There has been a long interval between my last post about South Korea, and now this one (9 months I think, poor effort from me). After a lot of nagging from the parents I’ve done a post! I can’t really fill you in on everything I’ve done, considering I’ve got an abysmal memory, so I’ll just update you on my latest trip!
The long summer is finally coming to an end, Hooray!! What better time for a hike than when the weather is cooling down?
This post is about how to get to Seoraksan National Park (skip to the end if this is the information you require), and my experience of the hikes. I apologise in advance for the length of the post, however, I love a good hike!
Sokcho day 1:
Thank Christ for September! The long sweaty days of the summer are now coming to an end, and during this respite from the hot weather September decided to give me a 5 day holiday. From September 14th to the 19th it is Chusok in Korea (Korean thanks giving day). Whilst people spend the holiday with their families, us foreigners get the freedom to travel! Thus, I decided to do what I like best. Hike! However, my trip wasn’t as long as I wanted, due to monetary issues.
It started with a nice and early 5 am start on the Wednesday to catch my 7am bus to Sokcho. Safe to say, once I got on the bus I immediately fell asleep. Unfortunately for me, I decided to travel on the first day of the holiday. Rookie error. When I woke up I was expecting to be at my destination. This was not the case. What was supposed to be around a 4 hour bus journey turned into 5 and a half hours. This was not part of the plan, as I wished to explore the park on the first day. However, I now only had a limited amount of time until my hostel check in, so I couldn’t go to the park.
This ended up being a blessing in disguise. After a quick meal and checking in to my hostel, I decided to explore Sokcho. My hostel was by the docks, so I went for a nice coastal walk. It was beautiful. I never truly appreciated the coast back home, but when you’re stuck in a city there is nothing like the fresh sea breeze. Describing the scenery wouldn’t do it justice, so let me show you.
After a long day of traveling and walking along the coast, I needed sleep. I had another 5 am wake up and a full day of hiking ahead of me the following day.
Seoraksan day 2:
On this day I did three separate hiking courses, so this day will be split into three sub sections.
The first of the three, and known to be one of the harder courses of the park.
As I knew that today I would be tackling three courses, I started early. I was on the first bus to the national park. 5:45 am. The sun hadn’t even risen, what was I doing awake?
Anyway, I arrived at the park at around 6:30 am. The bus drops you right outside the entrance, so all that was left to do was buy my park admission ticket for 3,000 won. Just so you know, I was not the only person in the park at this time. There were a few of us hiking fanatics. One of whom, who I spoke to on the bus, was tackling dinosaur ridge that day and hoping to complete the 12 hour course in one go. Bold chap.
Once you’re in the park, the first stop is the Sinheungsa temple. This is a rather large Buddha statue, which is well over 10 meters high and very impressive. Also, the statue can be used as a landmark and starting point for the hikes I did this day.
From here, you simply follow the signs for Ulsanbawi.
Now, I’m not one to describe something relentlessly to create an image of a serene picturesque beauty. That being said, Ulsanbawi is probably one of my favourite hikes to date in Korea. There are many opportunities to stop off and take in the surroundings of endless beauty. Each time I stopped to take in the views of the park I was stunned.
Rather than continuing to talk about my fetish for this park, it’s time for pictures.
Normally I would hate myself for getting up so early, but the peak at 8am was worth it, I hope you agree. I found it stunning that I spent a good half an hour up there taking in the views.
Once I’d made my way back down from Ulsanbawi and a bite to eat, it was time to start hike two! I’d made my way back to the temple, and veered to the left rather than the right for Ulsanbawi.
Biseondae Rock, takes you on a lovely walk through a valley within the park. You walk alongside a river, and you are in the forest for the majority of the walk! It is very scenic, and the walk itself is not very challenging. There are occasional rocky parts, but other than that not much up and down, and a clear path to follow.
The heat of the day had picked up. Walking by a river, which you are not allowed to swim in, did not help. There were times that I wondered if the consequences were actually worth a quick dip in the many pools along the way.
The start of Biryong falls is close to the cable car at the beginning of the park.
Biryong falls was beautiful, however the trek there was a bit arduous. Not because the hike was difficult, but because of the sheer volume of people. This was my last hike of the day, and it was nearing mid-day. Admittedly a silly time to hike, as people had flocked to the park at this point. When you’re trying to traverse a narrow walkway, which is obviously meant for one person at a time, and an old Korean lady (the bosses of Korea, don’t ever cross them) is steaming straight at you, you do see your life flash before your eyes. Is it death from falling, or death from old people? Luckily, I’m quite agile and lived another day.
Well there you have it, my two days spent at Sokcho and Seoraksan. I apologise that i couldn’t fill you in on more than this. Hopefully the next post won’t be so long in waiting.
How to get there:
Go to either Suwon bus terminal or Dong Seoul bus terminal and take a bus to Sokcho. The price from Suwon is 22,000 won. Unfortunately, I don’t know the price from Seoul as I do not live there. The bus from Suwon usually leaves from terminal 6. This may change. Once on the bus, simply get off at the last stop. You are then at Sokcho Intercity bus terminal. The journey takes 4 hours from Suwon, and 3 hours from Seoul.
If you wish to go straight to Seoraksan National Park exit the terminal and turn right. Walk about 100 meters to the bus stop. You do not need to cross the road. The bus stop is on the same side as the terminal. From here, wait for either bus 7 or 7-1 to arrive and flag it down. Both of these buses will take you to your destination. Stay on the bus until the last stop and get off. You’re now at Seoraksan National Park! Enjoy! It should take around 40 minutes to get there.