The Winter Games may be over, but the adventure continues in Gangwon, the South Korean province where those games were held. Although the world’s attention was drawn to Pyeonchang this February, that is only one small part of an area that has long been famed throughout Asia for its scenic, natural beauty – and the welcoming warmth of its people.
Gangwon is a large province on the eastern side of the Korean Peninsula. The northeasternmost province of the Republic of Korea, it sits in the shadow of the majestic Taebaek Mountains, which bisect the province. This mountainous region is South Korea’s winter playground, and as such made it an ideal choice for the 2018 Winter Games. Gangwon is home to many annual winter sports competitions and celebrations, including the popular Pyeongchang Trout Festivals, one of the world’s premier ice-fishing derbies, and numerous ski resorts, such as Phoenix Snow Park.
Many of those who came to Gangwon for the Winter Games either arrived early or extended their stay to take advantage of the many sights and treasures Gangwon has to offer. The province, for example, enjoys a long if steep shoreline on the East Sea. Along the sea are a number of popular seaside resorts, best known of which are Naksan Beach and Gyeongpo Beach. There are also many theme parks and water parks, including Vivaldi Park Ocean World (which, of course, like many similar seaside attractions, are not open until the warm weather arrives), as well as a popular casino, Kangwon Land.
The whole province is dotted with many beautiful parks, the most famous of which is the national park around Taebaeksan. Seoraksan is another mountain park, and like Taebaeksan is also known for its rocky beauty, natural monuments and scenic hiking trails. The mountains are also home to numerous caverns and caves that attract explorers, spelunkers and other tourists.
Gangwon has long been a center of history, science, faith and culture for Koreans. Odaesan National Park, for example, is home to one of the holiest Buddhist centers in the country. Naksansa Temple and Uisangdae Pavilion are among many of the other sacred and religious sites and landmarks in the province. Also located in Gangwon are a number of museums and important historical sites, such as the might Gwongeumseong Fortress in Sokcho.
There is so much to see and do here is why, as they say in Gangwon, “when the games are over, that’s when the adventure begins.”