Pictures of climbing Ulsanbawi 울산바위 (蔚山岩) in Seoraksan

I thought the climb from Heundeulbawi to the base of Ulsanbawi was hard, but it was nothing compared to actually climbing up Ulsanbawi to get to the very top. Boy, was I wrong!

Everyone told me Ulsanbawi would be the most difficult course at Seoraksan National Park, but when I got to the base of the rock, it looked rather innocuous. Don't get me wrong, it was really high, but seeing so many people enjoying their picnics amongst the rocks made me momentarily relaxed. 

Base of Ulsanbawi Rock

I grew even more relaxed when I saw the red metal stairs.

Red metal stairs to Ulsanbawi

So that's it? Climbing Ulsanbawi would just be climbing some stairs? I mean, they were steep stairs, but they were stairs and not jutting rocks. I deluded myself into thinking that the climb wouldn't be so bad after all.

That feeling didn't last very long though.

Day 6: Hiking to Ulsanbawi and Heundeulbawi in Mt. Seorak 설악산

Before I get started, I just want to take a moment to wish everyone a Happy New Year. 2010 has been a tough year for a lot of people, but hopefully 2011 will bring more goodwill and prosperity. My New Year's resolution includes overcoming my fear of flying, but that goal has made it on my list every single year without being crossed off, so I have to work a little harder on that. If you have any tips for overcoming this phobia, please send them my way! I would really appreciate the help and advice.

Okay, so onto my second day in the mountains.

On the previous day, I took the express bus from Seoul to Sokcho and checked into Seoraksan Tourist Hotel. I had enough time to walk through some areas of Seoraksan National Park, hitting hot spots like Sinheungsa, Biseondae, and Cheonbuldong Valley before the sun set.

My sixth day in South Korea started with surprising un-sore legs. My feet were killing me after walking all over the place yesterday, but I woke up feeling excited and refreshed, not to mention relieved that a bug didn't crawl up my nose in the middle of the night! For breakfast, I ate some food and snacks I brought with me from Seoul and packed the rest into my backpack. I filled up my water bottle and was set to tackle one of the most difficult courses in Seoraksan National Park: Ulsanbawi Rock 울산바위 (蔚山岩)and Heundeulbawi Rock 흔들바위 (晃动岩).

The best thing about staying in a hotel that's inside the park is that I didn't have to do anything but walk out of the hotel entrance to enter the park. No bus and no fees! The weather was also great. And speaking of the weather, that's the one thing I haven't mentioned so far.

Visiting Sinheungsa Temple, Biseondae, and Cheonbuldong Valley in Seorsaksan, South Korea

I discussed how I arrived at Seoraksan National Park from Seoul in my previous post, but in this post I will share all of the pictures I took on my first day of hiking in the mountains. My fifth day of traveling in South Korea was spent in one of the most beautiful places in the country, seeing places like Sinheungsa Temple 신흥사 (新興寺), Biseondae 비선대 (飛仙台), and Cheonbuldong Valley 천불동 계곡 (千佛洞溪谷).

Here is a map of the Seoraksan courses in case you missed it from my other post:

Seoraksan National Park hiking trails and course map

Sinheungsa Temple is a few minutes walk from the Seoraksan Tourist Hotel. Biseondae is 2.3 km further away and takes around 45 minutes to get there. From Biseondae, it'll take you another 3.5 km (or 2 hours walk) to walk to Oryeon Falls in Cheonbuldong Valley. I walked as far as I could into Cheonbuldong Valley before turning around again and was probably on my feet for a good 6 hours that day.

Seorsaksan Tourist Hotel 설악산관광호텔 Review

I visited Seoraksan National Park in mid-October to see the fall leaves. Everyone said you would need to spend at least 2-3 days there, so I booked a room at the Seoraksan Tourist Hotel, also known as the Mt. Sorak Tourist Hotel.

Seoraksan Tourist Hotel

Unfortunately, there aren't a lot hotels to choose from that are near Seoraksan National Park. Sokcho City 속초 (束草), a 30 minute bus drive away, has more selections but you have to think about how tired you'll be after a day of hiking and whether you'd want to take a bus or taxi just to get back to your hotel.

Even though I had to kill a wasp in my room and squash a beetle on the window, I would still stay at Seoraksan Tourist Hotel the next time I visit.

Day 5: Seoul Express Bus to Seoraksan National Park

This was the day I looked forward to the most during my whole trip in South Korea. It was the day I traveled to Sokcho 속초 (束草) for a two day hike in Seoraksan National Park 설악산 (雪嶽山) to see the changing red autumn leaves. Some of the trails at Seoraksan are notoriously difficult, but I was super excited. I mean, how can you not be excited about a place that looks like this:

Seoraksan Mountains. Image from Visit Korea

There are a few things to consider before visiting Seoraksan National Park, such as what to bring, when is the best time to go, what the hiking course maps look like, etc. I'll go over some of these points in this post, but the majority of these details will be covered in a separate post here.

Here is a general outline of my activities for the day:

Day 5 Activities:
  1. Seoul Express Bus to Sokcho City
  2. Local Sokcho bus to Seoraksan National Park
  3. Check into Seoraksan Tourist Hotel 설악산관광호텔
  4. Seoraksan hiking:
Now prepare yourself for an onslaught of photographs (with accompanying commentary, of course)!