Yongpyong is located in Pyeongchang County, in the province of Gangwon-do; Yongpyong is Korea’s oldest resort (built in 1974) and known for being the biggest & best all-round hill in Korea (along with High1). Nearby Alpensia was built with an Olympics bid in mind, and this pair of neighbouring resorts was the focal point of the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Games, with Alpensia hosting the ski jumping, bobsleigh, and Nordic events, while 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)
For Alpensia info see here
Yongpyong: the hill
There’s no golf course or water park here; Yongpyong is a proper ski hill. While still fairly small by European or North American standards, Yongpyong is as big as it gets in Korea and has enough scope and variety for a satisfying day riding the groomers; they also have a decent park. Yongpyong has one of the best snowfall records in Korea, so it isn’t reliant (as most Korean hills are) on snowmaking – that still isn’t saying much though!
Yongpyong is basically split into two areas, with a low altitude area of easy and intermediate pistes around the base and a higher area of more challenging terrain including some genuinely steep runs where the Olympic technical (slalom) events took place. The two areas are connected by the gondola, with one long top-to-bottom run back down; I was expecting this run to be fairly tedious on a board, but actually the gradient is sufficient to keep decent speed up and it’s pretty good fun carving round the bends.
Once you’ve gone up the gondola, the upper area has one chairlift serving the handful of runs up there; the lower area has a total of 12 chairlifts. The resort’s vertical drop of 640m applies to the top-to-bottom run from the gondola; the lower area alone has 340m max vert (from the ‘Gold’ chair), while the upper area (‘Rainbow’ chair) runs have 460m vert – well short of the 800m required for the Olympic Downhill, hence the need to build Jeongseon Alpine Centre.
Yongpyong is good for:
The biggest & most varied resort in Korea (along with High1), with some nice steep stuff off the Rainbow chair at the top
Freestyle; the park is one of the better efforts in Korea.
All levels of rider.
40% discount on lift tickets if you first buy a gift card (see here), then use it to buy your tickets.
Yongpyong is not so good for:
By the standards of Korean ski resorts, Yongpyong is as good as it gets (along with High1) and doesn’t have any particular negatives other than the lack of powder days and off-piste skiing – issues which apply to all resorts in Korea.
Yongpyong lift tickets
Yongpyong follows 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 slopes are open from 8:30am – 4:30pm, and 6:30pm – 2:30am. The daytime hours are subdivided into morning and afternoon, and the nighttime hours are subdivided into evening, night, and late night. You can get lift tickets for any of these individual slots, or for various combinations (details here) with prices ranging from 38,000 won for a late-night pass to 89,000 for afternoon & evening combined.
Yongpyong sells gift cards which can be used throughout the resort to buy food etc, and can also be used to buy lift tickets with a 40% discount; this means you can buy the gift card first, then use it to buy your pass, and have enough left on the card to buy food & coffee – who said there’s no such thing as a free lunch! (based on buying a half-day pass, and correct as of 2016/17 season)
You could also stay at the more modern & upmarket accommodation in Alpensia, see here
There are also 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 Yongpyong / 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 Yongpyong
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.
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).
These options are all clearly explained on Yongpyong’s website here
The private shuttles are way more convenient, and well-worth the extra 5 dollars or so.
The Gangneung KTX bullet train opened in late 2017 and stops at Jinbu Station, about 90 minutes journey time from Seoul Station for 22,000 won. It’s about 20,000 won by taxi between the station and Yongpyong, but hopefully they’ll run a free shuttle bus during the ski season (not clear yet). 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).
To get between Yongpyong and Alpensia there was an hourly shuttle bus in 2017/18, but it’s also still unclear whether this will run in future seasons. It isn’t far between the two resorts by taxi, but unless you get lucky you’ll have to call one and can expect to pay at least 15,000 won as they have to drive up from town (and charge for it).
Any questions about Yongpyong? Leave a comment below!