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5 Must-Try Korean Winter Activities (Other Than Skiing)

 

When you think about a Korean winter vacation, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind? Snow? Skiing? Is there anything else to do? Well actually, there’s loads more. Here are 5 activities you really shouldn’t be missing out on during your Korean winter vacation.

#1 Strawberry Picking

strawberry
Flickr | Republic of Korea

Yeah that’s right, strawberry picking! Korean strawberries are lovely, big and sweet. Furthermore, the strawberries are in-season and perfectly ripe during the winter making them even tastier! We were shocked at how big these strawberries can grow and don’t worry, the big ones are just as sweet as the little ones. Korean strawberries are a real treat, go pick your own!

strawberry2
Flickr | Republic of Korea

Some friendly advice, most trips to the strawberry picking farms in Korea will need to be booked in advance, if your Korean isn’t great, you may wish to book a day trip online from home first.

#2 Beautiful Christmas and New Year’s Winter Decorations

decorations
Flickr | travel oriented

Every year winter arrives, and with winter, comes everyone’s favorite time of year, Christmas and New Year’s!  During this time of year, festive decorations illuminate landmarks and spectacularly transform the streets of Seoul and Busan. The theme parks such as Everland and Lotte World become winter wonderlands. Korea sure knows how to end the year in style!

lights
Flickr | travel oriented

To help you choose where to go to enjoy the best of the decorations, we’ve picked four of our favorites:

The Garden of Morning Calm

If you’re an avid fan of Korean dramas, then you might already know about The Garden of Morning Calm, Love in the Moonlight and She Was Beautiful were shot here. It’s a huge garden full of a variety of beautiful flowers. The garden holds different exhibitions for each season, and during winter the Lighting Festival lights up the snow-covered gardens with stunning results.

Lighting Festival Season – December 2nd 2016 to March 26th 2017

Lighting Times – 5:10pm to 9pm (11pm on Saturdays)

Transport – From Cheongpyeong Station, go to Cheongpyeong Bus Terminal and take the bus to The Garden of Morning Calm.

You may also be interested in: Day Tour – Nami Island / Petite France / Railbike / The Garden of Morning Calm

Byeokchoji BCJ Botanical Garden

Another one that may be familiar to Korean drama fans, Byeokchoji BCJ Botanical Garden is home to a huge number of diverse plants including endangered species and aquatic plants. The garden specializes in the protection and preservation of plants and are it is a great environment for visitors to learn more about plant life.

During winter nights, the garden is open for visitors to enjoy, the flowers are decorated with all kinds of lights and colors. There is so much to enjoy, a Christmas tree, sleds and Santa Claus!

Winter Lights and Decorations – November 19th 2016 to March 5th 2017

Lighting Times – Sunset to 10pm

Transport – Take exit 1 from Gimcheon Station on the Gyeongui Line, then take bus number 15

Herb Island

Certainly some of the prettiest winter decorations can be found at Herb Island. Layers of colors and light beautifully coat the slopes and trees of this theme park and project a wonderfully festive feel.

As well as the Christmas decorations, the whole place has a year-round theme of herbs running through the park from attractions to restaurants, shops and gifts. Running Man has also had filmed in Herb Island.

Christmas Decorations – November 1st 2016 to December 31st 2016

Lighting Times – Sunset to 9pm

Transport – Take the train to Uijeongbu Station – Switch to the Gyeongwon Line (runs every 20 mins) – Get off at Choseong-ri Station (takes about 40 mins) – Take Bus 57 bound for Sinbuk Oncheon – Get off at Samjeong-ri.

You may also be interested in: Day trip to Edelweiss, Teahouse and the Lantern Festival at Herb Island

LetsRun Park Busan–Gyeongnam

Don’t make the mistake of thinking the best winter decorations are all in Seoul, LetsRun Park Busan–Gyeongnam is every bit as good as anything Seoul can offer. It’s a big park but it is well designed and all the park areas are numbered to make it easy to know where you are and where you’re going next. Area 13 has a fountain and light show!

Running Man was also recently filmed here; big fans of the show need to come check it out too.

You may also be interested in: Busan Night Tour: Western Busan Route

There are many more interesting places lit up for Christmas and New Years in Korea including Petite France in Gapyeong and other areas in the provinces. If you’re visiting Korea in winter don’t forget to pay some of these winter wonderlands a visit.

#3 New Year’s Celebrations in Korea

newyearkorea
Flickr | lohasteru
newyearkorea2
Flickr | TFurban

New year’s celebrations in Korea are a lot of fun, there’s loads to do including the count down, concerts and performances and maybe seeing your favorite Korean stars. Yeongdeungpo and Bosingak are the most popular places to see in the new year.

#4 Ice Fishing and Snow Festival

icefish
Flickr | Christopher John SSF

In Korea, they celebrate the winter in style by going ice fishing for trout. You have two choices here, fishing through a hole in the thick ice or, if you’re really brave, jumping in and grabbing the fish with your bare hands! Once you’ve caught any fish, (by rod or hand) you can take it to be professionally prepared and turned into a delicious sashimi dish. A special event loved for generations in Korea, tourists are now getting involved in the freezing cold fun!

snowfest
Flickr | Mark & Emma Hambleton & Dolan

After you’ve finished your sashimi there are plenty of other activities to keep you busy including, skiing, spinning tops and ice skating, sledding and more!

Pyeongchang Trout Festival

When – Dec 23rd 2016 to Jan 30th 2017

Where – Jinbu-myeon, Pyeongchang

Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival

When – Jan 7th 2017 to Jan 29th 2017

Where – Hwacheon-gun, Gangwon-do

You may also be interested in:

Taebaeksan Mountains Snow Festival

The Taebaeksan Mountains stretch from North to South Korea and in winter are covered in beautiful thick white snow, there is lots of fun to be had up in the mountains during the snow festival such as, entertaining shows, ice sculpting and sledding.

When – Jan 13th 2017 to Jan 22nd 2017

#5 Winter Hot Springs and Spas

spa
Flickr | Dushan Hanuska

Even in winter the biggest water parks in Korea are still open. In winter, they offer spas hot springs, warm indoor and outdoor pools so you can soak in a nice warm pool, relax and enjoy the snowy scenery.  

spa2
Flickr | Dushan Hanuska

The hot springs in Korea are a little different to the hot springs in Japan. In Korea they often put spas, hot springs and pools all in the same complex, so if you are the type to get bored easily, then coming to a Korean water park over winter is a great way to combine fun with relaxation.

Looking for a Korean Spa Experience? Luxury Red Ginseng Spa Experience

 
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