Saturday, May 23, 2009

071222 - Sokcho, Seoraksan, Gwongeumseong, Sinheung Temple, Daepo Port

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The city of Sokcho in Gangwon province provides the gateway to Korea’s most popular national park, Seoraksan or Mount Seorak which has been one of the most tourist destinations in Korea. Since I’m not working on that weekend, therefore I decided to have an overnight stay at Sokcho. My wife and I took the Line 3 subway from Jongno 3-ga to Bus Terminal in Gangnam hoping to catch the 6.30-6.45 am non-stop bus to Sokcho. Before leaving the hotel, I applied some sunblock on my face and in the subway; unfortunately an elderly insane man mumbled loudly commenting on my face fairness. This is really embarrassing as other passengers started looking at me. Thanks for my wife’s advise.

When arrived at the Express Bus Terminal, we missed the first bus at 6.30am and we had to wait the next bus to depart. Bus interval was around 30-40 minutes. The ticket to Sokcho cost 18600won per person and it’s around 3.5 hours non-stop journey. While waiting, my wife had a quick breakfast at one of the shops and she had clear seafood noodle soup; and it was fabulous. She loved it so much among all Korean noodles.

The bus departed at 7am and it would stop at PyeongChang for toilet break for 20 minutes. When the bus continued the journey and after 15-20 minutes, the bus driver received a call saying one of the passengers did not onboard. So the bus stopped at the emergency lane along the expressway, waiting for the passenger and that caused the whole journey delayed by an hour. Been cursing and joking about this incident.

After we reached at Sokcho Intercity Bus Terminal, we went to the Tourist Information Center requesting for maps and location of our hotel. Surprisingly, the pretty young lady could speak fluent English. Then we took the bus to the Express Bus Terminal to check-in to the hotel. We asked around whereabouts the hotel and nobody seems able to assist you due to language barrier. After 20 minutes wandering around, we went into a church community nearby hoping someone able to speak simple English. Finally a man showed us the way to the hotel which is around 500m away. As we both walked halfway, the man drove his van, picked and dropped us at the hotel entrance. That saved us lot of energy. May god bless him.

We check-ins Chungcho Beach Motel and the room rate per night is 50,000won. The room has a small balcony and a view facing the Cheongchogo Lake. My advice is to stay at hotels near Sokcho Beach because there is an Express Bus Terminal nearby.

Vending machine inside the hotel room, selling foods, drinks and even condoms!!!

Then we had lunch at the nearby local traditional restaurant. I ordered the famous Sundubu, an unprocessed beancurd, made without undergoing the process of pressing it to remove the water and curdling it firmly. Sundubu is used in various dishes, and a stew made with it is one of the most popular lunch dishes served in restaurants. The beancurd is so soft as the sundubu served in Sokcho is made by using clean freshwater and saltwater from the East Sea.

We took a local bus to Seoraksan, cost 1000won per trip and the journey took around 30 minutes due to traffic leading to Seoraksan entrance. The admission fee to Seoraksan National Park is 5000won.

Looking at the huge crowd, I quickly line up in the queue to buy the cable-car ticket (8000won) up to Seoraksan, Gwongeumseong Fortress. After buying the ticket, I had to wait an hour for my turn to the cable car, based on the queue number. Without wasting any time, we walked to Sinheungsa or Sinheung Temple which is 10 minutes walking distance from the ticket counter. Sinheungsa was built in 652 but it was burned in 698. The temple was rebuilt and moved to the current location.

On the path to Sinheungsa, there is a huge bronze statue called Tongil-Daebul. It is the largest sitting bronze statue in the world where the height is 17.5m.

Past the statue, I was stunned by the huge natural stone ball, Ulsanbawi.

One of the bridges leading to Sinheungsa, it the white bridge, Sesimgyo

After entering the Sinheungsa, I saw a figure of turtle stone shooting water from its mouth. Without any hesitation, I scooped and drank the fresh water. It said to remove tiredness and revitalize your body.

View of Sinheungsa surrounding. Due to limited time, I missed snapping the famous building of Geukrakbojeon (also the main temple) which is Gangwon Province Tangible Cultural Property. It has an octagonal roof, three front rooms, and two side rooms.

Exiting Sinheungsa and took other route back to the cable-car counter, I saw piles of rocks. According to Korean, stones are believed to have special powers. A prayer wish will be fulfilled as the rock is put on the pile. I guess, the higher the better.

At the cable-car station and the view was spectacular when riding up to the Seoraksan. The ride took less than 10 minutes. Just amazing…

View from the cable-car station at the top of Seoraksan

Then my wife and I walked about 15 minutes to reach the Gwongeumseong Fortress (860m above sea level). It’s the site of a castle ruins called Seoraksan and was built to avoid war during the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392).

We rested for a while admiring the scenic view in the surrounding, the air was chilling too. Make sure you wear a pair of good walking shoe as the path here is uneven and stony ground.

I managed to climbed one quarter of the peak here together with my tripod, but can’t proceed further. Probably I have height-phobia.

View from Seoraksan. In fact, it’s quite dangerous here as this area is not protected with any fences. One might just fall off the cliff accidentally.

It’s already late afternoon and the wind was getting colder, we decided to take the cable car back to the base station, leaving fond memories at Seoraksan. We took the bus back to Sokcho, but we stopped at the bus stop near Daepo Port.

Shore near the Daepo Port
The port is famous for its daily fresh catch and it has a seafood market with many stalls selling all range of seafoods.

There are few stalls selling fried shrimps, different size of shrimps at different price. We bought some fried shrimp. It was speechless, superly good...

The seafood market here is a good place to have a dish of fresh sushi. We stopped at one of the stalls selling fresh seafood and asked the lady to serve us some fresh sushi and squids from the ocean. They will also provide some red chili paste for you to dip with the seafoods. The fresh squid and fish were thinly sliced to be eaten raw. It was so fresh till the sushi melt in your mouth. We ordered quite a lot of squids and couldn’t really finish it. In fact, we preferred the sushi more than the squids. The price here was reasonable as compared to Seoul.

Then we took a bus back to our hotel. Since the night was still young, we quickly wandered in the vicinity of the hotel though the weather was freaking cold.

Night-view of Expo Tower, which is 73.4m with an observatory.

Weird design sculpture

Great night view of Lake Cheongchoho, which is located in the center of the city with an approximate circumference of 5km.

Night view of Sinsuro Arch Bridge

Mini windmill along the lake trail

View from the balcony hotel facing the Lake Cheongchoho

Well, it’s been a whole day travelling and it’s time to hit the bed as we need to wake up early tomorrow morning.


  1. Try to check on my other postings on Seoul...there's more to come..

  2. Hi Andy,
    I'm searching for mt sorak information and chance upon your blog.

    I would like to know why you didn't stop at Seoul Express Bus terminal since your hotel is there. But on your way back to Seoul, you took the ride from the Express bus terminal and not Intercity Bus Terminal. Does it mean the bus from Seoul didn't go to Express Bus Terminal?

    Thank you.

  3. Irene, are you referring to Sockho Express Bus terminal when I reached there?

    If yes, the bus did stopped there which is quite nearby my hotel It's my mistake coz first time there blindly and also language barrier.

  4. hi,ur photos are awesome^^...may i ask if you were there during dec?i thought theres snow throughout korea during dec?can u advice as im planning to go around 22nd dec...will there be any snow and are those shop still opening?


  5. Hi Chery

    I was there on the 22nd December. It was freezing in the morning but no snow during that time. The weather was just nice.

  6. thanks for ur replied^^