Seoraksan National Park

National Park in Gangwon-do

One of South Korea's most beloved and beautiful national parks, and a Unesco Biosphere Protection site, Seoraksan is most celebrated for its oddly shaped rock formations and ancient Silla-era temples. It's also a hiker's paradise, a stunning realm of gnarled rock formations, dense forests, abundant wildlife, hot springs and plunging waterfalls. Peak season is July and August, while in mid-October visitors flock to see the changing colours of the autumn leaves – best appreciated over a bottle of meoruju (wild fruit wine).

Embedded within this setting are two famous Buddhist temples: Sinheung-sa and Baekdam-sa. Certain natural preservation areas are periodically closed to the public. Given the park’s size (nearly 400,000 sq km), sections are sometimes closed for restoration or preservation, or to prevent wildfires. Check with the visitor centre before you head out.

The park is divided into three sections, unconnected by road: Outer Seorak is the most accessible and popular area, nearest to Sokcho and the sea. Seorak-dong has hotels, motels, minbak (private homes with rooms for rent), restaurants, bars, noraebang (karaoke rooms) and general stores; Inner Seorak covers the western end of the park and is the least commercialised; Southern Seorak is the name given to the Osaek (Five Colours) area, which is famous for its mineral springs.