Skiing in Asia

Skiing in Asia is mostly focused on North East Asia, with the continent’s best developed winter sports industries being found in Japan & Korea, and increasingly in China.

Skiing in Asia map

Where I’ve been skiing in Asia: 1. Hokkaido 2. Niigata 3. Kansai 4. Seoul & Gangwon-do 5. Beijing

Skiing in Japan

Japan was the first in the region to get into skiing in a big way, and is naturally blessed with mostly mountainous terrain and abundant quantities of snow; Japanese snow is also legendary for being the kind of dry, light powder that snowboarders dream of, as the winter clouds come over to Japan from Russia, bringing super-cooled mega-dumps of Siberian snow. This is especially true in the northern island of Hokkaido; in the main Japanese island of Honshu, the snow gets a bit wetter as you go south. Honshu has the better terrain and generally better-developed ski areas though, so is also a good choice of destination. Hokkaido (Sapporo) and Honshu (Nagano) have each been host to the Winter Olympics, in 1972 and 1998 respectively. For a more in-depth look at skiing in Japan, see here

View of Mt Yotei from Rusutsu ski resort, Hokkaido, Japan

Rusutsu, Hokkaido, Japan

Skiing in Korea

South Korea also mostly consists of mountainous terrain, and experiences very cold winters. The mountains aren’t as big as their counterparts in Japan, and Korea doesn’t get the same Siberian storm systems, but there is plenty of skiing to be found in the country and Korea hosted its first Winter Olympics in 2018. I’ve actually been to every ski resort in Korea (all 15 of them!) and made a dedicated Korean skiing website which you can check out here

Phoenix Park during the Pyeongchang Olympics

Skiing in China

Meanwhile in China, winter sports is a major growth industry and these days is attracting large-scale investment as the newly-monied Chinese middle classes are taking up skiing and boarding in increasing numbers. The north-eastern provinces of Jilin and Heilongjiang are very, very cold and are home to China’s premier ski areas, while the mountains around Beijing have a large number of much smaller (but popular) local hills. Rather more remote ski areas can also be found dotted around the high altitude western regions of China, in places like Sichuan and Yunnan. So far, the only place I’ve been skiing in China was a tiny local hill near Beijing, called Nanshan; the Beijing local hills are small and rely on artificial snow, so the downhill events for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics will actually be held almost 200km away in Zhangjiakou (China is building a bullet train line to Zhangjiakou specifically for Beijing 2022)

Skiing at Nanshan, Beijing, China

Nanshan, Beijing, China

Other places to go skiing in Asia

Looking further west, Iran is the biggest ski destination in the Middle East, the Central Asian Stans have some skiing (Kazhakstan made a bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympics, missing out to China), and India’s mountains have a growing reputation – especially Gulmarg in Kashmir. I haven’t yet been to any of these, but fully intend to check them all out eventually!