Situated in East Asia, South Korea is a destination for tech junkies, for k-pop and k-drama fans, and for street style enthusiast. The country has a booming economy, the fastest internet connection in the world, and, believe it or not, it is a great destination for outdoor activities. Therefore, naturally, we have to talk about the best outdoor destinations and activities in South Korea. Our virtual tour starts around Seoul, moves to Jeju Island, and then to Sokcho for some thrilling adventures that we’re sure you’re gonna want to try in real life.
The three things that everybody knows about Seoul – Gangnam Style, Running Man, and kimchi. All good things considering Gangnam Style broke so many records and put Seoul and South Korea on the map for people who weren’t familiar with the South Korean entertainment industry, kimchi made people aware of the mouthwatering Korean cuisine, and Running Man’s unpredictability and fun approach to a game show gained a loyal audience worldwide. However, Seoul is not only the place people visit hoping to stumble across famous actors and idols, but it is also a place where there are many hidden gems for adventure seekers so here are some of the things you can do while staying in the lively capital city:
Bungee Jump at Gapyeong Top Land
Bungee jumping is a must for adrenaline junkies. The adrenaline-filled experience is very cheap in Seoul but thrilling nonetheless. Actually, the experience is quite fantastic because the bungee jumping spot situated in Gapyeong, a small town near Seoul, offers scenic views of the Bukhan River. Gapyeong Top Land, the company that offers you this great bungee jumping experience can provide other thrilling experiences such as water tubing and ATV riding as well so maybe look into those as well while you’re in Gapyeong.
Climb up Mount Bukhasan
If you prefer challenging activities to adrenaline-inducing ones, getting to the top of Mount Bukhansan is probably a better adventure for you. The climb is tiring but the view is worth it so challenge yourself to climb the tallest peak in Seoul and enjoy the scenic sight at the top. Whereas you are an experienced hiker or a beginner, the ascent to the peak is possible since there are trails for all difficulty levels. If you persevere and you get through the difficult parts of the hike, you’ll be able to watch over the beautiful fortresses and temples situated in the surrounding area. The hike from the base of the mountain to the peak and back takes around 5-6 hours and if you don’t have hiking gear, you can purchase or rent it at the base of the mountain.
Mount Bukhansan is situated in Bukhansan National Park so if you feel you cannot conquer the mountain peak, rest assured there are easier trails you can explore.
Zip Line to Nami Island
Nami Island is another popular place for Seoul visitors. You can arrive on the island by ferry or you can zip line there. You’ll fly for 940 meters over the Han River at approximately 56km/h. You can purchase a zip line package that includes the epic glide and the entry fee to the island. To return to the mainland, you’ll have to take the ferry as the rest of the tourists. And, if you want to bungee jump and zip line in the same day, you can totally do it since these destinations are close by.
Rail-bike at Gangchon Rail Park
Are you ready for an intense cycling session? Great! You can pedal along the old railroad tracks at Gangchon Rail Park. Aside from a good workout, cycling through the park means being able to enjoy numerous scenic spots across the Bukhangang River. It’s quite a romantic tour and a great activity for couples who want to combine outdoor activities with romantic places. Along the biking route, there are also multiple tunnels. In each tunnel, a different music genre is played and the last tunnel is a thrilling VR tunnel where you can fight with imaginary monsters and villains.
Paraglide at Yangpyeong Paragliding Park
If you want to try paragliding, head over to Yangpyeong Paragliding Park. You’ll fly over the Korean mountains and you’ll have an exhilarating experience with spectacular views. The scenery differs from season to season but it never disappoints. The view from the air includes the famous spot where the South and North parts of Han River meet.
Jeju Island is known for its beach resorts, volcanic landscapes, and lava tubes. Geomunoreum is one of the finest lava tube systems of caves in the world, according to UNESCO. The island is also a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2007 so, as you can imagine, there are plenty of things to see on the island.
Situated approximately one hour drive from Jeju City, Manjanggul Cave offers a unique caving experience. Manjanggul Cave is part of a large lava tube system and its home to numerous bats and Jeju cave spider. The cave was formed 200,000-300,000 years ago and it is 30 meters tall and 23 meters wide. The tube penetrates more than 13 kilometers into the ground. While exploring the cave, you’ll be able to see lava stalagmites and stalactites plus cascades of funky flowstones.
Hiking Seongsan Ilchulbong
Seogwipo is the second-largest city on Jeju Island and it’s a great destination for volcano hiking. Seongsan Ilchulbong formed approximately 5000 years ago by an eruption. The formation, which is also known as a tuff cone, has a depressed center and sheer walls. The top of the raised crater stands at approximately 180 meters high and has around 600 meters in diameter. From the top, you can look over the interior but also admire the coastline and the beauty of the ocean that surrounds you.
Halla Mountain lies in the center of Jeju Island and it is famous for its diverse ecosystem. Hundreds of cone volcanoes surround the main mountain so it’s a destination full of hiking opportunities. You can go on a hiking trip around the mountain to explore the natural haven that shelters near 4000 species of animals and 1800 species of plants. You can also head to the mountaintop. The climb is not the easiest but also not the hardest and it’s a beautiful hike with unique scenery.
Sokcho is a city in the Gangwon-do Province. With the Seoraksan National Park, numerous mountain peaks to explore and waterfalls to admire it is obvious that Sokcho and its surroundings are a great place for outdoor adventurers.
Hiking in Seoraksan National Park
Seoraksan National Park is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site and it is a popular destination amongst tourists who love to spend their time outdoor exploring its natural diversity. The park is home to 1010 plant species and 1560 species of animals including Siberian flying squirrels, black bears, and otters. Besides trekking and hiking to explore the natural environment of the park, you can also visit the city’s temples that located close to the park.
Hiking to Geumganggul Cave
The hike towards the cave starts on a flat path then continues with staircases all the way up to the cave. The ascent is challenging but not very difficult nor dangerous, however, it can be daunting at times, if you’re afraid of heights since you’ll have to walk across stairs next to a cliff face. The cave sits at approximately 600 meters above sea level and it takes approximately 2-3 hours to reach the top. The sight up there is beautiful and you get a 180 view of the park.
Hike to See the Park’s Waterfalls
Another popular hiking trail in the park is the one that leads to Biryong Falls. At the beginning of the trail, you’ll walk along the stream and forest on relatively flat terrain. Then you’ll arrive at a suspension bridge that will lead you to Yukdam Falls. From there, you have another 20 minutes of uphill climbing to reach the Biryong Falls. From there, if you wish, you can continue the hike to Towangseong Falls.
Towangseong Falls is the longest waterfall in the country and it’s definitely worth watching. It is best to visit the waterfall the day after raining (waterfalls flow best after rain) since the observatory is quite far from the waterfall. The hike from Biryong Falls to Towangseong Falls is tiring but if you are moderately fit, you should be able to do it.
Hike Ulsanbawi Rock
Ulsanbawi, also known as Cheonhusan Mountain, has six granite peaks you can explore. From the top, you have a beautiful view of the East Sea, Seorak Mountain, Dalma Peak, and Haksapyeong Reservoir. To reach the summit of Ulsanbawi Rock, you can hike up from Sogongwon. The ascent will take around 4 hours. The initial part of the trial is easy – you’ll walk along forest, stairs, and boardwalk. In approximately an hour, you’ll reach Heundeulbawi Rock, a famous spot where you can take a break and relax before resuming your hike. The hike from Heundeulbawi Rock to Ulsanbawi Rock is relatively steep and it’s made out of steep stone sections with ropes and steel steps with handrails. You can stop at Heundeulbawi Rock if you feel the rest of the hike is too much for you. However, if you can, reaching the summit is definitely rewarding.
Hiking Biseondae Rocks
The hike towards Biseondae Rocks’ top is flat and easy at the beginning then for the last part of the trail you’ll have to go straight up, which is more difficult but your efforts will be rewarded with a beautiful view. Overall, an easy hike consists of a mix of rock, metal, concrete, and wooden steps. Halfway through the hike, you’ll stumble upon a bridge that overlooks the mountains. For the best experience hike during fall when the trees will be covered in gorgeous colors. Close to the top, there are little cascading waters where you can stop to admire the surroundings. When you reach the top, you join in the visitors who hike to the cave for praying.