Have you heard that more than 60% the entire surface of South-Korea are mountains? No wonder, that there are so many hikers, rock climbers and mountain lovers in this country.
During the last months, I had many chances to go hiking and climbing, because the weather was just right for it. On my trips, I could not only enjoy the stunning landscape of Korean mountains, but also gain a lot of new experiences and knowledges about Korea. Each step was worthy!
If you’re also interested in hiking in South-Korea, please read this post. It’s a guide for your orientation while preparing for your trip.
Where can you go hiking?
The answer is simple: everywhere, where you can see the mountain. But the most beautiful and famous areas are the 22 national parks (NP) of Korea. They spread out through the whole country. From the Bukhansan NP in the Capital, to Seoraksan NP on the east coast, Jirisan NP with the largest mountain area or Hallasan NP with the highest peak on the Jeju island… All of them feature amazing nature and well organized hiking routes. But more than that, you can meet many kindness and warm-heartedness from Korean people on the way.
Where to find current information about the National parks?
Online, of course 😉. But not in any blog. The number one homepage for you to check is the Website of Korea National Park Service, provided and authorized by the Minister of Environment. This page is available in Korean, English, Chinese and Japanese.
Here you will find latest information about the national parks, notification about access, alerts, etc. of 21 from 22 National parks on the mainland. The last one, Hallasan NP is managed by Jeju Special Self-Governing Province and has it own page here.
Which hiking courses to take?
Each NP has many courses for you to chose. They can also be found on the Korea National Park Service’s site with very useful information, such as overview map, short description, distance and estimated difficult level.
I’ve found information I needed for our Jirisan Tour here. It was the Jongju (Traversing) Course.
I’d recommend to read the information carefully and chose the one, that might fit to your conditions, experiences and the weather when you plan to go.
In my opinion, all hiking courses here are (almost) perfectly organized. You can find information boards and/or sign posts every 500-700m. The emergency number 119, as well as the current geographical coordination are mentioned there, just in case.
Things to be aware of on a multiple-day hike
Go on a multiple day hike means that you would need a place to stay overnight in the mountain area. It should be a shelter or a camping ground. In Korea NP, camping in open air is strictly prohibited.
When you have a rough plan which course you’d like to take, it’d be advisable to have a look at all available properties of the NP and make a reservation immediately. Because during peak season or on weekends, all properties might be fully booked early.
You also have to consider the passing time limit on each course. Korea is the 1st place I have seen such kind of limitation. It is there to make sure that you will reach your destination, either an accommodation or park entrance, before the darkness.
So how to know which Shelters and Campsites are available? Simply checkthe list on Korea National Park Service page for Shelter or Campsite. Not only the basic information such as location, facilities, availability and price, but also a plattform to make reservation can be found there.
You only have to sign up with your emailaddress to be able to reserve a place to stay. The payment will be made at the shelter or camping site when you check in. However, please cancel the reservation if you know in advance that you will not need it.
On our Jirisan trip I’ve stayed at two different shelters and passed other three. I would say, all of them are equipped with basic things that you need on the mountain: fresh water, dormitories, toilet and kitchen. Some also have tables and benches for sitting outside.
Men and women sleep in different dormitories. They are all heated in cold weather. You will sleep directly on the wooden floor.
When you check in, you’ll get a designated place to sleep. Blankets and probably thin sleeping matts are available for rent.
There are cornet benches in the kitchen, on which you can use the camping stove to prepare your meal.
The toilets’ facilities can vary widely, from most simple stinky outhouse without water to modern restroom with basin, or even with automatic washing toilet seats. Well… Toiletpaper and gem juice might help in many ways.
What to pack?
Besides clothes and toiletries, you may want to take the following necessary things with in your trip:
- Drinking bottle and/or water balloon: you can refill it with mountain water at the shelters
- Camping stove, pots, dishes and cutlery, knife and a towel to dry
- Enough food. The shelters may sell some instant rice and little snacks, but you should calculate and bring enough food for yourself.
- Sun protection, since the sun shine is really intense on the mountain
- Headlamp, toilet paper, gem juice, first aid set and maybe also earplugs, just in case
- Of course, camera to capture the wonderful view, with charger and power bank
- A bag to collect your trash. Please protect the environment by leaving nothing behind
- A sleeping bag, if you can carry it
How to get to the park entrance?
You may already know that the public transportation in Korea is truly fast and almost perfectly organized. It also true if you want to discover the national parks in this country. A lot of train and buses can bring you to entrances. But you can also share taxi with others or drive by yourself if the destination is hard to reach.
I always take subway and bus to go to Bukhansan. But to Jirisan we took KTX and share Taxis, since we were three people and didn’t want to lose time waiting for the buses. And to Seoraksan I drove by myself.
But you can always check on Naver Map app for estimated duration and travel costs. Base on that you can decide which one is the most suitable transportation for your trip.
Hope this post helps to answer some of your questions during planning your trip. In case you still miss anything, just let me know 😄.
If you’re interested in our hiking tour on Jirisan, you can find it here.
Wishing you a great time in the mountains!!! 😘