Winter Gateway: The Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival

Ever wondered how to make the best out of your winter vacation in Korea? Winters can be really rough in Korea because of the dry and cold weather. However, you can still make the best out of these cold days and enjoy a unique winter gateway by visiting the Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival.

This festival offers you the chance to experience ice fishing across the frozen Hwacheon River, in Gangwon province, about two hours away from Seoul.

The Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival is held annually, usually in January, and it has become one of Korea’s greatest tourist attractions. It provides a wide range of winter activities, from ice fishing and bare hand fishing to ice sledding and snow sledding. You can also unwind while exploring the enchanting Winter Culture Village, or marvel at the grandeur of the world's largest indoor ice sculpture plaza.

Let’s talk about the main attraction of this festival first: the sancheoneo (mountain trout) ice fishing. Through a drilled hole into the ice, you can challenge your fishing skills to catch a sancheoneo with a small fishing rod in specially designated spaces for foreigners and tourists.

Sancheoneo is a fish that only lives in very clear fresh water and is known for its nutritional benefits, being rich in vitamins and amino acids, and also contributing to treating hypertension and reducing the risk of cancer. While there's a limit of three fish per person, you can hand over your catch to the kitchen staff, and they will grill it for you. You can serve it along with other local delicacies as well.

If fishing doesn’t sound like a fun thing to do because the waiting part can be quite boring, you can make it fun by catching the fish with your own hands, or even fishing at night! 

Bare hand fishing is one of the most unique activities that you can do as part of this festival, as there is even a competition for this activity. All contestants will be provided with shorts and an oversized t-shirts, and they will try to stuff as many sancheoneo in their shirts as possible within a five minute time limit. The person who finds a sancheoneo with a golden ring wins a special prize, while all the other contestants are allowed to keep three fish each. 

Don't worry about becoming an ice cube, as there is a hot foot bath available to warm you up after the competition. Even though entering an icy pond to catch fish with your hands may sound crazy at first, one shall not worry about freezing to death! You’ll have the chance to warm up your feet and hands with warm water once you’re done.

If fishing really is not for you, you can enjoy other activities offered by the festival, such as ice sledding, ice bobsleigh, ice soccer, curling and other fun winter sports.

After an exciting fishing day, make sure to not miss out on the cultural aspect of the area! Go visit the Winter Cultural Village, take a stroll along the eye-catching Car-free Seondeung Street, or visit the World’s Largest Indoor Ice Sculpture Plaza.

Don’t forget to look up on the first and the last day of the festival! On these days colorful fireworks will light up the sky in a spectacular way.   

Have we caught your attention yet? You can enjoy many of these activities by coming on a trip to Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival with us!


137 Sancheoneo-gil, Hwacheon-gun, Gangwon-do

The Tour Includes:

Transportation - roundtrip bus ride, with pick-up from Seoul

English Speaking Your Guide

Festival Entrance ticket (+fish rod)

One grilled fish per person

(for other activities you may have to cover the expenses by yourself)




Things to Prepare:

Warm clothes, gloves, winter boots, hot-packs etc.


More details about the tour and booking information click here!

Navigating a destination like this on your own, especially without speaking the language, can be quite challenging. But fret not; we've got you covered! Simply relax, have a great time, and let WinterFriend handle all the rest for you! ๐Ÿ˜‰