HIKING GUIDE FOR SEORAKSAN NATIONAL PARK IN KOREA? HOW TO GET THERE? IS IT WORTH IT?

Seoraksan National Park (설악산) is for us the most beautiful park in South Korea. And we are probably not the only ones who think the same. Seoraksan is located on the Northeast coast of Korea near Gangneung and Yangang. This national park is a must see if you travel to Korea.

You are probably wondering what to do in Seoraksan. How to get there? Which are the best hikes? What else to see in Seoraksan if you do not want to go hiking?

In this post, we compiled a full guide to help you prepare for your visit to Seoraksan National Park. Enjoy your visit to Korea’s most beautiful National Park!

Seoraksan is the third largest mountain in Korea. The highest peak in Korea is located in Jeju, the Hallasan Mountain (full guide here).

Visiting Seoraksan National Park during your stay in Korea, will allow you to see a different side of Korea and fully appreciate this country’s natural beauty.

Between its many peaks, its atypical rocks, its rivers and waterfalls, and its flora and fauna, the park has been designated as a biosphere reserve by UNESCO. And in addition to its many natural attractions, there are also some temples and other religious sites…

Seoraksan National Park

Seoraksan is the highest mountain in the Taebaek Mountains. The Taebaek Mountains range crosses the Korean Peninsula from north to south along its eastern coast.

The Seoraksan massif includes around thirty peaks. The highest of them is Daecheongbong (1708 meters).

While only a few places remain truly wild in South Korea, Seoraksan National Park is surely one of the places where nature still reigns in the country. And that’s probably what makes this place one of the most beautiful in South Korea.

Amongst the main things to do, you can hike to the top of Ulsanbawi for an amazing view, see the gorgeous and impressive bronze statue of Buddha in the valley, visit Sinheungsa temple as well as the small but charming Gyejo-am temple, take the cable car up to Gwongeumseong Fortress, see some waterfalls and so much more.

In a nutshell, you’ll have plenty of things to do and see in the National Park, which is suitable for the whole family.


Seoraksan National Park

To get to Seoraksan, you have several options:

1. By Car

This is the most flexible option, the one we opted for for our trip to Seoraksan. As the National Park is located near the east coast, we took the car to also visit the amazing Naksan Temple, Yangyang for a perfect surf trip in Korea and the beautiful Gangneung with plenty of things to do.

From Seoul, count approximately 2.5 to 3 hours to get to the entrance of Seoraksan National Park. It’s quite easy to drive there, as it’s practically only on a speedway.

If you need to rent a car, we recommend going via Trazy which offers the lowest price for foreigners. Most rental car company offer very expensive rate for foreigners and their website are not all translated into English. Check out Trazy rental offers here.

To park the car, there is a car park just before the entrance to Seoraksan. During peak season in Autumn especially, expect a bit of waiting time to enter the car park, as it can get crowded. Come early to avoid the big crowd.

2. By Public Transport

To get to Seoraksan from Seoul, head first to Sokcho Bus Station. You can take a direct bus from Seoul. Then take the local bus to the entrance to Seoraksan National Park (“Seoraksan Sogongwon” stop).

The journey takes between 20 and 30 minutes from Sokcho, via bus lines 7 and 7-1.

Another option is to take the KTX to Gangneung, and then a bus to Seoraksan directly or to Sokcho first.

3. Organized day trip

Another popular option amongst tourists is to join a tour with an English-speaking guide. This would be the most hassle-free option, where everything is organized by the tour agency.

Check out Trazy here, as they offer day trips from Seoul at very attractive prices.


Seoraksan National Park

In Seoraksan National Park you can find everything you need on site. By that, we mean food and coffee, toilets, and even souvenir shops at the entrance.

The entrance ticket to the park is 3,500 won per adult, 1,000 won for 14-19-year-olds, and 500 won for 8-13-year-olds. In short, it is very affordable to visit the National Park.

Best time to visit Seoraksan National Park?

Seoraksan is open all year round, however, the best time to visit would be in Autumn to see the tree foliage. The colors are just amazing. We went there during the first week of November and we were so amazed by its beauty. To know more about the best season to visit Korea, check out this post.

How many days to visit Seoraksan National Park?

If you only want to visit the main valley with the temple, the big Buddha, the cable car, and the waterfall, then 1 day would be enough if you start in the morning.

However, if you want to add 1 of the main hike to a peak, then spend at least 1 night in a hotel nearby.

Here is the ideal program for 2 day visit:

D1: departure from Seoul in the morning/visit of the Seoraksan valley, Buddha statue, Sinsheungsa temple, Cable car, and hike to one of Biryeong waterfalls.
D2: hike to the top of Ulsanbawi early in the morning to avoid the crowds and then return trip to Seoul or continue your trip on the east coast.

What to bring/wear when visiting Seoraksan?

If you only stay 1 day and intend to spend time in the Valley, take the cable car etc. then you do not need to wear or bring anything special. There are many restaurants and cafes in the valley. Even if you decide to go for a short hike to one of the waterfalls, you do not need special hiking gear, as the path is quite easy and well-paved.

However, if you decide to hike to one of the summits, expect a full day out in the mountain. Bring some food and plenty of water. Also in autumn, it can already be quite cold at the top, so bring some warm clothes as well.


Seoraksan National Park

Here we detailed all you need to know about the best places to visit in Seoraksan National Park, the best hikes and the main point of interest.

The main valley at Seoraksan concentrates the main activities. So although the national park is huge, you can explore many things in 1 day. Some hikes start from outside the valley, but if you decide to visit for 1 or 2 days, head to the main entrance. Check out the location here. From there you can access all the main attractions including the cable car.


1. Take the cable car

Seoraksan National Park

In Seoraksan National Park you do not need to hike to enjoy the amazing view. You can simply take the cable car which is located at the main entrance of the park in the Valley. The cable car is connecting to one of the peak of Seoraksan. From there, you can admire the natural beauty of the park. It’s absolutely worth it!

At the top, you can choose to hike a bit to reach Geumganggul cave, carved into the rock. It was once a place of worship for Buddhism.

Please be aware that there is always a waiting time to enter the cable car. You first need to buy your ticket for a specific time at the counter. Then you can continue the visit of the park, and you need to be back in front of the cable car 10min before your chosen departure time. When we went there, we bought the ticket around 11am, and the earliest timeslot available was 1pm. So within the 2 hours, we continued the visit of the park and came back 10min before departure. You do not need to queue or wait there until your departure time.

The round trip ticket for the cable car costs 10,000 won.


2. Giant bronze Buddha (Tongildaebul)

Seoraksan National Park


This giant bronze statue of Buddha, was amongst the most impressive statues we have seen in Korea. Especially as we went there during the peak season in Autumn. The colors were absolutely stunning. Although located below Sinheungsa temple, this statue is attached to the temple. Its name in Korean is Tongildaebul, meaning the Great Reunification Buddha, expressing the wish of Koreans to see their country reunified.

The statue is quite close to the entrance and if you plan to hike to Ulsanbawi, you can’t miss it. The statue measures nearly 15 meters in height.


3. Sinheungsa Temple

Seoraksan National Park

There are two temples in Seoraksan Park. The first, the most complete, is Sinheungsa, on the slopes of Seoraksan. When setting off for the hike to the top of Ulsanbawi, it will be on the left a few minutes after the start.

Sinheungsa means “Spirit of the Temple”. This temple is one of the most famous in Korea.

It was destroyed and rebuilt several times due to fires, but its first construction dates from the 7th century, in 653 to be more precise. It is sometimes considered to be the oldest Buddhist temple in Korea.

Visiting the temple is free. If you are lucky you can even see monks praying there.

Sinheungsa is located in a beautiful environment, far from everything in the heart of the mountains. Some Koreans even come to visit Seoraksan just to go to this temple!

If you are interested in seeing more temples in Korea, we recommend Bulguksa in Gyeongju, Naksan in Yangyang, Jeondeungsa in Ganghwado, Jingwansa in Seoul, and Haedong Yonggungsa in Busan.


4. Gyejoam Temple

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Gyejoam is the second temple in Seoraksan, further on the hiking trail. It has a sanctuary built in a cave under large rocks. It’s very unique.

This rock shrine is located right next to another landmark of Seoraksan Park: Heundeul Bawi Rock. It is a large block of stone, spherical in shape, and weighs over 15 tonnes.

This rock is very special as it balances on another rock, anchored to the ground. You may see tourists pretending to push it to make it fall: it has become an attraction on its own …


5. Enjoy a great lunch and cafe

Seoraksan National Park

There are many great restaurants in Seoraksan National Park. We opted for the traditional seafood pancake restaurant located next to the entrance of the Cable Car. The pancake was absolutely delicious. Perhaps one of the best one we ate in Korea.

We then walk a few meters opposite the restaurant to a nice coffee shop in a traditional house (location: here). The weather was so nice despite being in November already so we could sit outside and enjoy the fresh air of the mountain. It was just perfect!


Seoraksan National Park

When you enter the National Park, you will find a few maps displayed around the park with all the possible hikes. Most of the hikes starts from the main Valley. So after you explored the valley, it is time to start one of the hike.

1. Ulsanbawi, the most famous one

Seoraksan in Gangneung

Ulsanbawi is the most popular hike in Seoraksan. It would be a pity to miss it if you are visiting the National Park.

The Ulsanbawi is the most famous viewpoint in Seoraksan Park. In fact, when you see a picture of this Korean national park, most of the time it would be a photo of Ulsanbawi.

Regarding the hike itself, it takes around 7 to 8 kilometers for a round trip. So 4 kilometers one way. Most of the hike is relatively easy, however, the last part gets much steeper with many stairs to reach the summit (there are over 800 steps). This is the most difficult part of the hike. But totally worth it!

All and all the level of the hike is for beginners to intermediate. Except for the last part. For a round trip count maximum 3.5 hours.

Ulsanbawi being the most famous of the hikes in the park, there are a lot of people during weekends. So we recommend starting early in the day.


2. Biryong Waterfalls, the easiest one

Biryong (Flying Dragon) Falls Trail

Another interesting hike in Seoraksan is the one that leads to Biryong Falls. This hike is really easy and quite short. Allow 4.5 kilometers for a round trip with an elevation gain of around 150 meters. You can complete the hike in 1.5 hours.

Biryong Waterfall is quite pretty. The most interesting part of the hike is before reaching the waterfall. Indeed, a section of the hike is truly magnificent, around a suspended bridge. The panorama is sublime and there are several small waterfalls on the way (Yukdam Pokpo).

Biryong waterfall hike can be extended to access a viewpoint. This is signposted once you arrive near the Biryong waterfall: you have to climb steps for about 400 meters in order to gain height.

The goal of this part of the climb is to be able to admire the valley, with Towangseong Falls, on the other side in the distance. Towangseong is over 300 meters high, but they are often dry. The best time to see these waterfalls is autumn right after the summer rain.


3. Daecheongbong Peak, for more experienced hikers

Climbing toward Daecheongbong

Daecheongbong Peak is located at 1,708 meters above sea level. It is the highest peak in Seoraksan National Park and the third-highest peak in Korea. Allow about 16 km of trail starting from Sogongwon. For info, it is possible to sleep in a refuge near Oryon Falls.

In any case, this hike allows you to observe rare varieties of wildflowers but also many birds and other animals. The landscapes change colors from one season to the next: snowy in winter, multicolored in spring and summer, shimmering colors in autumn…


Kensington Hotel Seorak

Seoraksan

If you want to maximize your time in the National Park, then we highly recommend to stay at the Kensington hotel. This is the closest hotel to the entrance that can be reached on foot.

You can leave your vehicle in the hotel parking lot to avoid paying for the parking inside the National Park. Depending on your booking, the National Park entrance ticket might also be included. Check out the hotel here.


Two-Y hotel in Yangyang

Seoraksan

Just 15min drive to Seoraksan National Park main entrance, you can reach the beautiful east coast and its magnificient sea. As we came by car, we decided to stay on the seaside at Two-Y Hotel in Yangyang.

Our room was facing the sea. We enjoyed a delicious breakfast on the rooftop in a very modern setup. We drove early morning to Seoraksan National Park, and it was quite easy. However, if you reach there by 10am, expect a little bit of queue before you can park your car. To book Two-Y hotel, click here.

READ ALSO: We also wrote a full guide about Yangyang here


Naksan Temple

Naksan Temple or also called Naksansa (낙산사), is a gorgeous temple located on the east coast of South Korea, in Yangyang (more info about Yangyang here).

There aren’t many temple right by the sea in Korea. The most famous one is in Busan, and it’s called Haedong Yonggungsa Temple (more info here). Together with Haedong Yonggungsa, Naksan Temple is one of the only coastal temple in South Korea. It sits right on top of a cliff facing the sea. Which makes the scenery from Naksan Temple breathtaking.

READ: Full guide about Naksan Temple


Yangyang

If you are looking for the perfect beach vibes in Korea, then head to Yangyang on the east coast. Yangyang is the Bali of South Korea, a true surf paradise and the perfect gateway if you live in Seoul.

Yangyang is located in Gangwon-do. This town is very popular with Koreans and tourists who come to enjoy the beautiful sea on the East coast. Over the years, Yangyang became famous for surfing and it is now a trendy place with great cafes, restaurants, surf shops, and a lot more.

READ: Check out more about Yangyang here.


Seoraksan National Park

This practical guide of Seoraksan National Park is coming to an end. We hope that this blog post will make you want to discover one of the most beautiful National Park in Korea.

Even though Seoraksan National Park is a bit isolated in the northeast of South Korea, we highly recommend that you include it on your itinerary when visiting Korea. It is clearly one of the wildest places in South Korea.

Are you going to South Korea soon? Planning to visit Seoraksan? If you have unanswered questions, please send them to us via the comment box at the bottom of the article. Our discussions may also be useful to other travelers who read the blog and wonder what to do in Seoraksan and which hike to choose.

We lived in Korea for 3 years and wrote many posts about things to do in this country. You can check them all here.


YANGYANG THE BALI OF KOREA

GANGNEUNG AND KOREAN EAST COAST

99 MUST-SEE IN KOREA

HIKE HALLASAN THE HIGHEST PEAK IN KOREA

VISIT JEJU ISLANDS, THE HAWAII OF KOREA

DISCOVER NAKSAN TEMPLE IN YANGYANG

BEST SURF SPOTS IN KOREA

18 Comments

  • Deborah
    Posted August 27, 2022

    Hi! Your article is super helpful as we are preparing our trip to korea from Singapore. We are planning spend 2 days in seoraksan National park. And on the 2nd day, we hope to conquer Daecheongbong Peak. We will start from Seoraksan Sogongwon Park to Osaek Trail Head. But would like to check if the path is well paved and signs to show us the right direction.

    Are you able to advice? Thank you!

    • A Fun Couple
      Posted August 28, 2022

      Hi there, thank you for your nice comment. Glad to hear that you find the blog helpful. Yes the hike is well indicated, and most likely you won’t be alone 😉
      This is a difficult hike though, better leave early to have sufficient time to complete the hike.
      Enjoy your trip to this beautiful country!

  • Hailblob
    Posted October 2, 2022

    Hey there, thank you for such a thorough post! We are heading to Seoraksan in a couple of weeks to do the Ulsanbawi trail and wanted to check if reservations to climb are needed? We’ve tried to google for answers but to no avail and are hoping you guys might know, thank you!

    • A Fun Couple
      Posted October 3, 2022

      Hi there, no reservation is required to hike the Ulsanbawi trail. You will only need to pay the entrance of Seoraksan park. Enjoy this stunning hike!

  • Elisa
    Posted October 18, 2022

    Hi there, thank you for your article, very helpful! May i know the exact date you visited Seoraksan during that first week of Nov? I have plan to visit there on 7 Nov but afraid the leaves already gone 🙂

    • A Fun Couple
      Posted October 18, 2022

      Hi Elisa, We went there on the first week of November. I think on the 7th it should still be ok 🙂 Enjoy your visit of this wonderful place.

  • Gaby
    Posted November 7, 2022

    Hello
    Just a quick comment to thank you. We are in Korea for two weeks and just decided to go to Seoraksan from Jeju-Do. I just read your article, it seems so cool !
    Anyway, thanks for your really helpful blog 🙂
    Gaby & Oliv

    • A Fun Couple
      Posted November 7, 2022

      Aww thank you so much for your nice comment. Glad you found our blog useful! Enjoy Seoraksan, the autumn foliage must be stunning by now!

  • Valdelice
    Posted June 25, 2023

    Thank you so much!! All I needed was a straightforward guide of the interesting things to do in Seoraksan National Park, and you presented it in an easy and very practical way. Looking forward for going everywhere you advised to in a couple of days! Cheers!!

    • A Fun Couple
      Posted July 1, 2023

      Nice! Happy we could help! Have fun during your trip 🙂

  • Alvin (Singapore)
    Posted August 8, 2023

    Thank you for the very informative post! I’m in Seoul for a conference in late Oct n would like to visit the seoraksan for possibly 2Days to allow time for the Ulsanbawi hike in day 1 and then biryong waterfall in day 2.

    However I saw on some blog n post that taking local public transport might be tough due to language barrier.

    On the contrary, as u mentioned, the easiest is to join a day trip but the best only allows 5hr in seoraksan so I fear that’s only enough time for the ulsanbawi trail…

    Tried searching for organised trips that last for 2D1N w time in the National park on both days but to no avail.

    Am caught in a dilemma…

    What would u suggest?
    Is it tough for the communication when we get tickets n directions for the public transport?

    • A Fun Couple
      Posted August 8, 2023

      Hi Alvin. Wow Seoraksan in October will be awesome! You should definitely do it. In Korea many things are difficult due to language barrier 😉 But with Google Translate pretty much everything is possible 🙂 So don’t worry you will make it. However, we recommend to stay at Kensington hotel since you can walk to the park from there (otherwise if you stay in another hotel nearby it will be difficult to reach by public transport…

  • Alvin (Singapore)
    Posted August 14, 2023

    Thank you Fun Couple for the great post & the helpful reply. I think I will muster my courage and attempt the free & easy 2days to Seoraksan instead of lying back and just taking the day tour. Wanted to seek your opinion on:
    1) if I am going to the Sinheungsa temple + Cable car + BiryongFalls on day 1 afternoon and then the Ulsanbawi hike on day 2 morning, the sceneries will not be very repetitive for day 1 & day 2 I hope?

    2) would you suggest the BiryongFall walk besides the cable car and the temple for day 1 or would biseodae rock be better?

    3) I plan to stay at Lotte Sokcho as I feel the Kensington will not have much dining options available for the 1st night dinner and day 2 breakfast. understand that Lotte is another 50min bus ride away, any opinion on this?

    4) for the bus from Seoul express terminal to Sokcho express terminal, I can’t seem to get access to an English website for advance booking of the tickets… so… if say I reach seoul express terminal on 24th Oct (late autumn) at 8am in the morning, do you know roughly what’s the chances of me having difficulty in securing a ticket to board the next available bus?

    Thank you so so much for your help once again!

    Smiles
    alvin

    • A Fun Couple
      Posted August 15, 2023

      Hi Alvi,

      1) It’s beautiful, so it would be fine even if a bit repetitive as long as you like hiking.
      2) We would go for Biryong Falls
      3) If you don’t mind the extra ride, then it’s fine. Sokcho is a beautiful place, with nice beaches. It’s a great contrast from the mountain.
      4) Book here: https://www.kobus.co.kr/main.do (you can change the language on the top right corner)

  • Alvin (singapore)
    Posted August 16, 2023

    Lovely! Thank you Fun Couple for the reassurance & encouragement + the link. I am trying the link and wondering for departure from Seoul express bus terminal, which station under Seoul should I select? Would it be Central City or Dongseoul or Seoul Gyeongbu?

    And for the arrival at Sokcho, I tried to search the location/terminal name under Sokcho but to no avail…

    Thank you so much for helping once again!

    • Min Htoo
      Posted October 9, 2023

      Hey Alvin, fellow Sgean here. You should select Seoul Gyeongbu (it’s at gangnam) and the arrival will be at Sokcho Express Bus Terminal.

      Please download Naver Maps (you can change language to english), it’s much better than Google Maps.

      Actually, you can book taxi with Kakao Taxi (also english menu) just like Grab or Uber, and pay with credit card at the end of the ride (driver has the physical payment machine) Just need to sign up for KakaoTalk first with SG phone number. The taxis are quite cheap (10k won for 15-20 min ride), and it should be much more convenient than bus ride.

  • Joey
    Posted September 5, 2023

    Thanks for the tips. I am planning to do a 2d 1n hike to the Daecheongbong Peak. I will start from Seoul, take bus to Baekdamsa Temple, and hike from there up to Socheong shelter, rest for the night. Tmr, hike up to see sunrise. Then down to the main visitor center (Seorakdong Info Center).
    If I have the time, I will go Ulsanbawi and back, before going to Sokcho to rest for then night.

    • A Fun Couple
      Posted September 5, 2023

      This sounds really good!! Please share your experience once you are done 🙂 It will certainly help other readers…

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