Heat fans and ondol are usually first to spring to mind at the mention of Korean winter. A close second – to those of us living in Gangwon-do at least – are snow, skis and boards. The province has more ski resorts than anywhere else in the country, and offers the best on-snow experience around, whether snow-pro or complete first-timer. Most snow junkies will have visited High 1 Ski Resort at some time or other. It’s perhaps Gangwon’s best-known place to hit the slopes, with three state-of-the-art gondolas taking skiers to mountainous runs which are the highest in the country. Its world-class facilities are only a 3-hour drive from Seoul, so a day-trip is possible. For a full-on ski-holiday experience, Yongpyong Ski Resort is the place to head. Beginners can take group or private lessons at the ski school, there’s a 5.6km run through the forest for more advanced riders and a stunt park for anyone who’s got the skills to show off. Dragon Plaza’s facilities offer everything cold-and-hungry boarders need, and there are free shuttles to surrounding towns – including Gangneung – for visitors not staying on site. Both Yongpyong and the nearby Alpensia Ski Resort are hosting events for the 2018 Winter Olympics, so enjoy these slopes before the crowds arrive.
Anyone keen to avoid traffic altogether can take Seoul Subway Line 7 and check out Elysian Gangchon Ski Resort near Chuncheon. It has a few advanced runs, though they’re only around 1km long, but its separate bunny slope and the ease of getting there make it a less intimidating experience for complete beginners. All ski resorts provide full rental equipment, including ski pants and jacket, so don’t worry about not having all the gear. Most resorts have night skiing until the small hours, and with the season running well into the new year there’s plenty of time for practicing ahead of the Olympics!