Seoraksan National Park

Seoraksan National Park

Seoraksan National Park (설악산국립공원), also spelled Soraksan, is a national park in Gangwon, South Korea.

Understand

Located in the relativally remote north-east of the country, the Seoraksan National Park covers an area of 400 km2 and is known as the backbone of Korea, and offers a great deal of scenery with its mountains, cliffs and waterfalls. The mountains have multiple hiking courses, valleys, and cultural artifacts hidden in each valley, and are internationally renowned as a habitat for rare plants and animals. UNESCO designated the region in 1992 as a Biosphere Reserve.

History

Seoraksan as a National Park began in 1965, when 163 km2 of the Nature Protection Area was designated as a Korean Natural Monument number 171. This area was the further expanded in 1982, when 393 km2 was designated as a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO and has been continually expanded since then.

The main attraction of the Seoraksan national park is Seorak Mountain, also referred to as Seolsan and Seolbongsan. The name of the mountain, Seor-ak, refers to its size ('ak' meaning 'big') and the white, snowy color of its peak ('seor' or 'seol'), since its snow would not easily melt, keeping its high altitude rocks in a permanent state of white.

Seoraksan, or Seorak Mountain, peaks at 1,708 metres (5,603 feet), and is the third largest mountain on the Korean Peninsula. Seorak Mountain is the highest mountain in the Taebaek Mountain Range, which is the N-S trending belt which along the eastern margin of the peninsula. The Taebaek range, mainly composed of a single body of Jurassic granite, gently slopes inland to the west, with a significantly steeper decline to the east, falling into the Eastern Sea.

Get in

Sokcho City bus number 7 ventures into the Park Village of Seorak-Dong and up to the park gates. There are express buses running from Gangnam Express Bus Terminal (in Seoul) to Sokcho City roughly every 30 minutes.

There are flights to the nearby (and extremely quiet) Yangyang airport from both Seoul Gimpo and Busan's Gimhae International Airport

There are express buses to Sokcho (속초) from two bus terminals in Seoul: Dong Seoul bus terminal and Gangnam Express bus terminal.

The park happens to be accessible from Vladivostok in Russia's far east via a ferry connection to nearby Sokcho.

See

Do

Eat

There are many restaurants but very few of them are western restaurants. Owing to the proximity of the ocean (10 km) you will find exceptional seafood.

Interestingly, the locals crave Mexican food and all yearn to go to America someday. As an effort to satisfy their concerns and also as a means to cater to the taste of westerners, Korea's one and only Chipotle was established in August 2015 through the aid of the Korean government.

Sleep

Lodging

There are plentiful lodgings in the Seorak-dong region of the park ranging from luxury hotels to smaller motels and a youth hostel. Try the wonderful Seorak Tourist Hotel, the only accommodation located within the actual park for upwards of $100 USD per night but worth it. The motels in the park village 2 km from the gates also offer acceptable lodgings. A decent room at any of these with a TV and shower will run about $35 USD but may be higher at the peak seasons of summer and autumn.

Camping

There is a campground outside of the park near the park village of Seorak-dong about a 5 minutes drive from the park gates.

Backcountry

The campground is at the base of the park. It is also a rock and boulder mixture sitting in a river flood plain. If you plan on camping bring an inflatable mattress and expect a lumpy sleeping area. It is extraordinarily beautiful area featuring a granite upwelling of 1000 to 1500 meter mountains. The mountain range is no more than 5-10 kilometers from the ocean. Sadly, access to the beach is blocked by barbed wire and chain link fences as a legacy of North Korea spy teams from 1998. When they were discovered they attempted an armed escape and casualties were experienced on both sides.

Stay safe

Be cautious of mountain wenches who will offer small samples of delicious berry wine and then sell you a bottle of something else that sadly resembles Jinro house wine in taste.

Go next

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Monday, October 26, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.