While picturesque and all, Winter as a season especially in Korea could literally kill first-timers unequipped for subzero temperatures. Winter in this country kicks off in December and melts into Spring around March. But as if K-drama fans don’t already know that when visiting our East Asian neighbor, which is home to Winter Sonata; Goblin; That Winter, The Wind Blows; and Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo among others, all sporadically shot in Korea’s cinematic snowscapes. We recently wound up in Seoul to experience Korean winter itself, and checked out some of these places you might choose checking out for that white and wonderful Khristmas you’ve been dreamin’ of!
[related: The Six Fix: 'Blue Santa' Isn't The Only Thing That Makes Korean Christmas Different From Ours!]
NSeoul Tower, Namsangongwon-gil, Yongsan-gu
While many recognize it as the location on Korean Odyssey where Jun Sun Mi and Son Oh Gong fight a demon, the Namsan Peak is ever iconic for its thousands of love locks latched together to achieve those poetic terraces. Still, don’t spend too much time outside—it’s too cold anyway!—as inside the observatory also lie surprises. Go visit the Hello Kitty Island, dine in at any of its glitzy restaurants, and, of course, enjoy the priceless view from the top!
Nami Island, Chuncheon, Gangwon
This might sound repetitive, but it deserves it—Nami Island, where Winter Sonata was famously shot—is still a top destination during Winter in Korea. Amaze yourself at nature’s work (save for early December, snow-covered paths and trees FTW!), as you enjoy the warmth of campfires and the savor of street food and other Korean dishes served in restos on the island.
[related: Where To Next: Realize Your K-Drama Dreams By Visiting These Locations In Seoul!]
Vivaldi Ski Resort, Hongcheon, Gangwondo
An hour and a half away from Seoul, this renowned ski park is that for many reasons—but primarily is its vastness. The park offers three slopes to match any level of expertise. (Prepare to witness these Korean kids no taller than four feet making you feel small in the ski skills department!) There’s also a beginner’s area to cater to first-timers who haven’t touched a pair of ski boots in their life. The inexperienced ones might as well opt for travel apps like Klook when booking for a session at Vivaldi, with tour guides, well, guiding you through the basics including gear selection and the actual sport. With a minimum of P10,000 on Klook, you can get P800 off on your Vivaldi visit with promo code HOLIYAY800 (app users) or P500 off with the promo code HOLIYAY500 (desktop users). The promo is valid until until December 31, 2018—so, it's just perfect for the holidays. Follow @klooktravel_ph on Instagram or click on the hashtag #klookPH if you’re looking for more deals.
King’s Cross Platform 3/4, Hongdae
Ah, of course. Any JK Rowling fan would fly to Seoul for this. The newest Harry Potter-themed café found in Hongdae is said to be the world’s biggest, comprising four levels with every nook designed to please cult followers. To enter, all you need to do is purchase a cup of coffee or tea; you’re left with a choice to buy any of its pastries (we recommend their churros!). You can always come in your Hogwarts garb for the full (Instagram-worthy) experience!
[related: Cheat Sheet: Here Are The Ultimate Essentials For Pinoys On Their First Winter Trip!]
Eyeing those fab coats, discounted shoes, or any of these world-famous beauty and skincare products your friends back home have been raving about? When all else fails, retail therapy at Myeong-dong is always a good idea. The sprawling shopping district is technically open until 12 midnight, but some already close shop as early as 10. Thus if you want to splurge, it’s still advisable to head to the area around 6 in the evening. If you’re cut short on your budget, Myeong-dong is also enjoyed via quick stroll with a Hotteok/pancake on one hand and even an ice cream waffle on another! Speaking of food, you might as well spend your won wisely by spoiling yourself in Korean barbecue. Some restos like Italian-serving Kitchen Lab and retired wrestler Kang Ho Dong-owned Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong charge you ahead via these handy travel apps to encourage better spending and indulging gastronomically at the same time. After all, what are the holidays for?
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Photographs by the author and Klook PH