Japan and Seoul are some of the most popular winter destinations in the world, known for their exciting winter sports and magical snow-covered landscapes. This, however, presents a predicament for winter vacationers—which winter destination to choose? Here’s a little more information about each destination that might help you make a decision.
Japan in the Winter
Japan offers many cultural festivals during its long winter season, including the famous Sapporo Snow Festival. Celebrated in February, this festival attracts more than 2 million visitors annually. It features gorgeous snow sculptures that are illuminated at night.
The Snow Festival also features activities at Sapporo’s Tsu Dome, where visitors can slide down three different snow slides, view more snow sculptures, or enjoy the events and food stands inside the Tsu Dome. Hokkaido Prefecture is also home to Lake Shikaribetsu Kotan, where a glittering village of igloos is built over the frozen lake every winter. Visitors can enjoy cross-country skiing, hands-on experiences like ice glass making, or unwind in the open-air hot springs.
Seoul in the Winter
Although Seoul winters can be extremely windy and dry, the area’s excellent ski resort make it worth braving the cold. More 70% of the country is covered in mountains, which means there are number of challenging ski resorts to choose from, many of which offer affordable ski rentals and lift tickets. Other popular winter activities in and around Seoul include sledding, snowboarding, and ice-skating. Winter is the best time of year to experience Korea’s largest theme park, Everland, which recreates the setting of a quaint Alpine Village.
Seoul is also famous for numerous winter ice fishing festivals. One of the most popular fishing events is the Pyeongchang Cherry Salmon Festival in which cherry-colored salmon are the catch of choice. Visitors can also warm up at the Asan Spavis, where the soothing natural hot springs are believed to cure diseases and relax the mind.
Making a Decision
If you want to enjoy a variety of winter activities and events, but still have plenty of places to warm-up, then well-equipped Seoul is the best choice for your winter vacation. Japan’s major cities like Osaka and Tokyo also provide a good balance between adventurous outdoor activities and indoor comforts. Japan’s more rural areas offer some of the best slopes for skiing and snowboarding, but you need to prepare for the icy conditions in these remote regions. Seoul is slightly cheaper than Japan, however, Japan’s numerous winter festivals and celebrations make for a more colourful cultural experience.