Saturday, November 10, 2012

A day around Seoraksan (Sogongwon, Sinheungsa Temple, Biseondae) and my First "Hitchhiking" Experience in Gangwon-do - Day 2 in South Korea

I woke up quite early that day, the Seoraksan day. I was excited and was also disappointed with myself. Going hiking without any rubber shoes - black boots, red Martens lace up, spike flats, heels - but no rubber shoes. Stupid, yes, I know that already.

After contemplating on what to wear, I finally settled with a shirt, blue coat, and the black boots (they were not hiking boots, take note). It was a bit cold already in Chuncheon and we were warned that the temperature can get lower once we were in Seoraksan.

We left for Sokcho by 9.30 AM and we bought our tickets in advance the day before. Sokcho is a city in Gangwondo which is also very close to the National Park of Seoraksan. One must pass Sokcho first as buses going to the mountain are situated there.

It was a two and a half hour ride from Chuncheon to Sokcho, we arrived at Sokcho bus terminal around 12.00PM. This I did not expect - or maybe I just did not do my research on the travel time. (read: Bad planning). I wanted to do the Cheonbuldong course, but apparently we will not be able to make it on time given that we only went for a day trip to Seoraksan. Fail number 2.

The bus stop for Seoraksan is 2-3 minute walk from the terminal. There is also a Tourist Information Center outside the bus terminal which was a nice touch not just for people going to Seoraksan, but also if you want to go around Sokcho. There are also small stores inside/outside the terminal so you can buy food or water before going to Seoraksan. It could get a bit pricier once you get there.

There was a schedule pasted on the bus stop and the earliest bus we can take will pass by 12.30PM. Bus fare was 1000 Won but T-money can also be used for discount, you must take Bus 7 and get off at Seoraksan National Park.

I was told that it was of a 20-30 minute ride from Sokcho to Seoraksan, however we went on a Saturday. Yes folks, Saturday! When we arrived inside the Seoraksan, there was quite of a traffic jam due to the cars going up to the park/entrance. However, we still waited as my friend wanted to preserve her energy for the hiking. We got off at Seoraksan National Park (Seoraksan Sogongwon 서락산 소공원) We arrived Seoraksan around 1.20PM. :(

Admission Fee to Seoraksan

Mr.Sun, giving me lens flares
You will first pass Sogongwon/National Park before you go to any of the trails. I may not sure though if there are any other entrances to the Mountain, but Sogongwon was the most popular. It was 15 minute from the admission office. I was quite amazed when we got inside. It was verrrrry pretty! And hey we were just in the National Park, just imagine what we can see on the main points in the mountain!

Seoraksan autumn
Inside the National Park
Seoraksan autumn korea
Of course, we took our time taking pictures of ourselves and the trees, again
The clock was ticking! Me and my friend then hurried to Sinheungsa temple. I have read that all hikers "must" pass here before going to Ulsanbawi. By this time, I have still not decided what trail to tike with the limited time we have. It was already 2.30PM!


Seoraksan buddha

Seoraksan ulsanbawi
I could only stare at Ulsanbawi from afar
Seoraksan sinheungsa



Yes, this is a restroom
I originally wanted to Cheonbuldong Valley as I have read this will be the "highlight" for all hikers going there during autumn as you can see the different colors of the mountain, but apparently we have to catch the 6PM bus from Sokcho, so the only choice I had was Biseondae and Ulsanbawi - the latter may take 3 hours round trip and my companion did not really like to hike, so I chose the trail that I thought was easier and will take less time, Biseondae.


It was 2.3 kilometers from the temple to Biseondae and might take 40-60 minutes of walking (took us almost an hour because we were so busy taking pictures). According to Visitkorea, the trail was 'Medium' in terms of difficulty, that I have to see.

Seoraksan trek

One of the pit stops going there

My feet were certainly not prepared for this
The trail got rocky after some time, my shoes were killing me! I could feel the hard stones on my feet! However, the scenery we saw afterwards were worth it.

The name ‘Biseondae’ derives from the legend of a fairy who flew up into the heavens while admiring the area’s beautiful scenery. The grand scenery of rocks and cliffs seem like they are touching the heavens, and Biseondae has inspired many poets and scholars through the ages. Some of their writings have been engraved on the rocks and are preserved to this day. (from english.visitkorea.or.kr)

Seoraksan autumn
Autumn colors of Seoraksan

Seoraksan blogger
Not that cold, I wished I left my coat somewhere

Seoraksan biseondae
I definitely brought lots of stuff
We hurriedly went back to Sogongwon as I did not check the schedule back to Sokcho, I wanted to in the park's entrance by 5PM just to be sure. Before we left, we took more pictures of, guess what, tress of course!

autumn korea
Red hue of autumn in Korea

autumn korea blogger

autumn korea blog
guy on the back sure was taking his time, tsk
We were able to take a 5:30 bus to Sokcho we waited for some time since the queue for buses was quite long and there were lots of people heading to Sokcho as well. On the bus, I was able to talk to a group of hikers who also went to the same trail we hiked! Too bad I was still not that fluent with Korean, but they were quite surprised I was able to speak the language. The ahjussis were telling me that the bus tickets from Sokcho to Chuncheon were already sold out. I thought they were kidding.

I have also met a couple in the bus, Young Phil and Seonmi who offered to take us to Chuncheon since they were also headed that way and Seonmi's apartment was quite close to where we were staying. Friendly Koreans!!! Of course, we hesitated to accept the offer at first but the old guy kept on telling/"joking" that we were going to be stuck in Sokcho so I accepted. On the ride home, Young Phil told me that the tickets were indeed sold out. Oooops! Maybe it was a good luck that somebody took us back to Chuncheon, if not, uh-oh! I was very thankful for both of them for letting us "hitchhike", I hoped I studied more Korean though  - both of them were very friendly to me however I can not express myself in the language that fluently yet.

It was around 8:30PM when we got back to Chuncheon as the road back was traffic due to lots of people going out of Sokcho (maybe they also went to Seoraksan?) We roamed around the area as it will be our last day there and with our host. For dinner, took us quite a long time to decide as there were lots of interesting places to choose from.

Yes, meat again
 We bought a gift for our host at Paris Baguette. I can't believe I will be seeing this bakeshop everywhere!

paris baguette
The cake was not that yummy though
I wished I could have spent four to five days in Gangwondo. I still can't get over that we were not able to go to Petite France and Garden of Morning Calm that I thought we can cram for our first day, other trails in Seoraksan and around the city of Sokcho. Anyway, it was still a superb experience overall! Not that only was it my first Couchsurfing experience abroad, I was also able to use my Korean language skills, and made friends during the trip! I am already wishing I can go back during autumn again!

Day 1: Gangwon-do Chuncheon and Nami Island

Day 2: Gangwon-do Mt.Seorak (Seoraksan)

Day 3: Gyeonggi-do Yongin and Food Tour

Day 4: Gyeonggi-do Suwon: Hwaseong Fortress, Korean Folk Village

Day 5: Gyeonggi-do Everland

Day 6: Gyeongju Food Tour

Day 7: Gyeongju Seokguram Grotto

Bulguksa Temple

Cheomseongdae and Anapji Pond

Day 8: Busan Railway Train in Korea

Day 9: Busan Igidae Coast

Busan Fireworks Festival

Day 10: Busan Haedong Yonggungsa Temple

Flying with Jeju Air

Day 11: Jeju (E) Food Tour- Altang

Dragon Rock

Jusangjeolli Cliff

Teddy Bear Museum

The Seaes Resort

Day 12: Jeju (W) Sunrise Peak


Trick Art

Folk Village

Sangamburi Crater, Mt.Halla

Manjanggul Cave, Maze Park


Day 13: Seoul Flying with T'way Airlines

Couchsurfing in Korea

Day 14: Seoul Palaces and Bukchon Village

Day 15&16: Seoul Myeongdong and Ewha University

N Seoul Tower

Booking Flights via T'way Airlines

Travel Report for South Korea 16 days travel itinerary and tips


  1. If by taking bus from Seoraksan to ChunCheon, do you know how to get there? Thank you :) It's a nice blog btw. Am going there in a couple of days!

  2. Hi Mariane,

    Awesome post and photos! Thanks for sharing :)

    I’m curious though. The date of this post is November 10, 2012. Is this the actual date when you went to Seoraksan? I have already booked a flight to Seoul and I’m planning to go to Seoraksan on October 16 (2017). I was hoping to see the famous fall foliage but I'm afraid I may be too early.

    1. Our trio to Sokcho was on October. I recommmend checking the autumn foliage prediction so you can adjust your schedule if needed

  3. Hi Mariane,

    We'll be spending 1week in korea next week including whole day in jeju, what is your favorite tourist spot there so far?

    Also, which do you prefer, Mt. Seorak, Hwaseong Fortress or Seokguram grotto?

    Thanks in advance! 😊

  4. Hi,

    We will be visiting korea for the first time and aside from the city tour in seoul, which is betterbbetween Mt. Seorak, hwaseong fortress or seokguram grotto?

    Also, if you were to choose, what is your most favorite tourist spot in jeju?

    Hope to hear from you soon. Thanks in advance and more power. 🙂

    1. Hi there! It depends on your preferences. If you like to see older structures, Hwaseong is a good choice. Seoraksan is nice if you come during autumn but the rock formations are pretty awesome any season, but might take some of your time to go here since this is quite far from Seoul.

  5. I want to go there next time I visit Korea, but I don't know if my legs will be happy adding hiking to the itinerary haha


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