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Gangneung: Where competitions on ice take place

Photo by Donovan Mueller licensed CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Hold onto your woolly hats — the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games is almost here! And they’re partly taking place in Gangneung (say gung-NUNG), South Korea. Since Pyeongchang is located 700 metres above sea level, it's known as the Alps of Korea, so it makes sense that some of the snow sport competitions (i.e. snowboarding, biathlon, etc.) will take place there. But all of the competitions that take place on ice — including ice hockey, figure skating, speedskating and curling — will take place in Gangneung.

With amazing buildings, soaring mountains and clear lakes, it’s no surprise that Gangneung is one of the biggest tourist spots in South Korea. Let’s find out more!

Where is it?

The scenic route of Gangneung.
Photo by Donovan Mueller licensed CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Gangneung is a city in the northeast of South Korea. It covers an area of 1,040 square kilometres. That’s bigger than Grasslands National Park in Saskatchewan! The quickest way to get to Gangneung is by flying into Seoul (the capital of South Korea) and catching an express bus that takes you all the way to the city. But if you have time to spare, hop on the train from Seoul. It takes a longer route, but you get to see some beautiful sights along the way. Nice!

Why go?

For the biggest winter competition in the world — the Winter Olympics! With new and updated stadiums, newly built roads and special “tourist-guide training” for taxi drivers, this city is geared up and ready for the world to drop by. And that’s not all. While you’re waiting to catch your favourite Olympic event, there’s so much to see and do. Just take a look:

Gyeongpo Beach

A gorgeous beach in Gangeung, Korea.
Image courtesy of Pixabay

What’s a major perk of being a coastal city? The beach, of course! There are a bunch of beaches in South Korea, but Gyeongpo is one of the most popular. The largest beach on the east coast, it’s covered in soft powdery sand, making it perfect to walk around on barefoot. Or add some water and get busy building some stellar sandcastles! If you visit during spring or summer, the beach is usually busy hosting all sorts of festivals as well. With a nearby pine forest, too, Gyeongpo Beach is clearly the place to be.

Sun Cruise Resort & Yacht

It's a hotel that's in the shape of a ship looking out to sea!
Photo by parhessiastes licensed CC BY-SA 2.0

Fancy taking a cruise on land? Well, now you can! Sun Cruise Resort & Yacht is a resort housed in a cruise ship, but the ship is placed on top of a cliff that looks out to sea. It’s the very first resort of its kind, and it’s full of fun activities. From practising your best dig on the volleyball court to testing out your front crawl in the seawater swimming pool, this resort has something for everyone. It’s even said to have the best view of the sunrise in all of South Korea. That does it — let’s start packing!

Seongyojang House

It’s a mansion with 99 rooms built by nobleman Naebeon Lee in 1703.
Photo by Klaus314 Wikimedia Public Doman

This is no ordinary house. It’s a mansion with 99 rooms (that’s right, 99) built by nobleman Naebeon Lee in 1703. It’s said that 10 generations of the family have lived there and still live there today. With a library, a museum and a lotus pond, it’s not hard to see why they want to stick around! Visitors can also find out what it’s like to live here by booking a room for the night. Score! To top it all off, this building was also chosen as one of South Korea’s top traditional houses of the 20th century.

Make a list. You’re clearly going to be busy if you’re travelling to Gangneung!