Header image courtesy of Torbjorn Sandbakk (via Unsplash)
If Hong Kong’s mild winters aren’t exactly what you had in mind, then you may be in the market for a holiday in cooler climes. And while Europe and North America have developed deserved reputations for skiing holidays, if you’re short on time, there’s nothing to stop you from hitting the slopes closer to home. Asia is home to a number of ski resorts and stunning slopes, with everything from bunny slopes for beginners to black runs for the more experienced among you. Here are our favourites spots to visit in the region.
The resort town of Niseko lies in the western reaches of Japan’s Hokkaido island. One of the more popular skiing destinations in the region, it is home to six resorts – four of which are interconnected and can be accessed using a single ski pass. Unlike most skiing destinations, accommodation options range from luxury, self-contained lodges to budget rooms for backpackers. Cat skiing (guided backcountry skiing) is becoming an increasingly popular activity in the area for those looking to step off the more popular, well-trodden trails.
The host of last year’s former Winter Olympic Games, PyeongChang rose to international status as a skiing destination. Situated 200 kilometres from Seoul in the Gangwon province, the PyeongChang county offers a contrasting atmosphere to Niseko, whose more family-friendly environment appeals to those looking for a relaxed holiday. PyeongChang’s slopes remain open late into the night, and the region boasts a party culture and a plethora of spas to help you warm up after a long day on the slopes.
The town of Gulmarg boasts India’s largest ski resort and is home to one of the world’s highest gondolas, reaching 3,979 metres. There are several off-piste opportunities with views of the Himalayas on a clear day. The area is also home to the elusive snow leopard, and some tourists have been lucky enough to catch a glimpse on more remote runs. While this relatively untapped region has much to offer, it's worth considering the travel warnings and advisories in place for the Jammu and Kashmir regions, due to recent instances of violence and unrest.
If it’s a more interconnected holiday you’re after, then skiing day trips from South Korea’s capital city may carry more of an appeal. There are several ski resorts located a short drive from the city in the Gyeonggi province. The largest in the region – Bears Town – is still comparatively small to many of its Asian counterparts, with a slope length of 15 kilometres. Other resorts include the aptly named High1, the highest resort in the country, and Phoenix Park which offers an abundance of lessons and guided runs for novice skiers and snowboarders.
China’s largest ski resort – Yabuli – lies in the Heilongjiang province. To keep up with its competition, it underwent a $100 million refurbishment in 2008, and now offers a range of opportunities for skiers and snowboarders. While open to all levels, given the near-constant winds, it is best suited to those with some experience under their belt. Runs are open eight hours each day, and the resort lies just a two-and-a-half-hour train ride from Harbin – famed for its ice festival.
Situated in the central northern reaches of China on the Mongolian border, the inner-Mongolian territory is comprised of two main skiing areas – Western Hill, which serves as an outdoor playground for China’s elite athletes and professional skiers, and Eastern Hill, the publicly accessible ski terrain which includes three beginner, one intermediate, and one steep pistes, suitable for more experienced skiers. While it offers a unique experience and an almost constant supply of fresh snow, Alshan is not as easily accessible as many of its Asian ski resort counterparts, so this is a getaway best booked with time on your hands.