Wanna go skiing or snowboarding in Japan, one of the most expensive place in the world for winter sports, but don’t have oodles of cash to burn? Here are seven ways to hit the slopes without burning a hole in your pocket.
1- GO JUST OUT OF SEASON
Skiing in Japan is expensive – flights, accommodation, meals – and that’s before you even get to the slopes. In Japan, there are distinct peak seasons and prices for everything during those times are much higher – especially the lift ticket. In Niseko for example, if you go between 23 November and 10 December or 21 March and 7 April, a one day lift pass is 30% cheaper – that’s a $16/day saving. The downside is that in the off-season, the lifts stop running at 4.30pm. But they start at 8.30 so you can still get a full 8-hours in. Just make sure you get up nice and early!
2- BUY THE GEAR BEFORE YOU GO
Renting a full set of gear in Japan will set you back anything from $75 per day. However just the board/skis are usually from $45. Check out Decathlon or similar stores wherever you are and also look for second hand gear online. You’ll need a jacket, pants, beanie, gloves and goggles – if you’re lucky you might find someone letting some gear go cheap.
3 – STAY IN A HOSTEL OR LODGE
Japan’s range of budget accommodation is generally excellent. One of the easiest ways to save money on a ski trip to Japan is to stay in a lodge, pension or hostel; they’re usually much better quality than many other places in the world and while rates aren’t as cheap as in the likes of S.E.Asia, they are pretty affordable. If you are going to Niseko, I highly recommend Owashi Lodge – it’s clean, in an amazing location (literally a 2 minute walk to the lift) and great value. It also has a great kitchen, which will mean you can…
4 – COOK YOUR OWN MEALS
Many hostels and lodges in Japan have great kitchens for guests to make their own meals. Eating out in ski towns in peak season is not cheap! Most towns have small supermarkets (and I recommend going to supermarkets out of the tourist areas if possible as the prices will be much better) and cooking your own meals will save you a fair amount of cash.
5 – BOOK YOUR FLIGHTS IN ADVANCE
Needless to say really. A friend of mine went skiing in Niseko this year and because she was smart enough to book her flights a full year in advance she got a return from Singapore for only $200 USD! Plan ahead if you can and get the flights booked! When you get back, if you are confident you are going to want to go next year, book!
6 – DON’T SHOP IN THE DRUG STORE
Most ski towns will have a small convenience-style store selling food at frankly exorbitant prices. If you can, go to the supermarkets in the lest touristy towns nearby. Some lodges run free trips to the supermarket, or you could get a bus. Either way, if you are intending to cook for a week, it could be well worth it.
7 – RENT GEAR FOR ONE DAY AND THEN EXTEND
This may not apply to all rental centres, but when I rented in Niseko (from Grand Hirafu Rental), I learned that you can rent for one day, and then at the end of that day, extend to the following day, and still get the reduced rate of a longer rental. It might be worth doing this just in case you are unfortunate enough to get some really bad weather that means you can’t hit the slopes or heaven forbid you get an injury and can’t get out at all. Either way, it doesn’t cost any extra to do it like that, so why not.
If you have any awesome ideas on how to save money when you go skiing or snowboarding in Japan, please make a comment below!