Jisan Forest Resort is located just outside Seoul to the southeast of the city in neighbouring Gyeonggi-do province, one of three ski hills clustered in the area along with nearby Yangji Pine and Konjiam. The distance from Jisan to Yangji is only a few miles as the crow flies, though it’s significantly further by road and if using public transport the two are accessed from different directions (see below).
As with all the hills in the immediate vicinity of Seoul, Jisan Forest Resort features a small ski area with impressive base facilities and a large hotel/condo development, plus the attached golf course which is so common in Korea. Jisan Forest is also the site of Korea’s most famous rock music festival, Valley Rock.
Jisan Forest Resort: the hill
The terrain at Jisan Forest Resort is, to be frank, very uninspiring; the ski slopes are essentially just swathes of hillside from which the trees have been cleared, resulting in mostly wide open pistes which are great for beginners but not offering anything interesting to advanced riders. A total of 5 chairlifts give access to two top stations, with a few choices of descent from each, effectively giving you a handful of (very short) options; needless to say, if you can already ride you’ll exhaust these in an hour or so and will really need to be into riding park for Jisan to be worthwhile. Jisan Forest Resort does cater for this quite well, and it has the best terrain park found anywhere in Korea outside the larger Gangwon-do resorts:
For those learning or pushing on to intermediate, the terrain at Jisan is actually ideal, with gentle gradients and wide open slopes lower down, and some steeper sections to progress to at the top. For advanced riders, the terrain park is located on the lower part of the main piste; it’s a decent effort for such a small hill, with a row of medium to large kickers and various jib features usually set up, though unfortunately it doesn’t have its own chair so you have to lap the whole run each time (not that that takes very long).
Jisan Forest Resort is good for:
Riding park (best in the Seoul area)
Learning and progressing to intermediate.
Jisan Forest Resort is not so good for:
Access. Despite the close proximity to Seoul, public transport takes a long time and involves quite a long walk; the resort does run free shuttles, but they can be hard to arrange for foreign visitors and the schedules aren’t ideal (see below)
It’s small even by Korean standards i.e. tiny by international standards.
Jisan Forest Resort: Ticketing
Amazingly, Jisan Forest Resort is open until 4am every day, from 7am on weekends & holidays and 9am on other days. The ticketing is split into dawn (7:00-11:30), AM (9:00-13:30), PM (12:30-17:00), Night Time (18:30-23:00), and Late Night (20:30-4:00) slots, and combinations of the above; as is standard in Korea, they have a grooming & maintenance break from 17:00 to 18:30.
The cheapest ticket is ‘dawn’ only at 49,000 won, up to 69,000 won for ‘full day’ (9:00-17:00); half-day tickets are 56,000 or 65,000 won depending on the specific time slot or combination of time slots. Here’s the 2016/17 rates:
For full latest details, see here
Jisan Forest: accommodation
Most visitors will probably want to stay in Seoul and take the bus to Jisan Forest (see below for access details); for the best rates, search Agoda for hotel deals in Seoul
You can also search for hotels in Icheon here; be careful with the listings in Yongin though, as although they’re only a few km from Jisan they’re on the wrong side of the mountain and it’s actually a long way around by road. The hotels in Icheon are better for access.
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 Jisan Forest Resort itself, accommodation is available in their condos at the base of the slopes; see here for details.
How to get to Jisan Forest Resort
The resort offers free shuttle buses from points all over the city, including all major hubs like Gangnam, Jamsil, Sadang, Myeongdong, Itaewon, and Hongdae, taking just 45 minutes or so to/from Jamsil and 90 minutes or so for Hongdae. These are absolutely perfect for getting home, as you can just rock up in the car park and jump on whichever bus suits you (there’s a shuttle bus office there with English-speaking staff on hand if you can’t read the Korean signs and need to check which bus); the PM skiing time ends at 17:00 and the buses go at 17:30.
Unfortunately, for casual visitors from overseas these shuttles aren’t so easy to use to get to Jisan; you have to reserve a spot at least the day before, and to do that online you need a Korean ID number (for what reason I can’t fathom). As explained on their website:
“We also offer a free shuttle bus service which can be reserved after registering on our website. So far, only Korean citizens can register on our website, so if you’d like to make a reservation through the internet please ask a Korean friend or acquaintance for assistance.”
Which is very weak indeed, and they really should sort it out especially with Pyeongchang 2018 just around the corner! In the meantime, they also suggest calling them to make a reservation, phone number 031-644-1552~3 as per here; however, I’ve never tried that either as another issue with the shuttles is that they go out to Jisan at 7 or 8am, arriving around 9, and return at 6pm, which gives you a full 9 hours at the hill. That’s a really long time to be at such a small hill, and unless you actually want to make a full day of it like that it’s best to head out to Jisan by public transport, then return by shuttle in the evening.
Here’s the 2016/17 departure schedule for buses up to Jisan (click to enlarge):
The leftmost column shows the lines, and from top to bottom reads: Gangnam Line, Gangnam Line (night), Gangnam Line (late), Gwacheon & Anyang Line, Gwanghwamun, Mokdong Line, Bucheon & Gwangmyeong Line, Bundang & Suje Line, Sangye Line, Suwon Line, Suwon Line (night), Sillim & Sadang Line, Sinchon Line, Ansan Line, Osan & Dongtan Line, Incheon Line, Ilsan Line, Jamsil Line, Cheonan & Pyeongtaek Line. The second column shows the actual departure point e.g. the Gangnam Line departs from Sinnonhyeon Station exit 6 at 8:10.
To instead get there by train or public bus, you first need to head to Icheon, 이천 (don’t confuse this with Incheon, 인천, where the main airport is located); you can either take the bus from Dong Seoul Terminal (East Seoul Terminal) next to Gangbyeon Station on Line 2, or go the whole way by Metro to Icheon Station on the Gyeonggang Line. Then from Icheon Bus Terminal or Icheon Station, take local bus number 12 (this bus originates from the bus terminal, and Icheon Station is the first stop) and get off at the Jisan Resort (지산리조트) stop – it’s the penultimate stop, taking about 35 minutes. If you have a T-Money card, you can also use it on the bus.
The bus stop is opposite this row of shops:
From the stop it’s still about a 20-minute walk up to the hill; after getting off the bus, don’t follow the main road over the bridge, but walk up the road alongside the stream. Jisan Forest Resort is marked on the road signs:
A short distance up you’ll see the big white Jisan Forest Resort sign:
Keep going up past all the ski rental shops, and you’ll see the pistes on the hillside up ahead:
If you take the bus from Dong Seoul Terminal the total time is about 2h 15m from Dong Seoul to Jisan Forest Resort. If you take the Metro, of course it depends where you start from; taking Gangnam Station as an example starting point, the total time to Jisan Forest Resort is around 2h 30m
Clearly, this is much slower than the shuttles, and also costs a few thousand won instead of being free, so if you’re happy to be at the resort all day and can manage to make a reservation, the shuttles are much better.
(If it all sounds like too much hassle, Konjiam is the most convenient hill to Seoul)
The base facilities at Jisan Forest Resort are excellent, as is typical in Korea:
Any questions about Jisan Forest Resort? Leave a comment below!