When considering world-class skiing, gorgeous lodges, and hot springs, Asia doesn’t naturally spring to mind. You’d be right in picturing pretty European villages and American wonderland resorts. Little Steps finds you the best snowy peaks in the region, just a short-haul flight away from Hong Kong and Singapore. Enjoy some of the highly Instagrammable Asian ski resorts that will keep you coming back for more. Choose from lavish ski holidays in Japan to affordable resorts in China; there are many opportunities for families with kids to enjoy the new Asia obsession. See you on the slopes!
The mountainous Niseko region of Japan encompasses some of the country's finest and world-class ski resorts. Mount Yōtei is often referred to as the Mount Fuji of Hokkaido. The area boasts four interconnected resorts with 2,000 acres of skiable mountain on the eastern side of Niseko Annupuri. The annual 15-meter snowfall makes Niseko popular with regional and international skiers. Many people have second homes in Hokkaido, resulting in an exciting and diverse dining and après ski scene uncharacteristic in rural Japan.
Niseko is increasing in popularity and price, particularly during peak season over Christmas, New Year, and Chinese New Year. It's worth considering spring options for the best deals. If you seek true luxury, the Higashiyama Niseko Village, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve, is a prestigious sanctuary of peace that magically weaves personalized service with local nature, history, culture, and cuisine. There are many private chalets for families to enjoy this winter wonderland.
Make sure that you enjoy an onsen hot springs experience!
When to go? Between December and early April. Niseko is a breathtaking outdoor destination during the summer with the opportunity for mountain hikes, tree trekking, rafting, canyoning, golf, and cycling.
How to get there? Fly to Sapporo with various carriers and take a car or a bus to Niseko.
Where to stay? If you’d prefer a chalet, check out the great range from Ministry Of Villas Niseko, https://www.ministryofvillas.com/villa/niseko/ or if you want to be waited on hand and foot, then the Park Hyatt Niseko will do just that https://www.hyatt.com/en-US/hotel/japan/park-hyatt-niseko-hanazono/ctsph
Another one of Japan's favorite ski resort towns, Hakuba, is in the Japanese Alps just outside Nagano, which hosted the 1998 Winter Olympics. The well-developed resort is home to the Hakuba Ski Jumping Stadium, a lively après-ski scene, and the hot springs. Hakuba is a mere three hours from Tokyo and is ideal for a family weekend skiing in Asia.
The Hakuba Valley boasts a variety of ski resorts. The largest and most popular ski is Happo One which offers excellent powder skiing and different level runs. The Upper Route 1 is a must-ski for intermediate skiers who like an early start for immaculate slopes and to perfect their carved turns. This well-developed resort offers top-notch slopes, snowmobiling, snow-shoeing, ski lessons for kids and beginners, and some of the region's finest hot springs. Purchase the Hakuba Valley day pass and access 10 separate mountain resorts.
The Sakka Ski Slope on Happo One is for first-time skiers and snowboarders. Other ski resorts include the Hakuba 47 ski resort, which is connected to Hakuba Goryu and offers some great cruising runs. Iwatake is a small snowpark that is great for kids with easy-to-manage runs. Tsugaike is a large ski area with 27 lifts.
When to go? From December to early April
How to get there? Hakuba is 44 kilometers west of Nagano and can be reached easily from Tokyo Narita Airport and the Nagoya and Kansai areas. You'll need to plan to take a flight to Tokyo Narita, a bullet train to Nagano, and then a taxi or shuttle to your hotel. Be sure to book transportation in advance.
Where to stay? If you are keen on staying in a chalet, check out https://www.ministryofvillas.com/villa/hakuba, or if you'd prefer a lavish hotel, the Sierra Hakuba is set amidst serene forests and landscaped gardens http://sierrahakuba.com/.
The valley connects the Beidahu mountains to form the impressive Club Med ski resort. It offers the highest operating vertical in the country, with areas ideal for skiing lessons for kids and many scenic cross-country trails. The all-inclusive Club Med offers accommodation, delicious food and beverage offerings, a kids club, a fitness center, ski passes, group ski lessons, and even your flights! Beidahu is perfect for beginner and intermediate skiers over the age of two.
When to go? From late November to early March
How to get there? There are direct flights from Hong Kong to Changchun and then a two-hour drive. From Singapore, expect a 15-hour flight to Changchun with a layover in Shanghai and a two-and-a-half-hour transfer to the resort.
Where to stay? Club Med Beidahu, https://www.clubmed.co.th/r/beidahu/y. Please note that they have an age limitation of two years and above.
Yuzawa is a resort town in the Japanese Alps known for its hot springs and many ski areas. The resort offers 11 ski lifts and hot onsens for you to relax after a hard day on the slopes. Yuzawa Kogen Ropeway links the town with ski trails and the Alp no Sato botanical gardens. At the Echigo-Yuzawa train station, Ponshukan is a sake museum with a tasting area and sake bath. It's thought that a sake bath increases your body temperature, raising your circulation and heart rate, allowing your body to detox metabolic imbalances. Little Steps loves the traditional décor and ambiance of Hatago Isen. Yuzawa is known for deep powder and a long season.
When to go? From mid-November to late May
How to get there? Fly to Tokyo Narita or Haneda and take the Narita Express to Tokyo Main Station, then the Shinkansen bullet train directly to Yazawa.
Where to stay? The Hatago Isen, https://hatago-isen.jp/OLD/en/index.html
Tohoku ticks all the boxes if you want an authentic Japanese ski trip. The area is known for its volcanoes, breathtaking mountains, the tiny pine-covered islet, Matsushima Bay, and skiing. Tohoku boasts Lake Towada, a vast crater lake famed for its crystal clear sapphire waters and surrounding forests. The region's largest city, Sendai, is the site of the Osaki Hachimangu Shinto shrine and ornate Zuihoden, the tomb of feudal lord Date Masamune. Tohoku is one of the oldest ski resorts in Japan, made up of six areas Akita, Aomori, Fukushima, Iwate, Miyagi, and Yamagata. The locals speak very little English, and it is considered off-the-beaten-track.
When to go? December until early April
How to get there? Fly into Narita International Airport, then travel from JR Tokyo Station on the Tohoku Shinkansen or Joetsu Shinkansen lines. This bullet train will take up to three-and-a-half hours in total.
Where to stay? Zao Kukusai Hotel https://www.zao-kokusaihotel.jp/en/ or Zao Onsen Ski Resort https://www.zao-spa.or.jp/english/
The Yongpyong Resort is ideal for families who want to hit the slopes, enjoy a long weekend in quality snow, and enjoy some of South Korea's famed hospitality. It's hosted various FIS Alpine World Cups, the Winter Olympics, and the IPC Paralympic World Cup. 28 glorious slopes cover over 24 kilometers and provide exceptional skiing for beginner, intermediate and expert levels, so there is something for everyone. Elevations range between 700 and 1,438 meters above sea level.
When to go? End of November to April
How to get there? Fly to Seoul and travel to the resort for approximately two hours.
Where to stay? Yongpyong Resort, www.yongpyong.co.kr
Yabuli Ski Resort is the largest ski resort in China and includes the country's most extensive ski jumping facilities. It is located in the northeastern province of Heilongjiang, 170 kilometers southeast of Harbin. The all-inclusive Club Med is in the heart of Yabuli National Park. It provides ski passes, ski and snowboard lessons, all food and beverages, and accommodation, allowing for a stress-free holiday. While the kids are skiing or in the kid's club, mom and dad can enjoy the blissful L'OCCITANE spa treatments. There is a range of activities, including ice festival-inspired party evenings, a climbing wall, an indoor swimming pool, and fitness classes, not to mention the Go Pro corner.
When to go? From mid-November to mid-March
How to get there? Fly to Harbin via Shanghai and then transfer to Yabuli, approximately two-and-a-half hours by train.
Where to stay? Club Med Yabuli, https://www.clubmed.com.hk/r/Yabuli/w. Note that this resort has an age limit of 2 years or above.
Long touted as one of the best travel destinations in Asia, Hokkaido promises a fun-filled family experience, plentiful snow, powdery white pistes, and a mecca of winter sports. The Club Med is a true all-inclusive resort that immerses you and your family into authentic Japanese heritage and tradition. You can ski or snowboard directly from your suite. The ski resort provides ample skiing experiences for beginners, intermediate and advanced. The ski school has multilingual instructors that can provide comprehensive lessons to children over four years. There are various activities included in the all-inclusive holiday, such as Kasumi waterfall and Tomuraushi hot spring trekking and downhill snow-shoeing
When to go? From December to early April
How to get there? Fly direct or via Tokyo to Sapporo and then transfer to Club Med.
Where to stay? Club Med Sahoro, https://www.clubmed.com.hk/r/Sahoro-Hokkaido/w
Welli Hilli Park, https://www.wellihillipark.com
Jisan Forest, https://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/index.kto
Grand Deco, http://www.grandeco.com/english/
Gala Yuzawa, https://gala.co.jp/winter/english/
Joetsu Kokusai, http://www.jkokusai.co.jp/
Nozawa Onsen Snow Resort, http://www.nozawaski.com/en/
Minakami Ski Resorts, https://www.minakamikogen200.jp/en/
Niseko With Kids, https://www.littlestepsasia.com/travel/japan/niseko/niseko-and-hirafu-with-kids/
Niseko Accommodation Guide For Families, https://www.littlestepsasia.com/travel/japan/niseko/niseko-family-accommodation-guide/
Top Family-Friendly Restaurants In Niseko, https://www.littlestepsasia.com/travel/japan/niseko/best-restaurants-in-niseko/
Guide To Skiing In Hakuba, https://www.littlestepsasia.com/travel/japan/hakuba/hakuba-ski-resort-with-kids/
Top Hotels And Chalets In Hakuba, https://www.littlestepsasia.com/travel/japan/hakuba/hakuba-family-friendly-accommodation-hotels-chalets/
For families looking for more information on where to stay, where to eat, ski schools, and more https://www.littlestepsasia.com/travel/japan/hakuba/hakuba-ski-resort-with-kids/
Alshan Alpine Ski Resort, https://www.visitourchina.com/special/china-ski-guide/alshan-ski-resort.html
Zhangjiakou Wanlong Ski Resort, https://www.wlski.com/