PyeongChang, Korea : A Sneak Peak at the 2018 Winter Olympic Venues, Part 1

Posted by on Feb 23, 2017 in Destinations, Korea, Travel Photo Thursday | 13 comments


I’ve had a fantastic staycation this winter, and last week was the crown jewel. I traveled to PyeongChang, home to the 2018 Winter Olympics, twice last week. I visited three different venues and was a spectator at two world cup competitions. Welcome to week 318 of Travel Photo Thursday. Join me as I show you PyeongChang and the Olympic venues, Part 1.

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The 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games take place between February 9 – 25, 2018. Not since the 1984 games in Lillehammer, Norway has such a small city hosted the Games. Our first stop was Gangneung Olympic Park, located in the sister city Gangneung. The Park is home to the Gangneung Hockey Center (men’s hockey), Gangneung Curling Center, Gangneung Oval (speed skating), and the Gangneung Ice Arena (short track speed skating and figure skating).

PyeongChang Winter Olympics, 2018


Outside of the ice arena, I got my first glimpse of the Games mascots, Soohorang (a white tiger) and Bandabi (an Asian black bear).


PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics


The Ice Arena was seeing lots of action with the Four Continents Figure Skating Competition underway. Since this was a paid event, without a ticket the building was off limits. I would have gladly purchased one, but this was just a brief stop on our way to the sky jumping test event. I think it’s a lovely looking building. The style reminds me a bit of the Bird’s Nest in Beijing.

Gangneung Olympic Park


PyeongChang Winter Olympics 2018


This is a quick shot of the back of (what I think) is the Hockey Center. None of the buildings were open to the public on the day I visited. As I wrote before, this was just a very quick stop so that we could have a look at the outside of the buildings before we headed to the ski resort to watch the ski jumping.  I hope I can get back one of these days and see the interiors. I do love the clean lines.


PyeongChang Winter Olympics, 2018


There was also a traditional Korean music festival happening. I managed to pop into the festival tent before heading back to the bus.


PyeongChang Winter Olympics, 2018


Alpensia Ski Jumping Stadium

Next stop was the Alpensia Ski Jumping Stadium, host to the ski jumping and Nordic combined events. This was my first time at a World Cup Ski Jumping event and an Olympic test event, so I was excited. Alpensia is located about a 25-minute drive from the Gangneung venue. The event began around 5 pm, and it was dark by the time we left the event several hours later. I don’t have a lens for my camera that allowed me to get close-ups of the skiers, but it was great to get photos of the hill. Let’s face it, you see more on TV, and that’s why there is a big screen at the bottom of the hill, but it’s still exciting to watch live. We watched the ladies World Cup final, which was won by the Japanese skier Takanashi.

Look at the top of the hill, and you can see the ramp where the skiers begin their descent. The big screen at the bottom showed each skier setting-up, and it looks tricky as they slide along a pole to position themselves in the middle of the ramp. The ski jumpers need speed as they shoot out of there. I’m not sure how the officials decide which hill to use, but as you can see here on this day, it was the hill on the skiers right.


Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, 2018

PyeongChang Winter Olympics, 2018


There were so few spectators (as you can see in the photo above)  it was very easy to get photos of the pit where the skiers and the media hang out waiting for the next jumper.


PyeongChang Winter Olympics, 2018


Here is my sad ass  attempt at videoing one of the skiers competing.


We left the ski jumping behind at around 7 pm for the long drive back to Seoul. The men were completing a qualifying round to determine who made it to the final. At the moment, getting to Pyeongchang is not easy. The 3-hour bus ride means battling traffic on a two-lane highway, which was very busy on the day our bus tried to careen through. Seatbelts mandatory! I am being a bit melodramatic. Our driver seemed quite conscientious, although at times he was bit heavy footed.  A high-speed train is scheduled to open before the games begin next year, which will whisk passenger to Pyeongchang in approximately one hour from downtown Seoul. The government says the train will be ready on time. There are reports to the contrary, so time will tell. Accommodation close to the games is severely limited, so without this high-speed train, spectators could be few and far between.  My cost to attend this event was 5,000W ($5.00US). Why was it so cheap? The government is providing funding to bus companies to offer foreigner-only shuttle buses to many events and festivals around the country. If you’re coming to Korea, you can check here to see if there are any events scheduled during your time in Korea.

If you think you might like to experience the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in person, you can find out everything you need to know regarding ticket purchases on the official website.

You don’t have to be an Olympian to enjoy winter in Korea. Check out what to see and what to do. 

Have you ever visited an Olympic site, or been a spectator at any Olympic test (or actual) events? Let us know in the comments.

Come back next week for part 2 of my Olympic adventure.

Please welcome our co-hosts this week: Jan from Budget Travel Talk Ruth from Tanama Tales Rachel from Rachel’s Ruminations


You can browse the Travel Photo Thursday archives here.


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  1. I visited the Olympics in Salt Lake City, and I remember enjoying it but never expected this event to be in this city. It was interesting to read about Pyeong-Chang since I just wrote my cultural policy midterm on South Korea. There has been a great deal of protestations and the recent impeachment had wondering how this will all play out. Were you affected by any of this during your visit?

    • Hi, Brooke. Where are you studying? There were no protests on either day that I was there. I hear that Koreans aren’t overly interested in the Olympics. It will be interesting to see how that affects ticket sales.

  2. How lovely that you had such great views and no crowds. I’ve only ever seen this event on Television but can imagine the suspense of seeing it live. Those $5 bus trips would allow lots of sight seeing for little cost. Great for your staycation.

  3. This is so neat! I’m glad to see this preview including the mascots. We have seen the Olympic venues in Whistler. What a great experience to see all this and have it as a reference when you’re watching the Olympics next year.

  4. I’ve never visited an Olympic’s venue so it was fun touring this one ‘with you’. Wonder if they’ll get that train done? O’ahu is building a link, elevated train between its two big cities Honolulu and Kapolei and between the court cases and cost overruns and political battles that have surrounded it for the last 10 years we are thinking we may not live long enough to ever ride on it!

  5. I enjoy the Olympic games but for some reason I wasn’t aware the winter Olympics are going to take place next year in Korea. I think attending the Olympics (even the venues) is on a lot of traveler’s bucket lists. Any plans of attending the actual events? #TPThursday

  6. Thanks for giving us a preview of the venue for the 2018 Winter Olympics. It all looks fantastic and I’m sure Korea will put on an outstanding event. The Gold Coast, where I live are putting on the Commonwealth Games in 2018 so there is a lot of construction and preparation going on around my city as well.

  7. My kids enjoy visiting Olympic Stadiums, so we’ve been to the ones in Beijing and London so far. I think the buildings you show follow with the trend of incorporating a very modern look to the facilities. My prediction is that the high speed train will open 1 or 2 weeks before the Olympics, causing great stress all around. I think ski jumpers are quite brave. I’ve always wondered what beginners look like.

  8. I’ve loved watching the winter Olympics on TV over the years but have never visited a stadium. Like Michele, I’ve often wondered how one musters the courage to take those daring jumps into space or careen on slick runways at ungodly speeds on the luge sleds (my favorite event). Sounds like you’re enjoying your “staycation,” Nancie and the opportunity to be a tourist in your adopted country!

  9. Even though you can see more on TV, I can imagine it would be fun to see it in person once. Will you be in Pyeongchang for the Olympics themselves? I’d love to see the figure skating in real life!

  10. Good attempt at shooting a video at the Women’s Ski Jump. She looks so tiny, even at the bottom of the run. I guess they make it really wide for safety purposes. I didn’t see anyone jumping? Were they just testing the run?

    I can see why TV coverage has so many cameras. The skier is so far away at the top you need several cameras placed all along the run with really big telephoto lenses to get a good shot of the complete run.

    Still wasn’t it fun trying it?

  11. I am not sure what travel thursday photo is but I am delighted that South Korea is hosting the 2018 Olympics and will be ready when the time comes.

    • Hi, Denis! Thanks for dropping by. All of the venues are well on their way to being ready for the big event. I also volunteered to interview potential volunteers. I think the offers will go out by the end of March. Travel Photo Thursday is a weekly blog link-up featuring photos and travel stories from bloggers around the world. Join us sometime!

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