Snowboarding is a thrilling sport that combines elements of skateboarding, surfing, and skiing. With a board strapped to your feet, you can glide down snow-covered mountains, carve turns in fresh powder, and launch off jumps and rails with gravity-defying tricks.
While snowboarding has its roots in North America and Europe, Asia has emerged as a continent to watch for snowboarders seeking new and exciting terrain. From the deep powder of Japan to the towering peaks of India, Asia offers an incredible diversity of snowboarding destinations that promise unforgettable experiences for riders of all levels. So, if you’re a snowboarder seeking new adventures and challenges, strap in and get ready to discover the best of what Asia has to offer.
Top countries for Snowboarding:
One of the primary reasons why a snowboarder might select Asia as their destination of choice is the incredible diversity of terrain on offer. Japan, in particular, has become renowned for its deep powder and varied terrain, which attracts snowboarders from all over the world. Resorts such as Niseko and Hakuba offer world-class snowboarding experiences, with vast amounts of skiable terrain, challenging runs, and stunning scenery.
But Japan is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to snowboarding in Asia. China, for example, has been investing heavily in its ski industry in recent years, with new resorts springing up all over the country. Wanlong Ski Resort, for example, boasts 22 runs and a range of freestyle features in its terrain park, making it a top destination for snowboarders seeking a challenge.
India, too, has emerged as an exciting destination for snowboarders in recent years, with the stunning Gulmarg resort offering breathtaking views of the Himalayas and challenging off-piste opportunities. And let’s not forget South Korea, which hosted the 2018 Winter Olympics and boasts world-class resorts such as Yongpyong, which offer a range of terrain for all levels of snowboarder.
With such a variety of destinations on offer, it’s no wonder that more and more snowboarders are looking to Asia for their next adventure. Whether you’re seeking deep powder, stunning scenery, or challenging terrain, Asia has something for every type of rider. If you’re eager to explore what this region has to offer, join us as we take you through our top 10 picks, complete with everything you need to know before you hit the slopes.
Top 10 Picks in Asia for Snowboarding:
1. Niseko, Japan: Powder heaven delight
Niseko United, located in Hokkaido, Japan, is a freeride paradise that offers powder hounds and freestyle riders an unbeatable experience. With a total of 57 pistes, beginners, intermediates, and advanced skiers and snowboarders have a range of options to choose from. The resort boasts 3 gondolas and 32 chairlifts, and impressive mountain stats that include a top lift of 1200m, a vertical drop of 900m, and a bottom lift of 300m. Lift passes range from 4,700.00-5,500.00 Day in low season to 15,2000 Season pass, allowing visitors to make the most of their trip. The resort is divided into four areas, and a Niseko United pass allows access to all.
Niseko United’s modern and traditional architecture and breathtaking views of Mt. Yotei are renowned. The resort receives over 14 meters of snowfall annually, making it a mecca for powder enthusiasts. The resort’s natural pillow lines and well-spaced birch trees provide ample opportunity for freeriding within the resort boundary. Visitors can also enjoy floodlit runs for night skiing, and a variety of western-owned and operated restaurants, bars, and lodges. While the lift system is modern, environmental laws restrict the use of one-man chairs above the treeline.
Weather in the area can be unpredictable, with storms coming in off the coast. However, tree runs during these times can be incredibly fun. All in all, Niseko United is a must-visit destination for skiers and snowboarders looking for a unique, memorable experience.
2. Gulmarg, India: Himalayan adventure paradise
Located in the breathtaking Himalayan Mountain range, Gulmarg is a paradise for adventurous travelers seeking an unforgettable winter experience. The resort boasts an $8 million gondola that takes visitors up to 4,150 meters, providing stunning panoramic views of the surrounding peaks. With a top lift of 3,950 meters and a vertical drop of 1,350 meters, Gulmarg is a dream destination for advanced skiers and snowboarders looking for a challenging run. The resort features one cable car, one chairlift, and five drag lifts, offering plenty of options for exploring the slopes.
Beyond the skiing and snowboarding, there are opportunities for trekking, snowshoeing, and even heli-skiing. Visitors should be aware of the region’s history of conflict and occasional security threats, but with proper precautions, a trip to Gulmarg promises an unforgettable Himalayan adventure. The resort is situated about 60 km away from the nearest airport, which is located in Srinagar.
3. Yongpyong, South Korea: Olympic-grade skiing experience
Yongpyong ski resort in South Korea is an Olympic-grade skiing experience that has been the focal point of several unsuccessful Winter Olympics bids by Korea. This resort, located in the Balwang Mountains, boasts twelve fast lifts and a classy base lodge. With 23 km of pistes and a vertical drop of 750 meters, Yongpyong is a big resort by Korean standards. The mountain stats include a top lift of 1450 meters, a bottom lift of 700 meters, and 31 pistes, categorized as 28% easy, 42% intermediate, and 30% advanced.
While freeriding is limited due to lack of snow, the resort’s terrain park offers a great freestyle experience. The park is the largest in Korea and features an assortment of rails and booters, providing opportunities for snowboarders and skiers to show off their skills. The park’s location, right in front of the gondola, ensures that riders can easily be seen by other park-goers who hoot and cheer even for the simplest of maneuvers. Overall, Yongpyong offers an unforgettable skiing experience for those seeking a challenging and fun adventure on the slopes.
4. Shiga Kogen, Japan: Endless skiing wonderland
Shiga Kogen, a world-renowned ski destination in Japan’s Nagano prefecture, is located 60 km from Nagano city, 250 km from Tokyo, and 460 km from Osaka. The resort boasts 19 unique ski fields and is among the largest ski resort areas globally, with 52 lifts, gondolas, and chair lifts.
Shiga Kogen hosted several major events of the 1998 Nagano winter Olympic Games and is famous for its grand scale, panoramic views, and powder quality snow. With a single lift pass, visitors can access all 19 interlinked ski fields, providing a vast winter playground.
Shiga Kogen caters to all skill levels, from beginners to advanced skiers and snowboarders, and waiting time is minimal, with courses almost empty on weekdays. Ichinose village’s elevation, at 1650m above sea level, is the highest modern ski village in Japan, offering the best snow quality and depth during the winter season.
5. Wanlong Ski Resort, China: Next winter vacation
Wanlong Ski Resort in Chongli, China is quickly gaining popularity as one of Asia’s top ski destinations. It boasts a total of 22 ski runs, including 3 Olympic standard runs, catering to skiers and snowboarders of all skill levels. With a peak elevation of 2,774 meters and a vertical drop of 940 meters, Wanlong is known for its consistent and high-quality snowfall, providing an exceptional powder experience for visitors.
The resort’s ski runs are divided into different zones, offering gentle slopes and easy terrain for beginners, as well as challenging and exciting experiences for advanced skiers and snowboarders. But Wanlong is not just about skiing and snowboarding. It also offers a variety of other winter activities, such as ice skating, snowmobiling, and snowshoeing, and plenty of off-mountain activities, including hot springs, spas, and local cultural experiences.
Wanlong’s commitment to sustainability and environmental protection is also a standout feature. The resort has implemented measures to minimize its impact on the surrounding natural environment, such as water conservation, waste reduction, and renewable energy use.
6. Furano Ski Resort, Japan: Heart of Japan
Furano is a renowned ski area in the heart of Hokkaido, Japan, run by the Prince Hotels Group and offering the largest slopeside hotels. It boasts two zones, the Kitanomine and Furano Zones, providing a diverse range of terrain suitable for all levels of riders, with a freeride rating of 70%, freestyle rating of 50%, and piste rating of 70%. The resort’s top lift is at 1209m, with a vertical drop of 964m and a bottom lift at 250m, served by 1 cable-car, 1 gondola, 8 chairlifts, and 2 other lifts. Of the 22 pistes, 40% are easy, 40% intermediate, and 20% advanced.
Furano is also known for its light, dry snow, although January and February can get very cold. Moreover, the resort is a major destination in both summer and winter, with good night skiing trails, and hosting a World Cup Snowboard event annually.
Despite Furano’s policy of restricting riders to marked courses only, it offers some exciting freeriding opportunities, including steep terrain, exciting trees, bowls, and amazing powder. However, riders can play “cat and mouse” to enjoy fresh lines after a storm. While the freestyle facilities are not vast and impeccably maintained, the decent-sized halfpipe, found on the Prince C run near the Furano Zone base, is worth a visit when freshly cut. Finally, Furano is beginner-friendly, with ideal gradients and fall-lines for beginners to master their turns.
7. Hakuba, Japan: Ultimate powder playground
This picturesque mountain town offers over 11 meters of snowfall per season and some of the best skiing and snowboarding terrain in the world. Additionally, Hakuba caters to every type of snowboarder, with challenging runs and groomed slopes alike. But it’s the off-piste terrain and backcountry powder that truly sets Hakuba apart from other destinations. Backcountry areas are accessible through lifts, allowing snowboarders to explore endless powder fields, tree runs, and natural features for a one-of-a-kind adventure.
Beyond the incredible snowboarding terrain, Hakuba offers a unique cultural experience. Traditional onsens and local cuisine are must-try experiences after a day on the mountain. The town’s proximity to Tokyo and other cities also makes it an ideal destination for combining snowboarding with a cultural excursion.
To get to Hakuba, you can take the Nagano Snow Shuttle or a train and bus. The Happo area, Echoland, and Misolao are popular tourist spots. Happo-One, the highest resort, offers incredible views and soft pistes on bluebird days. Happo 47 and Goryu provide a mix of terrain, while Iwatake lets you ride a full 360º off the top. Tsugaike Kogen is all about the trees, and Cortina and Norikura are the places to go for a powder day.
8. Yabuli Ski Resort, China: Terrain diversity thrill
Yabuli Ski Resort in China is a winter sports destination that promises a diverse terrain and an unforgettable experience for skiers and snowboarders. The resort boasts 35 km of slopes and 11 lifts, offering runs for all skill levels. Beginners can enjoy 3 km of easy runs, while intermediate riders can explore the 19 km of intermediate terrain. Advanced skiers and snowboarders can challenge themselves on the 13 km of difficult runs.
Located in Heilongjiang, visitors can also enjoy fresh powder all season long. The skiing period typically spans from mid-November until early April. The nearby town of Yabuli is only 3.4 km away, and visitors can also stay in nearby towns like Shangzhi (94 km) and Harbin (230 km).
Overall, Yabuli Ski Resort is a great option for winter sports enthusiasts seeking a unique skiing experience in China. With a variety of trails and elevations, there’s something for every type of skier or snowboarder.
9. High 1 Ski Resort, South Korea: Scenic Mountain wonderland
High1 Ski Resort in South Korea is a winter wonderland that offers breathtaking views and thrilling skiing and snowboarding opportunities. Situated in the Gangwon Province, the resort boasts 21 kilometers of slopes and 11 lifts to transport guests. With elevations ranging from 690 to 1,367 meters, High1 features a variety of trails for skiers and snowboarders of different skill levels.
For beginners, the resort has 4 kilometers of easy runs, providing a gentle introduction to skiing. Intermediate riders can explore the 7.5 kilometers of slopes, with a mix of groomed and ungroomed terrain that provides a fun and challenging experience. Advanced skiers and snowboarders can challenge themselves on the 9.5 kilometers of difficult runs, with steep pitches, moguls, and tree runs that will test their skills.
But High1 is not just about skiing and snowboarding. The resort’s scenic location in the mountains of Gangwon Province offers stunning views and plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities. Visitors can go on snowshoeing or sledding adventures, take a ride on the resort’s gondola for a panoramic view of the area, or visit nearby attractions such as the Samcheok Ocean Railbike, a popular tourist destination.
10. Sahoro Resort, Japan: Secluded winter paradise
Sahoro Resort is a top-notch ski destination located in Shintoku Town, Hokkaido. The resort is situated in the Tokachi powder belt and can be easily accessed from Asahikawa, Obihiro, and Shinchitose airports. It boasts eight ski lifts, including a 2140m long gondola and three quad lifts, making it an ideal choice for skiers of all levels. The resort’s North Way course offers the steepest slope, featuring a 39-degree gradient.
Sahoro Resort is open from December 1, 2022, to March 31, 2023, with average monthly snowfall of 56 cm in December, 73 cm in January, 94 cm in February, 87 cm in March, and 91 cm in April.
Apart from its outstanding snow conditions, Sahoro Resort boasts a fair-weather rate, with a 50% chance of sunny skies, and provides a range of snow-related activities, such as snowshoe tours, snowmobile trials, and stargazing snow groomer tours, ideal for families with kids. Ski and snowboard lessons and equipment rental are available, and backcountry tours, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, and airboarding are some of the snow-related activities offered.
Asia is home to some of the best snowboarding destinations in the world, with each offering unique terrain, culture, and experiences. From the world-class resorts of Japan and South Korea to the hidden gems of China and India, there’s no shortage of places to explore. Whether you’re a freerider, freestyler, or piste lover, there’s something for everyone in Asia. With the rapid development of the snowboarding industry in Asia, it’s likely that new and exciting destinations will continue to emerge. So, if you’re looking for an adventure and want to experience the thrill of snowboarding in a new and unique setting, then Asia should definitely be on your list of places to visit.