High1 Ski Resort is one of the largest ski parks in Korea. With only a few weeks left to hit the slopes, I wanted to see what all the hype was about. And if High1 really is all it’s made out to be.
Having spent the past 6 weeks on various slopes in Korea, I’ve discovered that the ski parks here are generally limited in size, and they are often very crowded. However, coming from sunny South Africa, I had a “take what you can get” attitude. Any form of skiing, no matter how good or bad, was something I was not used to.
About High1 Ski Resort
High1 Ski Resort lies 3 hours east of Seoul in Gangwon Province. Unlike Vivaldi Park and Oak Valley, it is a bit further from the capital city. However, what’s waiting for you when you arrive is worth the time it takes to get there. High1 has the highest elevation in the country and offers the best ski runs I’ve come across in Korea.
High 1 is a much larger resort compared to other ski parks in Korea, covering 3 mountain peaks. It offers something for the whole family, including many kiddie slopes and snow sledding, saunas, a casino and numerous hiking trails.
The ski park
High1 Ski Resort is said to have more powdery snow than any other ski park in Korea. However, the actual quality was no better than the other resorts I’ve visited, with most of the runs being made of artificial snow. As a result, there are a few icy patches that you will most likely come across.
What sets High1 Ski Resort apart from the others is the dynamic ski park, with many long runs and slope varieties. However, there is no escaping the crowds and so you will have to bite the bullet and do your best to avoid any collisions.
The ski park itself is easy to navigate around but it’s best you take a map of the ski park before you hit the slopes. There are many of these available from the Mountain Ski House.
The Mountain Top offers exceptional views of the surrounding mountain ranges as well as many picturesque photo opportunity spots. Halfway up the mountain is the Valley Hub where you can grab some lunch and take a rest before heading back up to the peak or down the slopes again.
The slopes at High1 Ski Resort
High1 is made up of 18 runs covering a total area of 21 km. Moving between the slopes is easy with the 3 gondolas and 7 ski lifts. There was no waiting time to get on any of the ski lifts but there was a short queue for the gondola leading to the Mountain Top.
The beginner slopes at High1 Ski Resort are long and wide which is perfect for those just starting out. There are also a variety of these slopes for newbies to choose from, each with their own ski lifts.
The intermediate slopes offer long, fun runs. These tend to be a bit crowded in places and empty in others but altogether it will test your abilities and allow for a 3.8km downhill ski.
There are also a number of advanced and expert slopes at High1 Ski Resort. These were not very popular as they were all pretty steep. However, if you’re an experienced skier, you may enjoy the emptiness of these slopes.
The facilities at High1
Yet again I’m amazed by the efficiency of Korean systems in general. All facilities, from restaurants to rental shops are clearly marked and navigating around the Mountain Ski House is really simple. The High1 staff are able to assist in English and if you need further assistance, there is a foreigner desk at the entrance. This was specifically helpful to me as I was traveling alone and had no idea where anything was.
Lockers are also available for rent. Small lockers cost 1 000 won but if you have large luggage, you can rent a bigger locker for 3 000 won. Also, you can lock up your skis overnight for 1 000 won.
Costs for High1 Ski Resort
Buses leave daily from Seoul to High1 and bookings can be made here. The trip will take you approximately 3 hours (if you leave from the Sports Complex pick up) and a one way ticket will cost you 23 000 won ($20). If you choose to do a day trip only, I’d advise you book the earlier bus so that you’re able to hit the slopes by 09:30.
A full day lift pass will cost 72 000 won ($65) and equipment rental is 28 000 won ($25). For more details on these prices, check out High1’s website. There is a 40% foreigner discount offered on lift passes and equipment rental if you provide either your ARC or passport. This discount isn’t advertised but you can get your coupon from the foreigner’s desk.
Ski jackets and pants are available for rent at the ski park for 20 000 won ($18) per day. Unfortunately, ski goggles cannot be rented from the resort so you would need to purchase a pair from the ski shop on site.
If you choose to visit High1 for the day, you won’t need to leave the resort. However, if you are spending the night at a hotel or need to get to town, there is a free shuttle that runs from the Mountain Ski House to various drop off points in the area. This includes Kangwonland Hotel and Casino as well as Gohan Station.
Unfortunately, there are no motels or hostels near High1 Ski Resort. If there are, they aren’t easy for foreigners to find or make reservations at. Therefore, the only options are to book a condo or hotel near the resort, which can be quite pricey.
As I arrived at 12:00, I decided to spend the night in order to maximize my time on the slopes
I treated myself and stayed at the 5* Kangwonland Hotel. However, I wasn’t spoilt for choice. Kangwonland Hotel was my only option as everything else I found in the area worked out to be similarly priced.
The hotel was luxurious indeed. After 8 months of living in Korea, and adapting to their small living areas, I had finally come across a “normal” room and bathroom. My normal!
Firstly, the bathroom wasn’t a wetroom. It had a bath (YES) and big white towels. If you’ve lived in Korea you would understand my excitement. The bed was amazing and surprisingly it wasn’t as hard as you would find at most motels.
At around 10 pm there was a fireworks display right outside my window which again was totally unnecessary but beautiful at the same time.
Kangwonland Hotel is home to a casino which attracts many Koreans and foreigners alike. There are a few restaurants and room service is also available. However, as I’d splurged on the room, I had to count my pennies and decided to have ramen for dinner instead. Considering the average meal at the restaurants cost over 35 000 won ($30), I think my 2 000 won ramen was great value for money!
How to plan your trip to High1 Ski Resort
Whilst skiing in Korea, I’ve made all my bookings through a local tour agency, Trazy. They offer affordable ski packages for foreigners. This takes out the hassle of organizing it yourself, and of course having to deal with the language barrier.
If you’re in the same boat that I was in, and only arrived at the ski park around noon, you’d most likely decide to spend the night at High1 Ski Resort. However, after visiting High1 I would highly recommend that you opt for a day trip instead. That is, of course, if you are looking for the most cost-effective option.
Initially I was told that High1 is a 4-hour drive from Seoul, but in fact, it is only 3 hours. That’s if you take the direct route from Sports Complex and don’t stop off at numerous points (as we did with Trazy).
After the shuttle fetched me at 08:00 at Myeongdong, it made its way to the Sports Complex pick up. Here we changed busses. This bus left at 9:00 and arrived at High1 before 12. Considering I only arrived at the resort at 12, it made sense to stay the night.
Trazy do, however, offer a 1-day tour that leaves much earlier and so you will be on the slopes before 9 am. So yes, the drive to High1 is 4 hours, if you arrange a pick up from Myeongdong. My advice would be to meet the bus directly at Sports Complex and as a result, enjoy a shorter trip.
Overall thoughts on High1 Ski Resort
If you are a regular skiier or snowboarder, High1 should definitely be on your list of resorts to visit. It’s a much bigger ski park compared to those closer to Seoul offering fun runs for all levels.