Alpensia is located in the province of Gangwon-do, next to the much larger Yongpyong Resort in Pyeongchang County (all it would take to connect the two ski areas would be a single short chairlift & piste). Alpensia was originally conceived of specifically to enable a Korean Winter Olympics bid by the Gangwon provincial government, including various key pieces of Games infrastructure like the ski jump tower and bobsleigh track. This plan finally came to fruition with Alpensia serving as the focal point of the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic & Paralympic Games, with the resort hosting the ski jumping, bobsleigh, and Nordic events, while neighbouring Yongpyong hosted the slalom & giant slalom (the other downhill events were held at the purpose-built Jeongseon Alpine Centre, with the freestyle events at Phoenix Park)
Alpensia’s a tiny ski hill with just 3 chairlifts and 6 runs down 160m of vert. To be honest, if you’re looking for Gangwon-do’s best skiing, it isn’t at Alpensia… it is a good choice for beginners though, as the gentle terrain and small size make it suitable for learning. It’s also a much newer resort than Yongpyong, with modern accommodation and better base facilities. So, if you’re looking for a family holiday in the snow and want to try some skiing lessons while youre there, Alpensia is a good choice. Serious skiers should head to Yongpyong, High1, or Phoenix Park instead.
Seems to me that Alpensia would almost certainly fail as a business if it were only about the ski slopes on offer – there’s no way it can match its larger neighbour. It’s more of an upmarket year-round leisure resort which offers skiing in winter and golf in summer.
Now that it’s served its intended purpose as the centrepiece of the Pyeongchang Olympics, it’ll be interesting to see what happens with Alpensia going forwards – it was already rumoured to be in financial difficulty prior to the successful Olympics bid, and with the provincial and national governments at loggerheads over who should pay for the maintenance (or demolition) of the probably-seldom-used Olympic facilities one suspects Alpensia may frequently have the term ‘white elephant’ applied to it over the next few years.
Alpensia Lift Tickets
Alpensia lift tickets follow the usual basic pattern, with time slots of morning, afternoon, and night, as shown here (it closes earlier than most Korean resorts, at 10pm). Alpensia lift tickets are slightly cheaper than Yongpyong lift tickets, so if you’re just looking for somewhere to take lessons Alpensia is therefore the better choice. For those who can already ride, Yongpyong is far better value.
Alpensia has a couple of massive hotel complexes (click to view or book): the Intercontinental Alpensia, and Holiday Inn & Holiday Inn Suites. If you need to rent equipment & wear it’s usually best to book a package, see here
Alternatively there are a few hotels in the nearby town of Daegwallyeong and a number of independent pension-style options in the surrounding area which you can search & book here
If you’re planning to stay in Seoul and hit Alpensia from there, search Agoda for hotel deals in Seoul
Airbnb is also a good option in Korea – they have listings near Yongpyong/Alpensia (search for Daegwalnyeong-myeon, the local town) in addition to those in Seoul. 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!
How to get to Alpensia
To travel there independently, the most convenient way is to use the direct shuttle buses from Seoul; these are privately operated and require advance reservation, take 2.5 hours, and cost around 20,000 won. See here for schedules & booking; they can also arrange direct private transfers from the airport.
Alternatively, you can take public buses from Seoul’s Nambu Terminal or Dong Seoul Terminal to Hoenggye Bus Terminal (in Daegwallyeong), and a local bus or taxi from there (3 hours plus, all in); for the local bus schedule see this page on Yongpyong’s site (scroll down), this bus does an infrequent loop from town to Yongpyong to Alpensia and back to town. You can pay for the bus using a T-Money card if you have one.
The private shuttles are way more convenient, and well-worth the extra 5 dollars or so.
The Gangneung KTX bullet train started service in late 2017 and calls at Jinbu Station, about 90 minutes journey time from Seoul Station for 22,000 won. There’s a free shuttle bus from Jinbu to Yongpyong which stops at Alpensia (see here); it’s only for guests of Yongpyong & Alpensia and you’re supposed to show a reservation receipt or Yongpyong Resort card to board, however when I rode it from Alpensia to Jinbu Station after skiing at Alpensia I could just board without showing anything. I was dressed in snowboard gear so had obviously been riding that day, and the Yongpyong front desk also said the shuttle was available to skiing-only guests as well as actual accommodation guests, so its not 100% clear really; I’m not sure how strictly they check reservations when going the other way from Jinbu to the resorts. If you can’t board the bus or don’t want to wait for it you can expect to pay about 20,000 won by taxi.
This bus stop right in front of the holiday Inn welcome center is used by both the local Hoenggye bus and the Jinbu-Yongpyong shuttle bus:
Train tickets: you can easily buy tickets on the day from the ticket counters & machines at railway stations, but trains do sell out (especially during peak hours & on holidays) so if you want to be sure of a seat on a specific train it’s better to book in advance. Again you can do this in person by visiting a station, or you can try booking online on the official Korail site; depending on your browser or your credit/bank card it may not work for you, in which case try Trip.com for a more international-friendly and generally more user-friendly experience (usually for a small markup e.g. markup on a Seoul-Pyeongchang ticket is just a dollar or so, but prices are sometimes actually lower on Trip).
Any questions about Alpensia? Leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you.