Ski Hakuba with Kids!
|Liquid Snow Tours senior travel consultant Justine (Justine@snowtour.com.au) has organised countless family ski holidays over the last 10 years visiting and organising trips to this beautiful part of the world. Here she explains her top tips.|
Hakuba is one of Japan’s premier winter destinations. Located in the beautiful Northern Alps on the main island of Honshu, Hakuba boasts some of the best skiing and snowboarding in Japan. With 3 main villages across 10 ski resorts, Hakuba offers something for everyone! From traditional Ryokans (Japanese lodges) to 5 star chalets, beginner slopes to some of the longest vertical in Japan, traditional Izakayas (Japanese pubs) to delicious burgers, Hakuba has you covered!
Hakuba is easily accessible from the two major airports in Tokyo as well as from other Japanese cities. Transfer company Nagano Snow Shuttle operate a number of daily services from Narita and Haneda Airports, which will take you directly to your accommodation in Hakuba. This is the easiest and most convenient option when travelling with children – simply jump on and enjoy the breathtaking scenery. Depending on flight arrival and departure times you may prefer to experience the famous Shinkansen (bullet train), travelling at speeds of up to 320kms an hour.
Hakuba offers a number of different accommodation options to suit all tastes and budgets. At the cheaper end, there are Japanese and Western run lodges or small self contained villas suitable for families. Mid-range to deluxe accommodation includes ski in ski out hotels and self-contained chalets or if you are looking for something fancy there are a number of 5 star properties to choose from. Some of our favourites are Brownie Villas, Lodge Nomad, Hotel Marillen, Happo Apartments and Mizuho Chalets.
Ski School and Childcare
Taking care of the children is easy. There are two fantastic ski schools offering lessons in English for kids 3 years and up. Depending on the location of your accommodation we recommend Evergreen or Hakuba Snowsports. If you have little ones Evergreen also has a day care program for children 18 months and up. Hakuba Babysitting offers tailored and professional care for a day on the mountain or a special date night.
There are a number of ski rental stores in Hakuba, with a wide range of equipment to suit all levels and abilities. We recommend Central Snowsports, with 3 stores to choose from, friendly and knowledgeable staff and a complimentary pick up service. Their equipment ranges from beginner to park and powder as well as a range of backcountry equipment.
Day Tours and Activities
The Hakuba Valley lift pass is non-consecutive, allowing you a rest day. There are a number of day tours available from Hakuba, the most popular being the famous Jigokudani Snowmonkeys and Zenkoji Temple. This is a full day tour and includes transfers, English speaking tour guide, entry to snowmonkey park and lunch at a Sake brewery, the kids will love it! For families with older kids the snowmobile and snowmonkey tour is a great option. If you don’t want to travel far Hakubounce is a fantastic option for the whole family with trampolines and ball pits for the young ones and a survival game with nerf/air guns for the older kids or kids at heart.
Tips for travelling with kids
- Book accommodation that’s close to a shuttle bus stop, allowing easy access to your choice of resort. Ski in ski out accommodation sounds appealing but more often than not, the ski in/out terrain won’t be suitable for kids learning and progressing.
- Book one or two days less of lift passes – unless your kids are hardcore skiers they are probably going to need a rest day.
- Book in a couple of lessons – even if your kids can ski/board, it’s great to have a refresher and gives you some time to yourself. Lessons will book out over peak periods so book in advance so you don’t miss out.
- Rent skis/snowboard equipment – until your kids have stopped growing it’s not worth spending money.
- If you are spending a couple of nights in Tokyo before or after Hakuba, make sure you use the luggage delivery service to send any big bags directly to the airport/accommodation. Makes travelling on trains so much easier.