China’s mountains may not live up to the European Alps or the North American Rockies when it comes to snow sports, but that doesn’t mean skiers and boarders have to miss out on prime snow season due to travel in China. The northern portion of the country, particularly near Beijing and Harbin, ski opportunities abound. You’ll find that skiing in China allows you to experience new mountains with lower prices than ski resorts back home.
If skiing isn’t the main focus of your travels but you’d like to squeeze in a day on the slopes, choose one of the two resorts near Beijing. Huaibei International Ski Resort, located 43 miles (70 kilometers) from downtown Beijing, includes four beginner trails, two intermediate trails and one expert trail, all with views of the Ming Dynasty portion of the Great Wall topping the nearby mountains. If you head a little further from Beijing to the Nanshan Ski Resort, you’ll find yourself and the largest ski area accessible from China’s capital city. Two chair lifts and several rope tows will carry you to the heads of 10 trails ranging from beginner to expert, including a mogul trail and terrain park.
If you’re seeing the Giant Pandas in Chengdu, consider skiing at Xiling, China’s largest alpine resort. Sometimes called “The Oriental Alps,” Xiling Ski Resort sits 62 miles (100 kilometers) from Chengdu and enjoys stable snow during the winter months and plenty of clear, sunny days when the frigid temperatures don’t feel quite so cold.
Two of China’s best resorts sit in the far northeastern portion of the country. The Harbin Yabuli Ski Resort is where the Chinese national ski teams train, and visitors can take the two-hour train ride from Harbin before or after seeing the Harbin Ice Festival. Yabuli is great for beginners and advanced skiers, but intermediates may find themselves stuck with slopes either too easy or too challenging. Alshan Ski Resort sits on the border of China and Mongolia, and thanks to it’s northern position, you can start skiing here as early as November. It’s considered by many to be the second best resort in China.
No matter where you choose to ski, you should have no trouble finding equipment to rent and accommodations for your stay. If you have an unusually large shoe size, consider packing your own boots, and sizes in China are small.