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How much does a skiing holiday in Japan and Korea really cost?
It’s coming up to that time of year again. The December holidays are fast approaching and if you’re like many Singaporeans, you may be dreaming of a white Christmas on the slopes.
While it would be nice to take off to Aspen or Zermatt for skiing and snowboarding, it will be easier on your wallet to consider ski destinations that are closer to home, like South Korea, China and Japan.
Top ski resorts in Asia
South Korea and Japan have some great ski resorts that have good-quality slopes and that are easily accessible from the airport.
Niseko United is one of Asia’s top ski resorts. Located in Hokkaido, Japan, Niseko actually has four ski resorts, each with separate, but interlinked areas. The terrain adds up to 2,191 acres and can be accessed with one lift pass. The Niseko Hanazono Resort is world class. Featuring 25 ski trails and 10 chairlifts, it has powdery soft snow that makes it a crowd favourite.
If you would prefer a less crowded ski resort, Kiroro Ski Resort offers wide and open ski terrains that makes it suitable for beginners. It also has 21 ski trails and a snow park for children.
Also deserving mention is Nozawa Onsen Snow Resort. It has more than 30 traditional onsens (hot springs). After spending the day skiing, you can relax in an onsen, followed by a traditional Japanese meal.
South Korea, too, is catching up after it hosted the 2018 Winter Olympics. A three-and-a-half hour shuttle bus ride from Incheon airport will take you to Yongpyong Ski Resort, Korea's largest resort and one of the 2018 Olympic venues. It has 1,620 hectares of ski terrain with 31 groomed slopes adding up to 25 kilometres. Having hosted a series of winter games in the past, the resort boasts 15 ski lifts, 15km cross-country trail and a snow sledge park.
Other ski resorts in South Korea that are worth checking out are Alpensia Resort in Pyeongchang and Jisan Forest Resort in Icheon. The former covers 4.9 sq km of terrain while the latter has two slopes that remain open after midnight from 23 December to 12 February.
China is also becoming a popular ski destination. Some of its better-known resorts are Nanshan Ski Resort and Yabuli Ski Resort. The former is located 80km from Beijing and is perfect for skiers and snowboarders as the snow is neither too soft nor too hard. The latter is located in Heilongjiang. It is China’s largest ski domain with ski slopes that add up to roughly 30km.
Cost of skiing in Asia
A winter vacation in South Korea or Japan will very likely set you back by $1,500 to $2,000.
Here’s a breakdown of the costs for two people from consumer researchers, ValueChampion.
*Book with a miles-saving credit card
Many of the top miles credit cards in Singapore provide 10-15% off on hotel bookings and 6 miles per $1 spent on flights, which is equivalent to 6% rebate in value. This could give you a savings of $150 to $200.
*Buy one-stop flights instead of non-stop flights
There are one-stop flights to Japan and South Korea with layovers that are only one to three hours long. If you are willing to forgo the non-stop option, you could save $50 to $100 per person.
*Book a large room with a group
Booking a large room that you can share with family and friends rather than booking a room for two is another way to save some money.
Saving on lift tickets
Most ski resorts in Korea charge $100 for a one-day lift ticket, while those in Japan charge $70 for a one-day lift ticket. While whole day lift tickets offer the flexibility of skiing at your leisure, it’s highly unlikely that you will be skiing for more than eight hours a day. Purchasing a half-day pass instead will save you some money. You could also look into two or three-day passes which are cheaper than buying in increments of one-day passes. If you are a keen skier or snowboarder, you could save even more in the long run by purchasing season passes and bringing your own equipment to save costs on rental.
While fun and exciting, winter sports can also result in injuries. So, do make sure you get yourself insurance protection before you embark on your trip.