CONTRIBUTED BY AMY HICKERSON
Winter in Korea generally means cold and snow, so for those of you into skiing and other winter sports, you are in luck! There are many opportunities to ski in Korea, some an easy day trip from Seoul.
Our family chose to do a mini 2 night vacation over New Year’s 2013, heading to the Alpensia Resort in Pyeongchang (interesting side note: Pyeongchang was selected as the site of the 2018 Winter Olympics.)
We set out on New Year’s morning, heading out for our 3(ish) hour trip. I add the “ish” in there because traffic can really impact your trips here, adding as much as an hour or more to your travel time.
Luckily, the roads were clear and it was smooth sailing for us. As we got closer to the resort, we noticed very heavy traffic coming away from the resort; it turns out that there had been a big New Year’s Eve celebration at the resort, and many people who had come for that checked out and were leaving that morning. Lucky for us! Less crowds on our side of the road AND the prices went down significantly at the resort on Jan 1.
Once we got all checked in (we stayed at the Holiday Inn Alpensia – there are several lodging options in the area), we set out to explore the resort and what was available to do. Our first stop was lunch. There is a hotel restaurant, which I do not recommend, because it is way overpriced. We hit the Lotteria for lunch (that day and the next) but also noticed a few other options (Korean food & a Domino’s Pizza). There was also a convenience store/grocery on site, which I would recommend for breakfasts, if you don’t pack your own food. Definitely skip the breakfast buffet at the resort.
We checked out the skiing options next, and, since no one in our family had ever skied before, we decided to sign up for a family lesson first thing the next morning. We noticed a paid sledding area near the slopes, but we brought our own sled, and decided to find some hills of our own on the grounds of the resort. Score! Found a fun place to play free of charge!
Once we wore ourselves out playing in the snow and freezing cold temps (that winter was the 3rd coldest on record or something crazy like that! It was awful!), it was time to think about dinner. The beef & leaf restaurant on the resort looked great, and it did not disappoint! I can say without a doubt that this is the best beef & leaf I have eaten!
The next morning we got up bright and early and ate some breakfast food I had packed for us. We did check out the buffet at the hotel, but it was really expensive and the food did not look good, so we stuck with granola bars and fruit in the room.
Prior to the private lesson we had scheduled, we rented all of our equipment from the resort rental shops. There are a ton of rental shops on the main road leading into the resort, but we opted for the convenience of the resort shop. If you are planning to ski multiple days, you may want to consider renting off the resort; I’m sure it’s less expensive. We did buy goggles. I can’t remember if you HAD to buy those, or if it was actually cheaper to just buy them.
Our lesson was scheduled for 2 hours, but because there had been a mass exodus the day before, and the slopes were pretty deserted, it went closer to 3 hours (at no extra charge). Our instructor was very kind, and very patient with us. Once we kind of had it figured out, he took my husband and me individually on the lift and helped us ski down the beginner slope. It was expensive to schedule the lesson, but worth every penny since this was brand new to all of us.
After we had had our fill of skiing, we decided to warm up by heading to the indoor water park. I was a little worried that it would be freezing in there, but was pleasantly surprised at how warm it was. The air was warm and so was the water. The park had a wave pool, several slides, hot tubs, and a really neat pool that was half regular pool/ half massage pool. We spent a lot of time in this one! In the open pool part, the kids could swim and play. On one of the long sides, facing the swim part, were built in chairs with massage jets. It was the perfect setup!
There is a discount for the water park if you are staying at the resort, so be sure to get that! Also, swim caps and life jackets are required in the water park (both available at the park).
All that skiing and swimming had us starving for dinner! We decided to order a pizza to the room, but walking back to the hotel from the water park, we passed that beef & leaf and just couldn’t pass it up! We ate there again for dinner and loved it just as much as we had the night prior!
The next morning we packed up and headed back to Seoul. It was a great time, and I would definitely recommend this resort, whether or not you are a skier!
For more information, visit http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/SI/SI_EN_3_1_1_1.jsp?cid=1133074
Also see a previous post about other Korean ski opportunities here.