PyeongChang Winter Olympics 2018 accommodationDon't forget your thermals!
The Winter Olympics are startlingly underappreciated, the fanfare surrounding it never reaching the same dizzy heights as its summer cousin. Also held every four years, the 2010 Games in Vancouver went off spectacularly, yet without much international attention. In 2018, however, heads may well be turned in high numbers. Much like when it was announced as the venue for the 2002 football World Cup, South Korea has been touted as something of an unknown quantity for an exploit of this nature.
PyeongChang, the host city for the 2018 event, is a particularly mysterious destination. Situated in the Gangwon region in the northeast of the country, the mountainous terrain and snow-capped slopes may come as a surprise to viewers who witnessed the tropical heat of the aforementioned World Cup, as well as the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games. Not to the locals, however, who recognise the area as a haven for skiing, snowboarding, bobsledding and every other event for which snow is a prerequisite! With intrigue guaranteed to draw interest - and spectators - it'd be prudent to plan in advance. Read on, for our guide to your PyeongChang Olympic adventure!
Things to do in South Korea during the Winter Olympics
The announcement of the host city back in 2011 immediately kickstarted frantic preparation to ensure the event a memorable one. The committee decided that the Alpensia Cluster, already a popular haunt of skiers and their ilk, as the focal point. A grandiose 50,000 seater arena is scheduled to be constructed as a venue for the main ceremonies, as well as an expansion to the already impressive Alpensia Ski Jumping Stadium. The aptly-named, dramatic Dragon Valley Ski Resort is also bracing itself for an influx of international visitors.
Whilst watching any major sporting event at close quarters, who doesn’t feel the desire to get out there and do it for themselves? You may not quite be at Olympic standard, but in Phoenix Park you can flaunt your skills on the slopes with a host of skiers of every level. A very popular resort amongst both locals and visitors due to its prominence for night skiing, it also has a golf course and a children’s play area, and the whole area is framed by dramatic mountains.
When you feel the need to escape from the cold, consider slipping into your swimsuit and heading for Ocean 700. The gargantuan water park is situated on Daegwallyeong Mountain, offering respite within its heated pools and myriad of white-knuckle slides. You can also treat yourself to an afternoon of spa and massage treatments: if you’re travelling to the Games as a family, unwind with a pamper session as the children splash about the wave pool. Despite the surroundings, the outdoor area is surprisingly pleasant, with sun loungers and cabanas aplenty!
PyeongChang's proud Buddhist heritage is everywhere on display. But the peaceful Sangwonsa temple is an especially welcoming place of worship for both tourists and the monks who inhabit it. Dating back to approximately 643AD, the oldest remaining relic at the temple today is the Dongjong Bell. Beautifully crafted, the unique sound of the bell makes it equally pleasing to ear and eye. If the baying crowds at the Winter Olympics get to be a little too much, there’s no finer place to gather your thoughts in tranquillity than here.
When the Games are over and the Olympic Flame all but extinguished, do yourself a favour by heading north for a few days in Seoul. South Korea's capital is a mesmerizing juxtaposition of eastern and western cultures, with skyscrapers towering above shanty towns and throngs of bikes jostling with shining Ferraris for coveted road space. Check out the iconic Gyeongbokgung Palace at the heart of the city, near the traditional wooden houses of Bukchon Village. Later, hike through the ancient gates and fortresses that line the picturesque mountain Bugaksan.