A beginner’s guide to Seoraksan and all her beauty.
There are many different trails and starting points when it comes to the Seoraksan National Park. The park itself spreads across 4 different areas, namely Inje, Goseong, Yangyang and Sokcho. Naeseorak (Inner Seorak) is in Inje while Oeseorak (Outer Seorak) spreads across Sokcho, Yangyang and Goseong.
Sokcho is a good starting point for first-timers as there are a lot of options for you depending on your level. There is also a cable car for those that want to explore but are short on time. I only managed to cover the Ulsanbawi and Biryong Falls trails but i reckon i could’ve done another one had i arrived earlier.
Entrance to the park costs 3,500won for adults and there are general facilities available such as an information center, restaurants, restrooms as well as camping facilities.
Trails To Hike
Ulsanbawi (3.8km one way)
Entrance – Sinheungsa Temple – Heundeulbawi – Ulsanbawi
It is apparently one of the hardest courses in Seoraksan and you might be thinking; but it’s only 3.8km. What’s the big deal?
Well when 90% of the trail consists of steps, its a whole other issue. Forget training on treadmills, its the stairmaster you need. I admit i did struggle (lots of clinging on railings and unglam panting), but i managed to conquer it despite little training back home. While the steep staircases may seem like your worst nightmare, don’t let it put you off. Once you reach the top, you feel this huge sense of accomplishment, and the view definitely makes up for everything.
Click here for my picture-by-picture guide on what to expect and how the trail actually looks like.
Biryong Falls (2.8km one way)
Entrance – Yukdam Falls – Biryong Falls – Towangseong Falls Observatory
This trail allows you to walk next to gushing streams while marvelling at multiple waterfalls, and the gentle sounds of Mother Nature will most definitely put you at ease. The first 2.4km towards Biryong Falls is rather moderate, but it is the final 400m ascend towards the Towangseong Falls Observatory that is the real challenge. While the sight when you reach the top can be a little underwhelming, the true reward is actually testing your limits and being able to push through and overcome the 600 flights of stairs.
Geumganggul Cave (3.6km one way)
Entrance – Waseondae – Biseondae – Geumganggul Cave
Saying that i have a thing for views is an understatement. Can you imagine a cave high up a mountain that has an opening which overlooks the mountain range? I mean, c’mon! Yes, its no surprise that you will have to climb up what might seem as a never-ending staircase. But judging by the pictures alone, i’d say that it will definitely be worth the pain.
Gwongeumseong Fortress (1.5km one way)
Entrance – Cable Car – Gwongeumseong Fortress
This is arguably the most popular option for tour groups and visitors who are short on time and want to take a quick look around. The journey up takes you over the magnificent Seoraksan Mountain, and aside from the Gwongeumseong Fortress, there is also the Anrakarm Temple which overlooks Nojukbong and Towangseong Falls. The cable car is subject to weather conditions though (it was closed during my visit due to raging winds) so just bear that in mind.
Sorak Cable Car
Check website for opening hours
Return tickets: Adults – 10,000won; child – 6,000won
Daecheongbong Peak (16km one way)
Entrance – Biseondae – Heeungak Shelter – Daecheongbong Peak – Seorak Falls – Osaek
If you’re up for the challenge, make your way towards Seoraksan’s highest point. This trail requires an overnight stay at one of the shelters and according to guides, the sunrise from the peak will forever be ingrained in your memory. Do note that it is essential for you to make an online reservation for the shelter if you intend to stay overnight due to a limited capacity. You can get more info or make your booking here.
What To See
Located within the Seoraksan National Park itself, the Sinheungsa Temple is always crawling with tourists and tour groups alike because of its easy access. There is no additional charge when visiting this temple as the entire area is already covered with your entry ticket to the park. For those that are looking for a little peace and serenity and a different experience altogether, check out their temple stay programs here.
How To Get There
From Sokcho city, you can either catch Bus 7 or Bus 7-1, which takes you directly to the entrance of the Seoraksan National Park (the last stop). You can buy your ticket on board the bus or alternatively, the Tmoney card works as well. Travel time by bus takes approximately 45minutes and if memory serves me right, a one way fare costs around 1,900won (definitely under 2,000won). You can also grab a taxi there and back for convenience but personally, i’d much rather spend that extra cash on food.
Seoraksan National Park
Admission: Adult – 3,500won; teenagers – 1,000won; children – 500won