8 of Asia's best ski resorts
Whether you’re a diehard snowboarder or a slope-slick skier, Asia’s got plenty of steepness to cover. Below are some handpicked destinations that would make any Olympic committee proud.
High 1 Resort -- South Korea
High 1 Resort has 18 slopes stretching over 21km so there’s enough variety here to accommodate beginners and advanced skiers alike. Add to this a mighty 403-room hotel, two ski houses together with two fully-equipped resting areas, and you’re pretty much set for the day. There’s even a nearby casino and an excellent traditional restaurant. Three of the resort’s runs qualified for the recent World Cup Ski Competition, and in 2008 High 1 Resort hosted the IPC International World Cup for the disabled which pooled together over 100 athletes from 13 countries.
Fees: A full-day lift pass will cost you anywhere between 54,000 to 72,000 won.
Getting there: There are a number of shuttle buses making stops throughout Seoul. Fares are: 30,000 won (roundtrip), 16,000 won (one-way). For the full timetable visit Korea’s Official Tourism Site. Alternatively, you can grab a bus from East Seoul Bus Terminal bound for Gohan Station (travel time three hours; first bus leaves at 6:10, the last leaves at 23:00). From Gohan Station take a taxi (10 minutes).
Muju Ski Resort -- South Korea
Located inside rugged interior of Mt Deogyo National Park in Muju, South Korea’s Jeollabuk-do Province, Muju Ski Resort has made quite a name for itself as of late, fast becoming a choice destination. Signature run? The Silk Road Slope. Teetering 1,520 meters above sea level over Mt Deogyusan, the experience has been described by some as “gliding through the clouds”. And after you’re done skiing the 6.1 kilometer stretch -- currently Korea’s longest slope -- you can soak away the joints in the resort’s outdoor hot springs.
Fees: A full-day lift pass costs between 57,000 to 76,000 won.
Getting there: Take a bus from Seoul Nambu Terminal bound for Muju. From Muju Bus Terminal take the shuttle bus bound for the resort.
* For the full list of Korean resorts, check out The Korea Tourism Organization.
Hanazono Resort -- Japan
Widely regarded as the snowiest resort on the globe, Niseko’s new multi-million dollar Hanazono 308 Snowsports Center also boasts the largest night skiing terrain in the world. That means plenty of powdery fun for all you nocturnal enthusiasts out there. Set 1,000 meters below the jaw-dropping heights of Mt Niseko-Annupuri (308 meters above sea level, hence the name), the resort was designed with the extensive use of natural materials to blend in with the surrounding environment. Need an adrenaline fix? Give snow-rafting a go. This involves being tugged behind a snowmobile at high-speeds over a huge stretch of powder.
Fees: Day passes cost between ¥3,300 to ¥5,500.
Getting there: Hop a flight to Hokkaido’s Chitose Airport. From there grab the Skybus, the cost-effective, climate-controlled way to travel to and from the resort.
Kiroro Resort -- Japan
Kiroro has pretty much all you could ask for in a ski resort. It's situated 40km west of Sapporo, near the picture-perfect seaside town of Otaru, and the resort’s high-speed lift system is one of Japan’s best, helping you get more bang for your buck when it comes to clocking in run times. And with Sapporo close by for sightseeing and dining, you can take your pick on where to stay for the night. Both Mountain Hotel and Hotel Piano are two resort highlights, offering luxurious accommodation together with a string of entertainment facilities and great rental shops.
Fees: Lift passes will set you back between ¥3,500 to ¥4,500 for a full day.
Getting there: From Chitose Airport, grab the Hakodate Honsen train line bound for Otaru.
Alshan Alpine Ski Resort -- China
Quite the skier? Well then, pack up your gear and brave the ultra-steep slopes of Alshan Alpine Resort. Straddling the soaring peaks that border China’s inner-Mongolia province and Mongolia itself, Alshan is surrounded by a primitive picturesque forest that would make even Warren Miller gush. With plenty of both alpine and cross-country trails that stretch over 10km of pristine landscape, there’s plenty of ground to cover. Ski season runs from November to April.
Getting there: Hop a flight from Beijing to Ulanhot. From there, board a bus or train bound for Alshan Alpine Resort.
Nanshan Ski Resort -- China
Just over 80km from downtown Beijing, in Miyun County, this is a great destination for snowboarders and skiers to get to on weekends. With the highest run reaching 1,800 meters above sea-level, has the best selection for those in need of renting gear. The resort also has a host of instructors on board. Some even from Austria. There are eight trails -- beginner to advanced -- and a half-pipe built according to international standards. Look out for Nanshan Skiing Club that features a separate house for lodging.
Fees: Lift passes range from RMB 180 to 320.
Getting there: The resort is 80km outside of Beijing. It can best be reached by car.
Sky Resort -- Mongolia
Opening its doors on November 25th, 2009, Sky Resort is Mongolia’s first fully fledged ski resort. Towering 1,570m above sea level, all of the resort’s nine runs are covered by artificial snow as the area is insanely dry, receiving an annual average of 20cm of snow between November and February. You won’t find any black diamond slopes here, but you do have a few alternatives to contend with if you’re up for a challenge. The experienced can tear down Zalaat and Zaisan, 1,050m and 1,070m respectively. If that doesn’t set your heart racing, have the 1,020m slope of Khurkhereet.
Fees: Full-day (eight hours) lift passes range from 10,000 to 16,000 togrog.
Getting there: The resort is very close to Ulanbaatar, Mongolia’s capitol.
Gulmarg Ski Resort -- Himalayas
Afraid of heights? That could be a problem. Dangling over Gulmarg’s legendary beauty is the world’s highest gondola that whisks skiers and boarders up to the resort’s 2,213m summit. You’d be hard-pressed to find better runs anywhere else in the world. Due to Gulmarg’s geography and its extreme amounts of snowfall, this is often regarded as the best ski resort in the Himalayas. Also check out CNNGo's Skiing in Gulmarg with a local girl, and Trekking Nepal? Don't be a wimp, snowboard the Himalayas.
Getting there: Gulmarg is in Baramula District and is 56kms from Srinagar and Sonamar is 81km from Srinagar. The nearest Airport is situated in Badgam District, which is well connected with all the major cities of India.