Seoraksan National Park: What to Know

Support Local Businesses and Local Ads
Pyeongtaek Living 101 Advertisement

Information about Seoraksan often feels rather vague. To be honest, the first time we went we weren’t sure how to pick the right visitor center and which trail folks considered “hiking Seoraksan.” This is the blog we wish we could have found on the topic.

About Seoraksan National Park

Nestled in the eastern part of South Korea, Seoraksan National Park is a haven for nature enthusiasts, history buffs, and spiritual seekers. With its majestic peaks, lush forests, and rich cultural heritage, it’s no wonder that Seoraksan National Park is a must-visit destination for both locals and tourists. This blog post delves into various aspects of the national park to help you access all it has to offer.

History of Seoraksan National Park

Seoraksan National Park, established in 1970, exists as one of the oldest and most revered national parks in South Korea. The name ‘Seorak’, translates to ‘Snowy Crags Mountains’. This aptly describes the snow-capped peaks when they dominate the landscape during winter. However, the snow-capped peaks only last for a short time and many will visit when the peaks are hot and dry. There is not enough altitude for snowy peaks year-round.

Seoraksan National Park

The mountain of Seoraksan, located in the Seoraksan National Park, has a significant place throughout Korean history. Various historical records mention its beauty and significance. To protect such history, in 1982, UNESCO designated Seoraksan National Park as a Biosphere Preservation District, further emphasizing its ecological and cultural importance.

Support Local Businesses and Local Ads

Seoraksan v. Seoraksan National Park

Seoraksan

When people talk about ‘Seoraksan’ they often mix the concept of Seoraksan (A specific mountain in Seoraksan National Park) with Seorkasan National Park (A larger park area with many mountains). When people talk or write about ‘Seoraksan’ they may be talking about hiking the specific mountain or hiking other mountains in the park itself. This can cause some confusion when making trip plans. It’s a bit of a New York, NY situation. Understanding this distinction can help you ask clarifying questions about trips and excursions. However, keep in mind that non-Koreans may not realize they are mixing two concepts since they don’t realize a difference exists.

The most common access point to Seoraksan National Park is as follows:

About the Hiking Trails at Seoraksan National Park

Seoraksan National Park boasts a variety of hiking trails suitable for all levels of hikers. From leisurely walks to challenging ascents, there’s something for everyone. There are events that you can register for with the Korean National Park Service. A few of the popular day-trip hiking trails include:

  • Ulsanbawi Rock Trail: A moderate hike leading to a stunning rock formation with panoramic views. When people say they “Hiked Seoraskan” this is the most likely the trail they hiked.
  • Biseondae Cliff Trail: A relatively easy trail that offers picturesque views of the river and surrounding landscapes.
  • Daecheongbong Peak Trail: For the seasoned hiker, this challenging trail leads to the park’s highest peak, offering breathtaking views.

If you look at the map below you will see that there are multiple visitor centers within Seoraksan National Park. Each visitor center offers access to different hikes and mountains within the National Park.

  • Seoraksan Visitor Center
  • Baekdam Visitor Center
  • Hangyeryeong Visitor Center
  • Namseorak Visitor Center
  • Yaksuteo Visitor Center
  • Jangsudae Visitor Center
Seoraksan National Park
Seoraksan National Park Map with Trails

About the Buddha

One highlight of Seoraksan National Park is the giant bronze Buddha. Located about a ten-minute walk from the entrance of Sinheungsa Temple (신흥사(설악산), it towers 10 meters high. If you would like to know more about this magnificent Buddha, check out our blog:

About the Cable Car

For those who wish to enjoy the Seoraksan National Park’s beauty without the exertion of hiking, the Seoraksan Cable Car is a perfect choice. The ride offers a bird’s-eye view of the park, taking passengers up to Gwongeumseong Fortress. From there, one can enjoy panoramic views of the park and its surroundings. HOWEVER, THE WAIT for the cable car CAN BE HOURS LONG or even sold out for the day! Don’t expect to show up during the prime fall viewing hours or on a spring weekend and walk right onto the cable car. You need to arrive very early in the morning and get those tickets.

Seoraksan Cable Car

Seoraksan Cable Car0

033-636-4300

Copy and paste phone numbers into Naver Maps to get directions

Hangul Address

강원 속초시 설악산로 1085

(Listing information provided by the South of Seoul app)

About the Temple

Sinheungsa Temple at Seoraksan National Park

Sinheungsa Temple, located within Seoraksan National Park, is a testament to Seoraksan’s rich spiritual heritage. This ancient Buddhist temple, with its iconic giant Buddha statue, is a place of peace and reflection. The temple’s history dates back to the 7th century, and it has undergone several restorations over the years.

Sinheungsa

Sinheungsa0

033-636-7044

Copy and paste phone numbers into Naver Maps to get directions

One of the most beautiful temple sites in Korea.

Hangul Address

강원 속초시 설악산로 1137

(Listing information provided by the South of Seoul app)

As always, remember that Buddhist temples are active religious institutions. They allow tourism with an understanding that visitors respect the religious traditions. In fact, you can also visit Sinheungsa Temple for a temple stay.

When visiting temples, it’s important to respect the religious aspects of the space. Learn more about Korean Buddhist Temple Etiquette here.

Best Season to Visit

Seoraksan is beautiful year-round with each season offering a unique experience. We have personally visited the park in every single season and found it completely enjoyable in our eyes. We would go to Seoraksan National Park every week if we could. Here are our quick notes for each season along with some harsh realities:

  • Spring: Witness the park come alive with blooming flowers and greenery. Possibly the best time of year for hiking and the cherry blossoms will be stunning.
  • Summer: Enjoy the lush landscapes and the refreshing mountain air coupled with humidity and heat. Seriously, understand that it’s going to be dangerously hot and may feel like you are breathing water. Carry plenty of beverages and wear lots of sunscreen. Consider wearing long sleeves and a hat. Leave as early as you can in the morning for the hike.
  • Autumn: Marvel at the vibrant fall foliage that paints the park in shades of red, orange, and yellow along with tens of thousands of other people. Expect the trails to be shoulder-to-shoulder through much of the day. This is about community and experiencing the world together. Traffic is absolutely outrageous. We recommend going with a tour company in the fall because of the traffic.
  • Winter: Experience the serene beauty of snow-covered peaks and forests while desperately trying to stay warm. Just remember to wear wind-resistant, warm clothing, and shoes with plenty of traction. If you plan to be hiking, you need to have winter hiking gear. Many trails may be closed due to snow or bad conditions.

Food, Cafes, and Rest

There are many restaurants and a few cafes in Seoraksan National Park near the temple, Buddha statue, and cable car. We also usually stop at one of the beautiful cafes for a little tasty beverage and eat lunch or dinner in the park. To be honest, we have only hiked the mountain twice, we usually just go to relax in the trees, take a little walk around the temples, and grab a meal. Don’t feel like you have to do anything hard to enjoy Seoraksan National Park. You are allowed to skip all the mountain climbing and hurrying about.

Where to Stay

The hotels right near the Seoraksan National Park entrance tend to be expensive and older. We don’t recommend those with a love for Western-style accommodations with limited time in Korea stay near the entrance. The culture shock or price may feel uncomfortable. Instead, we recommend staying in Sokcho or Yangyang along the coast.

Nearby Attractions to Seoraksan National Park

Seoraksan National Park’s beauty doesn’t end within its boundaries. Here are some nearby attractions to consider:

Naksan Temple

Naksan Temple5

033-672-2447

Copy and paste phone numbers into Naver Maps to get directions

A beautiful and famous temple located on the East Sea near Sokcho.

Hangul Address

강원 양양군 강현면 낙산사로 100

(Listing information provided by the South of Seoul app)

Sokcho Beach

Sokcho Beach5

A large popular tourist beach with nice waves, deeper water, and often packed during high season.

Hangul Address

강원도 속초시 조양동 1450-4

(Listing information provided by the South of Seoul app)

In conclusion, Seoraksan National Park is a treasure trove of natural beauty, cultural heritage, and spiritual significance. Whether you’re an avid hiker, a history enthusiast, or someone seeking peace and reflection, Seoraksan promises an unforgettable experience.

Additional Seoraksan Information

If you found this blog post helpful, we recommend also reading the following posts. Each post provides slightly different information you may find valuable:

Plus Planner Collaboration

Thank you to the Plus Planner tour company who came to SOS SEC and asked us to create localized content for people living in South Korea. Plus Planner is a unique local travel company that has partnerships and sponsorships from governmental tourism organizations. Their goal is to promote rural areas of South Korea to an international audience. This is our dream partnership. We feel incredibly honored to that they asked us to partner on various projects.

You can also book incredibly affordable (sometimes shockingly so) group tours through Plus Planner. They even have family pricing on many trips. Such tours are also sponsored by tourism organizations which makes the price-to-value ratio incredible. We are talking 2-day /1-night cross-country trips as low as 50,000 KRW per person at times. That’s less than the cost of a hotel. They often offer trips leaving from Seoul and Pyeongtaek.

What To Learn More About Hiking In South Korea?

Join a hiking community to learn about trails, gear, and events happening around Korea. Both Camp Humphreys Hike and Bike and Hiking in Korea will provide you with other hikers who will share their experiences with the community.