This is the main Buddhist temple at Seoraksan National Park. Formerly named Hyangseongsa, it was built by the Buddhist monk Jajangyulsa in the 7th century. Like most temples in Korea, it's been destroyed and rebuilt a few times.
Ulsanbawi, or Ulsan Rock, offers the steepest hike that I took at Seoraksan. It includes an 808-step staircase--a challenge, even for a fit hiker. But the view from the top makes it all worthwhile. If you're up to it, don't miss it.
The breathtaking Misiryeong Pass leads from the northern edge of the Seoraksan Mountains to the coastal town of Sokcho. It offers a breathtaking view over the town and the East Sea. There is a restaurant, convenience store, and parking area at the top of the pass that offers great photo opportunities.
Ulsanbawi is located on the northeastern edge of Seoraksan and makes for an impressive hike. Beginning at the park entrance, the trail winds past several temples before heading into the steep mountainside. Once you break through the trees and arrive at Ulsanbawi itself, prepare to be amazed -- a orange steel staircase has been built up the sides of the rock for the last several hundred meters. These stairs are extremely steep and wind in and out of caves, crevices, and cracks in the granite.
At 870 meters, Ulsanbawi can be seen from many areas of Seoraksan Park.
Seoraksan is a spectacular place to watch the leaves change in the fall.
Seoraksan is Korea's most beautiful national park. It is located on South Korea's east coast 100 km from Seoul.
During my trip in October 2003, it was rainy and foggy the entire day. We hiked to the Tottering Rock with umbrellas, and our extra clothes on our back packs got soaked! During our wet visit, we hiked to Ulsanbawi (rock), Yukdampokpo & Biryongpokpo (falls), and Naewonam Hermitage & Temple.
There are many beautiful rock formations, valleys and waterfalls to visit or view or take a picture of.
1) Rocking Rock
2) Ulsanam Rock
3) Pombong, Chonhwadae
4) Piyrong Waterfall
5) Oryon Waterfall
6) Mirukpong, Pisondae
Mt. Sorak National Park has 3 major entrances at Baekdam-Sa, Sorakdong and Osaek with admission up to 900 won.
There are many interesting things about Sokcho, including the beaches, seafood, cruises etc. Unfortunately I did not have time at this place. If you want more information, please visit the Sokcho website at www.sokcho.kangwon.kr
Gwongeumseong is located on top of a mountain and it used to be a castle. This is perhaps the most famous place at Mt Sorak National Park and can be reached via cable car near the park entrance. The views from up here at fantastic and more photos are at the travelogue section of this VT page.
There is an easy stroll from the entrance of the park, along a river bed with rocks and many local Koreans, especially the older generation who looked fit like a fiddle.
Expect a wait for the cable car which bring us to the high ground of Mt. Sorak. There are some narrow and steep steps and few warning signs. So do enjoy the view but take safety precaution to ensure you enjoy the mountain.
Sinhuengsa Temple is a huge and impressive temple located near to the park entrance and should be visited if you are at Mt Sorak National Park. Sometimes you can see the Korean monks going about their day lives at this temple.
At the very least, you should head into the Park for a day. During autumn it is extremely busy, but after an hour or so of walking, the crowds peter out and the scenery is bliss. Take clothes suitable for the weather, but carrying extra food is not necessary. The paths are so well maintained and equiped that there are restrooms and restaurants every couple of hours or so walking distance apart. There is so much to see, from sparkling waterfalls, dramatic rock formations and mountain scenery, to Budda temples and shrines. Tthere is something of interest for everyone to enjoy. The trails are well mapped and labled, and there are walks for all abilities. For those who like the views without the exercise, there's a cable car (7,000 Won) that gives some great views.
Sockcho is a small city on Korea's east coast near Seoraksan. If you are heading to Seoraksan National Park, this is the best town to spend the night near the park entrance.
In Sockcho itself, it is worth walking out and across the seawall. Near the seawall is a fish market and a few seafood vendors -- tried the fried shrimp. In town, there are a few good bars and hotels along Jungsimno.
During my visit, I stayed near the convention center, south of town. There are several Yeogwans fro about 40,000 won. The owners did not speak English, so best of luck with the hand gestures. From here it is a 10 minute drive or taxi ride to Jungsimno.
Biryongpokpo and Yukdampokpo falls are located on the southeastern edge of Seoraksan within easy walking distance of the park's main entrance. They are both located on the same trail, so can visited together.
Yukdampokpo is the first set of falls on the trail, about 45 minutes walk. This is really a series of falls that crashes spectacularly over the rocks along the metal path.
Biryongpokpo is the second falls, about 30 minutes farther down the trail. This is a traditional falls, making an impressive 20-30 meter plunge into a shallow pool.
My personal take is that if you've not scaled any of the peaks in Soraksan National Park, you've not experienced Korea.
How can you say that you've been here if you have not participated in the national obsession of hiking?
UlsanBawi is one of the most beautiful hilly peaks in Sorak Park. It's just awesome at the top so give yourself this little challenge if you're fit enough
It'll take you about 3 hours or so to walk 3.8km from the entrance of the park to reach the peak. A good 873m belongs to an almost vertical climb on red steel staircase that winds its way to the top.
When was the last time you bathe naked with hundreds of strangers? Well, unless you're a Japanese, don't cheat yourself of this unique local experience .
Shed your inhibitions and soak yourself silly in the hot waters of Oseak. Besides, anonymity is the best cover for nudity so there's hardly any chance of you bumping into your wrinkled old, nosey aunt in the nude and getting your buttocks pinched.
Oseak is argubaly the best hot spring in Korea as the waters are medicinal. Forget about Waterpia, it's more of a theme park for tourists.
Head for GreenYard Hotel in Oseak Hot Springs. They have the best bathing facility and they charge only about 6000won for the entrance fee (Compare to 15000won for a sauna in Seoul ) .
Do remember to bring your own loofah scrub, soap and shampoo as you'll only be given a towel and locker key upon entering. (Even if you do forget, you can use the common soap found there.)
After stripping, bathe and scrub yourself first before dipping into the hot bath. There's a variety of waters to be found there. So you can choose to immerse yourself into a herbal bath or brew yourself in a green tea bath.
After that, jump into freezing carbonated water. Now, before you assume I'm sadistic, let me just assure you that it's strangely comforting. The first few seconds are agonising but you'll feel embalmed with a warm but tingly feeling after a while.
Head for the sauna next and roast yourself on a woven husk mat before repeating the cycle. I never felt as contented as I did when I was in the sauna. The heady, grassy smell from the mat nearly lulled me to sleep.