International Ski Trip 2017 at Yongpyong Resort

Every semester, there are hundreds of exchange and visiting students flying from all over the world to Hanyang University (한양대학교). No matter where you go, it is important to feel welcomed and find a sense of belonging in a new environment. I was lucky to have gone on this trip organized by students for students just like myself, to welcome us to this warm-hearted city during the cold winter season. Though South Korea may not be the first country in your mind when it comes to winter sports, its resorts and abundance of snow is well-renown for ski and snowboard lovers. Moreover, Pyeongchang (평창) is to host the coming Winter Olympics 2018, so I suggest you go get a head jump start on the slopes of Yongpyong (용평), the most famous ski resort in South Korea, before the Olympic Games ascend.

The Yongpyong Resort (용평리조트) is located at the center of the Mt. Balwangsan (발왕산), in Pyeongchang, Gangwon-do (강원도). It is Korea’s largest ski and snowboard resort with a left-served summit at 1,458 meters (4,783 ft) above sea level. With an average of 250cm of snow every year, and an average temperature of -6 C, you can enjoy skiing or snowboarding from November until early April, only located about 3 hours away from Seoul. Some of its main features includes its 28 slopes, its 3.7km (2.3mi) long gondola, its waterpark, and its Dragon Plaza, (Korea’s largest ski house)[1].

Yongpyong Resort has hosted many international competitions such as the 1999 Asian Winter Games, the IPC Disabled Alpine World Cup, and the 2009 Biathlon World Championships. It will also be hosting the technical alpine skiing events of slalom and giant slalom at the 2018 Winter Olympics and 2018 Winter Paralympics in Pyeongchang. Consequently, Yongpyong is one of the most popular ski resorts for tourists.

 

Ski Slopes:

For skiers and snowboarders, or anyone who wants to learn, there are 28 open slopes and 14 cable lifts at Yongpyong. Difficulties range from “Beginner” to “Extreme”, so all levels are welcomed[2].

Ski Slopes at the base

 

Gondola:

Yongpyong Resort’s gondola tour, which stretches over Asia’s longest course of 7.4km, offers a breathtaking view of Mt. Balwangsan, the 13th highest mountain in South Korea[3]. Once you reach to the top of the mountain, there is a Swiss style building called the “Dragon Peak” where you can relax and enjoy a cup of coffee, or take up the challenge of hiking alongside the Mt. Balwangsan’s trail road, where you will be able to observe different species of trees, and maybe find one that looks like you!

View of Dragon Peak

Top of the mountain

 

View from above of the gondola

 

Waterpark

At Yongpyong Resort, you can enjoy a summer-style waterpark even during the winter times. Peak Island is the indoor waterpark where the interior is decorated with a winter-like style. Its main features include a series of themed pools, outdoor waterslides, and even an assortment of hot tubs with different colored, scented and therapeutic water. I really recommend sitting in these outdoor Jacuzzis with snow-covered surroundings, and bright-shining sun! This is not an experience to miss.

Outdoor view of waterpark

 

Outdoor view of waterpark

 

Facilities at the Resort

In case you are wondering what to do for food, drinks, and leisure, the resort has a large variety of cafes, drinking places, restaurants and convenience stores where you can enjoy a light snack or a full meal. For food, there is a BBQ chicken and pizza place, a Korean family restaurant, a noodles restaurant called 국수나무 (GooksuNamu), an Angel-in-us café, and many more[4]. If you want to have a few drinks with friends, I personally recommend the Sports bar “Dragon Strike”, located on the B1 floor of the Tower Plaza, which has a bowling, karaoke, games, and billiards area all in one place. If you want to cook for yourself, there is a supermarket located at the Tower Plaza as well.

Inside Dragon Strike Sports Bar

 

Important things to know

Below are some important things you need to know before planning your trip:

  • Lodging: There is a hotel/condomnium at the resort where you can book for up to 6 people. However, a most cost-saving alternative is to stay at the 유스호스텔 (Youth Hostel) right next to the resort. This hostel is recommended if you are going with your family or in groups between 7 and 20 people. If you are coming from a western country like me, you must know that the Korean hostels do not have bed mattresses; instead you will use Korean-style mattresses on heated floor. It is a very authentic experience to try! You can also do your own cooking at the hostel, and store food in the fridge.
  • Costs: Since we were a large group of students, the costs were at reduced price. The entire trip including transportation, 2 nights, one dinner, one breakfast, gear and clothes rental, and a half-day ski pass comes to around 155,000won. The half-day pass is valid either from 8:30 am to 12:30 pm or from 12:00pm to 4:30 pm. If you want to go up the gondola and go to the waterpark, it will cost around 30,000won more. This price is about 50% cheaper than if you were to go on your own, so I recommend going with a big group of people. Another way to save costs if to bring your own equipment, but if it is too much of a hassle, just remember to bring your own ski googles since they are quite expensive to buy at the resort!
  • For beginners: If you are a beginner and would like to take lessons, there are personal or group ski and snowboard lessons available as well[5].

 

[1] Retrieved from Imagine your Korea. Destinations by Region. http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/ATR/SI_EN_3_1_1_1.jsp?cid=264190

[2] Retrieved from YongPyong. Yong Pyong Resort in Winter. http://www.yongpyong.co.kr/eng/index.do

[3] Retrieved from YongPyong. Gondola. https://www.yongpyong.co.kr/eng/leisure/gondola.do

[4] Retrieved from YongPyong. Restaurant.https://www.yongpyong.co.kr/eng/facilities/food/restaurant.do

[5] Retrieved from YongPyong. Ski & Snowboard.  https://www.yongpyong.co.kr/eng/skiNboard/ypSkiSchool.do

 

Article by Ruby from Canada

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