Winter sports are an increasing attraction in China. As with many other aspects about this giant nation in Asia, it may be almost unknown for Western tourists, the fact that millions of Chinese practice skiing and snowboard in their own country. Expatriates living there are more familiar with the many places that have been developed in recent years with this intention.
There are many luxurious hotels that have opened recently and several more are planning to establish a presence to offer first class facilities for winter sports lovers. Most hotels are quite upscale and a close encounter with snow in this far away country can certainly be a lot of fun.
For those who have been in Beijing during the winter months it will not come as a surprise, the fact that it is not hard to find such kind of places not far from the city, particularly knowing that winters can be quite chilly in Northern China.
Close to Beijing there are a couple well known places. Both are located around one hour away and it is possible to ski or snowboard for about 50 USD per day including the equipment rental. Huabei ski resort is the largest one close to the capital, with decent facilities, but probably it is the most crowded one. Nanshan international ski resort offers the best facilities and it is suitable for all kinds of skiers from beginners to advanced. It is possible to find some accommodations on place with ski in / ski out facilities, but many choose to use the ski shuttle, this is a bus that departs daily from several points in Beijing and costs only seven US dollars. A reservation the day before is encouraged and this can be done calling to the hotline: 010-89091909
Yabuli is the largest and best ski resort in China. It is located around 100 kilometers from Harbin in Northeastern China. From Beijing there are several daily flights and from Harbin it is possible to take one of the many frequent trains. There are some local hotels and even the luxurious international chain Club Med runs an all inclusive property in Yabuli. The season is one of the longest and it goes from December to April.
Changbaishan Ski Resort is one of the newest winter attractions in China. It is located on the border with North Korea. It has gone through a lot of improvements in recent years and some beautiful properties such as Westin, a good Holiday Inn, Sheraton, and the locally revered Wanda offer beautiful accommodations. The luxurious Park Hyatt open there last year offering first class hospitality and ski-in / ski-out facilities. This is probably one of the places we would recommend the most to any foreigner. The mountains are beautiful and the facilities are quite good. There is a local airport with some daily flights from Beijing and from other cities, but the best option is to fly to Yanji -although it is more distant it is cheaper- and it only takes around one hour to arrive to the slopes.
China is a country progressing at a very fast speed, the Great Wall and the terracotta warriors along with Shanghai are amazing attractions, but there is a lot of more to see in this fantastic country, so why not to plan a different ski vacation this year?