Pyeongchang Olympics October 2017 Update

The Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic halfpipe at Phoenix Park

The Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics are now only 4 months away, but many would-be visitors are still in two minds about coming due to uncertainties over accommodation and transportation. It does look like a majority of visitors will be staying in Seoul and travelling on the new KTX bullet train to the Olympic venues, but recent announcements regarding the KTX mean this should work out fine.

Pyeongchang 2018 Accommodation

Most hotels are now booked out in Pyeongchang, Gangneung, Donghae, and Wonju. Sokcho still has some availability, and Seoul has plenty. See here for a full guide on where to stay

Pyeongchang 2018 Transportation

Korail has announced a Pyeongchang Rail Pass for the Olympics; this is key for anyone staying in Seoul and making repeated round trips on the new KTX train to the venues. Details here

Standing room will be available on the KTX, easing worries about capacity

Yongpyong, Alpensia, and Phoenix Park have all confirmed they’ll have shuttle buses from their nearest KTX stations for guests and skiers throughout the season (Olympic events venues will be accessed by separate shuttle buses for ticket holders only)

For full details on the new train line see here

Olympic Host Resort Closures

Alpensia have now confirmed they won’t be opening at all for skiing this winter (sledding will be available though). This completes the season schedules for the ski hills at the host resorts, as follows:

Yongpyong open all season, but with the Rainbow and Silver areas (gondola included) closed off

Phoenix Park open until January 10th, with Phoenix Peak closed off but most of Mont Blanc (the main hill) open bar the boardercross and halfpipe.

Alpensia closed (but with sledding available)

Jeongseon closed

(For the best places to actually do some skiing yourself during the Olympic season, see here)

Any questions? Leave a comment below!

Posted in Pyeongchang 2018

Pyeongchang 2018 Accommodation: where to stay for the Winter Olympics

If you’re visiting Korea specifically for the Winter Olympics and are trying to work out the Pyeongchang 2018 accommodation situation right now, chances are you’re bouncing all over the internet and not having much luck.

Fact is, the situation isn’t entirely clear as things stand; on this page I’ll try to provide an overview of the situation as it is now, list the options with relevant links, and post regular updates as & when more information becomes available.

Pyeongchang Olympics October 2017 update:

Mountain Cluster ski resorts: fully booked

Other regional ski resorts: fully booked

Coastal Cluster (Gangneung) hotels: very limited availability (see hotels in Gangneung)

Wonju hotels: very limited availability (see hotels in Wonju)

Donghae hotels: very limited availability (see hotels in Donghae)

Sokcho hotels: fair availability (see hotels in Sokcho)

Seoul hotels: good availability (see hotels in Seoul)

A Pyeongchang Rail Pass is now available for the Olympics, granting unlimited train travel for 5 or 7 days (approx $200 for the 7-day pass); this pass is exactly what you need if you’re staying in Seoul and travelling back & forth repeatedly to the venues on the KTX. See here for details of the Pyeongchang KTX and here for details of the pass

Airbnb is showing plenty of availability in Seoul, Wonju, Donghae, and Sokcho, and even some in Gangneung. Airbnbs are also still available near the Mountain Cluster venues, but at steep prices. At this stage, if you want to actually be in the venue clusters, Airbnb looks the best bet. If you haven’t used Airbnb before, you can get a 35-dollar discount off your first rental by signing up through Snow Guide Korea; simply click on this link and register.

Read on for full details on the above options

Pyeongchang 2018 Accommodation: overview

As you’ll no doubt already be aware if you’ve bought tickets, the events are split between the Mountain Cluster and the Coastal Cluster, with the Mountain Cluster events spread across 3 established Pyeongchang County ski resorts & 1 purpose-built new resort in neighbouring Jeongseon County, and the Costal Cluster events in the city of Gangneung. For more detail see here

The Pyeongchang ski resorts of Alpensia, Yongpyong, and Phoenix Park all have huge hotel / condo developments at their bases, but you’ll be very lucky to find anything available there at this stage (it may not even be possible at all, with block bookings for all the corporate / IOC etc beds required). Likewise, expect available rooms in Gangneung to be thin on the ground.

Additionally, there are a few more ski resorts in the region which aren’t Olympic venues, but which have accommodation and aren’t too far away – namely, Oak Valley Park (near the city of Wonju) and Welli Hilli Park (not too far from Phoenix Park), and High1 (an hour or so south of Gangneung by road) – but again, expect availability to be thin on the ground. Still, it can’t hurt to be aware of them and to check them along with everything else.

Pyeongchang 2018 Accommodation: latest situation

As Pyeongchang is a rural area with very little accommodation available away from the ski resorts, and Gangneung is a small city without much of a tourist industry, it was always likely that accommodation was going to be an issue for Pyeongchang 2018 – and organisers recently admitted that that is indeed the case. They’ve announced that several more hotels are under construction and will be ready in time to provide thousands of extra beds, but there’s been scant detail available about what or where exactly these hotels are, or if any of those extra beds will even be available to the general public.

It does seem to be the case that Olympic Games hosts these days tend to look like they’re in disarray, only to pull everything together in the nick of time; furthermore, if you spend a bit of time in Korea you’ll get to know the phrase “pali pali” (meaning roughly “hurry, hurry”) which goes hand-in-hand with a tendency to get things done at the last minute! So extra beds may very well materialise, be they in new hotels, university dorms, or whatever. This page will be updated as soon as (or if) they do, and if you’re still searching by then you may be able to score something – but do be prepared to pay a hefty amount.

In the meantime, you’d surely much prefer to get something nailed down rather than be waiting for those extra hotels to show up; if you can land something in Pyeongchang or Gangneung, great, and lock it in! If not, you can look at options further afield.

Pyeongchang 2018 Accommodation: where to stay

With the above in mind, a quick briefing on the geography; Gangneung’s on the east coast, with Pyeongchang just inland from there. Seoul is over near the west coast, near the main Incheon Airport; the city of Wonju lies roughly halfway between Seoul and Gangneung. Along the coast from Gangneung are the cities of Sokcho (50km to the north) and Donghae (20km to the south). With the new Gangneung KTX bullet train (see details) connecting Seoul & Wonju to Pyeongchang & Gangneung, all of these are feasible bases (depending where you’re attending events).

Pyeonchang 2018 accommodation map

Where to stay for Pyeongchang 2018

Red line: Gangneung KTX

Green: venue clusters

Blue: main accommodation options outside venue clusters

Ski resorts
1: Oak Valley (check accommodation and see resort guide)
2: Welli Hilli Park (check accommodation and see resort guide)
3: Bokwang Phoenix Park (check accommodation and see resort guide)
4: Jeongseon Alpine Centre (no accommodation; see details)
5: Yongpyong/Alpensia (many accommodation options; see resort guide for full details & links)
6: High1 (many accommodation options; see resort guide for full details & links)

Airbnb: if you’re going to stay in one of the cities, remember to check Airbnb as well as the hotel listings. It’s a particularly good option in Seoul, where there’s a huge number of places available, and Airbnb’s really convenient in Korea – hosts usually have it set up so you can arrive & check in by yourself without having to wait around or meet anyone, and the housing standards are decent with underfloor heating and excellent internet connections as standard. If you haven’t used Airbnb before, you can get a 35-dollar discount off your first rental by signing up through Snow Guide Korea; simply click on this link and register!

Airbnb also has listings near Welli Hilli Park, Phoenix Park, Alpensia & Yongpyong, and High1, some of which are still showing availability for the Olympics as of October 2017.

Seoul: it seems likely that many (if not most) Olympic visitors will wind up staying in Seoul, and travelling to the events on the new Gangneung KTX bullet train line. The line is now complete and is due to enter regular service in December 2017; travel time from one end to the other i.e. Incheon Airport to Gangneung will be around 2 hours, while travel time from Seoul to the Mountain Cluster will be about an hour. Bear in mind that you’ll also need to take a shuttle bus between the train station and the venue you’re heading to, and there will also be a subway or taxi ride in Seoul, depending which part of the city you stay in.

Map showing the route of the Gangneung KTX

The full Gangneung KTX route

And that’s a key point – if you’re staying in Seoul and concerned about journey times, try to stay as close as you possibly can to Cheongnyangni Station as it’s the main station in Seoul for the Gangneung KTX. Of a total of 51 trains per day, 20 will start from Cheongnyangni and 15 will start from Sangbong; there’ll be 16 per day originating from Incheon Airport and stopping at Seoul Station then Cheongnyangni Station. Cheongnyangni will therefore have the greatest frequency of service, while Seoul Station will only get those 16 per day; if your main concern is journey logistics it’s better to stay near Cheongnyangni, but if your main concern is easy access to nightlife & sightseeing etc it’s better to stay near Seoul Station and accept you may end up having to take a taxi home from Cheongnyangni when returning from Pyeongchang.

Cheongnyangni and Sangbong are both located in the northeast of Seoul; Sangbong is a smaller station and a bit further out, so Cheongnyangni is the better option of the two for good connections to the rest of the city, in addition to having greater frequency of KTX service.

If you stay south of the river in e.g. Gangnam, you’re looking at a 30 to 40 minute subway ride just to reach Seoul Station or Cheongnyangni, so try to avoid that.

(Note: 청량리 is correctly romanised as Cheongryangri due to Korean spelling rules but the correct pronunciation is Cheongnyangni. Bit of a mouthful either way! You’ll see it written both ways)

Be aware that concerns have been raised about the capacity & schedule of the trains (update: Korail have announced that standing tickets will be available, greatly increasing the capacity). With service expected to be from 5am to midnight, it could pose a problem for those needing to get back to Seoul from late-finishing events; if you’re attending an evening event, check the likely finishing time and bear this in mind when considering accommodation & transportation. If staying in Seoul, you may have to leave before the event’s over or risk missing the train back. Also due to capacity limitations, it’s strongly advisable to book your train tickets in advance on the Korail site if you want a seat (not yet possible – advance booking is available one month before the travel date. Try to make bookings as soon as you can!) If you’ll be doing this journey repeatedly, take advantage of the Pyeongchang Rail Pass to keep costs down.

Search for hotels in Seoul

Wonju: the largest city in Gangwon-do, Wonju is halfway between Seoul & Gangneung and fairly close to the Mountain Cluster venues, so if you can find accommodation there it should be workable. One issue could be that although the Gangneung KTX stops in Wonju, the trains coming through from Seoul could already be at capacity; if you end up having to go by road, it’s about 50km from Wonju to Phoenix Park, 70km to Alpensia/Yongpyong, and 100km to Gangneung. The distances aren’t huge, but the traffic is likely to be heavy so it could be slow going; still, if you’re struggling to find accommodation in Pyeongchang or Gangneung but don’t want to travel all the way from Seoul, then Wonju could be a good option as long as you’re prepared for possible transportation snags. It’s definitely not an ideal solution if your events are in Gangneung, but those attending the freestyle events at Phoenix Park should definitely look at Wonju as an option.

Search for hotels in Wonju

Mountain Cluster ski resorts: the in-resort accommodations at Alpensia, Yongpyong, and Phoenix Park will be very hard to book, if possible at all. There are some small pension-style places and motels in the nearby towns, they’re all fully-booked already of course but if you keep checking you may just be able to grab a vacancy. See here for details on options in & around Yongpyong / Alpensia, and here for Phoenix Park.

Other ski resorts in the region: Welli Hilli Park is only about 20km from Phoenix Park, and they’re located near adjacent stops on the Gangneung KTX (Dunnae Station and Pyeongchang Station). It would probably work quite well as a base at least for Phoenix Park, and perhaps the other venues too – if you can get a room! You can check their accommodation availability here (if you see anything, I’d jump on it); a nice point if you stay at Welli Hilli is you’ll actually be able to ski there as it’s not hosting any events so will be open as usual.

Oak Valley’s just outside Wonju and located quite close to Manjong Station on the new KTX line; if you can score a room there and if you get train tickets, it’s a good option (and again, you can actually do some skiing while you’re there). Without trains tickets though, the transportation gets tricky as Oak Valley’s on the wrong side of Wonju – to reach the venues by road, you’d have to take the Oak Valley shuttle bus (or taxi) to Wonju, then continue by bus or taxi from there. You can check their room availability here

One more option is High1; if you want to do some skiing, with closures elsewhere High1’s by far the best place to do it during the Olympics. There’s a lot of accommodation in and around High1, see here for details; again, it’s pretty much booked out already but if you keep checking you might just get lucky. However, High1’s probably a bad call for Mountain Cluster events due to the transportation (unless some special buses are made available direct to the venues, but that doesn’t seem likely to be the case at the moment); it would work for events in Gangneung though, being about an hour away by road (again, a lot could depend on whether extra buses are scheduled – if not, long taxi rides could end up being necessary). Update: High1 have confirmed that no special transportation arrangements are planned for the Olympics, so keep that in mind. If you do want to stay there, remember to also check hotels & Airbnbs in Gohan/Sabuk towns (see here)

Gangneung (Coastal Cluster): search for Gangneung hotels here. If you find something within your budget, snap it up! Gangneung’s well-placed for any of the events, and you can suss the transportation later i.e. once the organisers have actually sussed it!

Search for hotels in Gangneung

Donghae: this port city 20km south of Gangneung makes for a good base if you’re attending Coastal Cluster events in Gangneung. For Mountain Cluster events, the dogleg through Gangneung makes the transportation tricky (Wonju would be better)

Search for hotels in Donghae

Sokcho: as with Donghae, the port of Sokcho should work well enough for Coastal Cluster events, though it’s a bit further away (50km) than Donghae is; I’d consider it a last resort for Mountain Cluster events though (Wonju or Seoul would be better). Yangyang is just south of Sokcho and is home to the nearest (very small) airport to the venues, so that’s another possibility.

Search for hotels in Sokcho & Yangyang

Any questions about the Pyeongchang 2018 accommodation situation? Leave a comment below!

See also:

Snow Guide Korea’s Pyeongchang 2018 page; more details on the Gangneung KTX; and the best Korean resorts to ski at during Pyeongchang 2018

Posted in Pyeongchang 2018

The Biggest Ski Resort in Korea

If you’re wondering what the biggest ski resort in Korea is, by most measurements it’s Yongpyong – though if you’re talking about vertical drop, Muju Deogyusan is the top dog (until Jeongseon Alpine Centre opens, anyway). High1 isn’t far behind, but then the rest of Korea’s ski resorts are significantly smaller.

While putting this site together, I tried in vain to dig up all the stats for ski area size, but only a handful of resorts provide that information; also, even when they do it’s not always clear if they’re giving the area of the slopes themselves, or the entire area within the ski area’s external boundary (even though most of that is unrideable forest – forget going off-piste in Korea!).

So I started comparing them on Google Maps, and that formed the idea for this post – displaying the sizes of all Korea’s ski resorts side-by-side using the satellite view in Google Maps! No stats or figures here; just a visual comparison of how much area they all cover, also allowing you to see how much of that area is actually rideable.

Here they all are, shown at the same scale, in (roughly) descending order (click resort names for individual reviews):

Yongpyong

Satellite view of Yongpyong ski resort, Korea

High1

Satellite view of High1 ski resort, Korea

Muju Deogyusan

Satellite view of Muju Deogyusan ski resort, Korea

Jeongseon Alpine Centre (still a construction site at the time this image was taken, but clearly showing the piste layout)

Satellite view of Jeongseon Alpine Centre, Korea

Phoenix Park

Satellite view of Phoenix Park ski resort, Korea

Welli Hilli Park

Satellite view of Welli Hilli Park ski resort, Korea

Vivaldi Park

Satellite view of Vivaldi Park ski resort, Korea

Oak Valley

Satellite view of Oak Valley ski resort, Korea

Bears Town Resort

Satellite view of Bears Town ski resort, Korea

Konjiam

Satellite view of Konjiam ski resort, Korea

Elysian Gangchon

Satellite view of Elysian Gangchon ski resort, Korea

Eden Valley

Satellite view of Eden Valley ski resort, Korea

Jisan Forest Resort

Satellite view of Jisan Forest ski resort, Korea

Alpensia

Satellite view of the ski slopes at Alpensia Resort, Korea

Yangji Pine Resort

Satellite view of Yangji Pine ski resort, Korea

Star Hill

Satellite view of Star Hill ski resort, Korea

(For the locations of all these resorts, see the map here)

So there you go, that’s what they all look like from space! Should give you some idea what to expect, but if you’re trying to decide where to ride in Korea, of course size isn’t everything – you may want to consider freestyle options, halfpipe availability, quality of the downhill ski terrain, travel time from Seoul, and so on – so here’s a list of the best ski resorts in Korea according to various criteria.

Also, as the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympics will disrupt usual operations at the various host mountains, here’s a list of the best Korean hills to visit during the Winter Olympics

And just in case you’re wondering how the Korean ski resorts compare to some of the big boys internationally, here’s Yongpyong, Whistler (Canada), and Mayrhofen (Austria), all shown at the same scale:

Satellite view terrain map of Yongpyong

Satellite view terrain map of Whistler

Satellite view terrain map of Mayrhofen

So as you can see, the biggest ski resort in Korea is significantly smaller than the biggest in Canada and one of the biggest in Austria; I haven’t even compared it to the world’s biggest resorts like Les Portes du Soleil (in France / Switzerland) because I couldn’t fit them in a screenshot without zooming out so far you can’t make anything out!

But the likes of Korea’s Yongpyong and High1 do compare favourably for size with, say, Cypress Mountain (Vancouver) and Cardrona (Queenstown / Wanaka) – which is to say, respectable!

And that should give you an idea of how big Korea’s ski resorts are!

Any comments or questions? Give me a shout below!

For the full list of reviews for every resort above, see here

Also check out the best Korean ski resorts according to various criteria, and if you’re visiting before/during the Olympics, see the top 5 hills to ski at during Pyeongchang 2018; for more information and the latest updates on Pyeongchang 2018 see here, and for the lowdown on accommodation options for the Olympics see here

Posted in Resorts

Gangneung KTX (Pyeongchang bullet train)

Gangneung KTX latest update (October 2017): Welli Hilli Park, Phoenix Park, and Yongpyong/Alpensia have all confirmed they’ll have shuttle buses from their nearest stations (schedules yet to be announced). High1 have confirmed they will have no extra arrangements for the KTX. Oak Valley yet to confirm.

The line is now set to start service in December, with the schedule yet to be announced. Tickets will be available 30 days in advance.

A special Pyeongchang Pass is now available allowing unlimited travel for 5 or 7 days during the Olympics & Paralympics. This is exactly what you need if you’re staying in Seoul and travelling back & forth repeatedly to the events. Full details here; sales period is October 10th to December 10th. You must book your pass by December 10th if you want one!

The newly-built Gangneung KTX bullet train line links Incheon Airport to the port of Gangneung, crossing the north of the country from coast to coast and connecting Seoul to the Winter Olympic venues in Pyeongchang.

Map showing the route of the Gangneung KTX

Construction of the line formed a key part of the Pyeongchang 2018 bid, shortening the Seoul – Pyeonchang travel time from 2.5 hours on the highway to just an hour by train. The line was actually planned regardless of the Olympics, but the awarding of the Games to Korea provided the impetus to finally get it built; the Gangneung KTX is therefore arguably the main legacy of Pyeongchang 2018, along with the purpose-built Jeongseon Alpine Centre.

The new line runs from the city of Wonju across to Gangneung; trains will run along existing tracks from Incheon & Seoul to Wonju, and then onto the new tracks from there.

The stations on the new line are:

Manjong (in Wonju)
Hoengseong
Dunnae
Pyeongchang
Jinbu
Gangneung

The stops in Seoul – Incheon are set to be Incheon Airport, Seoul Station, Cheongnyangni, and Sangbong. The majority of trains (35 per day) will start from Cheongnyangni or Sangbong, both located in the northeast of the city; 16 trains per day will originate from Incheon Airport and stop at Seoul Station then Cheongnyangni Station. Cheongnyangni will therefore have by far the greatest frequency of service.

There’s an accurate map here (and that’s a cool site if you’re interested in Korea and a bit of an infrastructure geek!). The other maps on this page are approximate (I knocked them up on Google Maps):

Map of korea showing the route of the Gangneung KTX

This line will of course be of great benefit to the population in the region, but also game-changing for us skiers and boarders wanting to get to Korea’s best ski resorts from Seoul – travel times will be significantly reduced for a number of Gangwon-do resorts, including but not limited to the Olympic host resorts, as follows (with closest station in brackets):

Map of the Gangneung KTX route also showing ski resort locations

1. Oak Valley (Manjong Station)
2. Welli Hilli Park (Dunnae Station)
3. Phoenix Park (Pyeongchang Station)
4. Jeongseon Alpine Centre (Jinbu Station)
5. Yongpyong & Alpensia (Jinbu Station)
6. High1 (via Gangneung, but still requiring a highway bus from there)

Click on each resort name for its Snow Guide Korea review, with full access details including how the journey is expected to work using the Gangneung KTX.

The journey time from Seoul to Gangneung is expected to be around an hour, with an estimated fare of around 30,000 won ($30 US)

Construction of the Gangneung KTX is already complete, and the line is scheduled to enter full regular service in December 2017.

Tickets can be booked up to 30 days in advance; you can do this on the Korail website, but note that it hasn’t yet been updated with the new stations. If you’re planning on staying in Seoul for the Olympics and taking the train to the venues, there are three key bits of advice – take advantage of the Pyeongchang Pass if you’re making repeated round-trips, reserve your train seats ASAP (i.e. 30 days before) as they’re likely to be at capacity, and try to stay as close as possible to Seoul’s Cheongnyangni Station (in the northeast of the city) if you’re concerned about journey times. If you’re more concerned about being close to good nightlife, sightseeing etc (and don’t mind having to take taxis if you end up back at Cheongnyangni after the Metro finishes), it’s better to stay near Seoul Station.

If you’re trying to work out your Pyeongchang 2018 transportation & accommodation options, see here for more details

For more on Pyeongchang 2018 generally, click here

Any questions about the Gangneung KTX? Leave a message below!

Posted in Pyeongchang 2018

The Best Ski Resorts in Korea

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

High1, view from the gondola

High1

=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)

Terrain park at Welli Hilli Park

Welli Hilli 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.

=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

The Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic halfpipe at Phoenix Park

Phoenix Park

There are only four halfpipes in Korea. In no particular order:

Phoenix Park

Phoenix Park has a superpipe and will host the Pyeongchang 2018 halfpipe events (if you want to ride pipe in the 2017/18 season, go to one of the others!)

Welli Hilli Park

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!

Vivaldi Park

Vivaldi Park‘s is the closest halfpipe to Seoul, and the only one you can reach by free shuttle bus.

High1

High1 and Yongpyong are the best two resorts in Korea, but if you’re a pipe enthusiast only the former ticks that box!

Best Korean Resorts for Downhill Skiing

On the slopes at Muju Deogyusan Resort, Korea

Muju Deogyusan

1. Jeongseon Alpine Centre

Jeongseon Alpine Centre was built specifically to host the Pyeongchang 2018 downhill events, and won’t be open to the general skiing public until winter 2018/19. Once it does open, though, it’s set to be the best piece of downhill ski terrain in the country, very much by design – it was necessary to build it in the first place because the existing resorts didn’t meet the minimum requirements for the Olympic Downhill.

2. Muju Deogyusan

The southern location isn’t great for the snow quality, and there’s no freestyle on offer, but Muju Deogyusan has the biggest vertical drop and the longest runs in the country (at least until Jeongseon opens). The setting in Deogyusan National Park also gives it the best views!

=3. 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)

Konjiam Resort

Konjiam

1. Konjiam

Konjiam can be accessed by subway (with a frequent shuttle bus from the station) or by free shuttle bus from points all over the city, taking under an hour depending on your starting point; they also have a flexible ticketing system, making this by far the most convenient hill from Seoul. The quality of the riding is also reasonable for a Seoul area local hill.

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) which actually makes it easier to reach than the other resorts closer to Seoul (excluding Konjiam). They also have free shuttle buses, though the driving time to Elysian is a fair bit longer than to Konjiam.

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 only takes 90 minutes from Myeongdong and costs you nothing, making Vivaldi more convenient than Seoul hills like Jisan Forest and Yangji Pine – and it’s a bigger & better hill (Vivaldi is the biggest hill you can reach from Seoul for free)

What do you think about this list? Agree? Think it’s nonsense? Leave a comment below!

Best Korean Ski Resorts Durong 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

Posted in Resorts

Top 5 Korean Ski Resorts During the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics

If you’re visiting Korea during the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic season and want to do some skiing yourself, be aware that the four resorts involved in hosting the games will be partially or entirely closed to the general public i.e. much of the country’s best skiing will be off-limits. With that in mind, here’s a list of the top 5 Korean ski resorts to hit during the 2017/18 season:

1. High1

High1, view from the gondola

High1 is already one of the two standout resorts in Korea, but with Yongpyong’s best terrain closed for the Olympic slalom events, High1 is hands down the best place to ski during the upcoming winter. The hill’s as big as they come in Korea, with the best terrain, and they have decent freestyle offerings. They also have a 50% discount on lift tickets for foreign tourists, which offsets the long journey to get there.

See the Snow Guide Korea High1 page for details

2. Welli Hilli Park

Halfpipe at Welli Hilli Park

If you’re after park & pipe, the usual advice would be to hit Phoenix Park or Welli Hilli, but with Phoenix Park given over to the Olympic freestyle events Welli Hilli is head & shoulders above the rest for freestyle in the 2017/18 season.

See the Snow Guide Korea Welli Hilli Park page for details

3. Muju Deogyusan

On the slopes at Muju Deogyusan Resort, Korea

Muju Deogyusan is Korea’s biggest resort after High1 & Yongpyong, and actually has the biggest vertical drop and longest runs. It’s no good for freestyle, but for downhill skiing it’ll be the best available along with High1 during the Olympic period. It also has the closest thing you’ll find to an Alpine village and is situated in a beautiful national park, making it an attractive option.

See the Snow Guide Korea Muju Deogyusan page for details

4. Yongpyong

Snow bikers at Yongpyong

Even with its best terrain (specifically, the gondola and ‘Rainbow’ & ‘Silver’ areas) being closed for the Pyeonchang 2018 slalom events, Yongpyong still has enough to offer to warrant a place on this list. With those sections out of action, the remainder of the mountain is still the 3rd-biggest in the country in 2017/18; they make a decent effort with their park, too, so Yongpyong remains a good all-round choice even during the Olympic season.

See the Snow Guide Korea Yongpyong page for details

5. Konjiam

Konjiam Resort

Purely from a riding perspective, Vivaldi Park and Oak Valley probably both deserve to be on this list ahead of Konjiam; however, Konjiam makes the cut out of sheer convenience. With free shuttle buses from all over the city (taking as little as 40 minutes from e.g. Sadang Station), Konjiam is the best choice for a quick & easy day on the slopes if you’re in Seoul and don’t want to make the trip over to Gangwon-do province. It’s small, but the size & quality is decent for a Seoul local hill.

See the Snow Guide Korea Konjiam page for details

What do you think about this list? Agree? Think it’s nonsense? Leave a comment below!

For full reviews of every ski resort in Korea, see here; also check out the best Korean ski resorts according to various criteria, and this size comparison of Korea’s ski resorts using satellite imagery.

If you’re looking for Pyeongchang 2018 accommodation options, see here

Posted in Pyeongchang 2018, Resorts
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