19.09.2016 - 21.09.2016 25 °C
After getting some snacks in the local 7-Eleven, I jumped on the bus and got dropped off at Sokcho which is the nearest city to the Seoraksan National Park. Sokcho is located on South Korea's north east coast and following a quick look at the beach I got myself a couple of huge sushi rolls and took the local bus in towards Seoraksan National Park, just as the sun was setting. I stayed in a hotel called Norumok which was a budget hotel however it had everything I needed. There was a little kitchenette, ensuite, TV and the best part was that it was only about two kilometres from the National Parks entry. This meant I could walk there each day or catch a local bus, compared with the 35 to 40 minute bus ride you would need to take if you stayed in a hostel in Sokcho.
Similar to Taroko National Park in Taiwan, you can spend days exploring the Seoraksan, with load of trails and many multi-day hiking options. However due to time constraints I selected 3 of the trails I thought would be the best and most convenient.
It certainly didn't disappoint. The first trial I went on followed the river to Biseondae and then up Geumganggui Cave. I had no idea what to expect, but after two hours and a climb up the side of a cliff, it lead to a very cool cave which was literally a hold in the cliff. The cave contains a small temple and offers some spectacular mountainous views across the national park. The rain, low cloud and lack of any other hikers just added to the atmosphere. It was certainly a great place to eat lunch and soak up the scenery. I then walked further on towards Yangpok Shelter along crashing rivers and through lush greenery.
The next day I went to the top of Ulsanbawi, a one way hike that takes around 2.20 hrs one way. The distance is not that far but the climb is pretty steep. You do have railings and steps all the way so technically it's fine. The 360 degree views at the top are incredible it's a properly special place. After returning ,I jumped on the cable car and went up to Gwongeumseong, a different mountaintop that offers even more incredible views from a different perspective.
Seoraksan is a special place and I recommend going there mid week to avoid the crowds. It's one of those places and times that you just want to bottle. After returning to Norumok, I picked up my luggage, caught a local bus back to Sokcho and then caught one of the frequent buses back to Seoul.