And the winner of the 2018 Winter Olympics is... South Korea

By Michelle Baran
January 12, 2022
Courtesy International Olympic Committee

The International Olympic Committee this week selected PyeongChang, South Korea to host the 2018 Olympic Winter Games, a decision that will put the Asian peninsula nation in the spotlight in the coming years — something South Korea desperately wants.

In recent years, South Korea has been pushing to market itself as a viable vacation destination, but it has had challenges, namely that it shares a peninsula with the sometimes hostile North Korea, and competes with China, Japan and Southeast Asia for travelers' attention.

But this announcement could help South Korea drum up the kind of attention and excitement that might help the country emerge from the shadows of its neighbors.

PyeongChang, a mountain region in northeastern South Korea, beat out Munich, Germany and Annecy, France, for the Winter Olympics (PyeongChang got 63 votes, Munich 25, and Annecy got seven).

And VisitKorea, the country's tourism marketing organization, is already touting Pyeongchang as the "Alps of Korea" (interesting considering that Annecy is in the actual Alps), home to several ski resorts and parks.

The decision was in fact a major coup for South Korea, which had already bid for the Winter Games twice, once eight years ago, when it lost to Vancouver, Canada, which hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics, and again four years ago, when it was announced that Sochi, Russia will host the 2014 Winter Games.

But this isn't the first time South Korea will be hosting an Olympics event. Seoul was the host city for the 1988 Summer Olympics, which were hosted in Asia two other times, in Tokyo in 1964, and in Beijing in 2008. Japan is the only country in Asia that has hosted the Winter Olympics — in Sapporo in 1972, and Nagano in 1998.

"PyeongChang presented a strong and inspiring project that enjoys massive support from the government and the public," stated IOC President Jacques Rogge. "I have every confidence that PyeongChang will deliver on its commitment and host excellent Games in 2018."

"The South Korean project will leave a tremendous legacy as PyeongChang will become a new winter sports hub in Asia," added Rogge.

More from Budget Travel:

What happens when the Olympics move on?

How to Score Tickets to the 2012 Summer Olympics

North Korea welcoming U.S. tourists year-round


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Top 10 reasons we love France

Happy Bastille Day! Or as the French say, Bonne La Fête Nationale! It's the French equivalent of the Fourth of July, with parades and parties to celebrate the anniversary of the birth of modern France. Launch our slide show: 29 Stunning Photos of France. We, too, would like to celebrate the red, white, and blue of a different flag, so we present our Top 10 reasons we love France: 1. Crepes at every corner in Paris 2. It gave the world Nutella 3. The music of Edith Piaf 4. Wine is appropriate with every meal 5. The word boulangerie (it means bread shop) 6. The smell boulangeries emit, which permeates every street corner in the morning 7. It inspired Woody Allen's whimsical Midnight in Paris 8. Lavender fields in July 9. Rosé from the Côte du Rhône region 10. The French kiss What do you love about France? MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL Get your French on for Bastille Day 25 Reasons We Love New Orleans France's new impressionism festival makes for a fun day trip from Paris


Charleston: A Walking—and Eating!—Tour

Come hungry. Charleston, S.C., is a town that likes to eat well. The downtown has a variety of options—Mexican, sushi, Korean, Mediterranean, Thai, Italian, delis, burgers—and range from pizza joints catering to the student crowd to fine dining. But when I'm in Charleston, I like to explore local twists on standards of South Carolina Low Country cuisine. Like fried green tomatoes. At Jestine's Kitchen, a casual eatery reproducing the recipes of Jestine Matthews, who lived to 112 and worked for 70 years with the restaurant owner's family, the lightly battered fried-green tomatoes ($5.25) are served piping hot and have a lemony flavor. Don't leave Jestine's without trying the melts-in-your-mouth, sticky sweet Coca Cola Cake, $5.95 (251 Meeting Street, no website, no reservations). 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The bars' success has caused some tension with their neighbors over limited parking and the noise of patrons leaving at the 2 a.m. closing time. On every visit to Charleston, I am again struck by the friendly service. And that unpretentious hospitality is another draw for a lovely walkable city with great food. Sarah Ricks is a Clinical Professor at Rutgers Law School—Camden and a lifelong travel junkie.


Best Wine Destinations (and Wines!) for Spring

The balmy breezes of spring make us want to get out there and see the world more than ever, and some of our favorite destinations for relaxing, romantic weekend getaways happen to be beautiful wine regions. It got us thinking: What are the ideal spring wine country destinations? And, just as importantly if you share our taste for affordable reds and whites, what are some of spring's best bottlings and food-wine pairings? I had an inspiring conversation with Ian Broome, a member of the Court of Master Sommeliers, certified Level ll with the Wine and Spirits Education Trust, and beverage manager at JW Marriot Starr Pass Resort & Spa in Tucson, Arizona, to get his expert tips about the best wines, and wine destinations, for spring. Q: What U.S. wine regions are especially suited to spring travel?A: They are all great in the spring! The scenery is beautiful as things green up, and it's an especially good time to meet the winemakers because there is not nearly as much work going on at the wineries as there will be later in the summer and especially the fall. The warmer regions, like Napa, Paso Robles, Arizona, and eastern Washington have lovely weather in the spring (in summer, the heat in those regions can be a bit oppressive). Cooler coastal climates, like Anderson Valley and the Sonoma Coast, on the other hand, are great summer destinations to get away from the summer heat. Q: Are there wines you feel are particularly well-suited to spring weather?A: Vinho Verde has a lower alcohol content and a slight effervescence, which make it a great wine to sip outside as you enjoy the return of warmer weather. Q: Are there new bottlings in spring that should be enjoyed right away?A: Affordable Spanish and Portuguese white wines, such as Rias Baixas, Rueda, and the Vinho Verdes from last vintage, should all be hitting the shelves and are best to drink when they are "young." These wines are all values and display good, crisp acidity, light fruit characteristics, and versatility in pairing with lighter fare, perfect for spring. Q: What wine pairings are you especially fond of for spring produce like strawberries, ramps, asparagus, artichokes?A: I lean toward Sauvignon Blanc this time of year; the fresh, sometimes vegetal characteristics pair well with the tangy, lively flavors that fresh spring produce brings to the table.  


See the Windy City For Free! Explore Chicago With This Exclusive DIY Walking Tour

Often the best way to explore a new city is on your own two feet. Jeff Mikos, founder of Free Chicago Walking Tours, is no stranger to that idea—the inspiration for his business came from a meaningful international trip. “My wife and I took a year off to travel the world in 2015,” he says. “While in South America we stumbled upon free walking tours in almost all the major cities, including Santiago, Cusco, Quito, Cartagena, and La Paz. After the first few, I began to think that there was an opportunity to bring this style of tour to the USA. Having grown up in here, launching the business in Chicago made perfect sense.” Free Chicago Walking Tours offers guided strolls seven days a week, and covers two miles over two hours, including iconic areas like the Loop, Chicago River, the Magnificent Mile, and Lincoln Park. “This makes the city accessible to anyone, regardless of their budget,” Mikos says. “Chicago can be quite expensive, and our tours give guests the opportunity to experience the city like they never have before, while saving a few bucks too.” To give Budget Travel readers a taste of the company, Mikos shared a special stroll just for us. Print it out, then, get ready...get set...get walking! The Budget DIY Magnificent Mile Walking Tour: Michigan Avenue—a.k.a. the Magnificent Mile—is Chicago’s largest shopping district and second in the USA only to New York City’s Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. But you don't need to spend money to enjoy yourself on this famous strip. In fact, we think the best way to experience the splendor that is Magnificent Mile isn’t by shopping at all of the stores along the way, but hitting lesser-known destinations, such as a rotating gallery, a gorgeous church, and being face-to-face with artifacts from the world’s most famous and historically significant sites. The best part? It’s all free.  Starting Point: The awning of the Drake Hotel on Lake Shore Drive just east of the corner of Michigan Avenue. We like starting here for a variety of reasons. The Drake Hotel was essentially the city's first “resort." In the 1920s, this was an escape for Chicagoans as it sat on the shores of Lake Michigan. Today you can still live like a 1920s socialite by visiting their Palm Court for afternoon teatime (not really budget-friendly, but quite nice for $45 per adult, open daily from 1 to 5 p.m.). The road you’re on, Lake Shore Drive, is home to some of Chicago’s most expensive real estate, and for good reason: those unobstructed views of Lake Michigan and access to Oak Street Beach. The road changes name west of Michigan Avenue to Oak Street, which is home to some of Chicago’s most exclusive boutiques and high-end shopping. Stop No. 2: The corner of Delaware Place and Michigan Avenue. Sitting on the corner is the Fourth Presbyterian Church. The church is a product of combining two other churches on October 8, 1871. Unfortunately, the next day was the start of the Great Chicago Fire, and the church was destroyed. It was rebuilt and relocated to its current spot in 1940. The best place to snap a breathtaking Instagram is across the street (on the east side of Michigan Avenue) or from inside. The church is open daily at 7:30 a.m. Please respect the congregation with your noise level. Stop No. 3: The John Hancock Center, 875 N. Michigan Avenue. You'll be right across the street from the John Hancock (or right in front of it). It’s officially called the John Hancock Center because the original plan was to have multiple buildings. However, the builders couldn't convince the owners of the Casino Club (located directly behind the JHC on Delaware) to sell their property, and thus we have only one building. The John Hancock Center is home to the 360-degree Chicago Observation Deck, located on the 94th floor. Some say it has the best views of Chicago. We don't disagree with that, but we do disagree a little with the $20 price tag to get there. Instead go up two more floors to the 96th floor and visit the John Hancock Signature Lounge. The views are free and incredible as well, plus you'll get to enjoy a tasty cocktail too. Stop No. 4: Water Works Cultural Center, 163 E. Pearson Street (corner of Michigan and Pearson). This spot is often overlooked because many don't know a.) what's in the building and b.) that it’s open to the public. The visit will be quick and cool. This is the new and functioning home to Chicago’s water pumps (well, four of them). Inside, along with water pumps, you will find a variety of helpful guides to answer questions. Stop No. 5: The Famous Chicago Water Tower, 806 N Michigan Avenue. This is the famous Chicago Water Tower that survived the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 (one of only a handful of buildings north of the Chicago River that remain today). The gorgeous building is a symbol of Chicago’s recovery from the fire. It has undergone a couple of renovations since the 1870s and is now home to a rotating—and free—gallery. Make sure you stop in to see what's showing when you visit. Stop No. 6: A leisurely stroll south down Michigan Avenue. Your final destination will be the Tribune Tower near the south end of the street by the river. This is by far the biggest stretch (1/2 mile) of walking that you will do on this DIY Magnificent Mile Walking Tour. Soak in the sights and the sounds. You’re in the thick of what Michigan Avenue is known for: shopping. The rents here for stores are incredible, at more than $500 per square foot per year. Many stores on this strip don't make money; they are there for branding and marketing purposes. Chicago’s Peninsula Hotel, the largest Disney store in America, and the Warwick Allerton Hotel all call the Magnificent Mile home. The Warwick was home to the Tip Tap Room, a lounge on the 23rd floor of the hotel that made a name for itself with its signature drink: the Moscow Mule. Final Destination: The Tribune Tower, 435 N. Michigan Avenue. This is one of our favorite buildings in the city. The Tribune Tower is beautiful. It has a storied history and is home to many real artifacts from sites all around the globe. The building is the result of when the Chicago Tribune (the largest Chicago newspaper) hosted a contest in 1922 to design the most beautiful office building in the world. $100,000 of prize money was available, and the winner would receive $50,000 of that. Over 50 entries were received, and the neo-Gothic design you’re looking at today was the winner, from a small architecture firm from New York City called Howells & Hood. When the winner was selected, there were many “experts” that believed other entries should have won. To this day, there are rumors that the contest was fixed, but thus far there is no solid evidence to support that theory. Prior to the construction of the tower, the owner of the Tribune Company, Colonel McCormick, instructed his employees to bring back artifacts from historically important sites from around the world. These artifacts were collected and then incorporated into the building’s exterior. Make sure to take a walk around and see all the pieces the company collected that are now on full display.  Where to go from here? Great question. Before you go just anywhere, look across the street. The glazed terra-cotta structure in front of you is the Wrigley Building—one of our favorites. The clock on the south tower is almost 20 feet in diameter! Just another 0.7 miles south along Michigan Avenue is the entrance to Millennium Park and Cloud Gate, a.k.a. the Bean, artist Anish Kapoor's first public outdoor work. Have your camera out to capture your reflection in its surface. Another half mile south from the Bean is Buckingham Fountain. If you need a break from walking, you’re just a few steps from the most photographed bridge in Chicago: the Du Sable Bridge, named after the first known settler of the region. The American flag, Illinois State flag, and Chicago flag blowing in the wind alongside the buildings on the Mag Mile are a popular photograph. With the money you have saved on this DIY walking tour, you can afford to purchase a ticket to the Chicago Big Bus hop-on, hop-off bus, which departs just north of the bridge on the east side of Michigan Avenue. Or take an architectural boat tour that boards right at the bridge as well. All of the companies will have representatives vying for your business and should cost $30 to $45 per person.