Sokcho (속초) is a small city on the north-east coast of South Korea along the 38th Parallel, in close proximity to North Korea. While the city in itself doesn’t have much to attract visitors (think 1970’s grey apartment blocks) the nearby Seoraksan National Park (설악산) is renowned for being one of the most beautiful in the country. I took a trip to see for myself…

Temple Entrance

After a comfortable 2.5 hour bus journey from Seoul I arrived late-morning at the nondescript Express Bus Terminal in Sokcho and immediately caught a local bus (No. 7 or 7-1) to the entrance of the National Park, 20 minutes away. The park has a variety of routes which are well-marked and a visitors center with plenty of information.

Mountain Temple

Along the hiking path I choose there were a number of temples perched on the valley sides with spectacular views of the surrounding mountains. They were reminiscent of Beomeosa Temple in Busan. From bustling urban megalopolis to zen-like tranquility, when coming from a city like Seoul, the contrast couldn’t be much bigger.

Treacherous Climb

The route I choose took my up to the impressive looking Ulsanbawi (울산바위) rock formation. From here there are over 800 steps which lead you up to the summit, partially up a rather dangerous looking metal ladder.

Breathtaking View

It had taken me nearly three hours to reach this point but the effort was well worth it. The unblemished view of the lush green mountains spread out below was awe-inspiring. It would be great to be a bird around here.

Tranquility

A lone tree stubbornly clings to the side of the rock face. I’m sure there’s a metaphor for life in here somewhere…

Don't Look Down

It was blowing a gale while I was taking these pictures and even though I had the handrail for support it felt pretty precarious so I decided to head back down. A fall from this height would have been fatal and seeing as nobody else was around it seemed wise not to push my luck.

Makguksu Ice Noodles

After 5+ hours of hard scrambling nourishment was sorely needed. Heading back into the city I had Makguksu (막국수) ice cold noodles for dinner. The buckwheat noodles are topped off with seaweed, white Baek kimchi, spicy red Mu kimchi and half and egg for delicious combination. The photo above shows you what it looks like before the ice is added.

Sokcho Coast

Before heading back to Seoul the next day I had a wander along the beach which on a weekday was completely empty except for a few old ladies who were diving for seafood. For outdoor enthusiasts Sokcho is well worth a visit.

Comments

  1. Dave Learn says:

    Seoraksan is great. i climbed the rock too, but it was in early Feb, on the coldest day of the year (my friends told when i got back to Seoul. my camera literally shut down from the cold, and it was so windy at the top that i couldn’t even stand up. just crawled to the railing, took a pic, and then (when my camera shut down) crawled back to the ladded and got the hell out of there. haha..

    are you living in Korea now?

    • David says:

      Hi Dave – cool to hear you’ve been there also but sounds like you had even more dangerous weather conditions to deal with!

      I’ve not moved to Korea (wish I could) – I was just there for a week on holiday.

  2. Jade says:

    Hi

    I am going to visit Mt seorak soon, could you advise what which bus you took from Seoul (is it from dong seoul bus terminal?) that reachable 2.5hrs to Sokcho bus terminal?

    After that, do you took the local bus 7 or 7-1 opposite the sokcho bus terminal, or it is just outside?

    Thanks i need your help! =)

    • David says:

      Hi Jade – you can get to Sokcho from either Dong Seoul or Go-sok bus terminals. I don’t know the bus numbers but when you buy your ticket they should be able to point you in the right direction.

      Once you arrive at Sokcho the local bus stop is on the main road just outside the bus station. As you exit the station turn right, walk a short distance (towards to sea) till you meet the main road then it’s on your right. Don’t worry, it’s very easy to find.

      Hope you have a good time at Mt Seorak but I imaging it’s going to be bitterly cold at this time of year!

    • Seonmi says:

      Hello Jade.I’m Seonmi and am live in Sokcho.
      I want to tell you that David is right.
      It’s too cold and windy to climb the mountain
      but also the white Seorak mountain is so beautiful so, if the weather is nice, it may be a gorgeous hiking.

  3. HhJk says:

    Hi! May I know how you got back to Seoul from Mt. Seorak? It would be appreciated if you could you give detailed directions.

    • seonmi says:

      take a bus no. 7 or 7-1 from entrance of the moutain.
      it takes about 30~40 min from mountain to downtown.
      take off from Soo-bok tower three-way intersection.(soo-bok-top-sham -guh-ri 수복탑삼거리 ), and then across the road and turn right and walk 10steps and turn left and go 50m then across the road and go ahead 30m more. then you can find a sokcho intercity bus terminal there. it only takes 2 and 30min from Sokcho to Dong Seoul bus terminal.

  4. ice says:

    what is the place in your last picture? in Sokcho? Where and how to get there? It must be nice to go there and take some picture. Please tell me. Thanks

  5. David says:

    For anyone interested, the ice noodle restaurant is located 4 blocks away from E-mart:

    Jin-mi Makguksu (진미막국수)
    Address: 강원도 속초시 청호동 1346-8
    Phone: 033-638-8294

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