Winter in Korea! What to do and what to expect

Reading Time: 3 minutes

If you’re up for an adventure, winter in Korea (in Korean 겨울, gyeoul) can be a perfect place to visit. Sometimes the summer can feel way too hot and humid, but the winters are cold and dry. Anywhere from December through mid-March can be the best time to enjoy all the snow activities, and beat the crowds that come to Seoul in the summer.

Here’s what you need to know for your winter trip to Korea!

What’s the winter weather like in Korea?

Depending on what you’re used to for cold weather, you might find Korea’s winter weather ok! In December and February, the average temperatures are between 4/-4C, though in January it’s significantly lower, averaging 1°/-7°. In downtown Seoul, there’s usually not too much snow, and it usually doesn’t get in the way of any activities. Outside of the big city though, there can be a lot more snow requiring more preparation. In general though, winter here is pretty dry, so snow won’t be too much of a concern.

Winter food

Korea has sooo many delicious soups and stews; they’re a major part of the cuisine. Being here in winter makes them extra cozy. Even every day food such as Kimchi-jjigae (김치찌개) which is kimchi stew, is extra delicious when it’s cold outside. Hotteok (호떡), a sweet Korean fried pancake, is sold all year round, but is more popular (and tasty) in the winter when it’s cold outside. Also look for roasted sweet potatoes (구운고구마), which are sold on the street. They’re usually quite large, so they will keep your hands warm for a long time while you walk around!

Skiing and snowboarding

The northern parts of South Korea have great conditions for skiing and snowboarding, and are part of what made the Pyeongchang Olympics a success. Take advantage in the winter by going to ski resorts such Yongpyong or Vivaldi Ski World. Yongpyong was also used during the Olympics, and so offers great facilities and ski hills.

Korean spa

Another very popular activity is going to jjimjilbang, or the Korean spa, which is very different from the Western one. First of all, it is opened 24 hours a day and is very often used by travelers as a cheap place to spend the night. It is divided into two areas: the first is an area divided by gender where you are completely naked, the other is a unisex relaxation area where you obviously have to wear the clothes that are provided at the entrance. Between one sauna and another, you will have the opportunity to warm up and forget the cold temperatures outside.

Necessary winter gear

Considering the weather, you do need some winter gear. Make sure you have at least a hat and scarf or hood, because the winter winds can feel brutal as well. Little alleys or streets lined by buildings can act like tunnels and make the wind feel even worse. Gloves can help with this too! Considering the dry weather, winter boots generally aren’t necessary, though lots of body moisturizer can be nice!

Many people also carry hot packs here, under their coat, in their boots to keep their toes warm, or in their gloves to heat up their fingers. They’re perfect for when you have to do stuff outside, or even just waiting for the bus in the winter months. They’re sold almost everywhere – in malls, convenience stores, supermarkets. A pack of 10-20 is also quite cheap, it should only be a few thousand Korean won. They’re not reusable though – after they’ve been activated they only last for a few hours, and then a new one is necessary the next time. Definitely a great trick to keeping the cold away!

Christmas and New Year’s Eve

Though there will be some decorations up for Christmas in Korea, it’s still not as big as it is in other countries. December 25th is a holiday here, so double check any plans you have for that day to make sure where you are going is still open and available. Often, if Christmas is early or late in the week, the day before or after will also be taken as a holiday, to give people a long weekend.

There are some New Year’s Eve events in Korea. Times Square (타임스퀘어) in Yeongdeungpo (영등포) has an outside party every year, and there are fireworks at the Lotte World Tower (롯데월드타워) in Jamsil (잠실). January 1st is also a statutory holiday, with many places closed.

Korea in winter is a magical time of year to see this country. For more information about life in Korea, keep following our Go! Go! Hanguk blog.

Share this article

Go! Go! Hanguk

Search articles

Popular posts

Go! Go! HANGUK Blog

Related articles

In February 2024, South Korea is featured among the best 10 places to study abroad according to Forbes statistics. Influenced by Hallyu (한류, Korean wave) and gaining more traction in Korea’s education system, our team at Go! Go! Hanguk has also noticed an increase in interest in studying and living in Korea. While there are many...
The Kondae area in Seoul is a university district that is popular with young people and is famous for its shopping and nightlife. Let’s take a look at the top 10 things to do in Kondae if you’re going to study at Konkuk University. 10 things to do in Kondae as a Konkuk university student Kondae...
South Korea is known for having unique traditional flavors, both sweet and savory. In recent years, newer, trendier foods have also emerged as popular flavors and have quickly gone viral throughout the country. This guide will introduce you to the typical dessert flavors in Korea you can find in cities and in the countryside, from...
Naver Corporation, a rival company to Kakao, handles more than 75% of all web searches in Korea. While many Koreans still use Kakao’s services for many of their online needs, Naver holds first place for many categories. Why are Naver apps popular in Korea? Launched in 1999, Naver was the first Korean web portal to...
With one of the most convenient public transportation in the world, it is easy to find your way around Seoul. Be it traveling to touristy spots or gem spots a little further from the city, the public transportation in Seoul makes it easily accessible. To develop a sustainable green environment, the new public transportation card...

Contact us

Any questions? We are here to help