Pyeongchang Olympics: Week 1

View of Yongpyong & Alpensia resorts

I spent most of week 1 watching on TV (in between working and snowboarding), but did get over to Pyeongchang for the day to see some halfpipe action. Chloe Kim absolutely killed it, and it was worth dealing with the brutal cold to be there!

Chloe Kim in the halfpipe at Phoenix Park

Chloe Kim kicking ass in the pipe

I went to Phoenix Park from Seoul by KTX to watch the pipe, then went over to Alpensia by shuttle bus to check out the Olympic Plaza & Olympic Park (but didn’t attend any events there), then an evening KTX back to Seoul.

The transportation couldn’t have been smoother; I bought my KTX tickets a few days advance, the trains ran on time, and though I could only get a standing ticket for the return trip there were some empty seats and I was able to sit. I should note here that I wasn’t travelling during Seollal (Lunar New Year) – some frustrated visitors weren’t able to get on the Gangneung-bound trains they needed on Feb 14th & 15th to due to the holiday, and the same looks likely to be the case on Seoul-bound trains on Feb 17th & 18th.

I found the shuttle buses easy to use, plentiful, and not crowded, though again I should note that I wasn’t trying to get a shuttle back to the station after a late-finishing event, so the demand wasn’t high. In the first few days of the Games (especially after the opening ceremony) there were reportedly some quite chaotic scenes with cold & fed-up crowds trying to board buses to the station after long waits outdoors. They seem to have got things ironed out now, so hopefully after the closing ceremony things will run smoothly.

Olympic halfpipe & snowboard cross setup at Phoenix Park

The halfpipe and lower section of the boardcross course at Phoenix Park

Phoenix Park: the security line at Phoenix was the only crappy part of the day, took more than 30 mins to line up for the security check (which seems to be mainly about stopping prohibited foodstuffs – make sure any snacks you take in are packaged & unopened, and no fresh foods like sandwiches or fruit). Aim to arrive at Pyeongchang Station over an hour before the start time to have enough time for the shuttle bus & security check. Food lines inside the venue weren’t too bad, but they only had stuff like hot dogs & instant noodles; opposite Phoenix Park there’s a bunch of bars & restaurants which would be a much better option for eating.

The Olympic ski jump tower at Alpensia

Alpensia ski jump tower

Alpensia: I was just having a look around & checking stuff out at Alpensia (haven’t been to an event there yet), and found that Alpensia Holiday Inn was open as were all the restaurants, cafes etc around it. The main media centre is set up there, and for anyone seeking a warm place to shelter or somewhere to eat decent food near the sliding centre you can head over to Holiday Inn. The lobby has a cafe with a nice fireplace and decent wifi. If you’re wanting to have a look at the stuff around Alpensia but don’t have a ticket for the Olympic Park, take the shuttle to the sliding centre as the drop off point is in front of Alpensia Resort from where you have a good view of the ski jump tower and can walk up to Holiday Inn.

There have been some reports of confusing scenes with the shuttle buses at Alpensia Olympic Park after late-finishing events, so allow plenty of time and work out in advance what route you’re taking (save a copy of the map here on your phone)

And yeah: the wind really is savage. Wrap up, and then some.

Pyeongchang 2018 mascot display at Jinbu Station

These guys are everywhere (pictured here at Jinbu Station)

Tickets

If you’ve been watching on TV you’ll have noticed a lot of empty seats at some events. Plenty of tickets are available for purchase on the day, so if you’re thinking about a last-minute trip youll definitely be able to get in to some events (but not the most popular ones like figure skating & speed skating or the ice hockey finals)

Pyeongchang 2018 Accommodation

If you’re looking for accommodation for a last-minute trip to Pyeongchang, see here for a full guide on where to stay.

Pyeongchang 2018 Transportation Updates

Closing Ceremony: extra trains have been added, with post-ceremony departures to Seoul from Jinbu Station now scheduled for 23:49, 0:10, 0:34, 1:45

Olympic Shuttle Buses
You can see the shuttle bus diagram here (scroll down). There are also some free shuttle buses from Seoul to the venues for ticket holders, but advance reservation is required and you need a Korean phone number to register on the app. See here

The new KTX line to Pyeongchang & Gangneung started service in December; you can see the full schedule here (pages 5 & 6 for the Olympic dates, and page 9 for the Paralympic dates), and you can search & book online here

For full details on the new KTX see here

Where to Eat & Drink in Gangneung

If you’re spending some time in Gangneung during the games, there’s a handy list here of places to eat & drink

Where to Ski

With the Olympic host mountains being closed (or partially closed in the case of Yongpyong), if you want to do some skiing yourself while in Korea see here for the best places to do so.

Visiting Seoul in Winter

Check out the Snow Guide Korea guide to visiting Seoul in winter!

Olympic Hospitality Houses

See here for a roundup of what’s on offer at the various hospitality houses.

Any questions? Leave a comment below!


6 comments on “Pyeongchang Olympics: Week 1
  1. Vince B. says:

    Well deserved invite to US House. So far the experience has been amazing. I’m happy to report that I’ve been passing along helpful information frustrated American travelers, particularly about KTX, shuttle buses, and Naver map.

    Not sure if you’re planning to head over to Gangneung before hockey on the 21st but I am down the street from Canada House. I can’t get any closer to the entrance so if you’re able to swing by, let me know by email (thank God for wifi in the venues).

    Today, I will venture out to the frozen tundra of Pyeongchang cluster venues. Will report on this.

    • Simon Norton says:

      Hey Vince,

      Glad to hear your trip’s going well! How was the Mountain Cluster?

      I’m in two minds about ice hockey on Wednesday, as all the category C seats seem to be sold out and I’m not a big enough hockey fan to drop 200 dollars for cat B! But I might just head over to Gangneung on the KTX for the day and play it by ear, see if there are tickets on site for the hockey or curling. Or maybe just head to Holland House or Canada House! I’ll email you when I know what I’m doing.

      Cheers!

      • Vince says:

        Hey Simon,

        Mountain Cluster was awesome! I’m so glad I made two trips here (Sunday for CC skiing, Monday for Big Air qualiea). The shuttle buses to the ecent sites are easy connection, the problem is the retur tryn trips. Big reason is that the pick-up points aren’t necessarily across the way from their drop off points (except for Alpensia sites above). I ran into issues at the Pyeongchang stadium site. The circular buses are on the other end while the Park and Ride buses are on opposite ends. Lots of walking, unless you want to go through security to enter the venue and cut across.Found this the hard way on my ride back Sunday night late. Was told to go back to Alpensia to catch the Daegwallyeong P&R, where the late bus to Gangneung only came in every 30 minutes for such high demand. And freezing, windy weather. I took the same trek the next day with better results, during the late afternoon. The jinbu stop and shuttle to Alpensia was a breeze.

        For all the confusion and frustration with the shuttle buses, it seems ALL buses from Korea descended to the Olympic venues. It’s already a logistical nightmare but I think they pulled off quite a feat. And Simon you did a great job of providing information and warning us about the trouble spots.

        As for tickets, I think you’ll have much luck the day off. You certainly can try at the ticket centers today. I have been playing it by ear but I noticed that there are more tickets available than what’s provided online. For example, yesterday I was able to grab a ticket for 8 pm curling less than 2h before start (@ ticket office). Weird because I saw tickets available in the morning, then disappeared most of the day, only to come back later. I learned that same day available tickets are best bought then and def through ticket office (esp for buying cheaper ones), unless you see them online then buy and/or pickup onsite.I saw 60k hockey tickets last night 2h before the game and tried to convice some guys to not watch it at Canada house. I think this even surprised them. So the same could work out for you. Good luck!

        I’m also happy to share up close shots of Alpensia Olympic Park if interested. My only regret is that I didn’t get to see Phoenix Park or the Sliding Center. Ahh the perils of being here for a short time. But hey, still not bad for my first ever Olympics.

        Sorry for the typos, on my phone.

        • Simon Norton says:

          Hey Vince,

          Well, I didn’t make it to Gangneung for the day – let’s just say I may have over-indulged on food & drink at US House yesterday, and laziness got the best of me today! Will probably go at the weekend, after a day on the slopes tomorrow. How much longer are you in Korea?

          Thanks for sharing the info updates – yeah, that walk across the Olympic Plaza area between the TS7/8 circular shuttles and the other TS stops isn’t well signposted or otherwise explained and seems to have bamboozled quite a lot of people! Not fun in the cold, either.

          • Vince says:

            Hey Simon,

            I’m now back in the States and just saw Team USA avenge their losses against Canada in women’s hockey. I’m in such a high but sadly will wake up in 4h to work.No rest for the weary I guess…

            I left Korea Wednesday morning after spending a day in Seoul, mainly had some unfinished business by finally making it to Seoul Tower this time.

            Btw, I wished I had chatted with you on KakaoTalk before arriving but I suppose it’s still not too late just for the sake of exchanging messages and stories about the Olympics.

            • Simon Norton says:

              Hey Vince,

              Straight back to work after 4h sleep? Like your style! haha

              Good to hear you made it to Seoul Tower. And yeah if you send me a message via the contact form can add on Kakao

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