Another long weekend, another adventure.
Sokcho is on the east coast in Gangwondo.
I booked my Airbnb for February 27 & 28 on the Friday before work and finished packing when I got home. I stayed at The Red House in Sokcho which I booked on Airbnb. The location and price were both great: 30 minute walk from the park (you can also take the 7-1 bus) and $62 for two nights. Ahhhhh mazing.
I woke up around 6am on Saturday thinking I was going to get to the station and get the first bus out to Seoul. I ended up leaving my apartment about four hours after waking up. I walked to the bus station that’s about 15 minutes away and bought a ticket to Incheon. It was only ₩5000.
I waited and waited and then checked Naver again. There was a quicker route. I walked to the bus stop that was near my school, waited for the 98 bus and was off to Pyeongtaek Station. It took about 40 minutes.
Next, I walked around trying to find the station. It is kind of hidden and to the left of AK Plaza. Finally, I saw it across from Cafe Pascucci. I bought a ticket for ₩5300 to Seoul and was on my way.
The Express buses are cool cause they have their own lane. It only took a little less than an hour to get to the Seoul Express Bus Terminal.
I didn’t realize that there were assigned seats so I sat in a random seat. A lady came up to me and gave me a look. Whoops. I went to get up and switch but I think she saw my bags and was like no it’ll take too long. LOL.
I learned a few lessons on this trip. One is that you have to buy bus tickets ahead of time because the spots fill up quickly. This website is for the Express Bus Terminal though, which I learned on my way back. Also, to buy a ticket, you do need a Korean bank account. I did not have one at the time. Fun.
Luckily some of the spots kept opening up. I found a bus to Sokcho at 3:40pm. On the ticket it said 2.2 hours but it took almost 4.
When I got to the Sokcho Express Bus Terminal, I tried to give taxi drivers the address to my Airbnb but that didn’t work. I tried to take the bus but Naver was telling me that there wasn’t any information on bus 7, the one that I was supposed to take. I ended up messaging the Airbnb and they gave me the address and finally a Kakao taxi driver accepted my request.
Right when my taxi driver showed up, bus 7 drove right on by and stopped at the bus stop. Of course.
I think it worked out better that way though because the bus would’ve taken around 45 minutes whereas the drive took about 20. It was only ₩13000 and I was EXHAUSTED.
The host was waiting for me when I got out of the taxi. He took me to my room.
After settling in and cleaning up, I tried to walk to one of the restaurants near the bnb.
I say tried because my GPS ended up bringing me the opposite way. I was also on the phone with Indria so I guess multitasking is just not my thing.
I went back to the Airbnb and the hosts came out. The lady ended up driving me to 연탄구이. I got some 김치 찌개 (kimchi jjigae) and soju for only ₩13000. Indria and I had a nice virtual meal.
I went back to my room and had a nice sleep.
설악산국립공원 (Mount Seoraksan) opens at 7am and closes around 6pm.
I woke up around 8:30, went to get some breakfast at the main building for ₩5000 and was off to the park. I was there from 10-6. The admission fee was only ₩3500!!
The Airbnb was only about a 30 minute walk to the park. You can also take the 7 or 7-1 bus. On the way into the park there is a 7-eleven so I stopped and got a snack. There is also a hotel, Kensington Hotel, which was much more expensive than the Airbnb was.
They also have a store inside of the park. It sells many things. I think I saw a few restaurants too.
The cable car was ₩11000 and it brings you up 670m. It takes about 5 minutes to go up to the top and it also operates every 5 minutes. Pretty convenient.
Once I bought my cable car ticket, I had about an hour to kill.
I walked to 신흥사 (Sinheungsa Temple) and to the bronze buddha, 청동좌불상.
To get to 신흥사 (Sinheungsa Temple), you can walk across 3 different bridges.
The scenery throughout the whole park was astonishing. Rock balancing was everywhere. I contributed a few times.
From the cable car stop, you can go to 권금성 (Gwongeumseong Fortress). It’s about a ten minute walk. The Fortress was built by Gwon and Kim (Geum) as a shelter for their families during the Mongolian invasion. The views were exquisite! You can see the city as well as the East Sea.
After taking in the views for almost two hours, I went back down.
There’s a map of the trails right outside of the cable car building and I took a look at that and chose my next destination: 비룡푹포 (Biryong Falls). It’s between 육담폭포 (Yukdam Falls) and 토왕성폭포 (Towangseong Falls). The map says it takes about 1.5 hours and it’s 2.8km (~1.7miles) to get to 비룡푹포, so about 3 hours round trip. There weren’t that many people. I made some friends along the way. Once we reached the top, one of my friends gave me a tangerine. How cute.
Once I got to the frozen 비룡푹포 (Biryong Falls), there was another trail that went to 토왕성폭포 전망대 (Towangseong Falls Observatory). From the observatory, you can see 토왕성폭포 (Towangseong Falls). I wish I could put into words how beautiful the view was. The pictures will have to do.
The hike from 비룡푹포 (Biryong Falls) to 토왕성폭포 전망대 (Towangseong Falls Observatory) took another 50 minutes and it was HARD and steep. I am also not a regular hiker so I had to take a few breaks. Of course going back down took only about 15 minutes.
When I started walking down the stairs back to 비룡푹포(Biryong Falls) my legs were shaking. That day, I ended up hiking for a total of about 3 hours. Even days later my legs were still trembling.
My day at the park was completely worth it.
After a long and fulfilling day, I went back to 연탄구이 and got 김치찌개 (kimchi jjigae) and some ramen. It was a nice meal for such an eventful day.
The next and last day was my journey back to Pyeongtaek. It ended up pouring so I did not feel like waiting for the bus. I knew it was going to rain but not that much so taking the bus was a no go. The taxi was another ₩14000 and I went to the wrong station.
Another lesson that I learned: there are two terminals in Sokcho, along with other cities. Sokcho has an Express Bus Terminal and an Intercity Bus Terminal.
Since the website from above is for the Intercity, I had to take another taxi from Express to Intercity.
The next express bus wasn’t until 1:50pm and it was ₩20300. I was there around 10am. As I was leaving the express station, I was like hmmmm did I make a mistake?
When I got to the intercity terminal, the next bus was at 12:25pm and ₩19700. Yay. I was starving. I booked it and stuffed my bags away in a locker for ₩2000. You could keep your bags in there for up to 24 hours.
Little did I know there was a cafe to the left of the building. 동명카피 (Dongmyeong Cafe) had bagels!!! I got a bagel and yummy hibiscus lemon tea. I love the lemon tea here because they put the lemon peel and it adds so much flavor. They also put a lot of sugar though, which I could do without but I am no barista.
The rain turned into snow. How fun. Snow just kept coming down. We were about an hour into the drive when the bus driver turned around. I had no idea what the dude said so luckily there was a nice lady next to me and we used Papago.
Since the bus ride on the way from Seoul to Sokcho took longer than the ticket said, I asked the lady how long Sokcho to Seoul would take. She said 2 hours and 10 minutes. I think I jinxed myself?
Sokcho to Dongseoul ended up taking 6.5 hours. Luckily as we got closer to Seoul the snow was turning into rain.
Once I got to Dongseoul, I found a ticket machine and looked for the next time from there to Pyeongtaek. It was 7:07pm; I had 3 minutes to spare. Right when I got on the bus, we left.
40 minutes later I was walking around AK Plaza and waiting for the 80 bus that was heading to my part of town.
I ended up getting back to my apartment around 9:30pm.
After two days of traveling for about 24 hours in total, and one day filled with hiking and walking, I was exhausted.
Was it worth it? Definitely. I also learned a few lessons while traveling so that’s always good too.
Mount Seoraksan was astounding. And that was only the part that I saw. The park is huge and spreads across Sokcho, Inje, Goseong, and Yangyang. They also have shelters throughout the park but I think you have to book ahead.
Since there are so many national parks in South Korea, I’m not sure if I’ll make it back to Mount Seoraksan again. The whole trip was unforgettable.