Our snowboarding guide told us last year in Yabuli that snowboarding is a relatively recent fad in China. Skiing hasn’t much of a history either but Chinese youths have only gotten into snowboarding in very recent years.
I bought a snowboard and the works a few months ago and this is really the second snowboarding trip (and the 5th, 6th and 7th sessions) for me. China is by far the cheapest destination in the world for beginners to snowboard and I’d estimate a week-long snowboarding trip from Singapore to cost anything between $500 – $1000 depending on where you’re staying. That’s including airfare, accommodation, board rental and ski passes so you can’t beat that price.
From Shenyang, the new high speed rail takes just 2 hours to get to Changchun where the slopes are still not too bad although not comparable at all to Yabuli. While Yabuli had 30 minute runs and decent cable cars, expect slopes about 1/3 that and cable cars that are well…
Our first stop was to Beidahu Ski Resort which is about 2 hours by car (I think) away from the city. Locals consider this one of the best resorts in the area and entry is priced slightly higher (about US$50 or so?) for a day’s pass, inclusive of equipment. Most of the rental boards are Rossignol and I think I spotted one or two Burtons so they’re better than what we had in Yabuli.
There are a lot more runs and chair lifts running here than in the other resorts we’ve been to and I felt rather comfortable with most of the runs which should mean they’re not very challenging. We did most of the beginner and intermediate runs but the signage wasn’t very good at telling which is which so on one of the beginner runs, we met up with this sight:
At about 5m away from a slope, there were mountains. I couldn’t see the bottom of the slope or the face of the slope for that matter so I took the intermediate fork instead even though it’s probably easier to roll down the face of a cliff than it was to board down the detour. I’m one for a challenge.
We did think Beidahu was cheap… until we got to Lianhuashan the next day.
Most of the ski places had accommodation nearby and prices seemed really reasonable. If you can’t read chinese, the rundown is this: for a place in a students’ dorm, it costs 45 yuan per bed and for a Russian-style bungalow, you can house 13 people for 1300 yuan.
The ski passes were cheap too. You’d have to pay a 10 yuan admission fee and then 100 yuan for a 3 hour pass OR 150 for a whole day OR 70 for a night ski pass. You’ll probably want the 150 yuan pass because the ski lifts will take you 3 hours. Rental is 100 a day or something unremarkable like that.
Most of the crowd is there for skiing for a good reason. The slopes aren’t much to rave about but there’s at least 3 ski lifts in operation and an okay long-ish run for snowboarders which leads to a rather flat area that you’ll have to walk out.
If you can’t board, there are instructors around but they don’t hassle you to take them up. There’s a snowboard park in the corner which is horribly frozen over and completely deserted. So we headed there.
There was two of us brave souls and my friend went first to demonstrate the perfect faceplant. I went next and bettered his record, going down knees first, then the rest of me. The audience went wild and gave us a 9.8 each so we’d stop fighting.
There was a third ski area we went to that’s about an hour away from Shenyang. Qipanshan is regarded by Shenyang locals as the best ski resort in the area but it’s close to the city so we weren’t expecting much. And rightfully so.
There were probably 2 ski lifts in operation and they moved even slower than the ones in the previous 2 resorts. You’d reach the top of the unimpressive slope in about 15 minutes only to get down in 3.
There’s really nothing much to talk about this place except that it’s even cheaper than the previous 2 places and that the skiiers were for some reason more afraid of skiing than at the other places.
The ski lifts didn’t really look like they were bringing you up a slope and in retrospect, maybe we should have done the resorts in reverse order so we can ramp up our skills slowly. There was very liberal use of red paint in the area though.
There’s supposedly a decent resort in Changbaishan that we didn’t get a chance to visit that sounds like it could compete with Yabuli. Big names like Shangri-la have set up operations in that area so there should be more activity.
The snow in this region was actually fluffier than at Yabuli possibly because it’s slightly more humid and less cold here (we’re talking -20 degrees Celsius vs -40). If you can’t speak Chinese though, good luck on getting to any of these places.