Ice Fishing In Korea |The Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival

Ice fishing is a popular winter activity in Korea, as there are many ice fishing festivals happening all over the country during the colder months! The most popular festival, without a doubt, is the Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival. We’re here to share all the information you need to know about this incredible festival as well as other related festivals. This festival isn’t just for fishing lovers, but those looking to experience a more unique side of Korean culture.

Each year in January, the Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival takes place. The festival is so celebrated that it was even recognized by CNN as one of the ‘7 Wonders of Winter’. This 3-week long festival (January 6th – 28th, 2024) is one of the biggest events in South Korea. Not only is it jam-packed with plenty of incredible activities, but it also takes place entirely on a stream covered by a 40 cm-thick layer of ice!

Read on to discover all there is to see and do at the Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival.

hwacheon ice fishing festival

Activities at Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival

Let’s discover all of the exciting activities that have helped make the Hwacheon Sancheoneo Festival the biggest ice fishing festival in Korea. 

1. Ice Fishing At Hwacheon

Hwacheon is well known for its clear river water and the local mountain trout known as ‘sancheoneo’ in Korean. The biggest attraction is undeniably the ice fishing experience. Visitors can fish for Hwancheon’s famous mountain trout with the help of 11,000 ice holes! There are also numerous areas for visitors such as the main area, a reserved area, and an area exclusively for foreigners.

At first, the idea of a foreigner-only zone was off putting, but after seeing how packed the other areas were, it was beneficial to fish in a quieter zone. Additionally, staff members can speak in various languages such as English and Chinese. Here, you can fish up to three mountain trout per person, which you can then exchange for a delicious grilled fish. What’s more appealing than that?

what are the seven wonders: hwacheon ice fishing festival

When entering the foreigner fishing area, you’ll receive a fishing rod and a plastic bag to put your caught trout in. During the day, plenty of new fresh trout are released into the different areas. Don’t worry; there’s enough for everyone!

PRO TIP! Move your rod upward every 3 seconds, this way you should be able to snatch a passing fish out of the water.

Truth be told, I had never been regular fishing before let alone ice fishing until I came to Hwacheon. I had never even walked on frozen ice! Where I come from, lakes and rivers don’t freeze over during the winter, so this kind of experience was never available. Thus, the Sancheoneo festival was at the top of my bucket list. Although I learned (sadly) that my fishing skills are practically non-exist, I was somehow able to catch a jumping fish with my bare hands! It’s memories like this that make the Hwacheon Sancheoneo Festival so memorable.

hwacheon sancheoneo ice festival

2. Bare Hand Ice Fishing Competition

One of the most entertaining and unique features of the festival was definitely the bare-handed fishing competition. This is when a large group decked out in summer outfits run around in the freezing cold water as they attempt to catch as much trout as possible.

You can watch the competition take place every hour, on the hour, starting with a group of children and finishing with the adults. Around 40 Koreans and foreigners partake in the event, which lasts around 5 minutes. Once the competition begins, you’re guaranteed a laugh as some competitors are clearly more dedicated than others.

You may be wondering… how do competitors catch the fish? It’s expected that all participants shove the live fish down their shirts as they continue to hunt for more. When it comes to older Korean men, many of them opt for holding the fish head in their mouths. What a way to impress the audience!

3. Other Winter Wonder Activities

Although ice fishing is definitely the most popular activity, that doesn’t mean that the other activities are any less fun! There is a vast amount of activities available to guests such as ice sculpture viewing, ice and snow sledding, a winter village, and the nearby Seondeung street, coffee museum and ecological film centre.

Hwacheon Ice Fishing Festival Grilled Trout

Tickets And Package Deals

You can easily buy your entrance tickets on-site, but I would recommend purchasing them online to avoid any disappointment.

1. Onsite Tickets

Mountain trout fishing: 12,000 won per person and 8,000 won for foreigners

Grilled trout: 3,000 won

Other activities range between 3,000 won and 10,000 won

2. Online Tickets

We booked our trip through the budget travel agency Trazy. For only 47,000 krw ($34) per person, your ticket includes round-trip transportation, English and Chinese speaking-guides, ice fishing, fishing rod rentals, one grilled trout, snow and ice sled rentals, entrance to the ice sculpture plaza, and a festival voucher worth up to 5,000 krw. There are other travel agencies offering similar packages, but after thorough research, Trazy’s package stands out as a more inclusive and valuable option. To find out more about the 2024 season, click here.

ice festival korea

How To Get To Hwacheon Ice Fishing Festival

If you’re not planning to purchase a package ticket, you can head to the festival via intercity bus starting from Dong Seoul Bus Terminal (East Seoul Bus Terminal). Take the bus to Hwacheon (화천). The festival is only a ten minute walk from the terminal. It is strongly recommended to download Kakao or Naver maps to avoid getting lost.

Buses from Dong Seoul Bus Terminal leave daily from 07:05-19:35 at 30-40 minute intervals. You can check the full bus timetable here.

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Hwacheon Ice Fishing Festival South Korea

Have you been to the Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival or have any questions about ice fishing in Korea? Tell me about it in the comment section below!

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2 Responses

  1. Ck says:

    Will it b open this winter?

  2. Chua says:

    Hi. May i know if i can visit before 6 jan. Because we will be leaving korea on 25th december.
    Wish to experience this before we leave.

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