Best Places for Winter in Korea

by Mike Still
Best Places for Winter in Korea

South Korea is quickly becoming famous for its winter wonderlands and there are lots of great places to visit during the snowy season.  In 2018 South Korea will host the Winter Olympics and there are plenty of other great destinations to visit in this country during the chilly months.  Whether you are looking or a place full of tourism, want to get a bit off the beaten path for your winter trip to South Korea I’m sure you’ll find somewhere to visit in this post.  Korea’s National Parks are especially good for hiking in the winter because you won’t be competing with your usual crowd of hikers but make sure you’re prepared!  Now, without further adieu I present to you the favorite winter destinations from expats and locals living in South Korea!

Disclaimer:  This article contains affiliate links that will provide compensation to the website’s owner when you click on them.  If you find this website useful please click on one to show your support.  

Korean Lonely Planet is available FREE with Kindle!

Places to Visit in Korea During Winter

photos and narrative provided by each contributor

Taebaek Mountain Snow Festival (태백산 눈축제)

Michael O’Dwyer from Michael O’Dwyer Photography

Korea can produce some brutal winters with a lot of snow and wintry landscapes. You can spend the winter huddling indoors for warmth praying for Spring or you can venture outside and embrace the landscape, singing songs from Frozen as you go.    No other place in Korea celebrates the wintry wonderland then a small town in the center of the Gangwon-do province, called Taebaek.

Need Travel Insurance? Head to World Nomads for the best deals!  Its where I got mine and I love it.


From January 19th 2018 to February 11th 2018, Taebaek City is taken over by it’s annual Snow Festival with non-stop ice and snow-related activities. Taebaek is an interesting city as it’s located entirely in the mountains and used to be a Coal boom town. The coal mines have largely closed and the city has contracted in size and pivoted towards winter tourism.

The biggest attraction is the Ice Sculpture Competition. Art students from different universities and other teams meet and carve out elaborate and unreal monolithic images and statues. From historical figures like King Sejong to the hottest K-Pop stars, to the Avengers to cartoon characters. There’s also ice slides, a small lake to go ice skating on, igloos, ice cafes, traditional Korean games, all beginning and ending with parades and other ceremonies around the city.

Perhaps most importantly is Taebaek Mountain (TaebaekSan). TaebaekSan is the titular mountain and mountain range that is located in the city of Taebaek in the middle of the Gangwon-do province in South Korea. It’s one of the tallest mountains in Korea and is one of the “holy mountains” where rituals were held on the top in the ancient past. Today it offers several routes with difficulty from very easy to very difficult, all converging to the oval altar on the top where people often meditate in prayer or enjoy a picnic and the view.

Planning on doing some Winter Hiking in Korea?  These Microspikes are as low as $17!

Hiking in winter through the snow and ice can be a daunting idea but the gentle slope and walkways of the easy route up TaebaekSan offers a majestic view of the surrounding snow covered mountains and the little town of Taebaek. Typically taking 4-5 hours to go up and down, passing by a small temple near the top.
The Taebaek Snow Festival is definitely worth seeing and one of the better winter events in Korea. Also, Taebaek is known for it’s Han-Woo Barbeque so why not take a day to hike the mountain, ride the ice slide, and afterwards go into a warm Korean barbeque restaurant and enjoy some of the best food that Gangwondo provides.

Where to stay in Taebaeksan

Check out the O2 Resort.  Its one of the few that has an English booking page but is great for a small group!

Taebaek Snow Festival Info:

01.13.2017 ~ 01.22.2017
Address in the city: At the base of TaebaekSan
168, Cheonjedan-gil, Taebaek-si, Gangwon-do
강원도 태백시 천제단길 168 (소도동)
Taebaeksan National Park (Ice slides, ice sculptures, Festival activities, hiking, etc)
Hwangji Pond (more ice sculptures,festival lights, restaurants, etc)

From Dong Seoul Bus Terminal, take an intercity bus to Taebaek.
From Taebaek Bus Terminal, take a bus bound for Danggol and get off at Taebaeksan Provincial Park.
* Hwangji Pond (황지연못) is a 10-min walk from the Taebaek Bus Terminal.

Best Winter Hikes in Korea

Hiking is a great way to see South Korea during any season and the winter is no exception.  You’ll have snowy mountain landscapes and far fewer visitors crowding your trail.  Make sure you bring layers to keep warm and crampons to keep you from slipping on the ice if you visit any of Korea’s national parks in the winter!

Seoraksan National Park

Ryan Bentley from @ryan_bentley_photo

Seoraksan mountain range is foreboding and beautiful. Its peaks jet out from the earth, casting a shadow down on the coastal town below.  It is the third largest mountain in Korea with a height of 1708m (5,603ft).  Seoraksan is beautiful no matter what season you go in but it transforms into a frozen unrelenting force in winter. With temperatures dropping below freezing and a wind chill to factor in, Seoraksan is not a mountain to be taken lightly.

Seoraksan in Winter

Those that venture up the mountain in winter will be rewarded with a stark beauty.  The snow-covered sides, bare trees and layers of ridge lines will reveal an unforgettable experience. On a clear day, on top of the highest peaks, you can see the ocean’s waves crash across the rock spotted beach.  There are several different shelters on top of the mountain that offer protection from the harsh conditions during the night.  It’s important that you reserve a shelter ahead of time, as they are often fully booked but well worth it because watching the sunrise on top of Daecheongbong peak is a once in a lifetime experience!

Packing Cubes are great for any kind of trip!  You can find these in many different colors on Amazon for less than $20!

Whether you venture out for a day or decide to do some serious hiking Seoraksan has something for everyone. With the mountains as a backdrop, the temples at the base of the mountain offer a unique area to explore. A cable car on one side of the mountain gives easy access to the light hikers. And for the more serious hikers you can venture deeper into the heart of the mountain itself on one of the many routes available.  Seoraksan is a surreal and peaceful place to connect with nature and ones self.  If I could go to just one place in Korea it would definitely be Seoraksan.

Where to stay in Seoraksan

You have 2 choices for where to stay in Seoraksan.  You can stay near the park or in Sokcho, the nearest city, or in the more remote areas near Seoraksan’s main entrance.  There are more options in Sokcho but if you plan ahead you’ll be able to enjoy a better trip by staying the park.

I highly recommend the Seorak Kensington Stars Hotel.  Rooms start at $145 and its as close to the park as you can get!  This 5 star resort perfect for groups heading on a hike!  You’ll get actual beds which is hard to find in Korea since most places offer heated floor sleeping arrangements.

Goodstay Smile Resort – rooms starting at $41 – The Goodstay Smile Resort has a homestay feel with beds, bunks, a kitchen and more for you.  Its a short drive or medium walk to the Seoraksan’s main entrance in this budget friendly hotel.

Hallasan National Park

Warren Kim from Seoul Hiking Group

In Korea, mountains are covered by snow in winter, especially Hallasan!  It is the most amazing winter hiking destination and although it’s peak on Jeju island it normally has heavy snow from Nov until April or even May.  Hikers can choose a Seongpanak trails which leads to the volcanic crater at the peak. It is a relatively easy hike with a gentle incline the whole way. There is a shelter after 1 hour from the entrance and another one after 1st shelter.

From entrance to the 1st shelter is like walking in the nature arboretum and very pleasant. From 1st shelter to 2nd shelter normally snow piles begin to accumulate and the incline grows. You should have good crampons and sometimes the handrails are covered with snow so dress warmly and make sure you have gloves!  From the 2nd shelter you’ll have an outstanding view and the trail is at its steepest during the last hour and a half to the crater and the peak.

Winter on Hallasan

It’s well-arranged path, however sometimes the wind is as sharp as a knife so don’t forget a winter mask too.  Although its a challenging winter hike it has a vibe like Kilimanjaro and you will be stunned by the amazing crater with the panoramic view all around Jeju.  The gorgeous scenery has hundreds small craters at the bottom making the whole trip quite surreal!

 Korean Pocket Guide for under$4 on Amazon!

Hikers would be best to start at 6AM when the trails open because this is a 9+ hour hike! Entrance fee is free for now but there will likely be a 20K won fee soon as government has been considering it since last year. so don’t hesitate to hike before that!

Where to stay near Hallasan National Park

There aren’t too many options right near Hallasan but if you want to stay close to the mountain than I recommend Amber Resort Jeju.  Its very popular and is the 2nd most booked hotel on Booking!  Rooms can be booked for as low as $94 online so reserve today!

Protip – You might need to sign in to booking for these deals.

Places to Visit in Seoul During Winter

Bukhansan National Park

Mike from LiveTravelTeach

Bukhansan National Park is one of my favorite parks in South Korea.  In fact with over 5,000,000 visitors every year Guiness World Records lists it as the most popular National Park in the whole world!  The good news about heading here in the winter is that there are far fewer hikers on the trails which means you have all the snowy views to yourself!  As you start near the bottom don’t fret if you don’t see any snow.  There will surely be white blanketed hills as you get higher up; especially where the mountains have cast a shadow blocking the sun.

Be sure to stop at one of the Buddhist temples and embrace nature as traditional chanting envolopes you.  There are dozens of trails to pick from but my favorites are Dobongsan and Baegundae and winter is one of my favorite times to go.  I’ve been twice on Christmas and again on Lunar New Year when the park was practically empty.  No matter when you go to Bukhansan you’re sure to have a great time!

Bukhansan in Winter

Where to stay near Bukhansan National Park

Since Bukhansan national park is on the subway you can actually stay anywhere in Seoul and enjoy traveling to your winter hike.  But if you are super excited to hike like I always am then you want to stay near the park entrance.  The closest place you can book online near the trail that I love is the Dobong Hotel Bay 204.  Reserve your room for $134 now because if you are heading there this winter everything will sell out with the Winter Olympics coming in 2018!



Anthony Jury from Fairdinkum Traveller

Muju-gun is in the North Joella Province and smack bang in the middle of South Korea.  Situated in the Deogyusan National Park, Muju is quite the sight during the freezing winter months and is great for hiking through the picturesque scenery as a trail of hikers converge up the mountain. The sight of the icy Gucheondong Valley below is simply stunning.

Muju is only a small town and is a great way to get away from the hustle and bustle of the major cities. Come for a day, or come for a week, Muju is a great place to unwind and eat some real Korean food at all the restaurants scattered throughout the isolated town.

The Deogyusan Resort is the place to go to hit the ski slopes and never fear if you are a beginner, there are slopes for all kinds of ability. Catch a ride up the Gondola and take in the breathtaking views of the area and the surrounding mountains.

Best Winter Festivals in Korea

Hwacheon Ice Festival (화천산천어축제)

January 6th, 2018 – January 28th, 2018

Ronda from RonnieJeaners

Famous for ice fishing, Hwacheon is virtually untouched but becomes the first area in Korea to freeze over each year. The Hwacheon stream becomes a thick sheet of ice that boasts many opportunities for activities. Some of these include: ice fishing (or if you’re brave enough, jumping straight in for bare hand fishing), ice skating, ice hockey, sledding, inner-tubing, four wheeling and so much more. I spent a lot of time waiting for that perfect catch and ended up with three trout we cooked later that evening to eat!

The festival has recently been considered as one of the Seven Wonders of Winter by the travel site CNNGo. It’s an excellent event to take the entire family, or even a fun date if that’s what you’re into. If you find yourself in Korea during the winter, it’s highly recommended to check out. Plan to spend about 12,000w for ice fishing. Additional activities can cost anywhere between 5,000w to 20,000w depending on what you do. Check out for more details.

Pyeongchang Trout Festival

Mike from LiveTravelTeach

I visited the Pyeongchang Trout Festival back in January of 2015 and they were just getting ready for the 2018 Olypmics.  It was great back then and will surely just keep growing as the Olympics get closer!  Situated close to a ski resort you can easily have a day on the slopes and then spend some time at the festival afterward.  Other than Ice fishing, you will find massive Ice sculptures, sledding, Ice ATV rides and even curling!  As with any Korean festival, there are plenty of tasty foods to try and there will be plenty of rice wine.  Rather than keep explaining it why not just watch this video of the Pyeongchang Trout Festival!

Pyeongchang Winter Festival Info


Until I see information confirming the festival I will assume they are forgoing the festival in lieu of hosting the Olympics

– Festival Venue No. 1: Dong Seoul Bus Terminal → Jinbu Intercity Bus Terminal (approx. 2 hr 15 min)
– Festival Venue No. 2: Dong Seoul Bus Terminal → Hoenggye Intercity Bus Terminal (approx. 2 hr 30 min) → Daegwallyeong Snow Town (Take a taxi for about 12-min)

Great Ski Resorts in Korea

Gangwon Province & High 1 Ski Resort

Edward Rivera from @AerialAspects

Gangwon Province is know for Seoraksan Mountain and Mt. Odae with its ski run, attract a large number of national tourists.  Both are located in national parks in the Taebaek Mountains. If you are an avid skier or snowboarding or just someone looking for an amazing weekend at a nice resort; I highly suggest heading up to High 1 Resort in the Gangwon Province.   The resort has beginner, intermediate and advanced slopes for all to enjoy, investing in a season pass is also recommended if you really enjoy the slopes.

I have been to Gangwon twice, once in the Fall where they have an alpine roller coaster. High 1 resort also offers amazing accommodation and access to outdoor hot tubs, in the winter it is very enjoyable to relax outside in the hot tubs while enjoying the crisp winter weather. Even if you are not into skiing it is still worth the trip with a group of friends and enjoy the hot tubs.  The best way to sort out a trip to High 1 is through Enjoy Korea Travel company, Bruce and Stacey run a great company and accommodate everyone professionally.


Travel Korea in Winter

Garden of the Morning Calm

Edward Rivera from @AerialAspects

There are many light festivals in Korea but one that I enjoyed very much was The Garden of the Morning Calm located right outside of Seoul. It is the oldest private garden in Korea and absolutely amazing in the winter with thousands of lights illuminating the night!

The garden’s scenic walkways, beautifully manicured grass, and flower beds connect 20 different themed sections. The Sukgeun Garden is shaped like the Korean Peninsula and is carpeted with beautiful flowers on both sides representing the desire for South and North Korea to be reunited. It is easily one of the most popular and meaningful attractions at the garden.  The Garden also holds are a variety of festivals and displays throughout the year.


Parul Singh from PHD Lifestyles

It is very easy to get lost among big names. It is a similar case with this city name ‘Jeonju’. Do not underestimate the beauty of this small city in winter. It may not have big tourist attractions to fill your eyes but it will make you fall in love with its simple streets. If you are looking for a place away from the bustling cities then this can be perfect place for you. Jeonju is famous for its fresh vegetables and delicious food. It is also a birthplace of Korean traditional dish name bibimbap (비빔밥).

Looking for a winter destination around the world?  Check out my friend Lauren’s Top Winter Travel Article!

If you enjoyed this post please share it by clicking the buttons on the left.  You can always pin the image below on Pinterest too!

More photos from this adventure and others can be found on the @LiveTravelTeach Instagram Account and don’t forget to follow by adding your email at the top of this page to make sure you don’t miss any of these amazing adventures!

Disclaimer:  This is the internet and It is safe to assume that this article contains affiliate links and content that will provide compensation to the website’s owner when you click on them.  If you found this info useful please click on one to show your support.  

Mike Still on FacebookMike Still on InstagramMike Still on PinterestMike Still on Twitter
Mike Still
Mike is a travel enthusiast, photographer and teacher. He loves adventure travel, meeting the locals and exploring new culture. As an outdoor enthusiast you can often find him hiking mountains or exploring forests trying to capture the beauty of mother nature. In 2013 he founded as he left his home in America and has been teaching or traveling around the world ever since!

You may also like


Romy January 16, 2017 - 12:22 am

I’d never thought of Korea as a winter destination, but it looks beautiful. Love the photo of the light festival, garden of the morning calm. And I’ve only ever been skiing in Europe, but maybe one day I’ll do it in Korea.

Mike Still January 18, 2017 - 4:06 pm

The light festival is so much fun!

Sam January 16, 2017 - 2:19 am

Gorgeous photos!! I am not such a fan of winter (currently sitting half frozen in my apartment) but weirdly love winter festivals. That ice sculpture looks amazing! Also wow, had no idea that the most popular national park in the world was in Korea. I love the outdoors and would love to visit someday.

Mike Still January 18, 2017 - 4:04 pm

Yeah i was so surprised too! I think a big reason its so popular is how easy it is to get to since its on the subway.

Miranda January 16, 2017 - 2:58 am

The Hwacheon Ice Festival looks amazing? I love a good ice castle.

Mike Still January 18, 2017 - 3:57 pm

The ice castles are so much fun!

Laura @ Sometime Traveller January 16, 2017 - 3:10 am

I had no idea South Korea was so snowy! Looks magical. All those festivals looks fantastic, especially the light festival!

Mike Still January 18, 2017 - 3:56 pm

The light festival is one of my favorite!

Angela January 16, 2017 - 11:01 am

Strange. I never considered Korea for winter for some reason. Thanks for opening my eyes and showing me there’s definitely reason to visit during that season!

Nilabh Ranjan January 16, 2017 - 11:44 am

I love snow , and I too put up a content on top places to visit in India in winter. The article is well written with good photos.

Mike Still January 18, 2017 - 3:56 pm

I look forward to reading your Indian Winter article! You could try asking for collaboration like I did and get a diverse set of ideas.

Gokul Raj January 16, 2017 - 2:20 pm

Loved Taebaek Mountain festival. It is great to see so many great places to head out during winter. I usually go into hibernation during the Christmas and New Year time as the prices increase due to season time.

Mike Still January 18, 2017 - 3:55 pm

Yeah it can be tough to travel with all the holiday price spikes but thankfully winter lasts well after those die down

Punita Malhotra January 16, 2017 - 4:06 pm

I would never have thought of Korea in the context of winter and snow 🙂 They seem to have an abundance of it. This post has been an eye opener for me.

Mike Still January 18, 2017 - 3:55 pm

Happy to share some new travel destinations with you!

Harvey (H-Bomb's Worldwide Karaoke) January 16, 2017 - 10:30 pm

If I’m travelling in the winter I want to get away from the cold weather of New York. Some of those wintry landscapes in Korea are beautiful, though. And I like the colourful lights of the Garden of the Morning Calm. (Is it only lit up like that in the winter?)

Mike Still January 18, 2017 - 3:19 pm

I think the lights are left on all year round but it looks way cooler in the snow!

amanda January 17, 2017 - 12:08 am

great post! i went to korea for the first time in august and it was so hot – hard to imagine it this cold! I particularly like the ice festivals you’ve highlighted – thanks!

Mike Still January 18, 2017 - 3:18 pm

Its crazy how different the seasons are here!

Amy January 17, 2017 - 4:58 am

As a Canadian, I can completely embrace these activities and the brutal cold or ton of snow. But I never imagine South Korea as being a destination doing the same thing! Fantastic info!

Mike Still January 18, 2017 - 3:18 pm

Amy, I was totally surprised too! There are so many great snow activities here 🙂

8 Canadian Winter Events Worth Freezing For January 19, 2017 - 12:25 am

[…] Winter in Canada is great, but what about Winter In Korea? Check out Live, Travel, Teach’s blog post on the […]

25 Compelling Reasons to Visit Nozawa Onsen, Japan July 21, 2017 - 4:50 pm

[…] bus or taxi.  You can find specific details here. Many people are now choosing to spend some time skiing and boarding in Korea after they have been to […]

Some Heavely Korean Winter Food to Warm up the Seoul July 25, 2017 - 12:56 am

[…] nothing like comfort food to warm you up during the cold winter in Korea. Luckily, Korean winter food is to die for, and available everywhere. Most of our favorite Korean […]

Teresa July 31, 2017 - 10:04 am

I will be taking my parents to attend the Winter Olympics in February 2018. I would like to take them to the more scenic nature trails but they will only be in Seoul for 1 week. Any “must-see” places that involve beautiful scenic nature views? Thank you in advance.

Mike Still July 31, 2017 - 1:41 pm

How much hiking/how fit are your parents? Taebaeksan is a great winter hike with a snow festival at the base of the mountain.

Seoraksan is always beautiful and my favorite park but some trails might be closed.

Bukhasnan National Park has some great views of Seoul and has fun hikes.

Whatever you pick I recommend having crampons. You can buy them near the start of all the hikes.

Many of the hikes are long and we used to start at 3am. There is no camping allowed but you can get a Korean to help reserve some bunks in a lodge if you want to split the hike up.

Esther November 5, 2018 - 11:23 pm

Are there any easy hikes like an hour or so? I am going with my parents and they can’t hike for too long.

Ryan Biddulph August 22, 2017 - 4:45 am

The snow hike looks peaceful Mike. I am down for any cold weather hike as the cooler temps energize me. Throw in some snow and you have a winter wonderland. Plus extra cardio with trudging through the white stuff 🙂

Mike Still August 22, 2017 - 11:08 pm

Snow hikes are so peaceful! I love how the sound just gets swallowed up by snow.

7 Things You Have to Experience in South Korea September 1, 2017 - 5:42 pm

[…] And for further inspiration check out 10 Best Places For Winter in South Korea […]

Checking out the North Korean border... - Family Travel Blog - Travel with Kids September 4, 2017 - 3:01 pm

[…] For more Korean travel destinations, read about the best places for winter in Korea here. […]

Checking out the North Korean border... - Family Travel Blog - Travel with Kids September 11, 2017 - 11:51 am

[…] For more Korean travel destinations, read about the best places for winter in Korea here. […]

Ras Bahadur Rai January 11, 2018 - 6:54 am

in korea also snow.In Nepal we have a lot snow.My name is Ras .I am from Nepal,Trekking,Tours,Peak climbing organizer at


Leave a Reply