When you go to Yongpyong, you take a chairlift up and then snowboard down. Repeat this process for the next four hours and then you can call yourself a snowboarder.
In this post, my friend Ruth and I headed out to Yongpyong. One of the snow resorts that will host Pyeongchang’s 2018 Winter Olympic games.
We headed out in the morning from Phoenix to Hoenggye. Three buses later, we were shooed out of the shuttle by our friendly bus driver in the middle of a parking lot with no ski hill in sight. Common sense told us we should be walking uphill so we did. A nice lady who spoke absolutely no English signed us to follow her.
A few confusing wooden trails later, we ended up in a massive building that seemed to be the cafeteria. Like I mentioned in my previous post, Seoraksan National Park, Koreans do like to spend their holidays with lots of other people. Most snow resorts around the area feature high rise condominiums and giant water parks. These come with equally massive cafeterias and very confusing directions.
This year I am determined to explore more of Korea during my days off. Last year was different, since I was absolutely convinced I should board all day every day. Truth is, if I don’t leave the resort from time to time, I get cabin fever. Plus after three weeks of boarding the same three slopes, it’s nice to have a change of scenery.
Winter Olympics 2018
Like Phoenix Park, Yongpyong is hosting some of the competitions for the 2018 Winter Olympics. Half of the mountain is closed for the public this year as they are getting ready for the Olympic athletes that will come here for training.
There are four competitions planned: the men’s and women’s giant slalom and men’s and women’s alpine slalom.
Main hub is Hoenggye, the portal town to Alpensia and Yongpyong. This is also where the temporary stadium is for the opening ceremony that will happen on February 9th. The easiest way to get to Yongpyong is through the bus station in Hoenggye. From Hoenggye, there are plenty of shuttle buses coming and going from the resort.
Hoenggye has accommodation and plenty of yummy food to fill your bellies. Me and Ruth even found a hipster cafe called farmer’s shop. Interior design was approved with wooden cart and handmade coasters.
Compared to Phoenix Park, Yongpyong is more of a sightseeing resort. It has lovely green runs that crawl through trees and the black diamonds are more blue than black.
Our original plan was to spend a whole day exploring the resort. But because we only had one day off, we decided to snowboard and ski only a half day. Ticket half a day is KRW 59 ooo. Plenty of time to ride every slope at least once.
We also wanted to do a cheeky lap in the park but when hitting the first jump, I got shooed away by one of the groomers. Apparently you need papers if you want to ride park in this resort.
There is nothing to mention in this part since South Korea has none.
The annual snowfall in Korea is at a bare minimum. It gets cold here, an average temperature of minus 10. But unlike its close neighbor, Japan, who gets a dump of snow every week, South Korea relies mainly on snow guns to make their slopes. Everything outside of the slopes is safely fenced off for the public. You wouldn’t want to go there anyway, it is a scary place. The bunny rabbits might bite your legs off being high from eating too much kimchi.
Cake and Coffee
A day off, shredding with some fine ladies, is better when accompanied by cake and coffee or mulled wine and a cold beer. We went to have cake and coffee in the Angel in Us cafe. Their cappuccinos are big enough to let you tweak out for a week. Me and Ruth shared mine, otherwise the caffeine would have given me a heart attack.
It has great cakes and a the waffles come with green tea ice cream. But I honestly can’t really appreciate coffee in a paper cup. Mugs and china with flower designs are my kind of coffeeshops.
Type of Crowds Yongpyong attracts
The big resorts bring out the big crowds. On a good day you can expect a train of people waiting at the chairlift for the beginner’s slope. Not that bad when you’re an intermediate or expert rider. Lines for chairlifts going to blue and black diamond slopes are non-existent.
Sometimes beginners spin out of control. When this happens you don’t want to get too close to them. In South Korea during weekends people flock from the city to the slopes, making them highways of death.
I am exaggerating though and it shouldn’t be too difficult if you’re used to riding trees. Just imagine beginners are trees that move in very unpredictable ways and make noise.
Luckily most Koreans like to wear bright colors so you can spot them easily on the slopes. If you’re afraid of having a collision, don’t worry, there will be an explosion of glitter and rainbows when that happens. So at least you’ll have a happy moment before snow patrol comes to pick up your pieces.
What to work on when you’re in Yongpyong
On the gondola side of the mountain are the slopes designed for international race competitions. Work on your carving. There is also a decent sized park with some fun features that will keep you entertained all day. The slopes are easy to snowboard, they get a bit icy though at the end of the day.
Switch riding if you get bored, especially on the blue runs. They’re more fun when you add some challenge.
I definitely liked Yongpyong, even though half of the mountain was closed because of the Olympics. It’s a good alternative to Phoenix Park and has more action and more restaurants. I would definitely go back in the future.