If you are planning to drive from Seoul to Naejangsan National Park, take the Honam Highway going south of the country and exit at Jeongeup town or the expressway exits near to the park (the park area is just next to the expressway). Once you reach Naejangsan National Park, there are several very big carparks. This is especially important during the peak autumn season where thousands of people will come here for the colour foliage, so there will be traffic jams and finding a carpark may not be so easy. Do be prepared.
Attached are more photos of the leisure walk from the Naejangsan Tourist Village to Donghak Revolution Memorial Park and Naejang Reservoir (about 30 minutes one way). Personally, I really enjoyed this walk during the cool and dry weather of autumn. There is so much beautiful sceneries, plants and flowers along the journey, not to mention the surrounding mountains. Also, the paths are well-constructed with signages.
If you want to visit the Donghak Revolution Memorial Park and Naejang Reservoir from the tourist village area, the best way is to take a leisurely walk (about 30-40 minutes) especially during good weather. This is because the walking path will take you through some beautiful and relaxing sceneries such as the river, farmland, fields of daisy flowers with surrounding mountains as the backdrop creating a beautiful scenery. Please go to part 2 of this tip.
The Naejangsan National Park entrance can be reached by taking a stroll from the Naejangsan tourist village. The journey takes about 10-15 minutes along a path next to the road leading to the national park as well as a river (see photos). During the peak of the autumn season in November, the maple trees along the path is very colourful and the weather is cooling and dry. Please go to part 2 of this tip.
When you are coming back from Naejangsan National Park to Jeongeup town, the whole process is very simple. There is a small bus terminal at Naejangsan tourist village (you cannot miss it because it is right the the village centre - see photos), where you can take bus number 171 (fare is 1100 Korean won one way, travelling time about 30 minutes). As for the bus schedule, it is stated at a notice board at the bus terminal. First bus should start around 7pm and subsequently about 40 minutes interval per bus until about 8-9pm.
The important thing about trekking and mountain climbing at Naejangsan National Park is to plan your programme well. The map will give you a good estimation of the time taken for the various routes, so you need to match it with the daylight hours as well as your physical capabilities. It is not possible to try all the different routes due to time constraint so you need to choose wisely. In my opinion, the best is to spend 1 day trekking the mountains south of the main park area, and another day trekking the mountains north of it.
There are several rest-stops with food and drink stores at some of the trekking routes (these are clearly indicated on the map), so you can rest and buy some drinks and food for your trek.
I think the best time to do trekking and mountain climbing is during the autumn season when the weather is normally clear, cooling and dry plus there are colourful autumn foliage. November will be good, but the main problem is that it will be very very crowded especially on weekends. I went there in mid-October 2007 and had excellent weather without the huge crowds, but the autumn foliage colours were not so good as compared to November.
The best way to explore Naejangsan National Park and experience its beauty is by trekking and mountain climbing. This national park is not big, so 1-2 days should be enough. For a start, you need to obtain the national park brochure and map which is very comprehensive and gives you clear indications of the various trekking paths, their estimated distances and trekking time, as well as all the attractions e.g. mountain peaks, temples, hermitages, waterfalls.
The trekking routes have signages along the way, so it is important to follow the routes so you will not get lost. Because of diversity, the trekking path can range from simple, well-paved paths to rocky and steep climbs so you must be mentally prepared and must have relatively good fitness. Please go to part 2 of this tip.
If you want to go up the mountains without climbing, then the best way is to take the cablecars. The cablecar station is at the main area of Naejangsan National Park about 20-30 minutes walk from the park entrance (or a few minutes bus journey if you take the internal shuttle bus). The return journey via cablecar should cost about 4000 Korean won, and one way journey takes about 5-10 minutes (however you need to wait for a while for the cablecars to come). Once you reach the top, the views from the cablecar station are good, and there is a viewing pavillon about 10 minutes walk away with even better views. The cablecar station on top also has souvenir shops, food and drink outlets as well as toilets.
From the Naejangsan National Park entrance, you can either walk to the main area of the national park where the visitors centre and cable car station are located, or take the internal buses (see photos). The walk will be along a paved path and the main road, and takes about 20-30 minutes. Along the way, you will pass by beautiful gardens, statues, water coolers, toilets as well as beautiful trees especially during autumn when they are colourful. As this is a valley, you will see mountains on both sides of the path. Alternatively, you can take the internal shuttle buses, I am not sure about the fare as I did not take the buses but it shuold not cost more than 2000 Korean won return-journey.
Once you reach the Naejangsan National Park entrance from the Naejangsan tourist village, there is an information counter and ticket booth. The cost of entering the national park for adults is about 2000 Korean won (children fare will be cheaper), and the park opens around 7am to sunset hours (this may change depending on the season). You can get useful maps and brochures at the information counter as well as sign a guestbook. Once you get into the park entrance, you can either walk to the main area of the national park via a paved road (around 20-25 minutes through beautiful sceneries) or take the internal buses (see transportation tip).
Jeongeup is the nearest town to Naejangsan National Park. In order to get to Naejangsan, you must get to Jeongeup first and please visit my VT Chongup page to check out how you can reach Jeongeup from Seoul and other major cities in South Korea.
Once you have reached Jeongeup, go to the bus stop near to the Jeongeup train station or the express bus terminal. Look at the bus stop signboard (see photo) and spot those with bus number 171. If you are not sure, tell the local or bus driver "Naejangsan" and they will confirm whether you are at the right bus stop. Bus number 171 should come every 20-30 minutes and the fare from Jeongeup to Naejangsan bus terminal is 1100 Korean won (one way). Travelling time is around 30 minutes and pass by some nice sceneries. Please go to part 2 of this tip.