Winter In Korea:
Korea’s winters are infamously cold with temperatures usually dropping well into minus figures come January – and it’s not uncommon to see snowfall in Seoul. In 2018, the city of Seoul saw record temperatures reaching -13 degrees Celsius. Whilst staying in Korea last January, it became so cold that our iPhones continued to shut down each time we took them out of our pockets. So, if you happen to be visiting Korea in the winter, please remember to pack a warm coat. Most Koreans tend to wear inner thermal wear and giant padded coats for most of the winter in an attempt to try and beat the winter chill.
And yet, while the weather may prove to be a worthy adversary to your travels, there are still plenty of things to do and see if you happen to be visiting Korea during the cold season.
1. Goyang Light Blooming Festival (고양호수꽃빛축제)
Goyang, in Gyeonggi province just north of Seoul is a must-see throughout January and into February. Each year, Goyang hosts its ‘Light Blooming Festival’ which attracts a large number of people to its incredible display. The festival consists of large LED lantern displays, creating a kind of magical Winterland. Aside from the lantern displays, there is an indoor arena to escape the cold, where a number of equally captivating performances are held. This is complemented by a number of firework displays that can be seen on certain nights. It only takes about 30 minutes from Seoul to Goyang by metro, so it’s worth the short trip out of Seoul to visit on a winter night.
You can find out more here: http://www.flower.or.kr
2. Eat Samgyetang (삼계탕)
While perhaps not a tourist attraction per se, any Korean restaurant offering Samgyetang is no less a hotspot where seats are fought over and highly coveted. Samgyetang is an essential dish cherished by Koreans during the winter season. It’s a type of chicken soup wherein a small, whole chicken is stuffed with rice, chestnuts, Korean dates and ginseng, and slow-cooked over a long period of time. The soup is warm to taste, and is both delicious and healthy. It’s the perfect meal to warm your insides. If you don’t eat meat, don’t despair; restaurants usually offer a variety of soups alongside the samgyetang to compensate. For the well-travelled and resourceful adventurer, you can get a small serving for as little as ₩8000, such as at the end of the alley beyond the Blue Boat Hostel in Myeong-dong. However, one of the best Samgyetang dishes we’ve ever experience was at a small restaurant in Daejeon named Subok Samgyetang (수복삼계탕), so if visiting Daejeon we would recommend you to try it out for yourself. Otherwise, there are many restaurants in Seoul offering samgyetang so don’t fret if you’re not familiar with the landscape.
Subok Samgyetang, 66 Dunsanjung-ro, Dunsan-dong, Seo-gu, Daejeon
수복삼계탕 대전광역시 서구 둔산중로 66
3. Go Skiing
Korea has a reliable supply of snow during winter, making it a great place to go skiing and snowboarding. Popular resorts to visit include Young Pyong Ski Resort and Vivaldi Park. However, there are many more resorts mainly based in the east of Korea. Young Pyong Ski Resort is one of the largest in Korea, offering slopes for all abilities and a large range of facilities. It’s about 3 hours from Seoul by shuttle bus. Vivaldi Park is another popular location as it is located only an hour away from Seoul. Many people visit for a day and can easily travel back to Seoul, so if your trip is short or you want to pack as much in as possible, it’s very easily accessible. Don’t worry about equipment as all resorts will provide equipment for hire when you arrive.
Website for Vivaldi Park: www.daemyungresort.com/web/dm_english/html/01vivaldi_english_sub_02.html
Website for Young Pyong: https://www.yongpyong.co.kr/
4: Visit the Coffee Prince Cafe
For any K-drama lover – a visit to the famous Coffee Prince Cafe is a must when visiting Seoul. The cafe is the filming location of the famous MBC K-drama Coffee Prince (커피프린스), which first aired back in 2007. The cafe’s official name is Sanmotooge (산모퉁이), and despite the cafe not actually being officially affiliated with the drama itself, the cafe still features many pictures and signatures from the cast and crew. Apart from being a famous filming location, the cafe also has a lot to offer. Sanmotooge is located in Buam-dong; a part of Seoul that is very mountainous, at the top of a picturesque uphill walk – and most people consider the walk as part of the experience, as it’s really beautiful to take in the landscape amidst the crisp winter air. The views from the cafe are one of its greatest selling points; on a clear day, you can almost see the entire city. In terms of substance, the cafe offers a range of drinks and cakes so there’s something for everyone.
We recommend visiting during the week in order to beat the crowds and to preserve the mountain’s peaceful atmosphere and its tranquil views.
Sanmotooge, 153 Baekseokdong-gil, Buam-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
산모퉁이 서울 종로구 부암동 백석동길 153
Featured Image Source: © Snowfall in Seoul, Jeon Han, 13-11-18, Flickr.com