South Korea – Hiker’s Haven (Seoraksan)

From my previous post, South Korea – Hiker’s Haven (Seoul Fortress Wall), I cited that hiking in Korea is one of its main attractions, however some travelers may not be keen to explore as it may require some level of physical fitness to be able to reach the highest point.

Korean mountains trails vary from one to the other. Definitely the experience and fulfillment is different as every hiker traverse the slopes, ridges and unending stairs (It’s for real, Koreans probably love stairs) to the peak. There are also levels of difficulty from easy to difficult climb, which beginners (like myself) can consider. Some mountains can be a day-hike or multi-day hike, depending on your endurance, you can climb different routes in one go. As for me, I am taking it slow and one at a time.

After my first ever hiking adventure in Seoul, I headed to my next journey.

When I was researching for mountains to hike in South Korea, Seoraksan was on top of the list. Seoraksan is located in Sokcho, Province of Gangwon-do. It is about 3-hour bus ride (either from Seoul Express Bus or Dong Seoul Bus Terminal) from Seoul.

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Despite my apprehension to travel outside Seoul City for the first time, I enjoyed the 3-hour ride. A very refreshing, calm and green scenery delighted my way as I traveled to the province.

I stayed in House Hostel for my two trips in April 2014 (Spring) and October 2015 (Fall). I highly recommend this hostel because the place is cozy  and the owners are friendly and hospitable. You can book the hostel in Hostelworld.com.

I climbed Seoraksan twice, and I plan to do it again. The adventures I had were totally different but the admiration to its breathtaking view is as if seeing its beauty for the first time.

As you enter Seoraksan National Park, the surrounding gives you a positive vibe and gets you excited to continue the journey.

At first, I did not really consider going to any mountain peak as from the reviews I read at that time, Seoraksan is a “difficult” level. I was supposed to hike the Biryong Falls or Bisondae Cliff course, but these two trails were closed when I went. I hesitated to climb Ulsanbawi Peak. But in the end, I decided to head on and started my journey.

I was no longer surprised to see stairs as I am already used to seeing them in Korea and quite relieved that the trail is not as rough and difficult as what I expected. Similar to Seoul Fortress trail, the national park is well-maintained except for a few rugged ridges and slopes, but still able to pass through.

I was delighted to see the Fall Foliage in Seoraksan during my second visit in 2015.

As I continued my journey, there were also pit stops where you can take a rest and enjoy the amazing view of the Ulsanbawi peak as the overwhelming excitement kicks in.

Pit Stop
Pit Stop

Giving up was never an option, the mantra I kept telling myself. As I got nearer to the peak, the trail gets steeper and steeper and more stairs to climb.

I am acrophobic and imagine the struggle I had to endure in order to reach the top.

The struggle is for real but the breathtaking panoramic view awaits those who made it to the top.

I did and it was so surreal!

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breathtaking panoramic view of Ulsanbawi Peak

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It was so rewarding to be able to be on top. It was my first time to hike a real mountain.

Ulsanbawi in April 2014
Ulsanbawi in April 2014
Ulsanbawi in Oct 2015
Ulsanbawi in Oct 2015

After staying for few minutes at the peak, I headed down with a smile on my face, exhausted but fulfilled. The view made it all worth it.

After the exhausting hike, I went straight to a restaurant and enjoyed my bibimbap and ice cold soda to refresh and went back to the hostel to rest.

Adventure is worthwhile ~Aesop

 

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2 thoughts on “South Korea – Hiker’s Haven (Seoraksan)”

  1. Great read. Hiking is not the first thing that comes to mind when I think of South Korea, but it certainly seems like a pretty established recreational activity. Loved the views from the top.

    1. Travelers from this region (Asia) or US/EU seldom consider to hike when they visit South Korea. Mostly you will meet local hikers when you climb. When you visit Asia or South Korea, try it, it’s worth it. 🙂 Safe Travels!

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