Niseko has made a name for itself as being one of the more expensive places to experience the famed Japanese powder. But it doesn't mean that having an amazing holiday on the more affordable side is out of the question! Over the years, our experienced staff have learnt a trick or two on how to have an epic ski holiday in Niseko without breaking the bank, so read on to get a local's look into traveling Niseko on a budget.
This tip is often unutilized by the majority of visitors to Niseko, but if you want to save big on accommodation and lift tickets, visit in December before the busy Christmas/New Year period. The snow is still high quality and powdery, the villages and lifts aren’t as crowded and you have access to discounts on most services and restaurants. You can save up to 62% on accommodation and 30% on lift passes just by visiting 8 days earlier than the peak period in December!
Accommodations in certain areas of Niseko mark up their prices massively based on their proximity to the lifts and other luxury hotels. But staying just outside of these areas (and making good use of complimentary shuttle bus services) means you can still get first tracks each morning, eat at the best restaurants and enjoy all of the fun activities without spending a fortune. Properties like The Orchards and Country Resort are located 5 minutes from the resort lifts, but offer more reasonable prices for comfortable self-contained accommodation. They also offer an on-demand shuttle service so you can get where you need to go with no hassle.
Be sure to chat with your reservations agent when booking your trip to see how you can save by booking your accommodation and services together. Companies in Niseko often run discounts that encourage guests to book all of their services in the one place, meaning you can save more and your holiday is conveniently managed by one friendly agent. A good example is EdVenture’s Winter Stay and Play discount - where you can get up to 15% off your child’s Winter Camp (which includes a daily ski lesson) if you stay onsite at an MnK property. MnK guests also get an unlimited 10% discount on all orders at Tomo restaurant and up to 15% off Elevate Private Ski/Snowboard lessons this winter.
Most first-time visitors to Niseko choose the ski bus or a private transfer to get from Chitose airport to the resort area, which costs at least 4,500pp in winter. But the cheapest way to get to Niseko is actually with a rental car - a one-day rental can cost you just 1,600pp, which is less than half the price! Rental cars are also very easy to arrange before you arrive, just chat to your reservations agent when booking your accommodation for assistance.
If you choose to reserve a rental car in Japan, be sure to bring your international driver’s license and drive carefully on snowy roads.
Many restaurants in the Niseko resort area rely purely on Winter business to get through the entire year, so prices can be expensive to compensate. But one thing locals learn quickly after living in Niseko is where the affordable and delicious restaurants are. The best way to find these types of restaurants is to search online like a Japanese person would: steer clear of Tripadvisor and try sites like Gurunavi and Tabelog - these are the most popular restaurant aggregators in Japan and give you a list of restaurants that Japanese people are loving. More often than not the menu will be great value, the atmosphere will be authentic and the food will be out of this world!
If you want to try an authentic Japanese pastime while in Niseko, then take a trip to the onsen at least once during your stay. Onsens are public baths with mineral properties that are rumoured to have endless health and beauty benefits. If you’d like to visit multiple onsens in Niseko, we recommend purchasing a Yumeguri onsen pass, which grants admission to the most popular onsens around town at a heavily discounted rate. An admission pass to 3 onsens starts at just 1,470yen!
There you have it! If you are looking for more tips and tricks on how to make the most of your Niseko holiday, check out our other blogs below.