The best place time to visit Korea is during the fall when you can see colorful autumn foliage especially in the than the best time to visit Korea is in the autumn because this 4-season country has a marvelous display and a number of great parks to see it in but the best place for autumn foliage in Korea is Seoraksan National Park!
I lived in Seoul, South Korea for 4 years and can safely say that my favorite place for fall in Korea is Seoraksan National park. I hope this guide helps you plan a wonderful Mt Seorak Tour. Feel free to comment below or send me a PM on social media if you want help planning a trip to Seoraksan this Autumn!
Seoraksan National Park Tour
Whenever you visit Korea you should make your way to Seoraksan National Park. Its beautiful in all seasons and you can follow any of the hikes below. You’ll have to plan itinerary for autumn in Korea carefully because you can easily spend days hiking through all of these beautiful trails in Seoraksan National Park but there are other great spots to see during Autumn in South Korea too!
Best Fall Hikes in Seoraksan National Park
3-8 Hours – Medium Difficulty
The Cheonbuldong Valley trail starts at Biseondae Rock and 12 kilometers to the very top of Seorak Mountain (read more about Seorak Mountain & Biseondae below) Get ready for a wonderful trail where it just keeps getting better and better. Your hike will start relatively flat but gradually climb to the ridge above you which means the river turns into a series of waterfalls!
All of the trees surrounding these waterfalls burst with color meaning this hike should be at the top of your itinerary for autumn in Korea! If you keep going to the top you’ll eventually run out of fall colors from the altitude but get some spectacular views looking back on the park. There’s one lodge lower down in the valley and another two along the way to Daecheongbong peak. Turn left at the fork at the top of the staircases leaving Cheonbuldong Valley and you’ll find one of those lodges with a small selection of ramen and other wares.
2-4 hours – Medium Difficulty
Ulsanbawi was the first hike I ever tried in Seoraksan National Park and we did it because the park rangers recommended it. I was so happy they suggested Ulsanbawi because it was a wonderful mix of autumn colors, a workout climbing to the top and stunning views.
You can see the East Sea, Sokcho and all the mountains of Seoraksan National Park from the top of this trek. If you’re up for a challenge then get to the entrance when they open at 3am and hike to the top of Ulsanbawi for sunrise!
The trail to Ulsanbawi passes Gyejo-Am a quaint hermitage with a beautiful Buddha cave. They often hang lanterns for upcoming festivals like Lunar New Year, Buddha’s Birthday or Chuseok. If you decide all the stairs up Ulsanbawi aren’t for you then this is a perfect destination for your autumn trip to Seoraksan National Park.
Temples in Seoraksan National Park
30-60 minutes – Easy Difficulty
If you come in the main entrance to Seoraksan National Park then you will walk past the massive sitting bronze Buddha at Sinheungsa Temple. If you’re lucky a monk will give you some free tea at the buildings near the Buddha or you can donate to write on a prayer tablet. Keep walking along the path and cross the bridge to find the main temple grounds with some cool sculptures and gorgeous mountain backdrops.
Pin me on Pinterest or scroll down for more great ideas for your Autumn Itinerary in Korea!
30-90 minutes – Easy Difficulty
Biryong Falls is the shortest and closest trail to the main entrance of Seoraksan but still has a ton of beauty, especially during fall! This short walk follows a river taking you on a few footbridges on mostly flat trails. At the end of the trail is an Instagram worthy waterfall and a great spot for an afternoon picnic!
1-2 hours – Easy Difficulty
Bisoendae is a famous rock outcropping in Seoraksan National Park that will is at the base of the Cheonbuldong Valley. This is the best hike for fall in Seoraksan if you don’t want to climb Ulsanbawi. The river is surrounded but fall foliage and you’ll find gorgeous reflections in the slower moving pools. Beautiful shades of blue-green water are a lovely accent along the golden rocks with the trees shedding red, yellow, orange and brown leaves.
Seorak Cable Car to a Mountain Fortress
1-2 hours – Easy Difficulty
I just finished a whole post dedicated to the Seorak Cable Car that you should read if you are thinking about taking it but here’s what you need to know about going in the fall. The ride is quick, inexpensive and offers a stunning view! (especially during the autumn) You’ll want to buy tickets as soon as you get to Seoraksan National Park and plan your Seoraksan day trip around this timeslot.
2-3 hours – Hard Difficulty
Guemganggul cave is the coolest temple inside of a cave that I’ve ever seen. It’s not very large and houses a small Buddha. The hike up is HARD but the view from this cave makes it worth every step.
To get to Guemganggul cave you follow the same path towards Biseondae but then turn right and start climbing UP the mountain instead of steadily following the river. This is also the way you start the Gongryong Ridge hike (read more about why I don’t recommend that one in the fall below)
The view from the top of Guemganggul Cave is stunning and you’ll find a few autumn colors on this hike but I would suggest this an addition to the Bisoendae hike or when you’re coming back from Cheonbuldong Valley. The colors down in the valley are much more spectacular.
Seoraksan National Park Map
Other Hikes in Seoraksan National Park
I recommend these hikes for the Spring in Seoraksan
Gongryong Ridge (AKA Dinosaur Ridge)
15-19 hours – Hard Difficulty
This grueling 18-hour trek is no for your average hiker and although I LOVE this trail I don’t recommend it in autumn. If you decide to hike this trail in autumn then go early in the season because the leaves all fall much sooner at the higher altitudes near the timber line.
If you decide to go in the fall then I recommend following the route I explain here, so you can enjoy lots of fall colors in Cheonbuldong Valley and at Bisondae Rocks on the way down.
Seorak Mountain (AKA Daechongbong)
10-14 hours – Hard Difficulty
Daechongbong is the tallest mountain in Seoraksan National Park and you should definitely hike this but maybe not during peak fall foliage for the same reason as no hiking Gongryong Ridge in the autumn, its too high up for the really great colors. But if your only chance is during the fall then follow the Cheondulbong Valley past Bisondae and all the way up to Daechongbong. You’ll get all the colorful trees at lower altitudes and can either come back the way you came or depart via the Osaek-Ri Entrance.
How to get to Seoraksan National Park from Seoul
The best way to get to Seoraksan National Park from Seoul without a car is by booking a group Seoraksan Tour. I usually went with either Seoul Hiking Group or BangawoYo Tours and can highly recommend them both. They are perfect for anyone who wants to take a Seoraksan National Park Tour and not worry about how to get there or book a room at a Mt Seorak hotel. For more accommodation suggestions head down to the Mt Seorak Hotel and other Accommodation section below.
If you don’t want to book a group trip then you can always buy your own bus tickets and reserve a place to stay online. Check out Smile Guesthouse and if you’re serious about going to Seoraksan then book your room today! This is a very popular spot in Korea and hotels ALWAYS sell out, especially during the autumn colors!
One of the best things about visiting Seoraksan National Park is that you can pick from any number of trails that cater to all difficulties. Seoraksan National Park hiking trails
Mt Seorak Hotel and other Accommodation
The most important thing about going to Seoraksan National Park is having a place to sleep when you finish. The one drawback to Seoraksan is that it is very popular which means you can easily find yourself walking from hotel to hotel hoping that one has a room available. Rather than doing that book one of my recommendations below but if you do find yourself at Seoraksan in a pinch then you have two options.
I highly recommend the Seorak Kensington Stars Hotel. Rooms start at $145 and its as close to the park as you can get! This 5-star resort perfect for groups heading on a hike! You’ll get actual beds which is hard to find in Korea since most places offer heated floor sleeping arrangements.
Goodstay Smile Resort – rooms starting at $41 – The Goodstay Smile Resort has a homestay feel with beds, bunks, a kitchen and more for you. It’s a short drive or medium walk to the Seoraksan’s main entrance in this budget-friendly hotel.
If these are full and you can’t find other hotels near Seoraksan National park then you can either head to Sokcho and simply follow the directions above or take a taxi to a jimjilbang and sleep there overnight.
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