Find Asia's Best Winter Resorts—On a Budget
You can still experience snow, skiing and snowboarding in these seven winter wonderlands.
1. Nanshan Ski Village, China
Don’t be deceived by the name: Just outside Beijing, Nanshan Ski Village is a huge resort, offering something for skiers and snowboarders at any level. With 21 trails, loads of ski lifts and a snowboarding park, this picturesque resort also uses snowmaking machines—meaning that whatever the weather, it’s always ski time. Direct flights to Beijing start from $817, then take a 30-minute cab ride. A standard twin room within the resort starts at $680 per night. nanshanski.com.
2. Gulmarg, Kashmir, India
India has been a secret ski destination for some time, with many regarding it as one of the best in the world, and the Kashmiri village of Gulmarg high in the Himalayas is particularly rated—especially for the more adventurous. And if the amazing slopes aren’t hot enough for you, there’s always Kashmiri curries... Flights to Delhi and then on to Srinagar start at around $2,500, while accommodation is about $600 per night. skyscanner.com.hk.
3. Appi Kogen, Japan
Another well-kept ski secret, Appi Kogen is an authentically traditional resort in the Tohoku region of northeast Honshu which offers great bang for the buck: a snow park, excellent children’s area, plus heated swimming pool and hot baths—and great skiing, of course. It caters mainly to families, so don’t expect a big nightlife scene. Appi Kogen is a two-hour trip from Tokyo by bullet train; direct flights from Hong Kong to Tokyo start at $600 and accommodation can be found for as little as $300 per night. appi.co.jp.
4. Gassan, Japan
Located in Yamagata on Japan’s main island of Honshu, Gassan gets so much snow—up to eight meters—that it can’t open until relatively late in the season because the resort is inaccessible unless you’re crazy gutsy enough to consider getting dropped in by helicopter. For mortals, lifts run until late July, offering skiers and snowboarders a pristine 1,000 meters of vertical terrain. Flights to Nagoya start from $700; from there take the bullet train north. Accommodation in traditional Japanese style ryokan inns—some up to 300 years old—starts at just over $400.
5. Yongpyong Resort, South Korea
Visit this resort and come the 2018 Winter Olympics, when it hosts the slalom and giant slalom, you’ll be able to airily announce how you were on the slopes long before the medalists. Yongpyong was South Korea’s first ski resort (it opened 1975) and it even has an indoor mountain bike course if you get sick of the snow. As if. Open January to April, Yongpyong is a two-hour drive from Seoul. Flights start at around $600 up, and B&B twin accommodation starts at $300 per night.
6. Niseko, Japan
Relatively unknown until recent years, Niseko is both a natural hot spa and increasingly popular ski resort, famous for its exceptional powder. Now exuding a distinctly international vibe, the season runs through to late April, offering up to 15 meters of snowfall and 47 kilometers of groomed slopes across four linked resorts. Packages from $14,099 per person, including return airfare to Sapporo, airport transfers, seven nights’ accommodation and five-day mountain pass. flightcentre.com.hk.
7. Yabuli, China
With winter temperatures routinely hitting -15 to -35 degrees Celsius, you’re going to want to dig out your thermal undergarments if planning to hit the slopes of Heilongjiang in northeast China. It does mean the region gets awesome snow dumps, and Club Med Yabuli, around a four-hour drive from the capital Harbin by car, is building a reputation as a great resort for beginners, thanks to its long, flat runs. The resort is also suitable for intermediate beginners and offers family-friendly facilities, outdoor hot tub, a spa and karaoke and mahjong when it gets simply too cold. Packages from $8,659 per person, including return airfare, airport transfers, four nights at Club Med Yabuli, all meals, open bar, ski pass, lesson and children’s facilities. Deals through March 24, flightcentre.com.hk.