While the excitement of the Rio Olympics ebbs away, preparations are already underway for the next big sporting event much closer to home — the 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Located just three hours away from Seoul, Pyeongchang is a popular ski resort destination that teems with locals and tourists who are captivated by its winter attractions — from top resorts and breathtaking scenery to festivals and outdoor activities.
Hit the slopes
Watch the pros take a run down the ski jump at Alpensia Resort, which will be used for the official ski jump competition in 2018.
The ski jump also serves as an observatory to take in the scenery from a prime vantage point.
Book your holiday today
Selected travel agents are offering a series of attractive packages to both Pyeongchang and Jeju Island. Book a trip to South Korea for your winter wonderland holiday and receive a free neck warmer and gloves set from the Korea Tourism Organization. /p>
The huge complex of Alpensia Resort is divided into a winter sports area, golf village and resort area with numerous hotels and condominiums and the Alpensia Ocean 700, an indoor water park.
There is also Wellihilli Snow Park, a resort set against the backdrop of Gangwondo with 19 slopes suitable for all skill levels.
Those new to skiing can also hone their skills at the High1 Resort, where a key feature is the 4.2km long slope that runs from the summit of Jijangsan Mountain and is ideal for beginners.
Go all out
You can do more than just skiing as the various ski resorts in this winter wonderland offer a variety of activities, from sightseeing to swimming, suitable for all ages.
Other than its 22 ski slopes, the Phoenix Park Resort, which was a film site for the famous Korean drama Autumn In My Heart, also offers fantastic views with a gondola ride up to the 1,050m-high Montblanc peak.
You can also go for a dip and enjoy the spa facilities at the Phoenix Park Blue Canyon indoor water park.
Actors Bae Yong-joon and Choi Ji-woo shared scenes here at the Yongpyong Resort when they starred in the wildly popular drama Winter Sonata in 2002.
Blessed with an annual average snowfall of 250cm that starts from mid-November to early April, the winter season lasts longer here.
Take a gondola to the peak of Balwangsan Mountain, try some sledding or head to the indoor and outdoor water park.
Those who prefer a slower pace can take in the snow-covered landscape of Daegwallyeong Sheep Farm and feed the sheep too. The vast fields in this area with a 1.2m walking trail makes it a perfect spot for some winter landscape photography too.
Each winter, the Pyeongchang Trout Festival, which will be held from Dec 23 to Jan 30, offers a variety of fun activities such as ice fishing, sledding and riding over the frozen river in modern ice carts and bicycles.
People sitting on chairs over the ice with a cast line waiting for trout to bite is a common sight during the festival.
Join the locals in catching fish and you can have your trout cooked for dinner by chefs on standby.
The sizzling sounds and enticing aroma of hot food cooked on food carts along the main streets will hit you in the frigid winter air.
Indulge in some well-loved traditional winter snacks. Warm up with some tteok-bokki —rice cakes that come in a spicy broth; kkochi eomuk — fishcakes on a skewer served with a flavourful broth; and hotteok — fried pancakes filled with brown sugar, peanuts and cinnamon.
For something sweet, go for bungeoppang — baked carp-shaped dough filled with red bean paste; or the steamed hoppang — a bun typically filled with red bean paste although you can now find different varieties filled with meat, cheese or vegetables.
For equally stunning scenery, head south to Jeju Island, South Korea’s largest tourist destination, also a popular spot for its mild winter.
The island is home to Mount Hallasan, a Unesco World Heritage site and South Korea’s highest peak standing at 1,950m.
Wintertime is especially magical as the snow blankets the slopes. Visitors can hike up to the peak for panoramic views.
Don’t miss the Jeju Winter Festival from Dec 17 to Jan 22, specially organised by Jeju Tourism Organization, with its wide variety of winter sports programmes and cultural activities.
Jeju Island is also well known for its natural beauty with attractions such as waterfalls and lush forests. Visits to Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak and Manjanggul Cave are a must while there.