Skiing with kids: China the new hot cold spot

It starts something like this: "Right! Let's squeeze these sausage legs into tights. Now, please, refrain from kicking. I've got to get the thermal socks on, then the ski pants, jacket, scarf… Oh, why are you crying, honey? I know it's not comfortable but, look! Earmuffs in the shape of bunny rabbits! Beanie, goggles, gloves. Darling, don't spin around on the floor like that little girl from The Exorcist. We're going to have fun. Do you wanna build a snowman?"

All of this occurs before setting foot on the slopes.

What follows is a series of tantrums as their feet are bound by boots, cheeks pricked by snow and fingertips turned blue.

It's like having sex for the first time: awkward, unwieldy and – at least for a period of time – not worth repeating.

But, trust me, stick with it: each experience it gets easier.

By the time they're tweens, it's your favourite family holiday.

For more experienced skiers and snowboarders, there's no end to the international options.

In the five years to 2016, the number of Australian families travelling to snow resorts has increased by 178 per cent: There are 173 per cent per cent more Australians going to Asian mountains, compared with 119 per cent to Europe.

The hot new destination is China. Sure, its terrain and snow are inferior to Japan. But the exponential growth of the industry, since Beijing was named host of the 2022 Winter Olympics, makes this an exciting adventure.


Who doesn't love exploring a frontier?

Asia's longest sled slide, with 48 twists and turns, is in Yabuli, China's biggest ski domain with 30 kilometres of slopes.

Hop on a flight to Harbin from Beijing, and take a train or shuttle to the resorts. 

Club Med has opened a second ski hotel in China, two hours from Beijing, in the Jilin province. (You can book from now, but it officially opens in November.)

A word of warning: it is bitterly cold in January. For kids accustomed to the tropics, this can come as a shock. Aussies are advised to travel in shoulder season (around November or March).

Beidahu has 1.7 kilometres of beginner and 1.2 kilometres of advanced trails, plus a terrain park.

The best bit? The resort is ski in/ski out. Jilin is famous for film festivals, so the kids' club incorporates movie-making, music and art activities. And the children are exposed to a wildly different culture.

The worst bit? Getting there. Beidahu is in China's most northeasterly province. Fly into Changchun Longjia International Airport then take a two-hour taxi trip to the resort.

The antipodes is excellent for the first few family ski trips. (We recommend Perisher or Falls Creek in Australia, and Cadrona or Coronet Peak in New Zealand.)

In the past, the next step for families was the US, Canada or French Alps.

For an alternative cultural experience, why not give China a go?

Its infrastructure is a lot more sophisticated than you might think.