The 2018 PyeongChang Winter Games are nearly upon us. With just over a month left until the Opening Ceremonies, many inside and outside Korea are rushing to book lodging, transportation and tickets to events.
Those floundering are in a bit of luck. Despite recent difficulties with accommodations, local governments have been stepping up efforts to help open up more lodgings at affordable prices as well as providing special rail passes for the event specifically for foreign visitors.
Groove Korea has provided some information for those still looking to take part in the biggest sporting event in the world.
There are new KTX lines open allowing travel from Incheon and Seoul down to PyeongChang and Gangneung. In honor of the Olympics, KORAIL is offering a special pass for foreign visitors from February 1 to March 25. Available through pre-booking on the KORAIL website, the PyeongChang Rail Pass is available for five- and seven-day passes. The passes are only available for foreigners.
Five-day rail passes are 168,000 won for adults, 84,000 won for children age 4-12, 134,000 won for youth aged 13-25 or students with and International Student Identity Cards, and 151,000 won for a Saver Pass which can be purchased for groups of two to five people with the same itinerary.
Seven-day rail passes are 195,000 won for adults, 97,000 won for children, 156,000 won for youth and 176,000 won for Saver Passes.
PyeongChang Rail Passes are only available for purchase until January 31, but passes purchased by January 10 come with a pre-paid reloadable transportation cards that can be used on the subway and buses. The passes are available for the KTX, KTX-Sancheon, ITX-Saemaeul, ITX-Cheongchun, Samaeul, Mugunghwa, Nuriro, commuter trains and the five tourist belt trains. It cannot be used for the SRT lines, subways or sightseeing trains.
To purchase the passes, visit www.letskorail.com/pyeongchang
to book the tickets then bring the printed ticket to the station. Seat reservations are possible. The commemorative cards can be picked up at the Airport Railroad Travel Center, Seoul Station, Yongsan Station, Cheongnyangni Station and Busan Station.
For those wishing to travel by car, two major expressways will go to the Olympic area – Yeongdong Expressway and Yeongdong II Expressway. Also, during the Olympics, national roads will be used as bypasses for expressways and the routes that connect the KTX train stations and venues. National Road No. 6, which connects Dunnae, Mui, Jangpyeong and Ganpyeong and Regional Road. No. 456 will bypass Dunnae Interchange and Daegwallyeong Interchange. National Road No. 59 will connect Jinbu Interchange and Jeongseon.
Once arriving in PyeongChang or Gangneung, event ticket holders can reach the venues by using the spectator shuttle bus. Cars and other transportation by individuals will not be allowed access around the venues, so a Park & Ride system will be incorporated. There are four centers at Bokwang, PyeongChang, Jeongseon and Gangneung. Ticketholders can park at the lots or use public buses to get to the lots and then use the free shuttle system to go to the venues.
More detailed information on transportation in PyeongChang and Gangneung during the Games is available under the Transportation Information page on the official PyeongChang Winter Games website.
While a number of hotels and pensions in the area have already been booked for the Games, a number of places are still available with affordable prices. After complaints that some lodgings had been raising prices more than three times higher than usual peak prices, according to Yonhap News on November 27, the Gangwon Provincial Government released a set of measures to increase the number of rooms available and to encourage local accommodation owners to offer reasonable prices.
They will also run a call center that will connect foreigners to local business owners.
The city of Gangneung currently has a website – GNStay – to help foreign visitors find accommodations during the Games. A simple search offers various accommodations from resorts to homestays with a variety of prices in the city. Gangneung will play host to ice sports during the Olympics. To view availabilities, check out the site at www.stay.gn.go.kr
Other accommodation websites have listings for various cities around the region, including Airbnb, Booking.com and Hotel Search with varying price ranges and locations, depending on where visitors would like to stay. However, it is advised to book as early as possible.
With ticket sales lagging a bit, there are still plenty available for the Olympics. The official website has reservations available and tickets can be purchased offline as well at Seoul City Hall, Gangneung City Hall, Gangwon Provincial Office, Incheon International Airport, Gimpo Airport and 19 KTX stations.
For those who are not located in Korea, the official PyeongChang website – www.tickets.pyeongchang2018.com
– has an official reseller website checker. Tickets purchased outside of the country can only be purchased through official resellers.
Also on the website is a new feature called Fan-to-Fan, where individuals may resell tickets that they do not wish to keep. It is a fairly simple process to register tickets for resell as well as to purchase the tickets available.
For those wanting a bit more of an experience for the Olympics, the committee has teamed up with Jet Set Sports to offer three tiers of packages that include tickets to the Olympics as well as special extras.
The New Horizons Bronze package focuses on ice and/or snow events and offers the best section of seats and includes access to the exclusive New Horizons hospitality lounge in Gangneung Olympic Park. It comes with one or two Category A event tickets and an afternoon or evening hospitality passes.
The Silver package comes with one or two tickets to events with better seating that the Bronze package, as well as an afternoon or evening in the special hospitality lounge. Guests can also add other services from Jet Set Sports, such as additional event tickets, accommodations in well located four- and five-star hotels, accredited ground transportation, in-venue staff assistance, opportunities to dine at local fine-dining restaurants and full pre-Olympic and Game-time management of their visit.
The Gold package includes VIP Category A event tickets and hospitality passes to the New Horizons lounges. Guests can also add other services from the Silver package. On top of that, they can get unlimited event tickets with prime seating as well.