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
BeyondBanality pro tip: 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)
If you just want to see snow / play snow (without skiing), 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, FREE child-minders (YASSSSS, they even have lunch with their ski instructor and classmates), 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), almost all restaurants have to be booked in advance, overcrowded pistes 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