10 National Parks in Korea to Explore For Picturesque Views

10 National Parks in Korea to Explore For Picturesque Views

Move aside BTS & Girl's Generation! We found something more beautiful to look at.

What comes to your mind first when you think of Korea? Probably popular Kpop singers, tasty kimchi and Korean barbeque, the latest fashion styles, and affordable cosmetics!

Aside from that, did you know that Korea boasts spectacular views and nature hikes too? With a total of 22 national parks, hiking is a underrated activity that you can do while you’re here. Take your pick from their 17 mountainous parks, four marine and coastal parks, and one historical national park, for a rejuvenating experience unlike any other. Lace up your hiking boots, and make a trip to Korea to visit these absolutely gorgeous national parks. Don’t forget your camera!

1. Seoraksan National Park

Seoraksan National Park

One of the most popular national parks in Korea, Seoraksan boasts many mountain ranges. Its highest point, Daecheongbong Peak, is located some 1,708m above ground. Situated next to the coastal city of Sokcho in the northeast region of Korea, your hike up the mountain will be rewarded with stunning sea views.

The landscape of the park changes according to the seasons – with colourful flowers blooming in spring, clear water streams flowing in summer, vibrant foliages in autumn, and a tapestry of white snow in winter.

Seoraksan National Park

If you forgot to pack your hiking clothes or simply aren’t prepared for hiking, there is also a cable car ride to the peak of the mountain for 10,000 won (~S$12). With majestic caves, waterfalls and hot springs to explore – there’s something for everyone!

Address: Seoraksan-ro, Sokcho-si, Gangwon-do

How to get there: From Seoul Express Bus Terminal or Dong Seoul Bus Terminal, take an Express/Intercity bus to Sokcho (in approximately 2 hr 30 min). Then from Sokcho Express/Intercity Bus Terminal, take Bus No. 7 or 7-1 and get off at Sogongwon Bus Stop in about 45 minutes.

2. Bukhansan National Park

Bukhansan National Park

Just north of Korea’s capital, Seoul, lies Bukhansan National Park. Bukhansan is in the Guinness Book of World Records for the “Most Visited National Park per Unit Area”; with around 5 million visitors to its busy trails every year. In addition to pristine granite peaks and crystal-clear streams, the park also features the imposing Bukhansanseong Fortress – built in 1711 to protect Seoul from invaders and threats. There are also numerous temples in the mountain areas, some of which offer temple stay programmes for visitors to experience the Buddhist way of life alongside monks.

With the park located so close to Seoul, both locals and tourists alike flock to it to take a break from the urban lifestyle and to revel in the peaceful scenery. With over 1,300 species of flora and fauna in the park, Bukhansan is the perfect blend of ecology, culture and history.

Address: 86, Dobongsan-gil, Dobong-gu, Seoul

How to get there:

To get to Bukhansan National Park: Take the Seoul Subway Line 4 to Gireum Station and exit at Exit 3. Take Bus 110B or 143, and get off at the last bus stop.

To get to Bukhansanseong Fortress: Take the Seoul Subway Line 3 to Gupabal Station and exit at Exit 1. Take Bus 704 bound for Bukhansanseong Fortress (북한산성). Get off at the Bukhansan Mountain entrance bus stop.

3. Gyeongju National Park

Gyeongju National Park

Image credit: (left) riNux, (right) cotaro70s

As the only historical national park in Korea, Gyeongju is a site of cultural importance. From 57 BC to 935 AD, Gyeongju was the capital city of the Silla Dynasty, which at one time ruled over two-thirds of the Korean Peninsula. Spread over several locations in the city itself, wandering through the park is like flipping through the pages of a history book.

Several of the park’s attractions are well-preserved relics from the Silla Dynasty, such as the Donggu Palace, Wolji Pond and the Bulgaksa temple, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visitors should also head to Namsan Mountain, where its valleys are home to many Buddhist temples and shrines. With a mixture of historical sites and rural scenery, Gyeongju National Park is the place to visit for anyone who wants to take in a slice of Korean history.

Addresses:

Bulgaksa Temple: 385, Bulguk-ro, Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do

Namsan Mountain: Naenam-myeon, Bae-dong, Tap-dong, Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do

How to get there:

To Bulgaksa temple: From Gyeongju Train Station, follow Hwarang-ro Street and take Bus No. 10 or 11 (located in front of the post office) and get off at Bulguksa Temple (불국사) Bus Stop in about an hour.

From Gyeongju Intercity/Express Bus Terminal, take Bus No. 10 or 11 from the bus stop located across the street from Gyeongju Express Bus Terminal and get off at Bulguksa Temple (불국사) Bus Stop in about an hour.

To Namsan Mountain: From Gyeongju Intercity/Express Bus Terminal, take Bus 11 to Tongiljeon Memorial, or take Bus 500 to Samneung Tombs.

4. Dadohaehaesang National Park

Dadohaehaesang National Park

Image credit: Gael Chardon

The Dadohaehaesang National Park is a network of protected islands along the Southwestern coast of Korea, and is the largest national park in Korea. As a marine and coastal park, its islands are home to a myriad of sea life and flora.

Beautiful evergreen forests and volcanic rock formations are just some of the attractions you can visit here. The islands of Hongdo and Heuksando are most popular amongst tourists, who flock to its warm beaches during the summer.

Address: Wando-eup, Wando-gun, Jeollanam-do (Wando Region)

How to get there:

From Wando Island Intercity Bus Terminal, take a taxi and get off at Wando Island Ferry Terminal. There are ferry cruises to Bogildo Island and Sinjido Island.

From Mokpo Bus Terminal, take a taxi or Bus No. 1 (approx. 15-minute ride). Transfer to a ferry bound for Hongdo Island, Heuksando Island, and Dochodo Island at Mokpo Ferry Terminal.

From Yeosu Intercity Bus Terminal, take a taxi to Yeosu Ferry Terminal (approx. 15-minute ride). Take a ferry to Geomundo Island.

5. Mudeungsan National Park

Located in Gwangju, the most iconic attraction of Mudeungsan is the Jusangjeolli Cliff. Although these rock pillars look like they were carved out by hand, they are actually natural rock formations dating back to 70 million years ago! These unique prehistoric formations set the park aside from others on this list and make for great photo opportunities.

Compared to other mountainous parks, the slope of Mudeungsan Mountain is relatively gradual, making it a more accessible climb. Its three rock peaks – Cheonwangbong, Jiwangbong, and Inwangbong – are known as the “Jeongsang Three”. Climb to any of the peaks and you will be rewarded with great scenic views. There are also several temples at the base of the mountain, for those in search of a more cultural experience.

Address: Hwasun-gun & Damyang-gun, Jeollanam-do & 29, Dongsan-gil, Dong-gu, Gwangju, Jeollanam-do

How to get there: At the Gwangju Bus Terminal (U-Square Terminal), take Bus 09 and get off at the entrance of Jeungsimsa Temple. Walk towards Mudeungsan National Park.

6. Hallasan National Park

Hallasan National Park

Hallasan National Park is located at Jeju Island and is home to the shield volcano Hallasan, which is also the highest peak in South Korea at 1,950 metres. It is a long, gradual climb to the top, but seeing the massive 400 diameter crater will make the effort worth your while.

In addition to the hiking trails leading to the top of the mountain, there are many accessible and well-maintained trails around the mountain to explore the area at a more leisurely pace. Home to over 1,800 species of plants and 4,000 species of animals, the park was named as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007. It is definitely an experience you do not want to miss if you head to Jeju!

Address: 2070-61, 1100-ro, Jeju-si, Jeju-do

How to get there: From Jeju Intercity Bus Terminal, take Bus No. 740 (Jeju, Yeongsil, Jungmun), and get off at Eorimok Trail Entrance Bus Stop in approximately 45 minutes. You can also take Bus No. 781 or 781-1 (Jeju, Seongpanak, Seogui), and get off at Seongpanak Bus Stop in about 40 minutes.

7. Jirisan National Park

Jirisan National Park was designated as Korea’s first national park in 1967, and is also the largest mountainous national park in the country. Home to a wide variety of animal life and plants, the Jirisan mountain is regarded as one of Korea’s three legendary mountains, together with Geumgangsan and Hallasan. Embark on one of its many hiking trails, and you will be rewarded with one of the best sunrise views in the country.

Image credit: Daniel Lee

If you can, visit in mid-autumn where the gentle streams of water are set against a backdrop of green, orange and red foliage, making for a beautiful sight! There are also ancient Buddhist temples and pagodas dating back to the Silla Dynasty to visit along the trails. With its sheer size and abundance of wildlife, there are just too many things in Jirisan to visit – you’ve got to check it out for yourself!

Address: 320-2, Jirisan-daero, Sancheong-gun, Gyeongsangnam-do

How to get there: From Dong Seoul Bus Terminal, take an Express/Intercity bus to Jinju. Or from Jinju Intercity Bus Terminal, take a local bus to Daewonsa Temple (대원사) or Jungsan-ri (중산리).

8. Juwangsan National Park

Moving away from the largest national park to the smallest, Juwangsan may be tiny compared to the rest, but it is not lacking in attractions. There are scenic walking trails along its cavernous valleys that lead up to majestic waterfalls, making it a good, leisurely place to spend a relaxing afternoon admiring nature’s beauty.

Juwangsan’s rocky peaks and sheer cliffs are also accompanied with lush vegetation and interesting wildlife, such as endangered otters, and has been designated as a National Treasure by the Korean government. The well-preserved beauty in Juwangsan ensures that although it may be small, it still promises a beautiful and unforgettable experience like no other.

Address: Gongwon-gil, Budong-myeon, Cheongsong-gun, Gyeongsangbuk-do

How to get there: Take an Express/Intercity bus from Dong Seoul Bus Terminal to Juwangsan Bus Stop in about 4.5 hours.

9. Songnisan National Park

At Songnisan National Park, you can start your hike up Mt. Songnisan at the base of the mountain, easily located by the tallest Buddha statue in the world, Cheongdongmireukbul, at Beopjusa Temple.

Constructed in 653 AD, Beopjusa is one of the oldest temples in South Korea and contains numerous treasures and National Monuments, making it a must-go, especially for those interested in Buddhist history.

As you make the hike up the mountain, you’ll be rewarded with many picturesque views. Visit during spring to see the pink azaleas bloom, during summer to see the green pine forest, and during autumn to see the yellow and red leaves fall.

Address: Sangpan-ri, Songnisan-myeon, Boeun-gun, Chungcheongbuk-do

How to get there: Take an Express bus from Busan Nopo-dong Bus Terminal to Daejeon Dongbu Express Bus Terminal. Cross the street to Daejeon Intercity Bus Terminal and take a local bus to Songnisan National Park.

10. Wolchulsan National Park

Wolchulsan National Park

If you’ve ever wanted to conquer your fear of heights, Wolchulsan is the national park for you! A 52-metre suspension bridge called the ‘Cloud Bridge’ hangs between two peaks – named as such due to the fog that envelops it at certain times of the day. During your visit, you’ll probably see many photographers there trying to take some shots of the bridge!

Image credit: 영철 이

The highest peak in the park, Cheonhwangbong, stands at 809 metres and there are many trails of varying difficulties to reach it. There are also 3 National Treasures located in the park, such as the Wolchulsan Seated Buddha, that you should visit while you’re there. With cool waterfalls, lush greenery and marvellous scenery, Wolchulsan should definitely be on your travel itinerary!

Address: 280-43, Cheonhwangsa-ro, Yeongam-gun, Jeollanam-do

How to get there: From Seoul Central City Terminal, take an intercity bus to Mokpo. Then, from Mokpo Intercity Bus Terminal, take a local bus to Yeongam. From Yeongam Terminal, take a local bus or a taxi to Cheonhwangsa Temple.
Now that you’ve seen what these national parks have to offer, we hope that you are inspired to go forth and journey to these underrated destinations in Korea! Whether rain or shine, summer or winter – these parks are beautiful all year round. Go off the beaten track and have a great experience that you won’t be able to find in other parts of the world. For more information, visit Korea Tourism Organization’s official website and Facebook page. Happy trekking!


Brought to you by Korea Tourism Organization (Singapore)

About Author

Isaac Neo
Isaac Neo

Isaac used to love airports, until he went on exchange and experienced one too many delays for his liking. He believes the best part of travelling is experiencing the local food, which explains his expanding waistline. When not at work, he can be found reading, watching football, or browsing the dankest memes.

CLICK TO SEE MORE ARTICLES BY Isaac Neo

Comments


Related Posts