I’m often asked which is the best ski resort in Korea, and I always answer that it depends what you’re looking for. So here’s the lowdown on the best resorts in Korea, presented in top-3s:
Best All-Round Korean Ski Resorts
=1. High1 & Yongpyong
For all-mountain riding, High1 and Yongpyong are the two standout ski resorts in Korea. Yongpyong was the original (built in the 70s), while High1 is just a decade old. Both are high enough to not be reliant on snowmaking (as most Korean resorts are), are relatively large, have a good mix of terrain, and make reasonable effort with their terrain parks.
3. Phoenix Park
Phoenix Park is mostly famed for its freestyle offerings, with a halfpipe and arguably the country’s best terrain park (see below) along with Welli Hilli Park. Freestyle aside though, Phoenix Park is larger than Welli Hilli and is the 4th-largest ski area in Korea; this means it offers decent downhill skiing in addition to great freestyle, making it a good all-round option.
Best Korean Ski Resorts for Freestyle (Park)
=1. Phoenix Park & Welli Hilli Park
Phoenix Park and Welli Hilli Park are the two standouts in this department, each having solid, well-maintained terrain parks with a good variety of features for all levels of park rider. These are both quite far out from Seoul – if you’re looking for a decent park at the resorts closer to Seoul, Jisan is your best bet.
=3. High1 & Yongpyong
High1 and Yongpyong are great all-round resorts, and they don’t neglect their freestyle offerings; while not nearly as impressive as Phoenix and Welli Hilli, they do both have sizeable, decent quality terrain parks.
Best Korean Ski Resorts for Halfpipe
=1. Phoenix Park & Welli Hilli Park
Again, these two lead the way for freestyle and at present have the only two halfpipes in Korea. Phoenix Park has a superpipe which was used for the Pyeongchang 2018 halfpipe events, and the halfpipe at Welli Hilli Park is almost always well-cut and in good nick (it’s also located right in front of the base area, so everyone can see you eat shit!)
High1 still claims to have a halfpipe on their website & piste maps, however there’s absolutely no sign of it these days. When I enquired with staff they were unable to say if it would be making a return. Vivaldi Park also used to have a pipe (which was the closest one to Seoul) but they took it out in 2018; when I asked the staff there, they confirmed this was likely to be permanent.
Best Korean Resorts for Downhill Skiing
1. Muju Deogyusan
The southern location isn’t great for the snow quality, but Muju Deogyusan has the biggest vertical drop and the longest runs in the country. The setting in Deogyusan National Park also gives it the best views!
=2. High1 & Yongpyong
All-round star resorts High1 and Yongpyong don’t quite match Muju Deogyusan for vertical drop, but they’re not far off and both offer a good selection of sections and runs. They also both get better snow than Muju so will often actually be better, especially early or late in the season.
Most Convenient Ski Resorts from Seoul (without a car)
1. Oak Valley
With a free shuttle from Sports Complex Station taking just 75 minutes in good traffic and no reservations required (you can just turn up and board the bus), Oak Valley is super convenient and a decent size for the short travel time.
2. Elysian Gangchon
Although located in Gangwon-do province, Elysian Gangchon can be reached on the Seoul Metro or the ITX Cheongchun express train with regular shuttle buses from the station, again meaning no reservations are required and you can head out there at whatever time suits you.
3. Vivaldi Park
Vivaldi Park is another Gangwon-do resort which is actually very convenient to Seoul, thanks in particular to their free shuttle bus for international tourists. It takes 90 minutes from Myeongdong and costs you nothing, just make sure to make your shuttle bus reservation 2 days in advance as required. Vivaldi is the biggest hill you can reach from Seoul for free without a season pass.
(Also a shout out to Bears Town which has a really good (paid) shuttle bus system – if you’re in northern Seoul, this is probably your most convenient option)
What do you think about this list? Agree? Think it’s nonsense? Leave a comment below!
Best Korean Ski Resorts During Pyeongchang 2018
Be aware that the four Pyeongchang 2018 host resorts will be partly or completely closed if you visit during the Olympic season, so check out the best Korean ski resorts to hit in the 2017/18 season
Also see here for full reviews of every resort in the country; and here for a size comparison of all ski hills in Korea using satellite imagery!
If you’re looking for Pyeongchang 2018 accommodation options, see here