Desperate for a quick fix of the white stuff? We round up the best ski resorts in the whole of Asia to make sure you avoid a winter of discontent.
Nanshan Ski Resort, Beijing
Why go Snowboarders are often snubbed at Asian snow resorts, which still mostly cater to the ski set. Just half an hour from Beijing, though, Nanshan is the home of China’s largest snowboarding park. Its six jumps, half-pipe and range of rails will challenge even the most hardcore boarders and are set to put the pros to the test when the park hosts the Red Bull Open next month.
Runs are short and the snow is often machine-made, so this park is best suited to those who like tricks, beginner skiers or ski-bunnies who just need a quick, cheap fix of the white stuff. If you’re bringing the kids along, they’ll love perks such as a snowmobile route, 1,318-metre toboggan run and sledding. And there are plenty of good dining options on-site including the newly expanded Alps Café, which serves decent coffee and cake.
Where to stay Nanshan is easy to reach and small enough to cover in a day trip if you’re an advanced skier. But if you want to make a weekend of it, within walking distance of the ski area is the Shirton Inn, an Alps-style log cabin that has 24 rooms, each with its own fireplace, starting from 580RMB. Alternatively, if you’re going with a group, the Norwegian Villa has two separate ski chalets, each with six double bedrooms, a living room, fireplace, kitchen and multiple bathrooms, costing 3,880RMB. To book, call 8428 6688.
Season December to late February
Getting there Take bus 980 from Dongzhimen Public Transport Hub and alight at West Bridge (Xidaqiao), then take a taxi to Nanshan Ski Resort (around 20RMB). Or book a place on the shuttle buses, which depart daily at 8.30am from Sanyuanqiao and Wudaokou subway stations (35RMB; call 8909 1909 at least one day in advance).
Yabuli International Ski Resort, Heilongjiang
Why go China’s original ski town and home to its first international snow resort, Yabuli is still regarded as the poshest, if not the best. Sun Mountain features black diamond runs, rivalled only by those in Beidahu (see below), as well as China’s longest alpine slide, on which you can ride a bobsled from the summit to the bottom.
To reach Yabuli you’ll likely pass through Harbin, so it’s a good excuse to check out the city’s Ice Festival, slated to begin on January 5. Visitors can start seeing the frozen sculptures after Christmas.
Where to stay
Club Med (www.clubmed.com
) opened its first all-inclusive Chinese resort at the end of 2010. Its Yabuli complex is home to a L’Occitane spa with an indoor pool, hot tub, steamroom and sauna, as well as massage suites and reflexology rooms. Rooms start from around 1,000RMB, but can go up to 3,000RMB.
Alternatively, if flight tickets and ski passes have cleaned out your wallet, Minglang Villa (0451 5345 5027) is a friendly, family-run hostel with standard amenities and double rooms starting from 140RMB.
Season Mid-November to late March
China Southern (www.csair.com
) has return flights from Beijing to Harbin from 990RMB (including taxes). From there, the three-hour train ride (D61 or D63) to Yabuli costs 140RMB. Upon arrival, resort vans and taxis can be negotiated from 60-200RMB per journey. If your travel schedule is flexible, however, there is also a once-a-day ski train (K7011) that departs from Harbin Station at 7.44am to the resort area. Hard seats are 36RMB.