending machines for drinks everywhere, but there are also some places to fill up water so this can save you some money.
Finally, you may want a lightweight backpack or bag for all of your possessions. Most hotels will allow you to keep your bags there after check out, but you may still want to have a backpack that's easy to bring with you just in case.
And don't forget your toothpaste, toothbrush, and deodorant.
Check List for Your Trip
Toothbrush and toothpaste
Cellphone and Charger
Towels (small and Large)
Three to two prong adapter/ Multi Port Wall Charger
A lot of cash
Money Saving Tips for Traveling in Beppu
Once you're out and traveling I'd recommend getting up early enough to catch the 8:00am bus so you can explore as much as possible.
There's a bus pass you can get that's 1600 yen for one day or 2400 yen for two days that will take you the Hells of Beppu and all over Yufuin. The buses can get expensive so it's well worth it. You can view more information on the bus passes here.
If you're just going to Yufuin you may just want to pay as you go because it's not as worth while. However, there's a smaller pass just for the Beppu Hells that's only 900 yen which is less than the round trip fair of going there and back one time.
Accommodations and Nearby Food
Accommodations can get expensive quickly if you plan last minute. The place I picked is a very old building. It's a no frills hospital, but like most places in Beppu they have an onsen. It's called Guest House Matsukiso. The accommodation was about 3000 yen a night plus a 300 yen a night charge for the onsen.
I mostly just got my bearings and relaxed the first night and went to the nearby Kushi Katsu (串カツ) restaurant. Think fried and skewered food.
There are several places to get food, but my favorite was the Tonkotsu ramen shop. The ramen was about 700 yen and was very filling and it is delicious. They mention on the menu that it's Michelin star ramen. I would recommend going there if you get the chance. The staff was also very friendly.
Places to Visit in Beppu and Yufuin
Getting to Beppu
Beppu is off the Nippo line, so if you plan to take the train that’s the line you want to look for. If you are taking the bus, there is a bus that leaves from Sunatsu (in Kokura) and one that leaves from Hakata bus terminal that will take you directly there.
Your first option would be the limited express which is 3000 to 3800¥ one way.
There are also some cheaper routes that are closer to 2500¥. However, they usually take longer than the bus. You can view more information on train routes on Hyperdia. Both methods of transport take roughly the same amount of time.
The bus from Sunatsu to Beppu is about -1500 to 2000¥ one way depending on what time you take the bus or roughly 15-20 dollars.
If you want to go to the more scenic and remote option of Yufuin, there's a scenic train there from Kokura. You can view more information on that here. It's called the Yufuin no Mori. From what I saw it can be a bit expensive. Based on my GPS information it seems to be roughly 5000-7000 yen each way. You have to reserve your seat in advance for the train and the spots tend to fill up fast.