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
Yongpyong is a proper ski hill, with far better terrain than most Korean resorts. While still fairly small by European or North American standards, Yongpyong’s as big as it gets in Korea and has enough scope and variety for a satisfying day riding the groomers; they have a decent park too (but no pipe). Yongpyong also has one of the best snowfall records in the country, so it isn’t quite as 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.
Here’s the terrain park:
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 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.
If you need a full set of equipment & wear rentals and want to take a lesson, it works out cheaper to book a package (also including transportation), see here (or here for the overnight version with accommodation)
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 some food & drinks – who said there’s no such thing as a free lunch!
There are several condo developments and a couple of hotels at the Yongpyong base (click on each to view details or make a reservation): Dragon Valley Hotel, Blisshill Stay, Tower Condo, Villa Condo, Greenpia Condo, BirchHill Condo (check here too to compare the price). If you also need rentals, lessons etc then it’s usually better to book a package, see here
You could also stay at the more modern & upmarket accommodation in Alpensia, 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 Yongpyong/Alpensia from there, search Hotels Combined 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
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. You can book these here, and they can also arrange direct airport transfers.
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). The private shuttles are way more convenient, and well-worth the extra 5 dollars or so.
The options are all clearly explained on Yongpyong’s website here; it’s not explained on the page there, but they also run a free resort shuttle between Daegwallyeong and Yongpyong. In town you can board at the Daegwallyeong rotary (the big roundabout) or the post office, and the schedule (correct as of early 2019) is as follows:
To Yongpyong: 5:20, 6:20, 7:20, 8:00, 8:30, 9:40, 10:20, 12:00, 14:00, 15:30, 16:20, 17:40, 18:50, 20:00, 21:00, 23:30
From Yongpyong: 9:00, 10:00, 11:00, 13:00, 15:00, 16:00, 17:00, 18:20, 19:30, 20:30, 21:40, 22:40, 00:30
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. There’s a free shuttle bus from Jinbu to Alpensia & Yongpyong, 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.
Train tickets: you can easily buy KTX 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 Yongpyong? Leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you.