As I have lived in Seoul for a little over a decade, I tend to find any reason to get out and see what is in the surrounding areas as much as possible. Particularly during the cooler months when sometimes the combination of polluted air and gale force winds tries to get on our nerves harder, it’s time for a getaway plan.
Last winter, as I was browsing for a perfect destination for my one-day trip to travel to from Seoul, a stunning picture of a gigantic ice wall geo tagged with ‘원주 판대 아이스파크 (Wonju Pandae Ice Park)’ popped up on my instagram explore feed. That single image easily urged me to make an impulse visit to Wonju city in the south western corner of Gangwon-do the next day.
From the Gangnam area of Seoul, it takes around an hour and a half to drive to Pandae Ice Park in Jijeong township (지정면) of Wonju. It is a human-made ice climbing venue operated by Wonju mountaineering society since 2002. Every winter, freezing temperature turns the pressurized water cascading down from a rocky mountain ridge by the bed of Samsan stream (삼산천) into an enormous icefall attracting hundreds of thrilling sports enthusiasts.
During my last visit to the valley, however, the beautiful scenic view of the frozen waterfall at the park was not only admired by the energetic ice climbers but many cafe goers as well. On the spacious ground just before the climbing site, there is a hipster coffee place named ‘Stone Creek (스톤크릭)’.
Café Stone Creek (스톤크릭)
Opened early this year, Stone Creek seemed to go through a very successful publicization. It didn’t take long for the café to snatch a spot on top of the ‘most recommended café in Wonju’ list. I arrived late in the afternoon on a Saturday and throngs of coffee lovers and pretty view seekers were already filling up the place. I was in such a rush as the dimness of twilight was lodging in the area. So, I went straight to the icefall and completely forgot to capture the atmosphere inside the coffee house. If you are interested, feel free to check out this review for more pictures of the facilities.
The café is extensively divided into indoor and outdoor areas. There were three structures with rooftops on the café ground. Two of them are situated adjacent to one another by the parking lot. The one on the far right is the seating space and where the restrooms are. The other one is the order placing zone. Another indoor building is located closer to the mountain. Wherever I turned my head to, there seemed to be a perfect spot to appreciate the dramatic wintry view of the mountain range. Besides all the viewing points the café has, what has become an iconic shot to upload on social media platforms is the scene taken in between the two aligned buildings. With the frozen waterfall as a backdrop, and the creamy white buildings on either side of you, taking some photos here is a must.
Essential Info About Café Stone Creek
Operating Hour: 10:30 - 20:00 (19:00 last order)
Parking Area: Yes (Free)
How to get there from Seoul via public transport (Approx. 2.5hr)
⇒Take Seoul subway line 9,3, or 7
⇒Get off at Express Bus Terminal Station (고속터미널역)
⇒Get out of exit 1 or 2 and find Seoul Express Bus Terminal (서울고속버스터미널 (경부 영동선))
⇒Buy a ticket to Wonju Intercity Bus Terminal (원주시외버스터미널): 7,700KW
⇒At Wonju Intercity Bus Terminal, find Sioe.Express Bus Terminal bus stop (시외.고속버스터미널 정류장-60037)
⇒Get on a bus no. 58
⇒Get off at Seowonju Station (서원주역 정류장 (68580))
⇒Take a taxi to Cafe Stone Creek or Pandae Ice Park (판대 아이스파크): ~13,000KW
Naver Map: Stone Creak
강원 원주시 지정면 지정로 1101
Naver Map: Pandae Ice Park
강원 원주시 지정면 지정로 1073
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