World-class attractions, a variety of experience tours, unique shopping finds, plus warm dishes to satisfy any foodie make South Korea a must-visit destination during winter. South Korea's coldest season kicks off in December and ends in February when icy winds from Siberia usher in chilly, dry weather with temperatures that range from an average of -6 to 3 degrees Celsius to as low as -10 degrees.
Winter in South Korea offers a unique experience you won't get anywhere else. The season paints a wide variety of picturesque scenes and offers travel experiences that leave a mark beyond the gram.
Read on for our list of six super fun activities to add to your SoKor Winter itinerary:
1. Go ice skating at Seoul Plaza.
Location: 110, Sejong-daero, Jung-gu, Seoul
How to get there: Take the subway and get off at Exit 6 of City Hall Station (Seoul Subway Line 1 or 2)
On December 21, the Seoul Plaza Ice Rink opened its doors to the public for the very first time in three years. The full moon-shaped rink right beside Seoul City Hall has one rink for beginners (and a free training program on skating safety) and one rink for advanced skaters. Fees are 1,000 Korean won per hour inclusive of skate rental. Don't forget to bring your own gloves!
2. Embrace Winter Sonata vibes at Nami Island.
Location: 1 Namisum-gil, Namsan-myeon, Chuncheon, Gangwon-do, South Korea.
Nami Island's ethereal vibe and breathtaking natural landscape make it a top spot to visit during the winter. Though it's cold outside, tourists and locals flock to the crescent-shaped island to witness how it transforms into a fairy-tale wonderland filled with amazing snow sculptures and Christmas decors. Photo zones are peppered around the island commemorating key scenes in the drama Winter Sonata, which to this date still holds a special spot in K-drama fans' hearts.
The most hassle-free way to get to Nami Island is to book a day tour via travel experiences service providers like Kkday, Trazy, or Klook. Package options range from roundtrip shuttle bus services from Seoul sans entrance fees to whole day tour packages bundled with other attractions such as Garden of Morning Calm, Petite France, Gangchon Rail Bike, Alpaca World, and Legoland Korea Resort.
3. Venture outside Seoul to ski, snowboard, or sled.
How to get there: For a hassle-free experience bundled with roundtrip transfers from and to Seoul, check out deals on Trazy, Klook or Kkday.
Experiencing winter sports like skiing, snowboarding, or sledding when traveling to South Korea during the Winter is a must. If you aren't the adventurous type, you can also opt to sit back and enjoy the amazing view of snow-covered hills while riding a gondola. Here are some top ski resorts for beginners that are worth exploring:
- Yongpyong Ski Resort - Equipped with 28 slopes, Yongpyong is Korea's biggest ski and snowboard resort. It hosted the Alpine Skiing event in the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics and is known for Dragon Peak, the resort's most scenic spot which was where Gong Yoo and Kim Go Eun shared a romantic K-drama moment in Goblin.
- Vivaldi Park Ski World - Vivaldi Park's key feature is its close proximity to Seoul (it's only 1.5 kilometers away!). K-Dramas like That Winter The Wind Blows and Legend Of The Blue Sea were also shot here. The resort has 12 slopes catering to winter sports enthusiasts with different levels of experience.
- Elysian Gangchon Ski Resort - Elysian is the only ski resort accessible via subway (Gyeongchun Line) or train (ITX-Cheongchun). Its close proximity to attractions such as Nami Island, Garden of the Morning Calm, and Petite France makes it a great option for day-trippers who want to explore the resort during the first half of the day and explore other attractions right after.
4. Visit the Starlight Garden Festival at the Garden of Morning Calm.
Location: 432, Sumogwon-ro, Gapyeong-gun, Gyeonggi-do
How to get there: For a hassle-free experience bundled with roundtrip transfers from and to Seoul, check out deals on Trazy, Klook, or Kkday.
Witness a festival of lights at the Garden of Morning Calm's biggest event. The arboretum's yearly Starlight Garden Festival is the OG of all light festivals in South Korea. It was the first Korean tourist attraction to accentuate the beauty of its natural surroundings with LED lights spanning a vast area of 330 square meters. The festival, which began on December 9 and lasts till March 19, 2023, offers visitors illuminated photo zones that will be the envy of your followers and friends.
5. Treat your taste buds to Korean winter snacks.
Comfort food is the best way to fuel your body as you travel around South Korea during the Winter. Here are five must-try faves among tourists and locals:
- Hotteok - a sweet Korean pancake infused with cinnamon and syrup. Served hot and crunchy, hotteok is often sold in streets and parks. Trust us! We guarantee that this treat will give you a boost of energy and satisfy your sweet tooth.
- Eomuk (aka Odeng) tang- fishcake on a skewer served with a cup of warm broth. This street food staple is also one of the most affordable and is often paired with tteokbokki.
- Tteokbokki - stir-fried rice cake smothered in sweet and spicy gochujang (red chili paste). The chewy texture of the rice cake and the burst of flavor in its sauce make tteokbokki a mouthwatering favorite.
- Bungeoppang - a carp fish-shaped bread made of butter and eggs. Its crust surrounds a hidden layer of red bean paste that explodes with every bite.
- Gungoguma - South Korea's roasted sweet potato is a healthy snack that fills you with warmth as you unwrap the sheet of paper it is served in and peels your way to a tender, creamy filling.
6. See Lotte World Adventure transform into a fantasy Santa Village.
Location: 240, Olympic-ro, Songpa-gu, Seoul.
How to get there: Take the subway and get off at Jamsil Station (Seoul Subway Line 2 or 8) and head for Exit 4
Experience remarkable indoor Christmas installations and attractions at Lotte World Adventure. Anchored on this year's theme: "Miracle Winter," you'll experience light displays, performances, and activities (like a Santa meet-and-greet) that celebrate the festive holidays.
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