Move over Seoul, it's time for Pyeongchang to shine! This vastly underrated county is the name on everyone's lips, ever since it was announced as the host of the 2018 Winter Olympics and the 2018 Winter Paralympics?
Aside from being the go-to destination for all things winter sports, Pyeongchang is bursting with rich culture, fun local festivals and of course, towering mountains with the most amazing views? Think of it as the more laid-back, less congested cousin of Seoul? If you're looking for more reasons to visit this great county, read on!
Travelling from Seoul
Pyeongchang is a 2-3 hour drive (depending on the traffic) away from Seoul, but the great news is that there'll be a new KTX line opening in June, connecting the two places! Instead, the journey will take only 1.5 hours.
1. Learn the art of traditional Korean cooking
Fans of traditional Korean cuisine definitely shouldn't give this a miss! Enroll yourself in one of the many cooking classes held at Jeonggangwon
and whip up traditional dishes like tteokbokki
(stir-fried rice cakes), bibimbap
(Korean mixed rice), kimchi
Otherwise known as the Korea Traditional Food Culture Experience Centre, you'll be in the trusty hands of experienced ahjummas
who'll be guiding you every step of the way. They'll definitely make an amateur chef out of you?
Ensure that you request for the vegetarian versions of the dishes you'd like to prepare. Do note that these dishes are not halal-certified so we advise that you consume at your own discretion.
2. Experience the winter of a lifetime❄️
With temperatures dropping to as low as -12 °C in the winter, you can certainly expect fluffy, white blankets of snow covering every single inch of land in Pyeongchang. Winter sports are also a cult favourite amongst locals and tourists alike and the county meets the demands of its people with a multitude of fully equipped ski resorts.
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The view of Alpensia Ski Resort from above[/caption]
Credit: @felixongkf on Instagram
Have a snowballing
good time skiing and snowboarding down high slopes, build your own little snowman or simply have a good old fashioned snowball fight with your loved ones!
Credit: @iammiyeon on Instagram
One of Pyeongchang's most famous resorts, Alpensia Ski Resort, has a prayer room at the lobby for Muslim guests to fulfill their prayers?
3. Be a part of history at the 2018 Winter Olympics & Paralympics And of course, we just had to mention the upcoming 2018 Winter Olympics & Paralympics! The first winter games
to ever be held in South Korea, Pyeongchang previously lost the bid to both Canada and Russia before clinching the coveted slot in 2011.
Even though the games will take place from 9-25 Feb 2018, the county is already warming up for the onslaught of rabid sports fans, building huge multi-million stadiums and renovating existing ski centers to accommodate the massive crowds interested in witnessing history in the making.
The winter events are divided into 3; snow, ice and sliding sports. Sports include alpine skiing, curling, ice hockey and bobsleigh!
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The official mascots; Soohorang and Bandabi![/caption]
Tickets for the games are on sale, for those residing in Korea. No word on when the tickets will be released for sale in Asia but you can check out the official website
for more information?
4. Festivals galore!
Festivals are all the rage in Pyeongchang and we're not talking about Coachella? Festivals like the Pyeongchang Trout Festival and Hyoseok Cultural Festival aim to celebrate the rich culture and history the county has to offer?
Credit: @rosie.nyc on Instagram Straight out of an episode of Survivors, you'll have the chance to catch live trout! The whole lake freezes over in winter so you'll have to
carve out small holes in the ice and strategically place your lures. If you're feeling a little more adventurous, why not try bare-handed fishing? Though, we can't guarantee that your fingers will stay intact after submerging it in icy cold water?
Credit: @hyangsun.g on Instagram
Seafood doesn't get any fresher than this! Once you caught your trout, visit a nearby restaurant and ask them to prepare a simple but hearty meal for you? Nothing's more rewarding than (literally) eating the fruits of your labour?
Credit: @ipsaeko on Instagram
For the more artsy souls, the Hyoseok Cultural Festival commemorates modern Korean writer Lee Hyo-seok and his popular novel "When Buckwheat Flowers Bloom". Take part in their National Hyo-seok Essay Competition or Lee Hyo-seok Literature Night whilst admiring the gorgeous surrounding landscape?
Check out major festivals like the Daegwallyeong Snow Festival
and 2018 PyeongChang K-Pop Festival
5. Have a zenful stay at Woljeongsa Temple
We all need a break from the hustle and bustle of city-life and there's really no better place to collect your thoughts than Woljeongsa Temple! This Buddhist temple located on Odaesan Mountain offers temple stay programmes for those tired souls in need of rejuvenation.
Depending on how much time you're willing to spend there, you can opt for
a half day temple life experience or a 2 day 1 night stay.
One of the things that you'll get to do is to make a wooden beaded necklace, similar to the ones you'll see on monks. However, as per Buddhist practices, after stringing each individual bead, you'll have to take a bow. There are 100 beads in total, so be warned, you're in for a bit of a work out?
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The colorful lanterns that were hung to commemorate Buddha's birthday[/caption]
If you're on a tight schedule and can't afford a temple stay, be rest assured that even a short walk on the peaceful and serene temple grounds would be enough to soothe any troubled heart?
6. A refuge for hiking enthusiasts and nature lovers
With 84% of Pyeongchang's territory comprising of mountains, it's the perfect retreat for hiking enthusiasts and nature lovers alike! Inhale the crisp, sweet mountain air whilst taking in the beauty of the world that our Lord has created?
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An aerial view of Gyebangsan Mountain![/caption]
Credit: @o.ootter on Instagram Gyebangsan Mountain and Mount Seoraksan are the top hiking destinations in Pyeongchang, especially in autumn, when the leaves change color and transforms
the terrain into a kaleidoscopic nature wonderland?
Credit: @uhm_m on Instagram
Remember to wear proper hiking shoes as the terrains can get a little slippery!
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Feel like you're on top of the world?[/caption]
Credit: @rasibenazir on Instagram
7. Have a splashing good time at Yongpyong Water Park
Winter sports are great and all, but not everyone can handle the bitter cold⛄️ Nestled within Peak Island, Yongpyong Water Park offers a much warmer experience that's perfect for the whole family!
Credit: Yongpyong Resort on Facebook
Facilities include a beach and kids' pool, sweat chamber, fun slides, saunas and more! Oh, and if you end up missing the sight of fluttering snowflakes, there's even a waterfall ice cave?
Credit: @sungeun82 on Instagram
BONUS: Day Trip To Gangneung
Just an hour away from Pyeongchang, lies the sleepy, simple city of Gangneung. If you're around the area in spring, get ready to chase the most exquisite cherry blossoms at the Gyeongpo Cherry Blossom Festival?
Oh, and don't forget to stop by Jumunjing Fish Market for the freshest seafood this side of Korea! Try your hand at haggling prices with the slightly intimidating but seasoned stall vendors and snag the best seafood deals?
Once you've gotten your bag of spoils, approach any nearby vendor
and ask them to whip up a simple meal for you. Piping hot seafood barbecue right off the grill? Yes please?
I had such a blast exploring Pyeongchang and other cities like Gangneung, thanks again to KTO Singapore for inviting us on this media trip? Oh, and you can bet that I'm definitely going back for more! Have I convinced you to visit Pyeongchang? Let us know in the comments below??