Hakuba vs Niseko or both? - MountainWatch Travel

Hakuba vs Niseko or both?

The question that has divided skiers and snowboarders – is Niseko or Hakuba better?



Of all the questions we, as the staff of Liquid Snow Tours, get asked, is ‘which is better – Hakuba or Niseko?’. Every single customer wants to know. This is like comparing say Sydney and Melbourne, or who would win a fight between James Bond and Jason Bourne. There are many pros and cons which many enthusiasts will argue until they are blue – and stand by their favourite.

Ok so let’s have a look at 


Hakuba is located on Honshu, the main island of Japan. It is approx 3-5 hours west of Tokyo via bullet train or coach in the Nagano prefecture, making the valley easily accessible from Australia via Tokyo. Hakuba is home to some of Japan’s best big mountain skiing, with ‘european style’ steep mountains that are hard to find in the land of the rising sun. Many famous faces are choosing to visit Hakuba, and some even called the place home. The Warren Miller film crew visited the area in 2008, as did Travis Rice (star of The Art of Flight) many times, and it’s the host of the first stop on the Freeride World Tour.  

Hakuba Valley.jpg

So apart from offering some of the steepest terrain in Japan, the Hakuba village offers tourists a great experience of traditional small-town Japanese culture. You can find around the village numerous restaurants, bars, shops and onsens offering authentic Japanese cuisine and experiences. Also the world famous Jigokudani snow monkey park is a day trip away, where you can see the only monkeys of their kind in the wild bask in the natural hot springs.

Where Hakuba beats Niseko

  • Steeper terrain
  • Greater variety of ski terrain with 10 resorts in the Hakuba valley
  • Easier to get to from Tokyo
  • Cheaper airfares from Australia (no need to fly Tokyo-Sapporo)
  • More authentic Japanese cultural experience
  • Greater vertical drop (Happo One vs Grand Hirafu)
  • Can access other ski areas in a day trip such as Myoko, Madarao and Nozawa, 

Interested in Hakuba? We have a large selection of packages for everyones need. Enquire now and one of our staff can give you more tips and recommendations, or tailor a quote for your next holiday




Niseko has long been the most popular Japanese ski resort amongst Australians, since its ‘discovery’ in the 1980’s. Niseko is located on Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island. This places it at a higher latitude to Hakuba, and closer to those cold winds coming from Siberia, meaning the average snowfall is close to 12m.  Niseko also receives arguably the world’s lightest and driest powder, with the snow having a mere 8% water content. This is the reason why thousands and thousands of Aussies flock to Niseko each year, as you are practically guaranteed some fresh powder snow if you spend any amount of time in Niseko. Another standout feature of Niseko that sets it apart from other resorts worldwide is its night skiing. Almost the whole of the Grand Hirafu ski resort is open from 8.30am until 8.30pm, creating a huge expanse of terrain to shred at night. Most of you reading this blog will have had many powder days, but you are not complete as a skier or snowboarder without experiencing a Niseko ‘powder night’, which will see you getting often knee deep powder as the crowds head home for the day. 

Where Niseko beats Hakuba:

  • Consistency, amount and quality of snow
  • The amount of terrain open for night skiing
  • Accommodation options – more modern apartments, Western and more ski in/ski out properties on offer
  • Bigger terrain parks with more features
  • Can access other ski areas in a day trip such as Furano and Rusutsu. 

Interested in Niseko? We have a large selection of packages for everyones need. Enquire now and one of our staff can give you more tips and recommendations, or tailor a quote for your next holiday




What do the staff of Liquid Snow Tours think? As lovers of all things Japow we can’t discriminate, any place where you can get waist deep all day and relax in an onsen at night will suit us! Hakuba is perfect for those looking for a full variety of terrain easy access and plently of local cultural activities such as the snow monkeys or visiting castles,  while Niseko is great for those who want an easy-to-manage holiday in top quality Western style accommodation and some of the world’s best snow at your doorstep.

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