What to Know When Visiting South Korea for the Olympic Games
Your Cheat Sheet to Olympics Feats
With the Pyeongchang Olympics approaching, many travelers are getting ready to head to South Korea to attend this once in a lifetime event. During the 2018 Winter Games there will be 102 events in 15 different sports taking place, such as freestyle skiing, figure skating, curling, cross-country skiing, ice hockey and luge.
If you plan to visit Korea for the Olympics you will not only have the thrill of observing the legendary games, you’ll also have the chance to enjoy the wonderful culture, scenery and cuisine of Korea.
It’s not too late to plan your trip there — the events will begin on February 10 and end on February 25. To help get your trip in order, here are some important things you need to know before you visit Korea.
Where Will the Olympics Take Place?
The Olympic Games will be taking place in two areas — the Pyeongchang mountains and the Gangneung coast.
All of the venues are situated within 30 minutes of each other and those venues include the the Alpensia Biathlon Center, Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium, the Alpensia Ski Jumping Center and the Alpensia Sliding Center. You will also be able to watch alpine sports at the Jeongseon Alpine Center.
Do I Need a Visa to Go to South Korea?
Citizens of most countries will not need visas when visiting South Korea and will receive a visa on arrival that lasts between 30 and 90 days. When you enter the country you will need to have a valid passport with at least one page available for your entry stamp.
Citizens of Canada are allowed entry for 180 days without a visa and citizens of the USA can visit Korea visa-free for 90 days. Citizens of the European Union can also get into Korea for 90 days without a visa.
If you are not from any of these countries, please reference the specific requirements of your country for travel to South Korea.
Where to Fly Into
The Olympics will be taking place in the city of Pyeongchang, so where should you be booking your flight to?
The main airport for Korea is Incheon International Airport in Seoul, so most people attending the Olympics will be entering the country via there. Make sure to book your flight as early as possible so you can get the best deal.
A high speed rail line opened up in December 2017 from Seoul to Pyeongchang. It will be operating at increased frequency during the Olympics and the journey takes around 1.5 hours. Another option is to fly into Yangyan airport, which is closer to Pyeongchang. It currently only handles a few flights, but it is expected to increase in capacity during the Olympics.
Important Tips for Your Visit
What other things should you know before traveling to South Korea for the Olympics?
- Make sure you order your tickets online as soon as possible. The website releases tickets as they become available, so keep checking back or sign up for alerts so you know when new tickets are going on sale.
- It is possible to buy tickets when you get there, but there is the risk that all of the tickets will have sold out. Also, watch out for counterfeit tickets and don’t purchase tickets from anyone on the street.
- Accommodation will be at a premium during the Olympic games, so it is a good idea to start looking for a place to stay as early as possible.
- There are three different options for where to stay — the mountain cluster, the coastal cluster and the area near venues where the snowboarding events take place. Consider the events you want to attend when choosing your accommodation.
- Plan extra time into your trip so you can visit some of the interesting historical sites around the Olympic Village, including Oroumchi Village, Woljeongsa Temple, Korea Botanic Garden and the Hyoseok Cultural Town. If you have even more time, there are plenty of great things to do in Korea all over the country.
- Make sure you pack warm clothes, as the weather will be cold and you will be spending long hours outside watching the events.
- Although there will be a strong security presence at the games, you will still need to be conscious of potential dangers and keep track of your own personal belongings.
- There are also tour packages available for traveling to the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Games, which usually include accommodation, meals and tours around the area. Depending on what it includes, this might be a better option.
- Those who only plan on attending one or two events might find it easier to stay in Seoul and commute out for a day trip to one of the venues. The high speed train will make it convenient to travel back and forth between Pyeongchang and Seoul, so you can enjoy the attractions of the capital city during your visit.