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If you’re still wondering where the heck Pyeongchang is – you’re not the only one. Who remembers Sochi 2014? Sometimes they pick a place no one has ever heard of. Then it’s forever embedded in your brain. If you don’t already know the name, you will. Just be careful not to confuse it with the North Korean capital (Pyongyang)!
Regardless of your athletic ability or your interest level in winter sports, you should 100% go skiing in Pyeongchang. Most resorts open for the season around mid-November and close up by April. In Korea, it doesn’t get really cold until after the first of the year though – so keep that in mind.
Pyeongchang is a few hours away from Seoul, so you’ll probably want to spend the night there if you plan to ski for more than a few hours. Otherwise, there are some groups that go by tour bus and will return the same day. Just google ‘Pyeongchang ski tour’ for options. There are tour options leaving from Seoul, Incheon Airport and multiple US military bases.
However, if you’re up for renting a car (or have a Korean license), by all means go on your own. The drive is easy (approx 2 hours from Seoul), and Pyeongchang is a great weekend getaway in the mountains. Plus you’ll be able to stay and eat where you want, instead of being confined to a tour’s restrictions and time limits.
If you do decide to drive, just know that Google maps doesn’t work in English within Korea. Use the Waze app for English navigation. If you need help planning your trip, you can always call this travel assistance hotline for any questions you have. They speak multiple languages and can be accessed from whatever country you’re in.
Where to Ski:
Alpensia seems to be the nicest and most upscale of the ski resorts in Pyeongchang. There are two hotels that back right up to the slopes (InterContinental & Holiday Inn), and they also have an entire retail park full of shopping and restaurants on site. In addition to the slopes, you can also get a good look at Alpensia’s ski jumping facilities if you take a short drive around the complex. These are also being used for the Olympics. You’ll see the tower – just drive in that direction.
325, Solbong-ro, Daegwallyeong-myeon, Pyeongchang-gun, Gangwon-do
강원도 평창군 대관령면 솔봉로 325 (대관령면)
We chose to eat at a Japanese restaurant on site, which was very good after a long day of skiing. You can grab coffee or a beer, but they also have sit down restaurants right at your fingertips. Everything you need is in the surrounding “retail space” right at the base of the slopes.
Where to Stay:
The Kensington Flora Hotel is our pick for lodging (see pictures below). Located only about 10 minutes from Alpensia, it’s the nicest hotel in the area aside from staying at the InterContinental.
It’s set on a sprawling piece of land complete with an outdoor pool and gardens. Plus, the hotel’s lobby features Olympic medals and trophies from years’ past. They also have an impressive breakfast buffet that serves Western and Korean options, and an entire convenience store within the hotel for easy access to toiletries and snacks.
However, if you can go on a weekday – definitely check rates for the InterContinental. If prices drop below $200 a night, you should snatch up a room that instant. You really can’t find a better option than staying here, since the InterContinental backs right up to Alpensia’s slopes. Um – yes, please.
In my opinion, Phoenix Park is the most impressive ski resort in Pyeongchang. It’s just huge. And it looks like an Olympic venue in the making.
With upwards of 20 slopes, we were able to spend 6+ hours here and not get bored. You won’t be disappointed. From Beginner slopes to Black Diamond runs, there’s something for everyone here. They have cafes and entire food courts at the top of some of the lifts, and you can take a gondola up to the highest one. You’ll also see moguls, jumps, and even a halfpipe, so you can begin to get excited about what’s to come in 2018!
174, Taegi-ro, Bongpyeong-myeon, Pyeongchang-gun, Gangwon-do
강원도 평창군 봉평면 태기로 174 (봉평면)
Lucky you, our favorite restaurant in Pyeongchang is just down the street from Phoenix Park’s entrance. You could literally walk to it if you wanted to take a break from the slopes and stretch your (already stretched) legs.
The restaurant’s called Kkorovai, and it’s nothing short of amazing. We stumbled on it by accident and whipped a U-turn to pull in (sucked in by their “brunch” sign sitting out by the road). It’s got a modern, quirky design and all the food is fantastic. So good we even came back for seconds the next day.
You’ll find breakfast, burgers, pasta and the best sandwich EVER on the menu. I highly recommend the Kkorovai burger or the sandwich (listed on the menu in Hangul but you’ll know when you see it) but we didn’t leave disappointed with their brunch either.
Where to Stay:
Although the Kensington Flora is our favorite in Pyeongchang, you may want to consider staying somewhere a little different for easy access to Phoenix Park. In the area surrounding the entrance, you’ll find upwards of 30 different pensions (similar to an Airbnb) that are no more than a 5 minute drive to the slopes. Most of them are fairly basic and cozy, but you’ll generally have a place to yourselves and you can’t beat staying this close to Phoenix Park. And I promise you’ll get the authentic Korean experience.
We haven’t been to this one yet, but being one of the big 3 ski resorts hosting the 2018 Winter Olympics, you can’t go wrong here. It’s said to be the largest ski and snowboard resort in Korea.
715, Olympic-ro, Daegwanryeong-myeon, Pyeongchang-gun, Gangwon-do
강원도 평창군 대관령면 올림픽로 715 (대관령면)
I hope you enjoyed the read, and this inspired you to go skiing in Pyeongchang! If there’s anything I missed, or any recommendations you’d add – please let me know!
Until Pyeongchang 2018….!