Wondering where you can go to ski or snowboard in Korea this winter? If you are searching for an authentic, back-to-the-roots experience of skiing the Alps at Ischgl-Galtur (Austria – the birthplace of alpine skiing) or pining for the waist-deep powder in the bowl at the summit of Lake Louise (the Canadian Rockies), sadly you will not find any of the above in Korea.
However, if you are intent on having some fun on modern well-groomed slopes that feature the latest snow-making equipment, high-tech lifts and gondolas, a good selection of rental equipment and clothing, prepare to check out some of the fine slopes in the Korean mountains this winter.
There is a fairly tacit coexistence between skiers and snow-boarders at most ski resorts, so both pursuits can be enjoyed on most of the runs without too many issues.
*The following list does not connote or confer any specific rankings.*
If you’re a skiing Seoulite, this is your go-to ski resort. Less than an hour away, Konjiam is a family-friendly resort near Seoul that boasts more trails than any other.
They also limit the number of people who can be on the slopes at one time, making this one of the best places to go on the weekends when you will run into serious crowds and long lines at most domestic ski resorts.
The patron saint of ski stations in Korea. In operation since 1976, and with an elevation of 1350 m, it offers a wide variety of slopes.
Count on three hours travel time from Seoul (shuttle bus and car only). The Rainbow lift (advanced course only) seems to operate only for a limited time.
The Gold lift features mostly long intermediate runs. But if you are after a short, steep racing piste, then the Red or New Red lifts should work out for you.
Here’s the new kid on the block. The summit is approximately 1150 m. The casino is nearby for apres-ski gambling, there are plenty of accommodations nearby, it has a proper snow (not hard ice) mogul run, and best of all it is rail-accessible.
The Victoria and Apollo lifts provide service to more challenging terrain. The train from Cheongnyangni Station leaves every night at 9:50 arriving in Gohan at 1:45 AM – a short 3-minute walk will bring you to yogwons (motels).
In the morning, local shuttle buses will take you to the resort every hour at 40 minutes past the hour. If you jump on the evening shuttle bus back to Gohan station at 5:10 or 5:40, you can catch the 6:00 train back to Seoul, sleep for a few hours en route, and be ready to party when you arrive!
Perhaps the most scenic layout of any ski resort in Korea. A beautiful panorama awaits you at the highest summit of any ski station in the country (approximately 1530 m).
Catch some “Hermanator” time on the summit runs! Again, plenty of nearby accommodations.It is rail-accessible and also the only major resort south of Seoul (it is located S.E. of Daejeon in North Jeolla Province).
If you take the train from Seoul Station to Yeongdong Station, it is a reasonable trip by local shuttle bus (daytime hours only) or taxi if you are traveling with friends.
As far as I am aware, Muju also has the only real Nordic ski terrain in Korea – a 48 km jaunt from Muju to Chonju.
Almost all the way to Yongpyong it is known as the most snowboard-friendly resort among Korean boarders. Some great runs, but again really only accessible by car or shuttle bus.
At an elevation of 1050m, it boasts the Aerial course and the Champion lift with the rather ambitiously named Mount Blanc lodge perched on the highest peak.
Alpensia Ski Resort will be featured in the upcoming 2018 Winter Olympics, so get there before it becomes too crowded! It offers six slopes specialized for snowboarding that features an advanced snowboarder area to practice your skills, as well as a 1.4km slope for beginners and intermediate-level skiers.
It has a few steep runs, a unique location, plenty of accommodations in the nearby town and is totally rail-accessible.
There is ice-climbing on nearby frozen waterfalls for those who want a bit more of an adrenaline rush mixed in with their skiing/boarding. The train for Gangcheon departs from either Cheongnyangni or Seongbuk Station.
When you get off the train, turn right to go into town. The local shuttle buses or taxis will get you to the hill in short order. Restaurants and rental shops in Gangcheon are quite good.
It has some fun slopes, a great setup, and it seems to be a venue for evening outdoor concerts. If you get the train to Wonju station and there are 3 or 4 of you, it is only 20-30 minutes by taxi or local shuttle bus (daytime hours only) to the resort.
It has an international scale half-pipe and boardwalk Consisting of length 180m, width 17m (lip to lip), height 6m, and slope 16.5 degrees, Hyundai Sungwoo Resort’s half-pipe is recognized by everyone as being created at an international scale.
Hotels are only a short walk away. At an elevation of about 900 m, the more advanced pistes are short but sweet.
It has been noted for being the most visited ski resort in Korea for seven consecutive years. It has its state-of-the art facilities and slopes suitable for all levels and yet more facilities are newly installed every year to maintain its reputation.
Also near Seoul (only 45 minutes away), it is the closest and largest resort in the metropolitan region. It has recently become a huge all-season venue (including giant outdoor swimming pools).
Bears Town Resort is a Seoul suburban ski resort that has advanced leisure culture. It takes about 50 minutes from Seoul.
This one has a fair bit of variety. The surrounding neighbourhood features local hot springs and some great country-style restaurants, but there are most definitely no bear sightings. It is a bit of a drive (shuttle bus available), but it’s not too far.
Oak Valley Ski Resort | Wonju-si, Gangwon-do
This resort recently had a makeover, which will perhaps soon be the by-line of a Korean reality TV show. It is close to Wonju and therefore rail-accessible. A fairly short cab ride from Wonju Station (or local shuttle bus – daytime hours only) will put you at this resort.
Before you head out to the slopes for some skiing/snow-boarding, here are a few suggestions so that you may maximize your time and enjoyment:
When To Go
- Resorts generally start to open mid to late November.
- The peak season for skiing is from December 15th to February 15th. Good skiing can be had before or after these dates, but the shuttle bus services are scaled down.
- Weekends between 1 – 3 p.m. are super crowded, especially on the beginner and intermediate runs.
Bus: While the shuttle bus systems are efficient, allow a lot more time for returning to Seoul than it takes to get to the resort.
Jamsil Station is the central feeder point for all Seoul-area shuttle buses heading to the mountains. The buses leave very early in the morning – just after last call for some revelers.
Train: If the resort is rail-accessible, pick the train every time.
Remember, most resorts have nearby hotels/yeogwans with beds or Korean-style mats
If you’re with a large group and don’t want to share beds, the Korean-style yo can be a good option. You’ll all be sleeping on the floor, but you’ll have your own cushion and comforter.
If sleeping on the floor doesn’t appeal to you (or more importantly, your back), then make sure to request a room with a bed.
The resort/hotel restaurants usually offer pretty decent Western-style breakfast buffets to meet your energy needs for the day.
- If you can head out of town by rail or perhaps express intercity bus the night before and grab an inexpensive yeogwan/pension/hotel near the resort of your choice, a good night’s sleep is more probable and therefore you will have a more energetic and satisfying day out on the boards.
- The cost for a full day’s skiing plus rental equipment and return transportation will run you about W80,000 – W100,000.
- Bring photo ID of some sort if you are renting gear.
- Keep in mind that there are many rental shops in the vicinity of each ski station. If you organize rentals outside of the ski resort, most times they will drive you to the hill and pick you up afterwards.
- Ask a Korean friend to check websites for you to find good deals on some top notch gear. Also ski hills are open all hours of the day and night, so skiing/boarding in four hour increments is likely possible at most spots.
- Most of the areas have a wide variety of amenities and events to keep you occupied if you want to ski for a day and take the next afternoon/day off.
- Naturally, all resorts have professional lessons and first aid centres staffed by qualified personnel. Specialty winter sports shops in Korea sell the latest European/International ski and snowboard gear if you wish to purchase your own equipment.
- If you are a rookie snowboarder, please wear wrist guards (roller-blade wrist pads are fine) and the hip/butt custom foam-cushion belt available at most rental shops.
- The best protection from injury is to start your exercise/training program now so that your body is ready for the twists, turns and falls that inevitably accompany any good ski day.
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