Ecotourism and Hiking in South Korea

South Korea has many natural attractions. The most valuable and vulnerable of them are combined into special protected areas, of which there are several dozen. It is worth noting that almost every national park in South Korea has ancient monasteries, which attracts tourists even more.

According to TOP-MEDICAL-SCHOOLS, the best place in the country for hiking is Chiri-san National Park. It is located in the province of South Jeolla. The park can be reached from Tamyang City. The park is home to the highest point on the mainland of the country – Chonwang-bong Peak (1915 m), along which hiking trails are laid. The national park is always shrouded in fog or covered with clouds. There are several hotels at the entrance to it.where you can stay overnight. Several monasteries are of interest on the territory of the Chiri-san National Park. Khwaom-sa Monastery was founded in 544. The legend says that it was founded by the Hindu priest Yong Gi, who descended here from heaven on a mythical animal with the body of a turtle and the head of a dragon. The statue of this animal can be seen in the monastery. Of the most ancient buildings of the monastery, only the Taung-jeon pavilion of 1630 has been preserved, where fragments of the sacred Korean scripture, the stone Tripitaka Koreana, destroyed by the Japanese, are kept. The monastery also houses one of the largest pavilions in the country, Kakwam-chjom, the vault of which is supported by huge wooden pillars with decorations in the form of drawings in their upper part. A little higher up the slope stands the three-tiered Wonton-jeon-jeon pagoda of the 7th century. A staircase of 108 steps leads to it.

From the city of Sokcho (Kangwon Province), excursions are arranged to the mountains of Kumgang-san (Diamond Mountains), which are located on the territory of North Korea. North Korea gave the right to tourism activities in the mountains of Kumgang-san to South Korea for 50 years, a special tourist zone was formed here, which has the status of a separate province. You cannot travel to the Diamond Mountains on your own, only as part of organized tourist groups. The highest point of the massif reaches 1638 m. Bizarrely shaped rocks form off the coast of Kymgang-san, and in their central part there are many Buddhist temples, waterfalls, lakes, and mineral springs.

West of Sokcho City, on the slopes of the Seorak-san mountains, adjacent to the Geumgang-san mountain range, there is the Seorak-san National Park. This area has been under state protection since 1965. The maximum mark of Seorak-san is Mount Taechon with a height of 1708 m. About 2000 different species of animals live in the park. Several hotels were built near the park, and on its territory there are campsites, so you can go hiking in these places for a few days. At the entrance to the park, the cable car begins, which goes to Kwongum Peak. From here you have breathtaking views of the surroundings. To the east, you can see the Piryon and Tovanson waterfalls, to which hiking trails are laid from the entrance to the park. In the western part of the park there are Buddhist monasteries. Northwest of the entrance to the park is the 7th century Sinheung-sa Monastery, built during the Silla period. On the way to the monastery, you will see a 22-meter Buddha statue, installed in 1986. Also worth visiting is the 7th century Sinheung-sa temple. To the north, the temples of An-yang, Newon and Gyojo, which is located in a cave, are interesting. On the northwestern outskirts of the park, behind the Gyojo Temple, the Ulsan-bawi ridge stretches, to which an iron staircase leads. Generally, these mountains are considered one of the most picturesque places on the planet. They are great for hiking.

South of Seorak-san National Park is Ode-san National Park. It was created in 1975 on the slopes of the mountain range of the same name. The park has several hotels where you can stay overnight. The highest point of the park is Pirobon Peak (1563 m). Visiting these places, you will see vast forests, lakes and waterfalls. The park is home to the Botanical Garden, founded in 1999. The garden is divided into several parts: an indoor garden with indoor plants, an ecological garden with wild plants, a herb garden with mountain flowers and herbs, and a theme garden with plants bred in honor of famous people. But the most famous park Ode-san brought ancient Buddhist monasteries built in the era of the state of Silla. There are 9 of them in total. 2 of them are the most interesting. Woljong-sa Monastery was founded in 643. It consists of 60 small temples and 8 hermitages. At the entrance to the monastery there is a huge gate, the roof of which is decorated with drawings. On the territory of the monastery complex you will see the Museum of Relics, the main exhibit of which is a stone statue of Buddha squatting (this is the only statue of Buddha in the world depicting him in such a position), a 9-story pagoda and a pavilion with the remains of the Buddha. 8 km north of Woljong-sa is the Sanwon-sa monastery of the second half of the 7th century. The oldest bell is kept in the courtyard of the monastery South Korea – Sangwon-sa Dongjon (725). The bell is decorated with fine engraving. On the altar of the main temple of the monastery stands a figurine of the god of wisdom, Munsu, who, according to legend, appeared to King Sejo in the form of a child and cured him. Not far from the monastery, the remains of Buddha Shakyamuni from China are kept in a special building.

The southern coast of South Gyeongsang Province and more than a thousand offshore islands are part of the Hallyo National Marine Park.. The largest island is Gojo-do. It is connected to the mainland by several bridges and a ferry service. POWs were kept on the island during the Korean War. Now, on the territory of the former camp, there is a Historical Park, in which tanks, military trucks and other military exhibits of the mid-20th century are exhibited. E-do Island is famous for its 145 sq. km. Plants from all over the world are found here. On the coast, the Hallyo National Marine Park is adjacent to the small Sanjonggam Park, where the real dinosaur footprints are preserved and there is a dinosaur museum that tells about these ancient inhabitants of the planet.

Not far from here in Busan, at the mouth of the Naktong-gan River, is located reserve for migratory birds. On the territory of the reserve in its coastal part stretch sand dunes, and in the delta of the river – small islands. In spring and autumn, you can see a lot of migratory waterfowl here – snipe, ducks, swans and geese, about 150 species of birds in total, and the greatest species diversity of birds is observed in autumn and spring. Tourists are transported through the park on special excursion boats. Mai-san Provincial Park is located near the city of Jeonju (North Jeolla Province).. The park is located on the slopes of two mountains Sutmai-san (673 m) and Ammai-san (667 m). Because of the shape of the mountains, the Koreans call them “horse ears”. At the foot of the mountains, you can see more than a hundred pagodas built of stone in the 19th and 20th centuries by monks. They mysteriously do not fall or collapse, although they are simply pyramids made of stones without any bonding material. The highest of them has a height of 15 m. The famous monk Yui Kap-miong was the first to build pagodas. Here he also left mysterious writings in an unknown language.

Also in the province of North Jeolla, be sure to visit the National Park of the Byeong-san Peninsula, in which both part of the coast and mountain ranges are protected. In the coastal area, there are attractions such as the Chesok-gang River, Byeong-san Beach with very fine sand, and the wave-shaped rocks of Twejogamjin, resembling thousands of stacked books. In the mountains, the Zhikso waterfall and Geam-sa temple are interesting.

A great place for hiking is Jeju Island. There are many natural attractions here, and, due to the small size of the island, you can move between them on foot. Halla-san National Park is located in the center of the island.. The park was created in 1970 to protect the ecosystem of the slopes of the extinct volcano Halla-san. Halla-san is the highest point of the island and the whole country (1950 m). The volcano last erupted in the 11th century. The flows of solidified basalt lava formed many tunnels, pillars and other bizarre formations on the slopes, as well as numerous volcanic caves, all these natural attractions are included in the UNESCO World Natural Heritage List. There are about 2,000 plant species and 4,000 animal species in the park. There are 4 hiking trails in the park. There are no accommodations here. For unprepared tourists, climbing to the top of Halla-san is better along the Songpanak route. Gwangneum-sa’s route is more difficult. Both of them are 9 km long. The other two routes do not reach the top of Halla-san. In the southeastern part of the city of Sogipo is Chonbang waterfall. This is the only waterfall in Asia whose waters fall directly into the ocean. Nearby is another waterfall called Seojeongbang. It is good to relax here in summer. At the top of the cliff, from where the waters of the waterfalls fall, there is an observatory, which is an excellent observation platform. To the west of the Chungmun resort area are Chusan Jeolli-de volcanic pillars, which stand in rows in the sea along the coast. Here tourists like to meet sunrises and see off sunsets. If you go further west along the coast, you can see Mount Sonban-san, which is one of the craters of the extinct volcano Halla-san. At the foot of Mt. Songbang-san, on the coast, there is a stone shore of Yeonmori., which is a rock composed of many plates. In the eastern part of Jeju Island is the crater Sanggeumburi. The crater has a diameter of 650 m and a depth of about 100 m. Red rose hips, magnolias and winter brambles grow on the north side of the crater, and evergreen trees, maples and mountain brambles grow on the south side. Off the northeast coast of Jeju is the Mongchang-gul Cave. This lava cave is the longest in the world. Its length is 13422 m, and its height is about 10 m. Inside the cave is artificially illuminated. On the eastern tip of the island is another volcanic crater, Ilchulbon.. Its name is translated from Korean as “sunrise”. And in fact, this is a great place to meet the dawn. The contour of the crater is bordered by sharp peaks, and the height of its walls reaches 90 m.

Hiking in South Korea