Northeast China's Hidden Ski Paradise: Beidahu
When most people think of a skiing holiday in Asia, China usually takes a backseat to the Japanese Alps, Hokkaido or even South Korea.
Enter Beidahu, a ski resort located in China’s Dongbei (Northeast) region, which reaches temperatures of -20 and below, and ticks all the boxes for a top-tier ski destination. It's only a two-hour drive from the airport, which can be easily arranged by the resorts.
Unlike nearby destinations like Yabuli, Beidahu has remained relatively unbesmirched by the Chinese tournami. When we visited there were no queues for the ski lifts while the top slopes would be devoid of people altogether. Another shock was the level of talent from a lot of people at the resort. Apart from the skillful instructors, there were also a fair few pros dominating the slopes.
Club Med, a French-Belgium company with locations around the world, is now the prominent resort at Beidahu along with Chinese-run Beimei Time. Like all other Club Meds around the world, they bring you an all-inclusive package which includes ski passes, lessons and ski/snowboarding equipment as well as drinks and evening performances. Ski jackets, trousers and googles which are available to rent if need be.
The resort basically turns into a nightclub in the late hours... Luckily, the sick beats don't carry into the rooms.
Prices range from around 1000 kuai per night to almost 5000 per night depending on the day (refer to the website for details). Rates at the Beimei resort can be slightly cheaper, especially during March, but only include ski passes equipment and breakfast.
Although the international buffet at Club Med provides some pretty decent grub, you're really missing out if you don't at least try the local fare. For quality cuisine, head down to Jilin city, head out to Xiao Nan Tun (小南屯), order some Liu Rou Duan and thank us later. Dongbei is also hailed as the Kingdom of Jiaozi, Chinese dumplings. While most restaurants here will all give their take on the dish, our favorites were at Jiā Fú Yuán (家福园) a popular chain restaurant in Northeast China.
Find it: Xiaonantun: Dadongmen, Chaoyang St, Jilin City (小南屯：吉林市船营区朝阳街大东门)
Beidahu is also close to China's Yanbian Korean Prefecture, which offers an interesting mashup of Korean and Chinese culture. A short 1.5 high speed train journey from Jilin to Yanji, it's well worth checking out. Yanji is also a short journey from the North Korean border at Tumen and offers an interesting insight into the mysterious Hermit Kingdom.