Budgeting and pros/cons for those considering the 2 most popular ski destinations in Hokkaido.
In short, Club Med Sahoro is the hassle-free option and Niseko is more modular and flexible.
Planning a ski trip is not complex, so don’t be intimidated even if it’s your first time. A ski trip to Hokkaido will usually look like this:
Day 1 Singapore Changi > Tokyo > Sapporo Chitose* . Bus transfer to hotel.
Day 2-5 Eat. Ski. Sleep. Repeat.
Day 6** Bus transfer to airport. CTS > TYO > SIN.
* Fly to Obihiro OBO if going to Club Med Sahoro
** Or extend in Sapporo or Tokyo
Note that unlike “normal” city holidays, it is advisable to add an extra night’s accommodation for each ski day. For example if you plan to ski for 4 full days, book 5 nights at the ski resort. It is not impossible to ski on arrival or departure day depending on your ETA/ETD, but logistically more troublesome as you have to check in/out and change into/out of ski wear (may be wet/soggy after skiing session), and even more so if you are renting equipment/ski clothes (as it takes time to try, wait in line, do paperwork, etc).
Ski resorts in Hokkaido (Source: Tokyotravelpals website)
Note that if you just want to see snow / play snow, you DO NOT need to go all the way to Niseko or Sahoro and spend a lot of money. There are many ski resorts much closer to Sapporo (1h drive or less, can even do a day trip) such as Sapporo Teine which has a tubing park for kids and wallet-friendly day trip packages, or combine onsen-hunting at Jozankei Onsen resort town with skiing at Sapporo Kokusai (shuttle buses running hourly – see timetable here). Read my guide on choosing a ski resort in Japan.
Budgeting for Club Med Sahoro 6D5N with 4 full ski days (twin share)
(USD1= SGD1.25 = JPY100)
- Return airport transfer (1.5h by coach): USD80/adult
- 5N all-inclusive package: USD1,600-3,500/adult depending on season (you can get early bird discounts up to 30%)
- 4D equipment rental (optional): From USD200
- 4D group lessons: Included
- 4D lift pass: Included
>> TOTAL excluding airtix: From USD1,900/adult
(Indicative Air Ticket prices for SIN-OBO return: SGD1.0k-1.4k/adult)
Pros: OPEN BAR (!!!!), hassle-free for large group and/or families with younger kids, no lift lines and no competition for powder in trees
Cons: Feels a bit like school camp, expensive if you are not a big drinker or not skiing every day and/or don’t require lessons, food is ok but not awesome, isolated location, limited terrain for advanced skiers/riders
Budgeting for Niseko 6D5N with 4 full ski days (twin share)
(USD1= SGD1.25 = JPY100)
- Return airport transfer (2.5h by coach): JPY4,140/adult
- 5N hotel: JPY35k for mid-range hotel e.g. 4-star M hotel (can be cheaper for pension/lodge or more expensive for luxury onsen hotel)
- 4D equipment rental (optional): JPY13.5k
- 4D group lessons (optional): JPY32k
- 4D lift pass: JPY21.4k
- 5D Food & misc.: USD320 (estimated)
>> TOTAL excluding airtix: From USD1,400/adult
(Indicative Air Ticket prices SIN-CTS return: SGD1.0k-1.4k/adult)
Pros: Awesome food, ski village with shops/restaurants/onsens so non-skiers can come along, can be even cheaper if you don’t require gear rental or lessons, varied terrain for all ability levels
Cons: Have to self-arrange lessons and gear rental (although all can be done online, it is not difficult), some restaurants have to be booked in advance if you are a large group, crowded slopes especially Hirafu (collision-central for beginners), lift lines (almost Europe-like these days), drunk Westerners shouting at the top of their voices at 2am
- My review of Club Med Sahoro
- Sample itinerary and trip reports (7N): 2N Tokyo and 5N Snowboard Club Med Sahoro
- How to DIY your Niseko ski trip (step by step guide for beginners- Getting there, where to stay, arranging ski lessons and gear rental)
- Ski FAQs for Singaporeans (& other clueless tropical bunnies)
- 5 tips to save money on ski trips