Seoraksan National Park: The Complete Guide

In the northeast corner of South Korea is the Seoraksan National Park. Seoraksan, one of the most visited national parks in the country, is known for views of pristine mountains, pristine streams, and fall foliage worthy of countless Instagram photos.

But while fall may be the most overtly attractive time to visit, each season offers visitors unique experiences and an abundance of beauty of their own.

We hope you enjoy watching this video about Seoraksan National Park Vacation Travel Guide

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Prepare to step into a world of forested beauty when you arrive at Seoraksan National Park!

History of Seoraksan National Park

Originally designated as a nature reserve in 1965, Seoraksan became South Korea's fifth national park in 1970. A diverse collection of more than 2,000 species of animals (including the rare Korean musk deer and Korean chorus) and 1,400 species of plants call this national park home, UNESCO leading the park designation as a Biosphere Preservation District in 1982.

What to See & Do

As with national parks around the world, hiking and camping are the most popular activities in Seoraksan National Park. And while the park offers excellent hiking and climbing opportunities, you don't need to be an outdoor enthusiast to appreciate Seoraksan's natural beauty. The park also offers day hikes, easy hikes, scenic walks, and picturesque temples.

1. Daecheongbong Peak

The highest point on Seoraksan Mountain is Daecheongbong Peak, the steep point of which rises 5,604 feet above sea level. South Korea's third highest mountain and a favorite with climbers, Daecheongbong Peak can be reached from the Osaek Ranger Station in four to five hours on steep slopes of rocks and stairs.

2. Sinheungsa Temple

Built-in the 7th century, Sinheungsa is considered the oldest Zen Buddhist temple in the world. It is famous for a 14 meter high bronze statue of a seated Buddha known as "Tongil Daebul" (Great Buddha of Unification). It became a representation of the future reunification between South and North Korea. The temple is also the main temple of the Jogye order of Korean Buddhism.

3. Geumganggul Cave

Walk 2000 feet up Seoraksan Mountain from Sinheungsa Temple to reach rugged Geumganggul Cave. The cozy grotto was once used as a place of worship and still contains statues of Buddha and colorful prayer lanterns. It is also an ideal place for a pit stop, offering a bench for weary walkers and stunning views of the valley.

4. Seoraksan Cable Car

If gasping and puffing up the mountain isn't for you, shell out $ 7.50 for the cable car up the side of Seoraksan Mountain. Take in the spectacular peaks (without the sweat side) and deep valleys from the air-conditioned car and explore the ruins of the 10th century Gwonggeumseong Fortress at the top.

5. Biryong Falls

The highest waterfall in the national park is Biryong Falls, which plunges 15 meters into a translucent natural pool. "Biryong" means "flying dragon" and the waterfall is named after a popular story. Legend has it that a long time ago, a dragon sat on the waterfall, causing a drought in the nearby town. The villagers decided to sacrifice a girl to the dragon, and the creature was so grateful that she flew into the sky in gratitude, thus unblocking the flow of water.

6. Ulsanbawi Rock

One of the most popular tourist spots in Seoraksan National Park is Ulsanbawi Rock. This impressive rock formation is made up of six granite peaks, each 3.5 kilometers in diameter. The hike to Ulsanbawi Peak takes about four hours.

Where to Stay

While some people choose to visit the national park on a day trip, the various valleys, streams, and peaks are worth longer stays. Many hotels and restaurants are available within the park boundaries, allowing visitors to make the most of their time on the trails.

Some of the hiking trails have simple hiker shelters, which are basically cabins with bunk beds that provide basic shelter for the night. A bed in a shelter costs between $ 4 and $ 10, and reservations can be made at the ranger stations or the visitor center. Some camps are available for an inexpensive (less than $ 10) and attractive experience. Electricity is charged separately and bed linen is available at an additional cost.

If camping isn't for you, try a love motel. These quirky motels emerged as a way for young couples to stay together in a country with puritanical views on dating, but have since become popular with tourists as a cheap option for an overnight stay (usually between $ 30 and $ 60). There are also a few three- and four-star hotels around the park, most of which offer restaurants, bars, pools, and other amenities.

Getting there

Seoraksan National Park is approximately a three-hour drive from Seoul. But don't be afraid if you don't have a car. Public transportation in South Korea is every traveler's dream, with numerous easily accessible options and frequently posted signs in English. To get to Seoraksan National Park from Seoul, take a bus from the Seoul Express Bus Terminal to Sokcho City, which takes about four hours. From Sokcho, local buses run to and from the park's main entrance at 30-minute intervals.

Tips for visiting

  • The entrance fee to Seoraksan National Park is approximately $ 3 for adults. This includes a trail map, which is available in English.
  • Korea is well known for its organized and well-maintained public spaces, and Seoraksan National Park is no exception. The park has numerous facilities, including ample parking, clean restrooms, benches, hiking shelters, picnic tables, rest areas, and miles of well-groomed trails (many of which are laid out on wooden walkways).
  • The main entrance to Seoraksan National Park is called Sogongwon Park, with many hiking trails leading from there. Some of the most popular include the Biseondae Rock Course, an easy to moderate tour that takes two to three hours and passes through the Sinheungsa Temple; the Biryong Waterfall Course, a moderate three-hour scenic trail that leads to the famous waterfall; and Ulsanbawi Rock Course, a four-hour advanced trail to the top of the famous rock formation.
  • No matter how hot the temperature is, it is illegal to swim or play in streams, waterfalls, and natural pools to protect water quality and the environment. It is also not allowed to remove any natural object, such as rocks, from the national park.

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