The 2018 Winter Olympics will take place from Feb. 9-25 in Gangwon province, a resort region clustered in the Taebak Mountains northeast of Seoul, South Korea. Competition will be spread across three main venues: Pyeongchang, site of the official Olympic Village and Olympic Stadium; Jeongseon, for Alpine skiing; and Gangneung, for ice skating.
From the United States, Korean Air has flights to Seoul’s Incheon International Airport from more than a half-dozen cities. Asiana Airlines also has flights into Incheon.
Hotels and Lodging
Visitors have numerous hotel options in and around Pyeongchang. The local Olympic organizing committee has contracted special rates at 35 hotels in the area. According to the committee’s accommodation newsletter, nightly rates average $265 for hotels in Pyeongchang and $90 in satellite cities.
Beyond those hotels, the region has plenty of other resorts. In Pyeongchang, for example, the 214-room Holiday Inn Resort Alpensia Pyeongchang has nightly rates starting at $450 over the Olympic period, while the 419-room Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites Alpensia Pyeongchang has rates starting at $408. Rooms at either property can be reserved online or by calling 1-888-465-4329. Another option in Pyeongchang is the 238-room InterContinental Alpensia Pyeongchang Resort; nightly rates during the Olympics start at $450. Reserve online or at 1-888-424-6835.
Before the start of the Games, unless you live in South Korea, you can purchase tickets from authorized ticket resellers, which vary by country. In the United States, residents can buy through CoSport and Jet Set Sports, which are also official sponsors of the U.S. Olympic team.
Because of its long-running sponsorship deal, Visa is the only bank and credit card method accepted for all official Pyeongchang 2018 transactions. That includes ticket purchases through authorized resellers like CoSport, concession and souvenir purchases, and ATM transactions at Olympic venues.
You can hunt for bargain tickets on resale websites, but be careful of counterfeits. All official tickets carry a QR code, a hologram and the full name of the original buyer.
Skiing events appear to be the most sought-after. Roughly 80 percent of the total tickets for Alpine skiing and cross-country skiing were sold as of late December, the most of any sport. Currently, individual tickets for various medal-round Alpine skiing events can be had for $150 to $200 per ticket through CoSport.
Figure skating is always a premiere attraction, and this year short-track speedskating will also be in the spotlight.
Showcasing South Korea’s rich culture during the Olympics is a top priority for locals, according to Choi Moon-soon, the governor of Gangwon province and the co-president of the Pyeongchang Organizing Committee.
Visitors can get a taste by heading to the Cultural Olympiad, held in the Pyeongchang Olympic Plaza. Two pavilions will be featured: one highlighting modern Korean culture, the other focusing on more traditional elements. Both pavilions will have plenty of art on display and feature live performances in a variety of art forms, including music and dance.
Also, from Feb. 2-24, Gangwon province’s tourism board is hosting a cultural festival at the Gangneung Art Center in Gangneung-si, a city about 45 minutes from Pyeongchang.
Rani Cheema, a South Korea travel specialist at Tzell Travel Group, says Gangwon province is an undiscovered destination worth traveling to whether you’re headed to the Olympics or not. “It’s a paradise for active travelers,” she said. “In winter, there’s good skiing, snowboarding and trout fishing, and summer is prime for hiking and mountain climbing.”
Skiers can hit the slopes at three popular resorts in Gangwon province: Yongpyong Ski Resort, Alpensia Ski Resort and Elysian Gangchon. For culture, Cheema suggested visiting her favorite Buddhist temples in the area: Naksansa, Woljeongsa and Sinheungsa. Depending on where you stay, your hotel concierge can help plan additional excursions in the area.
When it comes to cuisine, seafood is king. Cheema said that visiting the Jumunjin Fish Market, where vendors sell red snow crab, octopus and other seafood, was a must. Visitors can buy the catch they find most appealing and head to one of the many restaurants across the street from the market with their purchase. There, the restaurant will cook your seafood in traditional Korean style.