Nanshan Ski Resort Overview
Nanshan ( 南山 ) is located just north-east of Beijing (it’s actually within the limits of Beijing Municipality, but outside the city proper) and is the smallest outdoor ski area I’ve ever been to. It also receives very little natural snow and relies mostly on snowmaking – in fact at the time of my visit to Nanshan there hadn’t yet been any snow that winter in Beijing, and the hill was operating entirely with man-made snow. Snowfall in the area is light, but the temperatures are bloody freezing so they have no trouble making the white stuff, and when it does fall naturally I would imagine they retain it quite well.
Terrain, snow, off-piste, nightlife, access, etc for Nanshan ski resort
There isn’t much to say about the riding at Nanshan – the hill is tiny, the snow is artificial, and you’re obviously not flying all the way to China in order to ride at Nanshan. China does have proper resorts elsewhere (the most notable are in the northeastern provinces of Heilongjiang and Jilin), but to be honest if you’re flying to Asia to ride you probably want to be heading to Japan. With that said, if you find yourself in Beijing in winter and you want to ride, Nanshan is the place. Just don’t expect much, and have fun with what’s available – a handful of cruisy runs, a little artificial ‘forest’ section, some decent kickers, and even a halfpipe (which wasn’t open when I went)
How to get to Nanshan ski resort from Beijing
The most useful thing I can probably do with a blog post about Nanshan ski resort is tell you how to get there. The easiest way is by one of the shuttle buses, taking an hour-and-a-half-ish and departing from both Sanyuanqiao ( 三元桥 ) station and Wudaokou ( 五道口 ) station at 8:30 in the morning, with return trips at 5.30 in the evening. However, that is a long time to be spending at a hill which you’ll exhaust in a few hours, and furthermore if you’re staying nowhere near Wudaokou and you’re a lazy slob (like my buddy and I were when we went), you probably don’t want to be getting up early and dragging yourself across Beijing for an 8:30 bus. You can see shuttle bus details on Nanshan’s website here, including the fact that you need to call the number the day before to make a reservation; the alternative is to take the public bus from the bus station in Dongzhimen ( 东直门 ), which leaves regularly throughout the day. It’s bus number 980 (please double check this as things may have changed by the time you read this!) and the bus station is located in the vicinity of Dongzhimen subway station (take one of the north-eastern exits from the subway). We met at the station at 10, hit McDonald’s for brekkie and then jumped on the bus. The only difficulty here is that you have to get off the bus before the final stop and take a taxi for the last few miles to the hill – we told the bus driver we were going to Nanshan, and he stopped and dropped us off at the appropriate place (which just looks like a random section of a major road). There were a bunch of taxi drivers waiting right there and they instantly knew where we wanted to go. I don’t remember what price we negotiated, but we got the driver’s number to call for a ride back down to the main road in the evening (he dropped us at the right bus stop, there was a bit of a wait and no seats so we had to stand for the ride back to town, but it worked out fine). As it turned out, it would’ve also been possible for us to take the Sanyuanqiao or Wudaokou shuttle bus at 17:30 so I guess the shuttle bus telephone reservation is only required for the morning bus.
Nanshan Ski Resort Summary
A small hill relying on man-made snow on the outskirts of Beijing. You don’t want to travel all the way to Beijing to ski, but if you’re in Beijing in winter and fancy a day on the slopes then Nanshan is fine for getting your fix.
Resources and Useful Links for Riding at Nanshan
Search for Beijing hotel deals (affiliate link)
World Nomads has winter sports cover. World Nomads travel insurance has been designed by travelers for travelers. If you leave home without travel insurance or your policy runs out, you can buy or extend while on the road.
(This can be an important point, as I once found out the hard way in Bangkok)
snow-forecast.com does exactly what it says on the tin, and is my usual go to for accurate snow forecasts. Nanshan isn’t covered on Snow Forecast, but you can check the Snow Forecast for Badaling some 70km away on the far side of Beijing. The weather will usually be the same at both, and in any case you’ll likely be riding man-made snow as it doesn’t usually snow much at Nanshan anyway!
For skiing in Beijing, more important than the snow forecast is the pollution forecast; you definitely don’t want to schedule a day on the slopes when the pollution’s bad.
Make sure to sign up for a VPN service before arriving in China so you can use the internet as normal – see here