Hakuba Ski Resorts in Nagano Prefecture are arguably the best ski resorts in the world, so much so that I have been back to visit on several occasions!
I spent two weeks snowboarding and exploring the mountains of Hakuba Valley and have put together this complete guide of Hakuba Ski Resorts to help you plan your trip!
HOW TO GET TO HAKUBA SKI RESORTS
Narita International Airport is the closest International Airport to the Hakuba Ski Resorts, which is located on the outskirts of Tokyo City, 270km east of Hakuba Valley.
There are a few options when searching for how to get to the Hakuba Ski Resorts from Narita Airport which I have listed below:
This trip includes taking a train from Narita to Tokyo (or Ueno), then a bullet train (Shinkansen) to Nagano, and then a bus to Hakuba Ski Resorts. This is the fastest route.
From the Tokyo International Airport, the total trip takes about 3.5 to 4 hours depending upon connection timing.
The other advantage of taking the trains is that it’s a great insight into a part of the Japanese culture. This trip costs approximately $80
Buy Now ∼ Japan Rail Pass
Direct Transfer From Tokyo Airports:
This involves getting a shuttle bus or shared taxi transfer directly from Narita Airport to Hakuba Ski Resorts, which tends to cost a little more than the train/bus combo.
This trip takes longer, about 5 to 6 hours, but it provides the advantage of not having to lug your bags around the train stations, on and off trains and buses, or grapple with train fares and timetables.
On the mountain – Hakuba Ski Resorts
Hakuba Ski Resorts
WHERE TO STAY IN HAKUBA VALLEY
There is no shortage of accommodation in Hakuba Valley but it is always best to book online in advance, especially in the winter months between December and April, as places tend to book out fast.
I personally stayed at Kokoro Hotel Hakuba and can’t recommend this place enough! The staff here are very friendly and the hotel has a bar, restaurant, Onsen and dry room. The rooms are cozy and spacious with heating, flat-screen tv, private bathroom, tea/coffee making facilities and comfortable beds! Kokoro is nearby to shops, bars, restaurants and it’s within walking distance to Happo-One Ski Resort.
GETTING AROUND HAKUBA SKI RESORTS
There are 10 Hakuba Ski Resorts in the valley of Hakuba and each mountain is amazing in its own way.
Free shuttle buses operate every hour between all of the Hakuba Ski Resorts but make sure to be on time, as the Japanese are very punctual and will stick to an efficient ‘on the dot’ schedule. Timetables can be found at your accommodation or at guest services in each resort.
LIFT TICKETS & RENTAL SHOPS
Hakuba Valley Lift Passes can be purchased from the ticket counters at each resort on the day and prices vary between each ski resort. I would recommend purchasing the “Hakuba Valley Pass” which allows you to ski at different Hakuba Ski Resorts each day using this all-in-one pass.
Rental Shops are scattered everywhere around Hakuba but I would personally recommend Spicy Rentals for quality gear at a reasonable price. You can find a Spicy store at Goryu, Happo-one and Iwatake.
Carving up the mountains – Hakuba Ski Resorts
Hakuba Goryu – Hakuba Ski Resorts
Hakuba Ski Resorts Accommodation
TOP 5 HAKUBA SKI RESORTS
This Hakuba Ski Resort offers wide-open terrain with great grooming and some nice top to bottom powder runs.
There is a small terrain park for beginners at the bottom of the gondola.
Great back-country access from the top lift and easily accessible tree runs.
Escal Plaza (base station) is the most modern facility in Hakuba, with restaurants, ski retail and hire.
Goryu and 47 are interlinked mountains giving you the option to access two wide-open ski areas.
Hakuba 47 features the best terrain park in Hakuba. 47 also has designated tree areas for club members to access only. To gain access to the trees, there is a twenty-minute crash course available every day at Hakuba 47 sports center located at the base of the gondola.
After the course, you are eligible to ride the tree areas which hold some of the best powder I have ever experienced.
This is the central hub of Hakuba Valley and the most popular Hakuba Ski Resort.
The mountain is home to the largest above treeline lift in Japan. The groomed runs have a reputation for being long and fast. The only downside to Happo-one is the crowds, being the central mountain in Hakuba Valley.
Iwatake proudly boasts one of the most breathtaking views of the Northern Alps Hakuba, including a 360°panoramic view of the surrounding mountains.
All twenty-six courses have their own unique features. From tree runs to long groomed cat tracks and a small terrain park. This Hakuba Ski Resort has something for everyone.
Cortina Ski Resort is known for the largest quantity of snowfall in Hakuba. This is the resort to hit for some deep powder runs after a heavy snowfall.
Cortina also has the steepest inbound terrain and some epic tree riding areas. Cortina is the most northern mountain in the valley and takes longer to get here from central Hakuba, but it is definitely worth the trip.
HAKUBA SKI RESORTS MAP
On the lift up – Hakuba Ski Resorts
Shredding the terrain park – Hakuba Ski Resorts
OTHER THINGS TO DO IN HAKUBA VALLEY
As you probably know by now, Hakuba Valley is a mecca of Alpine Ski Resorts attracting people from all over the world to experience the world-class, quality snow! Though apart from skiing and snowboarding there are a few other activities available.
A personal favorite of mine is to visit one of the many Onsens spread out around the resorts. An Onsen is a Japanese hot spring which is natural hot water from geothermally-heated springs.
It is essentially a bathing house where there are indoor and outdoor springs to soak in. Traditionally, the baths are segregated between male and female and you have to enter the springs completely nude.
To some, this sounds out of their comfort zone but you will get used to it after you visit once or twice. A perfect way to relax and soothe your muscles after a big day on the mountain.
SNOW MONKEYS & TEMPLES
There are also day tours available to go visit the wild Snow Monkeys and Zenkoji Temple. The price is a little bit excessive if traveling on a budget, but it’s also a once in a lifetime opportunity to see these majestic alpine snow monkeys face to face.
Snow monkeys in their natural habitat
Hakuba Ski Resorts
Have you got travel insurance for Japan? I know that nobody likes to talk about this stuff but accidents can happen and having World Nomads Insurance can save you thousands of dollars if something goes wrong.
BEST TOURS IN TOKYO
MAP OF HAKUBA SKI RESORTS
Want to travel full-time? ∼ Click Here To Learn How!
VISA FOR JAPAN
Japan is visa-free to travelers from over 65 countries and you can stay in Japan for up to 90 days on a tourist visa.
Click Here to see the full list of nationalities that are eligible for the free 90-day tourist visa.
You don’t need to apply online for this as you will be granted a 90-day tourist visa at the airport when you arrive.
BEST TIME TO VISIT JAPAN
The best time to visit Japan depends on what you plan to do. I personally prefer the spring and summer months in Japan (April – September) when temperatures are warm and the landscapes are vividly green.
However, visiting Japan in winter (December – March) is absolutely magical because the landscapes are completely covered in glistening white snow. Visiting Japan in winter also means you have to opportunity to go skiing and snowboarding in Japan’s alpine regions.
HAKUBA SKI RESORTS – THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
The currency in Japan is Yen (¥) and the exchange rate is approximately $1 USD = 100 ¥.
Purchasing a sim card in Japan is very simple. You can do this at the airport on arrival or find a convenient store close to your accommodation. For approximately $40 USD, you can get a local sim card that comes with 10GB of data.
There are plenty of ATMs in Japan located in most convenient stores, in front of banks, inside hotels, etc. where you can easily withdraw cash to have with you during your 7 days in Japan.
I recommend purchasing a Hidden Money Belt to keep your cash out of sight, although the Japanese are the friendliest and most genuine people I have come across and the chances of being pick-pocketed are next to none.
Most Japanese people can speak English, so if you are ever lost or need help with something you will be able to converse in English. Also, all the signs at the airports, train stations, shopping malls, etc. are written in both Japanese and English.
AIRBNB NEAR HAKUBA SKI RESORTS
Another great option when searching for accommodation at the Hakuba Ski Resorts is to stay in an Airbnb which generally has some great deals throughout the country!
WANT TO SAVE $$$ ON AIRBNB? GET MY AIRBNB MONEY SAVING GUIDE
MORE JAPAN TRAVEL GUIDES
- Japan Travel Guide: 7 Day Japan Itinerary
- Tokyo: Tokyo Skytree Observation Deck
- Tohoku Region: 5 Days In Tohoku
- Tokushima Prefecture: 4 Days In Tokushima
- Hakuba: Best Hakuba Ski Resorts
LONELY PLANET – JAPAN
One of the best books to take on your trip is the Lonely Planet JapanTravel Guide!
BUY NOW ON AMAZON → LONELY PLANET JAPAN
WHAT TO PACK FOR HAKUBA SKI RESORTS
Everyday Backpack: One of the best backpacks on the market! The Nomatic 20L Backpack is perfect for on the go adventures. Featuring multiple storage spaces for valuables, drink bottles, chargers, notebooks and more. This sleek backpack was designed for you.
Universal Power Adapter: Don’t leave home without one! I highly recommend getting this Universal Power Adapter so that you are able to charge all of your electronics when you’re on the road. Compatible in Asia, UK, Europe, Africa, USA, SA and Australia.
Hidden Money Belt: I never go on a trip without one! The best thing is they are always out of sight, hidden beneath your clothing. With RFID blocking, they are perfectly designed to keep your credit cards, cash and other valuables safe when you’re out adventuring!
Waterproof Phone Case: A waterproof phone case is a must-have item! This universal case will keep your phone safe from water damage, sand and scratches during your adventures. Suitable for all smartphone models.
Portable Charger: One of the best portable chargers on the market! The Anker Power Bank keeps your phone and accessories charged on those longer adventures. Featuring 2 USB charging ports, rechargeable battery, works with iPhone, iPad, Samsung, Oppo and Android.
Microfibre Travel Towel: To pack a towel or not to pack a towel? A standard bathroom towel can take up a lot of space in your travel bag. Get your hands on a quick-dry Microfibre Travel Towel which is perfect for the beach, backpacking, camping and general traveling.
Rain Jacket: A light-weight rain jacket is an absolute must when traveling! North Face waterproof rain jackets come in both men and women sizes, featuring a breathable mesh lining and adjustable hood that can be tucked away inside the collar.
Kindle: The best alternative for books! Kindle e-readers are perfect for long haul flights, reading on the beach or a quiet evening away from the bars. Kindle’s are waterproof with rechargeable batteries and adjustable light settings to suit indoor/outdoor conditions.
Packing Cubes: My favorite item in my backpack! Perfect for organizing your shirts, pants, jackets, socks, underwear and more. This 5 Set Packing Cubes makes packing easier and more efficient, adding extra space in your bag for your next trip.
Activated Charcoal Tablets: Want to avoid food poisoning? Most of us have been a victim of travelers diarrhea from eating street food. Organic Activated Charcoal Tablets are fast-acting and will rid your system of the bad bacteria that causes stomach upset.
MY CAMERA GEAR
Everyday Camera: The most affordable mirrorless camera on the market! I personally use the Sony A7ii Mirrorless Camera on all of my adventures. It’s compact, lightweight and super easy to use for all levels of photography. A 28-70mm Sony lens is also included.
Drone Camera: Take your photography to new heights! The DJI Mavic Pro 2 Drone is at the top of the game when it comes to high-quality images and video, easy to control functions and traveler-friendly capabilities. I guarantee you won’t regret purchasing one.
GoPro Hero 8: One of the most popular cameras on the planet! I love using the GoPro Hero 8 for all of my underwater shots and fast-paced adventures. The GoPro Hero 8 captures the best moments with its wide range of functions that are very simple to use!
Camera Bag: My favorite camera bag I have ever owned! The Lowepro Protactic 450 AW II Camera Bag features a waterproof rain cover, drink bottle holder, padded compartments for cameras, drones, lenses, accessories and it also has a laptop pocket.
Selfie Stick: Everyone loves a good selfie, right!? The Sandmarc Metal Edition Selfie Stick is sleek, stylish and can extend to 1.2m. I find it much easier to take photos and videos with the GoPro when it is mounted to the Sandmarc Selfie Stick!
Camera Tripod: The Joby GorillaPod is suitable for all cameras. This tripod is easy to use and perfect for setting up a time-lapse video or even using it as a selfie stick. The legs are flexible so you can wrap it around a tree or a pole to get creative with your shot.
GoPro Dome: Have you ever wanted to capture those under/over water shots with the GoPro? This epic underwater GoPro dome housing is the best camera accessory to have to create the perfect 50/50 shot. I use mine every time I am in the ocean!
Memory Card: The best thing about SanDisk Extreme Pro is that it delivers maximum speed for images and videos. Having 64GB of storage means that you can store hundreds of files on this SD card for 2-3 days and not have to worry about running out of space.
External Hard Drive: As a photographer, my images and video files take up a lot of space on my MacBook so I use the WD Elements External Hard Drive to store everything. With 4TB worth of storage space, this is more than enough for 1 years worth of content.
ONLINE ENGLISH TEACHING
Do you want to travel full-time and get paid along the way?
Teaching English online is one of the easiest and most flexible jobs out there! Become a Digital Nomad, choose your own hours and work remotely from anywhere in the world by teaching English online. All you need is a laptop, good WiFi connection, a TEFL certificate and you’re good to go!
JOIN MY FACEBOOK TRAVEL TRIBE
Do you have any questions about Hakuba Ski Resorts?
Join my Facebook Travel Tribe and send a message at any time for a quick response!
Before you go form this Hakuba Ski Resorts post, don’t forget to check out My Online Shop!
I’ve got a wide range of digital products for sale and I’m sure you’ll find something that will come in handy during your travels!
SEE MORE → MY SHOP
FINAL THOUGHTS OF HAKUBA SKI RESORTS
Thanks for reading this article and I hope it finds you well on your next snow adventure to Hakuba Ski Resorts. Please feel free to drop me a comment below with any questions you may have.
Happy Snowboarding ❄️