A relatively small city, it is famous for its unique and numerous hot springs, which are one of Japan's Three Great Hot Springs. In addition, there are several thermal vents that create water too hot for hot springs, and make up a unique part of Japan - its 8 "Hells". These are also a tourist attraction as none are the same and each offers a different Japanese theme.
Beppu is along the coast and pressed by mountains, making for a thin & long city. Most of the most well-known onsens and tourist attractions, including most of the Jigoku or "hells", are in the Kannawa area which is almost on the opposite side of the city from the train station. However, the tourist-centric bus system makes transport a breeze.
The Sonic limited express train runs twice an hour from Hakata Station in Fukuoka and Kokura Station in Kitakyushu, stopping at Beppu before terminating in Oita. From Hakata station to Beppu takes ~117 minutes.
An individual one-way ticket from Hakata Station costs ¥4290. Far better for the solo traveler planning a roundtrip is to buy nimai-kippu (discount two tickets) for ¥6,000 (Hakata <> Beppu), or ¥5,800 (Kokura <> Beppu). For pairs traveling, it's even better to purchase yonmai-kippu (discount four tickets) for ¥10,000 (Hakata <> Beppu), or ¥9,800 (Kokura <> Beppu.)
If you are coming from Honshu on the San'yo Shinkansen line (such as those holding Japan Rail Passes), switch to the Sonic at Kokura station. From Kokura, you can reach Beppu in 75 minutes at the prices quoted above, or for free if you hold a rail pass.
An overnight train, the Fuji, stopped running in 2009. If you want reach Beppu on an overnight train, you can take the 10 PM Sunrise Izumo/Sunrise Seto to Himeji, take the San'yo Shinkansen to Kokura, then take the Sonic to Beppu. (12 hours)
The Oita Expressway runs from the south, passing a few miles to the west of the city. Exit at the Beppu Interchange. National Route 10 runs north-south through the city center, along the shore of Beppu Bay.
The Foreign Tourist Information Office has three branches in the city center. One is near the east exit of JR Beppu Station (TEL: 0977-21-6220), the second is on Ekimae-dori, between the Ginza and Yayoi shopping arcades (TEL: 0977-23-1119) and the third is located in Jigoku-mushi Kohbo in Kannwa (TEL: 0977-66-3855). All but the Beppu station location offer free internet access. They operate 9:00 to 17:00.
The town itself is walkable. However, the Hells may be a bit far from downtown, a some a bit far from each other, for many to choose this option. Additionally the walk would be along highways/roads, and thus not particularly scenic. Though, it is doable.
The Hells and other sites can be easily reached via the tourist-centered bus system. Departures are outside JR Beppu Station. The Foreign Tourist Information Office inside JR Beppu Station sells one-day bus passes for ¥900 (¥700 students), which is likely the best deal for most. The buses run in routes thus that no backtracking is necessary to visit all the of Hells.
The system is very much setup for visiting the hells, so it is no necessarily a must to plan one's route in advance.
The tourism office (see below) can additionally provide the departure time and number of the next bus going to your destination (if it's the Hells - the next bus will be leaving shortly), as well as maps detailing the route. On the Hells route itself, bus schedules are clearly posted at stops. The longest intervals are ~30 minutes.
Beppu's top sight is the eight hells (地獄 Jigoku), multicolored volcanic pits of boiling water and mud, and one geyser. The hells are too hot to be diluted into onsen, as the temps range from 50 to 99.5 °C (122 to 210 °F). Some of the hells have a natural smell of sulfur.
The hells are administered by The Beppu Jigoku Association (Tel. 0977-66-1577).  Combination tickets can be purchased at any of the hells for ¥2000 for visits to all eight. If one purchases an unlimited bus ticket for ¥900 from the Foreign Tourist Office in Beppu train station, one is given a coupon book. Included is a ¥200 discount for the combination ticket. If purchased separately, admission to each individual hell is ¥400.
Hours for the eight hells are 8:00AM-5:00PM, although Tatsumaki-Jigoku will stay open a little past 5:00 to get one more eruption. All eight hells can be seen at a fairly leisurely pace in about two and a half hours. Three of the hells are next to each other, and 3 others are within a few minutes walk.
Umi-Jigoku (Sea Hell)
Oniishibozu-Jigoku (Shaven Monk's Head Hell)
Yama-Jigoku (Mountain Hell)
Kamado-Jigoku (Boiling Hell)
Oniyama-Jigoku (Demon Mountain Hell)
Shiraike-Jigoku (White Pond Hell)
Two more hells are about 2.5km away. Either catch a bus back to the Kannawa Onsen bus stop or walk a couple minutes down the main road or Miyuki-zaka to Kannawa Onsen street, and take a left. From the Kannawa Onsen stop, take bus #16 (6 min).
Chinoike-Jigoku (Blood Pond Hell)
Tatsumaki-Jigoku (Geyser Hell)
The Tatsumaki-Jigoku is a geyser that goes off every 30-40 minutes for a period of about 5 minutes. One trick in using your time efficiently for the final two hells is to first go to the Tatsumaki-Jigoku and find out when the next eruption occurs. If you just missed the last one, then go see the Chinoike-Jigoku first.
Beppu City Traditional Bamboo Center (Tel. 0977-23-1072) Has displays on bamboo craftsmanship and offers courses on making your own. Buses run from JR Beppu Station.
Kintetsu Beppu Ropeway (Tel. 0977-22-2278; ¥1400 round trip) When the weather is clear this ropeway will take you 800m up to the top of Mt. Tsurumi (1375m) which has a full view of the city and Beppu Bay. Hours vary by season but mostly closes around dusk. Evening views are only available during Golden Week and August. From the upper station there is a ten-minute uphill walk to the top, with several small temples and shrines along the way.
Beppu City Global Tower (Tel. 0977-26-7111; Open 9:00AM-9:00PM Mar-Nov., 9:00AM-7:00PM Dec-Feb., ¥300) An observatory 100m up within Beppu City itself that gives a full 360 degree view of the city. It's part of the Beppu International Convention Plaza (B-Con Plaza) and about 15 minutes on foot from the west exit of Beppu Station, just across from the western side of Beppu Park.
Takegawara Onsen, 16-23 Motomachi, ☎ Tel. 0977-67-3880, . 6:30AM-10:30PM. A Meiji-era classic. The hot bath is extraordinarily hot, and signs gently remind you that the regulars like it that way. If you're not in a hurry, take a dip after you've been buried up to your neck in hot sand on the other side of the building. Tickets come with a yukata. Step into the changing room to stash your valuables, change into your yukata, head through the curtain, and then lay down in the sand pit (with the yukata on); an attendant will be along to shovel hot sand on you shortly. (Cameras are welcome — they're happy to take photos of you while you're buried.) After ten minutes or so, you'll emerge from the earth and shower back in the changing area. It's between Ekimae-dori and Nagarekawa-dori, one block before the intersection with Route 10.Tickets are ¥100 for the hot bath, ¥1000 to include the sand bath. Discount coupons may be available from some of the neighboring hotels. (33.277457000000,131.505954300000)edit
The other hot spring areas in addition to the downtown Beppu are:
Kannawa Onsen (Bus 5, 9, 41, 43 from JR Beppu Station)
Yukemuri Observation Platform to see hot springs steam against mountains.
Hyotan Onsen -- a large complex open until 1:00 AM with indoor and outdoor baths using several types of wood and stones, sauna and steam rooms, a waterfall bath, and a dry sand bath
Young Center shows Japanese traditional popular drama.
Public baths such as Mushiyu (historical steam bath), Shibunoyu, Shoninyu, Jigokubaruyu, Netsunoyu, Sujiyu and Taninoyu.
The mud-yellow Tokiwa Department Store has four floors of high-end and casual clothing shops, a food court in the basement, and other standard depato fare. It's on Ekimae-dori, at the intersection with Route 10. There is a starbucks on the ground floor.
You Me town Department Store (Beppu shop). On Route 10 near Beppu Tower. There's a large grocery, pharmacy, and beauty shop on the ground level.
B-Passage（Beppu Station center）
Smaller shops can be found in the Ginza Shopping Arcade and the Yayoi Shopping Arcade between Ekimae-dori and Nagarekawa-dori.
Toyotsune (とよ常), Ekimae Hon Machi (As you exit the East Exit of Beppu Train Station, it's opposite the station on the left side tucked in the corner.). Till 9PM. A small but cozy outlet that has a 20 year history. The place's friendly Okami-san has also recently prepared an English menu (inquire inside). The place serves a good Tendon (2 big prawns!) for ¥680, and it comes with a Miso Soup which is also the shop's speciality, with a stronger taste than the normal ones. For the adventurous, they do Fugu as well for around ¥2200. edit
Hanatokei Coffee and Tea (花時計珈琲館), Funakoshimachi 1-32 (Daisansou-Iriguchi bus stop (Oita Kotsu Bus toward Ritsumeikan)), . 8AM-8PM. Opened for nearly 30 years, Hanatokei is currently run by Mrs. Matsumoto, a devoted student of coffee beans and baking. The menu includes Japanese and Western style dishes.400-1000 Yen. edit
68 Bistro. 5-10PM Su-Th. A calm and casual dining experience which doubles as a bar from 9PM onwards. (See 'Drink' below) English/Japanese speaking staff. Japanese, Western, and South-East Asian style dishes are sure to satisfy any craving.edit
Hitparade. A uniquely Japanese experience, Hit Parade is an all you can eat buffet and all you can drink (alcoholic or not) American 1950's Dance Hall. A live band performs songs from 1950's America while locals perform coordinated dance moves in front of the stage. It's more of a show than a modern dance club, think of a theater with food and drinks, but well worth the scene.Men ¥3600 Women ¥3000. edit
Plan B, 大分県別府市北浜1-10-12 (Opposite Tokiwa Department Store), ☎ +81 097 726 6200, . An international bar/club with English and Japanese speaking staff. Usually frequented by local university students. Crazy parties can take place on weekends during the Semester but generally Plan B is a great place for a drink and good conversation. This bar has also often proven itself to be an entertaining source of information about local sights and attractions.edit
Beppu Guest House. Amazingly close to the JR Beppu station, shopping and more. Great location, nice staff, laundry - and the staff are quite helpful and knowledgeable about the area.Dorm room ¥1500 Single Room ¥2500. edit
Happy Neko, 1-kumi Kita-juu, ☎ 0977-75-8838 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . checkin: 3PM; checkout: 10:30AM. Budget accommodation in traditional Japanese style. Located in the Kannawa hot springs area 10min walk from Jigoku Meguri (8 Hells). There are many restaurants and onsens in the neighborhood, a supermarket, a post office, etc. Free Parking. They speak Japanese, English, Czech. Apartment - single: ¥3100/night, double: ¥4300/night, Private Tatami Room - single: ¥3800/night, double: ¥5300/night, triple: ¥6500/night, quad: ¥8500/night. edit
Minshuku Kokage, 8-9 Ekimae-cho, ☎ 0977-23-1753 (email@example.com, fax: 0977-23-3895). A short walk down Ekimae-dori from the east exit of JR Beppu Station; look for the prominent sign. Has its own hot bath.Japanese and Western style rooms ¥4350 for one, ¥7650 for two, ¥11,475 for three. edit
Nogami Honkan, 1-12-1 Kitahama, ☎ 81-977-221334 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . checkin: 3PM; checkout: 10AM. New, spacious and well-appointed rooms, with meals and 3 private and 2 public Onsen available. There is a fluent English speaker on staff during the day-time hours. It's a few minutes from JR Beppu Station on Ekimae-dori. Turn right at the first street once you see the post office across the street on your left.It's a terrific value at ¥5000 per person. edit
Spa Hostel Khaosan Beppu, 3-3-10 Kitahama, ☎ 0977-23-3939 (email@example.com), . checkin: 3:00PM; checkout: 11:00AM. Clean and cozy. English-speaking desk staff. Has own public natural hot spring (free for guests). 8 minutes walk from JR Beppu Station(East exit).Dorm room ¥2500 Single Room ¥3500 Twin Room ¥2800p/p Triple Room ¥2800p/p. edit
Yokoso Ryokan, Kannawa Ida 3-kumi (25 min. by bus from Beppu station), ☎ 81-977-660440. checkin: 2PM; checkout: 11AM. An inexpensive, traditional Japanese-style hotel (Ryokan) equipped with hot springs baths and steam-powered ovens.¥3,400 per person per night without any meal. edit
Suginoi Hotel, Kankaiji 1, ☎ 0977-24-1161 (fax: 0977-21-0010), . A luxury hotel with multiple wings and a connected game center and aqua-fun park. In true Beppu style, it has its own onsen on the premises.Rates range from ¥15,900 (per person) in Japanese or Western-style rooms on the Hon-Kan floor to ¥23,250 (per person) on the Good Time Floor. edit
Beppu can serve as a resting point before or after a trip to Mount Aso. The Kyushu Oudan Bus departs for Mount Aso from a depot about a block and a half east of JR Beppu Station on Ekimae-dori.
The African Safari Wildlife Park (Tel. 0978-48-2331) is a 60 minute bus ride from JR Beppu Station. Look for the kangaroo-covered posters outside the west exit. (Yes, kangaroos.)
Takasakiyama (Tel. 097-532-5010 Open daily 8:30AM-5:00PM ticket office closes at 4:30PM; ¥500) Just outside of Beppu and technically part of Oita City, a colony of over 500 Japanese macaques can be visited in a pleasant surrounding. The macaques walk among you and one of the best sights is feeding time when a frenzy starts. For photos and video the best time to visit is from morning to early afternoon when the sun is behind you. At the base of the mountain is the visitors' center and Oita's Marine Palace, an aquarium with a dolphin show and trained fish. Those going to both can get a discount ticket at the Beppu Tourist Office in Beppu Station.
Fukuoka is 2 hours away via Sonic Limited Express trains.
The ferry from Beppu to Yawatahama leaves at 5:35, 9:45, 14:00, 16:45, 20:50 and 23:50. It takes 2h45 ans costs 3100¥. It takes 15 minutes to walk from the bus terminal to the train station in Yawatahama.
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