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.

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Walking out of the Seoraksan Tourist Hotel, you immediately see the entrance to Sinheungsa Temple 신흥사 (新興寺).

Walking to Sinheungsa

Sinheungsa Temple entrance

You have to pay an additional fee to enter the actual temple, but you can take pictures with the giant Buddha outside.

Sinheungsa Temple in Seorksan

You can also pay 10,000 won to write on a roof tile that the temple will use when they make any roof repairs. I didn't do this, but lots of people write down a little message or make a wish on the tiles.

Cool dragon head at Sinheungsa Temple

Rows of roof tiles at Sinheungsa Temple

From here, I proceeded to go to Biseondae 비선대 (飛仙台).

Sign post at Seorakan

Geumganggyo Bridge at Seoraksan

You'll see lots of ajushis and ajummas hiking with ski poles, but man, are they fit.

Walking in Seoraksan towards Biseondae

As I was walking, I heard a helicopter fly overhead. It just goes to show that people get hurt at Seoraksan every single year. It's a beautiful place, but it's also dangerous if you're not careful.

Helicopter at Seoraksan National Park

Along the hiking paths, there are also several ajummas selling snacks and things that looked like ginseng.

Ajumma selling ginseng and herbs at Seoraksan

I also pass by a Biseondae map, so I know I'm on the right track:

Biseondae map

As you walk along the paths, you might notice a bunch of stacked rocks like this:

Stacked rocks at Seoraksan National Park

I thought you just stack them for good luck, but apparently you make a wish and then stack the rocks for the wish to come true.

Scenery as I walk to Biseondae

The water is pristine and everywhere you go, you hear this relaxing babbling brook sound.

Clear water at Seoraksan National Park

Even though I visited Seoraksan in mid-October, the red autumn leaves weren't supposed to peak for another week. I was happy I got to see some leaves changing colors though.

Seoraksan autumn leaves

As I kept walking, I passed by a chili pepper garden and a possible jar of fermenting kimchi:

Chili pepper garden in Seoraksan National Park

Then I hit an area of food stalls and souvenir shops. Most of these places will offer you a free drink of water from their running faucets. I wasn't sure how clean everything was, so I stuck to my own bottle of water. I also didn't eat at any of the food places in the mountains, but I smelled a lot of pajeon!

Food stations at Seoraksan National Park

Souvenir shops at Seoraksan National Park

Sources of water at Seoraksan National Park

If there is food, there is almost always a restroom nearby, so these are always good areas to take a bathroom break. The public restrooms here were unexpectedly clean and well-stocked with toilet paper.

Lots of people actually brought their own food and had a picnic off the beaten path.

Ajummas enjoying a nice lunch at Seoraksan

I thought it was cool how this they left these trees alone in the middle of the path:

Trees at Seoraksan National Park

Some more stacked rocks at Seoraksan

I passed these falling rocks that looked like two kissing piglets:

Kissing rocks at Seoraksan

And before I knew it, I was only half a kilometer from Biseondae!

0.5km to Biseondae

Just as there were lots of people eating out on the rocks, there were lots of people washing their feet in the water. I'm not really sure why the were doing that because the water was really cold.

A couple washing their feet in the water at Seoraksan

The scenery was really beautiful though:

Bridge in Seoraksan National Park

Beautiful scenery at Seoraksan

A cool place with lots of fallen rocks

Nice and relaxing streams

And finally I arrived at Biseondae! There were some cool Chinese characters engraved in the rock.

Seoraksan near Biseondae

Biseondae Rock at Seoraksan National Park

When I was there, a woman actually climbed out onto the platform rock part of Biseondae to take a picture, but a loud horn went off and someone told her to leave over a boom mic. They are watching you!

A women climbing onto Biseondae

Biseondae at Seoraksan National Park

Biseondae at Seoraksan National Park

I think it took me around 45 minutes to walk to Biseondae from Sinheungsa. I then proceeded to Cheonbuldong Valley 천불동 계곡 (千佛洞溪谷), one of the prettiest parts of Seoraksan.
I walked around the valley for about 2 hours before deciding to head back as the sun set. This whole area was definitely one of my favorite parts of the park. It's hard to capture its beauty in these pictures, but Cheonbuldong Valley was so spacious yet everywhere you looked you were surrounded by giant mountain peaks. In fact, I liked it so much, I went back to Cheonbuldong after climbing  Ulsanbawi Rock 울산바위 (蔚山岩)and Heundeulbawi Rock 흔들바위 (晃动岩)the next day.

Mountain peaks in Cheonbuldong Valley

Cheonbuldong Valley at Seoraksan

Cheonbuldong Valley at Seoraksan National Park

Cheonbuldong Valley at Seoraksan National Park

I wanted to keep walking until I reached Oryeon Falls 오련폭포 (五连瀑布), but the sun was starting to set and the waterfall was still a long walk away. I had to turn back while it was still bright.

By the time I got back to my hotel, I was really tired! I bought this fish cake, intestine-looking snack from a street vendor and had dinner at the hotel restaurant.

Fish cake street snack at Seoraksan

There's really nothing to do around the hotel at night, but I was too tired to do anything but sleep. I had to rest up for my even more difficult climb the next day!


  1. Thank you for the very detailed write up on Seorakasan hiking! I searched many websites online, but none come close to yours. Great resource for me as I intend to visit seoul next Month!

  2. Appreciate your sharing. Really gives a gd prelude to the trip. Indeed, no other website offers such details of this region.

  3. Awesome, wonderful sharing with alot of details.
    Totally agree that no other website offers such information.!!

  4. March 2012--- thank you so much. I'm headed there in May and I don't speak Korean. I will probably print some of your pictures for directions. Really great information!

  5. Thanks for the detailed information. Your thoroughness and attention to detail make for useful reading, and your writing exhibits a friendly and casual tone that's easy to read.

    And kudos for scanning the hiking trail map! Just had to say thank you!