Article by Francis Miller
A beast of the northeast, Wanlong Ski Resort 万龙滑雪场 is one of several HUGE, modern, well-equipped ski resorts just a short distance outside of Beijing. Located in Chongli District of Zhangjiakou, a city in Hebei Province, these resorts will be the location of the 2022 Winter Olympics. I only visited Wanlong, though, so I will limit my review to this resort.
At Wanlong, there are slopes for skiers at all levels. For beginners, Wanlong has wide, shallow bunny slopes with moving carpets as well as a long, winding gentle green run. For the intermediate skier, it has several wide, but slightly steeper blue hills. For the advanced skier, different parts of the mountain offer a wide variety of black diamond-level terrain. This includes steep hills, moguls, as well as off-piste and trees. There are also terrain parks with jumps and rails and racecourse equipment, which I saw for giant slalom and alpine skiing, which I even got to try.
Below are my tips on travel, food, and accommodation from my visit in mid-December.
From Xi’an, fly or take the train to Beijing. The simplest and fastest way to get from Beijing to the resort area is about 45 minutes by highspeed rail, which will set you back about 190 yuan for a round trip. Take the train from Qinghe Station 清河站 (conveniently located on Line 13) to Taizicheng Station 太子城站 (you can also leave from Beijing North Station 北京北站, but it is more crowded and expensive). From Taizicheng Station, walk several hundred meters through a covered tunnel to the parking lot, where free (yes you read that right: FREE!) buses are available to take you to each resort (about 45min-1hr to Wanlong). Ask around for help – don’t get on the wrong bus, and don’t get off too early!
Equipment, Lift Tickets, and Lessons:
The resort has lift ticket options both with and without rentals (including ski/board/poles, boots, helmet, etc.). This makes everything very simple. Prices range from about 300 yuan for a 4-hour ticket to 1000 yuan for a two-day ticket. A season pass is more expensive. Foreigners can buy tickets online when they arrive by using WeChat. There are staff at the main desk who can assist. Note that for renting equipment, you will be required to surrender an ID or pay about 2000 yuan as a deposit. Be aware that if you exceed the time on your rentals, you will be fined (per minute!). For discerning skiers and boarders, demo shops rent high-end boards and skis, usually about 400 yuan/day. Lessons are provided through the resort – inquire at the main desk.
Eating and Drinking:
There is limited food at the top of the mountain, but the soup, roasted buns (烤包子 kaobaozi), and massive lamb chuanr skewers are excellent, especially after coming in from the cold. At the base of the mountain, the resort has a massive cafeteria. The hotels have numerous restaurants and bars, including breakfast buffets (about 100 yuan/person), hot pot, coffee shops (Costa Coffee but no Starbucks), and convenience stores. The town is a 15-20 minute drive down the mountain, but has a selection of cheaper food as well as a Carrefour supermarket.
The slopeside bar with the most authentic après-ski vibe is the Snow Owl Coffee Shop (雪鸮咖啡 on Dianping), albeit rather gritty. They are slope side with a bridge that connects them to one of the runs. They feature one of the widest selection of drinks you will find at the resort, including many whiskeys and bourbons, and my personal favorite Beijing craft beers from Great Leap, Jing A, and Slow Boat (and even pickleback shots if you ask nicely).
As with all ski resorts, you pay for location. If money is not an issue, then the Longgong Hotel 龙宫酒店 provides the swankiest digs at more than 2000 yuan/night. For those desiring slope-side access but are more budget conscious, the Shuanglong Hotel 双龙酒店 or the apartments 张家口万龙滑雪场国际公寓 are more reasonable at between 500-800 yuan/night. I stayed with some friends in one of the sparser apartments, which was perfect for me, since I really only used the room for sleeping. Lodging will be more expensive over the Spring Festival and other holidays. The town has many cheaper hotels, but if you have a foreign passport, definitely call ahead to confirm that you can, in fact, stay overnight.
Good luck, stay safe, have fun and ride on!
Francis is a teacher, college counselor, and avid skier living in Xi’an and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.