Sancheoneo refers to Masou salmon or trout that only inhabits in the 1st rated, clearest water, just like Hwacheon stream. When the water freezes in the winter, this small and quiet city in Gangwon province turns into one of the most festive areas around the country, attracting approximately a million tourists visiting the city for Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival.
It's natural that so many tourists come to enjoy the festival because it's literally packed with so many fun winter activities and things to do. The festival is most famous for hwacheon ice fishing and Sancheoneo bare-hand fishing as the name of the festival implies. 1 ~ 2 tons of Sancheoneo are released to Hwacheon stream everyday during the festival so you'll be able to catch a few even if you don't have the best fishing skills.
Especially the bare-hand fishing program will give you a life time opportunity to compete with other participants and catch Sancheoneo, completely bare handed. Enjoy the bare-hand fishing with your friends, it would be one of the most exciting experiences you'll have in Korea.
The program is held 4 times a day on weekdays and 7 times a day on weekends (schedule may vary). You have to apply for the participation on stie an hour before it starts. Programs for adults and children are available, separately, so no worries about big men catching all the fish.
You are allowed to catch maximum of 3 fish in less than 3 minutes, in the uniform provided. There are stalls prepared for the participants to relax with some warm foot bath afterwards, too.
The ice fishing area of the frozen stream can accommodate maximum of 13,500 people a day. 13,500 sounds like a huge number but it's still crammed with tourists in the peak season or on weekends. The festival takes 6,500 applications online and the rest on site.
Lure fishing is also available which you can apply on site. If you're interested in lure fishing, you better go early since it only takes 100 people a day.
Sancheoneo fishing programs are enjoyable for anyone looking for a fun winter activity, and for families with kids in particular, since they get to experience the nature and feel it themselves.
The best part is that you can have the fish right away, cooked or raw, for only 2,000 KRW of extra fee. You catch it, you keep it and you have it! It would taste like nothing you've ever had before, not even close, cause you'll be having the freshest fish you just caught yourself.
Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival also offers a variety of fun winter activities including snow / ice sledding, bob sleighing, ice soccer, zip line, curling and more. Some of the activities are free of charge and for some you're going to have to pay extra but they are all pretty reasonably priced.
The festival is definitely appealing to anyone regardless of age, gender or culture. Especially the kids are most likely to have a blast since there are a number of activities designed to suit their interests.
The night of Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival is also full of things to do. There's an indoor gallery with an array of ice sculptures and artworks. Lights and decorations around Hwacheon area, including Seondeung Street, signify how much the city celebrates the festival and keep you entertained all day long, til late night.
The festival is definitely something, and totally worth a visit when you're travelling to Korea. Bring all your friends and family, it's gonna be a blast!
Where : 137, Sancheoneo-gil, Hawcheon-eup, Hawcheon-gun, Gangwon-do
When : Every January. Specific schedule / duration may vary by year. (Since 2003)
What : Sancheoneo ice / lure / bare-hand fishing, snow sledding, creative sleigh contest, ice soccer, bobsleigh, ice sculptures, zip line, curling and more.
Inquiries : +82-1688-3005 (Available in Korean, English, Chinese and Japanese)
- Ice Fishing / Bare-hand Fishing / Lure Fishing : Adults 12,000 KRW
* Free admission for those younger than 7, when accompanied by the parents.
* Present your passport and get a 4,000 KRW discount.
- Snow Sledding / Bob Sleighing: 5,000 KRW
- Ice Sledding : Regular 5,000 KRW, Family 10,000 KRW
- Ice Soccer, Curling : Free
- Ice Fishing / Lure Fishing : 09:00 ~ 18:00 on weekdays, 08:30 ~ 18:00 on weekends
- Bare-hand Fishing : 11:00, 13:00, 14:00, 15:00 on weekdays, 10:00, 11:00, 12:00, 13:00, 14:00, 15:00, 16:00 on weekends
- Snow Sledding, Bob Sleighing, Ice Soccer, Curling : 09:00 ~ 18:00
*Visit the official website and find out more about Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival.