The Ultimate First-Timers Guide to Niseko in Winter

From clothing, transport to activities and food! Everything you need to enjoy a winter stay in Niseko.

Famous for incredible quality of snow and the vast amount of it, Niseko is the top destination for skiers, snowboarders and those who would love to experience true winter wonderland. For anyone visiting Niseko for the first time, here is all the best tips and essential information you'll need during your stay. 

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When to Come?

Late November - Early May

Niseko's ski season starts from late November and ends in early May, around the Japanese Golden Week holiday. With an annual snowfall of up to 15 metres, the entire resort is covered in a blanket of snow for almost half the year. 

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As one of the most popular ski destinations, travellers come to Niseko to experience the snow while celebrating Christmas, New Year's Eve and Chinese New Year. 

Other than the holiday season, many people are coming to Niseko during early winter or in March when the days are warmer, the snow is still amazing and there is more availability for services and accommodation.     

What to do in Niseko?

Experiencing the snow slopes is a must. 

Skiers and snowboarders from all over the world come to Niseko just for the incredible powder snow. Enjoy the 47 kms of groomed slopes across the four linked resorts: Niseko Grand Hirafu, Hanazono, Annupuri and Niseko Village (Higashiyama). 

Of the four resorts, Niseko Grand Hirafu is the largest, with about 60% of the ski runs and the most accommodation options, restaurant choices, and number of lifts.

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For complete beginners to the sport, take a lesson with GoSnow who offer an Adult First Timer Pack which includes rental gear. Even if sports isn't your forte, we guarantee the view of Mt Yotei from above is worth it. 

Not keen for the slopes? There's many other great activities. 

Apart from skiing and snowboarding, other off-mountain activities to try include: snowmobiling, tobogganing, snowshoeing and more. For a day away from the snow, explore Japanese culture by participating in tea ceremonies, traditional winter festivals or staying warm in an onsen

Try out a selection of the best local produce and the freshest seafood at restaurants in Niseko. Local Hokkaido dishes to try include soup curry and genghis khan. 

Eat sushi at Wakatake or a range of delicious seasonal dishes at An Dining. Dine at Kumo Restaurant, a Hokkaido Izakaya with an extraordinary view of Mt Yotei.

For a drink (or two!), the streets of Hirafu Village is filled with options. From local sake, beer to special cocktails, all only found in Niseko. Musu, Bar Gyu+ (The Fridge Bar) and Toshiro's Bar are our favourites. Stay around at night and experience the unique nightlife in Niseko.   

How to get around?

Shuttle bus service is the way to go.

Most accommodations such as Ki Niseko and Skye Niseko will offer a complimentary shuttle bus service for their guests. Niseko United's Shuttle Bus service will take travellers between all four ski resorts as well as Kutchan Town with regular bus stops in between. 

For bigger groups or those who prefer travelling in style, SkyExpress offers day hires to get you around and to further places such as Sapporo and Otaru.

What to clothes to bring?

Thermal wear, boots and layered outfits

With temperatures reaching -11 degrees, warm outfits will protect you from the winter conditions. Layer up with a jumper and winter wear jacket as well as a scarf and hat. In addition, pack a good pair of boots to walk through the snow. 

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Visit Odin Place to purchase some high quality, outdoor lifestyle apparels from brands such as Burton, Moncler and Ikeuchi. Most places in Niseko do not have a strict dress code, so feel free to grab a bite or a beer straight after the slopes in your ski wear. 

Ready for the best winter holiday? Don't forget these three essentials before arriving in Niseko