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Thursday, 20 November 2008

Aussie Dollar Remain Great Value For Australian Travellers to Korea


Despite the plunge in the Australian dollar against the US and other major currencies the dollar remains high against the Korean Won. On the 18 July this year the Australian dollar was worth 1,000 Korean won at a record high, but today it still remains at around 930 Korean Won (as at 19/11/2008) offering great value to Australian travellers to the country.

Korea is coming into winter and its ski resorts will soon be luring many visitors for the Christmas/New Year holiday periods. If you are looking for a different kind of Christmas celebration and plenty of snow as well as some ski practice then Korea offers a lot of fun over this coming holiday season. Seoul city is abuzz with the Hi-Seoul Winter Festival with beautiful Christmas lights and entertainment during the lead-up to Christmas and most of Korea's ski resorts open in early December.

Some of the best ski resorts are on the east coast of Korea in the province known as Gangwon-do. The region has the highest mountains and best ski runs in the country.

Resorts such as Phoenix Park have night skiing until 5am in the morning, so here you can ski all day and all night if you want. The resort has 12 internationally rated ski slopes, five restaurants, a swimming pool, bowling centre, karaoke, health centre and cafes, bars and nightlife,.

Another popular resort for Australians is Yongpyong Resort known as Dragon Valley which hosts a great Fun Ski Festival which includes competitions, performances and entertainment. Yongpyong Resort has Asia's longest gondola ride and successfully hosted the World Cup Ski Competition in 1998 and 2000 and Winter Asian Games in 1999. Yongpyong has twenty seven slopes and an average of 250cm of snow every winter makes Yongpyong one of the best ski resorts in the world.

Korea will host of the 2009 FIS Snowboard World Championships from 14-24 January with over 1,200 participants from fifty countries. The main venue for the championships is the Hyundai Sungwoo Resort. The main events – Parallel Giant Slalom, Parallel Slalom, Halfpipe and Snowboard Cross will be held here. Organisers are promising a 'Festival of World Cultures' for the many people who will compete and watch the events.

For those not interested in skiing Seoul city is a great place to be with the Christmas celebrations. A massive ice-skating rink appears in the City Hall Square each December along with some of the most beautiful Christmas decorations anywhere in the world. The Hi Seoul Winter Light Festival will be held from 15 December for one month with the spectacular 'Lumiere' Christmas lights display all over Seoul. Seoul also comes alive on New Year's Eve with a massive fireworks display over the Han River.

Winter is a great time to rug up with a scarf and gloves and take a walk around the city's beautiful royal palaces – Seoul has five stunning royal palaces which are even more spectacular when covered with a fresh snowfall. For families with children the ice-skating rink at Lotte World and its attached theme park offers great indoor fun on extremely cold days.

The best way to warm up in Seoul is by trying some of the super hot street food like the spicy rice cakes (Tteokbokki) if you can't say it, just point, they are the round tubes floating in the very hot looking sauce. Try some spicy sausages or fiery chicken at the street stalls which are set up all over the city.

And after the Christmas period come the winter sales like in any city around the world.

Bargains abound at all the major department stores at greatly reduced prices at this time of year. Seoul city is a shopper's paradise at anytime of the year but particularly during the winter sales the variety of goods and prices are most favourable.

To plan your winter holiday in Korea contact Korea Tourism Organization for the new 'Winter in Gangwon-do' brochure as well as the general 230 page full colour Korea guidebook available free on request by email: visitkorea@knto.org.au or phone: 02)9252-4147/8

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