Skiing in Korea: Your Ultimate Guide to the Best Slopes, What to Expect, and More
Want to go skiing in Korea? Considering its mountainous nature, this country is great for those visiting in winter and wanting to hit the slopes. Since I’ve only been once, I thought I’d bring my friend, Autumn, back to give her advice on what to expect and where to go!
Check this post on winter in Korea for more advice
Growing up in the temperate hills of Tennessee, I never experienced much winter. There would be a handful of snowfalls which would only stay on the ground for a few days max before melting. During these days, school would inevitably be cancelled and we’d rush to build a snowman or sled on the nearby hills. I remember plenty of days in December or January when it was warm enough to open the windows and go hiking with nothing more than a light jacket without any worry of getting too cold.
Needless to say, I was in no way acclimated to the much longer, colder, “real” winters of Korea.
When I moved here, I was excited to experience all of the winter sports I’d seen on television or in movies. I tried skiing for the first time at the age of 22, and have gone almost every winter since. While I am by no means a professional, I have been enough times that I feel comfortable skiing – on nothing harder than an intermediate slope, that is.
If you’re just getting started with skiing in Korea, here’s our guide on everything you need to know, ranging from what to bring, what to wear, and the best places to visit.
Tips for Skiing in Korea
So, skiing in Korea – what’s it like? Will I die?
I personally haven’t been skiing in other countries. According to my friends who are much better skiers than I am, Korean slopes are very beginner-friendly compared to nearby Japan, but I’m not here to debate that. My experience is based on only knowing Korean slopes and just hearing anecdotes from friends to compare.
Skiing in Korea is both easy and safe. Snow neophyte that I was before living here, I had always heard horror stories about people who went off path and crashed into trees, shrubs, or even went off cliffs when skiing in other countries where slopes were poorly marked or maintained. Sometimes the story is just about people simply overestimating their skill levels.
I was therefore quite nervous before my first ski trip, though it turns out my fears were largely baseless. Korean ski slopes are perfect for the novice skier, as they’re about as safe as you can make such a high-speed, intense sport.
The slopes at each resort I’ve visited are manicured and maintained extremely well. Safety barriers line the entire run, so it’s impossible to go off course, and everything is very clearly marked. There are true bunny hills for absolute novices to get their start on, and the beginner courses were easy enough I was able to make it down without falling even on my very first ski runs.
Cool, sounds good. Where’s the best place to go?
In general, the best places to go in Korea for skiing are Gangwon-do in the northeast corner of Korea (site of the 2018 Pyeongtaek Winter Olympics) or Muju, if you live down south and don’t want to make the trek up.
The north of the country is unsurprisingly much colder than the south, and chances of a big, real snow dump are therefore much higher. When I went skiing last winter, it ended up snowing almost six inches on our final morning.
Neat! But it’s like, really expensive, isn’t it?
Skiing in Korea is also incredibly cheap compared to almost anywhere else. A full day (lift pass and ski rental) should run you slightly under $100 USD – on a weekend during peak season.
If you want to go on a weekday or during the low season, it’s even cheaper than that. There are also sales, promotions, and special events for season passes and other tickets, so you can stand to save even more if you keep an eye out.
I don’t speak any Korean. Is that a problem?
Ski resorts in Korea do cater some to foreigners, with signs often being in in English as well as Korean. If you’re interested in going to the ski school, some of the instructors speak enough English to be able to instruct, though you will have to ask specifically as not everyone has a fluency level.
For boot sizes, skis, and everything, the chart is often posted directly on the counter, so if your Korean level is low or non-existent, you can just point at what you want.
Oh, okay! What about gear?
Honestly, if you don’t have any ski gear and don’t want to invest, you can rent virtually everything at the slopes, right down to ski pants. I rented all my gear every time I went, but my friend bought her own gear. (Pro Tip: you can often find used ski gear for cheap on Daangun Market, the Korean version of a less-sketchy Craigslist.)
Be sure to bring a waterproof coat, gloves, and something to keep your head warm along with some nice socks you can comfortably wear all day. If you’re like me and never had much of a need for winter gear, you can easily pick up all of this in the skiing or hiking shops that permeate Korea, or even (if you’re smaller) check out the Beautiful Store, which is a cheap secondhand shop where you can find some true gems from time to time.
One important thing to make sure to bring is ski goggles (if you have them) or sunglasses if you don’t. The reflection from the snow can be intense. Also make sure that you sunscreen any exposed skin. The last time I went skiing my friend and I both got sunburned. Even though I’d put on a bit of sunscreen on my face in the morning, I didn’t reapply and was out until almost sunset.
Will I be able to get my size?
*Sam Interjection Here* As Autumn is the size the a typical Korean woman, she’s never had to be concerned about finding her size in Korea. As someone larger (currently an XL-XXL in most US stores), this was my biggest concern when I went to High1. Shockingly, I had no issue getting rental gear including snow pants. The guy just looked at me and handed me the correct size!
I don’t drive. How do I get to the slopes?
Most – if not all – of the ski resorts in Korea have shuttle buses directly from Seoul or other large nearby cities. When I lived in Suwon, the shuttle from almost right outside my apartment to High 1 Ski Resort in Gangwon cost a cool $20 and left around 5:00 AM.
Getting to Gangwon from other places in Korea can be a little tricky though. If you’re in the south or outside of Seoul, check the buses directly to Gangwon and then take a smaller local bus or taxi. Otherwise, just go to Seoul and get the shuttle. There was also a new rail line built for the Olympics a couple of years ago that will drop you in the small mountainous towns if you don’t want to stay directly on site.
That seems convenient. Is accommodation equally convenient?
I’ve stayed both on site at the ski resorts and also in local hotels. Staying on site will generally be more expensive (unless you book a pension with a few of your closest buds), but there is plenty of accommodation nearby.
A lot of hotels, tiny houses, and pensions can be found surrounding the resorts, with many being freshly built for the Olympics. When I went hiking in Odaesan, I stayed in what served as a ski town near the Alpensia Resort at a super cute place, which would be perfect for a ski retreat.
The cheapest option by far is to simply sleep at a jjimjilbang, or Korean sauna. It will cost less than $10, and they’ll give you a set of scrubs to sleep in, towels, and – best of all – access to warm baths, hot rooms, and massaging showers. There is truly nothing better than sinking into a mineral-packed hot tub after a full day of doing sports out in the snow and letting your tense muscles relax.
Which Ski Resorts to Visit in Korea (A-Z)
Below is a fairly comprehensive of all the major resorts around Korea. I’ve included tips on tours, where to stay, how to book lessons, and getting there to help you plan as well.
Alpensia Ski Resort (알펜시아리조트 스키장)
Located in Taebaksan, its name is a combination of “Alpen” (German for The Alps) and Asia. It’s probably the most well-known of all the ski resorts in Korea as it was one of the main sites for the Pyeongchang Olympics. Though I’d say it being featured in K-drama favorite, “Goblin,” has also significantly boosted its fame. When you visit, you have the option of six slopes (1 beginner, 1 intermediate, 4 advanced). Given that it’s 3 hours from Seoul, you’ll most likely want to at least spend the night to avoid 6 hours of travel each way.
Overnight Tours to Alpensia
Where to Stay Near Alpensia
On the resort itself, you’ve got three options between the Intercontinental, Holiday Inn Resort Hotel, or the Holiday Inn & Suites. If you’d rather stay nearby, Hoenggye (횡계) is the closest town, though it’s very, very small. The closest “city” is Jinbu (진부면).
|Hotels in & near Alpensia||Costs|
|Intercontinental Alpensia Resort||View Here|
|Holiday Inn Resort Hotel Alpensia||View Here|
|Holiday Inn & Suites Alpensia||View Here|
Getting to Alpensia
There are a few ways to get to Alpensia from Seoul if you don’t want to drive. During the season, there’s the Daewon Express shuttle bus that leaves from the Sports Complex Station, Myeongdong, and Sinchon and goes right to the resort (use TourtoKorea to reserve).
If you’re staying in Jinbu, you can take the KTX. From Jinbu Station, there are quite a few shuttle buses back and forth during peak season (check the schedule here).
From Hoenggye, you can take an express bus from Dongbu Seoul Terminal right to the town. It won’t be listed on Kobus, so use this link to book.
And of course, you can always book a private transfer for the easiest, albeit most expensive, option.
How to Book Lessons
Alpensia is one of the resorts that I can guarantee offers lessons in English. Kust take a look at their ski school here. You can also book private lessons here.
Bears Town Ski Resort (베어스타운 스키 리조트)
Located in Nacheon-myeon (나천면), Bears Town Ski Resort has the honor of being the closest ski resort to Seoul. This makes it pretty convenient for those who don’t have the time/inclination to travel too far outside of the city. Their website says it has a total of 10 ski slopes and 1 sledding slope, but in the breakdown, it only lists 1 beginner, 2 intermediate, 3 intermediate/ advanced, 2 advanced, so someone who’s been will have to let us know why there’s the discrepancy.
Where to Stay Near Bears Town Ski Resort
While you can book some condos at the resort itself, it’s so close to Seoul, you’re better off just coming back into the city.
Getting to Bears Town
Apparently Bears Town offers a paid shuttle bus but I haven’t been able to find a concrete schedule anywhere. You can also take public transportation, but it’s pretty convoluted and takes around 2 hours from Gwanghallu Station. You’re much better off taking the shuttle or finding a tour.
How to Book Lessons
Their site is currently under construction, but you should eventually be able to check this page for more information on their ski school (It only seems to be in Korean).
Eden Valley (에덴밸리리조트)
Eden Valley is down in Yangsan (양산) on Sinbulsan (신불산) and considered the southernmost resort in Korea. It’s more for people who are in Busan as it’s nearby and has 7 slopes (2 beginner, 3 intermediate, 2 advanced). Because it’s pretty small and the southern location means the snow isn’t as guaranteed, I’d really only recommend this place for people living in the area. If you’re traveling to Korea specifically for skiing, you’re better off sticking to the resorts in Gangwon.
Tours to Eden Valley
If you do live in the area, here are some tour options for Eden Valley:
Where to Stay Near Eden Valley
|Hotels in & near Eden Valley||Where to Book|
|Eden Valley Resort||View Here|
|IM Hotel||View Here|
|The Healing Hotel||View Here|
Getting to Eden Valley
From Busan, take Line 2 to Yangsan Station. From there, take Bus No. 1000 and get off at Eden Valley Resort (about 30-40 mins later).
Where to Book Lessons
The page for their ski school is here but it’s currently coming up blank for me. If you want to guarantee you’ll have an English-speaking instructor, book private lessons here.
Elysian Gangchon Resort (엘리시안 강촌 스키장)
This is apparently the only resort in Korea that can be easily reached by subway, so that’s super convenient! It has 10 slopes and 6 lifts and my haves over at Bobo + Chichi actually went snowboarding there years ago (you can read their review here).
Tours to Elysian Gangchon
Where to Stay Near Elysian Gangchon
Again this is another resort where it’ll be easier to just stay in Seoul and transfer back when you’ve finished skiing for the day.
Getting to Elysian Ganchon
Take the Gyeongchun Line (경춘선) from Seoul directly to Baegyang-ri Station (Elysian Gangcheon) (백양리 (엘리시안강촌)). From here, there’s a free shuttle service directly to the doors that operates every twenty minutes.
How to Book Lessons
Elysian offers all sorts of lessons for both skiers and snowboarders. They seem pretty professional about it – you can check them out here.
High1 Ski Resort (하이원리조트 스키장)
This resort is very foreigner friendly, and where I’ve done most of my skiing. This is also the resort I took Sam when she visited and skied for the first time since she was a kid. For those wondering, it’s considered the highest resort for skiing in Korea at 1,345 meters. It’s also quite large with 20 slopes and 7 lifts. They’ve even offered a free helmet for foreigners in the past (lol).
Tours to High1 Resort:
Where to Stay Near High1 Resort
I’ve stayed at Mayhills Resort a few times when skiing at High1 before. They offer a shuttle directly from the ski slopes, but it’s only about a five minute drive away anyway. I recommend staying somewhere legit for this resort; I had a bad experience trying to stay in a jimjilbang way back in the earlier days of skiing!
|Where to Stay Near High 1||Prices|
|Mayhills Resort||View Here|
|Grand Intoraon Hotel Jeongseon||View Here|
|Grand Hotel Main Tower (Kangwon Land)||View Here|
Getting to High 1 Resort
High 1 offers a variety of shuttle buses, some even leaving from Incheon Airport directly during the winter season! You can check out the full listing of buses here. You can also book a private transfer or shuttle bus seat directly with those links.
How to Book Lessons
I took a beginner ski lesson at High 1 Resort in English, but it isn’t specifically listed on the website like some of the other resorts. However, chances are someone will be able to give at least basic English instruction. For more information about the ski lessons, click here.
Jisan Forest Ski Resort (지산 포레스트 리조트 스키장)
Founded in 1996, Jisan Forest Resort is one of the longest continually operated ski resorts in South Korea. It’s located in Icheon (이천시) and great for beginners with 7 main slopes, 3 smaller sloes, and 5 ski lifts.
Tours to Jisan Forest Resort:
Where to Stay Near Jisan Forest
The condos at Jisan are a bit expensive (unless, of course, you’re staying with a larger group). This pension is super close and looks just as sizable as one of their condos.
|Hotels near Jisan Forest||Costs|
|Yangji Pine Resort||View Here|
|Yongin Jayeonsup Pension||View Here|
|Yongin Pine House Pension||View Here|
Gettin to Jisan Forest
From the Seoul Express Bus Terminal, take a bus to Icheon Bus Terminal. From there, you can grab Bus #12 and get off at the Jisan Resort Bus Stop.
How to Book Lessons
Currently, there’s nothing about booking lessons on their English website. However, you can contact them or check back closer to ski season to see if anything comes up!
Muju Deogyusan Resort (무주덕유산리조트)
Muju Deogyusan Resort is another spot that I’d recommend for locals and expats more than someone traveling to ski in Korea. Down in Jeollabuk-do, you’ll have quite a transfer from Seoul to get here. Sam and I only really know about it because we lived in this province, so we had plenty of friends go over the years.
According to their site, they have 34 different slopes and can boast the longest slope in Korea. It’s called the Silk Road and stretches 6.1km.
Where to Stay Near Muju Deogyusan Resort
|Hotels in & near Muju||Costs|
|Hotel Tirol||View Here|
|Family Hotel||View Here|
|Kookmin Hotel||View Here|
|Youth Hostel||View Here|
Getting to Muju Deogyusan Resort
You’ll want to get to Jeonju, which is about 3ish hours by bus and 2 hours by KTX. I’d take the bus from Seoul Express Bus Terminal because either way you’ll have to switch to a bus from Jeonju to Muju at the Jeonju Express Bus Terminal (전주시외버스공용터미널). This’ll take you to the Muju Bus Terminal (무주공용버스터미널). From there the easiest thing to do is grab a taxi to take you to the resort! It should be somewhere between 20-30,000 KRW (~$20-30 USD).
How to Book Lessons
They have a few pages on their site dedicated to their Ski School in English. Your best bet to book is to just call and hope there’s someone who speaks English and can help you!
Oak Valley Ski Resort (오크밸리 스키장)
Located in Wonju, about ~2 hours from Seoul, Oak Valley is known for having fireworks every night and being a stop on many singers’ concert tours around the country. Ski-wise it’s known for being less-crowded and more for intermediate skiers. Over half of their nine slopes are for intermediate levels.
Tour to Oak Valley Ski Resort:
Where to Stay Near Oak Valley
I’ve stayed at the Benikea Hotel Bizen before in Wonju, and it was pretty nice! The complimentary breakfast they offered in the morning is perfect to have before a day of shredding the slopes.
|Hotels Near Oak Valley||Costs|
|Oak Valley Resort||View Here|
|Benikea Hotel Bizen||View Here|
Getting to Oak Valley
You can either take the shuttle bus from Seoul, or take a train/intercity bus to Wonju. From both the train station and the bus terminal, the Wonju Tour Bus will take you straight to Oak Valley Ski resort. You can find more information about bus times and whatnot here.
If you’d prefer, you could also book a private transfer.
How to Book Lessons
Currently, as of August 2021, there is no information about booking lessons on the Oak Valley website. However, if you check back closer to winter something might pop up!
Phoenix Pyeongchang (휘닉스 평창)
Phoenix Pyeongchang is known for two main reasons. The first is that it was one of. the main venues for the 2018 Winter Olympics and Paralympics. The second is that it was the setting for huge old school K-dramas “Winter Sonata” and “Autumn in My Heart.” It has a total of 21 slopes and 14 different lifts and gondolas.
Tour to Pheonix Ski Resort:
Where to Stay Near Phoenix
Phoenix has its own resort, but you can, of course, stay nearby as well.
|Hotels Near Phoenix||Costs|
|Phoenix Pyeongchang Resort||View Here|
|Phoenix Pyeongchang Hotel||View Here|
|Hanwha Resort Pyeongchang||View Here|
|Orient Resort||View Here|
Getting to Phoenix Pyeongchang
They actually have a really good chart in English on their site to help guide you. Take the train from Seoul Station to Pyeongchang Station, and from there, there’s a bus to Phoenix Pyeongchang that runs every hour-ish from 8:55 AM – 5:45 PM. You can also book the shuttle bus here or a private transfer here.
How to Book Lessons
I can’t find any page for a ski school or lessons on their main page. If you don’t want to book the tour and lesson above, I’d recommend calling them directly.
Vivaldi Ski World (비발디 파크 스키월드)
Run by Daemyung Resort, Vivaldi Ski World is the most visited ski resort in Korea. With 12 slopes and 10 ski lifts including a gondola, it’s also the largest resort in the Seoul metropolitan area. It’s supposed to be very trendy and has crazy opening hours (8:30 AM – 5:00 AM – YES, 5:00 AM!).
Tours to Vivaldi Ski World
Where to Stay Near Vivaldi Ski World
Honestly, since Vivaldi Ski World is so close to Seoul, it’s the perfect day trip from the city. There’s also a resort hotel you could stay at directly on the slopes.
|Hotels Near Vivaldi||Costs|
|Vivaldi Park||View Here|
|Sono Pet Clubs Resort||View Here|
|Sono Felice Vivaldi Park||View Here|
How to Get to Vivaldi
There’s should be a free shuttle bus from Seoul! Last I checked, it left from Lottle Hotel in Myeongdong.
How to Book Lessons
You can find contact information for Vivaldi Ski World here – try calling to see if you can set up lessons. You can also book private lessons here.
More to Do Nearby
Vivaldi Park is one of those insane places that has a bit of everything. You want to ride bumper cars? Try luge (on wheels)? Vivaldi has plenty to offer everyone.
Welli Hilli Park (웰리힐리파크)
Welli Hilli Park (sometimes known as Hyundai Sungwoo Resort) is located in Hoengseong (횡성군).
Tour to Welli Helli:
Where to Stay Near Welli Hilli
|Hotels Near Welli Hilli||Where to Book|
|Welli Hilli Park Resort||View Here|
|Hoengseong Pine Tree Story Pension||View Here|
|Hoengseong Dream Tree Pension||View Here|
Getting to Welli Hilli
You’ll first want to get a train or bus to Wonju. From there, there’s a free shuttle from Wonju to Welli Hilli Park. They have more information here.
How to Book Lessons
They have a page for ski and snowboard lessons but no information on booking. I would guess you’ll want to call to get more info.
Yongpyong Resort (용평리조트 스키장)
Like Pheonix Park, Yongpyong Resort is pretty famous for a slew of reasons. The first is that the 2018 Pyeongtaek Olympics Alpine Skiing took place here. The second, and perhaps bigger reason, is that one of the most iconic Korean dramas was filmed here – Winter Sonata. Another bonus is that the season tends to start earlier (sometimes mid-November) and can often last until April, so there’s a wide window for wannabe skiers.
Tours to Yongpyong Resort
Where to Stay Near Yongpyong
When I went, I stayed at one of the on-site condos. There was a full kitchen and bathroom, and it had huge windows so we could sit and watch the snow fall while sipping our hot chocolate.
|Hotels Near Yongpyong||Prices|
|Yongpyong Resort||View Here|
|Daegwanryeong Egg Guesthouse||View Here|
|Soop and Soop Pension||View Here|
|Sisilli Pension||View Here|
|Pyeongchang Ramada||View Here|
|Terrace on the Cloud||View Here|
Getting to Yongpyong
During the winter months, Yongpyeong offers a shuttle service directly from Incheon, for those who are coming to Korea for a winter getaway. You can also take a shuttle or normal bus from a variety of different cities, including Seoul, Busan, and Daegu. For more information about the bus, click here. Alternatively, you could also pre-book a shuttle or private transfer.
How to Book Lessons
Yongpyong offers classes specifically for foreigners! You can check out what they have by clicking here. Or you can book private lessons here.
What to Do Besides Skiing
This one is for those of you who would prefer not to plunge down a mountain at high speeds with only narrow strips of wood attached to your legs., but your friends planned a trip and you don’t want to miss going.
Go to a cafe
If you’re familiar with Korea at all, you’ll know that cafe culture is very real. It’s not uncommon for people to hang out in coffee shops for hours, and ski resorts always have at least a couple on hand. Some of our favorite cozy winter drinks include sweet potato lattes (called “goguma latte” in Korean), sesame lattes, and, of course, green tea.
Ride a Cable Car
At some ski lodges, it’s also possible to take a cable car up the mountain without any ski commitment, just to check out the gorgeous snowy views. Some places also offer simple sledding, if you still want to hit the slopes in a gentler way.
As you’re in a Korea, hikes are also never very far away, especially if you’re already out in the mountains. While things can get icy, winter hikes can be extremely beautiful and rewarding!
Steam in the Sauna
If you’re more of the indoor type and want to stay warm and cozy, I’d also recommend hitting up the jjimjilbang, or Korean sauna. You can spend a delicious few hours going from baths to steamy rooms to tranquil, warm naps all for just a few bucks.
Embrace the many, many delicious hot soups
Korean food truly shines in the winter, with hot, spicy soups such as kimchi jjiggae, yukaejang, and gamjatang being the perfect remedy to warm your bones. If you’re not into spicy foods, try finding a place that serves galbitang, tteokguk, or seolleongtang. If you’re at a resort, I strongly recommend going to a nearby town to find a local joint. You’ll get better service and a more authentic meal. When I talked my friend into driving us into town from High 1 to find a local restaurant after a full day of skiing, the ahjumma who ran the place was so happy to see tourists that she ended up giving us extra side dishes and refilled our soup. My friend and I both thought just the restaurant was a huge perk in our trip.
And that’s literally EVERYTHING you need to know about skiing in Korea. Let us know if you have any questions below!
For more on Korea travel, read these next:
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