Skiing at ChangBaiShan (CBS) International Resort (万达长白山国际度假区)
Skiing is quickly becoming a sport of mass popularity in China, much like golf in the 1990s. Finally, in 2012, China opened its biggest and best yet ski resort at the foot of Mount Chang Bai with its 43 slopes – one that can be argued to rival Niseko in Japan and the Alps in Switzerland and Austria!
When compared to the best the world has to offer, it will not be difficult to find fault with this new resort in North-eastern China. However, as a beginner / intermediate skier who has been to resorts in Niseko, Austria and the US, I personally think CBS International Resort puts China on the map as one of the best skii destinations in the world : )
Check it out before it gets too crowded!
Let’s just say that it reminded me a lot more about the power snow in Niseko than the icy slopes of the Alps. While powder did not fall constantly like it did in Niseko, there was certainly more than plenty of white powder on the slopes.
Equipment rental / storage
Included in the ski pass are everything you will need, such as skis, boots, poles, ski jackets and pants, and most importantly a helmet. The helmet is made mandatory in this resort which is great and unlike the others I’ve been to.
Each ski pass also comes with a large locker for the day. During lunch breaks, staff at the lift can help to store your skis and poles outside for safe keeping without any extra charge.
The drawback is that you can not keep the equipment for more than 1 day, and have to return and pay for rental on a daily basis, which is a bit of a pain.
From the moment you enter the service hall to get your pass and equipment, it will take about 30min before you can board your first lift, which is decently fast. All the equipments are brand new and the service staff are very helpful in assisting you to find the right equipment.
Lifts and slopes
When I was there, due to a lack of skiers, only a handful of the 43 lifts were open. Nevertheless, it was more than enough for the non-expert! Upside of this is that hardly anybody is on the harder slopes so you can have the whole upper mountain to yourself.
The lifts are the latest models imported from overseas, including “magic carpet” for the beginners so you never need to fear falling down from a J-bar!
Food & Entertainment
There is a small town-centre at the foot of the slopes, with several restaurants, McD/KFC/PizzaHut, a cinema, a theatre, a hotspring / SPA, and other shops such as grocery stores and pharmacies. It’s pretty dead at night though due to limited visitors.
Getting there is pretty easy with direct flights from Beijing, Shanghai, Changchun and Shenyang. There is a free shuttle coach that ferries visitors between airport and the resort – takes about 20 minutes. You can board the coach at any of the major hotels in the resort. Note that if you want to take the coach back to the resort from the airport, you may need to wait for when a flight arrives (in the case that you are sending somebody off and want to come back to the resort afterwards)
All the usual suspects including Westin, Sheraton, Holiday Inn, Hyatt are within walking distance to the lifts. However, Holiday Inn is by far the closest. It may not be too much of an issue though since you have to return the equipments at the end of the day and won’t be carrying anything back to your hotel.
Remember to always take the shortcut: exit from the backdoors of the hotels and walk along the foot of the mountain instead of the main road!
Ticker price is pretty steep, but you can get big discounts if you book early! The CBS website (http://www.china-cbs.com) offers some great packages, and if you are a big skier then enquire about the Membership Card which I was told would be a good deal too.
If you are there already, all the hotels offer these discounted passes too, you can even get discounted hotspring / theatre passes. Just showing your hotel door card at the equipment rental centre and they will give you a discount. Remember never to pay ticker price!
You should know that the mountains in CBS International Resort is not really what people refer to as the “Chang Bai” mountain! The actual Chang Bai Shan is another 30min away by car. It is a park ran by the government (does not mean cheap entrance tickets!) where you can see the “HeavenLake” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heaven_Lake), but you can also rental skii equipments in the park and skii down from the actual CBS. Check out the pictures with more info.