South Korea is quite possibly one of the hottest places to visit in Asia right about now. Thanks to their booming presence in pop culture, many have travelled there in the pursuit of unique food, fashion and music experiences. Beyond the glitz and glamour, South Korea also happens to be home to many spectacular sights of nature, so be sure to mark some of these destinations down while planning your itinerary!
86, Dobongsan-gil, Dobong-gu, Seoul
Seoul has seven mountains, with the popular Bukhansan located in northern Seoul having the highest peak (836 meters). A manageable three-hour hike, it is highly accessible and conveniently located near Gupabal Station and Gireum Station. Choose from over 20 official hiking trails across the mountains and valleys within the park. Besides mini waterfalls during spring or autumn, you can also see Munsusa, a temple built inside a cave, large granite peaks, streams and gorges. You may also be interested to check out Bukhansanseong, a walled fortress that has historically protected the country against invasions from the North.
Irwon 2(i)-dong, Seoul
Suitable for beginners, Daemosan’s peak can be easily conquered within an hour. Expect to see the skyline of key tourist attractions such as Gangnam, Lotte World tower and Namsan Tower. Keen hikers can continue for another 1.8km to the next mountain, Gyeryongsan. Do note that it can get dangerous when hiking after a rainy day as the dirt paths will become muddy, so remember to gear up with a pair of lugged boots. Daemosan is located near Irwon Station.
2070-61, 1100-ro, Jeju-si, Jeju-do
The tallest volcanic mountain in South Korea, Hallasan stands at 1,950 meters. As a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site, the mountain features cliffs, rock formations, colourful foliage, lava domes, volcanic cones and more. You can start at their Visitors’ Center and head straight for the Eorimok Trail to see the island’s uniquely-shaped volcanic mountains. Those who enjoy longer hikes will enjoy the five-hour long Seongpanak Trail that rewards you with a beautiful view of the crater lake Baeknokdam. If you want to see deep valleys and terrains, go on the Gwaneumsa trail. For unusual rock formations, set foot on the Yeongsil trail. There are six hiking trails to choose from, accessible via the Jeju Intercity Bus, and all of them can be completed within the day. Visiting the mountain during the winter comes highly recommended!
Seoraksan-ro, Sokcho-si, Gangwon-do
At 1,708 meters, Seoraksan features Sinheungsa Temple, Biseondae Rocks, The Geumganggul Cave, Cheonbuldong Valley, view of the eastern sea, and more. If you don’t particularly feel like being on your feet for long, a cable car is also available at KRW 9,000 to the peak and back down. This mountain promises mesmerizing views. You can get there by taking a bus to Sokcho from Seoul Express Bus Terminal or Dong Seoul Bus Terminal for about 2.5 hours.
Sanggye-dong, Nowon-gu, Seoul
At 638m, the trail has an interesting mix of concrete, dirt paths, wooden stairs and rocks of various sizes, and can be completed within 3.5 hours. This is a relatively quiet hike but definitely a picturesque one, lined with gnarled pines and a small temple with a big golden statue of the Buddha. Suraksan is located near Danggogae Station, Suraksan Station and Uijeongbu Station.
Seocheon-dong, Seocho-gu, Seoul
At only 293 metres, this hike is relatively manageable can be completed within two hours. Many people like to relax post-hike at the Seoul Art Centre, which is located at the bottom of the mountain, where you can typically find a display of visual artworks and regular performances. You can get there via the Nambu Express Bus Terminal.
Myeonmok-dong, Jungnang-gu, Seoul
With picnic areas, a playground, an outdoor exercise facility and sagajeong (traditional pavilions) to look forward to, Yongmasan is definitely a family favourite. You can also check out the nearby Yongmasan Waterfall Park and Yongmasan Sagajeong Park for you find yourself (somehow) feeling unfulfilled. Coming in at 348 metres, this hike is suitable for everyone and can be completed within 2 to 3 hours. To get there, simply take the subway to Yongmasan Station.
Fired up to hike? Pick up some basic Korean and grab some hardy hiking gear – you don’t need much to make your experience in the great outdoors an even greater one!