City guide: Pyeongchang

The Winter Olympic Games 2018 took recently place in Pyeongchang, South Korea. This is a city that has not enjoyed much economic power dominated by capital city Seoul. Locals believe the area’s financial future lies with tourists drawn to its mountain resorts and scenic coast; they hope the games will offer a boost. Today, the service sector accounts for 70% of the area economy.

Getting to and from the airport

International visitors arrive at Incheon International Airport in metropolitan Seoul. A high-speed rail line from the airport to Pyeongchang opened in December 2017; Korail is running express trains during the games. A one-way journey takes about 90 minutes. Bus service is also available to Pyeongchang; the journey takes about three hours, and the fare is 40,000 South Korean won (US$37.35, using the exchange rate US$1 = ₩1070.94).

Getting around Pyeongchang

Find schedules at the Pyeongchang 2018 website or download the official mobile app. Taxis are available, but there aren’t many drivers within Pyeongchang. It’s best to have your hotel order a taxi for you in advance.

Where to stay

Luxury and upscale accommodations in the area include Intercontinental Alpensia Pyeongchang Resort (385 Yongsan-ri Daekwallyeong, Pyeongchang; Ph: 82-33-339-0000) and Holiday Inn Resort Alpensia Pyeongchang(195 Alpensia Resort, Yongsan-ri, Daekwallyeo; Ph: 82-33-339-1240).

Things to see and do

Pyeongchang and the surrounding Gangwon province are winter playgrounds. Aplensia ski resport has six runs with areas suitable for beginners, expert skiers and snowboarders. Yongpyong, the largest ski resort in Korea, has 31 runs.

After a day on the slopes, relax as South Koreans do in a jjimjilbang mineral bath and sauna. The sauna at Holiday Inn Resort Alpensia is open to the public and is an excellent way to recharge aching muscles.

Take time to visit to a local Buddhist temple. The most impressive is Woljeongsa, founded in 643 on the eastern slopes of Mount Odaesan. Within the grounds, you’ll find an intricate nine-story stone pagoda dating back to the 10th century. Make the visit a day trip by adding a picturesque hike down the mountain.

Where to eat

To get a sense of how the locals eat, visit the Jumunjin Fish Market. Vendors pile into the market early each morning to sell freshly caught seafood. Typical offerings include red snow crab, octopus, squid, mackerel and crab. You can select your seafood of choice and take it to any one of the nearby restaurants. They will be happy to cook your purchase in a traditional Korean style. The market is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Hanwoo Town (translates to “Beef Town”) is considered one of the best restaurants in Pyeongchang. The specialty here is Korean barbeque. Don’t be fooled by the modest interior. Diners enjoy their locally sourced beef with all the fixings, including kimchi, radishes, fermented soybean and oyster mushrooms. Wash it all down with a glass of soju—a traditional Korean rice liquor. Find it at 38, Olympic-ro, Daegwallyeong-myeon, Pyeongchang-gun, Gangwon-do; Ph: 82-33-336-2151.