Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Fishing Festival, January 2023 South Korea

Ice fishing? Sign me up! As someone who had only fished once during a school camp and not catch anything despite sitting out in the sun for what felt like hours, I was game to try again. When I saw this annual festival, I thought it was the perfect time to try again. Only available in January every year, the Hwacheon Ice Fishing Festival attracts many visitors from around Korea.

It is located about 1.5-2 hours east of Seoul and as you know my favourite way to travel sometimes, is joining an organised tour. On this tour, they give you a pass to put onto your jacket so that you can get entry and rent equipment for free. There is a large foreigner section with plenty of English signage at the food stalls and English speaking staff. I think they really tried to cater for a range of tourists.

I went on the last weekend of the festival which was unfortunate timing as there was so much traffic getting here. By the time we arrived, it was almost lunch time and my stomach was already grumbling. But first, ice fishing. There were holes already bored into the ice so you just had to find one and put your rod in and then wait while moving your rod up and down. I had no success at catching anything but could see a few people around me catching fish. With my stomach getting louder and louder, I thought it was time to get some food.

Our tour included a 5,000 won food/drink voucher and also a free grilled sancheoneo (Korean Salmon). I also bought some rice cakes, 1 sausage and a beer (because why not) to have for lunch as well. The grilled sancheoneo was delicious! There was an area with many of these charcoal bbq stands which was our eating table to keep the fish hot. Not quite the salmon that we are probably use to, it wasn’t as salty as mackerel so somewhere in between.

Now it was time to complete all the included activities. First was ice sledding which was sitting on this wooden board and then using 3 wooden sticks with picks on the end to move around. It is more fun than it sounds. I had made some friends on my tour so we had some races across the ice and also went to admire this snow sculpture on the other side. There were people of all ages on the ice. It was great fun.

Next, we lined up for snow sledding which was sitting in these plastic tubes and then going downhill. This was so popular, we had to line up for almost 1 hr before we were able to do it. Our tour included a pass which let us go down 3 times. Coming from a nanny state, I was wondering how safe this was as going downhill was soooooo fast. It was quite sturdy though and I didn’t see anyone fall off. That was enough thrill seeking for the year.

Terra beer bottle made from ice

Our last stop of the day was to see the ice sculptures which wasn’t on the ice but it was in town not far although we all got onto the bus to get there. We were given about 1 hour to go through the ice sculpture area.

There was a big replica of a palace at the very end which was impressive. They had managed to put lights into all the ice blocks in most of the sculptures making it a semi indoor neon party too. They even had small slides in some of the buildings which you could sit and go down.

If you are ever in Korea in January and looking for a day trip out, try the Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Fishing Festival! Here is a video I had put together from the day.

Looking for more day trips from Seoul? Here are more ideas:
Nami Island & Petite France
Snow trips from Seoul


12 thoughts on “Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Fishing Festival, January 2023 South Korea

  1. The ice sculptures all look so beautiful! Ice fishing sounds like a lot of fun– even more rewarding is to eat the fish you catch (if you do, haha)! Looks like living in Korea has made a winter gal out of you!

  2. Such a fun day! I love winter activities, especially on sunny days🙂 Unfortunately ice fishing is pretty much cancelled in southern Ontario, as the weather was mild this winter.

  3. Ah you really know how to make me envious, Sophie! Snow, sledding on ice and seafood. The way to my heart! I would have been right there on those sleds and rubber tubes. You can ride the rubber tubes at Falls Creek snowfields in Victoria too. ( which I did along with all the other ‘children’ – so much fun!

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