Pyeongchang, South Korea is hosting the Winter 2018 Olympics, and sports freaks around the world have already started planning a trip to this unbelievably beautiful county in the Gangwon province. If you are entirely clueless on the process of expediting your journey, don’t fret! Here we will help you plan your trip in the best way possible.
Some enormously alluring mountains, aesthetically serene Buddhist temples, and a blanket of snow! This is exactly what Pyeongchang looks like. The cherry on the cake is the enthusiasm and exhilaration of the Winter Olympic games that has taken the city by storm. Pyeongchang is a county approximately 180km east of Seoul.
It has an average elevation of 700m and has a slogan, “Happy700 Pyeongchang” which refers to the same. It is located in the Gangwon province of South Korea in the Taebaek Mountains region. After 2 consecutive bids for 2010 and 2014, Pyeongchang finally won the bid to host the Winter Olympics in 2018.
Read on as we walk you through the entire process of trip planning:
Everything to do With Flights
There is no direct flight to Pyeongchang as it is a remote area. The closest international airport is Yangyang, however, it handles only a few flights. It may increase the number of flights on account of the Olympic games. You can even fly into the Incheon International Airport in Seoul.
A majority of the Olympic visitors will enter here, since it’s the main international gateway to the country. Wonju airport can also be thought of as an option, considering its vicinity to Pyeongchang. It is advisable to book the tickets well in advance as the prices may increase drastically near the date for the Olympic games.
How do I Get to the Olympic Location?
The means of local transport may differ depending on the location of your hotel. The event ticket holders get access to an incredible service of spectator shuttle buses. Do not rejoice just yet, as the best part is yet to come! The best part about this service is that it is totally free of cost. It will start three hours before the first sports event and will end two hours post the last sports event. Apart from the shuttle services, there are some more transport services that you can look at:
- Train- With the new high speed railway being constructed, it will take only an hour to travel from Seoul to the Olympic venue.
- Bus- You can take bus services such as Airport Express or Airport Limousine from the Incheon Airport to Seoul, and from there you can board a train or bus heading to the Olympic venue.
- Car- If you are someone who cannot keep up with the bus and the train schedules, you might want to consider renting a car. The highways are being widened, which will make it easier to commute by a car. The only catch is, personal transportation will be restricted in a few areas of the host city. You can drive in to one of the park and ride sites and board a free shuttle to the venue from there.
The Olympic Event Tickets
The event tickets and packages have already gone for sale. The prices vary depending on the events. For Korean residents, the tickets are available on the official site Pyeongchang 2018 Tickets. The residents of other countries may purchase the tickets from authorized ticket re-sellers of their country; for US residents it is CoSport.
All you have to do is, create an account on their site and you can browse through the various packages and tickets available. It may occur that the tickets for a few events are sold out, but you need not worry as they might release more tickets in the future. It is advisable to create an account or get yourself registered on their site so that you receive alerts on the status of tickets for various events.
A list of authorized re-sellers for all the countries can be found on Pyeongchang’s official website for the Olympic games. Please note that the ticket purchases can only be made through cash or visa cards.
All You Need to Know About Travel Visas
The visa requirements vary for different countries. US citizens do not need a visa to visit South Korea for a stay of less than 90 days. The South Korean Government has even announced a temporary visa free entry for visitors from Indonesia, Vietnam, and Philippines.
The only obstacle that visa free visitors may face, is that it is mandatory for them to enter South Korea through the Yangyang International Airport. In a bid to attract tourists, the South Korean Government has extended the USD 15 per person visa fee waiver for Chinese tourists with electronic passports until the end of 2018.
Please consult the Korean embassy of your country for the visa requirements and complete all the formalities as soon as possible to ensure a hassle-free journey.
Where Do I Plan My Stay?
When it comes to accommodation, there are a plenty of options. You must factor in the venues for the events you are attending while planning your stay. There are a number of accommodation options in the host city and other cities in its vicinity.
If you plan to stay in the metropolitan cities near Pyeongchang, you’ll have a smoother intercity transit as you’ll have access to the free shuttle service. The various options available in the host city are, Holiday Inn Resort Alpensia, Holiday Inn and Suites Aplensia, Goodstay Elf Spa Resort. The prices may vary depending on when you make the bookings.
You can even look for package deals that will cover the cost of your meals. If you want to experience the ancient Korean culture and feel that hotels are too mainstream, there is an option to find an accommodation in one of the Buddhist temples.
Currency exchange is an important aspect that deserves your attention. It is advised that you exchange the currency in your local bank instead of the airport so that you save on the exchange fee cost.
Also, do not wait till the last minute to perform currency exchanges, as it may take some time, considering the high demand because of the Olympics. As per the current exchange rate 1 US dollar equals 1086.15 South Korean Won, it may vary in the future.
It is advisable to use credit and ATM cards as these may give a better exchange rate than cash.
There is no point visiting a country and not treating your eyes to the beauty of that place. You can always spare a few hours to visit the beautiful historical landmarks and sights in South Korea. The best places to visit in South Korea are:
- Odaesan National Park: It is a mountain located in Birobong, which is about 1,563m above the sea level. It is known for its temples and waterfalls.
- Baengnyong Cave: This cave is located at the bottom of Baegunsan Mountain. It is a 1.8 km long natural limestone cave and has unique formations of stalactites and stalagmites.
- Potato Flower Studio: A small school called Nosan situated in a village in Pyeongchang was converted into a museum, which is now known as Potato Flower Studio. It is enclosed in the middle of beautiful mountains.
Apart from these three you can even take a tour to Eoreumchi Village, Woljeongsa Temple and Korea Botanic Garden.
Safety and Laws
Korean laws strictly prohibit drugs, guns, and gambling and Pyeongchang is a very small city with efficient security. Although there is plenty of security in place, it is always better to be safe than sorry.
You should be aware of pickpockets and be vigilant of your valuables. If at all you are stuck in a situation where you need legal assistance, it is better to contact your embassy or consulate at the earliest.
You will not be allowed to make a phone call if you happen to get arrested. Keep a list of emergency contact numbers such as police and government call centers handy in case of any emergencies.
This is how you can plan your trip to the beautiful city of Pyeongchang. It will be even better if you try to learn a few basic phrases like “Thank You” and “You are Welcome” in Korean. This will help you communicate better with the locals and they’ll definitely appreciate your efforts. So, it’s about time you get your travel shoes on, and get your pom poms ready, as the Winter Olympic Games 2018 is approaching!