New season updates

Well, it’s that time of year again when the leaves turn red and I start getting loads of messages asking when the ski resorts are opening! Before the bad news, here’s a pretty autumn picture (for the best autumn colour spots in Seoul see here):

Autumn leaves at the palace in Seoul

But the bad news is that even though it’s already November, temperatures are still as high as 20 degrees Celsius in the afternoons (it was 17 today), and still above freezing overnight. Which means the resorts are nowhere near opening; they haven’t been able to make any snow yet, and temperatures aren’t predicted to drop much in the next week so basically there’s pretty much no chance of the resorts opening on schedule. November 16th was the target date for the earliest resorts, but I think we’re looking at late November at best just to get the first few runs open.

I’ll post opening dates here once we know what they are.

Update: Alpensia has announced they’ll open on Friday 22nd. Yongpyong, Phoenix Park, and High1 are likely to open the same weekend, though not confirmed yet. Probably Welli Hilli & Vivaldi too. Seoul area resorts usually open 1 or 2 weeks later. Note that if you go on opening weekend, it will suck but be very cheap; Alpensia’s selling tickets for 10k won for opening day.

Update: amazingly, Yongpyong managed to open on the 15th, see announcement here (also with tickets for just 10k won) and check out their live webcam here. Only one short lift & slope open though, with a thin covering of machine-made snow, so don’t expect too much if you go at this stage. Phoenix Park also opened on the 15th; Well Hilli Park, Vivaldi & High1 all scheduled for the 22nd.

Update confirmed opening dates so far:

Yongpyong: Nov 15th
Phoenix Park: Nov 15th
High1: Nov 22nd
Alpensia: Nov 22nd
Welli Hilli Park: Nov 22nd
Vivaldi Park: Nov 22nd
Elysian: Nov 22nd
Oak Valley: Nov 30th
Bears Town: Dec 5th
Jisan Forest: Dec 6th
Star Hill: Dec 6th
Konjiam: Dec 7th
O2: Dec 7th
Muju Deogyusan: Dec 7th
Eden Valley: Dec 13th

New Vivaldi bus route: one good thing I can report is an additional shuttle bus route to Vivaldi Park from Seoul Station. It originates from Hongdae at 9:30, then makes stops at Seoul Station at 10:00 and Konkuk University Station at 10:30 (in addition to the buses leaving Hongdae at 7:30 & 8:30 which stop at Myeongdong). These buses are free for overseas visitors, details here

Any questions, give me a shout below and I’ll get back to you


69 comments on “New season updates
  1. Tan says:

    Hi there, thanks for starting this page. Have been waiting anxiously to know if Vivaldi will open on 1st Dec, since that’s the very last day of my 7-Day Seoul trip to keep it for skiing. Will you know already or will have to check back again every few days? Thanks in advance. What type of crowd will descend and expected weather forecast that Sunday is looking like?

    • Simon Norton says:

      Hi Tan, yes it looks like they’ll be open, the resorts have managed to make enough snow in the last few days to be able to open on schedule. Quite surprising, but good news. Looks like that Sunday will be sunny & not so cold, the snow conditions probably won’t be so great but it should be a nice day. I expect it’ll be quite busy

  2. Den says:

    planned on 29nov-2dec ski trip with the kids, (7yr old)115cm and (8yr old)130cm, both experienced skier. Was reccommedded Vivaldi Park fothe kids frindly facilities as well as apres ski. How would the snow condition is expected to be? DO you have any other reccommendation?

    • Simon Norton says:

      Hi Den, I don’t think Vivaldi is the best choice for you – snow conditions won’t be great anywhere on those dates I’m afraid, but Yongpyong would be your best bet. It’s also a better resort for experienced skiers as it’s bigger than Vivaldi, with more varied terrain. As for apres ski… there isn’t much apres at any Korean resort to be honest. But if you ski at Yongpyong, you can go into Daegwallyeong town by shuttle bus or taxi in the evening to find more restaurants & shops (not really an option at Vivaldi).

      • Den says:

        Thanks for the advise. I’ve read some random reviews on tripadvisor, many ppl were saying that High1 usually has better snow in the early season. If anybody has any snowfall, it would typically be them. Would you recc High1?

        • Simon Norton says:

          High1 is slightly higher than Yongpyong, so if there does happen to be early snowfall it is a bit more likely there, yes. But unless you’re very lucky, the snow will all be man-made at whichever resort you go for. I would recommend High1 though, yes – I personally prefer Yongpyong, but they’re similar in terms of size & terrain level.

          • AJ says:

            Your website is the most informative I have found! Thank you so much for providing so much detail. I was hoping to catch some fresh snow at Yongpyong on Dec. 13 but your post and weather forecast does not make it likely possible. Out of topic, but would you have a suggestion where I can catch some fresh powder snow around Seoul? Is it worth it to make the trip to Yongpyong and the sheep farm on Dec. 13? Your help is very much appreciated!

  3. Bonichan says:

    Hi!
    Your website is amazing and i gain many information for my upcoming trip to seoul for some snow-fun-things!
    I will arrive at seoul at 4th Dec 2019, i’m not really interesting on skiing or snowboarding..i just want to sightseeing and Sledding😭😫
    Could you please suggest me where and how i could try a very sledding at around 4th-7th Dec 2019?? I have looking for all the website for it and still not having the right choice…

    Kindly need your help!

    • Simon Norton says:

      Hi Bonichan, you’re visiting slightly early for sledding at most resorts.

      Last year Oak Valley started their sledding on Dec 5th (as shown here), so you might want to try there. No guarantee though

      Edit: Welli Hilli Park has sledding from Nov 23rd

      • Melina says:

        Hi, does sledding require more colder temperature?

        I’m planning for a sledding trip for my 4yo in one of the resort on 2/3/4 dec.

        I’m particularly looking at vivaldi snowyland.

        What do you think of the chances?

  4. Calvin says:

    Hi Simon, I already booked bus and stay at resort Vivaldi Park on 25/11, intended for my kid (5yrs old) to play snow, but seem like no hope for snow now. So I am planning last minutes for another place and found your very useful website. Do you recommend any alternative choice that I can stay for playing snow on 25-26/11. Thank you very much.

  5. TC Teng says:

    Hi Simon,

    I will go Alpensia Resort for 3 days 6 Dec to 8 Dec 2019, was wondering the snow start already, can start skiing?

    Please advise.

    Thanks.

  6. Froilan Mulig says:

    Hi Im going to visit South Korea on these date Dec 6-11 and would like to do snowboarding. It will be my first time. Are ski resorts open by that time? If so which would you recommend. From reading the info in your site (kudos! the site is very informative), Im looking at Vivaldi. Will Vivaldi be open on thos dates?

    Thank you

    • Simon Norton says:

      Cheers Froilan, yes Vivaldi will be open and is a good choice for convenient access & English-speaking instructors

      • Froilan Mulig says:

        Hi Simon,

        Thank you for your reply. Does Vivaldi have a for sight seeing or any other activities for those who do not want to snowboard or ski?

        • Simon Norton says:

          Yes, they have an attraction called Snowy Land with sledding etc, but I don’t think it’ll be open in time for you (e.g. it opened on Dec 15th last year). You can still ride the main gondola to the top of the mountain to see the views though

  7. Stephanie says:

    Staying in Alpensia Ski Resort 21/12/19 to 24/12/19. havn’t book shuttle bus to Seoul on 24/12. Is there a purple ski bus desk in Alpensia to buy shuttle bus tickets or must prebook online fr travel agencies? thank you.

    • Simon Norton says:

      Hi Stephanie, I don’t think there’s a specific shuttle bus desk at Alpensia – never seen one anyway. But I think the hotel reception staff can probably book it for you

  8. Mark M says:

    Hi Simon,
    Thx for your info. For Tue 26 – Thu 28 Nov (inclusive) 2019, have you any info on which slopes at Alpensia will be open? For Yongpyong it seems beginner slopes and a small ‘New Red’. Any info appreciated.
    Thx

    • Simon Norton says:

      Just one lift open so far I think – sorry, can’t check right now as their homepage is down until tomorrow for maintenance.

  9. April says:

    Hi Simon. Thank you so much for the info here! It really helps as it’s hard to get any updates from the various resorts. Do you know if the Lava Snow Sled at Seoul Land would be opened by 10 December? My kids just want to play with snow. Thank you once again!

  10. Jeremiah says:

    be going to phoneix park mid march. do you think the snow is still on?

    also could u advise how to get there from incheon?

    • Simon Norton says:

      Hi Jeremiah,

      They usually close around mid-March, the exact date depends on the conditions.

      Unless you land in the evening, the easiest way to get there is by direct bus from the airport (see here). If you land too late for the bus, take the subway to Seoul Station then the KTX bullet train to Pyeongchang Station.

  11. Adam says:

    Hi
    Glad to have come across your informative page on Skiing in Korea!
    I’ll be in Alpensia Dec 27 – 31st. Looking to go over to YongPyong for the longer runs and more extensive terrain. What’s the easiest way to get over there and back from the Intercontinental in Alpensia? If I get a taxi over in the morning is it easy to get one back at the end of the day? Any advice highly appreciated!

    • Simon Norton says:

      Hi Adam, there are free shuttle buses, you might be able to go direct or you might have to go down into Daegwallyeong and then back out, depending on time & direction. Get the up to date bus schedules from the staff at the
      Intercontinental when you arrive. They can also call you a taxi if need be (as can the front desk at the Dragon Valley hotel in Yongpyong)

  12. Issey says:

    Hi. We are going to Seoul on March 26 2020. Do you think there will be an open ski resort by that last week of March. Which resorts are the best bets? Given that winter started last this year, hopefully, we’ll be able to catch some.

    • Simon Norton says:

      Hi Issey, later start usually means earlier finish unfortunately, as it means there’s less time for snow to accumulate. I’m 95% sure there won’t be any resort open by March 26th, it’s very unlikely. Sorry

  13. matt says:

    Hello, my partner and I are currently in Seoul for snowboarding although we are struggling to decide on which ski field will be best (have the most snow and most open runs) at the moment. We went to Elysian on Friday 6th December and had fun but wanting to know whether other resorts may have more runs open at the moment. Elysian only has 3 runs currently open and being all man made snow it was fairly hard.
    We are both beginner – intermediate boarders.
    Thanks in advance

    • Simon Norton says:

      Hi Matt,

      Yeah that’s early season conditions for you, it’ll be the same at all the Seoul Area hills at this stage. The Gangwon-do resorts are a week or 2 ahead in terms of how much snow they’re able to make and thus how many runs they have open, so try and get across to Yongpyong, Welli Hilli Park, or Phoenix Park. Also Vivaldi Park, it’s good compromise option as it’s a bit closer and very convenient with a free shuttle bus, also it’s mostly beginner to intermediate terrain there.

  14. Dries says:

    Hi Simon,

    Thanks for all the useful info. Could I ask you for your best (approximate) guess as to when everything will be open in Yongpyong? Probably not before January?

    Thank you!
    Dries

    • Simon Norton says:

      Yeah, a few more weeks I reckon, they’ll try and have it all open in time for the NY holiday. You can keep tabs on slope status here

      • Dries says:

        Many thanks, very helpful. Looks like I’ll have to exercise a bit more patience before everything is open. Would you also have a link for checking the slope status of High 1? I cannot seem to find it immediately…

  15. Ian Campbell says:

    Hi Simon, Im in Seoul next week(13-18 Dec.) and hoping to get a day or two skiing in. Can you tell me at the moment, what resort close to Seoul has the best conditions and most runs open to suit intermediate to advanced?

    • Simon Norton says:

      Hey Ian,

      Given that you want intermediate to advanced I’d say you need to go at least as far as Well Hilli Park. The closer resorts like Vivaldi, Konjiam etc max out at intermediate.

      Basically, from Welli Hilli, the further east you go the bigger & better the resorts get (apart from Alpensia, ignore that one). They also get higher which means colder which means more snow made so far, but as they’re bigger they need more snow to open stuff. Looking at the open slopes so far, I’d say Yongpyong is your best bet; not much open at Welli Hilli & Phoenix yet.

  16. Dina says:

    Hi Simon,

    We are planning a trip to Seoul 13 – 20 Mar next. Which resort do you advise? No skiing just for the kids to play snow.

    • Simon Norton says:

      Hi Dina, for those dates most resorts will be shut already. Probably your only options will be Vivaldi Park, Yongpyong, or High1. But High1 is too far if you don’t want to ski; Vivaldi Park is closest so that’s probably best if they’re still open.

  17. Marcus says:

    Hi Simon

    We are flying into Seoul this Wednesday and will head to High 1 on Friday. Unfortunately we have left it a bit too late to book the approx. 8.00am bus to High 1. They seem to be all sold out. Since we have kids tagging along, we don’t want to book the earlier bus approx 5.00am unless we have to.

    We are looking at taking the train. Can we buy train tickets on the day? Will these also be sold out? The Korail website only have passes, can we buy single journey etc…

    You kind advice would be most appreciated.

    • Simon Norton says:

      Hi Marcus, you can book tickets here, you get an eticket which you just show on your phone if they ask. The departure station is Cheongnyangni, the arrival station is Gohan. Two things to note about this train: first, it’s a slow & indirect train, takes about 5 hours so bus is faster. Second, Cheongnyangni Station is in northeast Seoul, it’s a subway ride out from the centre. Not too bad (e.g. 20 mins direct on Line 1 from Seoul Station), but needs to be factored in. That said, the trains are comfortable and the views are nice especially once you get out past Wonju and into the mountains.

      • Marcus says:

        Hi Simon,

        Took the very early morning bus instead of the train and fortunately our hotel in Seoul was very close to the shuttle bus pick up point which was at Seoul Square. The early morning was pretty cold so we were thankful that there were many taxis around so early in the morning. Seem like the city gets up quite early.

        We got on the shuttle bus expecting it to take us all the way to the resort but we stopped at the Sports Stadium and changed to the High 1 Resort bus. The Sports Stadium was the collection point for all the different destinations where everyone changed buses to their final destination. Though I guess this will be different for the different bus operators. We booked with http://www.tourtokorea.com/bus-2/ .

        We got to the Resort at around 8.30am so the journey was a little over 3 hours and not the 4 hours we were expecting. Changed to the resort shuttle bus to the Grand Hotel which was a 10min ride from the drop off point or the Ski House.

        The Resort Card only seem to be available at the Ski House and as a foreigner the Resort Card came in very handy with 40% discount off ski equipment rental and lift passes. Thanks for the heads up !!!

        We had a great time at the High 1 Resort and would recommend it to anyone.

        • Simon Norton says:

          Hi Marcus, awesome thanks for the report, glad it all went smoothly. Yeah Seoul never really sleeps, the only time it’s hard to get a taxi is during the busy drinking hours at the weekend!

  18. Marianne says:

    Hi Simon – Im looking for an English speaking ski school for my 5.5year old who has never skied. Where would you recommend for a trip around 6 Jan? I know, very last minute! 😀 Thanks for any recommendation!

    It is really a ski trip for him, so I’m not too fussed about snow quality – I do love ja-pow but that’s for Feb-Mar, without the tyke!

    • Simon Norton says:

      Hi Marianne, the ski schools which hire overseas instructors are at Vivaldi Park, Phoenix Park, Alpensia, and Yongpyong, so one of those. Check out those pages and give me a shout if you have any questions about them

      • Marianne says:

        Thank you Simon! Checking them out! Seems like its very doable. Their sites are not clear as to whether they have a full-day or half-day ski school. Your links have 45min lessons. Ideally, I would like to stay 1-2nights, dump the kid at skischool so that I can get in some runs…:) We have all the clothes, just need to rent skis, boots + poles.

        • Simon Norton says:

          Hi, sorry for the slow reply, I don’t think they do full-day options like you find in e.g. European resorts. I’ve never actually had any dealings with the ski schools! But the 45-min lessons you mentioned are for the online package tours, I think it’s 1 or 2 hour lessons when you book direct at the resorts. The resorts are pretty small, so it’s easy to get back to pick him up at the end of a lesson. If you’re wanting to get some good runs in yourself though, you should probably rule Alpensia out as too small; Yongpyong’s probably best for you in terms of having English-speaking instructors for him and decent runs for you.

          • Marianne says:

            Hi Simon – do you know whether at Vivaldi, a ski pass is needed for kids to use the moving walkway? My 5.5yr old is too young for the lift, so not much point to pay for it.

          • Marianne says:

            Hi Simon – do you know whether it is a requirement to wear helmets even for the bunny slopes at Vivaldi? I am wondering whether to lug mine along. Yongpyong wont take children under 6, even for the private lessons in English!

            • Simon Norton says:

              Hi Marianne,

              If you don’t want to lug your helmet you can rent one there, it’s only a few dollars and their FAQ page says young children get them free, though I’m not sure what the age cutoff is for that. Yes you’ll need a ticket for the moving walkway.

  19. Sze says:

    Hi Simon,

    We will be travelling to Seoul on March 3 2020. Will Vivaldi Ski Park and SNowyland still be open on 4th March 2020?

    Thanks

  20. Eva says:

    Hi Simon, I will be visiting Seoul 30th Jan for 5 days. I read good comments about Vivaldi Park, and I was thinking of spending a day on the slopes, but I also heard there isn’t much snow this season. How are things looking at the moment? I read that do not expect powder from Korean slopes, is that true?

    • Simon Norton says:

      Hi Eva,

      No definitely don’t come to Korea in search of pow! You have to be very lucky to catch a powder day. Fact is, Korean resorts mostly operate by snow-making. This is true this season, as it is every season.

      That said, if you’re visiting Seoul then yes absolutely go for a day on the slopes. Don’t be put off by the lack of snowfall – it’s normal for Korea, and their snow-making & grooming efforts are so good they could still stay open with zero natural snowfall.

      • Eva says:

        Hi Simon,

        Thank you for the explanation, very helpful! What would be your recommendation for a day trip from Seoul to the slopes?

        • Simon Norton says:

          Assuming you’re advanced or intermediate, for a decent resort you’ll want to go at least as far as Vivaldi Park which is about 90minutes/2 hours away. But to be honest if you’re willing to spend an extra 30 to 60 minutes on the bus you can get to much better hills. I’d say either head to Yongpyong which is one of the furthest, but doable as a day trip and probably the best resort in Korea; or if you want something closer just settle for Vivaldi Park.

  21. Eric says:

    We will be travelling to Phoenix Park, Alpensia, and Yongpyong or high one on (March 4, 2020~ March 10, 2020). Will Ski Park be open on March 2020? (I known it’s difficult to make a prediction, but can you give me advice?)

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Hi I’m Simon, British snowboard addict & travel blogger presently based in NE Asia. I run this site to help international visitors plan their trips to Korean ski resorts; you might also be interested in my travel blog, especially the Korea sightseeing and Japan snowboarding content

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