Hiking in The Seoraksan National Park, South Korea

by - January 19, 2020

June 8th, 2019.

"Out of breath and Breathtaking!"

Joheun Achim! Good Morning!

It's 4.30 a.m. to have a very early breakfast after the short sleeping time. Let's see what we got here for the early breakfast. Hmmm... The most delicious instant noodle from our country, Indomie sounded good, right? I love every flavor that they have but I would like to eat Indomie Goreng this morning! Sluurpppp...

After having breakfast, we were ready to see the sunrise at Yeonggeumjeong Pavillion which was recommended by the foreigner in our guesthouse. Because it's impossible to see the sunrise at Seoraksan, that's why we chose this plan B. Yeonggeumjong Pavilion was located near our guesthouse so we walked there while sightseeing the buildings in this dawn. Even in the suburbs and still dawn here, we felt so safe along the road. I guessed that experience proved that South Korea is the safest country in the world for a solo traveler, especially for a woman based on the article that I had read in the traveling magazine. 

Sokcho Police Station in The Dawn

Wait... Wait... Wait...

This pavilion looked so familiar! Where did I see this? Where?
Yeah, finally I remembered! The casts of 2 days 1 night had been here! I forgot what episode but definitely it is! 

The pavilion at the end of the coast. So poetic! 

Waiting for sunrise but I guessed 'not today' :') But guessed what! We found a snack tent that sold Odeng and Crab near this pavilion. No less than sunlight, the soup was warm our body enough in this cold morning. 500 Won each and free-flow soup and moreover, Harabeoji (Grandpa in Korean) was so kind and friendly. 

From the bus stop, we took bus number 7 (7-1 or 7-3 ) for 1.260 won with Klook card. You should have this card or T-Cash because everything here was so in fast mode. Ppali-ppali mode. The driver would quite felt irritated if someone held up the time even it's just a moment. I witnessed some events due to that incident. Fortunately, we could follow that culture and have the Klook card so we didn't be a burden. By the way, the fare-fee to Seoraksan National Park was cheap! Remembered that was the last destination and its location was far far away from the starting point bus stop. 

We were sleeping on the bus, after an hour finally, we arrived. Welcome to the Seoraksan National Park! There are two options for us as foreigners to enjoy Seoraksan, come as the hiker or the tourist. Yes, you can enjoy the view by taking the cable car or by walking and hiking. Those two options offered different experiences that were still wonderful and represented the beauty of the Seoraksan. From the first, we already decided to come as the hikers. Many spots that we could enjoy but we just decided on two destinations due to the large area and limited day. With big ambition after sawing many wonderful images by the hikers on Instagram, we were triggered to hike to Daechongbong (the peak) and Biryeong Falls which the map told us that the tracks were advanced and expert. LOL. But, we were ready! 

Entrance point of Seoraksan National Park. The Famous Bear.

This was the map that we used! So, as you have seen, the yellow one was the easy track and the black one was the expert track. Oh Ya! For your information, my friends were hikers. They used to hike Mount Merbabu, Mount Prau, Mount Papandayan, Mount Gede in Indonesia, and even the foot of Mount Himalaya :') I could say these women are the expert ones, not like me. I just have hiked Mount Prau with them and Yellow Mountain, Huangshan with my mom before. LOL. I'm not the true hiker. I just love nature, landscape, and trying new experiences. But for them as the hikers, this was quite challenging to hike with the expert tracks in the other country. Moreover, It sounds rare for the foreigner to hike in Seoraksan while having a holiday in South Korea, right? But, actually deep inside of my heart, I felt proud. LOL.

We choose the Bisondae route as our first step. Still, on the easy to the moderate track, we enjoyed the beautiful views. In this track, I still could find many people wore casual clothes even the dress and the high heels. LOL. *applause 


The first step into the unknown...

If I compared with my experience while hiked to Mount Prau in Dieng, the track was extremely different. Maybe because Seoraksan is a national park which is maintained by the government as the tourism place so the tracks are accessible and the signage is clear. I could say Mount Prau track was undesigned (by a human) natural wild track. The track in Seoraksan had more rocks, yes mostly rocks whereas in Mount Prau mostly was the wet soil. The challenge and the site were completely different so as the beauty of nature from both. 

Along the track, we could find the streams. The stream's water was so clear so I thought that I even could drink that water at that time. But then I discouraged my intention after watching Alvivin washed her hand into that. LOL. Maybe next time! 

After walking for around a half-hour, we arrived at the first point, Bisondae. The distance from the starting point was around 3 km with a rocky road. Bisondae is the point where the tourists mostly stop at and most of them took pictures and even had a picnic while enjoyed the view. It was quite nice weather indeed!

"Annyeonghaseyo, annyeonghaseyo, annyeonghaseyo!" We kept saying hello and replying to the greeting from the other hikers that we met. Indeed, they were so friendly even they were older than us. Age was invalid among the hikers I thought. Talked about age, mostly the hikers that we met were much older than us ( I guessed around 40-50 years old) but their stamina and speed were more above than us! After saying hello, we couldn't see those aunt and uncle's figures anymore. We were left! :') Two thumbs up for them!

Still, on the track to Daechongbong, we were faced with the intersection which both tracks could lead us to Daechongbong. We were confusing with the choices so we chose to decide it with the old way, flip-flop the bottle cap. A for the left track and B for the right track. Then the choice came to the B track, the sudden expert one. Held on the commitment with the bottle cap, our feet walked to the right. LOL. 

How was the expert track? Oh! I wished I had a tracking pole! The track was fulfilled by the high steps which were structured by the rocks. Sometimes we stepped on the large to small rocks depended on the mountain's contour. The rocks followed the mountain's form The tracks were not dangerous if we compared it with the last hiking experience, but here the stamina was needed. The key was on the stamina. There were so many steps and stairs along the track. It's up and down. Our feet were trembling if we already reached our capacity. And even we're hiking in the summer, the more we up the weather was colder. 

"Oh! That was Ahujumma (aunt) who we met!" Wearing an eye-catchy yellow outdoor outerwear, Aunt was seating on the big rock with her acquaintance. 

"Ah, we met again!" she said to us with a friendly smile and limited English. 

"Ne, annyeonghaseyo!" replied me, tried to have a conversation with my basic Korean. 

Unfamiliar with the track, We asked her if she had explored the Seoraksan area. She has known a few areas and spots here. After knowing our destination and preparation, She told us that impossible to hike to Daechongbong at this time (12.30 p.m.), weather (cloudy and the fog appeared at that time), and without a tent. She told us that the track that we chose was the expert one and would take us more hours. It's impossible to go there and back on the same day. Then, she suggested to us if it would be better if we visited Geumganggul Cave and enjoyed some views from there. Yeah, remembered that we should back hurriedly because of our schedule to Busan so we heard and accepted her suggestion. Thanks to Aunt as the local people so that our schedule wouldn't be ruin. Gamsahamnida, Ahjumma!

Ahjumma took the photo for us. 
A kinda frame that felt like the same as the old picture as my parent. LOL 
We did it!

With Ahjumma (aunt) and Ahjussi (uncle)

Lunchtime came, our energy had drained out so we decided to have a picnic on this big rock while enjoyed these breathtaking views and fresh air! And... For the lunch, here we had rice, boiled eggs, seaweeds, and a can of coffee for me! Ah! All of these things were too good! Love Love Love!


After having our energy back then we went to Geumganggul Cave directly. Located on a very high mountain, that cave actually was a Buddhist Temple. We met many local people and hikers who came here to stopped by and pray. The path to there was calculated as the expert track because of its height. To reach there, there's not the rocky road but the steel stairs. The stamina was needed here. Not only 30 steps, guessed it was more than a hundred! Felt like it was the stairs to heaven! Oh, I wished!  

The Cave was up there!

The Red Stairs to Geumganggul Cave.
That was just the beginning, guys!

Yes! It's challenging my stamina! I started out of breath and rested for a while after some steps. Out of breath and breathtaking all at once! The views were so AMAZING and WONDERFUL! The more steps that I took, the more I was mesmerized. How great is our God!

"Hey, girl! Came on! You could do it!" shouted the uncles behind me. 

"Museoweo? (Are you scared?)" asked them to me when I rested for a while.

"No, I wasn't. I just tired and took a breath," replied me.

"Came on more steps then you arrived! Be careful too!" they couraged me.

Cute, wasn't it? I felt they were so kind and friendly. Even they didn't know me, they were encouraging me as if they were my uncles. The uncles looked so healthy even in their age they still couraged themselves to go up and pray. Comparing with me who rested a while I felt ashamed. :') Salute for them! Step after step, finally we arrived at the cave. Inside the cave, there was a monk who took care of the temple. Kind of him, He let us take a look at the temple inside, even he knew that we weren't coming to pray. :)

Wah! See, that's mountain spring inside the cave! 

"Could I drink it?" asked me to the monk

"Sure you could!" replied me with English and smile face.

The spring water was so fresh. Yes, fresh from the mountain directly! I felt nothing weird after drinking. Just cold and fresh!  

"Where were you come from?" 

"Indonesia, Jakarta" replied us. 

"Wah! It's quite far!" said the monk surprised.

Actually, I was quite surprised knowing that the monk could speak English but it's fun to have a little conversation like that! Anyway, pardon my plastic bag. We collected our wastes after eating into it so our trace wouldn't dirt this clean natural environment. Along the track, I couldn't find any waste especially the plastic one which could damage our natural environment.  The local people already took care of this nature and what they did was a good example for us, the tourists and the hikers. Let's keep it clean and beautiful and do it everywhere we go!

We wanted to go and see as many as we could despite our feet already trembling. LOL. Then we decided to go to Biryeong Falls which the track was the moderate one. Thought that it was good for relaxing and cooling down after hiking up and going down. Biryeong Falls's location is 2 km from the entrance point (see the map above) so that we must go down first to that point and continued the journey.


Since it had a moderate track, the road mostly had a flat level except when we wanted to see the falls. To see the falls, we would meet the other steel red stairs again. But, it's not like as the stairway to heaven to Geumganggul cave, the steps were lesser (consoling myself). LOL. I didn't want to stop and surrender, I must see that fall no matter what! And... Whispering my feet to stay strong and it was already near. :')

Just kept going... Kept going... 

The waterfall was not as big as I wondered but the water was so clear. I could see the rocks on the mouth clearly and the stream from that was so beautiful! So clear so there were a few people couldn't resist swimming in that mouth. Looked so fresh! Unfortunately, I should skip that activity! However, I was glad that I could arrive here!

The Waterfall

Hike after hike, walk after walk, up and down, we reached our limit today. Especially me, Oh, I still wished I brought the tracking pole! My feet were trembling and started feeling hurt, I just wanted to fly to the entrance point at that time after reaching Biryeong Falls. LOL. Then, suddenly this idea came. Have you ever heard it, if you put your feet to the seawater, water stream, or salted lukewarm water, your feet will get better? After sawing the stream along the track, I took off my socks and soaked them to the stream. Who would know, the water was so cold? It was like icy water! :') But, it worked, guys! My feet felt better then I walked as usual. Should I bath or swim too so my body especially my shoulder would be relieved? LOL

It was already 5 p.m., we spent many hours here. I loved that! We had great experiences in Seoraksan. From the beautiful and breathtaking views, the friendly local people, a clean natural environment, and a great story to tell. It's one of a kind best experiences that I had in South Korea. Everything was so great! After reading my story, would you like to hike Seoraksan, guys? I hope you will have a great experience too here! 

Thanks for reading my hiking experience in Seoraksan! I would take the night bus to continue our holiday to Busan which I will write in the next post! And... Before leaving this region, let's try and eat the famous chickens in the town! 

Let's go adventuring again!

Love from the author,

Cindy Tjahjadi

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