Winter is in full swing with temperatures dipping into the negative teens in the Seoul metro area. However, Korea is more than just Seoul and one of my favorite places to visit is Gangwan-do. This mountainous province is located to the east and home to some of the greatest hiking trails in the nation.
In the winter, Korea is famous for its festivals and rather than staying inside, we ventured out into the cold and traveled to the Pyeongchang Trout Festival. This small community is known for the fresh fish that flock to its cold waters. However, don’t be mistaken and think that the festival is in the town of Pyeongchang (currently bidding for the Winter Olympics), it’s actually in Jinbu-Myeon.
Jinbu-myeon is a small town just off Highway 50 and a short (2hr 15min) ride from Dong-Seoul Bus Terminal (12,500원). Several buses leave from the terminal and take you directly to Jinbu-Myeon. Once in this winter wonderland, you’re only a few minutes from the fun. Exit the intercity bus terminal and turn right. Cross the main intersection and turn right again. Walk for 5-10 minutes and arrive at the main gate.
Admission to the festival is fairly in expensive. 20,000원 buys an all-day pass and allows visitors to try their hand at ice fishing, sledding, skating, and biking (on ice). If you’re not sure what you’d like to do, individual tickets can be purchased (see below). Gangwan-do is famous for its cold winters, so make sure you dress extra warm if you’re going to try the ice trout fishing. You’ll need the extra layers and protection for your feet and hands.
One thing that isn’t included in the basic price of admission is the ATVs. However, for only 10,000원 you get to climb on board and ride around an ice track for 30 minutes. It takes a little time to get used to the controls while driving on the slippery ice, but after a few laps, drivers of all ages get pretty good at initiating spins and controlling these bikes.
We spent the entire day at the festival. The sledding rides and the ATVs were our favorite activities, but what impressed me most were those dedicated individuals camped out in the icy wind trying to catch fresh trout. Most weren’t successful, but when you managed drag a fish up through the tiny holes in the ice, you feel like you’re on top of the world. If you are lucky enough to capture one of these elusive trout, you can take it to nearby restaurants and have them cook it up for you! We weren’t that lucky and enjoyed some of the food in the nearby tents.
The festival ends on February 17th, so there’s still time to get out there if you want to try your hand at ice fishing and some of the other activities.
Official Website: www.festival700.or.kr (Korean only)
Dates: January 8 – February 17, 2011
Address: Gangwon-do Pyeongchang-gun Jinbu-myeon
Phone: Korea Travel Phone +82-33-1330 (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese); For more info +82-33-336-4000 (Korean)
Bus from Dong-Seoul Bus Terminal: 12,500원
All Day Admission: 20,000원
Ice Fishing: 10,000원
ATVs: 10,000원 for 30 minutes (not included in all day pass)