One of my favourite trip memories was my second trip to Niseko (Hokkaido), where I had the opportunity to hit the slopes a big group of fun-loving people for one whole week. I get a lot of questions from friends, such as “You are going to Niseko again? Didn’t you go there last year?“, “You mean you just ski the entire week? Sounds torturous to me.”
Being born and bred in the tropics, we are probably very unfamiliar with winter sports given little or no exposure to it growing up. Through this post, hopefully I could help to answer questions you may have with regards to planning a ski/snowboarding trip.
1. You pick up a new sport
You get to learn a new sport (or a new life skill) with greater focus while on holiday! Yes, skiing and snowboarding are sports and it takes time to learn. As you get better, you could enjoy steeper slopes and breathtaking scenery of the mountain. It’s akin to any outdoor sports such as jogging or cycling where you get to enjoy the weather and landscape while working out.
If you are a beginner, it’s best to take lessons – both for safety reasons and to acquire the basics faster. Each lesson in Niseko is about 2-2.5 hours. You could consider taking lessons in the morning, and practise on your own pace in the afternoon. Beginner lessons typically involve very flat terrain but once you pick up the basics, you will be brought on the chair lift to attempt green runs (beginner slopes)!
2. It’s a social activity!
Yes, a ski/snowboard trip is the most fun when it involves a huge group of people. Imagine a troop of 10 to 20 staying together in a house and heading to the slopes together! You get to mingle with happy, adventurous people and it also helps when you have buddies with you at the mountain while you are trying to navigate the run.
The usual day starts with hitting the slopes in the morning, meeting for lunch and then hitting the slopes again before moving on for dinner, drinks and onsen. Add a group of adrenaline junkies to the mix and you can imagine the amount of excitement and laughter that would be concocted.
3. You get to enjoy the amazing landscape and powdery snow
Through attempting different slopes, you get to admire winter scape and mountain view from different vantage points. At least it is not as strenuous as hiking!
The snow in Niseko is powdery soft that it felt so comfortable chilling on the ground when we got too tired from skiing (or when we got lazy after falling)!
4. It’s less sinful to gorge on delicious food after spending the entire day on the slopes.
Because both skiing and snowboarding are exercises and you do burn calories! Apparently, you could burn about 300-500 calories an hour from these snow sports. This gives you the perfect excuse to go crazy feasting while off the slopes, agree?
5. It’s an experience you will remember
Merry making with a group of friends, staying up late for drinks and chat.. it might feel like a holiday chalet, except better! Once again, it presents an opportunity to acquire a new skill set without the burden of tight itinerary or schedule. You get to truly relax and immerse yourself in the atmosphere. At the end of the trip, it is likely that the body feels sore and tired, but the soul is rejuvenated.
How do I join a ski trip?
If you would like to do a free & easy without much hassle of booking via multiple parties, you could check the respective Tourism Board websites. For instance, the Japan Tourism Board offers free & easy ski packages to Hokkaido, Hakuba (Nagano) and Mount Naeba including air tickets, transfers, as well as equipment rental.
If you are looking to join a trip with a big group of people, here are some options you could consider:
- The Ride Side: This is a new initiative in Singapore which plans ski/snowboarding trips. I joined this group for the recent trip and I enjoyed it immensely. Currently all trips to Niseko are booked but you could check out their Facebook page for more updates.
- Ski and Snowboarding Lovers Meetup Group: This is where like-minded Singapore-based ski and snowboarders gather and post trip plans, so that other interested members could join them.
- YMCA Outdoor and Adventure: YMCA Outdoor and Adventure group organises ski trips to Korea and Japan annually. You could keep a lookout on their Meetup group for more trip details.
- The Ski Week: This is arranged by a luxury tour operator based in London. You could ski/snowboard with a big international group of snow activities and party lovers. This year, The Ski Week has trips to locations including Aspen, Chamonix, Obertauern and Hakuba.
This post was originally published on MsGlitzy.com in Jan 2016.
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