Pyeongchang, the host city for the upcoming 2018 Winter Olympics and 2018 Winter Paralympics, may be the next hot destination in South Korea, located in the Taebaek Mountains region. With just 2.5 hours of drive from Seoul, Pyeongchang is known as the ‘Alps of Asia‘ offering picturesque landscapes and excellent sceneries all year round.
Here’s why we think the city is worth a visit:
1. THE BIG EVENT
Over 95 participating countries, 15 disciplines, 12 venues and 102 gold medals (The Olympic Winter Games) / Over 45 participating countries, 6 disciplines, 5 venues and 80 gold medals (The Paralympic Winter Games) – All these numbers represent the figures of The Olympic Winter Games and The Paralympic Winter Games that will take place in South Korea for the first time over the course of 17 days from 9-25 February 2018 and 10 days from 9-18 March 2018 respectively.
Pyeongchang has been heavily marketed with the focus on the 2018 Winter Olympics and 2018 Winter Paralympics, and the good news is, visitors will have the chance to take a sneak peek into what’ll be happening during the big event, such as learning more about the various winter games through newest technologies like virtual reality, as well as information of the host city at Pyeongchang House located in Gangneung city, a designated place set up specially for this purpose.
At Pyeongchang House, they have also set up a countdown timer with the latest photos of the construction that updates its progress every 10 minutes. With some of the competition venues built from scratch, we learned that almost 80% of the construction has already been completed as of now!
2. BRAVE THE HEIGHT
Pyeongchang is situated on natural highlands 700m above sea level, which is one of the reasons why the city makes for an ideal location to hold the Winter Olympics and Paralympics games in 2018. If you are planning a visit to Pyeongchang, be sure to include the Alpensia Stadium in your itinerary because this is where you can truly experience the feel of the winter olympics.
This is the Alpensia Ski Jumping Stadium which is also the location of the outdoor ski jumping events of the 2018 Winter Olympics! To get up here, you’ll need to take a monorail ride which cost about 6,000 KRW (~SGD7) per individual or adult.
There are two slides named K98 and K125, simply to put, the slides are 98m and 125m long respectively. We were told that the mountain landscapes, nature and weather are the main challenges for the winter games due to the overall technical aspects that have to be included in the games, thus more costs are involved in the construction.
In addition, the venues are now located within closer proximity to one another as compared to past olympic venues, hence reducing the traveling time for athletes and at the same time, keeping their condition tip-top for the games.
If you’re curious as to why this venue looks pretty familiar, this was where the MBC 2015 Infinite Challenge Yeongdong Expressway Music Festival was held! (The concert that was attended by over 40,000 people and headlined by G-Dragon, Taeyang, Kwanghee, Park Myung Soo & IU, Yoo Jae Suk & J.Y. Park, and more!)
3. SKI IT YOURSELF
No trip to Pyeongchang is complete without experiencing skiing or snowboarding yourself! There are several popular ski resorts to visit in this city, and we visited the Alpensia Ski Resort which consists of six slopes in total, perfect for both beginners and experienced skiers and snowboarders.
Without any prior experience in these winter sports before, we entrusted ourselves to the professional instructors at TSL Ski & Snowboard Academy, Alpensia’s officially authorised academy for winter sport courses, whom taught us the best skills we would ever require for skiing. Keep in mind that you’ll have to be dressed appropriately for the winter sports, though the outfits and ski equipment can all be rented from the resort or nearby rental shops.
Interesting fact: In summer, the ski resort will transform a partial of the lower mountain into a magnificent 100,000㎡ wild flower garden! Definitely sounds like it’s worth a visit in summer too! (Source: Visit Korea)
4. FEED THE (FLUFFY) SHEEPS
Okay, we admit we do have a thing for animals, especially a herd of them. Daegwallyeong Skyranch (대관령 하늘목장) in Pyeongchang, Gangwon-do, is one of the best places that allows you to get up-close with nature and animals in one place. This farm was first opened to the public in 2014, before that it has been closed off for the past 40 years.
Here at the skyranch, you can purchase hay at 1,000 KRW (~SGD1.20) to feed the sheeps, goats and ponies – a MUST-try experience because it’s really fun!
5. BREATHE IN THE NATURE
When in Pyeongchang, you must visit the Odaesan National Park that stretches from Woljeongsa Temple to Sangwonsa Temple and the Shrine for Sakyamuni Buddha’s Sarira. Take a stroll and feel the serenity and tranquility from the scenic views that the National Park offers. It feels like a time travel back to the Silla Dynasty period where the ancient temples were constructed.
If you have an extra day or two to spare, you may like to consider experiencing a temple stay here as they have two types of programs (experience-based and relaxation-based) for visitors over a 2 days 1 night stay. The activities will center around emptying of mind on the first day, and filling of mind on the second day. A pity that our schedule was a little tight and we didn’t have the opportunity to experience a temple stay, but we will definitely return again for this next time!
If you are someone who loves nature and sightseeing, we definitely recommend Pyeongchang in your itinerary. With the 2018 Winter Olympics and 2018 Winter Paralympics underway, we’re certain that this city is going to be the next hot destination in South Korea.
Click on the video to see Pyeongchang in 100 seconds! Be sure to also check out the Top 7 Things To Experience in Seoul At A Low Cost or For Free!
This trip was kindly hosted by the Korea Press Foundation Global Exchange Team under the ‘Power Blogger Invitation Program’, organised by Hyundai Asan.
(Photos by: Nicole)