In just a few weeks, thousands of visitors will flock to South Korea for the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang. In addition to watching top athletes compete in high-caliber sporting events, many will also take the opportunity to explore the country during one of its coldest months.
On the surface, winter seems to be the least attractive time to visit Korea. Temperatures often drop to subzero for days on end, while bone-chilling winds could hit any time of the day.
But with the right preparations, visiting Korea during the winter can be especially rewarding. Not only does the country offer breathtaking winter sceneries, there are also many winter activities that you can easily fill your itinerary with.
Hit the Slopes
Korean ski slopes might not be world famous but that does not mean they lack in substance.
Efficient and bustling with energy, Korean ski resorts are some of the most exciting in the region. Not only are they comparatively accessible, in terms of costs and locations, the country also has a unique ski culture. Take a dip in a hot tub and get a massage at a Korean bathhouse, or Jjimjilbang, to relax in between ski sessions, and grill away at a Korean BBQ when your stomach starts grumbling.
While Gangwon Province, where the PyeongChang Olympics will take place, is the most popular destination for skiers, there are also resorts located on the outskirts of Seoul. Whether you want to take a one-day ski trip or spend several days at the slopes, there is a resort that suits your needs in Korea.
It’s Sled Time
You’ve never tried skiing but still want to experience the thrill of sliding down a snow slope. Where should you go?
Enter Everland’s Snow Buster, the first sledding park in Korea. The park consists of three courses that caters to visitors of all ages and experience-levels.
‘Munch’ is a gentle slope which is suitable for even toddlers. For those who are after some challenging, there’s the ‘Jungfrau’ slope. And for thrill seekers, the 200-meter long ‘Eiger’ slope might just be what you are looking for.
For the first time in Korea, 4-seater sleds are available at the Eiger course, which will allow families to experience the slopes together. If staying outdoor gets too cold, visitors can head to ‘Popping Jumping’, an indoor trampoline playground.
Everland takes safety seriously and all courses have been tested carefully before they were opened. All three courses are also equipped with lifts, allowing visitors to sled with ease.
Located in the Alpine Village area of the theme park, Snow Buster is opened to all Everland visitors free of charge.
Fishing on Ice
If you are a fish lover, ice fishing may be the perfect Korean winter activity for you.
During the winter months, families and communities gather at ice fishing festivals across the country, casting lines into frozen lakes in hopes of catching freshwater trout. Jaraseom Singsing Winter Festival and Inje Icefish Festival are some of the most famous places for the activity.
With the option to grill your catch on the spot, ice fishing is a great way to have fun and taste great food.
Hiking in the Snow
Korea offers a wide variety of hiking trails as 70% of the country is mountainous. Hiking is a popular activity all year round but in winter, climbing a mountain in Korea offers unrivalled sceneries.
Located in Gangwon Province, Seoraksan is the third tallest mountain in the country. Its picturesque peaks and valleys are covered in snow during winter, transforming into a pristine white mountain range. Scaling snow-covered Hallasan in Jeju Island is not for the faint-hearted but the reward is immeasurable.
Explore Winter Street Snacks
Walk the streets of Seoul during winter and you’ll find yourself surrounded by all kinds of enticing aroma. From roasted sweet potatoes to a wide variety of steamed and fried buns, winter in Korea comes with a smorgasbord of delicious street snacks.
One of the nation’s favorite winter snacks is the Bungeo-ppang – and for good reasons. Taking a bite of the fish-shaped pastry filled with red bean paste can keep you warm even on the coldest days. Sold by street vendors across the country, these little pockets of joy should be on ever Korean winter to-do list.