Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Seoraksan National Park

Korea has an abundance of many things, mountains and National Parks are near the top of that list. What better place to show of your latest hiking gear in seasonal colors than hiking a mountain inside a national park? Or, if like us, you don't have matching couples hiking gear and when you're keen to head up a mountain you just wear whatever is handy and go. This often brings a few stares and questions like: are you going to be warm enough, cool enough and possibly some variations of are you seriously going up the mountain in that? Maybe they were just laughing at my skinny legs?



Seoraksan is one of the better known parks and boasts an impressive number of trails to suit all abilities as well as a cable car if you really just want some nice views and no effort.

We have been to Seoraksan twice, once in Spring and once in Autumn. I feel like each time we went, we were visiting a different park. The park also obviously boasts a temple (can't turn around in Korea without seeing one of these), the largest, (seated, bronze) Buddha in the world and some impressive grounds and statues before you even get to the actual hiking.



Our second visit to the park was during Autumn and the main reason was the see the foliage in all it's splendor. We were not disappointed. This time around we chose a shorter hike up to a cave that housed a temple (of course) as well as a monk who lived up there! The hike started  off as a pleasant walk through the forest with lots of leaves to oooh and aaah at. Things get a bit more rough underfoot as the trail goes along a river, which was quite impressive, there had been a lot of rain and it was in full flow. The rushing water provided a great soundtrack to our hike. After this things got a bit more serious as we started to climb. The trail goes past Biseondae, a rock which has some Korean folklore attached to it. After this you head straight up to the cave housing the temple. The view from up here is breathtaking and on a quiet day the monk will even brew you a cup of tea.





Next up was the cable car. This is very well managed and you can buy tickets ahead of time for a specific time that day. This means you don't have to wait in line for ages. Once you reach the top there are a few look out points and another short trail that goes even further up. Take this trail. It's worth it. The trail goes to the peak itself, which unlike most viewpoints in Korea has no railings or platforms. Most people just scramble up the steep mountain side to see how high they can get too take the most impressive photo. Unfortunately for us it had been a rainy weekend and there were lots of clouds about when we got to the top.



If you're looking for a park to visit in Korea definitely add this one to your list. It is also very close to Sokcho which has nice beaches and is easily reached by public transport. When we visited in the Spring we took a bus from Busan to Sokcho (it was long and torturous). This time, however, we visited Seoraksan National Park on Day 2 of our trip with Enjoy Korea (on Day 1 we had visited The DMZ and the 4th infiltration tunnel).

We don't often travel with tour groups, but for something this far and action packed, sometimes it'd just easier. How do you prefer to travel - group tours or on your own? 

14 comments:

  1. In Korea - group tours! Outside - alone for sure! I loved your picture of you looking back, while the fog is descending over the mountains in the back. Looked very romantic, yet chilly and you guys are smart for visiting it in both seasons, seeing the changes must have been a real treat.

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  2. What a beautiful park. I wish I had time to go see it. But I'm happy I've seen my fair share of foliage while hiking through mountains in Busan! I also did the DMZ tour and went with a group. That specifically is the best way to go!

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    1. Yeah, in Korea we are lucky and almost spoilt for choice on places to go to see some foliage!

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  3. I am so desperate to visit Seoraksan!! This has made me want to go even more, need to make sure we fit it in before our contract finishes. We've always been put off by the long journey time but perhaps we will look into a group tour if it's easier and more convenient - especially as you guys had a good experience. Amazing pictures too!

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    1. Totally recommend it! It's so beautiful-proably my favourite park. You're right, it is difficult to get to. The first time we took a bus from busan to sokcho and spent the night there. the bus trip was pretty darn long though!

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  4. No matter how many posts you read or photos you see about Seoaraksan, it is beautiful. it's hard for me to schedule a trip there with my kids so I rely on what i read and what i see online. hopefully though, before we leave Korea, we will be able to visit... even if it means just be cable car:-)

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  5. These are some gorgeous pictures of one of my favorite places in Korea. I think my favorite season here is autumn, and you captured some lovely fall colors here :)

    Have you done the trail up to Ulsanbawi (I think that's the name) yet? It's the big ridge of rocks across the valley from the chairlift. I think that was my favorite trail, but there are still a couple I haven't done there.

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    1. Yes, Nathan! We actually did that one our first time there! It was pretty amazing and we even had views of the ocean from up there!

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  6. Seoraksan is seriously one of our favorite places in Korea. The day that we went on a warm spring day and I laid down on one of those big rocks with some makgeolli and nature valley granola bars (they pair well!) at the fairy pools at Biseondae Rocks is a lasting memory that I think about all the time. We also would get stares, giggles, and unwarranted advice when we showed up hiking in Korea because we weren't decked head to toe in "proper" hiking gear lol We also LOVE that temple with the giant bronze buddha at the entrance! I wish we could all have a reunion in Seorak! I would love to go back again!

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  7. We have been talking about going to Seoraksan for ages. I love the photos. I am really looking forward to visiting in the spring. I can't imagine going at the moment. I don't really do well in the cold! Great post!

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  8. Seoraksan is one of my favorite national parks in Korea. What amazed me when I was on top of the mountain was that I had LTE signal on top of the mountain! I could take a picture and upload it right to Instagram! Only in Korea. That cable car is really a time saver. Those are some nice pictures by the way. I haven't been in Fall yet, but hopefully next time.

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  9. Seoraksan is awesome! I went there in my first year with 6 of my friends and we missioned up on public transport. It's such a mission from Masan but it can be done! It ended up being the great escape from Sokcho on the way back, though. Our bus was sold out, so we had to get the bus that stops at every single little down the East Coast. By the time we got to Daegu we were exhausted and a taxi driver told us he would take us back to Masan for 50,000 won. When we were in the taxi for a while we realised the meter was at 70,000 so we were like, ummm why? Turns out that he meant 15 x 10,000 won aka 150,000 won! We had to get him to drop us off at the next nearest town and hope that we could get a bus to Masan from there. I usually travel independently and have only ever done 2 group tours in my time here (once to a full moon party in Namhae and once to go skiing) but for Seoraksan it's probably worth going in a group since it is a mission to get to!

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    1. Haha oh my gosh Nicole that sounds awful! We also ended up with the bus that stops everywhere on the way back (the first time we went) and I agree - it was awful. But we had only been here two months so we weren't gonna get off it haha!

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  10. I'm still embarrassed to say I haven't been to Seoraksan! I want to see that massive Buddha so badly. I think if I were to go from Seoul I'd have to book a trip. This year has been so insane I haven't hiked once since leaving Busan! Love that you guys got a snap with your makgeolli. Such a necessity when hiking in Korea! <3

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