The 2018 Winter Olympics, Pyeongchang 2018, will take place from Feb. 9 to 25 in Gangwon Province, a resort region clustered in the Taebak Mountains northeast of Seoul.
The games will be spread across three main venues: Pyeongchang, where the official Olympic Village and Olympic Stadium are; Jeongseon, where Alpine skiing will take place; and Gangneung, where ice skating will take place.
Pyeongchang and Olympic satellite cities will have free shuttle buses to Olympic game venues and also to each satellite city. For more information on schedules, visit the official Pyeongchang 2018 website, or download the official mobile app, available for Apple iPhones or Google Android devices. Also note that Verizon Wireless customers in South Korea can have their international fees waived for the month of February by signing up for its reward program.
An express train, the Gyeonggang KTX, will run from Seoul’s two major stations, Seoul Station and Cheongnyangni Station, to Pyeongchang and Gangneung. The journey takes one hour and 25 minutes and two hours, depending on where you board. From Feb. 1 to 28, there will be 51 scheduled trains a day to transport visitors.
International flights arrive at Seoul’s Incheon International Airport. From the United States, Korean Air has flights to Incheon from more than a half dozen cities, including New York, Washington D.C., San Francisco and Dallas. Asiana Airlines also has flights to Incheon from five United States cities including New York, Chicago and Seattle.
Visitors have numerous hotel options in and around Pyeongchang. The local Olympic organizing committee has contracted special rates at 35 hotels in the area, for a total of more than 5,300 rooms.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 by calling 1-888-465-4329, or visiting the websites for each hotel.
Another option in Pyeongchang is the 238-room InterContinental Alpensia Pyeongchang Resort; nightly rates during the Olympics start at $450. Reserve by calling 1-888-424-6835, or by visiting the hotel website.
Residents of the host country typically get first crack at Olympic tickets, but at this point they are available to everyone.
Before the start of the Games, unless you live in South Korea, you can purchase tickets fromauthorized 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 United StatesOlympic 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 A.T.M. 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 and a hologram, along with the full name of the original buyer.Sites like Stubhub.com are generally safe to purchase from as they offer a money-back guarantee. For other websites, make sure you know what protections are in place before you buy.
Tickets went on sale for South Korean residents last February, but roughly 80 percent of the 750,000 tickets allocated to South Koreans were still available at the end of October. Of the 320,000 tickets set aside for international fans, 57 percent had been sold. As of Jan. 15, 67.6 percent of all available tickets have sold, according to Pyeongchang 2018 organizers.
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.
“South Korea is especially good at short-track speedskating, so expect that to be a hard one to get,” Victor Mather, a sports editor for The Times who will be on location for the Winter Games, said. Tickets for short-track speedskating are now sold out on CoSport.
You should also consider lower-profile events that are fun to watch in person. Mr. Mather said the biathlon was surprisingly enjoyable during the 2014 Sochi Games, but you may want to steer clear of bobsled events.
“Watching the sled streak by is kind of cool, maybe once or twice,” Mr. Mather said. “But it lasts only a fraction of a second. Standing in the cold for a very brief glimpse of speeding metal isn’t that great of a time.”
Beyond individual tickets, CoSport had been selling package deals that combined events or included hotel accommodations and other perks, but most have sold out, according to the website.
Athletes will compete in four new events this year: Big Air snowboarding, Mass Start speed skating, Mixed Doubles curling and an Alpine skiing team competition.
Big Air is the latest addition to the increasingly popular snowboarding category, which added the Slopestyle event in 2014. As of mid-January, tickets were still available through CoSport for the women’s Big Air final on Feb. 23 for $211 each.
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. The events will feature two pavilions, 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 to Feb. 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. The festival will showcase Korean music and dance in two to four performances a day. Korean singers and musicians will take part in performances that highlight international music and dance styles, including ballet, jazz, opera, pop music and modern dance. All shows are free to attend.
Rani Cheema, a South Korea travel specialist at Tzell Travel Group, says Gangwon province is an undiscovered destinationworth 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.”
During the Olympics, she said, visitors can expect temperatures to drop below zero and advised bringing enough warm clothing. “It will be unbelievably cold in February,” she said.
Skiers can hit the slopes at three popular resorts in Gangwon province: Yongpyong Ski Resort, Alpensia Ski Resort and Elysian Gangchon. Forculture, Ms. Cheema suggested visiting her favorite Buddhist temples in the area: Naksansa, Woljeongsa and Sinheungsa. “Buddhist temples are a sight to see all year round, but during the winter, especially if the snow is falling, you’ll feel like you traveled back in time,” she said. Depending on where you stay, your hotel concierge can help plan additional excursions in the area.
When it comes to cuisine, seafood is king. Ms. Cheema said that visiting the Jumunjin Fish Market, where vendors sell red snow crab, octopus and other seafood, is a must. Visitors can buy the catch they find most appealing and head to one of the many restaurantsacross the street from the market with their purchase. There, the restaurant will cook your seafood in traditional Korean style.
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