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With the 2018 Winter Olympic Games finally here, many people are thinking about South Korea, the host country this year. If you’re planning to visit during the games or within the next few weeks, you’re likely looking for other fun activities to take part in. Luckily, there’s a lot to see and do — no matter what your interests are. Here are 10 of the top winter activities to enjoy while in South Korea:
Go Ice Skating
Ice skating is a popular pastime in Korea and is a great way to get outside and be active during the colder months. There are a number of ice skating rinks found throughout the country, and a few are well-known. We suggest trying Seoul Plaza Skating Rink, located in Seoul City Hall. Another great rink to skate at is the Olympic Park Ice Skating Rink. This is a great place to visit while you’re in town for the festivities because it’s near the 1988 Summer Olympics grounds. Located in Songpa-gu, it’s also close to the Soma Museum of Art and the Seoul Olympic Museum, so you can easily plan a whole day of adventure in one area.
Seoul Plaza Skating Rink: 110, Sejong-daero, Jung-gu, Seoul | 서울특별시 중구 세종대로 110 (태평로1가)
Olympic Park Ice Skating Rink: 424, Olympic-ro, Songpa-gu, Seoul | 서울특별시 송파구 올림픽로 424 (방이동)
Warm Up with Wintertime Korean Foods
Korean cuisine is delicious and flavorful. If you’re in the mood for a warm and filling lunch or dinner, give tteokbokki a try. This spicy stir-fry dish is made with rice cakes, fish cakes and boiled eggs. Another great lunch or dinner option is juk, a Korean rice porridge served with different flavor add-ins and meats — sure to keep you keep warm even on the coldest of days. If you’re more in the mood for a snack and enjoy sweets, try hotteok. These treats are mini-filled pancakes that usually have a brown sugar filling and hotteok can be found at almost any street-food stall or cart during the winter months.
Go Ice Fishing
Ice fishing is another wintertime activity that is enjoyed by locals and visitors alike in South Korea. Tourists can easily take part in ice fishing festivals, and get firsthand experience at this interesting sport. While you can choose any ice fishing festival, the Pyeongchang Trout Festival is near the Olympic grounds. Festivalgoers fish, sled, ice skate and participate in various games. There’s even a restaurant that will cook your freshly caught fish. This is a great activity for visitors young and old. Admission varies based on the activities you wish to take part in, and tools and equipment are available onsite.
Pyeongchang Trout Festival: 3562, Gyeonggang-ro, Pyeongchang-gun, Gangwon-do | 강원도 평창군 진부면 경강로 3562 (진부면)
Enjoy a Day at Everland
Are you a fan of amusement parks? If so, you’ll enjoy spending a day at Everland, Korea’s largest amusement park. A 30-minute bus ride from the Gangnam area of Seoul, this park is full of fun all year round. You can enjoy live shows, interact with animals at the petting zone and hop on a mix of park rides. You’ll easily be entertained all day long — even during the winter.
Everland: 199, Everland-ro, Pogok-eup, Cheoin-gu, Yongin-si, Gyeonggi-do | 경기도 용인시 처인구 포곡읍 에버랜드로 199 (포곡읍)
Watch a Movie on One of the World’s Largest IMAX Screens
If you’re a movie fan, why not visit one of the world’s largest IMAX screens? At the CGV Yongsan location, you can watch a movie on a screen that is 31 meters x 22.4 meters — about 5x the size of the normal movie theater screen. This will take your typical viewing experience to the next level. In addition to watching a film, you get to experience typical Korean movie snacks such as beer, fried chicken and dried squid — all at an affordable price. Don’t worry, they have popcorn, too.
CGV Yongsan: I’Park Mall 6F, 55, Hangang-daero 23-gil, Yongsan-gu, Seoul | 서울특별시 용산구 한강대로23길 55 (한강로3가,현대아이파크몰)
If you enjoy getting outside and being sporty during winter, you’ll want to hit the slopes in Korea. There are a variety of places to go skiing, but if you want to be close to the action of the winter games, be sure to visit Yongpyong Ski Resort. They’ll be hosting the technical alpine skiing events for the games, but other slopes will be open to visitors and locals alike.
Yongpyong Ski Resort: 715, Olympic-ro, Daegwanryeong-myeon, Pyeongchang-gun, Gangwon-do | 강원도 평창군 대관령면 올림픽로 715 (대관령면)
Experience a Traditional Korean Spa
Going to the spa is part of everyday life in Korea. If you want to step outside your comfort zone, visiting a Korean spa, or jjimjilbang, is a great way to do so. In most cases, you’ll be given spa-issued pajamas when you first enter. Head to the changing rooms and get down to your birthday suit before enjoying steam rooms, saunas and a mix of hot and cold baths. You can even get a full-body scrub to get rid of dry, dead skin. After adventuring in the spa rooms, put your pajamas on and head to one of the rest-and-relax areas to take a nap, hang out with friends or have a snack. Korean saunas can be found all over the place, but if it’s your first visit, The Spa in Garden 5 and Yongsan Dragon Hill Spa are great places to start.
Yongsan Dragon Hill Spa: 40, Hangang-daero 21na-gil, Yongsan-gu, Seoul | 서울특별시 용산구 한강대로21나길 40 (한강로3가)
The Spa in Garden 5: 66, Chungmin-ro, Songpa-gu, Seoul | 서울특별시 송파구 충민로 66 (문정동)
Take a Winter Hike
Hiking is a huge sport and daily activity in South Korea. You’ll see young children and grandparents alike hiking. If you’re looking for some beautiful views and also want to burn some calories traveling throughout the country, taking a hike is recommended. While there are many trails to enjoy, Jirisan is a popular mountain located in Jirisan National Park. If you’re feeling extra daring, head to Jeju Island and hike the tallest mountain in all of Korea— Hallasan, which is a shield volcano. This can be accessed in Hallasan National Park.
Jirisan National Park: 320-2, Jirisan-daero, Sancheong-gun, Gyeongsangnam-do | 경상남도 산청군 시천면 지리산대로 320-2
Hallasan National Park: 2070-61, 1100-ro, Jeju-si, Jeju-do | 제주특별자치도 제주시 1100로 2070-61
View the Winter Light Festival at Garden of the Morning Calm
The Garden of the Morning Calm is a popular spot open year-round. In the winter, an incredible light festival is put on here. It’s the largest light festival in the whole country and is a perfect event for both children and adults. If you’re looking for a unique outdoor winter activity, this is it.
Garden of the Morning Calm: 432, Sumogwon-ro, Gapyeong-gun, Gyeonggi-do | 경기도 가평군 상면 수목원로 432 (상면)
Visit a Winter Ice Festival
These festivals offer a mix of winter activities such as sledding and ice fishing with the bonus opportunity to view incredible ice sculptures. There’s also plenty of snacks available to help you keep warm. Be sure to check out the Chilgapsan Ice Fountain Festival, as it’s one of the most popular ice festivals.
Chilgapsan Ice Fountain Festival: 175-11, Cheonjangho-gil, Cheongyang-gun, Chungcheongnam-do| 충청남도 청양군 정산면 천장호길 175-11
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