5 Things You Should Know Before Planning a Niseko Ski Holiday
Planning a ski holiday is a time consuming process which requires careful thought and planning. In a bid to make your life easier, we’ve compiled a list of the 5 essential things you should know before embarking on your trip.
There’s more to Niseko than just skiing and snowboarding
By all means come to Niseko for the famously light, dry powder snow, the extensive ski terrain or the easily accessible sidecountry/backcountry. But there’s a whole lot more to see and experience in Niseko, so keep that in mind when planning your itinerary.
Whether it’s visiting an onsen for the first time, trying your hand at snowmobiling, enjoying authentic Hokkaido cuisine (see item 4), or checking out a local sake brewery, you’re bound to find something that makes adding a day or two to your trip well worth it.
It snows. A lot.
Niseko does not get its reputation as one of world’s best powder skiing destinations from all the bluebird days and sunshine. If you’re planning on visiting Niseko during December, January, or February, be prepared for heavy snowfall. That means a good pair of low light goggles, some quality layers to keep yourself warm and a pair of snow boots for getting around the village (these can all be purchased from Niseko retailers like Rhythm Snowsports). That’s not to say the sunny days don’t exist during these months—they’re just a lot less common.
If your preference is for good visibility, milder temperatures and panoramic views, consider booking a little later in the season. From late February onwards the average snowfall drops off significantly.
You’ll be spoilt for choice on food and restaurants
If you’re worried about the availability and range of dining options, think again. A ski holiday in Japan is a perfect opportunity to try fresh, authentic Japanese food, and it doesn’t get much better than top quality venues like An Dining or Niseko favourite A Bu Cha 2.
But if you’re after something a little more casual, you need not worry. The iconic Niseko convenience store Seicomart stocks an affordable range of Western staples including bread, cereal, pre-made meals, beer, wine, snacks and even Vegemite! There’s also a huge range of dining options to suit virtually any taste or budget.
You can find a list in our comprehensive Niseko restaurant guide. And make sure you book ahead for peak season dates!
You can take ski and snowboard lessons in English (and beat the crowds)
Niseko’s emergence as the only truly international ski resort in Japan means that most businesses will have English speaking staff—ski schools included. Gondola Snowsports (GoSnow), Niseko Grand Hirafu’s official international snowsports school, employs experienced, certified, English-speaking instructors from Australia, New Zealand, North America and Europe.
They’re the only school in Niseko Grand Hirafu that have private on-snow beginner facilities and priority lift lines at the Hirafu High Speed Gondola and Ace Quad (Centre 4) lift, which means less time fighting crowds and more time skiing. But make sure you book ahead! Lessons can be very popular over peak periods and classes often fill up well before the season begins.
Find discounts on everything
Niseko is a paradise for bargain hunters, who will find deals on virtually any service or activity over the winter season.
The most extensive discount program is the Niseko Passport—offered to HT Holidays and Ki Niseko guests, with exclusive deals on a range of activities, restaurants, onsens, retailers and transport services.
The passport currently allows summer guests to take advantage of over 30 special deals around town, and the winter offering is likely to be just as good, with reductions on ski and snowboard lessons and rental equipment already locked in.