Phoenix Park is located in the Pyeongchang county of Gangwon-do province and is known for being the best freestyle hill in Korea; it’s therefore no surprise that Phoenix Park was the host hill for most of the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics snowboarding and freestyle skiing events.
Here’s the Olympic superpipe:
…and Chloe Kim destroying it:
Phoenix Park: the hill
While still very small by European or North American standards, Phoenix Park is the fourth biggest ski area in Korea and they make a big effort to make the most of what they’ve got.
It also has one of the better natural snowfall records in Korea, so isn’t quite as reliant as most Korean hills on snowmaking – that still isn’t saying much though, and from this author’s observations they’re going to have to work hard keeping it all ship-shape in 2018 (but no harder than they did with Cypress Mountain for Vancouver 2010, so I’m sure they’ll pull it all off. Update: and so they did!)
Phoenix Park has a gondola and 8 chairlifts going up from the one base area; the gondola goes to the top of the main peak, Mont Blanc, which also has 5 chairs going all or partway up its slopes. A further 3 chairs open up the terrain on the smaller Phoenix Peak (Bulsaemaru) to the side.
As noted above, by European & North American standards it’s small; with 380m of vertical the runs are fairly short, and advanced riders will ski the whole place out well within a 4-hour ticket. That said, it still has more satisfying downhill skiing than the majority of resorts in Korea (behind only Yongpyong, High1, and Muju Deogyusan), with a decent gradient and a few nice steep sections. Combined with the good freestyle on offer, Phoenix Park is probably the best option in the country for advanced riders who’re into park & pipe.
Phoenix Park is good for:
Freestyle; the park is the best in Korea (arguably along with Welli Hilli Park), and it has a halfpipe (one of only a few in Korea).
Intermediate and advanced riders.
Phoenix Park is not so good for:
The 2017/18 season! If you’re visiting during the Olympic season, Phoenix Park will be closed from January 10th and won’t be opening again after the Games. If you’re looking for the best hills for 2017/18, see here
Phoenix Park lift tickets
Phoenix Park lift tickets follow the standard ticketing model in Korea, with the operating hours split into day & night by a 2-hour snow grooming break at 4:30pm; the daytime hours (8:30am – 4:30pm) are subdivided into morning and afternoon, and the nighttime hours (6:30pm – 1:00am) are subdivided into night and midnight. You can get a lift ticket for any of the individual time slots, or for various combinations of the above. Also at weekends, operating hours are extended to 4:00am with ‘White Night’ tickets available. Prices range from 50,000 won for a 3-hour Midnight ticket to 89,000 for Afternoon & Night combined (8 hours)
See here for details.
Phoenix Park: accommodation
Phoenix Park has the usual hotel/condo mega-development at the base of the slopes, and you can view and book their rooms here
If you’re planning to stay in Seoul and hit Phoenix Park from there, search Agoda for hotel deals in Seoul
Airbnb is also a great choice in Korea, and they have listings near Phoenix Park 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!
Pyeongchang 2018 accommodation: if you’re visiting for the Olympics, you almost certainly won’t be able to score a room at Phoenix Park (or any of the other resorts in the area); you could search for a room in Gangneung, but those will also be scarce due to Gangneung hosting the indoor events. The closest city to Phoenix Park is Wonju, where you may be able to find something (search for rooms in Wonju); but the vast majority of Olympic visitors will have to stay in Seoul and visit the Olympic venues from there using the new Gangneung KTX bullet train.
How to get to Phoenix Park
The new Gangneung KTX line opened in late 2017 and serves nearby Pyeongchang Station, about 90 minutes from Seoul Station for 19,700 won. Phoenix Park has a free shuttle bus from Pyeongchang Station (25 minutes), schedule here (according to this reader report, there’s also a shuttle at 7.55 in the morning).
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).
Should you want to travel by bus, the resort also runs a free shuttle from Jangpyeong bus terminal, which can be reached by highway bus from Dong Seoul (East Seoul) Terminal located next to Line 2’s Gangbyeon Station. The highway bus takes 2 hours, costs around 12,000 won, and runs roughly every 30 minutes, and then the shuttle takes another 20 minutes. The 2016/17 shuttle bus schedule from Jangpyeong bus terminal was 9:15, 11:15, 12:50, 14:50, 15:15, 19:50, and the boarding point is in front of this building opposite the bus station:
If you take a taxi from Jangpyeong, I was quoted 17,000 won when I enquired.
There are also direct shuttle buses from Seoul to Phoenix Park & back (2-3 hours depending on boarding point, 12,000 won each way); you can make online reservations here (in English). Reservations must be made by 5pm the previous day for morning buses to the resort, however the evening return buses can be booked on the day at the resort (ask at reception).
Here’s the setup for the Pyeongchang 2018 moguls & aerials:
And some cloudy scenery shots from the top (Welli Hilli Park is visible in the distance in the first pic):
Any questions about Phoenix Park? Leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you.