Ski in Style in Korea
With all the talk in the news this past week of people having ‘snow day’ around the world due the amount of beautiful white fluffy stuff falling from the skies and our friends in Hong Kong experiencing almost freezing temperatures some of us might be feeling a little hard done by.
Make your snow dreams happen with a winter trip to Korea and experience the snow for yourself, you’ll be surprised how quick and easy it is to plan your trip! With Korea being the host nation for the next winter Olympics in 2018 and the games being held in Pyeongchang in Gangwon-do province, there has never been a better time to go.
The CheapTickets.sg guide to booking your ski trip:
Step 1: Book a cheap flight from Singapore to Seoul with CheapTickets.sg. You can grab flights for the last couple of weeks of February until mid March when the snow should still be good from only $500! Purchase your travel insurance with your flight booking and save up to 40% (more on travel insurance at the end of the blog).
Step 2: Book a room. Whilst there are many resorts within a couple of hours from Seoul we recommend you head out to Gangwon-do in the east of Korea. You can book rooms in Jeongseon and Pyeongchang on CheapTickets.sg from only $98 per night.
Step 3: Head to the slopes! Our trip to check out the snow took us the brilliant facilities at High1 Ski Resort in Jeongseon-gun, Gangwon do. Getting there from Seoul airport is super easy with a daily bus taking you from arrivals to your hotel at 7.30 each day, great if you are arriving on the Korea Air 644 or Asiana 752 flights (there are plenty of places to get a snack and a hot drink whilst you wait for the bus). You need to reserve your seats in advance here. There are also numerous departures from around Seoul city out to High1, Alpensia Ski Resort and Yongpyong Ski resort in Gangwon. The journey takes about 4 hours to get to the resorts and costs about $48 SGD return for the bus.
Step 4: Plan your snow time! All the resorts run shuttle buses to the slopes around the timing of the ski sessions, usually split into AM and PM. If you are a first time Skier you should arrange your lesson in advance to ensure you have an English or Mandarin speaking instructor. You can either contact the ski resort you will be travelling to directly or get the hotel to assist with this on your behalf. Ski lessons are can be carried out 1-1 or with a group and cost about 350,000W for the day (AM & PM session). Ski passes including the gondola range from 40-55,000W per session, you need to buy this in addition to your lessons.
Step 5: Look the part. If you have your ski clothes, great! If not you can easily and fairly cheaply rent your gear at the ski lodge. Estimate prices for the ski gear we rented:
- Ski plate, Ski pole & boots: 20,000W
- Ski clothes: Jacket & trousers: 15-20,000W
- Ski Googles: 5-8,000W
- Gloves are not able to be rented but we bought ours for 10,000W next to the clothes hire booth.
Step 6: Ski! This was my first experience out on the powder and man was it fun! I spent an hour with an instructor in a group lesson learning the basics (walking forwards and backwards, clipping in and out of the boots and falling over and getting up) before going to the nursery slope to learn to go downhill and very essentially how to slow yourself and stop. Once I had graduated from ski school the instructor took me out to the smallest beginner run. If and when you are ready your instructor will accompany you down a beginner slope in a small group, try and take it slowly as you won’t know what’s around the next corner- for me, my first big slope (which my instructor insisted was small) felt huge but he gave me lots of confidence to get through it and was always nearby. You will be given a special colour coded bib to wear on the slopes so other skiers and instructors around know you are a novice, and who you are with! After the first time going down the slope, which felt like it went on forever I felt like I had conquered a mountain. My instructor quickly guided us to the gondola to give me a pep talk and to go back up and do it again. It was certainly one of the best experiences of my life so far! If you are still a beginner or even staying off the slopes your gondola pass will allow you to go to the mountain top where you can indulge in a snack or even have lunch at the restaurant with fantastic views over the mountain at a reasonable price, the ride up is also a highlight.
You can check out the snow and the slopes through the webcams at High1 here.
Step 7: Après Ski!
This is often the most fun part of the ski trip! Straight from the slopes I headed for the Churros stand conveniently placed by the gondola exit. It’s warm dough and sinful sugar was so welcome to refuel after my first ski session, don’t be fooled thinking it’s all downhill, it’s tiring work (but we still had the energy to pretend it was a light sabre!).
There are a number of hotels where we stayed in Jeongsun and the High1 resort own a number of hotels including Kangwonland, a huge hotel and casino complex. Entry to the casino is free to foreigners and there are over 200 tables. Be warned, the locals take their gaming very seriously, our 5,000W bets were slightly frowned upon but they warmed up to our gaming style in the end. There are regular shuttle busses from the hotels in High1 to Kangwonland, just ask at your hotel reception. There is also a cinema and a choice of eateries.
Whilst we were staying at High1 Hotel, a couple of KM’s up the hill we found it was very quiet in the evenings and the restaurant closed early (room service was also not available after 2pm) so a trip to Kangwonland in the evening is a must. However one of the plusses of this hotel was its direct gondola going to the mountain top which then carried on back down the mountain to the Ski House if you fancied the ride rather than taking the shuttle bus to start your experience.
With the 2018 Olympics new fast approaching I had a little behind the scenes tour into what the athletes will experience during the games. If you are staying at Alpensia resort take time to go to the ski jumping stadium. Take the ride up to the cafe where you can enjoy a huge range of hot drinks (I went for the Mocha) and get fantastic views over the mountains. I was lucky enough to be able to go out to where the ski jumpers will begin their medal winning efforts- check out my video below!
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