Wonder at the Winter Olympics: A Guide to Korea Beyond the Games

Next month, discover dreamy islands in Gangwon-do, live in Seoul’s traditional hanoks, and tuck into the best of Korean cuisine. Don’t forget the soju.  
South Korea
South Korea, the venue of the 2018 Winter Olympics, is the meeting ground of old and new. Centuries-old temples like Gyeongbokgung Palace (in picture) coexist with futuristic, UFO-like architecture. Photo by Topic Images Inc./Topic Images/Getty Images.

South Korea will play boisterous, hearty host to the 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games between 9 February and 18 March. In the northeastern province of Gangwon-do, Pyeongchang and Jeongseon counties and Gangneung city are dressing up to dazzle. Over 90 participating countries and thousands of spectators will cheer skiers whooshing down slopes. Bobsleighs will be a blur along snow-white tracks, and luges and ‘skeletons’ (small sleds) will perform gravity-defeating stunts, all for 102 Olympic and 80 Paralympic gold medals.

When I visited the country in September 2017, I could feel the anticipation (and some nerves) before the big day. Sleepy seaside towns in Gangwon-do are stirring, its national parks are seeing newer, curious hikers; locals everywhere can’t help but steer conversations to the Olympics. If there is a good time to see this country, it is now (www.olympic.org).

To explore Gangwon-do, the host province for the 2018 Winter Olympics go here; for our guide on Seoul, go here.

  • Kareena Gianani is Senior Associate Editor at National Geographic Traveller India. She loves stumbling upon hole-in-the-wall bookshops, old towns and collecting owl souvenirs in all shapes and sizes.

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