Places To Visit In Korea During Winter | In December, January And February
Looking to for places to visit in Korea during winter or celebrate Christmas in Korea? Does it snow in South Korea? What is the Seoul temperature in Winter? What are fun things to do in Korea during winter? Read on to find out more about winter in Korea!
Most of us are dreading the winter in Korea as they can reach -20°C. We just want to cuddle up inside in front of the fire place, get a cup of hot chocolate and listen to ‘another’ Christmas playlist longing for summer. Sometimes we are forced out of our ‘comfort cave’ to go and enjoy the typical activities the winter season in Korea has to offer. South Korea, the country that never slows down is the perfect place for this! Keep on reading for the best places to visit in Korea during winter.
Weather In Korea In Winter
The winters in South Korea are rather hash with temperatures going as low at -20°C. The weather is quite different in winter in Busan or Jeju than in the north of the country. The temperatures during winter are 3°C to -7°C in December, 0°C to -9°C during Korea in January and 3°C to -7°C in February. Check this guide on what to wear in Korea in winter.
Things To Know When Visiting Korea In Winter
- What To Wear In Korea In Winter – Winter in South Korea gets pretty cold, with temperatures going as low as -20°C in the mountain areas. Make sure to dress appropriate by checking what to pack for Korea in winter here.
- Travel Converters – Don’t forget to bring the right travel adapter when visiting South Korea. Check more info on travel converters here.
- Money Transportation Card – Using public transport in Seoul and other main cities to get around? Then don’t forget to buy a T Money transport card which can be used on subways and city buses. Click here for more info.
- Tipping – There is a no tipping culture in South Korea. It might even offend some people when being offered a tip. Check when tipping in Korea is acceptable here.
- Online Foreigner Discounts – During winter there are many special foreigner discounts available for foreigners. The best place to book entrance tickets or package deals is Trazy or Klook.
- A Winter Itinerary – Use a detailed 5 days or 7 days Korea winter itineraries to help you plan the places to visit in Korea during winter.
Places To Visit In Korea During Winter
Below is a list of the best places to visit in Korea during winter, including the ski resorts, winter ice fishing, a traditional Korean spa and many more.
1. Visit A Ski Resort
When we’re talking about places to visit in Korea during winter, skiing should definitely be on the list – no doubt about it! Korea is filled with mountains, which is great for hiking all year around. In winter these mountains are cover with snow and this means SKIING!
Korea is filled with ski resorts, some more remote that others, there are a total of 17 different resorts. Most of the ski resorts are located in the Gangwon-do Province as this is the area which gets the most annual snow fall. All these resorts include hotels, chalets, restaurants, coffee shop and some kind of entertainment like karaoke, pc bangs, jjimjil bangs, pool rooms, etc.
Some of the ski resorts are located in the Seoul area which is perfect for a one day ski trip. The biggest ski resort, located 1h30 from Seoul is Vivaldi Ski Resort, and there are daily shuttle buses for foreigners leaving from different locations in Seoul. If you are a snowboarder or skier than South Korea is your winter destination! Check prices for Vivaldi park here.
1.1 Where To Stay In Vivaldi Park
Planning to go skiing for a couple of days and looking for accommodation? Then the Vivaldi Park hotel is the best option as it is located just across from the ski slopes. Find more info here.
2. Hwacheon Ice Fishing Festival
The three week long Hwacheon Ice Fishing Festival is one of the biggest winter ice festivals running in South Korea. The festival takes place on a stream covered with a 40 centimeters thick ice layer. During the event Koreans from all over the country come together to enjoy ‘ice fishing’ and other winter activities. This festival should definitely be on your places to visit in Korea during winter list! Check prices for the festival here.
3. Take A Food Tour In Seoul
Taking a food tour or cooking class is the perfect way to discover the city and the traditional Korean food with a true local. It is also a risk free way of trying new and maybe strange food! One of the more local markets to go to for a food tour is Gwangjang Market. If you’re looking for things to do in Korea in winter off the beaten path, then you will truly enjoy this traditional food market. More info here.
4. Visit The Beautiful Gyeongju
Gyeongju is stunning city which is worth visiting all throughout the year, but in winter it has something special. It can easily be done as a weekend or day trip, as going from Seoul to Gyeongju is quite straightforward. The landscape is filled with grassy tombs that turn brown during autumn and winter. The winter winds are quite cold, but it’s nothing compared to the cold back in Seoul. Make sure when in Gyeongju to visit Bulguksa Temple and Seokguram Grotto. This is no doubt one of the best things to do in Korea in winter! Check more info about what to do in Gyeongju here.
4.1 Where To Stay In Gyeongju
It is easy to spend a couple of day in the beautiful Gyeongju. Make sure to book a hotel in the express bus terminal area, as from here all the touristic sights in and out of the city are easily accessible.
- Dorandoran Guesthouse – This stunning hanok guesthouse is the highest rated accommodation in Gyeongju. Not only is it comfortable, the price is affordable. Check more info here.
- Maison Mini Hotel & Guesthouse – Also located in downtown Gyeongju, this modern and cozy guesthouse is the perfect place to stay for couples and families. Big family rooms are also available. Check more info here.
5. Enjoy A Korean Bathhouse
Jjimjil bangs are the perfect place to retreat when the cold gets too much! You can find these bathhouses all over the country and are a convenient way to get a quick bath or shower. These bathhouses come in different sizes and have different themes, from ice room to a bamboo forest room. Many foreigner friendly bathhouses can be found in Seoul.
In most jjimjil bangs there will be a gender segregated area where you shower, bathe and get changed into your ‘typical’ bathhouse outfit. You can also find a common room where you can relax and even spend the night. Check more info here.
6. Visit Gyeongbokgung Palace When It Snows
Downtown Seoul is still the most touristic hot spot of Korea, with many ‘must see’ places like Gwanghwamun square, Namdaemun Market, Gyeongbokgung Palace and Bukcheon Village. The biggest palace of all, Gyeongbukgung is a stunning place all year around, beautiful architecture surrounded by mount Bugak. When it starts snowing in Seoul the palace turns into a magical place and becomes one of the top things to do in Seoul in winter!
6.1 Where To Stay Close To The Palaces
If you want to experience the traditional and historic Seoul it is recommended to stay in Gwanghwamun and Gyeongbokgung area. Make your experience extra special by staying in a hanok.
- Sohyundang Hanok Guesthouse – Located just next to Gyeongbukgung and Bukchon Village, this high rated and affordable guesthouse is the perfect place to stay. Check more info here.
- STAY256 Hanok Guest house – Have a comfortable stay in this amazing hanok. The hanok floor heating is perfect when staying in winter. A super friendly host will welcome and help you with any questions or problems. Check more info here.
7. South Korea Winter Hikes
Hiking is a must when visiting South Korea and shouldn’t be left out in your South Korea winter itinerary. Blankets of snow covering the beautiful mountains, turning it into winter wonderland. Surrounded by this natural beauty, this adventure will teach you to appreciate this ‘much dreaded’ season.
Hiking is a popular activity for Koreans, which isn’t a surprise as 70% of the country exists out of mountains. If you want to impress your Korean colleagues or friends and really immerse yourself in the Korean culture, you need to make a trip to one of Korea’s many national parks.
The best parks to visit during winter are the birch forest, Seoraksan and Sogeum.
8. Visit the Peyongchang Winter Olymics 2018 Sites
2018 was a big year for South Korea, as Pyeongchang was hosting the 2018 Winter Olympics. This were South Korea’s second Olympic games, back in 1988 the Summer Olympics were hosted here in Seoul. From Incheon Airport and Seoul Station there is a direct KTX to Pyeongchang and Gangneung which should only take 2 hours.
9. Visit Jeju Island In Winter
During the winter months it’s off season, which means almost no tourists around and you’ll end up paying less for hotels and flight tickets. As Jeju has a mild coastal climate, the island is warmer than mainland Korea. The snow covered scenery will take your breath away, especially when hiking Halla Mountain! Check here for the best places to stay in Jeju.
An unique experience to do in Jeju during winter is picking tangerines at one of the local farms. The picking season starts around mid November all the way till the end of January. Check more details here.
10. Pyeongchang Trout Festival
Similar to the Hwacheon ice fishing festival is the Pyeongchang trout festival. At the festival visitors can enjoy ice fishing, sledging, top spinning, riding 4-wheel ATVs, snow rafting and other ice programs.
Apart from trout fishing, the brave visitors can join the bare hand fishing competition in ice cold water!
When: end of December ~ mid January
Tickets: more info here
11. Celebrate New Year In Seoul
If you are looking to celebrate New Year and countdown in Korea, then Seoul is the place to be. The parties on New Year Eve in Seoul are epic and both Lotte Tower and COEX are having fireworks.
Things To Eat In Korea In Winter
Now you know all the places to visit in Korea during winter, below is a video of the best things to eat in korea in winter.
What To Wear In Korea In Winter
Winters in Korea can be very harsh, especially in Seoul and the mountain areas where temperatures can go as low as -20°C. When travelling in winter make sure you are prepared, otherwise your trip will not be as magical as planned.
The winter in Korea starts around the end of October, beginning of November and can last till the end of March, so around 5 months of snow and coldness!
The big question I get a lot is: ‘How to dress for winter in Korea?’. First of all make sure to have the appropriate outer wear. Thick jacket, thick winter trousers, hat, thick gloves, scarf and leather winter boots. Under your outer wear; you will need ski or football socks, thick leggings, a sweater, shirt with long sleeves that are preferably made with heatteck. Check an in depth winter packing guide here.
Travel tips to Korea in winter! Buy some instant hot packs to keep your hands and feet warm. Now you are all prepared for your Korea winter trip!
Frequently Asked Questions
In Seoul temperatures can drop to minimum -7°C in January but in the country side temperatures can go as low as -20°C.
If you want to see snow, then late December and January are the best time to visit South Korea.
The average temperature in December in Korea is around -2°C but can drop to -10°C and lower.
Make sure to bring a thick winter jacket, a hat, scarf, gloves, thick sweater, long johns, thick socks and waterproof shoes.
A guide to top things to do in Korea in winter good Marie, I enjoyed the articles you’ve spread it, Korea became my primary choice when going on a vacation with friends, thanks
About to visit Korea for New Year. Coming from Ulaanbaatar, I’m looking forward to slightly warmer weather and much cleaner air.