Hallasan Mountain in Jeju


Hallasan Mountain in Jeju is the highest peak in South Korea. Mount Hallasan rises to 1,950 meters high. If you are traveling to Jeju, make sure to add a hike to Hallasan Mountain on your itinerary.

Hallasan is the highest peak in South Korea!

Formed by volcanic activity, the mountain is an extinct volcano made largely of lava. It is home to the magnificent Baekrokdam (a lake inside the crater of the volcano at the peak).

There are 4 main trails to hike on Hallasan Mountain, out of which only 2 reach its peak. In this post, we will provide you with a full guide about each hike and share our experience of reaching Hallasan’s peak, a truly amazing adventure!

Why is it worth hiking Mount Hallasan in Jeju?

– The Scenery is absolutely stunning with breathtaking views!
– Mt. Hallasan is listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site
– It is the highest peak in South Korea
– Hiking to the top is very challenging but very rewarding!
– You can observe the right biodiversity
– And so much more which you can discover in this full guide on hiking Mt. Hallansan

Hike Hallasan in Jeju

Hallasan was an active volcano until about 25,000 years ago, but its last eruption was in 1007. So no worry, it’s not about to wake up.

It is characterized by a large number of lava tunnels forming a total of 42 kilometers.

Thanks to this, the island and its tunnels were classified in 2007 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can visit some of its laval tunnels, the most popular one is the Manjanggul cave. But we also visited 2 caves in Hallim Park, much smaller, but still fascinating.

Hallasan Mountain has been a natural monument since 1966. It has been a UNESCO biosphere reserve since 2002 (biosphere reserves are areas comprising terrestrial, marine and coastal ecosystems. Each reserve promotes solutions to reconcile the conservation of biodiversity and its sustainable use).

We wrote many posts about Jeju which we compiled here. Check it out if you plan a trip to Jeju.

Jeju Hallasan 31

There are 4 main trails at Hallasan. Out of which 2 go to the top

Here is the overview of the 4 trails:

Yeongsil is the easiest trail at Hallasan.

  • Duration: 2 hours
  • Length: 3.7 kilometers (one way)
  • Reach the summit: NO
  • Booking required: NO
  • Starting point: Yeongsil Rest Area, Seoguipo-si Youngsil-ro 495 (here)
  • How to get there: If you are renting a car, then it’s relatively easy to reach the starting point. There are plenty of parking spaces. If you want to get there by bus, take #240 from Jeju City.

Our Experience:

Yeongsil is best known in autumn thanks to the amazing foliage. The start of the hike takes place in the woods, you are surrounded on both sides by trees and small streams. It’s quite a relaxing atmosphere.

The path cleared up after the forest for a beautiful view of Hallasan. Some of the highlights of Yeongsil are volcano rocks, waterfalls, the view of big valleys, and the crater wall of Hallasan Mountain.

Overall it’s a great and easy hike. If you want to train before tackling the tougher hikes to the summit, Yeongsil is a great start.

  • Length: 4.7 kilometers (one way)
  • Duration: 2.5 to 3 hours
  • Reach the summit: NO
  • Booking required: NO
  • Starting point: Eorimok rest area, Jeju-si 1100-ro 2070-61 (here)
  • How to get there: Again, very easy to reach by car. There are plenty of parking spaces. If you want to get there by bus, take #240 from Jeju City (same but to reach Yeongsil)

Our Experience:

This short trail is also easy to access for beginners. In spring, the nearby meadows are covered with red royal azaleas. From the stone walkway that leads to Mansedongsan, you will enjoy a breathtaking panoramic view of the countryside and the characteristic Oreums.

A great hike, which we really enjoyed. However, as this is one of the shortest trail and yet very scenic, it is also one of the most popular. So don’t expect to be the only one on the trail.

Hike Hallasan in Jeju
  • Length: 9.6 kilometers (one way)
  • Duration: 7h – 9h
  • Reach the summit: YES
  • Booking required: YES (here)
  • Starting point: Seongpanak parking lot, Jeju-si Jochun-eup 516-ro 1865 (here)
  • How to get there: If you get there by car, there is a huge parking lot. Getting to the Seongpanak trail by bus is easy. From Jeju International Airport – Take bus#181, from Jeju Bus Terminal – Take bus#281 and from Seogwipo – Take bus#182.

Our experience:

Seongpanak trail is the most popular trail to reach the summit. Its constant gentle slope makes it easier to reach the summit.

However, out of the 2 trails that bring you to the summit, we felt that Seongpanak was less scenic as most of the time the trail goes through a lush forest without a major panorama until reaching the summit.

As it is the easiest trail to reach the summit, expect quite a number of hikers to share the path with you. (We will go into more detail about Seongpanak trail the later in this post).

Hike Hallasan in Jeju

Our experience:

The Gwaneumsa Trail offers the best view of the vertiginous valleys and breathtaking terrain of Mount Hallasan. Halfway along the route are Guringul (a lava cave) and the valley of Tamna.

The latter is particularly splendid in autumn thanks to the beauty of its foliage, and in winter, when the whole valley lies under a thin layer of snow.

Although considered the hardest trail to reach the summit as it is the steepest with many stairs, Gwaneumsa is by far our favorite one and most scenic. (later in this post we will get into more details about the Gwaneumsa trail)

Jeju Hallasan 01

Not only are there cut-off times you have to stick to, but hiking Hallasan is an experience to really enjoy. So leave yourself enough time and do not rush it. Depending on your level you may need to take long breaks.

Remember, to reach the summit and get back down you will need at least 7 hours. We needed 8.5 hours!

This hike will take the whole day. We read before that there should be a place to get water and small snacks along the way but there wasn’t. We later learned that they stopped it due to Covid… not sure why though.

But this means that you need to bring sufficient food for a full day. The most popular snack for hikers in Korea is Gimpap. It’s a Korean dish made from cooked rice and ingredients such as vegetables, fish, and meats that are rolled in dried sheets of seaweed.

You can buy them pretty much in any convenience store or supermarket. We bought 2 each + other snacks and fruits. We finished everything including 1.5 liters of water each.

Have layers ready to take on or off. The temperature may change rapidly. Also when you take a break you may feel cold, so it’s better to take one more layer. When we started our hike it was raining in the morning but we had a beautiful blue sky after lunch time.

The sun was really strong at the summit, hence we were happy that we brought our sunscreen too.

To limit the number of people hiking at the same time on Mount Hallasan, the government implemented a booking system. You do not need to pay but it is mandatory to book in advance.

This is only mandatory for the 2 hikes reaching the top (Seongpanak and Gwaneumsa). You also need to choose your starting time, you have 3 options (5:00-8:00 / 8:00-10:00 or 10:00-13:00).

Note that to reach the top (unless you decide to run) you shouldn’t start after 10:00am! There are cut-off times, so you need to reach a few checkpoints at certain times, otherwise the trail will be close to the top. You don’t want to hike for 3 hours and then realize that the gate is closed and go all the way back…

To book, simply go to this website here. The website is also in English.

After your booking is completed, you will get a confirmation by email or Kakao message with a QR code.

imply scan the QR code at the entrance of the trail to go through the gate. If you do not show up but make a booking you will be restricted from accessing the trail for a few months. So make sure to cancel your booking if you can’t make it that day.

Actually, the hike doesn’t require any specific gear, but you definitely should have proper hiking shoes. On Gwaneumsa, the trail is pretty much even with many stairs, however on Seongpanak the trail is totally uneven. If you do not have proper shoes, the risk of an accident can be quite severe. Better be well prepared.

Spring and autumn would be the best seasons to hike to the top of Mount Hallasan. The weather should be more stable and less hot than summer.

If you decide to hike in summer, take extra water and sunscreens, as the sun would be very strong at the top. Winter could be beautiful if it’s covered in snow, but you will need to get extra warm clothes. Jeju can be quite windy as well.

Jeju Hallasan 15

We decided to hike up from Gwaneumsa and go down from Seongpanak. When booking online, you only need to choose from which way you want to start. However, you are free to get down from the other trail.

Most people would normally choose the other option, going up from Seongpanak as the slope is much more gentle, and then going down from Gwaneumsa.

However, we usually hate going down when the trails are very steep and have many stairs. Remember the full hike is 8 to 10 hours. Hence, you need to think about your knees and legs and how tired you would be. Besides, we knew Gwaneumsa was more scenic, so we thought we would feel more motivated to reach the top with a beautiful panorama surrounding us.

After finishing the hike, we felt that we made the best choice by going up via Gwaneumsa. The other benefit, is that much less people are hiking via Gwaneumsa, so we had the entire trail for ourselves all the way up! We loved it.

Jeju Hallasan 32

We usually do not like to wake up early on vacations, but here we are, woke up 7:00am, ate a good breakfast, got ready and drove 40min to the start of the trail. We reached Gwaneumsa parking lot a bit before 9:00am. After a quick toilet break we started the hike at 9:00am sharp. (No worry about parking, there are hundreds of spaces)

The start of the hike is really easy.

The trail is gorgeous, in the middle of the forest following a stream with huge rocks from time to time. On the way, there are many informative signs about the plants on Mount Hallasan and different animals living in the forest.

We also saw beautiful caves on the way. We really wanted to take more time to explore, but we knew we had to reach the first checkpoint at 12:30pm and had no idea how long we would need to get there… So we kept a very good pace in this first part of the hike.

Jeju Hallasan 29

Things got a bit harder after the first hour. After crossing a beautiful bridge, we saw the first set of steep stairs. We heard before that Gwaneumsa is mostly stairs. So here we go, our first stairs of the day to warm up our legs.

Jeju Hallasan 30

On our way up, we saw a rail following the trail. We then understood that it is used to bring materials up and down, but also if any hiker gets injured, they can easily bring you down.

The little wagon crossed us at some points. Later on, we realized it was the cleaning lady to clean the toilet at the rest area located around 1,000 meters. So well-organized Korea, impressive!

Jeju Hallasan 28

As explained earlier, this is the first checkpoint that you need to reach before 12:30pm in order to get to the summit. If you arrive later than that, the gate will be closed and there will be no way to reach the top.

We were hiking in Spring, and the checkpoint time changes in winter and summer. The first checkpoint is called Samgakbong Shelter. We reached there at 11:30am. So count at least 2.5 hours to get there. Hence, we do not recommend starting the hike after 10:00am.

Jeju Hallasan 23

At Samgakbong we ate our first Gimbap and took a toilet break. The weather wasn’t so good in the morning, with a thick fog. However, the forecasts showed a clear blue sky in the afternoon. So we were still hopeful to see the crater and the panorama from the top…

Jeju Hallasan 11

After taking a 30min break at the shelter, we continued our journey to the top. Right after leaving the shelter, the hike became even more beautiful. Not only the sky cleared up but the forest was also behind us, giving us the opportunity to see the splendid peak for the first time.

After crossing a gorgeous hanging bridge, a series of hundreds (perhaps thousands) of stairs awaited us.

The good part is that the view was so stunning, that we did not mind all these stairs that much. The contrast of the green valley, the rocks, and the blue sky was stunning. We suddenly felt in the Lord of the Ring. We could have spent hours contemplating this landscape but we knew we had to reach the summit before 2:pm.

Jeju Hallasan 07

Finally! After a bit more than 4 hours with a 30-minute break, we made it to the top. To our big surprise, as we felt we were pretty much the only ones hiking that day, the summit was full of people! We later understood that most of them came from Seongpanak, the other trail reaching the summit.

At this stage, the weather was beautiful with the sun warming us up. The view on the lake was gorgeous (unfortunately it is not allowed to go down the crater to touch the water). After some photos, it was time to eat some food and recharge our battery. We were so happy we made it to the top.

It is mandatory to start going down before 2:00pm. Hence after another 30min break, we decided to head back via Seongpanak this time.

Jeju Hallasan 06
Jeju Hallasan 05

On the way down via the Seongpanak trail, the first part was actually really nice and scenic.

The panorama was also beautiful with nice view of the valley, yet less impressive than Gwaneumsa. After about 1h, we reached the forest again. We were expecting an easy way down, however, the trail is really uneven with many stairs also…

Although it is less steep, we felt very tired because the terrain was really rocky as you can see in the photo. We had to be extra careful not to twist our ankles…

Jeju Hallasan 03

If you hike Seongpanak on your way up to the summit, you need to make sure to reach Jindallaebat Shelter before 12:30pm, otherwise, you won’t be able to reach the summit.

As we were on our way down, we just had a quick toilet break (note that there are no toilets at the summit) and continued our descent.

Jeju Hallasan 02

After the shelter, we started to go deep in the forest again and it started to be cloudy again (we were so lucky to reach the summit during a sunny window). The forest is actually very nice and felt a bit mystical within the cloud.

At some point, we saw a deer not too far from the trail searching for some food. What a magical sight in this forest.

Jeju Hallasan 26

After 8.5 hours we made it back to the parking lot of Seongpanak. All and all we took a bit more than 1 hour break. We were very exhausted but so proud of ourselves.

To reach back to our car, parked at the Gwaneumsa Parking area, we took one of the taxis waiting at the exit. The journey to Gwaneumsa took less than 20 minutes.

Hiking Hallasan Mountain

If you want to stay in a place surrounded by nature and near Hallasan Mountain, then Jeju The Gallery Pension is the perfect place for you in Jeju. This very cute pension with beautiful decorations and thoughtful attention is a hidden gem in Jeju. You can book here.

Jeju Hallasan 09

Hiking the Hallasan is a must if you visit Jeju. Even if you do not choose to reach the summit, choose one of the easiest hikes which is also beautiful.

For us, reaching the top of the Hallasan was a lifetime experience and our longest hike to date. It was hard, it was tiring but it was a wonderful experience with breathtaking views.

We can now proudly say that we have come to the end of our limits and that we have defeated this giant Halla mountain.

Although many people recommend taking the Seongpanak trail, we would definitely go via Gwaneumsa if we were to do it again. The hike is much more scenic, there are fewer people, and we actually felt that it was less difficult as at least the terrain was even.

If you are planning a trip to Jeju, make sure to read our post with the most awesome things to do in Jeju, here. Also, as we lived in Korea for 3 years, we wrote many posts about amazing things to see in this country. You can see all our posts here.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *