The Top 10 Mountains to Hike in Korea


The Top 10 Mountains to Hike in Korea

 

The Korean peninsula is covered 70 percent with mountains. This makes hiking a national family sport and every day - in particular on weekends - the mountains are filled with groups of people in neon-colored hiking gear, families with young children, and elderly people.  

Hiking in the mountains is a great way to exercise in the fresh air and you can always find a mountain near you. Don’t feel discouraged if you are not used to hiking or you feel a little out of shape. There are so many easily accessible mountains and you can hike at your own time and pace.  Korea’s mountains often have mat covered paths and staircases made in stone or wood, not so much only for the comfort of the hikers but to protect nature from the impact of the many visitors. Peak seasons are Spring and Fall when the leaves change colors.  

A great way to get some hiking done is signing up for some of the hiking groups on Facebook and Meet Up. 

The mountains below are listed with mountains outside of Seoul first.

 

1. Seoraksan Sokcho, Gangwondo

 

  • Suitable for: Beginners, Experienced, Advanced, Children

  • Go to: Experience stunning scenic view of foliage changing color in Fall, cable car, huge Buddha Statues, waterfalls

  • How to get there: from Sokcho Intercity Bus Terminal, take the local bus  7-1 and get off at the entrance to the national  park when all the other people get off

  • Website http://english.knps.or.kr/Knp/Seoraksan/Intro/Introduction.aspx?MenuNum=1&Submenu=Npp

  • Address: Sokcho city, Gangwondo

  • Practical Information: Admission fee to the national park: Adults 3,500 won, middle to high school students (ages 14-19) 1,000 won, elementary school students (ages 8-13) 500 won. Cable car (roundtrip tickets only, no online reservations): Adults:  11,000 won, children 37 months- elementary school 7,000won, preschooler  (younger than 36 months) Free. Discounted tickets for disabled, veterans, and Sokcho residents. 

  • Peak Season: May through November

 

Hiking Highlights

Seoraksan is considered one of the most beautiful mountains in Korea. There are about 15 hiking trails, huge Buddha statues, streams, and waterfalls to enjoy and a 5-minute cable car ride will take you to Gwongeumseong where you can take in stunning views of the mountain, explore the area and visit a temple. You can easily go on a day trip from Seoul if you leave early but if you have the time, do spend a night either at a campsite or in Sokcho to fully take it all in. 

 

Visitor Reviews

On Trip Advisor Traveltheorient  wrote “Beyond awesome! This National Park is absolutely, positively the most spectacular park I have ever been to. It has a hike for everyone! The Buddhist temples along the way just enhance the enjoyment of the whole experience! I have been here in several occasions and have taken different hikes and never been disappointed.”

 

 

2. Hallasan - Jeju Island

 

  • Suitable for: Beginners, Experienced, Advanced 

  • Go To: Experience view of Jeju island, diverse landscape, volcano and the highest mountain in Korea, a UNESCO world natural heritage site, Baengnokdam crater lake 

  • How to Get There: From either Jeju city or Seogwipo bus terminal take bus no. 281 or 181 and get off at Seong Park stop 

  • Website https://www.jeju.go.kr/geopark/index.htm (English via autotranslation)

  • Address: Seogwipo city, Jeju Island 

  • Practical Information: No admission fee. The weather and climate change very quickly from one moment to the other so bring a windbreaker, waterproof and layered clothes. Bring plenty of water, food, and snacks for longer hikes. The park has curfews for when you need to be back down so if you want to reach the peak you need to start a little early. There is no night time hiking. Hallasan has a huge variety of trails but is not for small children if they are not used to hiking.

  • Peak Season: Open all year - expect a lot of people from Spring through Fall.  Seasonal opening hours vary and on a daily basis according to the weather  

 

Hiking Highlights

Hallasan is the highest mountain in Korea and located on Jeju Island; a very popular tourist spot for travelers and Koreans. 

I hiked with inexperienced friends in the middle of March and we went in sneakers and t-shirts. The weather was beautiful, sunny, and warm at ground level but as we got higher the mountain was covered in snow and ice. The trails were quite slippery. Even Korean hikers in full hiking outfits wearing snow chains on their shoes had to sit on their bum and slide down holding on to a rope. We turned around before we reached the top as one of my friends felt quite scared. 

 

Visitor Reviews

From Trip Advisor MVVP wrote I will never forget you Mt. Halla! There are 5 trails, we took the shortest but most challenging one since we started after lunch. Steep but scenic view. 3 hrs going up (with several rests in between) and took us 2 hours going down. I almost gave up but it is rewarding once you reach the top and can touch the clouds! ❤  

Jeffrey L wrote: I thought I died and was in Heaven. Decided to hike Hallasan via the Eorimok trail. Went there early in the morning and it was cold. Almost decided not to hike but started seeing people going into. It was a steep hike and nothing prepared me for what I was about to see. Here are some of the photos I took...Oh yeah I made it to the top of Eorimok trail.

 

 

3. Wonju Sogeumsan - Wonju, Gangwondo

 

  • Suitable for: Beginners, Experienced, Advanced, Children 

  • Go To: Experience crossing the longest suspension bridge in Korea, famous film location 

  • How to Get There: From Wonju intercity bus terminal or train station take bus number 52 and get off at Rail park bus stop no. 68-302 

  • Website:  http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/ATR/SI_EN_3_1_1_1.jsp?cid=2559441 

  • Address: Wonju-si, Gangwon-do 

  • Practical Information: 3000 won entrance fee. Closed First and third Monday of every month, the day of Seollal (Lunar New Year's Day) & Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving Day). This is not for the faint of heart or if you have altitude anxiety. 

  • Peak season: May-October 09:00-18:00 / November-April Open 09:00-17:00 (last admission 30 min. before closing) 

 

Hiking Highlights

The mountain is famous for having the longest suspension bridge in Korea. You get to the suspension bridge by walking up a lot of steps (578) and be prepared for long lines of people in high season.  Crossing the bridge is super exciting and the view is stunning. There might be many people making the bridge sway and you may pass people who became anxious halfway across the bridge. If they are crossing the bridge together with other people you can just walk past them. Overall, crossing the bridge is a very unique experience. 

I went with a hiking group in February during a weekend. The mountain was super packed with people and we waited, what felt, for hours just to go up the stairs to get to the bridge but it was worth it. After you’ve experienced the thrill of crossing, you can choose to keep hiking on the mountain or, like I did, call it a butt workout for the day, go down, and chill out with ramyun and other snacks at the many different stalls! You can also try out the rail bikes that you bike from Pandae station to Ganhyeon station.

 

Visitor Reviews

Agata0710 wrote on Trip Advisor: "loved this place. The walk is quite short, but really exciting. I love nature, so it was awesome to me. Therefore, you should keep in mind that there are a lot of people there on weekends, so you might not be able to take nice pictures."

 

 

4. Gyeryongsan - Daejeon, Chungcheongnamdo 

 

 

  • Suitable for: Beginners, Experienced, Advanced, Children 

  • Go For: Temples, national park, a holy mountain and popular among shamans 

  • How to Get There: From Daejeon station take bus no. 107 to Donghaksa bus stop no. 71-010 

  • Website http://english.knps.or.kr/Knp/Gyeryongsan/Intro/Introduction.aspx?MenuNum=1&Submenu=Npp 

  • Address:  Gongju city, Chungcheongnam Do 

  • Practical Information: Admission fee in cash of 4000 won 

  • Peak Season: May 1st through November 30th, open all year round

 

Hiking Highlights

The mountain and park is popular as it is easily accessible from Seoul on a day trip and not too challenging of a hike. There are several routes mapped out and as a national park it has lots of facilities you can book and use against low fees.  The mountain ridge is shaped like a dragon with a rooster crown on the back and you get some great photos of this outline. There are lots of food stalls and restaurants at the entrance of the national park, where you can have a classic after hike Korean pancake and makgeolli. 

I hiked there in early October when the day time weather was warm but not humid and the nights were cool and crisp. It was an absolutely gorgeous hike as the leaves had just changed their colors.  

 

Visitor Reviews

Calvin C on Tripadvisor wrote "Fantastic park and very accessible from Daejeon. This park has fantastic views and challenging hiking trails but still accessible for the average hiker. Be careful along the rocky trails. I went during a heat wave and managed fine, in cooler seasons it will be much easier. To explore the park fully, you will probably need two trips. However, a one day trail allows you to make a circle along an excellent trail. What I like is that this park is just 1 hour away from Daejeon by bus. The views are excellent. The fee to enter is now 4,000 Won but it is reasonable for such a nice place. Restaurants and convenience stores are available at the entrance where the bus from Daejeon will drop you off. Be sure to buy snacks and drinks before entering the park."           

 

 

 5. Jirisan - Hadong, Gyeongsangnamdo

 

  • Best for: Beginners, Experienced, Advanced, Children

  • Go to: Experience Breathtaking views 

  • How to Get There: Take a train to Guryegu station or an intercity bus to Guryegongyeong bus terminal and change to a local bus to Guryegu station bus stop no. 3260081

  • Website: http://english.knps.or.kr/Knp/Jirisan/Intro/Introduction.aspx?MenuNum=1&Submenu=Npp 

  • Address: Hadong-gun, Gyeongsangnam Do

  • Practical Information: Like most national parks, Jirisan National Park has a wide range of facilities for low fees, like shelters, campsites, and camping. You need to reserve very early as they tend to book up as soon as reservations open

  • Peak Season: May through November

 

Hiking Highlights

Jirisan is the first national park in Korea and the one with the most mountainous areas. According to information, the Asiatic black bear lives in Jirisan and Seoraksan. As it is an endangered species, efforts are made to restore the population. You might be lucky to see one!

 

Visitor Reviews

AlexT wrote on Tripadvisor: "Stunning surroundings. The Jirisan National Park is so vast and beautiful. It was an adventure to walk around. It's definitely a must see when you visit South Korea. Spring time was the best :)" 

 

 

6. Bukhansan - Seoul

 

  • Suitable for: Experienced, Advanced, Children 

  • Go to: Experience Temples, view of Jongno district

  • How to Get There: Gireum Station exit 3 or Gupabal Station exit 2. Get bus 704 or village bus no. 34 and get off at Baekhwasa bus stop no. 12-231 

  • Website: http://english.knps.or.kr/Knp/Bukhansan/Intro/Introduction.aspx?MenuNum=1&Submenu=Npp

  • Address: Seoul, Gyeonggi Do 

  • Practical Information: No night hiking, lots of shelters and facilities, fee for parking and use of facilities

  • Peak Season: May 1st through November 30th

 

Hiking Highlights

The mountain is majestically overlooking the city of Seoul and can be seen from many places. The mountain sits in a national park and is registered in Guinness’ Book of World Records as the most visited national park per unit area with more than 5 million visitors per year. When you descend, there are, of course, many places to enjoy the Korean style pancake called jeon and makgeolli which are considered the traditional post-hike diet. 

I’ve had the experience of hiking this mountain with a Korean person who knows the mountain like the back of his hand. He took me and the other hikers past beautiful sights and to the temple for females where they happily greeted him. 

 

Visitor Reviews

Roompie56 wrote on Tripadvisor "Beautiful! It's like stepping into a movie and reliving the South Korean Joseon Dynasty again. This was so sensational. It is spectacular how this is divided from the modern world. If I were to go back to South Korea, I would visit more of the ''peaceful'' places and visit this one again. Not only can you relive this, but there was a building right in the mid of the mountain, where you could write your wishes on a roof tile. I also bought a tiny souvenir which I still have hanging after so many years. Advised: Take some proper mountain hiking equipment with you (especially shoes), if you wish to see the top. Because of the fact that I did not wear mountain shoes, I slided down easily."

 

 

7. Namsan - Seoul

 

  • Suitable for: Beginners, Experienced, Advanced, Children 

  • Go to Experience: Night View, N’ Seoul Tower, add your love padlocks, visit the Teddy Bear Museum, cherry blossom viewing 

  • How to Get There: Shuttle Bus No. 03 from Seoul Station, exit 9, Itaewon Station exit 4 or Hangangjin Station exit 2. Shuttle Bus No. 05 from Myeong-dong Station exit 3 or Chungmuro Station exit 2. To catch the cable car, walk from Myeongdong station exit 3. You can also easily hike all the way up from both the Myeong-dong side and the Itaewon side. 

  • Website: https://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/ATR/SI_EN_3_1_1_1.jsp?cid=264550 and https://www.seoultower.co.kr/  

  • Address: 105, Namsangongwon-gil, Yongsan-gu, Seoul 

  • Practical Information: The mountain is very popular among visitors and locals. Transportation gets quite busy in the summer. Admission Fees to the tower: Adults 11,000 won / Children 9,000 won 

  • Peak Season: Mountain and tower are open all year round. Opening hours for the tower: Monday-Friday 10:00-23:00, Saturday 10:00-24:00 and Sunday 10:00-23:00. Very busy during the summer months  

 

Hiking Highlights 

Namsan sits in the heart of Seoul city with the bustle of Myeongdong on one side, Itaewon on the other. The mountain is very hikeable for all levels as you can walk up and down either on broad roads, take public transportation almost all the way up, jump on the cable car or be adventurous and hike a smaller path. Namsan and N’ Seoul Tower are the landmarks of Seoul and Korea, you can see the tower from far away on the other side of the Han River and at night it lights up in blue, green, and red. The colors indicate the level of air pollution.  Namsan and the N’ Seoul Tower are iconic and featured in several K-dramas and Korean romcom movies used as the romantic spot where the protagonists reunite as the first snow falls. The fence surrounding the tower is full of padlocks with lovers’ names written on them.  The mountain is not very tall and the area around and inside the tower is full of eateries, a Teddy bear museum, and shops so there is something for everyone in the family.  

 

Customer Reviews

jrrjr619  Fantastic View of the City

The N Seoul Tower is relatively easy to get to by train/bus. You can take a special bus to the top of the hill or you can hike it up the hill which is a very good workout. Go to the tower in the evening as the view of the city is fantastic. There is also a couple of gift shops to purchase your souvenirs. A must see while in Seoul. Take the tram ride up to the elevator, at the base of the tower, if you’re not up to the hike. 

BillNabilah  Amazing view at night

The day we arrived in Seoul, after putting our luggage at the hotel, we straight away took a bus to Namsan Tower. I booked the ticket using Klook and scanned the ticket at the entrance. The view at night is amazing you can see the whole area. If you have strong legs, you can walk up the hill. 

 

 

 8. Ansan - Seoul

 

 

  • Best for: Beginners, Experienced, Advanced, Children 

  • Go to: Experience View of Seoul, hike among local Koreans, avoid the crowds, cherry blossom viewing, lotus flower festival at Bongwonsa 

  • How to Get There: You can hike from Yonsei or Ewha University campuses or you can hop on the shuttle bus no. 03 and get off at Seodaemun district office and public health center stop 13-156. From Ewha university there are plenty of busses that will take you to the bus stop. Dongnimun station exit 4, follow the signs for Ansan -Jarakgil. 

  • Website: Only available in Korean http://parks.seoul.go.kr/parks/detailView.do?pIdx=83

  • Address: Seodaemun-gu, Seoul 

  • Practical Information: There is a wooden boardwalk trail making it an accessible hike for baby strollers and wheelchairs 

  • Peak Season: All year round. Lotus flower festival in the summer  

 

Hiking Highlights

The mountain can be reached from Sinchon in Seoul and is less crowded than the more popular mountains. It is not a challenging hike and if you time it right, you may be able to view the lotus flowers at Bongwonsa temple.  

 

Visitor Reviews

GuyLON Hidden nature treat!

This is a recommended site for those who have perhaps been to Seoul a few times and feel like they have seen a lot of the tourist sights that the city has to offer. For a change we decided to stay at the nearby Hilton Grand hotel and we came across this hidden gem of a hike route. The route can be accessed on several sites around the hill itself and is very well sign posted, look for any signs to Ansan Jarak-Gil as per one of the photos attached here. It is a short walk from the Hilton and from several underground stations. It was absolutely the best way for a regular Seoul visitor to spend half a day out of the city. The walk provides a nice way to see a bit of 'urban nature' and get some exercise. We did this walk on a hot September day and were pleased to find that parts of the walk were in the shade under the canopy of the trees. We were the only westerners on the walk that we saw that day, but with it being a Sunday it was quite clearly a popular way to spend the day for the local Koreans. Most of the walk is actually not on the hillside itself but on built decking (see picture) that makes the walk very easy as there are very few steps to navigate. Having said that, some of the walk on the decked route can be very steep so do expect to break a sweat! Very much a recommended alternative to the usual Seoul sights.

 

 

9. Inwangsan - Seoul

 

  • Best for: Beginners, Experienced, Advanced 

  • Go to: Experience view, temples, Dongnimmun Gate, Seodaemun Prison History Museum 

  • How to Get There: Take the subway to either Dongnimmun station or Muakjae station, exit 2. Website https://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/ATR/SI_EN_3_1_1_1.jsp?cid=1348417 

  • Address: Jongno-gu, Seoul

  • Practical Information: The area is filled with historic and art museums and it is definitely worth taking your time to check them out 

  • Peak season: Closed on Mondays. Open year-round.

 

Hiking Highlights

The mountain is located to the West of Gyeongbokgung palace and the trail runs all the way to Hyehwa in the Eastern part of Seoul. The mountain is part of the trail that runs along the Seoul City Wall. The area is filled with historic and art museums and it is definitely worth taking your time to check them out. 

 

Visitor Reviews

Nor Hafizah on Tripadvisor A must hike. The hike was quite easy even if you're not much fit (but you will need to stop dozen times aling the way). The scenery was great, you can observe the Namsan Tower from far, the Bukhansan Mountain, the Blue House. Start off from Gyeongbukgong station, take bus 7020/1020/7022 to Jahanum bus station. Take left onto the road, and your hike begins. Go aling the city wall until the last one where you'll need to take bus no 5 to go back to Gyeongbukgong station.

 

 

10. Gwanaksan

 

  • Best for: Beginners, Experienced, Advanced, Children 

  • Go for: City view, temples, lake park 

  • How to Get There: Sadang station exit 4, Nakseongdae station exit 4 shuttle bus no. 02 or bus 5513 and 5511 

  • Website http://www.gwanak.go.kr/site/eng/03/10301010000002016080206.jsp

  • Address: Gyeonggi do Gwacheonsi Jungangdong. 

  • Practical Information: Gwanaksan sits right next to Seoul National University and is reachable from several subway stations on line 2 and 4 

  • Peak Season: All year 

 

Hiking Highlights

The mountain has many different trails so children and beginners can easily hike it but there are also some fairly steep and rocky parts that are more suitable for experienced hikers.  As with most mountains in Korea there are trail markers and steps laid out. There is a pretty lake park at the foot of the mountain and plenty of public restrooms and temples. 

 

Visitor Reviews

JanaM wrote on Tripadvisor  Great hike and stream for splashing

We thoroughly enjoyed our hike at Gwanaksan. We parked at Seoul National University and had an easy walk to the trail entrance. We kept to the path along the stream and stopped a few times for a dip and to cool off. Beautiful location and so easy to drive and park here. Our only complaint was you had to make an online reservation for the ropes course and our phone doesn’t have Hangul which seemed to be the problem with getting a reservation. No matter course guides were there waiting for participants and the office had a few people with nothing to do but make reservations. Too bad the Internet was the only way - modern technology didn’t work in our favor to add the ropes course to top off an already fun day.

 

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