Skiing and snowboarding will become more affordable this winter in western Canada with the addition of several new backpacker hostels - some right on the slopes. Web site www.canadianskihostels.com lists all the new accommodation options in the interior of British Columbia and Alberta, recognised as some of the best powder skiing in the world. Banff, the gateway to the Rockies, has a new backpackers' hostel which was formerly a four-star motel, and there will be daily shuttles to the area's three ski resorts. Canadianskihostels.com is the world's largest ski hostel network and the site offers online bookings, with dorm beds going for around C$20 (about HK$100) a night. Meanwhile, tourists who want a luxury winter wonderland experience through British Columbia and Alberta, and have money to spare, can take special trips on the famous Rocky Mountaineer railway over the Christmas holidays. The train will course through snow-filled valleys and between glacier-capped mountains from Vancouver to Banff. This is one of the world's most spectacular train journeys. Departure dates for the two-day rail trip are December 20 and 27 eastbound from Vancouver to Banff, and December 22 and 29 westbound from Banff to Vancouver. Century Travel is offering return tickets to Australia with Qantas for only $4,820, plus tax. The destinations are Adelaide, Brisbane, Cairns, Melbourne, Sydney and Perth and are open jaw (that is, it is possible to fly into one Australian destination and return to Hong Kong from another). Departure dates are from now until September 27 and from October 3 to December 14. Tickets for senior citizens and children are $3,720 plus tax. The tickets are valid for 14 days, and a change in travel dates is allowed. Contact Century Travel, tel: 2543 2468, fax 2543 1234. If you don't hold a SAR three-star permanent resident ID card, and plan a trip that transits the mainland, you may have to arrange a visa beforehand, even if you don't intend to leave the transit airport. A British colleague who travelled to Mongolia recently was caught out during transit at Beijing airport, detained for three hours and fined 2,000 yuan (HK$1,880). A spokesperson for the British Consulate General says she should consider herself lucky as they have heard cases of travellers being sent back to the country they flew from, without even the 'opportunity' of paying a fine.