January 4, 2024

Get ready to dive into the Korean winter wonderland in January! Despite many other Travel Guides I actually think that winter can be an amazing time to visit South Korea: It’s much cheaper and less crowded than the most popular seasons, but still offers endless amazing events and activities within or outside of Seoul. Weather Infos, Packing Tips, Sights, Special Winter Events, Festivals, Recommended Daytrips – find this and much more here.

How is January in South Korea?

So, what’s the vibe in Korea during the first month of the year? Picture this: locals bundled up in their trendiest winter gear to save them from the cold, streets still twinkling with festive lights from Christmas (Koreans love to keep decorations for a while :D), and an overall cozy ambiance that makes you feel like you’re in a K-drama scene. January is the heart of winter, and South Korea knows how to make it magical – despite the cold.

How’s the weather in January?

Let’s talk numbers without boring you to tears. Seoul is the place to be, and temperatures range from -10°C to a relatively mild 2°C (that’s 14°F to 36°F for our Fahrenheit friends). It’s chilly, but trust me, the crisp air, a lot of sunny days and the occasional snowfall will make your stay something special for sure!

What should I bring to Korea?

Now, onto the important stuff – what to pack. Think multiple layers, your thickest winter jacket, gloves, scarves, and footwear that can handle a snowball fight or two.

You can get hot packs at Daiso or Olive Young to keep you warm when staying outside and I recommend to also plan enough time for coffee or tea stops every now and then.

Are there public holidays in January?

Yes, in 2025 Seollal – Korean Lunar New Year – falls on January 29th. During that time you can experience special festivities, family gatherings, and a unique cultural experience. As Seollal is one of Korea’s most important holidays, many shops could be closed from 28th to 30th due to the public holidays. Usually smaller businesses, family owned restaurants close on Seollal, but Convenience Stores, Malls and big food chains will stay open during the most important holiday. Just a heads up – public transport might be busier than usual, but the lively atmosphere is worth it.

General South Korea Travel Guide

In this South Korea Guide, I cover everything you need to know for an amazing South Korea trip (not related to a specific month) from Basic Information about the country, weather all around the year, Visa and Entry Requirements, best Korean SIM Cards, Transportation, Must Visit Spots and Recommended Activities in Korea.

What to do in Seoul in January?

As South Korea’s capitol city, Seoul of course offers the most famous and popular sights and events. The city organized a special Winter Festival in different areas of the city with Lanterns, Light Shows, Ice skating rinks, Snow Slopes and much much more. But also other general sights are of course worth a visit during winter. As the weather can be freezing, I added some more indoor options here:

Attend special Winter Events in Seoul

The Seoul Winta Festa is a festival organized by the city of Seoul in multiple areas of the city including the Seoul Light Show at Gwanghwamun, the Ice Skating Rink in front of the City Hall or the Lantern Festival and Winter Market at Gwanghwamun Square. But there are some other Events happening in January which I shared here:

Han River Snow Slopes

📍Ttukseom, Jamwon, Yeouido Park
🗓️ TBA
⏱️ 9am – 5pm

City Hall Ice Skating

📍Seoul Plaza
🗓️ TBA
⏱️ 10am – 9:30pm

Winter Market

📍Gwanghwamun Square
🗓️ TBA
⏱️ 6-10pm

Seoul Lantern Festival

📍Gwanghwamun Square
🗓️ TBA
⏱️ 6-10pm

Seoul Light Gwanghwamun

📍Gwanghwamun Gate
🗓️ TBA
⏱️ 6-10pm

Lotte World 35th Anniversary

📍Lotte World Castle
🗓️ TBA
⏱️ 8:40pm

See the city from above

Perched atop Namsan Mountain in the heart of the city you can find the N Seoul Tower – often simply called Namsan Tower. Not only does it provide breathtaking panoramic views of Seoul’s sprawling cityscape, but it also offers cultural performances every day at 3 PM and has some great photospots like the lock filled walls of the viewing platform. You can buy tickets for the N Seoul tower’s observatory >here.

Another great place for awesome city views is the Lotte Tower’s Seoul Sky Observatory, located in the Jamsil district. Visitors can explore interactive exhibits before ascending to the rooftop observatory or even book the Sky Bridge Tour to have a walk outside on 555m height. Tickets for the Observatory can be booked in advance >here.

Visit one of many museums

Another great way to deep dive into Korean Culture when it’s freezing cold outside are Seoul’s countless museums. Don’t worry.. in South Korea they’re usually not the boring outdated museums you might expect. Many of them are actually very modern, partly digital and often offer great tours and activities.

Have a Selfcare-Day

Combine relaxation and cultural immersion by visiting a Jjimjilbang (찜질방) – a traditional Korean bathhouse. Upon entering, you’re enveloped in a world of soothing saunas, hot baths, and special treatments. The gentle heat of the Korean saunas, ranging from intense to mild, helps release tension and detoxify the body. After a leisurely soak in therapeutic mineral baths, you can indulge in a Korean body scrub that leaves your skin feeling soft and revitalized. Alternatively you can get a massage or one of Korea’s famous skin treatments in one of the great facilities below. This self-care day in Korea allows you to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and immerse yourself in a wellness oasis steeped in Korean tradition.

Watch Performances

The “Nanta Cooking Show” and “Painter’s Show” are two captivating performances in Seoul. “Nanta” is a comedy combining cooking and drumming, while “Painters Show” blends live painting, multimedia art, and humor. Both shows offer unique, interactive experiences combined with some Korean cultural insights that entertain audiences of all ages and backgrounds, making them must-see attractions in Seoul.

Find tickets for the Painter’s Show >here.

Find tickets for Nanta Cooking Show >here.

Take a cooking class

Korean cooking classes provide a hands-on experience in preparing traditional Seollal dishes like colorful rice cakes, Korea’s National dish Kimchi, or a whole set of meals like Bulgogi (marinated grilled meat) or Korean stews. Guided by expert instructors, participants not only learn the secrets of these time-honored recipes but also gain insight into the significance of each dish in Korean Cuisine. It’s a delightful opportunity to connect with the essence of Korean traditions and share in the joy of creating and savoring these delectable treats with loved ones.

Book Rice Cake Class >here.

Book Kimchi Class >here.

Book Cooking Class >here.

Craft your own souvenirs

Instead of buying souvenirs I can highly recommend to try one of many special activities and experiences in South Korea. It’s not just great to make a very personal gift for yourself or your loved ones at home, but it’s also a perfect way to learn more about Korean Culture and connect with locals. You can usually book them in English,

Mother of Pearl

Make accessories with the Korean traditional Najeon Technique!

Perfume Making

Make your own Perfume step by step with English guidance!

Stone Stamp

Make your own traditional Korean stone stamp that was used to sign contracts!

Leather Goods

Make yourself a wallet, small glasses case or a leather hand bag!

Wooden Rings

Special rings made of wood for couples, solo travelers or friends!

Traditional Dyeing

Dye a scarf or tote bag with the traditional Jjokbit Color.

Find more in my FREE Experience Guide ↓

Where should I go for day or weekend trips in January?

I always recommend South Korea Travelers to leave the big cities at least once during their trip. There are many amazing organized group tours or destinations you can travel to by yourself – even in January! Ice Valleys, Snow Festivals, Ski Resorts or normal day trips to other areas in South Korea – here your best options for January 2025:

Enjoy one of Korea’s Special Winter Destinations

If you’re looking for some fun winter related day- or weekend trips from Seoul, here are some great options. From Ice Valleys, over white birch forests, to frozen Lake Activities – there are many options in South Korea in case you want to escape the busy city of Seoul.
Hear a few options including organized tours. Alternatively you can of course organize it yourself!

Attend an ice fishing festival

While living in South Korea I realized that it is obsessed with any kind of festivals.. No, not just music festivals! I mean Culture, Art, Nature, Season Festivals and so much more. During winter time Ice fishing festivals are especially famous, for example the Hwacheon Sancheoneo Festival or the Pyeongchang Trout Festival:

Hwacheon Sancheoneo Festival

Pyeongchang Trout Festival

Go Skiing or Snowboarding

What many people don’t know: South Korea offers amazing ski resorts with picturesque landscapes, providing an ideal setting for winter sports enthusiasts.

So even in South Korea you can fully embrace the winter wonderland by hitting the slopes for a thrilling skiing or snowboarding adventure. For a hassle-free experience, consider organized tours for example:

Trazy also offers this great tool to find the best Skiing Option for you:

Korea Tourism Organization – Kim Jiho

Explore other cities

Embarking on a day trip from Seoul is a fantastic way to explore South Korea’s diverse landscapes and historical sites.

A visit to the Korean Folk Village and Suwon, just an hour away from Seoul, allows you to experience the Korean Folk Village and stroll along the UNESCO-listed Hwaseong Fortress in Suwon.

For a more solemn experience, consider a visit to the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone), which takes approximately two hours to reach.

Finally, consider a day trip to Jeonju and its famous Hanok Village. The area around the city is known for its picturesque landscapes especially during winter.

There you have it, fellow travelers! South Korea in January is a symphony of winter delights waiting for you to take the stage. Share your South Korean adventures or hit me up with questions in the comments below.

January 4, 2024

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Since I moved to South Korea in 2021 I not just studied the language, but also travelled through the country. Now I share my recommendations, tips and favorite places here and on many other platforms.

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