Bears Town is the largest ski area in Gyeonggi-do (the province surrounding Seoul); if you’re looking for the biggest ‘local’ hill for Seoul, this is it, but the 90-minute bus ride from Gangbyeon does make it a bit of a stretch to call this one a local unless you live in northern Seoul and have a car.
Bears Town: the hill
The vertical drop of 285m may seem small, but it’s decent for a Seoul area hill. From two base areas a total of 8 lifts ferry skiers to the top, from where you can aim for the main base to skier’s left, or go skier’s right for the longest runs as that base is at a slightly lower elevation than the main base. As is usually the case in Korea, the base areas consist of enormous hotel and condo buildings which my seem rather out of proportion to the scale of the hill itself (as usual in Korea, it’s a golf & leisure resort as well as a ski resort), and the facilities there are excellent.
From the top lift there are a few options going down both sides, but advanced skiers will have the whole place skied out in fairly short order. There is a park, but there isn’t much to it beyond a medium kicker and a couple of jib features.
It’s a good hill for learning, with plenty of gentler terrain, and good for progressing from bunny slopes to intermediate; more advanced riders will have to make do with cruisy piste runs or sessioning the mediocre park. If that’s you, you should be able to have a fun half-day as long as you set your expectations fairly low.
Bears Town is good for:
Learners and those progressing to intermediate.
Being the largest hill in Gyeonggi-do i.e. largest in the Seoul area.
Long hours; it stays open until 4am.
Freestyle (well, it at least has a terrain park)
Bears Town is not so good for:
Freestyle! The terrain park exists, but is a tame effort.
Access. For those without their own vehicles, Bears Town probably has the least convenient access among the Seoul area hills (see below)
Bears Town lift tickets
Hours: 9am – 4am!
Following the standard model in Korea, Bears Town lift tickets are available for AM, PM, Night, and Overnight blocks, individually and in combination, with a 90-minute snow grooming break at 5pm. Prices range from 59,000 for a 4-hour ticket (AM or Overnight) to 75,000 for an 8-hour ticket (AM&PM or PM&Night); details here, and here’s a photo of their 2016/17 season rates (click to enlarge):
Bears Town: accommodation
Most visitors will probably want to stay in Seoul and take the bus to Bears Town (see below for access details); for the best rates, search Agoda for hotel deals in Seoul
Airbnb is also a great choice for Seoul – hosts usually have it set up so you can arrive & check in by yourself without having to wait around or meet anyone, and the housing standards are decent with underfloor heating and excellent internet connections as standard. 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!
If you do want to stay at Bears Town Resort itself, accommodation is available in their condos at the base of the slopes; you can check their accommodation page here.
How to get to Bears Town
Bears Town has a shuttle bus (90 minutes to 2 hours, depending where you board), but unlike other Seoul area resort shuttles it isn’t free – the price is 7000 won return (4000 one-way), and outside the peak season it’s only available on weekends and holidays. You need to make a reservation, which you can do on their site update: the shuttle bus page on their site appears to have expired and the links taken over by a spam site. I’ll repost a link once they fix it.
The easiest way to get there is actually with a day tour like this, but that’s not cost-effective if you already have your gear etc and just need transportation only; however, for beginners who are looking for transportation, rental, and a lesson, it’s probably the best way to go.
Alternatively, public transport access is by bus number 11 from Gangbyeon Station (Line 2). The bus does NOT go from the large bus station at Gangbyeon called Dong Seoul (East Seoul) Bus Terminal, but rather from the bus stop just up the road (stand A).
To find the stop, come out of Gangbyeon Station exit 4 and turn right:
Walk north (straight) for 50 metres or so and cross over; the bus stops are located on the other side of the crossing, and you should wait for number 11 at stand A:
It operates from 5am to 11pm, runs every hour or so, and costs around 2,000 won (if you pay with T-money card and transfer from the Metro, it calculates a discounted combined subway & bus fare).
The ride takes around 1h 45m, and you need to get off at the penultimate stop; each stop is announced over the speakers, and fortunately the stop is called ‘Bears Town’:
Once you get off the bus, there’s a 15-minute walk to the hill. With the main road on your left, walk past all the ski shops:
…and then, ahem, bear right across the small bridge over the creek:
…and follow the access road around to the right:
When you get up to the car park and base area facilities, the ticket office is over to the right.
The schedule for the return buses, as posted on the bus stop (correct as of March 2017):
Bears Town has the usual mega resort thing going on at the base, with condo towers everywhere plus plenty of food & drink options:
Any questions about Bears Town Resort? Leave a message below!