After a less than comfortable night sleeping on the beach, we woke up and threw some grilled cheese sandwiches on the Barbecue before heading off to Seoraksan National Park. The park itself is huge and covers an area of about 163 square kilometres. It is listed as a World Heritage spot and was made into a nature reserve by the South Korean government in 1965. Situated on the east central Korean peninsula, the park itself has many different peaks to climb, and it is a great location for novice and experienced hikers alike.
It’s also a great place for people who aren’t that keen on hiking, as there are some fascinating gardens, temples and of course the good old faithful cable car if you’re feeling a little lazy. It was quite easy to get to from our base (on the beach) as the number 7 bus which departs from opposite the main bus station on the other side of the road, takes you directly there. The journey took about 20 minutes too, so it was super convenient. However, be prepared for the bus ride (especially on the way back) as it can get quite busy at times.
Once we arrived at the foot of the mountain, it was clear to see why this place draws such a crowd. The stunning surroundings on this gorgeous sunny day were breathtaking and I couldn’t wait to pop on my sunglasses and start exploring. Admission to the park itself is about 3,000won, and once inside there is so much to see that you may find that one day just isn’t enough. We decided to hike up to the Biryongpokpo falls, which was about a 2 hour round trip and totally worth it. On the way up, there were many different sights to see and spots to relax in. The guided pathway leads you through forest land, rocky terrain and at one point across a pretty impressive suspension bridge. For the most part stairs have been put in place along the way, however there are some areas where you have to navigate around a couple of huge boulders but its not too difficult. Seeing the beautiful waterfall at the top makes this the perfect place to just sit down and take everything in. It's totally mesmerising.
The main attraction of the park is of course the peak of Seoraksan mountain itself. We decided (due to time restrictions and part laziness) to take the cable car up to the top and that was definitely a highlight in itself. If you’re thinking of going I would suggest getting your tickets for the cable car as soon as you arrive, as you may have to wait up to 3 hours for your allocated time slot. You ARE able to go off and come back again though so it's not really too bad at all. The price for the cable car is 10,000won, and if you’re going to Seoraksan then this is something that you absolutely do not want to miss.
Once we got to the top, the view was just spectacular. The rolling mist and incredible scenery made it look like something out of a Hollywood blockbuster, and I imagine that this would be the perfect location for perhaps the sequel to a film like Cliffhanger. Due to the high altitude it did feel slightly nerving at times and my ears definitely did pop once or twice, but I hardly noticed as I was very much in awe of the entire place. After some time we eventually returned to the bottom of the mountain, and made our way to the mahoosive bronze Buddha of Sinheungsa. This is perhaps the biggest Buddha statue that I have ever seen, but then that’s not really hard as I haven’t seen many. The whole place felt quite spiritual at times and it was wonderful to see so many Buddhist monks wandering around the area.
Seoraksan National Park and Sokcho truly are two beautiful places to visit in Korea, and I would totally recommend them to everyone and anyone who has ever lived! The whole trip was rounded off the next morning by watching the glorious sunrise on Sokcho beach at 6am. Looking out at the horizon over the East Sea after an absolutely epic Chuseok weekend away, I wondered when my next adventure would be and where it will lead me. Until then...
Sunrise on Sokcho Beach