Gangwon-do: The Winter Wonderland

How does one celebrate Christmas thousands of miles from friends and family?  Go on an adventure!

I couldn’t be in America this Christmas, but I did get Christmas day off from work and I wanted to go to a corner of Korea I had never visited.  Gangwon-do is the north-east province of Korea and with the exception of Jeju, it is the least populated province in the country.

I don’t feel like the Korean Tourism Board advertises the region too often, except now they have to because the 2018 Winter Olympics will be in Pyeongchang, one of the counties in Gangwon-do.  The area is famous for skiing and camping but it seems like everything is geared towards Korean tourists.  Unless you have a car, your only option to get to Gangwon-do is a long bus ride from a major city.

IMG_1581

IMG_1580

clear blue skies

I left from Seoul on Christmas morning.  It only took two and a half hours from Seoul to Jangpyeong, a small town in Pyeongchang county.  I say “only” because I found some horror stories on other blogs about buses getting stuck in the snow or crazy traffic and the journey ended up being five or six hours.

it was a Dunkin Donuts Christmas breakfast

it was a Dunkin Donuts Christmas breakfast

There wasn’t much to do in Jangpyeong and most of the sites were closer to the town of Jinbu.  It was only 1,200 won and half an hour to get to Jinbu on an inter-city bus and from Jinbu you can take local buses to temples, ski slopes, and national parks.  The theme of Gangwon-do seems to be buses.

IMG_1552

On the way to the temple

I visited Woljeongsa Temple, which was also right next to Odaesan National Park.  It felt magical to walk around in the snow with beautiful mountains surrounding the temple.

IMG_1551

IMG_1555

IMG_1559

IMG_1556

IMG_1557

IMG_1558

IMG_1562

IMG_1570

IMG_1560

One of the buildings on the temple grounds was turned into a mini museum.

IMG_1564

IMG_1567

IMG_1566

IMG_1565

IMG_1569

IMG_1574

As much as I wanted to walk through more of the trails in the park, it was still below freezing and snowing and I wanted to retreat to my warm hotel room.  My co-teachers said the area is more popular in the fall, which does seem like a smart idea.

IMG_1572

IMG_1578

all the animals you can find in the forest

all the animals you can find in the forest

IMG_1577

I had a lovely Christmas out in the countryside, I consider the fresh air of the mountains my Christmas gift to myself.

This entry was posted in Korea travel. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s