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This winter, the eyes of the world are looking eastwards to South Korea and to the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. For the twenty third Winter Olympics, over 6,500 athletes will be arriving in the mountainous region of Pyeongchang and the province of Gangwon, along with countless coaches, physios and other team members, not to mention the legions of fans eager to witness the action.
February 2018 will mark the second time a South Korean city has hosted an Olympiad, with the last being Seoul, which hosted the summer games in 1988. Pyeongchang becomes only the third Asian city to host the Winter Olympics, after Sapporo and Nagano in 1972 and 1998 respectively.
With 92 nations competing across 102 events, to say the excitement is palpable would be an understatement.
However, prior to this year, the mountainous area of Pyeongchang was relatively unheard of outside of Korea. This looks set to change when the Olympic carnival rolls into town, but what exactly is it about the area which makes it so special?
With an average elevation of 700 metres, and surrounded by peaks of a much higher altitude, Pyeongchang is perfectly placed for hosting the winter Olympic Games. Much of the basic infrastructure was already in place, thanks to the winter resorts and skiing facilities, which are found up here, while the picturesque scenery of Mount Seoraksan makes for an idyllic locale.
As a popular location for South Korean holidaymakers, thanks to its great skiing and hiking options, Pyeongchang already has a range of different transportation facilities which make it accessible from the rest of the country. However, the region is expected to welcome unprecedented numbers of visitors during the Olympics, so these transport solutions needed to be stepped up.
In order to accommodate this influx of visitors, South Korea has invested heavily in boosting the accessibility of the region with improved high speed rail facilities. South Korea's rail network is one of the most developed in the world. This has been bolstered by the addition of a new connection between Wonju and Pyeongchang. This is the 155 mph Gyeonggang Line, which will cut travel time from Seoul to Pyeongchang to only 80 minutes.
This new connection makes the Songdo area of Incheon perfectly positioned for access to the games. Within comfortable reach of the South Korean capital of Seoul and next to the Gyeonggang Line, visitors staying in Songdo will find it easy to enjoy the thrill and excitement of the games without the hassle of finding accommodation in Pyeongchang itself. This represents a much less expensive and far less stressful way to witness the greatest spectacle in winter sport.
Songdo itself as a new district of Incheon, built to host the city's business district and located along the famous waterfront. A driving force of Incheon's modern economy, Songdo is quickly becoming a hit with tourists also. It provides a fantastic base from which to explore Korea. Served by Incheon airport and its newly opened second terminal, it has never been easier to access this port city in the north west of the country.
The Pyeongchang Winter Olympics will run for two weeks in February, but its legacy will stretch way beyond this. Once the dust settles on the Winter Olympiad, and the Paralympics which will follow in March, this region of South Korea will continue to enjoy the benefits of the transport network which has been put in place, fostering ever closer connections with the rest of this fascinating country.
Book your stay at Holiday Inn Incheon Songdo and experience the best the Winter Olympics has to offer.