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From a developed, connected part of SEA - oh, let's say, Thailand - where is the nearest skiing? Mostly thinking of shortest travel time (eg, to go for a long weekend), but would also be interested in physically closest.

Japan jumped to mind, as I know there is skiing in Hokkaido.
I heard a rumor about a ski place in Burma, which would be interesting; when I tried to find information about it online, though, I only come up with references to plans/ideas to develop a fairly remote mountain (Hkakabo Razi) that don't seem near fruition.

Ideally, information about the development-level, difficulty, and approximate costs of the place(s) would be great.
(I imagine that anywhere in Japan is going to be developed to a typical US/EU standard, maybe on the easy side (groomers), and fairly pricey. Once upon a time, I read about skiing in Kashmir with pack-mules for 'chairlifts' - which would be interesting, although maybe too remote for a short trip.)

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Sort of along with 'development level', availability of ski equipment would be nice to know. I see in a Q about Gassan, Japan ( travel.stackexchange.com/questions/16446/… ) that there's no rental. I don't have gear with me, but can ski on just about anything (so super-old secondhand gear is fine). –  hunter2 Oct 6 '13 at 4:22
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There's also plenty of skiing in South Korea and I assume there must be in China. But as to the closest ... ? –  hippietrail Oct 6 '13 at 9:10
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@hunter2 Gassan is a tiny, tiny ski resort. I managed to get gear at Yamagata city, as I mentioned in my answer. At Zao Onsen, the other ski resort I went to, I hired ski gear from an English-speaking ski rental place. –  Andrew Grimm Oct 6 '13 at 22:18
    
@AndrewGrimm is Zao Onsen bigger? –  hunter2 Oct 7 '13 at 4:16
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It's bigger than Gassan. I don't know how big it is compared to the average Japanese ski resort. –  Andrew Grimm Oct 7 '13 at 4:24
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2 Answers

up vote 9 down vote accepted

The practical answers are Japan and South Korea, both ~6 hours away (plus connections) from Thailand, Korea being a smidgen closer. Both have very developed, mature ski facilities -- you may recall that Nagano, Japan hosted the 1998 Winter Olympics, and Pyeongchang, Korea will follow in 2018 -- that cater to all levels and needs. In Hokkaido, in particular, the skiing is sufficiently epic that there's a town called Niseko that caters pretty much exclusively to a hard core of international ski nuts. Start with Snow Japan and this random KNTO page.

But since taking the easy way out would be too boring for Travel.SE, here's some random alternatives:

  • Yulong/Jade Dragon Snow Mountain (玉龙雪山) ski resort near Lijiang in Yunnan, China is probably the closest place to Thailand you could actually ski. Major downside is that information and facilities in English are basically non-existent. China Eastern flies direct to Lijiang from Bangkok in 3 hours.
  • India has an embryonic but fast-growing ski scene, with Gulmarg in Jammu & Kashmir being the best-known resort, and English is spoken.
  • A dishonorable mention goes to Snow City in Singapore, which has snow and lets you sled downhill for a few not particularly exhilarating seconds, but bans skiing -- not particularly surprising given that it's all of 60 meters long.
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Excellent answer, thanks! I saw a couple Indian mountains mentioned when I searched for the Burmese one. Any idea what the travel situation would be like to some of those Indian mountains? I've heard that travel to/in the northern/mountainous regions can be pretty slow. –  hunter2 Oct 7 '13 at 4:38
    
Travel near the Himalayas is indeed pretty unpredictable, especially in winter when the roads are snowed in and flights are at the mercy of the weather. However, Gulmarg's only one hour from Srinagar and apaprently reasonably reachable all year round. –  jpatokal Oct 7 '13 at 11:08
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If you want to go south of the equator, there's Australia and New Zealand. Both of them speak English.

The most common complaints about Australian ski resorts are the high prices, long lift lines, and poor quality snow. On the other hand, I find snow gums very pretty.

I've heard that New Zealand tend to have club skifields that are smaller and not so much profit-oriented as the ski resorts in Australia.

Some Aussies go to NZ ski fields, but I haven't heard of New Zealanders going to Aussie ski fields. Draw your own conclusions.

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I had heard of skiing in NZ. Sounds neat for 'some day'; maybe not the best skiing, but a nice atmosphere, etc (I hear). // Meantime, that's definitely not closer than Japan. I'm not concerned about English-speaking, either - I can point and gesture as well as the next guy (and used to speak a little Japanese); I think in a rental shop I'd be fine, although from experience, trying to get secondhand stuff might be a little tougher. –  hunter2 Oct 7 '13 at 4:31
    
Would you add a little about your findings in Japan? I don't see, in your related posts, how Zao Onsen went for you. // In particular, how was the terrain, and roughly what were costs like? (Or could they be, for a cheap hostel/backpacker sort of traveller) // Thanks! –  hunter2 Oct 7 '13 at 4:33
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