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[Outbound]: Skiing the Alps of Shaoxing

Somewhere east of Switzerland -- skiing the slopes (or slope, rather) of Shaoxing.
Last updated: 2015-12-11
Outbound is SmartShanghai's travel features series dedicated to fascinating and wonderful places, nearby and far-flung, around China and sometimes not.
When you enter the lobby of the Qiaobo Snow World, you will notice the large LCD on your right. On the screen, beautiful white people skiing down beautiful white mountains. They're laughing. In slow motion. The snow parts as they majestically slide through the turns. The wind blows through their hair. Swish. Then everything goes white. The word "Switzerland" fades onto the screen, and you wake up from your snowtrance. Oh right. You're in Shaoxing, Zhejiang, where snow falls perhaps once a year, and the skiing getaway escape you're about to experience is all of a 200-meter-high hill in an indoor ski resort.

Shaoxing is an hour and a half from Shanghai by train. When I asked my taxi driver about Shaoxing's specialties on the 25-minute drive to the resort, he replied, "We don't have specialties. We have the textile industry. Oh, and we have old rice wine."


Indeed, you might have heard of Shaoxing Huangjiu -- maybe even tried some. It's famous. Less well-known is Qiaobo Snow World, a 60,000 square meter complex that stands about 300 meters high. Only the first 200 meters are covered in snow, because the rest melted, according to the guy at the counter. Currently there are no plans to introduce more snow.


I went on a Wednesday, a.k.a. their discount day. A four-hour session is 128rmb. On weekdays the price is 240rmb, and weekends, when you'll probably actually go, it's 330rmb. 330rmb -- that's the cost of a ski lift day pass at the Swiss mountain featured in their video. But hey, if you're reading this, you're probably a long way from Switzerland.

The cost covers all your equipment and ski clothes, except for gloves and socks, which you can buy for an additional 30rmb. You'll need to put down a 500rmb deposit, which gets placed on a plastic card. Your first four hours gets withdrawn from the card automatically. If you stay a few minutes over four hours, you'll have to pay an additional 50rmb late fee. Stay 10 minutes beyond the original four, and you'll get charged for another full period. So, better time your ski session properly if you go.

You can pay for additional services from the card such as a 10rmb locker for the day or a ski lesson. The ski lessons are a bit on the expensive side if you are going alone. An hour of one-on-one training is 180rmb, but you can add up to three friends to your lesson for an additional 60rmb each.

My instructor and I went up and down the slope seven times in our hour-long lesson. Doing it on your own, you can probably get in 15 times as the "lift" reaches the top in three minutes, then getting to the bottom takes 15-45 seconds, depending on your skiing-to-falling ratio.

The lessons are definitely worth your time if you are brand new. People figuring this out on their own had a hard time.

Every now and then, you hear screaming like someone is getting stabbed with a broken bottle of (Shaoxing) huangjiu. If you turn to check the source, you'll usually see someone's face in the snow, ostrich style or with one of their skis missing. This is the ski resort of noobs. That was the crowd here. A bunch of people learning how to ski. Occasionally, snowboards and skis would reach the end of the slope without their owners, and sometimes people might use you as a surprise/instant breaking mechanism.

At least three people ran into me while I was there. That eerie feeling hit the back of my neck as I heard the ascending volume of wailing approaching from behind.

More fallen comrades.

Let's take a moment to talk about this jump: it's not actually possible to generate enough speed to get over it. It's a trap, that's what it is. It's a trap that taunts you and laughs at you when you inevitably fail. Just look at this guy.


Really though, there's something undeniably amusing about watching people fall.

Not sure what's going on in the background of this picture.

Not sure about this technique either.

They say the indoor temperature is -2 or -3 Celsius, but it felt a bit warmer than that. I brought along a Canadian snow expert with me, who said the snow was a bit sticky because the room temperature wasn't cold enough, which might have been why people were falling so often.

But it's all good. If you're new to skiing, this isn't a bad place to get started. But you do feel sorry for guys like this, who had his own skis, clothes, and poles, and he knew what he was doing.

You know he's envisioning the alps during that 15 seconds of bliss from the top to the bottom.

Here's what going down the slope looks like:

Video by Melissa Mark

You can easily do the ski resort in a day, as I did, but they do have a hotel if you want to stay longer. Rooms start from 450rmb, and they have a Western and a Chinese restaurant. I had dinner at the Chinese one. Lots of pacing required when ordering from their menu.

They only had one beer available. Which beer? You know which beer.

And only one temperature. I asked my waiter if I could get a cold one. He took the beer away and returned it a few minutes later at exactly the same temperature. Apparently the place doesn't have a freezer, save for the massive one next door.

Drinking warm Snow beer is exactly like... actually you can't complete this sentence because warm Snow beer is what you use to end a simile, not begin one. For example, drinking Huangpu river water that's been allowed to distill and ferment for a few decades is like drinking warm Snow beer. Drinking Satan's piss after he drank cold Snow beer is like drinking warm Snow beer.

You don't want to drink warm Snow beer.

All in all, Qiaobo Snow World was worth the trip. Veterans are likely to be disappointed, but hey, maybe they'll open up that additional 100 meters next year. For everyone else, the resort is a fun short escape from Shanghai that you can do in a day. Shaoxing has some cool old architecture and hills as well, so you may as well stay the night.

Getting There: A ticket from Hongqiao Railway Station to Shaoxing North Station (绍兴北站) is around 60rmb-120rmb one way for a second class seat, depending on when you go. The ride is an hour and a half. From the station, you'll want to take a 25 minute taxi to the resort, which costs 35rmb.

Address: 绍兴柯桥区柯岩柯南大道2168号,乔波冰雪世界
Qiaobo Snow World, 2168 Keqiao Qu, Keyanke Nan Da Dao, Shaoxing

Hours: Monday-Friday from 10am-8pm. Saturday and Sunday from 9am-10pm.

Phone: 0575 8986 7620 (on some days, you can get a discount if you book in advance).