The XXIII Olympic Winter Games will be taking place in PyeongChang, Gangwon Province in the Republic of South Korea in less than four months, followed closely by the Paralympic Winter Games in March 2018.
From 9-25 February 2018, more than 3000 athletes from around the world will be competing in 102 events covering 15 sports with a chance to earn a gold, silver or bronze medal for their countries. For 2018, six new events have been added to the schedule, including a team event for alpine skiing, mixed doubles curling and men’s and women’s big air for snowboarding.
Over the course of the Winter Olympics, circa 40,000 people will be travelling to South Korea to watch the phenomenon unfold and support the athletes and their country.
However, for those skiers and snowboarders who fancy exploring the slopes of South Korea in peace, why not head there before the Olympic Winter Games with Ski Safari?
Ski Safari launched South Korea as a destination in the winter of 2014/2015, and has since seen many inquisitive skiers head to the host resorts.
Richard Rice, Founder and Chairman of Ski Safari, says: “It’s a great opportunity for skiers to visit the resorts pre-games to get a feel for what our athletes will experience. From all the news about the Olympic Winter Games, it sounds like the skiers and snowboarders from Great Britain are in top shape and ready to compete for medals. Let’s hope we see our athletes standing on the podium in 2018”.
The Olympic Winter Games will be held in Korea for the first time in nearly 30 years after the Seoul Olympic Games took place in 1988. PyeongChang will be the stage for the opening and closing ceremonies and most snow sports. More than 150 medals are up for grabs: alpine speed events will take place in Jeongseon in Yongpyong, whilst snowboarding and jumping events will be at Phoenix Park and all ice sports will be battled out in the coastal city of Gangneung.
When asked about South Korea, it’s not necessarily the skiing and snowboarding opportunities that spring to mind. Instead, people think of the world-renowned technology brands Samsung or Hyundai, ancient and historic Buddhist temples, fermented kimchi or even K-pop with Korean rapper Psy, whose horse dance track ‘Gangnam Style’ became a world-wide internet sensation.
However, over the past four years, the country’s profile as a world-class winter sports destination has been raised. Ski Safari features the resorts of Yongpyong and Phoenix Park, with skiing also available at the resort of Alpensia, and is the only UK tour operator to offer ski holidays in South Korea.
It’s easy to reach the resorts from Seoul, the capital of South Korea. By car, it is a mere two and a half hours drive, plus a brand-new high speed train line, linking Seoul to PyeongChang has been completed. The new track will allow trains to travel at speeds up to 300 kph (184 mph) from Seoul Incheon Airport direct to PyeongChang, in just 69 minutes.
The ski season in South Korea runs from mid-November to March, and this season, Ski Safari is offering a range of holidays from 20 November 2017 until 20 January 2018.
Yongpyong is the most Alpine feeling resort. It is the oldest resort in South Korea, and home to a huge base area and varied skiing comprising 15 chairlifts and 31 pistes. Dragon’s Peak, which can be found at the top of the Rainbow gondola at 1,458 m, is where most of the skiing action will take place in the XXIII Olympic Winter Games. The gondola, covering a distance of 3.7 km, whisks skiers up the mountain and gives them easy access to all the slopes and the Dragon Park, which offers all levels of skiers the best conditions for showing off their technique. Accommodation options range from the centrally located Dragon Valley Hotel, the main hotel in Yongpyong Resort, to traditional Korean-style accommodation (Ondol rooms). Entertainment is on site with neon bowling alleys, the Tower Plaza amusement and food complex and the indoor Peak Island Water Park with water flumes, family zones and a spa. Stay seven-nights, including five nights’ accommodation at the 3*+ Dragon Valley Hotel in Yongpyong and two nights at the 4* Center Mark Hotel in Seoul from £1395 pp (based on two adults sharing). Price includes return flights with British Airways and transfers.
For more information please visit www.skisafari.com or call 01273 224 067.
Phoenix Park, located less than three hours from Seoul, is a fun, lively resort with 21 slopes and will play host to numerous events during the Games, including Ski Moguls, Aerials and Ski Cross, as well as Snowboarding for the Parallel Giant Slalom, Snowboard Cross and half pipe. Aptly named Mont Blanc, the top of the resort is situated at 1,050 m and offers spectacular views of Mt Taegisan. Phoenix Park offers everything, from child -friendly tubing parks to night skiing. The resort is open daily from 8.30 am to 4 pm, with night skiing too. Situated at the base of the slopes, the Phoenix Park Hotel & Condos allows guests easy access to the mountain and resort facilities. The main hotel building has rooms decorated in Western and Ondol style. Stay seven-nights, including five nights’ accommodation at the 3*+ Phoenix Park Hotel & Condos in Phoenix Park and two nights at the 4* Center Mark Hotel in Seoul, for £1495 pp (based on two adults sharing). Price includes return flights with British Airways and transfers.
For more information please visit www.skisafari.com or call 01273 224 067.
Both resorts also have high-end water parks that are full of exciting amusement facilities, as well as luxurious spa facilities including a jjimjilbang (steam sauna room).
City Add on
Staying in South Korea is about trying something new in terms of cities and skiing. Home to 11.5 million inhabitants, Seoul is Korea’s ancient yet modern capital. Peppered with many UNESCO World Heritage Sites, there are many places to explore. Think magnificent buildings such as the Royal Palace, bustling traditional food markets and high-end shopping malls with pulsing neon lights. Alternatively, sample the high life by taking a ride in the Namsan cable car to the N Seoul Tower, which offers captivating views over the city. The authentic Korean atmosphere is found in Jongno (Bell Street) one of Seoul’s most important financial and cultural areas, while its back alleys are lined with traditional teahouses and Korean restaurants. It’s been more than 60 years since the outbreak of the Korean War and the drawing of the 155 mile cease-fire line along the 38th parallel, which created the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). Visit the underground tunnels that were intercepted by the South Koreans and learn about the fascinating history at the Dorasan Observatory.
Korean culture is quite unique in its approach to food. Food seems to permeate every aspect of life. Don’t leave without trying Korea’s national dish, kimchi, a traditional side made from salted and fermented vegetables. Here, cabbage leaves are coated in a delicious spicy mix of hot pepper flakes, garlic, chives, onion, pear juice and more. It lasts for months and is also used as the base for many other dishes such as kimchi stews and even as a filling for Kimbap (Korean sushi). Kimchi is such an important dish in Korea that it is eaten with breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Other traditional dishes include the wonderfully tasty Bibimbap, Pajeon pancakes, and Bulgogi.
The flight from London to Sapporo (in Japan) via Seoul, also makes it easy to combine South Korea’s capital city and the Olympic slopes with Hokkaido’s renowned powder skiing. Ski Safari’s Ski Asia Safari will appeal to those in search of big snow and a new experience in South Korea.
Niseko is in Hokkaido, the north island of Japan, about two hours from Sapporo. Some of the lightest and deepest powder in the world falls here, presenting a superb opportunity to ski 12 – 15 metres of powder on extinct volcanoes; its western position is perfectly placed to receive weather straight from freezing Siberia. Ski Asia Safari: South Korea and Japan – Seoul, Yongpyong and Niseko. This 14-night ski safari, including accommodation at the 3*+ Dragon Valley Hotel in Yongpyong, the 4* CenterMark Hotel in Seoul and the 3*+ Hirafu Apartments in Niseko costs from £2,195 pp (based on two adults sharing). Price includes direct return flights with Korean Air and transfers. For more information please visit www.skisafari.com or call 01273 224 067