Songnisan National Park

National Park in Chungcheongbuk-do

This park has easy hikes and year-round beauty amongst craggy cliffs. It's atmospheric and misty in winter and alive with cherry blossoms and azaleas in spring. The mountain's name has a mystical, Buddhist meaning: ‘Remote from the Ordinary World Mountain’. Buses leave Cheongju’s intercity bus terminal (₩8600, two hours, every 30 minutes) for the park.

Direct buses also run from Dong-Seoul (₩16,300 to ₩16,900, 3½ hours) and Daejeon (₩7900, 1¾ hours), or via Cheongju from Seoul Gangnam (₩16,300, four hours).

After passing through the temple of Beopju-sa, you'll find hiking trails leading to a series of 1000m-high peaks, including the popular and relatively easy 6km climb up Munjangdae (1033m). Back in 1464 King Sejo was carried up in a palanquin; using your own feet, it’s three hours up and two hours down. You can also return via Sinseondae, further south via Biro-bong or, for the truly gung-ho, push on to the highest peak Cheonhwang-bong (1058m).

When planning your trip, note that Songnisan is sometimes spelled Sokrisan. When buying tickets from your return journey, you may need to use the ticket machines if there's no one in the ticket office, but there is usually someone there to help.