You may not think about skiing when you plan a trip toJapan. But there are plenty of opportunities to ski in Japan every winter.
My first experience skiing in Japan was when I took aday trip from tokyoskiing at Gala Yuzawa. Since then, I have taken two more extended ski trips to a Japanese ski resort included in theIkon Packageand Mountain Collective Forfait: Niseko United.
I loved visiting Niseko United in January 2020 and most recently in December 2022. So today I'm going to tell you how and why to plan a trip yourself, including tips for planning a trip to Niseko using points and miles.
Why take a ski trip to Niseko
Skiing towards the base area of Niseko Village. KATIE GENTER/THE BOY WITH THE DOTS
Niseko is located on the outskirts of the city of Sapporo in northern Japan, but it is relatively easy to get to from Sapporo New Chitose Airport (CTS). And Niseko is home to the largest ski resort in Japan - Niseko United.
Niseko United comprises four interconnected resorts: Annupuri, Niseko Village, Hirafu and Hanazono. This area is well known for its powder snow and ski touring availability, but there are also beginner and intermediate runs at every resort.
The four resorts are connected high up on the mountain, but the base areas aren't particularly close. A bus connects the base areas, and some accommodation options offer a shuttle to each area, but it's best to stay close to where you want to ski most. If you are looking to stay in a more populated area with nightlife, Hirafu will be the most attractive.
if you have aPase Ikon or Colectivo Montaña, you can use your pass to get free ski days at Niseko United. Otherwise you will need to purchase lift tickets. The prices are modest, however. For example, a four-day adult regular seasonmountain passit would cost 29,800 Japanese yen (about $217).
You may want to purchase a single resort pass if you are a beginner or don't plan to ski at other resorts. For example, a four-day adult regular seasonNiseko Village Passit would cost 23,900 Japanese yen (about $174). And if you're more into ski touring or only plan to ski a few runs each day, Niseko's point-based lift option might appeal.
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Finally, one of my favorite parts of visiting Japan isenjoying the japanese onsens. Onsens are hot spring baths that range from a simple bathtub to many pools in a beautiful setting. After a long day of skiing, soaking in an onsen overlooking the snow-capped mountains is amazing. Some accommodations have onsens on-site, but you'll also find plenty of onsens around Niseko that you can visit for a small fee.
Related:How to plan your ski trip with points and miles
How to fly to Niseko with points and miles
I will assume that you will not only visit Niseko during your trip to Japan. So, I recommend using points and miles to fly totokio.
See our guide ontravel to japan with points and milesAnd these two sweet spots for ideas:
- Book Business Class Roundtrip to Japan for 75,000 ANA Mileson valley dates.
- redeem45,000 Virgin Atlantic Flying Club points to fly one-way between the US West Coast and Japanin ANA business class.
You can also often find reasonably priced economy prizes through various programs as well. For example, you can still find one-wayAmerican Advantage Aawards from the US to Japan this winter for 32,500 miles plus $5.60 in taxes and fees.
Once in Japan, you can use buses, trains, and domestic flights to travel around the country. Since Sapporo is in the north of Japan, I recommend flying. After all, you canBook cheap flights within Japan for 5,500 United milesand $5.40 in taxes and fees each way.
Or if you preferredeem American Airlines miles, you can redeem 7,500 miles plus $0 in taxes and fees to fly one-way economy with Japan Airlines.
Best of all, you can select a nationally or regionally configured widebody aircraft for your flight.
Related:Tokyo Narita vs. Haneda: Which airport should I fly to?
Where to stay in Niseko using points and miles
Skiing at Hilton Niseko Village in Japan. KATIE GENTER/THE BOY WITH THE DOTS
First things first: Taxis are rare and expensive in the Niseko area. And it's no fun carrying your ski or snowboard gear long distances. Therefore, I highly recommend staying at a hotel in a Niseko base area. Your next best bet is to stay at a hotel that offers a ski shuttle service to at least one Niseko base area.
If you want to earn or redeem with the main hotel loyalty programs, you will have the following options:
|Hotel||loyalty program||Award category or award rates per night during ski season||Typical nightly cash rates during ski season||grades|
|The difference is the Hilton Niseko||Hilton Honors.||33,000 to 377,000 points.||$ 146 a $ 829.||Only premium room rewards are available during most of the ski season.|
Located slopeside in Niseko Village (one minute walk from Niseko Gondola and Community Chair) with indoor and outdoor onsen baths.
|Pueblo de Higashiyama Niseko, unReserva Ritz-Carlton||Marriot Bonvoy.||80,000 to 120,000 points.||$ 499 a $ 1,943.||It offers ski-in/ski-out access to the Niseko Village base area (a 10-minute walk from Bonzai Chair) and a spa with private onsen baths.|
Minimum stay requirements apply on select dates.
|Park Hyatt Niseko Hanazono||Mundo de Hyatt.||Category 8.||$ 635 a $ 1,389.||Ski-in/ski-out access to Niseko's Hanazono Resort.|
Pool, onsen baths and spa with private onsen baths.
Minimum stay requirements apply on select dates.
|Zaborin||IHG One Rewards.||No prize availability found.||$1,124 a $1,413.||Each villa has two private onsen baths, one indoor and one outdoor.|
Niseko's Hanazono Complex is a 5-minute drive away.
Minimum stay requirements apply on select dates.
Hinode Hills Category 6 Niseko Village and Category 8 Kasara Niseko Village in the Niseko Village base area participate in thePrograma World of Hyatt como Small Luxury Hotels of the World. But I did not find any availability using points or cash in any of the hotels for this ski season.
There are also many other accommodation options outside of the major hotel loyalty programs. For example, when I visited in early 2020, I booked the Niseko Grand Hotel through Hotels.com and wonHotels.com Rewards. If you are looking for a budget option or want to stay in a traditional Japanese accommodation,earn or redeem rewards through an online travel agencycould be your best option.
Related:15 of our favorite ski hotels you can book with points
If you love skiing, hot springs, and Japan, consider planning a ski trip to Niseko. After staying at the well-located Hilton Niseko Village earlier this month and enjoying their complimentary guest ski valet, I'm already planning to return next year.
You do not need to rent a vehicle or book a private transfer from Sapporo. Instead, check to see if a downtown Sapporo or New Chitose Airport tour bus drops off near your accommodation. For example, the Hokkaido Resort Liner and White Liner buses serve most accommodations in Niseko Village during the winter.
Also, you don't need tobring ski equipment. Most base areas offer the ability to rent just about anything you need, including clothing. Some rental companies will also drop off (and pick up) equipment at your accommodation. Check online before you visit, as some companies offer discounts if you order in advance.
Related: LeaveElsewhereexperts plan your trip to Japan. (Elsewhere is owned by TPG's sister brand, Lonely Planet.)
Editorial Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.
The average price of a 7-day trip to Niseko is $2,480 for a solo traveler, $4,454 for a couple, and $8,350 for a family of 4. Niseko hotels range from $85 to $389 per night with an average of $147, while most vacation rentals will cost $160 to $1000 per night for the entire home.How much does a Niseko ski trip cost? ›
The average price of a 7-day trip to Niseko is $2,480 for a solo traveler, $4,454 for a couple, and $8,350 for a family of 4. Niseko hotels range from $85 to $389 per night with an average of $147, while most vacation rentals will cost $160 to $1000 per night for the entire home.How to ski at Niseko for cheap? ›
- Don't visit during peak season. ...
- Chose your resort carefully. ...
- Pick a hotel that offers ski pass discounts. ...
- Cook your own meals and bring your own food. ...
- Consider your ski pass: All Mountain vs Individual Resort. ...
- Stay outside the resort and use a shuttle or car. ...
- Pre-book your transfers or take the train.
Ski Japan. For $2196, you can get 7 nights accommodation, 6-day lift passes and all breakfasts for four people at Shiga Kogan in Japan through Travel Snow.How many days to ski Niseko? ›
Five days skiing or snowboarding in the Niseko region. You can arrange backcountry guides, make full day excursions to nearby Rusutsu, Moiwa or Kiroro and / or head off snowcat skiing for the day. Transfer back to Sapporo Chitose Airport and fly down to Tokyo.What are the best months to ski in Niseko? ›
Mid December through March is typically the snowiest season, with the best snow in late December, January and February. Niseko receives an average of 14 meters of snow per season with most of it coming during this time. There is excellent powder skiing during this time.What is the best month to visit Niseko? ›
April is the best time to visit Niseko if you want low costs, no crowds, and plenty of fine weather. All the powder skiers and snowboarders have cleared out (unless they play golf) because there's not much powder and lots of bluebird days.Is food in Niseko expensive? ›
Niseko has a big range of restaurants and cafes. You can have a half decent meal from about Y500 to fine dining at around Y13,000 for a 9 course degustation menu. Beers will cost around Y500 in a bar and cheaper from convenience stores. Spririts are usually cheaper.What is the cheapest month to go skiing? ›
Just like with summer breaks, weeks that are less popular are generally cheaper. For the lowest ski holiday prices, January is the sweet spot – and it also usually has the best snow and fewest crowds, so it's a win all-round. Going at the start or end of the season can also be really good value.Is Niseko beginner friendly? ›
Niseko Ski Resort is suited to skiers and boarders of all ability levels. There are a large variety of groomed runs that are ideal for beginners and intermediates. For powder hounds Niseko has great off-piste skiing.
|Vacation List||Cost Range|
|Day pass||$50 - $250|
|Season Pass (Optional)||$600 - $800 (doesn't count in total cost)|
|Food and drink||$25 - $90 per day|
|Lessons (Optional)||$80 - $150 per hour (private) $60 - $100 per 2-hours (group) (doesn't count in total cost)|
|Classic Japan Package||7 Days/6 Nights||₹2,00,954|
|Tokyo, Kyoto and Hiroshima with Tokyo (Europamundo) Package||8 Days/7 Nights||₹2,91,785|
|Contrasts of Japan (Europamundo) Package||9 Days/8 Nights||₹2,92,397|
|Essential Japan (Europamundo) Package||7 Days/6 Nights||₹2,23,561|
Niseko, Japan: Home to "champagne powder," a variety of luxury chalets, and an under-the-radar skiing hotspot where millionaires can eat fresh sushi in ski lodges. It's no wonder that Niseko, one of the snowiest spots in the world, has caught the attention of luxury hotel chains and wealthy skiers.Is Niseko worth going? ›
While the lift tickets are a good value, just about everything else at Niseko is not. I found almost everything from accommodation to food to be extremely expensive, even for Japanese standards. In the high season, a hostel bed can run you as much as ¥7000/night.Where do you fly into for Niseko? ›
The nearest airport to Niseko is Sapporo's New Chitose Airport, which receives flights from all over Japan and some international destinations as well. New Chitose Airport is Hokkaido's main transport hub and the gateway to Hokkaido for both domestic and international travelers.Does the bullet train go to Niseko? ›
We are often asked how to get to Niseko from Tokyo, and whether there is a Tokyo to Niseko bullet train. Sadly there is not, and while it is possible to take the train all the way from Tokyo to Niseko, it is only suitable for the adventurous with extra time on their hands!What are the pros and cons of Niseko? ›
Pros: Cheaper accommodation, great snow/conditions, sunny days, fewer crowds. Cons: Slightly wetter, heavier snow, fewer powder days. Best for: Beginner or intermediate skiers looking to avoid the hustle and bustle of peak season.What are the most crowded ski weeks? ›
Although the busiest week of the ski season is between Christmas and New Year's, Martin Luther King, Jr and Presidents' Day long weekends are also popular times for ski vacations. Book lodging early and make restaurant reservations at least the day before.How many ski resorts are there in Niseko Japan? ›
About Niseko Ski Resort
Comprised of 4 interlinked ski resorts – Grand Hirafu, Hanazono, Niseko Village and An'nupuri – it is renowned for its consistency and quality of powder snow throughout the winter.
|Use days||Effective days|
The transfer time from Tokyo to Niseko is between 7 and 9 hours depending on your choice of transfer.What is the average snowfall in Niseko United? ›
The average temperature in Niseko is around -8 C which creates dry champagne powder with an average snowfall of 14 meters per winter.How much is a dinner for two in Japan? ›
The price you pay depends on the type of meat and volume you choose, but it will likely be around 2,000 to 4,000 yen per meal per person. Prices for dinner are a little bit more expensive, ranging from 6,000 to 10,000 yen. Teppanyaki is food cooked on an iron griddle ("teppan" in Japanese).What food is Niseko known for? ›
Fresh crab and local vegetables. Enjoy crab courses dinner and Japanese sake that best matches with the dishes. A local Niseko favorite famous for its authentic and down to earth Japanese izakaya cuisine! Serves fresh and fine catch of seafoods such as oysters, crabs and prawns.How much money should I have for food in Japan? ›
A lunch, dinner, or after-drinking bowl of ramen should generally run around 900 yen (about US$8). This includes tax, and there is no tipping in Japan. You may be tempted to sweeten the carb bounty with a side order of gyoza (dumplings). A gaggle of six should run you around 300 yen, or about US$2.70.What is the cheapest day of the week to ski? ›
Ski on a weekday
That's right; if you choose to hit the slopes Monday through Thursday, there often is a discount. Not every resort offers this deal, but it's worth checking out when planning a trip. Holiday weeks, unfortunately, usually cost more overall.
Get up super early and ski half days (8-noon) on Saturdays and Sundays — Sunday mornings are usually less crowded than Saturday.What time of day is best to start skiing? ›
The snow conditions are usually better in the morning, as the slopes are always freshly groomed. Also, there is a higher chance that the slopes will be more empty if you go skiing quite early. Morning lessons are also great for kids as they usually are more motivated than later in the day.Why is Niseko famous? ›
Niseko is Asia's premier year round resort. It is best known for receiving the world's best powder snow throughout winter, and as a relaxed outdoor lifestyle destination during the summer months.Does Niseko have night skiing? ›
The terrain available for night skiing truly sets Niseko apart from other ski destinations. Floodlights span across Hirafu, from the Ace Quad #2 all the way to the Hirafu Gondola, making it the largest night skiing area in Japan.
Niseko Grand Hirafu
A number of ski schools use this area as their base because it offers terrain to suit everyone from beginner to expert riders. The resort is easy to access thanks to the high speed Hirafu Gondola, which will get you out on the mountain and starting your day in no time at all.
Anywhere from 25 to 50 days would be an admirable goal, and make no mistake—bagging 25 days of skiing in a year is more than most skiers get! By far, the easiest way to ski 100 days in a year is to structure your work life around skiing.How many ski pants do I need for ski trip? ›
One good ski jacket and one pair of skiing pants should be sufficient for most ski trips. Socks, however, are best to change daily. And if you have access to wash your base layer between uses, go for it. You should rarely, if ever, wash your jacket and pants.What do I need for a 3 day ski trip? ›
- Skis and ski poles or snowboard.
- Ski boots or snowboard boots.
- Hand and toe warmers – 1 to 7 packs of each, or electric boot warmers.
- Hydration pack.
It's more than enough, though of course it depends on what you plan to do and how long you intend to stay. Your flight and lodging are the most potentially costly items.Which is the best month to go to Japan? ›
The best time to visit Japan is between March and May and between September and November as it's both warm and dry between these periods. However, the joys of springtime and the iconic blooming of the cherry blossoms in Japan are no secret, which means you'll be sharing the space with plenty of other travellers.How much should I bring for a 2 week trip to Japan? ›
Based on average vacation time, the most common question is how much a trip to Japan costs for two weeks. To which I would say you need to budget at least $1,200. Around one-third of that will be spent on a Japan Rail Pass.Where do billionaires go ski? ›
The distance from Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport to the Yellowstone Club, where billionaires ski and golf across 15,200 exclusive acres, is about 50 miles.Where does Bill Gates ski? ›
Ski passes are not required at Yellowstone Club, and members and guests have unfettered access to 2,700 acres of what the resort has trademarked as Private Powder™ across 18 ski lifts and over 100 trails.What season is best to ski in Japan? ›
So when is the best time to ski in Japan? If you're after powder, the best time to visit is January and February. For festivals, the best time to go is from late January till mid-February. If you want to get a great deal and enjoy stunning weather, March and early April is the time to go.
While it's totally safe to ski on all ski runs within the Niseko United ski resorts without fear of avalanche, once you step or ski outside the resort boundary, it's a different story. It's vitally important that visitors understand this, and also understand how to mitigate the chance of accident.What is the coldest month in Niseko? ›
average temperature Niseko
January has the lowest average temperature of the year. It is -7.8 °C | 18.0 °F.
Together they form 8.87 km2 (2,191 acres) skiable of what is known as the Niseko United. The lift system comprises 38 gondolas and lifts connecting 61 ski runs and 12 terrain parks.What is the closest city to Niseko? ›
Kutchan town is the closest and biggest city to Hirafu and the Niseko United resorts. Even then, the population is a modest 15,000 during the summer, with an inflated number in the winter due to visitors and seasonal workers.How many hours from Sapporo to Niseko? ›
The transfer time from Sapporo to Niseko is 2 hours. Train, bus, private taxi transfer and self-drive are all possible options for transport from Sapporo to Niseko.How long is the bullet train from Tokyo to Hokkaido? ›
The journey from Tokyo to Hakodate takes approximately 4 hours and 4 minutes. The Shinkansen Hayabusa goes all the way to Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto, located between Hakodate and Hokuto. Once you arrive, you will need to take the local Hakodate Liner to reach the city of Hakodate.Is it worth it to go to Niseko? ›
While the lift tickets are a good value, just about everything else at Niseko is not. I found almost everything from accommodation to food to be extremely expensive, even for Japanese standards. In the high season, a hostel bed can run you as much as ¥7000/night.How much does it cost to ski in Hokkaido? ›
The typical cost of a one-day pass for large ski areas is around 5000 to 7000 yen. Many resorts also offer half day, multi-day, nighter and season passes. Furthermore, ski holiday packages, which include transportation, lift passes and accommodation, are available at competitive rates through travel agencies.