Little known trivia fact #42; three-quarters of South Korea is extremely mountainous. And where there are mountains, there is snow. South Korea is one of the ski worlds’ best-kept secrets and if you enjoy carving perfect turns in corduroy snow in a country with an exotic culture, then a winter jaunt to the Korean peninsula is worth considering.
It appears that the Olympic committee already know this, as PyeongChang is hosting the 2018 Winter Games - about as solid an endorsement of what’s on offer as is possible! This region is only a short distance from Seoul and, therefore, your itinerary as good as creates itself. Time on the slopes is dovetailed with an exploration of the capital and the nearby DMZ. It is also possible to combine South Korea with some skiing in Japan.
At the outset, we should make it abundantly clear what skiing and boarding in South Korea is actually like. The purpose-built resorts we feature enjoy a remarkable amount of facilities, as the domestic market is many in numbers. They may lack character, but the lifts are efficient and the services second-to-none. For ski purists, don’t come here expecting to have your horizons widened – the Koreans remain unenlightened about the joys of off-piste (i.e. there is none) and the amount of challenge in-resort will never overwhelm. However, anyone from novice to upper-intermediate will find plenty of interest on the slopes, making South Korea an ideal destination for the easy-going skier, looking for an alternative and fascinating holiday.
The resorts are usually open from late-November through until early April. However, with the snowfall not being as abundant as it is over the water in Japan (the ocean being the key climactic factor), we’d suggest that you stick to the period between Christmas and the end of March.
There are no less than 17 ski resorts in South Korea, most in the Gangwon-do district, which covers the region from Seoul all the way out to the east coast. This is where the most of the snow falls, although the resorts closest to the capital can become unfeasibly crowded and tend to rely a little too much on their snow-making capabilities. Therefore, for us these resorts don’t quite measure up - you’ve travelled all the distance to Korea so let’s stick only with the best of the best; Yongpyong, and it’s sister-resort Alpenesia, both in PyeongChang district and hosts to the forthcoming Winter Olympic Games.
Here you’ll find modern facilities and a varied range of ski terrain, from gentle novice areas to some just about respectively challenging black runs. Snow conditions are a little more reliable, with an average snowfall of three metres a year. And still, Yongpyong and Alpenesia are only two and a half hours away from Seoul.
Korea has transported its obsession for technology, K-Pop and crazy neon lights to the ski resorts. Facilities are comprehensive and are constantly being added to keep up with the increasing popularity of skiing and boarding in the build up to the Olympics. However, this convenient proximity to Seoul does have its down side – the mass-migration can feel like a full-scale exodus over weekends and peak holidays. Prices for accommodation go up and rooms fill up fast, so it’s a case of ‘booking early to avoid disappointment’, as they say in the travel industry.
Tap on the resorts below to find out more:
You will fly in to Seoul – we can’t imagine any other scenario. Seoul-Incheon is the international airport and, for a pub-quiz factoid, it is officially rated as the world’s cleanest airport. Good on it.
Icheon is 30 miles east of Seoul itself and, as you would expect from South Korea, the transport links are excellent. Indeed, a high-tech maglev link is currently awaiting opening.
Different Snow are a fully licensed and financially bonded tour operator - we can organise your international flights to South Korea. Often we have access to better fares than what would be available directly to you - at the very least, as good as. For your piece of mind, it's better to keep it all under one roof - therefore, if one element fails for whatever reason, it's then our responsibility to get things back on track.