Winter tourism is probably the last thing that you would think of if someone mentions South Korea, because “Gangnam Style”, cosmetics, K-Pop, and K-Drama.
But did you know that the country is home to biting cold winters? So cold (in January, the coldest month, average temperature ranges between -6°C and 3°C), the winter throws a giant white blanket of snow over the mountainous regions of Gangwon, making it the perfect place to house the upcoming 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics (평창 동계 올림픽).
Now, coming from a tropical country i.e. a place that doesn’t receive an abundance of snow, the idea of winter is still very magical and playing in the snow is such a novelty. It’s something that every Malaysian (or Singaporean) has to experience at least once in their lifetime. Luckily, winter tourism in South Korea is still considerably cheap as compared to say anywhere else in Europe or the US or Canada.
If you’re interested, here are some places that you can visit in South Korea during winter, and you know, maybe build a snowman or two ;)
Alpensia Resort (알펜시아 리조트)
Officially a venue for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics, the Alpensia Resort boasts several facilities that are vital to the upcoming games – Alpensia Biahtlon Centre, Alpensia Ski Jumping Centre, Alpensia Sliding Centre, Alpensia Cross-Country Skiing Centre. The Alpensia Ski Jumping Centre, in particular, was originally planned to be the venue for the opening and closing ceremonies for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics. However, it is now scheduled to host only the ski jumping and the nordic combined events. And that’s not all. The Alpensia Sliding Centre will host the bobsleigh, luge, and skeleton events on its 2,018-metre long track while the Alpensia Cross-Country Skiing Centre will host the skiing events for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics.
Location: 325, Solbong-ro, Daegwallyeong-myeon, Pyeongchang-gun, Gangwon-do.
Woljeongsa Temple (월정사 (오대산))
established by Monk Ja Jang (590~658), Woljeongsa Temple is located in the forest of the valley east of Mt. Odaesan and composed of 60 temples and 8 monasteries made into one large temple. At Woljeongsa Temple there’s the Seongbo Museum where you can view the Buddhist culture of the Goryeo Dynasty (918∼1392), a 9-storey octagonal pagoda known as the Sari-Pagoda (relic pagoda), and the Stone Seated Buddha figure. There’s also the Jeokmyeolbogung, where Buddha’s bones are said to be preserved, and the large sermon hall Jeokgwangjeon Pavilion. Woljeongsa Temple was restored after the Korean war in 1950 when the Chilbulbojeon, Yeongsanjeon, Gwaneungjeon, Jinyeonggak, and 17 other buildings were burned.
Location: 63, Dongsan-ri, Jinbu-myeon, Pyeongchang-gun, Gangwon-do.
Bokwang Phoenix Snow Park (휘닉스 스노우파크)
Bokwang Phoenix Park is a ski resort in South Korea located in the township of Bongpyeong-myeon, in the county of Pyeongchang. The Bokwang Snow Park will be the venue for the freestyle skiing and snowboard of the 2018 Winter Olympics. It is also one of the locations where the popular romantic Korean drama, “Autumn in My Heart”, starring Song Seung Heon, Song Hye Kyo, and Won Bin, was shot.
Location: 174, Taegi-ro, Bongpyeong-myeon, Pyeongchang-gun, Gangwon-do.
Samyang Ranch (대관령 삼양목장)
Samyang Ranch (also known as Eco Green Campus) is Asia’s largest green pasture spread out on a plateau in Pyeongchang. This vast meadow is where milking cows feed on the fresh, clean grass. The view from the plateau, reaching a height of 1,470 meters, is remarkable as well. Samyang Ranch is also the filming location for popular Korean dramas such as Dramas: “Autumn in My Heart” and “Time of Gangsters”. If you go up to Daegwallyeong Observatory, you can see as far as Gangneung, Jumunjin, and even the East Sea beyond.
Location: 708-9, Kkotbadyangji-gil, Pyeongchang-gun, Gangwon-do.
Daegwallyeong Sheep Farm (대관령 양떼목장)
Privately owned Daegwallyeong Sheep Farm raises sheep on an area of 195 km², the only ranch in Pyeongchang that raises sheep. The sheep grazing field is surrounded by a 1.2 meter-long circular walkway, so visitors can view the sheep at all times during their visit. It takes about 40 minutes to walk along this path. To get a closer experience with the sheep, sign up for the feeding experience, where you can give dried hay to the sheep and even reach out to touch their fuzzy heads.
Fun fact: A wooden shack located in the field appeared as a backdrop of the movie “The Man from Mars”. The wooden shack, which fits perfectly with the sheep farm, has become a popular photo site.
Location: 483-32, Daegwallyeongmaru-gil, Daegwannyeong-myeon, Pyeongchang-gun, Gangwon-do.
Yongpyong Resort (용평리조트)
Yongpyong Resort is situated at the center of Korea’s Baekdudaegan Mountain Range, and sees an average of 250 centimetres of snowfall per season, which makes for excellent skiing conditions. One of the most popular ski resorts in Korea, it houses an enormous 17 million square meter complex which includes a 45-hole golf course, gondolas, swimming pool, impressive ski slopes (including the popular Rainbow Slopes) and excellent facilities for skiers. Yongpyong Resort has hosted a number of international competitions, including the World Cup Ski Competition and the Asian Winter Games, and will also host the Alpine Skiing event for the upcoming 2019 PyeongChang Winter Olympics.
Fun fact: In episode 9 of “Goblin“, Eun Tak is seen working a part-time job at the Yongpyong Ski Resort. The gondola Eun Tak was shown riding is Korea’s longest sightseeing gondola which offers a fascinating view of Balwangsan Mountain. “Goblin” is not the first drama to be filmed at Yongpyong Resort; this resort was also the filming site for what is regarded as the “original” hallyu drama, “Winter Sonata”.
Location: 715, Olympic-ro, Daegwanryeong-myeon, Pyeongchang-gun, Gangwon-do.
Special thanks to our friends from Korea Tourism Organisation (Malaysia) for the opportunity!
Hype Malaysia is also an official “Wow! PyeongChang!” supporter in conjunction with the upcoming 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics in South Korea. So keep a look out for our future posts as we’ll be gushing over places to go, things to do, and food to eat in Gangwon ?
Big shoutout to our friends from Travel Recommends for keeping us connected with unlimited data on our trip to South Korea, enabling us to update real-time for the entire duration without a hitch ?