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11 MORE Places to Visit in Korea during Winter

Just when I thought it might be getting the slightest bit warmer here in Seoul, Mother Nature went and blasted us with temps so cold, I was afraid to leave the house. To add insult to injury, we awoke a few days ago to the drabbest of skies and a severe pollution alert.

That doesn’t mean you should hibernate till the cherry blossoms bloom though (no matter how tempting it is). There’s plenty of activities that you can ONLY do during winter, so throw on your long padding coat and your vogmask and venture forth bravely into the frostiest of Korea’s seasons.

If you missed it the first time around, be sure to check out my original post on 11 Things to do in Korea this winter, for more cold weather ideas and activities.

GET YOUR SPORT ON

Don’t turn into a couch potato watching the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, when there’s tons of sporting options you can get involved in yourself. A Seoul winter is the perfect time to try out something new!

Ice Skating

In Seoul, you can take your pick from a huge range of municipal, university, indoor, or hotel skating rinks with prices ranging from a few thousand won to upwards of 40,000 KRW.

But I’ve got my eye on the newly opened ice rink at Seoul’s very own spaceship in the city, the Dongdaemun Design Plaza. Opened in partnership with Hyundai Motor Company and Pyeongchang 2018, the ice rink is open until February 25th from 1:30-9:30, every day except Monday, as part of the Hyundai Live Site which aims to pump up Olympic spirit in the city.

[2018 평창 현대 라이브 사이트] 서울에서 2018 평창 동계올림픽 대회의 열기를 느낄 수 있는 특별한 공간,🤗 2018 평창 현대 라이브 사이트가 #DDP #어울림광장 을 중심으로 펼쳐져요❄️ 평창올림픽을 도심에서 색다르게 즐겨보세요⛸⛸ #디디피아이스링크 #예약폭주중 #2018평창 #PyeongChang2018 #Livesite #Lightup . – ✔ 일시 : ~ 2018.2.25(일), 13:30 ~ 21:30, 월요일 휴무 ✔ 장소 : DDP 어울림 광장 일대 ✔ 프로그램 : Light Up 아이스 링크 체험 및 스테이지 관람 ✔ 자세한 내용은 홈페이지 참고 > https://lightupyourenergy.co.kr/live_site/ – DDP will set up the PyeongChang 2018 Hyundai Live Site, a special place right here in Seoul to help visitors feel the passion brimming over at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, at Oullim Square and other surrounding areas across DDP. Enjoy the PyeongChang Winter Olympics in a unique way at the heart of the city.

A post shared by Dongdaemun Design Plaza (@ddp_seoul) on

It’s totally free to enter, but limited to 50 people per hour (25 on a walk-up basis). Skates and gloves can be rented on site for 1000KRW each, and coin lockers are available for 500KRW. Get there by taking Exit 1 at the Dongdaemun History and Culture Park Station.

Ensure a spot on the rink by making a reservation for your ideal time and date.

Ice Climbing

There are a plethora of options for sledding, snowboarding and skiing in the country, and even a basic online search will yield a million results. But how about trying ice climbing for something new. With its mountainous terrain, Korea has climbs for all levels where you can try this challenging sport.

Sanirang offers beginner ice climbing courses for individuals who have never climbed before. It’s pricey, but it might start you on a lifetime of adventure, scaling heights you never thought possible.

READ MORE:  11 Things to Do in Korea this Winter

ESCAPE THE COLD

Visit a VR Game Cafe

It’s no surprise that virtual reality game cafes are popping up left, right and centre in a country so hell-bent on technological advancement. Yes, you might look like a fool while playing, but you definitely won’t be cold.

There’s a lot of VR game cafes to choose from, but if you want a little privacy while fighting demons, chopping fruit (yes, Fruit Ninja in VR), or kart racing, try the VRIZ VR Game Cafe, which has locations all over the city.

There, you can book private rooms for 20,000 -30,000KRW/hour, depending on the number of people playing.

Eat at a Food Court with a View at Sky31 Food Avenue

If you’ve wanted to get inside Korea’s tallest building and the Seoul Sky Observatory, but can’t stomach the 27,000KRW ticket price to go all the way to the top, you can head up to the new Sky31 Food Avenue instead.

Sure, its 31st floor location is a long way down from the 124th, but you’ll still get incredible views of the city and Han River, totally free of charge. Just visit the information desk on the first floor of the Tower, and obtain a pass card that allows you access to the building and the 31st floor.

MORE SPARKLING LIGHTS

Shimmering lights in a rainbow of colours aren’t just for Christmas in Korea. You can see lighting festivals for the entire winter season in Korea. Here’s a few more options.

Petite France Korea Lighting Festival

From December 1st – February 28th, Petite France Korea will do its best imitation of Montpellier, with fairy tale lights strung throughout the village.

Ticket prices range from 5,000 (child) – 8,000KRW (adult). Find more performance and transport info on their website.

READ MORE:  Calling all Expats in Seoul! The Suncheon Bay Walking Festival Wants You!

Boseong Green Tea Plantation Light Festival (보성차밭 빛축제)

Located in the south of the country, the Boseong Green Tea Plantation is wonderful to see in every season, but starting from December 16th, the entire plantation gets a festive facelift with twinkling lights and sculptures adorning its fields.

If you arrive before dark, take in views of the tall cedar trees and nearby bamboo forest while sipping a green tea, or matcha latte (of course).

Find more info on their website (Korean only).

Department Stores

If traveling out of the city is a distant dream for you, you can still see incredible light displays at all the Hyundai and Lotte Department stores. Each year, the displays seem to get more and more extravagant. The best part is that they’re absolutely free to check out.

The Lotte World Tower next to Jamsil subway station has an over-the-top display with literally thousands and thousands of bulbs, a huge Christmas tree, and lights strung up over a full 2 block length.

MORE WINTER FESTIVALS

So many festivals, so little time. Here’s a few options that DON’T involve ice-fishing. 😉

1st Ever Snowman Festival at Nami Island

Nami Island will be transformed into a Snowman Village until February 2018. During its inaugural Snowman Festival, visitors will be able to sled, bobsleigh, curl and slide their way across the island. With an icebreaker crossing the frozen Bukhangang, an ice carving competition and an ice-wall photo zone planned, you’re sure to find something to entertain you.

To learn how to go to Nami Island, check out this LINK.

Taebaeksan Snow Festival (태백산 눈축제)

Taking place this winter from January 19th – February 11th, this festival takes over tiny former coal boom town Taebaek City, and its namesake mountain Taebaeksan, with non-stop winter activities.

This is the festival to go to for large scale snow sculptures, sledding, and hiking.

Visit their website HERE. (Korean only)

REJUVENATE YOURSELF

The changing of seasons in Korea is so definitive, it’s violent. And the transition from autumn’s crisp, blue skies, warm days, and gorgeous leaves to the freezing winds and negative temperatures of Korea’s insanely cold winter might be the worst of all.

READ MORE:  Bitter, Sweet, Seoul

Here’s what you can do to rejuvenate mind and body from the brutality of winter.

Go for a Korean facial

The dry air and freezing winds of Seoul’s winter are seriously bad for the skin. There’s no better time to hop on the K-beauty bandwagon and pamper yourself with a super moisturizing facial than now. Added bonus: the heated bed you get to lie on while your skin is getting spoiled.

See where I go for super affordable facials in Seoul.

Visit a Jjimjilbang or Mogyoktang

A weekly visit to the humble neighbourhood mogyoktang or bath house is on most Koreans’ agendas, for relaxation, revitalization and a skin-bruising scrub. Consisting of hot tubs, saunas and a cold plunge pool, it’s an ideal way to recharge the body and spirit in the depths of a Seoul winter.

#현대문명 에 세상 놀랍고 신기한 꼬맹이들 #찜질방#jjimjilbang

A post shared by TinA (@mh0115011) on

A visit there is not for the faint of heart though, since the entire experience is enjoyed completely in the buff. If that thought is too much for you, you can check out a jjimjilbang, which offers both the naked bath house area PLUS a clothed area with various dry saunas and entertainment areas.

Some foreigner friendly jjimjilbangs in Seoul, you could try out include Dragon Hill Spa in Yongsan and Aquafield which has locations in both Goyang and Hanam Starfield malls.

Be sure to get your Korean sheep head on (양머리) and try some sikhye (식혜) while there. You’ll blend right in. 😉

Are there any other places in Korea to visit during winter? Have I missed anything? Add your tips in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you! <3

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49 Comments Post a comment
  1. Sha #

    Such exciting winter times but it just makes you lazy to go out really…hahaha 😄

    January 21, 2018
    • Haha that’s the truth! Though it’s much easier when the sky is at least blue. It’s been like Gotham City her the last few days. 🙁

      January 22, 2018
  2. Once again so many things to do in Korea in winter! Didn’t know climbing the icicles were a thing. You would have thought normal rock climbing on normal rocks were hard enough. But on the ice must be slippery and you probably need a certain level of fitness.

    If I’m not mistaken, that looks like The Little Prince at the lighting festival! So cool 😀 If I visited in Korea in winter I’d probably want to be indoors since I do not like cold one bit, lol.

    January 21, 2018
    • Yes! It is the Little Prince…and I think it might actually be called the Little Prince Lighting Festival. 🙂 Winter in Korea is sooooo cold too…somehow I feel much colder here, than I ever did in Canada, even though the temperatures are much lower there.

      You def need some special gear to climb those icicles, like shoes with spikes so you can dig in. For me, it looks really scary, but of course, Agri wants to try it out. 😉

      January 22, 2018
  3. Just mildly off-topic, but I had to LOL at the imitation of Montpellier. It reminded me of the story of a Chinese girl from one of our Asian offices whom I delivered a course to. She’d gotten to Paris to do a summer course, couldn’t find anything but a bed in a dorm in Seine-St-Denis and, coming from an idea of France that was pretty much that of the Pétite France park, she got the shock of her life.

    January 22, 2018
    • Haha, that’s not even the half of it. We also have full-on imitations of that famous horse fountain from Versailles, and the Fontana di Trevi at the Lotte Mall, a Paris Park (with a mini Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe), and a lot more that I’m not aware of I’m sure. But for that festival they went a step further and actually imported ALL the lights from Montpellier…trying to be more authentic I guess. :p

      But have you heard of Paris Syndrome? It’s actually a thing.

      January 22, 2018
      • Whoa, I just Google’d it and… I’m astonished! Never knew this thing existed, but I suppose it’s to be expected, it’s a little bit like for Italy, all that nonsense on the “dolce vita” and then you find yourself on a commuter train into Milan from the airport at peak time. Not so Dolce!

        January 22, 2018
        • It’s funny you mention Italy because that’s exactly how I felt the first time I entered Rome by train. I was totally shocked by all the graffiti and how run down everything looked. Fortunately, the historic centre more than made up for the rest, but dolce vita? Not quite… though the pastries are not bad. 😉

          January 22, 2018
          • Without descending too much into politics, Rome’s incredibly badly kept thanks to a new breed of “pseudo-politicians” who can only do populism, but even without them certain neighbourhoods would make Clichy-sous-Bois look positively gentrified. Google “Corviale” and see what I mean!

            January 23, 2018
            • I had never heard of neither – I don’t watch the news, and Europe seems a long, long way from Korea sometimes… but wow…def a different world. (and to think, we’re contemplating a move to Italy)…

              January 24, 2018
  4. I MIGHT have missed winter a teeny bit when I saw the ice rink, the icicles, and the snow there! Is your cold a wet cold, and that’s why it feels worse than a drier Canadian winter? I have been strangely chilly here in Houston when the temperatures dip a little, and I’ve survived 26 Chicago winters, so all I can attribute it to is the dampness that seeps into my bones.

    January 22, 2018
    • I thought that’s what it was – the humidity, but Koreans say that the winter is super dry…and my skin seems to agree. I can only think it’s the winds that we get from Siberia…but -5 never felt this bad when I was living in Canada. Maybe I’m just getting old…hahaha. 🙂

      January 22, 2018
  5. Many things to do during the winter! The ice climbing sounds a pretty cool thing to do 🙂

    January 24, 2018
    • Yeah, you never run out of things to do in Seoul that’s for sure. Ice climbing looks cool but also really scary!

      January 24, 2018
  6. My goodness that’s a lot of fabulous options! I love the idea of ice climbing and snow festivals. I remember a snow festival in a small town in Finland where I used to live, but I don’t know if they have any here in Poland – this blog post got me curious, so I will give it a search 🙂 Your daughter looks absolutely adorable in the last photo!
    Korea looks vibrant – I’d love to visit one day 🙂

    January 24, 2018
    • There are a ton of options in Korea in every season. You certainly never run out of things to do! But we’re going through a crazy cold snap right, with a wind chill of -26! I’m scared to go outside. Haha. Let me know if you ever make it here – I’d love to meet up in person! 🙂

      January 26, 2018
      • Wow -26 is indeed brutal.. Here in Poland it was up to -10 last week but this week it’s on the plus again and all the snow is gone. We’re having a bad winter hehe. I’ll surely let you know if I ever make it there – that’d be so fun! Thanks! 🙂

        January 26, 2018
  7. Great suggestions and proof that there’s always something going on. I love the idea of heading to the food courts and the festivals. What a vibrant place all year round! Thanks for sharing this on #MOndayEscapes

    January 25, 2018
    • There seems to be a festival SOMEWHERE in the country almost every single weekend… there’s no doubt that Koreans love their festivals. We’re going through a crazy cold snap with wind chills of -26, so all I can think about is getting into one of the saunas at a jjimjilbang or bath house! 🙂

      January 26, 2018
  8. heaps to do! i think i’d prefer Korea in the winter then in the humid summer!

    January 25, 2018
    • I also prefer winter to summer here… at least the skies are usually super clear and the air is good in winter. But if you ever visit, def come in fall – like October. It’s the best time hands-down! 🙂

      January 26, 2018
  9. The plantation light festival looks absolutely amazing! Wow! So does the ice climbing, though I could never get the courage to do it. I am constantly going through things to do during the winter where I live as well, because I hate being cooped up inside. All of these activities are a great way to “get through” the winter. Thanks for linking up with #farawayfiles

    January 29, 2018
    • I haven’t made it there yet, but it’s definitely on my list of things to get to before the winter ends. In Korea, we have these horrible “bad air” days and we have to stay cooped up inside. 🙁 It’s an unfortunately part of living in this part of the world.

      January 31, 2018
  10. Clare Thomson #

    There are so many excellent and varied ideas here, Shelley, most of which seem so exotic to me. That snowman festival looks adorable and I’d rather like to try ice climbing and see the recreation of Montpellier too. Thanks for sharing on #FarawayFiles

    January 30, 2018
    • There’s so much going on in this city all the time, it can get overwhelming…but I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s so nice to have so many options to choose from all the time. The Montpellier re-creation is tops on my list too! 🙂

      February 1, 2018
  11. I’m a old follower of your family and Seoul stories. Before the time you’d conceived till the date she has grown up to this age. Love you all.

    January 31, 2018
    • Aww, it’s so nice to hear that Priyanka! <3 I can't believe how fast she's growing and to what extent she's taken over our lives. 😉

      February 1, 2018
  12. The winter doesn’t stop me unless the roads are bad for driving. Cheers

    February 2, 2018
    • Fortunately, we have an amazing subway system here in Seoul, and driving on bad roads is rarely an issue! Easy to get around for all the amazing winter activities. 🙂

      February 2, 2018
  13. I’d love to be there for the Olympics right now. Or just to see those snowmen. How cute!

    February 11, 2018
    • Haha, I’d love to go to the Olympics too! But somehow cannot get there, despite it being just a few hours drive away. 😉 I def wanna get out there to see the Vantablack building though – it sounds super cool!

      February 12, 2018
  14. Great list! I’m long overdue for a visit to the jjimjilbang… Will have to get on that before I leave.

    I didn’t know about that new ice-skating rink in Seoul at the Design Plaza. That’s so cool that it’s free! I always enjoy a good free activity. Thanks for sharing 😉

    February 15, 2018
    • I hope they keep that DDP rink around even though the Olympics will be over. What awesome surroundings to skate in!

      February 20, 2018
  15. I love your updated options for the list. You know that my eyes went right for that VR cafe! I have to go there immediately. It looks like such fun. I’m always down for anything like that. Thanks for the tip!

    February 15, 2018
    • I like that you can be slightly anonymous when you play at VRIZ…cuz let’s face it, people really do look like dorks when they’re playing VR games. 😉

      February 20, 2018
  16. wrpalomo #

    Where is that ice climbing? It looks like a very athletic winter sports. SO, it’s something i can’t do:-(… but it will be great to take photos there, right? I was just talking to my husband about facials 2 days ago and this is a timely reminder!

    February 17, 2018
    • Haha, I’m with you on the ice climbing…but it’s definitely a photogenic thing to see. That photo is actually from a friend who went there with her daughter and son. They watched daddy attempt ice climbing for the first time! 🙂

      February 20, 2018
  17. Your list is making me miss Korea – even though I know its freezing there at the moment! We loved the winter festivals, and the lighting festival at the garden of morning calm is just amazing!

    February 18, 2018
    • This winter was probably the worst one I’ve ever experienced here (in 9 years), but the cold seems to have lifted in the last week…to be replaced by pollution. Ugh. Can’t win it seems. I’m still hoping to get out to the lighting festival at the Garden of Morning Calm before it ends!

      February 20, 2018
  18. I did everything when I was in Korea! Yay!
    My favorite part is visiting Korean Saunas. I really love how they exfoliate the skin!

    February 18, 2018
    • You are good. I haven’t done everything and I’ve been living here for 9 years. :p The scrub at the jjimjilbang is the best thing ever. I always feel totally cleansed afterwards!

      February 20, 2018
  19. This is a great list Shelly! I actually only knew of four of these events. My favorite one on the list is the ice climbing. Pricy, but what a cool experience! Definitely something I want to try before winter is up:D

    February 18, 2018
    • You are braver than me. The thought of ice climbing terrifies me…but I have friends that do. And come to think of it, they’re scared too, but they still do it..hmm 😉

      February 20, 2018
  20. A lot of great ideas here! It’s great especially because it is very easy to just stay inside and watch movies all winter. But you have provided some great ideas for getting out and about an participating in activities you just can’t do in the other months! These kinds of activities really help to fight off the winter blues! Thanks so much for sharing!

    February 19, 2018
    • This winter was a tough one too. Thank goodness it warmed up this week, I was really at my breaking point with how cold it was. Honestly, I’d love to stay in all winter and binge-watch Netflix, but my 2 year old daughter doesn’t let me do that anymore… :p

      February 20, 2018
  21. Yass to ice skating, VR, escape rooms and jimjilbangs!! I had no idea Korea offered ice skating! Not the type of sport I’d go for because it seems scary and very cold haha. In winter, I tend to be quite content hibernating with my netflix and a glass of wine, but these are great (and probably healthier and more social) alternatives! In winter, I do like hosting lots of gatherings at my apartment so friends can come over while I stay in teh comfort of my house! This is a great thing for those with more spacious apartments.

    February 19, 2018
    • We do a lot of winter gatherings at our place too, where we cook a meal together and play board games. To be honest, the introvert in me would rather hibernate watching movies too, but having a 2 year old doesn’t make that possible anymore. She’s super active and extroverted, so I’m constantly on the lookout for new activities for her… *sigh mom life is not the easiest at times 😉

      February 20, 2018
  22. Yes, definitely always looking for an excuse to go ice skating! #pyeongchang2018

    February 20, 2018

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