I was lucky enough to spend the day at the Winter Olympics today and, since I couldn’t find much useful information on the internet beforehand, I’ve compiled a few tips for traveling to the venue by bus, and what to expect when you get there.
What to Expect When You Get to the Pyeongchang Olympics
This will mostly be useful for visitors travelling from Seoul to Gangneung, where you will find the curling centre, hockey centre, the Gangneung Oval for the Speed Skating, and the ice rink.
First, I’m going to put this here in case of TL;DR:
Bring cash to the venue unless you have a visa card.
The Pyeongchang Olympics are sponsored by Visa so don’t take any other type of card. Apparently, there are temporary cards you can top up but that all seemed a bit overcomplicated.
Getting To Pyeongchang
TxBus or Kobus: This is the method we chose since the train and free bus weren’t available for the times we needed, and the KTX train is overpriced. It actually turned out to be a wonderfully easy and budget-friendly option so I’m glad we went down this route.
The website (or app) is pretty straightforward to use and you’ll need to book from Seoul (Express Bus Terminal) or one of the smaller stations. We chose East Seoul (Dong Seoul) for convenience as we live close by, but it also meant we skipped the central Seoul traffic as we headed straight east, away from the city. I certainly recommend this one to ensure the shortest journey with the least traffic.
Come out of the subway (Line 2, Gangbyeon, exit 4) walk straight across the street and you’re there. The express coaches are up on the first floor and through a little tunnel. You’ll be able to scan your e-ticket on your phone. You can also purchase tickets at the station.
You will be dropped at Gangneung bus station where you will find a free shuttle waiting for you (ours was the TS26). You don’t need to go in to the station. They’re just waiting outside and have the Pyeongchang logos all over the side. There will be a paper number on the front TS26. Just hope on and wait to get there. Cross the street and you’re in.
How about some reading on your trip: Books to Read Before Traveling to South Korea.
How to Get Back
Cross back over the street to where you go off and hop back on. There are apparently very few taxis available which could be a problem late at night if you’re planning on hanging around (though there isn’t actually much to do outside of the events themselves).
KTX: Simple to book and the trains are fast, although not necessarily a budget option. A lot of the train tickets to get you there in time for the events are sold out, unfortunately, but still definitely worth a look. You can book the train to Gangneung station all the way from Incheon, making this a great option for overseas visitors.
Picking Up Your Tickets
I was lucky enough to pick some up second hand from the ‘Expat Women in Korea Group’ on Facebook; there are lots of people selling second hand at the moment due to changes of plans. Here is the official fan to fan resale site.
What Else is There to do at the Venue?
Actually, not much. We had a fantastic time at the games and it is worth every penny, but once we left we found there wasn’t actually much to do within the venue or Pyeongchang itself and we changed our bus tickets to earlier ones (easy to do at the desk if you need to).
There are a few food venues and lots of places to pick up official merchandise. There’s a tourism building for anyone planning to extend their trip around Korea and a sneak preview of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, but apart from that there’s a lot of empty space.
There are some great places to go nearby and one of my favourite tour companies based in Asia has some fantastic tips for transport, what to do when you get there, and also fun things to do nearby – Trazy
I wish I could have done the Goblin K Drama tour since I’m a fan of the show and you can see some of the most wonderful filming locations in real life.
Have a Great Time
It was easily one of the best travel experiences I’ve had, an incredible atmosphere, and I’d love to do it all over again.